For years I swore I would never shoot a wedding. They terrified me. Of course, this was back in the film era. You screw up a roll of film you a DONE professionally.
Digital has taken some of that pressure off.
Now that I have been shooting weddings for quite a few years I often get asked “What would you charge for JUST a couple of hours on my wedding date?”
The simple answer is, not much less than I would if you booked a whole day.
“What?!? That’s outrageous!”
Let me explain.
1. I consider my weekends precious time with my family. It isn’t exactly worth my time to give up camping with my family, boating or miss an out-of-town soccer game for a two hour shoot. My kids are only going to be home for a handful of years and I am not willing to miss out on being their mommy.
2. I refuse to charge less than industry standards. Undercutting each other is not doing anything to help our industry. Besides, I would hope that you are hiring me for my talent; not strictly based on cost.
3. Summer weddings are peak season. If I tie up a Saturday in June (or even a portion of it) – I am not available for another bride that is wanting me for their whole day. It’s opportunity cost loss. You are basically booking me for the day whether it is for 2 hours or 10.
4. I am running a business. I pay insurance, I absolutely pay my taxes. I pay for my professional-quality equipment and the maintenance of it. It is expensive.
5. Experience. I am a professional that has been shooting now for over 18 years. If something goes wrong; I have you covered. I’m not going to panic. I pivot. That is worth something to me. I hope it is worth something to you.
6. Time of year. I am much more willing to charge less for a smaller wedding in the off-season or an off-day. Get married on a Friday? I just might be more willing to give you a discount. The middle of winter? Sure. Let’s talk.
7. Weddings are stressful and require a LOT more concentration than other shoots. Backyard weddings are actually MORE work for me as it takes a bit more creativity to make the shots look good. Fancy upscale surroundings = easier to make shots look beautiful. Avoiding that arborvitae hedge and the neighbor’s tree? Not always so easy = more retouching.
8. And speaking of retouching…There are hours and hours and hours after a wedding session spent in front of my computer picking out the best shots. Adjusting the lighting, removing a zit. THAT is also part of the cost. Shooting is really only about a third of the time involved. Maybe even less.
9. Location scouting, pre-wedding consultations and planning meetings are also included in that time. There is a lot of administrative “behind the scenes” stuff that takes place and is part of that cost.
I hope I’ve shed some light on some of the philosophy involved in how/why I do things the way I do when it comes to wedding pricing and scheduling. I know I’m not right for everybody. And you’re in luck. There are a lot of us out there these days doing this. A lot.
I would love to be a part of your most special day. I put my all into my work.
Having said all of this I no longer offer wedding packages. In the time I offered them, I rarely had a bride book one. This one didn’t want an engagement session. That one wanted an extra hour. That one wants the album and not the digital negatives.
I give EVERY bride a custom estimate based on total time and their needs. And I almost never send this estimate to you unless we can first sit down together. I often have ideas on how to make your day run more efficiently and save you photography costs in the end.
So that’s the long answer in why my wedding base price is $1000.
And here is a lovely photo to go with this post.