A couple of nights ago I received an email to do a free wedding. The person who emailed me (and I'm not even sure if it's a real email address because I got the mail demon error back when I replied "LOL" and no I wont' give you the email address either) and said they really liked my work and wanted to do me a favor and let me shoot their entire wedding including two hours before and the entire reception, give or take two hours on top of the eight hours they already booked the place for. So in total he/she wanted me to work for 12 hours in just shooting time for free. That doesn't count the hours it would take me to process the photos. For free. LAUGH OUT LOUD!
I find it insulting when someone asks me to discount my services. I already give discounts to certain professions and several times a year I offer discount sessions. I find it insulting because I am priced at where I need to be to keep the lights on in my house. Each of my sessions I work at over a 40 hour work period just like a "normal" job. Some sessions take longer. Also I am not at my desk 24/7. I "go to work" at 7am and "leave work" at 4pm. I take breaks during the day and an hour lunch. Some nights I do spend more time working but it doesn't happen often.
Back to the wedding..
Weddings are difficult and hats off to wedding photographers. I shoot newborns and at the end of that 4 hour session I feel like I've been rode hard and put away wet. When I get home I usually crash for a few hours. Or eat. And definitely have a drink.
I got married by a judge lady with a nose ring and bright red stripe in her hair so I don't know what it's like to "plan the big white wedding dress wedding". I started to do it once but the military got in the way. And then a pregnancy so we just shot gunned it at the courthouse. I do know that I did have the dress of my dreams and it only cost me $500 but that is as far as my wedding planning experience went. I used to plan events for the military and I know they can get costly but I have to ask this...WHY on this wonderful planet of ours would you NOT spend the most money on a wedding photographer when they do the MOST work and the photographs are going to last longer than anything else at your wedding? Ok, maybe they won't last as long as your wedding rings.. actually, when you are dead and buried wearing those rings don't you want your children, grand children and great grand children and great, great grand children to see those photos? Get where I am going??
In my experience with a wedding it went a little something like this.. I drove two hours one way and showed up for two hours before the wedding to do all the getting ready photos for both the bride and the groom. Then the ceremony was about an hour. I had to evil eye someone with a "big" camera who kept getting in all of my shots. GET OUT OF THE AISLE YOU BOOBIE. Then photos for another two hours after the session. AT SUNSET on a beach. Beach photos rock but when you are pressed for time it's not the business for everyone to get in the way. Yes, there were a lot of people who wanted photos. AND there were a lot of other "photographers" cramping my shots. "Look over here!" Eyes darting everywhere and when every Tom, Dick and Sally was finished getting their shots then I, the HIRED photographer who rounded everyone up and posed them got to take HER shot. Then the reception was about five hours. Low key reception. With awesome food, music and cake. And the minister was dancing and drinking! SCORE Then I drove home another two hours. I also didn't mention but I had a sinus infection from hell that only three Excedrin migraines was able to put a dent in. It was my last wedding that I did. I loved it. I love the couple, great friends of mine who are awesome and have a beautiful family. They paid me well. They paid me what I felt I was worth. They didn't ask me to friend discount and didn't ask me a day after the wedding where the photos were.
Photography, no, make that quality photography is a luxury. Just like Jacuzzi bathtubs with the bubble motors that hit you in all the right spots is a luxury. I used to live in a condo that had one of those tubs. And a fireplace. It was in a very nice neighborhood and we paid good money for it all. (And there were no bugs!!!!!)
How does a wedding and a Jacuzzi tub go together? Well, I asked how much it would be if we didn't have a place with a Jacuzzi tub or fireplace because they did have some that were like that. And you know what she told me? It was the same price. I was still living in the same complex with the same paint and walls and maintenance and same neighborhood... See where I am going? When a photographer works for you, even if it's for maybe two hours shorter on time we are still bring all of our knowledge, our equipment and still have all of our same expenses to pay. Two hours is maybe only 50 or 60 less shutter clicks on my shutter and a little less time on my batteries depending on what I am shooting but the rest is still the same. I will spend the same time in post production and perfecting all of your photos for you.
If you've read all the way to the end of this I will leave you with this...
Photographers are people too just like you. We aren't rich. We aren't out photographing people every day of the week. We aren't glued to our computers 24/7. Most of us work alone and wear every title of a company. We are busy and time is money and our time is worth money. Stop trying to treat us any different than another profession. And start valuing us.
Not everyone who owns a camera is a professional photographer who will produce amazing photographs..but that is another blog post. Enjoy your day!
Austin Texas firstname.lastname@example.org 760-402-7287