You won’t believe what this Bride had too say…

This posting was made (of all places) Craig’s List. As you read it, put yourself in this Bride’s place as best you can (I left the typos and the misspellings in there-not me  )
WHY is finding an amazing wedding photographer so difficult? :/

I am a Bride who is getting married this summer and have yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.

WHY because the word “WEDDING” is involved photographers think they can change you $ 3,000.00 for wedding photos? Oh, because no bride is going to go without so they are going to pay it, because they HAVE to. They are ripping people off for all they have! Why when you want to get married it costs you AT LEAST 15 grand after all is said-and-done? Its such CRAP!! I love all you $ 3,000.00 photographers out there but i think your prices are WACK. All your doing is hanging out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them.. and thats owrth 3 GRAND!!! You’re making so much money its crazy. I just wish people would be more realistic. I mean the “average” persons salary for 1 freaking month is somewhere around 3 grand. (Thats making 19$ an hour) So you’re going to take someones WHOLE MONTH paycheck for one flippen day of photos? Just because you CAN!!?????? So that maybe they will not be able to feed themselves or pay any other bills they have, right? It makes me SICK!

I know im speaking for more than just myself right now. Alot of brides out there think the same thing. & I bet all you fancy photographers wont even read this. oh-well.
Maybe there are cheaper photographers that will read this and LOVE to take my photos 🙂
Here was my response:
I have read your letter and wanted to hopefully enlighten you.
The tone of your letter infers that there is a great conspiracy to out there to “rip off Brides”. As someone who is firmly in the middle of the Wedding Industry, let me tell you that you could not be more wrong.
The average Photographer will spend typically 8-10 hours of “taking pictures” as you put it , on your Wedding Day. For each wedding they “take Pictures” for, they will also have to do approximately 5-7 hours of continued education so that when they “take pictures” they will be doing the best and most advanced techniques. Many times this education costs money. Further, the average Photographer will spend around $300 and 4 hours (for every time they “take Pictures” ) of marketing efforts and dollars. The Photographer will on average meet with 2 brides for every one that books (to “take Pictures”), which takes around 3 hours. Let’s pretend that the admin stuff of their business magically takes care of itself (the bookkeeping, the licensing and the ordering of supplies, hiring and firing of employees- the day to day operations) This admin stuff doesn’t magically take care of itself (and the expenses are still there too) , but let’s just pretend. Going back to the “taking pictures” there is also approximately 6-8 hours of back end time for every 1 hour of shooting time. This includes the “editing of a few pictures” as you put it, sorting down from 1500 + images (and they have to look at them all) to a manageable amount (this alone takes around 8 hours) and putting together albums, as well as uploading them to the internet. So your 8 hours of “taking Pictures” added with the 5 hours of continued education, coupled with the 4 hours of marketing and the 48 hours of post production adds up to 67 hours (at a minimum) worth of work divided by what ends up to be around half- $1500 = around what you suggest the average bride makes (based on if they stay booked which there is not guarantee)= a little more reasonable rate. Oh, but wait, I did not include the thousands of dollars in equipment, the travel time to and from the event, the insurance, the fees for phones, internet and studios which it costs , not to mention if they have to pay an employee. You are further assuming that they simply go out casually for a few hours once or twice a week and knock down 200-300k a year from “unsuspecting brides”.
Here is the good news- You can find someone who is cheaper. The Problem is that a camera and a business card does not a Wedding Photographer make. If once you find that person, you may decide to keep looking, you can find someone cheaper than that. If you even keep looking all the way up to the day before your wedding, guess what- there is always someone cheaper. Fact is you are equating these photographers as a commodity which they are not. Ask around the industry with non-photographer wedding professionals and see if they have heard of nightmare stories of the photographer a) not showing up b) screwing up the pictures when they did show up c) not providing the final product (it got lost, destroyed or otherwise) afterwards. I see cases such as those all the time on Judge Judy. I mean, why does Lexis rip off people so much- it has the same tires, steering wheel, windows, engine, etc.. as a Kia doesn’t it?
My advice for you is to not blame the price, but to appreciate the reason behind it. Good luck on your wedding (btw- if you need a referral, I am happy to share some names of professionals who care in the Puget Sound area. They will probably cost more, but you will get what you pay for)


What are your Thoughts?


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24 Responses to “You won’t believe what this Bride had too say…”

  1. Mary Cerceo Says:

    Hi Rick,
    As a florist I get the same ‘cheapness’ from Brides. I hear this all the time “I booked a highly expensive venue, and now I don’t have any money to spend on flowers…can you do my wedding of 14 attendants and 15 tables for $500.00?” or “I don’t really care about flowers, can I just have whatever for $500.00?”
    I say…..keep movin’ sister your budget is unrealistic!

