Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tucson Wedding Photographer ~ when "tough" questions really shouldn't be that tough

One of the first things any of my clients asks me is always, always, always: "How much do you charge?"


Okay... I'm an artist, so that hurts me a little. I think photography is art, and investing in art is important. But I'm also a business owner, and a former bride, so I know where it comes from. It comes from stretching budgets, calculating each and every choice down the penny, from weighing what you want vs. what you need.

But even as a business owner, even as a former budget-crunching bride, I strongly believe that when choosing your wedding photographer, price shouldn't be the deciding factor. Sure, it should be a parameter. A guideline, perhaps the basis from which you begin your search.

Your search for the one singular person you will trust with your lifetime memories.


Because that's exactly who your photographer is. She is going to be there for every single part of your wedding day. She is going to be privy to your most intimate of moments. She is going to spend more time with you+yours on your wedding day than your mother. Yes, seriously.

So today's blog is three basic questions and three detailed answers. Three questions that almost every {bride+groom} asks me, and three answers I find myself giving repeatedly. Because at the end of the day, that budget decision you had to make... you know the one - the one regarding the photographer you really loved vs. your friend who'd shoot the whole thing for $500... well, here are my reasons as to why that "tough" decision really shouldn't have to be that tough.

{really hard questions: totally honest answers}

Why is wedding photography so expensive?
Keep in mind that operating any small business incurs expenses, and professional wedding photography is no exception. There is a common misconception that wedding photographers make a lot of money working only one day a week, but in addition to the actual day of shooting (which in itself can be anywhere from 8 to 16 hours) there is 25 hours or more of back-end work involved in each wedding. Not to mention any engagement shoots, album design, online processing, ordering, etc. that may be included in your package.

Why is there such a discrepancy in pricing from one photographer to another?
There are a multitude of reasons as to why one photographer will charge a lot and another will charge very little. In wedding photography, as in any profession, there are many professionals operating at different levels of expertise and offering different types of service. Pricing is only one of many ways that those with more experience or expertise can distinguish themselves – as well as one of the easiest.

That being said... just because a photographer charges a lot, it doesn’t mean she's going to hit it out of the ballpark. And just because someone charges very little, it definitely doesn’t mean they’re not going to do an amazing job. Make your decision based on how you want your day to be documented. Make sure you love their work, and that it speaks to you. Lastly, do your research. Keep in mind that a website generally showcases a photographer's favorite work and is updated rarely, while a blog shows what they're producing on a more regular basis. Personally, I think the best way to judge whether or not you like someone's work, as well as whether or not they're consistent with their style, is through a blog.

Most importantly, and something you will hear me say again and again and again: would you be friends with your photographer if she wasn’t shooting your wedding? If not, she's probably not your best choice.

How do I know how much to budget for my wedding photography?
First, gauge the importance that photography will play in your big day… then stretch one step past that. Scary, I know. But try to let your eye – not your wallet – decide. In twenty years, when your daughter asks about your wedding, are you going to tell her what the caterer served for dinner? I don’t think so. You're going to show her your wedding album.

In all honesty, if you’re looking for numbers, a conservative estimate should be 10-15% of your total budget. Personally, we spent 20%. It hurt a little, and we had to cut back on other things - things I don’t even remember now. And you know what? It was worth it. It was worth every. single. penny.


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