Dec 26, 2022
“I’m so glad I didn’t compromise” vs “I really wish I wouldn’t have compromised”
Two different people whose story has happened in various weddings across the country. Inside this post I’m going to give you the insight and reveal insider secrets to help you to be the person who can say “I’m so glad I didn’t compromise”…
After reading this entire article you gonna walk away with:
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Ps: I help people find the perfect photographer for them even if that isn’t me!
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What pricing tells you about the photographer’s skills and value you will receive:
“What does a typical wedding photographer cost”
Typical is just another word for average, neither of which give you the information that matters to you.
On an average, you get the pricing of one photographer whose experience is nothing and quality of camera and product is nonexistent to that of a person who has years of experience, high end equipment with endless testimonials to their experience.
Think about a burger from McDonald’s VS an Angus barn Burger… Now think about that impact on your wedding.
When looking for a wedding photographer in Raleigh NC, you don’t want AVERAGE but the RIGHT one for you!
When looking for the RIGHT photographer the question shifts to “How much does a wedding photographer who focuses on what you value most cost?” instead of simply “what does a typical wedding photographer cost”
It is with this question you will switch from a focus on what others are spending to finding a wedding photographer you LOVE and will end up with an amazing experience.
But how do you know the costs and their value vs what I can afford? This is where I will break down costs of average and what you get with each benchmark
Brand New ($0-500)
These are photographers who are brand new and have never shot a wedding, probably never have worked as second shooters either and have little to no wedding experience at all.
This is a risky situation to place yourself in. They will have no ability to instill confidence in you about their ability to deliver or capture your event.
These are photographers who may have shot some weddings but do not likely have high demand or the quality to beget higher pricing.
You will likely feel with these photographers an ability to make sure global coverage is gotten in a base level way. You will not feel confident in front of their camera or the photos you receive might be a let down from what you hoped. They will likely not have the skills to give you natural poses that make you feel both confident and relaxed in your photos or how to pull out your individual love story with an editorial flare of knowing what works best for you. Or other skills that a higher end photographer might gain you.
Photographers who have shot a decent number of weddings but due to still developing their stylizing skills, they do not have high demand. Likely not full time photographers.
You will likely feel perfectly fine. Agreeable and quality matched to their price point. They are giving you pretty solid services for the cost, priced enough to maintain their gear. Their service will likely still have it’s bumps as they are figuring out and grow in their developing style.
Growing Photographer ($2000-3000)
These photographers are likely in higher demand than others. Because their style is getting more established and their ability to have consistent results, this is the start of more the “professional” feel. During this growth, the demand being high they will likely want to take advantage of this and as a biproduct of accpeting large number of weddings to their schedule, you might expect for customer service surrounding the wedding (such as reply times, return of photos, album design, answering questions) might be erratic as they haven’t figured out streamlining their process and thus get bogged down.
You will likely feel pretty confident about what they can provide for you. They will at this point be invested in pretty good gear and have a wide enough portfolio for you to feel confident in what they will provide.
Photographers in this category are in high demand. Their artistry shows in their consistent work.
You will likely feel very confident in their ability to produce and provide artist comprehensive coverage of your wedding day. Their structured business allows you to be sure that your care will be consistent and high quality photographs.
Luxury ($4000-7000 and beyond)
These photographers have very established and refined styles and skills as well as luxurious service or options.
You will likely feel extremely confident and at complete ease at their ability to take on any event even extreme high profile events with ease. Delivering artistic and cultivated stories with refined styles that are highly sought after.
Want help finding out what you should spend on your photography based on your desires:
“What you value most about wedding photography?”
This is honestly a question not asked enough. For each couple it is different. This section is designed for you to ask yourself questions, so you don’t compromise on your values!
Unsure of how to tier what values matter most for you?
“The truth or myth of “spend 10% of your budget”
This is a statement that became popular to give you a baseline to your question of “how much to spend”. Photography should be 10% of your wedding cost. While this isn’t a bad baseline or thought there is a large error in it because this takes nothing about you as a person into account. Which honestly goes back to the last section: what matters to YOU!
