August 15, 2019

Photographers Don’t Cost “An Arm + A Leg”

Honestly this has been something I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, but frankly, it’s awkward as heck.

“I don’t want to offend people”
“Of course I’d preach about this — it’s my job.”
“No one will listen.”

These are all things I told myself when I thought about writing this and so I just never did.

I didn’t want to come off rude or like I was just advertising, but then I realized, that’s my job. I’m passionate about what I do for a reason. It has meaning, value. I’m here to share with people just how important these moments truly are.
If doctors never went out on limbs or on a hunch, they wouldn’t have made discoveries or cures. If Job didn’t have faith in God, where would he be? I understand these are EXTREMES and I’m not saving lives here in comparison to photography, but I’m assuming now I’ve caught your attention.

I hear these common phrases on a daily basis, whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, in person, email, etc.
“I don’t have the budget for a photographer so I’m looking to hire anyone for $100.”
“My mom’s coworker is going to shoot if for us so we can save on costs.”
“I’m looking for a photographer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

Let’s break down each of these things, because God Bless it, they need addressed.

1. YOU DON’T HAVE THE BUDGET.

This is probably the number one problem area when it comes to hiring a photographer for your wedding. That awkward thing called a budget. Trust me, we as photographers don’t just slap a price tag on our packages all crazy like. I’m sure every one has looked at different photographers prices, shopped around and thought “Why the heck is photography so expensive?” so then you see someone advertising for 1/8th of the cost and jump on it.

If you love something, you save for it, you work for it. I bet there was a time in your life when as a kid there was a toy you really wanted, or now as an adult a vacation you’d been saving up for. A wedding is a big deal and so is everyone involved. Your vendors, your vision for the day, it’s all big and expensive decisions. Start saving for what you truly want because this is your wedding day! If there is something you truly want, cut costs in other places. Maybe arrange your own flowers from fake ones on Hobby Lobby’s 50% off day or have everyone pitch in to make the food! You’ve got options babe.

Also, did you know a lot of photographers have payment plans? They just may not advertise it. Never be scared to ask a photographer any question you might have about anything especially when it comes to budget. Maybe you have fallen in love with a photographer but it’s just too high a price tag for your current season, some photographers, like myself, have associates. This is someone who works with your photographer, but instead of the main photographer showing up on your wedding day, the associate shoots your wedding. This isn’t sacrificing style, communication or experience. All those things still go through the main photographer.


2. MY MOM’S COWORKER IS GOING TO SHOOT IT FOR US SO WE CAN SAVE ON COSTS.

Please, please, please, don’t leave one of the biggest days of your life in the hands of someone who you have never met or hardly know. Photographers work so hard to get to know you as a couple, communicate with you and help you feel comfortable on your big day, so much so that when I show up to a wedding I know EXACTLY what shots my bride wants and what will make her heart happy as well as shots that she may not want. Some rando showing up on your wedding day isn’t going to know your desires and how to capture you in your big day.

Don’t put that pressure on people. Whether it’s your mom’s coworker, a cousin, or a friend of a friend. Let them enjoy the day too. They are going to be immersed in the moments and talking with others that they may forget to take photos or even miss the bigger moments. I mean do you blame them? It’s not their actual job. They don’t know what is expected of them.

3. I’M LOOKING FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER THAT DOESN’T COST AN ARM AND A LEG.

What does this even mean? How much is your arm and leg worth to you? FOR THE LOVE instead of using this phrase, use the phrase “Our budget is ____”. Maybe to someone their arm + leg is worth $500 and another’s is worth $5,000.
I don’t post in groups or search for doctors, dentists or hair stylists that “don’t cost an arm or a leg” because I want someone that knows what they’re doing. This is our profession, just as it is any other profession. It’s hard to put a price tag on our art. As creatives we value and love what we do so much that honestly if I could afford to do it for free, I probably would. But I have bills, food, and expenses to pay for just like any other business.

There are so many factors that go into pricing ourselves. Let’s use $2,000 as an example. If a photographer charges $2,000 for an 8 hour wedding, 30% is taxed, leaving us with $1,400. After $1,400 we have gas to and from your engagement session and wedding, which can depend on your location, communication all the hours we put into answering emails, texts, calls, consults, actual shoot time for engagement session and your wedding day, subscriptions and software (editing, website hosting, client management systems), equipment updating + upkeep, all the hours editing. If we spend 8 hours shooting a wedding you can believe it takes about double that to edit. Then, AFTER all those things are paid for and settled leaves the rest of it for bills, food and life. That’s a brief summary, give or take some expenses depending on your photographer. I think when most people think of wedding photographers they imagine us receiving our payment and then sitting in a bath full of dolla bills, but thats far from reality.

I don’t do wedding photography to find some way to get rich. I do it because I love it and because this is the ONE day of your life, the one time when all you have left at the end are photos. You most likely don’t visit your venue (unless it’s somewhere special), you don’t typically hold onto all the decor, the food is gone, the music fades and all you are left with is photos. Photos that every time you look back on them,  you get to relive your day over and over.

 

I hope I gave you some things to consider!
-XOXO Alex

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I'm Alex McCrary. Wedding + destination photographer based in Iowa. Helping every day couples get cozy and own their normal while bringing connection to the midwest + beyond.

@mrsalexmccrary