  2. Benjamin Howard Says:

    Thank you for including this in your blog. You could remove the word Photographer and placed Disc Jockey in it’s place. Many people think we just show up and put on a few disc. This is excellent.

  3. Don Sparks Says:

    Hey Rick, That is a great reply to her very negative Craig’s List post. Sadly many Brides simply don’t place a high enough value on their Wedding Memories to understand “you get what you pay for”. Yes there is always someone cheaper in every business. However “cheap” isn’t exactly the word I would want associated with my Wedding Photography.
    All My Best,

  4. Millie Wilson Says:

    They think the same thing of the caterer. I try to convince them that I sell a service, not a commodity. Then they’ll get “Aunt Betty” to do it, or “Mom’s Friend”. I’ve been doing this for 18 years and have seen and heard everything. But, I have never had a complaint from those that I do sell. Chef Millie

  5. Wendilynn Says:

    nice response. I’m always amazed at how much work goes on AFTER the pictures are taken by those who are photographers.

  6. Fred Salley Jr. Says:

    My hats off to you with that response. It is so true. Business models say that a photographer should have about 40% cost of goods sold. In other words, if at the end of the year one’s gross revenues is $100,000, there net should be about $40,000. That, of course, is before taxes, social security, etc. So 30 weddings at $3000.00 would mean that someone would net about $40,000 before taxes. That is for 35-40 weeks of work, not to mention all the years of educating ourselves to be sure that it is done well. Not to mention the stress of photographing a wedding, especially 30 of them. I’ll bet the bride who ignorantly made this post on Craig’s List makes more than $40K, with half the stress.

    Well responded to Rick.

  7. Judy Chamberlain Says:

    Right, Rick. They have no idea. On my end, some of these folks think they can pull a band out of a bar – or hire one of their cousin’s friends friends who “has a band.” What we do at weddings is beyond priceless, and it’s a lot more than just showing up and playing some music. Evidently there are a lot of students and amateurs who have had a few gigs (in bars) and now think they are qualified to perform at weddings. As you said, you get what you pay for.

  8. You won't believe what this Bride had too say… « | Wedding Photography Says:

    […] pm and is filed under Marketing to Brides. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own […]

  9. jayfarrell Says:

    It’s all true what you say, but as attacking as she was, she won’t be the one listening to your retort, as she’s already formed her opinion. But it’s good that you responded professionally so the truth in your message isn’t lost. Hopefully someone with a clue will learn something from it.

  10. toni Says:

    Great response. Let’s hope she reads it as well as others.

  11. Says:

    You rock, as usual. But then, this is the bride that thinks the ceremony is ‘a lot of money for only 20 minutes”. Not my client.

  12. Terri Altergott Says:

    Three cheers to you Rick. This was an absolutely excellent, spot on response. Photographers are a dying breed. Photo labs are closing down for lack of work because Photographers are no longer being hired because brides think Uncle Fred can take the same picture that a professional can. As a Wedding Planner, I always tell my clients that they need to invest in a quality Photographer. It’s not like they get a “do over” after the big day if they don’t like the results. Quite honestly, $3000 is middle of the road pricing. I have Photographers that I work with that charge $5000 and they’re worth every penny. But I guess at the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    I sincerely wish someone had educated me before my wedding day. My Uncle took my Photographs and that was our wedding gift. He used to photograph clowns at the Shrine Circus so of course that made him a Wedding Photographer. If you were to see what my album looks like today some 30 years later, you would be appalled. The only way we’re getting a do over now is if we locate a time machine. Very sad!!


    Terri Altergott, PBC
    Something Borrowed, Something New Events.

  13. Rev. Virginia Bishop Says:

    Very well explained! I work with some great photographers and know the amount of time they put in before, during, and after the event. I am finding that cost questions such as this one also impacts officiants. Many times couples only think about the time the officiant is officiating the ceremony not the meetings, phone calls, research, creative writing, etc. Good, professional quality is always at a cost, but, always well worth it.

    Rev. Virginia Bishop

  14. Flor Says:

    Wow, thank you so much for this. You were spot on! Brides don’t see 99% of all of the hard work and trouble that we have to go through. I will be re-posting this article on my blog because all brides should read!

    • gettingmorebrides Says:

      Thank you for that- If Brides truly saw what was behind the scenes, there would be less confusion and many more happy brides!

