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I'm Jessica (my friends call me Breezy) and I am a photographer serving the Sioux City area.
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Lately, I’ve seen a lot of two-types of on social media:
1) Customers posting “in search of photographer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg” in the buy-sell-trade boards
2) Photographers addressing posts like the one described above
So, at the risk of sounding like a basic, internet rant, I want to flip the script a little bit and address why photographers cost more than you might originally expect.
Photographs will be the only thing that last beyond the wedding day (other than the marriage, of course). You’ve probably heard this before, but just roll with me. The cake and food will be eaten, the decorations will be sold in buy-sell-and-trade groups, the flowers will wilt or dry out, the dress will get pushed to the back of the closet, and the venue will only belong to you for ONE day.
Among all of those things that get left behind, your photos will remain. Your portraits will hang on your walls. Your album will live on a shelf where your daughter, and granddaughter, will cherish the moments, admiring it and dreaming of their own weddings. Your children will search for wedding photos as they plan and decorate your 25th anniversary party. Your wedding portrait will sit next to that of your parents and your children one day as your grandchildren put together a family heritage project. Your wedding photos are literally the first family heirloom you will have. Yes, I realize how overly enthusiastic I sound, but I believe in what I do with my entire heart.
Let’s talk numbers first, even though they’re uncomfortable. New photographers usually cost in between $500 and $1500. As they gain more experience and collect more equipment, the range will bump up to $2500 or higher. Ones that have been in the industry for 5 years or more usually reach the $4000 to $5000 price point, and that will be even more if you’re in a large city. Now, I know that is hard to understand for most consumers, but let me play the photographer’s advocate and explain the three main reasons why we are worth that value – not cost, VALUE.
Photographers are worth the investment because they are skilled. Yes, everyone can snap a photo. We all have cameras that we carry in our pockets daily. But think of it this way: we can all type a word document and that doesn’t mean that we are all award winning authors. It takes a natural, artistic ability to visualize and compose a compelling photograph. On top of that artistic ability, we also have the trained skill to operate an advanced tool. Just because I am self-taught, does not mean that I am not trained in a craft. It’s similar to how electricians or mechanics are trained to use their tools. Photographers master cameras that do more than a lot of computers. We also utilize strobe flashes to create light where it’s not available. We know which lenses will blur the background the most beautifully and we know how to command the principles of composition to give you the most flattering image. Photographers that are worth your money are true MASTERS of their craft and have more skill than most people assume.
This is a huge component to why you want to invest in a great photographer: he/she will be with you from the early hours of the morning to the late party hours of the evening. And when I say with you, I mean right by your side.
You will spend more time with your photographer than you do with your bridal party. I wish that was an exaggeration. When your maid of honor is getting sick from day drinking, your photographer will be the one holding your bouquet and the train of your dress while you use the bathroom. When you and your new husband don’t know how to cut the cake or how to fold the pocket square, your photographer will be there to lead you through it. AND make it look dang good on camera! On the off chance that you can’t get the rowdy guys to listen during portraits, your photographer will step in and be the bad guy commanding attention so that you don’t have to!
Even more than the time your photographer will spend serving you on your wedding day, is the time he/she will be working for you before and after the big day. When both the pastor and the DJ are asking for your timeline, it will be your photographer that you’re calling late on a Thursday night to write it out. Photographers dedicate a lot of time learning your personality, your wishes for your wedding day, your dog’s name and favorite noise, your Mom’s “good side” to photograph, etc. We will be the ones helping to plan outfits and locations for engagement sessions, helping to coordinate the colors of the dresses and tuxes, and the ones helping you narrow down a gallery of 700 images to 40 for the final album.
Once we’ve spent 10 to 12 hours shooting your wedding day, we will also be the ones spending 30 or 40 more hours sorting and editing images, creating the precious album you’ll cherish, writing a sincere blog post that your friends and family will love, uploading to your gallery, helping you choose the one that’s the best profile photo, and helping your Mom know which image will crop best for the frame on the mantle. I could literally go on and on about what we do behind the scenes, but the bottom line is we care. We adore our clients and want to serve them to the best of our ability.
This is probably the weirdest one to include, but it will make a huge difference in the quality of your end result. Photographers that charge more than your venue, do so because they have collected the equipment necessary to get the results you want. It’s not just a camera. It’s a high end camera, or three, with a jaw-dropping price tag. It’s a lineup of 4 or more lenses with equally surprising pricing. It’s a combination of 2 or 3 flashes along with battery packs and stands to make them work into the late night hours while your best friends are hitting the dance floor. Not every person with a camera has the entire army of equipment that it takes to achieve the images you really want!
Your photographer is one person. One person commanding the attention of many during portraits. One person carting around a lot of heavy equipment so he/she is prepared for anything. One person working ten to twelve hours in one day to tell the entire story of your wedding. One person editing hundreds of photos and writing loving stories about you and your husband. If you are not the type of person who values the person who will provide skill and service beyond your imagination, then more power to you, put your money into an incredible buffet! But if everything I wrote about sounds like what you truly care about, then asking for a photographer that isn’t expensive is not the best way to find the right person!
So maybe, just maybe, this post could change the way some clients shop for photographers, and have them asking “in search of a photographer who will be able to create art and heirlooms” instead of focusing solely on the price.
For tips and updates follow me on Insta @jessica_brees