A few words about money, and seeing the big picture.
(1.) Some people say photography is an investment. It's not. Your 401K is an investment. A college degree is an investment. Stock in Apple is an investment. These things will theoretically increase in value over time. So let’s keep it real. Photography is not an investment; it’s an expense. Weddings are expensive. I’m going to make the case in the points below why it’s worth spending a good amount of money on photography, even if it means skimping elsewhere.
(2.) I feel embarrassed saying this because it’s so obvious, but all that remains after your wedding is your rings, your spouse, and your photographs.
(3.) Good photographers give you much much more than good photography. What does this mean? It means in the 20 years I’ve been shooting weddings, I’ve graduated from being a shy passive fly-on-the-wall photographer to the seasoned professional who helps run your day for you. Yep, good photographers help run your day. We watch the clock. We know the schedule. We know exactly what needs to be happening at any given moment. And when the timeline goes to hell (and it frequently does because, hey, this is real life and real life is messy) good photographers calmly assess the situation, and know how to adjust on the fly.
(4.) Good photographers don’t lose their cool. Good photographers don’t wilt under pressure. Good photographers immediately defuse stressful situations and put everyone at ease. Read my reviews. Nearly everyone mentions how calm I am, and how calming my influence is. Good photographers keep the atmosphere light and loose. Good photographers are not obnoxious. They don’t try to be everyone’s best friend in that false over-the-top way. Good photographers are punctual. (I've arrived early at every one of my 700-plus assignments.) Good photographers help their clients organize their timeline and alert them to potential snags. Good photographers are sincere, modest, and unassuming. You’re with your photographer for 8-10 hours on the most important day of your life. Your photographer will be standing right next to you during your most vulnerable moments. It matters a huge deal to the quality of your day (and ultimately to the quality of your photographs) if you like and trust that person.
(5.) Good photography and good photographers cost money. There are no bargains in wedding photography. (Let's face it, there are very few bargains in life.) Sure, you will always find someone to do the job cheaper, but the work will look cheaper, and the experience will not be as pleasant and painless as it should be. Photographers who can’t compete on quality will throw inducements at you. Free this, free that. Beware. But at the same time, don’t go crazy and spend like a maniac. Some photographers quite frankly charge crazy sums of money and the quality of the work is very ho-hum to me. Do your homework. You don’t have to spend top dollar for top work. But you will have to spend $$$.
(6.) Some of my brides frequently send me notes a year or longer in advance about how excited they are to work with me because they see my photographs on Instagram each week and love them. So for a full year before their wedding they’re excited about their decision to hire me. (It’s the same thing with booking a special vacation.) The anticipation and build-up are part of the thrill. And when the time comes to post your photos, is it a great feeling to blow up your phone and Facebook and Instagram with genuine, heartfelt raves from your family and friends? You bet it is.
(7.) My prices are middle of the road. I’m not cheap, but I’m not crazy expensive, either. What I like about my price-point is that I’m accessible to nearly everyone from every walk of life. One day I can be shooting at a swanky castle on Long Island; the next day it’s someone’s backyard or a field. I don’t publish my prices because I travel widely. Weddings three hours from my home involve more costs. Also, some months always book out 100% so they cost a little more. Until I know exactly when and where your wedding is, I can’t quote you. But if you’ve done your homework properly you know what mid-range prices are. And that’s where I am.
(8.) Good photographers know the industry. I’m frequently asked for my opinion on the best videographers, DJs, bands, officiants, lighting, planners, and so on.
(9.) Good photographers cost money because we use quality lenses and cameras, as well as high-end computers, software, and back-up drives. We spend money honing and developing our skills. We buy art books and study them. We also give back to the artistic community. For the past 7 or 8 years, for example, I’ve given numerous talks to photography students at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. I mentor young photographers so that the generation that comes after me will do beautiful work. In short, good photographers are artists who produce works of art.
(10.) Now that you know all this, is it really worth saving $1000 to entrust the biggest day of your life to an average photographer who’ll supply you with cookie-cutter photographs?