  15. G. Says:

    It’s not like she can’t find any “exceptional, amazingly talented, fun” photographers.” She just can’t find one willing to work at the same lower prices as one of the many apparently, in her opinion, unexceptional, unamazing and untalented photographers she’s evidently encountering.

    I think part of it is that making these kinds of purchases is something new to young couples and for those without the funds, frustrating because they can’t afford what they want.

    But as one goes along in life some, one sees that when you want that BMW engineering, it’s going to cost more than the chevy. That amazing Victorian house in that great neighborhood, much more than the cape in the cheaper part of town. That 5 star hotel’s more expensive than Motel 6. And so on.

    That’s life.

    The answer isn’t to vent about it and complain like she did. That’s what people with victim mentalities do. The answer is to improve where you are so that you can afford what you want. Or she could postpone the wedding a bit to give herself more time to save up for what she really would like to have. Or amend other parts of her budget to afford the better photographer she wants. Or take a minimum package from a more desired photographer instead of likely wanting a bunch of stuff but only if available at their minimum starting price. She has options. She won’t take them, though. She’d rather complain. She’d rather spend her time writing her vent.

    Similarly, to spend any more time on a consumer who doesn’t wish to pay the fee she’s encountering for the experience – and for a totally elective service she wishes to obtain – is time wasted.

    And time is more valuable than money.

  16. Angelique Says:

    Rick, you are absolutely right! I have read all the previous comments and can agree wholehearterly with each and every vendor, not just photographers. As a caterer for 13 years, I have heard it all as Millie said. The biggest mistake Brides make, in my oppinion, is paying far too much for their venue and then they are left to skimp on all the remaining expenses that truly are the heart of the wedding. The food is one of the most important components. Guests, believe it or not, rate a reception based on the quality and taste of the food.
    In my experience, many clients, not just Brides, do not have a clue about all the additional expenses that exist. There are utilities and insurance ( vehicle, worker’s comp, liability, contents) to pay, time spent on research and writing proposals, purchasing equipment, repairs and maitenance on all equipment , fuel, meeting with potential clients, and of course, emplyoyee labor ( just to name a few). They merely think about the cost of the food and completely ignore all the other components that are relevent to staying in business. Oh! Did I mention taxes? LOL
    Great repsonse, Rick! Keep up the great work!

  17. acaketoremember Says:

    I wrote about this same topic about DIY brides on my blog a while ago…I get the “But it’s just flour, eggs and butter, why is it so expensive” thing all the time with wedding cakes. To illustrate that it’s not an entirely accurate idea I took a photo that I still laugh at to this day and used it on the post…And no, I don’t think that I’m a wedding photographer jus t becasue I own a camera!

  18. Jen Adams Says:

    Perfectly written… I personally choose to keep my pricing a little lower than the “expensive photographer” and also choose to not have a studio outside of the home, do minimal advertising and shows to keep my costs lower as well to help balance that out… You stated it all and kept composure… by the time you add it all up, and the costs come out, it is wonderful how you educated her. Did she ever respond? They don’t understand basic practices of running a business. Some DO just want a person with a camera. If they only knew. Thank you for writing what you did. Bravo!

  19. Doug Bradshaw Says:

    I have posted similar thoughts on my blog answering the question
    “You just point and shoot any way, right?”

  20. Carol Kender Says:

    Years ago, before I even dreamed of being in this business, my daughter got married.

    She did not have a lot of money and tried to cut some corners. Her groom insisted that one of his buddies, who was a “professional videographer”, could tape the whole wedding. She asked her father (who was a decent amateur photographer) to take pictures. I had read some where that a fun activity for the reception was to place disposable cameras on the tables and ask guests to take candid shots.


    The “professional videographer” filmed the whole wedding in the wrong speed. Ok if you like fast forward for the whole event. But his service was free, so how could we complain.

    Her father lost the camera with all the wedding photographs. But his service was free, so how could we complain.

    The guests came through though. After I had to explain how to use the cameras, I collected them and processed the film . Those were the only photos she got. Not great and mostly of other guests, but it was it was. And they were “almost” free.

    Similar disasters accompanied the food, too. But that is another story.

    Bottom line: we got what we paid for.

  21. Cynthia Tomlin for Orchid Dream Design Says:

    “Priceless” commentary, Rick! I provide custom couture for special occasions, and the story, with some exceptions, is the same. I’ve never understood the appeal of the “low bid” wedding gown. It’s a joy to deal with those exceptional brides that understand the cost of bringing a personal vision to fruition.

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