As a photographer running a business, I realize that lots of people have lots of ideas & opinions about photography – what it involves, what it costs (or should cost), and what it should produce. I’m well aware that there is a wide variety of opinion out there, which is fine, but what bothers me is that a lot of it is based on preconceptions that are not accurate. Or at the very least, based on a lack of information or even misinformation. One of my roles as a custom photographer is to help give you the information you need to make well-informed choices about your photography needs, so I’ve decided to address some of the most common questions and misconceptions on my Blog over the next several months. The first one is quite common, and it addresses the fact that my wedding pricing is based on the event…and I only have one, all inclusive package regardless of the size of the wedding.
On first glance, it appears completely logical and reasonable to expect that a small intimate outdoor wedding with only 30 guests should cost much less than a full blown church wedding and country club reception with 250 guests.
But let’s think about this for a bit. First of all, I can only shoot one wedding a day; most of course are on Saturdays in the summer, so there are a limited number of dates. If I accept a small wedding with a smaller cost, I lose the chance to book a larger, more profitable one. I also lose the chance to shoot several regular portrait sessions on that Saturday, which are far less stress and just as (or even more) profitable. Also, I typically book my weddings one year or 18 months ahead of time. That means I HAVE to be there, no matter what comes up for me at the last moment; illness, family event like weddings of relatives, vacations, birth or death. BUT, you say, IT WILL BE MUCH LESS WORK! Less guests, shorter ceremony and all that.
OK, let’s think about that one. My typical image making sequence starts several hours before the wedding, with the bride getting her hair & makeup done and the groom getting ready. I try to get all of the family shots at this time, bride and groom individually with their parents and close wedding party, shots of bride alone, groom alone, details of the dress and shoes, etc. Then we move on to the ceremony – down the aisle, vows, kiss, etc. Then romantic shots of the bride and groom, attendants, then cake cutting, detail shots of the reception such as place settings, and of course first dance and toasts. My focus is on the bride and groom and their day, and it doesn’t matter at all if there are 20 or 250 guests, because THAT’S NOT WHO I’M TAKING PICTURES OF! In fact, in a smaller shorter time frame, I’m taking just as many shots as in a big wedding ; actually more pressure for me. I presented 450 images of my last wedding to the bride and groom – two were shots of all of the guests posed on the dance floor (used a fisheye lens to fit them all in – very cool btw), and about fifty were of various shots of guests…the rest were all about the bride and groom.
Something else you may not realize – all of those images have to be processed. Most of the wedding work happens AFTER the big day. The image files have to be sorted, archived, processed, cropped, and printed; slideshow has to be made; album has to be designed. Again, since I literally have almost the same number of images from a small wedding as a large one, I put in the same amount of time . I simply can’t do it for less money, or I can’t stay in business. BUT, you say, WE DON’T NEED AN ALBUM RIGHT NOW. WE DON”T NEED ALL OF THOSE SHOTS OF US!
And here’s where I have my own opinion. There are three kinds of wedding couples in my experience:
One, those whose priority is to have a ceremony where their primary objective is to provide a wonderful experience for their guests and loved ones. These are the people who don’t want to spend time away from their guests taking photos, and just sort of want someone to document the events of the day.
Two, those whose primary objective is to have a ceremony that is all about the romance and love between them, and the invited guests are there as treasured observers of their special moments. These are the people who make time to steal away in private for those romantic shots.
Three, those who want both and realize that it requires time, planning, and expense to do both well.
A less experienced photographer or even a family friend with a “really good camera” may be more than capable of capturing regular images for couples in the first category. But they will seldom produce the kind of magazine-quality romantic images that you see on The Knot. There’s nothing at all wrong with that kind of coverage, especially if you would rather spend time with your guests than being photographed. I offer an alternative for these couples – a “trash-the-dress” or day-after session (see my wedding website). It’s a way to get those romantic images without taking time away from the Big Day itself.
I structure my standard wedding coverage to meet the needs of the second and third types. My passion and focus lies in getting the romantic, artful images that will only ever happen once! I believe that the best weddings are love stories, and that’s what I want to capture. You will never be as beautiful, happy, and glowing as a couple again. After all, the images are the only thing after the wedding is over that lasts forever…even the memories fade. And this is where my age maturity kicks in, because I am here to tell you that after all of the time and attention and planning and expense of the wedding, it only makes sense to complete it with a beautiful album that you can keep and look at over and over forever. You will never regret doing it – but you will almost certainly regret NOT doing it.