What you need to focus on is what is going to be of value to you years down the road.
While 10% might be perfectly fitting for some people, I have seen many people who decide to move their numbers around in their wedding budget because they desire to have long lasting artistic and editorial style wedding photos that they would not get on this “10% of budget” plan.
This is a very personal question. I suggest you start with what is most important to you for your wedding. If it is having photographs that capture the emotions of the day and not just check the box… then focus on finding a wedding photographer who you LOVE and then work your other budgetary costs around that. In this line of thinking you make a list of top priorities for your wedding day and then work from that to get where they fit in your budget. If your wants are getting to a place that’s not fitting your budget, start cutting costs at the bottom of your priorities list.
One of the only things that you will walk away from your wedding day still having are your memories and the photographs that help you recall them.
I help you find your dream photographer even if that’s not me:
What aspects do you gain or lose based on the photographer you choose…
Unsure of what’s right for you and not sure where to begin, I can help talk you through it and help you find the perfect photographer even if that isn’t me.
This seems pretty basic to mention but it does actively play a part in their costs. A person who is single with very little overhead costs and has no one depending upon them will have a greatly different focus, pricing and life than a photographer with a family.
More than likely you will be drawn to someone who is similar to you or someone who you feel invested in or desire to emulate. This may or may not be a photographer with a luxury price point, that’s greatly influenced by you.
But a caution I would say is anyone who has not figured out a work life balance out put, service and work will be inconsistent. This can quickly unravel in its effects in your photos and experience. When you choose your photographer their price will be paying for both their lifestyle and their stability of their work.
Location location LOCATION! Pricing will be greatly affected by where you live. If you live in an area with higher expenses the costs of photographers will also be higher. For example LA costs of photographers will be likely double or triple what the costs of a wedding photographer in Raleigh NC or surrounding rural areas.
Speaking in generalities: the larger the city the larger the cost.
This is not something to be overlooked. Years of photographing weddings and many weddings under their belt allows you to know they have had much time to create their process through trial and error. That you will be receiving the best care based on past weddings and how they have cultivated an even better experience as a result. While experience alone doesn’t allow you to get a full understanding of their services it can give you a baseline to know that they have put in the leg work for keeping their business running for those years and that they will be more consistent and stable than someone just starting out.
An experienced photographer who is being asked to photograph in a new to them venue will be likely to go to this venue in advance. Have taken the time to look at it during the time and light that they will be shooting. You should be confident in a photographer taking the time to have picked out ideal locations for things like first looks, family formals, bridal portraits. But this investment and forethought also comes with it’s cost, which will generally be above the “average”.
Want to better know what photographer might be right for you, even if that isn’t me…
While similar to experience, expertise is not the same thing. Experience simply refers to years of having been in the position but not necessarily acquisition of skills and mastery. This is the idea that in any given wedding situation they will know how to handle what’s coming.
Expertise is photographic skills. Handling different lighting situations being a key thing that can be often overlooked
Interpersonal skills. Conflict and how to handle them. In your wedding day there are many needs that will arise between timelines adjusting, handling group situations like family formals and making sure this is a streamlined process. This includes emotional cues and how to handle them, the day can be filled with stressors that can be avoided and diffused in skilled hands.
Business skills: providing consistent and stable service and product
These skills directly affect and drive up prices because of demand. Reviews and full galleries are a good way to get a good idea of the expertise level of your photographer.
What fits your wedding perfectly
Style is a subjective idea. However their style will affect your philosophy and their edits of your photographs. Higher end photographers’ styles have been cultivated and honed till a point of very refined to be that of a style in high demand. Style often directly correlates to demand for the market’s desire.
Style can be light and airy, original/true to nature, dark and moody to name a few.
The demand of that style mixed with their experience and expertise in that particular style will greatly affect their pricing.
Demand is simply the idea of the number of people requesting their services. If you have a photographer who has crafted their skill, experience and style to be the best in their facet their demand will be high and with that their costs will match that demand.
