I've been fairly quiet about how this pandemic, and how it has affected not only myself, but how it has drastically changed how wedding business owners operate. More than ever it is imperative that couples understand why it is important to work with professionals who can handle things on the fly, especially now that many couples are vying for dates that they wouldn't have originally. Though no one could have accounted for this pandemic, wedding professionals have time and time again proven why they are an invaluable piece to your wedding (some have probably already come in clutch for you). I am going to tackle this subject as a photographer, because well that's my specialty. My goal is to give you some insight on the photography industry, the difference between your cousin Jimmy or friend Sally taking your photos verses a professional that will make sure your images look magazine worthy and will go above and beyond to make sure you and your significant other have the best day ever.
I'll chat about pricing and why certain price points are the way they are, and why cheaper, doesn't always mean better. I will even tell you the random story of how I photographed a ceremony in head to toe in paint clothes with no makeup on, oh and did I mention I was wearing booty shorts too? That was a fun one.
First things first. I didn't choose photography, photography chose me. Cliche? Perhaps, but it's totally true. I originally only joined Yearbook class to hang out with my friends. Then I was handed a camera, and then it got real. Then I took a film class in college while getting my communications degree and then I WAS HOOKED. My photography, writing and design skills took me all the way to a large school district where I became one of two professional photographers, while simultaneously designing and writing for the district. I shot anything and everything. Classroom events, formal school events, parties and formal head shots.
One day, I was asked to shoot a wedding for some soccer acquaintances at a local small wedding venue. I was terrified, and totally didn't want to do it, but Eric pushed me, like he has a habit of doing and we did it. And I survived, and then all of a sudden we became wedding photographers. I think I charged $900 bucks for that wedding, that included bridals. Never saw a dime of that money. I learned then to get half down after that. So when you ask yourself why so much right now, it's because some of us have had a BAD experience.
I am telling you all of this back story information to explain value to you. If you want a guitarist to play music at your wedding, you're not going to hire someone who just began playing. They might be cheaper, but do you honestly think they are going to sound as good as someone who has done it time and time again, probably to the song that you want. It's the same thing with photography. I have had a camera in my hand since I was 15. I was hired to be a photographer for a district of over 44,000 students. I have shot outside in the cold, rain, wind, and blistering sun.
I have shot weddings inside dark churches where flash photography was not allowed, and a cowboy church where the inside of the barn was yellow. Yellow.....and you know what? I have absolutely loved every single minute of it. I smile when I take photos, I can't help it. This is what I dream about.
So let's talk money honey.
Pricing structures in this area of Texas generally start $2800, for fine art it's a bit more than that, usually around $3000. It's more because fine art photography costs more (think $10 a roll, and then $14-18 to develop it and then shipping costs). So why not just shoot digital you ask? Because remember we are artists and photography's origins are rooted in film and that nostalgia is everything to us. I can always tell digital from film. The quality is so beautiful, the colors unparalleled and that feeling of being caught on film is exquisite. World renowned wedding and art photographers shoot film for publications like Vogue Bridal and Martha Stewart weddings, and when I grow up I want to be just like them.
Pricing can also be calculated by time. Want more time, the price will change, want a second shooter price will change, prints and albums are also add-ons that many photographers have in their repertoire. Eric and I always shoot together, it's a much more efficient process. He can organize people and I can shoot. He can get candids while I get those detail shots.
Pricing also includes post work usually in the form of editing.
Last wedding Eric and I shot a total of 3500 photos. Wow right?! Now obviously some of those will never see the light of day, but hundreds of them will and I edit them all for consistency and the S&S style which you have hired us for. Remember most couples hired their photographers based on the imagery that they see on social media and their portfolio on their website. It will take me hours upon hours to carefully choose that imagery and retouch it.
Abbi and Connor's Wedding at Cathedral Oaks
Do you think Jimmy or Sally is going to do that? No. They will probably just hand over the SD card and say here you go. And then you're going to have to be ok when they have missed a special shot that you had told them about, or things are out of focus, dark, or just plain ugly. Worst case scenario, you don't get them at all. That would be devastating.
I am not saying this to freak you out. I am saying this to help you make an informed and educated decision. DO NOT settle, and don't let budget keep you from your "it" photographer. Wedding Wire came out with the 2020 Newlywed Report check out here.
54% of couples increase their budget. Guess who they typically increase the budget for? You guessed it. The photographer. (I slow nod as I write this.) Do your research, find your top 5 photographers and reach out to them. From there make sure you jive with that photographer. If you don't like that person, it WILL show in your photos.
Did that help? Gosh I hope so, and even if you don't choose S&S I hope you take this information seriously in selecting your photographer.
I did tell you I was going to tell you a story, so here we go.
I was getting married in fall of 2018 and my family and I decided to start a wedding venue. (Ya'll that's a whole other story, called Hidden Creek at StoneHaus )
It was the Summer of 2018 and we were renovating the house on the property. We literally painted every single room in the house. I was tired, hot, dirty and my fingers were cramping SO BAD. I get a text from a venue owner saying, "emergency." I call her.
A miscommunication meant that the photographer that should have been at the venue was not there yet and would not be there for another 40min. But because the venue owner was a professional and had been doing this a long time, called me personally asking for help. I pause and look down at myself. I look like hell, which I say out loud. "I don't think they will care." She says back.
I run out the door, head home, grab my gear and run over to the venue. I roll up in a disgusting shirt and, tight blue athletic shorts blotched in grey paint, let's not forget my hair has paint in it too. The bride hugs me, and I get to work. The other photographer manages to arrive right before the ceremony, we work in tandem. I leave shortly after completing the ceremony. Crisis averted. I hope she received beautiful photos from the other photographer. I went back to my messages later that night and realized she had inquired with me months ago. I don't know why she didn't choose me ultimately, but I thought it was pretty cool I was still able to be part of her wedding, and that is what it is all about.
Megan, The Bride
"Sam was honestly a godsend. Her photography is so beautiful and she literally saved our wedding day. Our original photographer was running late so she stepped in at a moment's notice to photograph our wedding so we could start on time. The pictures she took will be cherished forever and we plan to use S&S Photography for all future family photos!"
Megan's Pictures: The sweetest couple at Silo and Oak
Samantha & Eric