Everyone by now has seen this two-week old Craigslist ad from Seattle?
The text reads, in part:
WHY is finding an amazing wedding photographer so difficult? :/
I am a Bride who is getting married this summer and have yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.
WHY because the word “WEDDING” is involved photographers think they can change you $ 3,000.00 for wedding photos? Oh, because no bride is going to go without so they are going to pay it, because they HAVE to. They are ripping people off for all they have! Why when you want to get married it costs you AT LEAST 15 grand after all is said-and-done? Its such CRAP!! I love all you $ 3,000.00 photographers out there but i think your prices are WACK. All your doing is hanging out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them.. and thats owrth 3 GRAND!!! You’re making so much money its crazy. I just wish people would be more realistic. I mean the “average” persons salary for 1 freaking month is somewhere around 3 grand. (Thats making 19$ an hour) So you’re going to take someones WHOLE MONTH paycheck for one flippen day of photos? Just because you CAN!!?????? So that maybe they will not be able to feed themselves or pay any other bills they have, right? It makes me SICK!
That would be funny if it wasn’t sad. Of course photographers cost money – photography costs money! Setting the right price is part of my “Running a small photography business” course at Sheridan College.
It is simple: in a free market, you need a price that:
- The market will bear (obviously for this lady that would be lower).
- Is not too far removed from current market pricing for the same product.
- Will not have you go bankrupt.
- Ensures you can do it “well enough”.
A two hour family shoot, once you have all the packing and unpacking and setting up and preparing and editing afterward factored in, can take at least ten person-hours. The equipment used can cost at least $15,000 – up to multiples of that. That is why it costs money to have photos taken.
The bride above is free to go with Uncle Fred, but before she does, she may want to think of this as life long memories that must be captured, and captured reliably, and captured well. In any case, when she does the math, she will see that a plumber is much more costly than a photographer.
If you are a budding pro: do not underprice yourself – or you will go broke. Plot your expenses – all of them, including travel time, taxes, car costs, and new cameras every three years – and offset those against the expected shoots per year. Now you know what you need to make to break even – and ideally you make a profit, of course.
To all photographers: do not be negative, and do not tell people they have to pay you because you need the money. Clients are interested in CLIENT VALUE, not in Photographer Need!
Looking at it more positively, and from the client’s perspective, a few more thoughts on this here: www.michaelwillems.ca/benefits.html