One of the questions I hear a lot in our industry is why we charge the rates we do. Most people I work with don’t hesitate on the packages because they know what they’re investing in and they know I’m going to give them my all as their photographer. But for those of you who are still on the fence about why wedding photographers charge what they do, let me take a minute to give you some context.
First and foremost, wedding photographers are business owners. I think people see the glamorous side where we get to pick and choose the days for mini sessions or select the weekends we want to work. And honestly, that’s a humongous benefit to be able to have that flexibility and spend weekdays with Billie. I’m super grateful for that aspect.
Another misconception I see is that people assume that because we’re in the wedding industry that we’re going to inflate our prices. But that is JUST not true. My job is to document one of a family’s most significant days in the entirety of their life. I take that very seriously, as anyone who owns a brick and mortar business does.
As any entrepreneur knows, being a business owner comes with some incredible perks and some really high costs. Here are a few of the costs that I account for in my rates:
- Professional equipment: It is crazy important for me as a photographer to have the best, most top-notch equipment to serve my clients. This ranges from my laptop to new cameras, flashes, and other gear to improve my skill and what I offer my clients.This also includes maintenance and cleaning on a regular basis.
- Professional systems: Whether you have an in-person storefront or a fully digital business, you HAVE to have online systems to pull it off and wedding photographers are no different. I pay for the website host, email service, social media planner, and of COURSE client software for contracts and invoices. I also pay insurance every year so that if something happens at a wedding– if I fall, my second shooter gets hit by an inebriated second cousin on the dance floor, or my gear is stolen– I am covered. All of these components build my business but more importantly, they create a smooth experience for my clients.
- Professional wedding photographer growth: Aside from the typical business systems, I also need to make sure I have the best editing software to make the pictures look professional and not something you’d find by choosing the right filter on Instagram. It’s also important to continue my own education in the form of online courses and webinars. All of these are business expenditures, either monthly or by project.
- The Kelsey Albright team: In order to scale my business and offer an even better client experience, I’ve hired four people to help me. I have a graphic designer, photography intern, copywriter, and financial planner.
So if you see a wedding vendor’s rate and get sticker shocked, I would challenge you to see it from the perspective of any business owner. As with anything, we get what we pay for.
–> If you are hiring an attorney, you’re going to look at their rates but also their success rate and how well they get to know their client. Hiring an attorney that’s cheap is not a guarantee you’ll have the experience you’re hoping for.
–> In the same way, I LOVE shopping at Anthropologie not just because they have cute clothes, but because of the entire experience. I know I’m going to walk in the store and feel like a million bucks. I know when I purchase a new outfit, I’m going to love it and it’s not going to fit weird after one wash. Is it more expensive than, say, a similar top from Target? Of course. But it’s worth it because I know what I’m going to get when I make the purchase AND in the months to come.
Wedding photographer rates are priced the way they are because it’s an investment; and because I know how important that investment is, my business is going to provide the BEST possible experience.
My goal in being transparent isn’t that you know how much I spend on my business. My biggest hope is that you see and understand how much I invest in my clients. That’s the whole point. All of those items listed above, from the insurance to new camera gear is so that I can be the best photographer to my clients. When I’m taking a new course, I’m thinking about you. When I’m sending my gear off to be cleaned, I’ve got your wedding day in mind.