The wedding photography season here in Canada is in full swing and to me that makes it a perfect time to address one of my personal pet peeves about the photography industry: The gouging of wedding parties (heck it goes way beyond just photography).
Have you ever looked at a photographers website and noticed that their prices for weddings / engagement pictures is significantly higher than their prices for portrait work? I am not talking a couple of hundred dollars higher but often double or triple what they would charge for portraits.
Now I want to be clear, shooting weddings is very different than shooting portraits! You only get one chance to capture your images during a wedding, miss the moment and it is gone forever. This means that you have to spend more time preparing for the event so that their are no surprises, and preparation takes time. A wedding photographer also needs to spend more time in post-production touching up shots that need some work, unlike portrait work where shots that require anything more than a minor fix are simply deleted.
I spend more time on wedding pictures than on portraits but nowhere near double, and my prices reflect that. Many of my fellow photographers on the other hand take advantage of those getting married and charge an extra arm or leg, money people reluctantly spend to get the images they want on their wedding day. This is demonstrated perfectly with engagement photo prices, they are nothing more than portraits after all, which should be priced the same as regular portraits but are just as expensive.
So when you are shopping for a photographer ask the big question… “Why is this more?” if they can’t explain adequately then they are simply ripping you off.
This is one of the most common questions prospective clients ask me,
and I thought it would make a great blog post. When you walk-in to the
portrait studio inside a Big Box Store, you will always see some sort of
special advertised (i.e. Their $7.99 portrait special!)… and it
seems really cheap, until you get all the details. The posted specials
are for 1 person, in 1 pose only. If you want to add a 2nd person to
the picture? Add on a sitting fee of about $5. Want to add more
people? Be prepared to pay for them.
Now that doesn’t seem too bad does it? Well let’s look at what happens
once you enter the studio… the photographer will put everybody in
front of a background and pose you for the camera. He/she will then
proceed to take pictures and get you to approve / reject them until
there is one you like, that 1st pose will be the one they will print
for your package. The photographer will then proceed to take at least
5 more pictures… but you don’t get those unless you are willing to
cough up more cash. How much more cash? $10 per sheet at most stores
(so if you want all 5 additional poses, add $50).
So, if you have 2 people in a picture and want all the poses you are
looking at $62.99. What if you want digital copies of those pictures?
Well you are going to need to upgrade to one of the package’s the Big Box Store
offers. The cheapest package is their Bronze package, which as I am
writing this is $99 on their website. That includes 10 sheets of
pictures, from any of your poses and if you want to add on the picture
CD it will be an additional $79.99! Total price for 6 pictures in both
print and digital form at the Big Box Store starts at $178.99. Their prices can
go as high as $249.98 for the platinum package (and it’s still only 6
Now, lets look at what I charge for a portrait package… my prices
currently start at $100 for 30 minutes of photography time, during
which I will capture 10 to 15 different poses and deliver them all to
you on disc. Want more poses? An during an full hour session I will
deliver between 20 and 30 different poses. Additionally with me, you
are not limited to a few different backgrounds. I am able to shoot my
clients on location, any where in Calgary (or anywhere else if my
travel is covered). That means you can get professional pictures
cheaper than the Big Box Store.
As a final point about the difference between a professional
photographer and the Big Box Store is the experience of the person behind the
camera. I have 17 years experience in photography. My knowledge is
based on taking hundreds of thousands of pictures (I can take as many
as 50,000 in a single year). I have not only been published, I am also
an experienced photography educator. the Big Box Store on the other hand posts
right in their job ads “No Experience necessary. Training provided”,
which really says it all.”
Note: This post originally named the big box store from which I got pricing information. My lawyer saw that and worried I would face a lawsuit as a result… a lawsuit that even though I was quoting numbers from their own advertising would result in enough legal fees to bankrupt me. Therefore the big box store in question name was removed.