If you had to pay for your own photographer at your wedding or for one of your children, or have started looking into the cost for an upcoming wedding, you know that this is not a cheap service. But most people don’t understand what it is they are paying for or why photographers charge what they do. For an example, my rate for a wedding is not the same rate I charge to photograph your dog posing in their holiday sweater. Think about it, not that your dog in a sweater is not important, but there is a different level of importance for a once in a lifetime event such as a wedding, compared to dog portraits, which can be done just about any time.
Take the picture above, you only get one short song, to capture a father and a daughter’s first dance after her wedding ceremony along with the pure joy exuding from both of them during this time. Sure, some pictures can be recreated, but you just won’t capture the same expression that you will in the real moment happening. Why is this an important detail? Because part of what you are paying for in a wedding photographer is their ability to capture all of these specific moments during the day, as well as the beautiful expressions that are taking place. Sure anyone can hold a camera and click away during this same dance and get plenty of pictures. But not everyone can click at just the right moment to time a shot like this, ensuring the perfect smiles as well as the perfect exposure and movement within the shot. This is where paying a professional starts to become very important. How you may ask does a photographer work to get this precision? Practice, practice and more practice. Not just practice pushing a button. Practice using all of the right equipment and practice with timing when to take the shots, and practice getting the best angles. All so you end up with a Picture Perfect shot, that is: exposed correctly, sharp and crisp, and doesn’t have a clear view of the bathroom or a trash can in the background. All of this, within 5 minutes or less, and no Re-Do.
There is a lot that goes into achieving these types of images. As I said above, practice and training. But there is also a bit of equipment necessary to accomplish these shots. I apologize to all of the beginners or amateurs out there trying to get started. But you’re not going to consistently get good shots of all of these events with low-quality equipment. It is sometimes very necessary to rely on the abilities of the equipment to get good images, no matter how good you are. Whether it’s a better camera that can handle lower light and higher speeds. Or it’s having the correct type of lighting equipment to light the entire room well enough to get good exposures. So if you want to pay cheaper prices, you’ll be paying for cheaper equipment that goes with those prices. What that means to you is that your final images from the day will be of a lower quality compared to what they could be. This may not matter if your only plan for the pictures is to post them online and view them on your phone. But if you want to blow any of them up and print them to hang on your wall or put on your desk, I can assure you, you will want the highest quality images taken from the start. Software can’t fix low-quality images to start with…
“Okay, but I’m not paying for someone’s training or their equipment that they already have”. Well you wouldn’t want to go to a surgeon and pay them a lot so they could get the training for your surgery, after your surgery would you? It’s just a fact of life, you have to pay for the experience and the higher quality equipment being used. If not, you get what you pay for.
For weddings specifically, there is more to the pricing than just the experience of the shooter, and the high-end equipment being used. Although I can’t say I’ve ever had to redo a photoshoot of any kind, it could at least be an option for certain things. You get one chance at a wedding, which means you can’t miss anything, you don’t necessarily get to stage most of the shots, and you definitely can’t have any glitches during the day. How does that translate to a higher rate you ask? I can’t vouch for all wedding photographers, so you’ll just hear about my methods and what I do. One thing is equipment. When I show up to shoot a wedding, I pretty much bring every piece of photography equipment I own that I could possibly use throughout the session. You would probably notice bags and cases being carried into the venue and stashed aside somewhere out of sight. This equipment includes anywhere from extra tripods, to lighting equipment and modifiers, even backup cameras just in case something went wrong and caused my main camera to quit working. (Think reception, drinks being carried around and spilled… you just never know). That’s just the equipment side of things. If you were to sit back and watch me work a wedding, you would probably be tired. I’m tired at the end of a wedding, they are exhausting, hence the reason not everyone does them! During an 8 hours shoot for a wedding, I never sit down, I take 1 bathroom break (only when the opportunity arises), I eat something small like a Clif bar that I brought with me, and I drink some water that I brought with me. You may ask, why not eat the food? And the simple answer is, it’s rude. It doesn’t matter how many times a client offers me food or beverages, I turn them down. I am not a guest at the wedding, I am being paid to perform a service. And the simplest way to graciously let a client know I won’t be eating,”Thank you, but I’m good, plus I’ve got more pictures to take.” And they’ll typically quit offering at that point. And that is the truth, it’s not about being rude and not wanting to eat the offered food, it’s about the fact that I have a specific job to do, and I can’t do that job while sitting down and eating a meal. You never know what’s going to happen and when, so you always have to be moving and shooting. If you followed me around during a shoot, you would realize why this is the case. If you’re following the bride and groom, they are typically moving around the entire venue to visit with their guests. And when you’re not following them, there are always decorations to photograph and members of the bridal party to photograph. It is non-stop until everyone leaves. The last 8 hour wedding I photographed just the other day, I took about 2500 pictures. That averages out to 5 shots per minute for the entire event. My client ended up with almost 900 final images of their day. So imagine if I had taken a 30 minute or an hour break during that time. The customer would have lost 50-100 final images by me doing that. And that’s just not worth it.
So when you’re doing your research on a wedding photographer, in most cases, you will get what you pay for. Because of the risk involved in shooting a wedding and all of the things that can go wrong for a photographer that are out of their control, an amateur wedding photographer isn’t going to charge a high rate, because what if they fail miserably? Most artists will charge reasonably within their abilities. And someone that does charge a high rate, it is probably because they have the confidence and abilities to ensure that they can handle your big day successfully regardless of anything that is thrown at them. Obviously, artistic abilities come into play to some degree as well. Do you want to pay a cheap price for someone that can come in, line everyone up and take a picture? Or do you want to pay someone to come in and create visual artwork out of the events of your day, capturing different perspectives and using different lighting techniques? You will get what you pay for. And if it seems to cheap, there is probably a reason.
Everyone has a budget for photography of their big day, and that will obviously have some weight in determining who you choose. Just make sure you put as much effort into deciding who you want to trust with this responsibility and what capturing your day is worth to you. Most photographers have set fees and set packages for weddings and other similar events. One thing that makes Sunker Creative Studio unique, is that although we do offer set packages to our clients, we are also very flexible in what we can provide. The reason we offer packages is to make things easier for the clients, as well as offer some savings by bundling services together. But we also understand that our packages may not fit every budget out there, and to that point, we are willing to work with clients to get them our services at a budget they can afford. We have given quotes for wedding coverage in the low hundreds, as well as the several thousands. Both of these quotes will have beautiful images in the end, the biggest difference is how many of them and how many final products they will receive after the big day. But we don’t want to push anyone away that wants us to be their photographer for such an important life event, we may just have to cut and modify some of the services and coverage to do so. But the most important thing is that we will do that. Most photographers won’t stray from their packaged pricing, even if that means they lose a client.
Hopefully this helps you understand a little bit more about why wedding photography costs what it does. It can seem shocking at first, especially if you don’t use a professional photographer very often. But weddings are a very special, once in a lifetime event. There are no do-overs, and there is only one opportunity to capture these special moments that will be cherished for many years to follow. You don’t want to gamble on the beauty and quality of what you’ll pay for on a day like this.
Please check out our wedding information pages such as packages and pricing, and thanks for taking a few minutes to read this information!