This is a fairly simple thought but it will greatly affect the price of the photographers you are considering.
What’s included in their standard packages
This is a fairly simple idea: Some photographers will include more things for their clients in their standards while others will have it down to only the basics and then the price is driven up with each thing that is added.
A photographer might start off with a lesser price but they don’t include photos with their hours of coverage, so for you to get the ability to print or own your photos that is an added cost. If you want a wedding album it has additional costs. If you want a second shooter it is an added cost. If you want an engagement session that is added costs. While you were first excited at how little they cost, the price drives up quickly.
Desire to figure out what photographer is perfect for YOU!
Things to pay attention to if they include:
-Do they include 1 photographer or 2 photographers?
-Is an engagement session included?
-Is a wedding album included?
-Do they include consultations for reacting custom timelines and consultations and availability to help you on venues or other vendors?
The truth about your wedding
An article came out and blew up about how don’t say it is a wedding and your costs will be less.
Something you need to keep in mind… is a wedding really like any other event? Is it:
These questions can apply to many vendors on your wedding day. The physical, emotional and psychological weight of a wedding is greatly different than just another event… AND IT SHOULD BE.
To give you a perspective on investment of a photographer on a wedding:
1-4 hours of emails and meetings in the initialization of services
2-3 hours of engagement session (travel time and photographing time)
1-3 hours of post editing and gallery upload of engagement session photos
10-20 hours of work on the wedding day (travel to/from, setting up/tear down of equipment, actual coverage of the wedding day, uploading and transferring of photos)
10-30 hours of editing
1-3 hours of miscellaneous tasks to make the wedding day and post work function consistent with no stress for couple
That’s over 60 hours of wedding day work, not including all the other costs associated with this process such as:
Gas, gear costs, maintenance and updating of gear, education/improvement costs, business insurance and other business expenses, keeping software and hardware up to date, advertising costs, etc.
It is pretty safe to say that most photographers will be investing near 100+ hours on your wedding day experience to be what it is.
Example: say a photographer needs to make $60K a year to make their bills. They have an additional $20K in costs of gear and business expenses. And let’s say they shoot 40 weddings a year. That means they would need to charge $2,000.
Cost per hour works out to be less than $20hr and that doesn’t keep in mind that they will have to pay self-employment taxes which are about 15%.
If you are getting a photographer who is willing to get paid $20 an hour they are likely not investing in their business because they cannot.
Could you imagine what the services of a CPA would look like at $20 an hour? But this isn’t just an event but a once in a lifetime event. Paying $20 an hour expertise and artistry to cover your once in a lifetime event that you cannot be recreated…
Helping you get a perfect wedding even if that isn’t me:
Your budget for wedding photography is based more in your priority and value than an easy plug in number. It is what you invest in it.
If they have a good reputation and you love their photos throughout the day, you like their personality and they make you feel confident then book them!
This might look different to different people. If you are booking a higher end photographer you are working in what is higher expertise and demand. You can find photographers who are worth more than their price suggests but this is a risk. That is up to you on if it is worth that risk for you and your priorities.
No matter what you choose, it cannot be overlooked the importance of photography on your wedding day as the means to preserve your memories for you, and any generations to come. No matter who you choose for your wedding day they will be working incredibly hard for your wedding day and cherish that investment in your life and show of love that it is.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts and please feel free to contact me and tell me your thoughts!
If you have further questions or want to know a bit more about this Wedding Photographer then I’d love to chat!
Ready to be sure you’re going to to feel relaxed and radiant in your photos and at your wedding? …
© RACHEL ABI PHOTOGRAPHY
Rachel Abi is a Wedding photographer in Raleigh NC specializing in candid wedding photography as well as natural looking posed wedding photography in Raleigh NC. As a Raleigh wedding photographer. I am very familiar with both Raleigh wedding venues, Durham Wedding Venues and most all wedding venues in NC. I am more elated to talk about options for wedding photography in Raleigh and I have been labeled as one of the top North Carolina Wedding Photographers. Open 24 Hours. 7 days a week
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