why our prices are "WACK"...

i read on the Sportsshooter message board about a bride to be in Seattle, WA who posted an ad on Craigslist searching for a wedding photographer and she was appalled at the rates photographers were charging. in her words, they were "WACK" for charging so much.

here is her ad in its entirety...

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!

I know im speaking for more than just myself right now. Alot of brides out there think the same thing. & I bet all you fancy photographers wont even read this. oh-well.
Maybe there are cheaper photographers that will read this and LOVE to take my photos :)
~ ~ ~ end of ad ~ ~ ~

i'm not surprised that some people feel this way. i've heard it a few times myself. so i couldn't help but respond to her ad to try and explain to her why good wedding photographers charge $3,000 (or more) to shoot a wedding.

this is what i emailed to her...

dear puget sound bride...
i am sorry you are having a difficult time finding a photographer for your wedding.

but there is a reason why some photographers charge $3,000 (or more) to shoot a wedding. and if you really think about it, there is a reason why you haven't hired the $1,000 photographer...you don't like their work.

so, aside from the obvious fact that talent cost money, there is more to it than just 'hanging out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them'.

most likely that $3,000 photographer has an assistant and/or a second photographer. i don't do a wedding without one simply because i can not be everywhere. having a second photographer provides a different perspective of the same event, thus giving you more photos. if your photographer is not providing a second shooter, hire a different photographer or be prepared to be disappointed.
cost - $300 - 700

plus the cost of prints
cost - $200 - 400

outside of the wedding day, we will meet with you at least twice, once prior to the wedding and once after the wedding. sometimes more depending on the circumstances.
approx. 3 - 5 hours

if we haven't shot at your wedding site, we'll also go scout out the location(s) to see what the lighting is like and to figure out where to shoot your formal photos and group photos.
approx. 1 - 2 hours

we will also go to your wedding rehearsal to get an idea of what your ceremony will be like. at least i do. i don't like surprises.
approx. 2 hours

you are also paying for experience. we are prepared for just about anything. the more weddings a photographer has done, the more he knows what to be prepared for and what to do when a crisis occurs. like buying the bride a martini (or beverage of choice) when she's stressed out about the limo driver being late. or having bobbie pins or spare buttons ready. i carry a 'bride and groom' kit with band aids, towel wipes, thread needle, tissue, mirror, lighter, swiss army knife, pins and clips of all sizes and a myriad of other little things that may come in handy.
cost - priceless

when we are not shooting or editing or meeting with you, as business owners, we also need to take care of our business. we need to do our bookkeeping, our marketing, our equipment maintenance. yes, you pay for part of this because these are parts of the cost of doing business and part of the money we earn needs to cover the time to do these things. our work is more than just the wedding day and editing.

on top of that, we also have to pay our own medical insurance, equipment insurance and liability insurance, which might be something you might not realize if your employer provides this for you. this is also the cost of doing business.
cost - $500 - $800/month

as a professional photographer that only does photography for a living, there are three reasons that i can think of that a wedding photographer would charge less than $1500 for a whole day wedding...
1. he/she has a full time job and does it on the side for extra income. thus eliminating the need for a steady livable income or having to pay for their own medical insurance...and i forgot to mention, retirement planning.
2. he/she can't command that much money because their photos are not worthy of that rate, and therefore, can not be a full-time photographer.
3. he/she doesn't understand completely the value of their work or the cost of doing business and will either quickly learn to adapt or go broke trying.

so, yes, good photography cost money and unfortunately, this is what has happened with the advent of the digital revolution. because there are no film and processing costs, people have begun to believe that photography has gotten cheaper, but the reality is that it has not.

i spend more time at my computer now because of it. i also need to upgrade my cameras and computer every 3 years. in the film days, i shot with the same cameras for 15 years and didn't even need a computer except for invoicing and bookkeeping.

so i hope that i have added a little insight into why some photographers charge $3,000. it's not that we are trying to rip you off (ok, some might be because some aren't worth that much). but honestly this is what it costs to run a photography business successfully.

but i do wish you luck finding a 'decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.' while 'fun' should be included, 'decently priced' and 'exceptional' and 'amazingly talented' are usually mutually exclusive terms not typically found describing the same thing.

it's not impossible...but in the end, that old saying 'you get what you pay for' usually applies, so choose wisely. you don't get a second chance. there are no do-overs.

and a little advice, you might want to change your ad so you don't sound like a disrespectful, demanding bride. while this is your day and it IS all about you, having a bad (yet honest) attitude about what we do for a living is not going to win over any self-respecting photographer. any photographer, regardless of their rate, is not going to want to work for someone who belittles their profession.

respectfully yours,

an amazingly talented photographer (but not cheap)
~ ~ ~ end response ~ ~ ~

photographers, please feel free to forward this any time you feel the need to. it is unfortunate that some people feel this way, but sometimes we need to inform the misinformed.

if you want to read a couple of more responses, read these:
Nikki Wagner
Kristen Booth