Why do wedding photographers charge so much?

Monday, March 9th, 2009 @ 6:27 am | Business, wedding

I get asked this question all the time. All the photographer is doing is pointing the camera and clicking the button, why do they think they can charge so much for it? Anyone can point a camera and click the button but there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes that to ensure you get the photos you are paying for. The day of the wedding is only one of many days of work involved.

“Well I can hire my nephew to photograph my wedding for much cheaper. He has a camera and he takes really good photos of his dog.” This is a very important day in your life. There are no reshoots, the moment only happens once in history, is that much pressure really something you can trust with your nephew who owns a camera and has no idea what to expect during a wedding? If you’re still not convinced here is a shortened version of a lot of the things that a photographer does during the shoot to ensure that he gets an accurately exposed, in focus, hi resolution image everytime of every moment.

List of expenses

equipment – the equipment I use is expensive to repair. every shoot wears on my equipment more and more. eventually it will break and so part of my fee should cover the estimated wear and tear on my equipment.

meeting – Whether it’s on the phone or in person, it is time spent communicating and clarifying all of the details of the shoot as well as any necessary research, scouting and prop shopping necessary for the shoot and travel to and from on site location

setup lights – time spent adjusting lights to accurately light the products in the best way possible to give the consumer as much information as possible to avoid returns. (samples?)

consistency – keep size and angle consistent through out entire shoot so each product looks clean on a catalog grid

assistant – in order to speed up the process and get the most out of the day I will need an assistant at $200/day. he/she will help me carry equipment, setup lights, adjust exposure and positioning and help maintain a smooth day

photo management – download, backup and file all of the images so they can be found later

post production – to color correct, spot retouch, color/contrast enhance, repair blemishes, resize, straighten and otherwise perfect each image takes between 5-10 minutes a piece.

processing – process and convert each image into a format that can be easily printed at any print lab

deliver – burn/transfer images to a medium and deliver within one week.

Expenses and Why:

I use the best equipment possible to give you the best photographic representation of the products you are trying to sell. This equipment includes high megapixel cameras, sharp clarity lenses and minimal aberration lenses, high powered lights that are 100% consistent with fine tuning capabilities and an accurate predictable color temperature, wireless triggering devices to avoid dangerous wires and allow for multiple lights to be fired simultaneously, and sturdy stands and tripods. These components are essential in creating a high quality and accurate photograph of your products. As with everything in this world they slowly wear out. My equipment is robust and long lasting however it will eventually break down. Therefore i must compensate the wear on it.

In order to keep all the channels clear and for me to meet all of your needs I will need to discuss the details of the shoot whether it be in person or over the phone. This puts everything on the table so that on the day of the shoot or the delivery of the photos there are no miscommunications about what either of us should expect. In addition to our meeting I will spend time researching any needed props and any previous images you have used so that I can closely match (or enhance) the photos I hand over to you. This may include finding any additional equipment needed for the shoot and finding the best price on it to save you money or finding the best way to produce or purchase any props possibly required for the set.

On the day of the shoot I will need 1 hour minimum of prep time to setup and fine tune the lighting for the shoot so that I can quickly and easily photograph everything scheduled for that day. This makes sure that once we start shooting and everyone on set does not have to waste time doing nothing. Time is money and I know that you have plenty of other things to do than watch a photo shoot. To keep a quick pace of everything I will need a second set of hands to carry equipment, set it up, adjust products and lights while I take photos and adjust the camera, and swap out products during the shoot. My assistant will charge $250/day.

After the shoot is done and we have packed up the photos will have to be uploaded and backed up to an external drive. From there I will catalog every photo so it can be easily found at a later date for reuse or reference. The photos must be sorted through and the duds pulled out. The images I get from the camera are raw data from the sensor. They have not been automatically processed to a generic standard like point and shoot cameras. This gives the most latitude and information to each photo that can be edited and enhanced. That also means that each photo must be handled one by one adjusting the exact and accurate color balance, brightness, and contrast of light and dark. Products in real life have minor flaws that are unnacceptable for any type of advertising. This is a fact of true life. Each image will be attended to eliminate any wrinkles, blemishes, or bent corners so the box looks perfect. You would not buy a product that looks like it has been battered and the same thing goes with catalog work. The images also need to be straightened, resized and cropped to the same dimensions for the catalog grid. This process takes between 5 and 10 minutes per product.

Processing the photos into the final dimensions and requirements that you requested takes time that needs to be accounted for. Processing a handful of photos takes very little time but processing several hundred or thousand will tie up my computer for hours. Transferring the final product to a medium you have requested and delivering takes some time and delivery charges for hand delivery or shipping are charged as well.

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12 Responses to “Why do wedding photographers charge so much?”

  1. nick cunningham Says:

    Nick again. sorry to be all up in your blog, but I love this post. My wedding partner booked a wedding the other day with a bride, and the whole time the groom was standing behind her cursing and saying “why are we paying for this, anyone can take a picture.” At their wedding i’m going to try and make him look fat in every picture… Just kidding… sort of.

  2. Zach Petschek Says:

    I get questions like that all the time. That’s why I had to finally just put this entry together. Anyone can pluck a few keys on a piano but that doesn’t mean it sounds like Bach.

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