What are you REALLY paying for?

How much? The first words that comes to mind when you’re planning your wedding. J-Lo once said, “My Love Don’t Cost a Thing”, but her wedding(s) sure did! And then some!

But, a lot of couples (and parents) wonder, “What AM I paying for”? Sticker shock sets in quickly when adding up all the trimmings and trappings that go along with the bridal experience. And it definitely brings up questions as to what is necessary and what isn’t.

We provide four services, but the one service that seems to get questioned the most is photography. In our industry, the cost of hiring a photographer on your wedding day can go from next to nothing for a novice or a “shoot and burn” (raw images on a disc—no frills) to $7,000 or more. So, with such a wide range of prices, what is the difference? And why so expensive?

One explanation for higher rates can start with overhead. Studio or store-front rents are a huge line item expense. Many wedding and/or lifestyle photographers opt out of the studio or storefront to avoid that cost—we are among this group.

Of course, equipment is a MAJOR expense. Camera technology moves as quickly as any other form of tech, so upgrading is essential. Flashes take a beating, batteries need replacing, and even props add to the expense.

And, who can forget the basics: Insurance, office supplies, gasoline, auto upkeep, utilities, etc.. Did I mention gasoline? Everyone feels the pinch here!

The often forgotten expense is advertising.  We take pride in our high referral rate, but the fact is that we rely on bridal shows and clicks to our website for the added traffic to keep us busy.  Bridal shows cost time AND money, along with printing costs to make sure our product gets to every bride possible.  Our website requires maintenance and A LOT of time, as well as our Facebook page.  Google costs?  Let’s not even go there.

OK.  So it’s an expensive business to run.  So, how can you keep costs down and offer a quality product to your clients?  One way is volume.  While some photographers “brag” about only taking a limited number of clients a year, we fill our calendar.  Our area of the country has it’s slow period, and that’s our resting period.  Each pro only handles one event a day, but can take two (and occasionally) three events on each day of the weekend.

Another cost control means is NO OUTSOURCING.  All editing, album design and album and print processing is done in house.  It’s a personal touch and it is a huge time and money saver.  We have honed our processes so that each wedding gets the attention it deserves in a timely manner.

Administrative costs are controlled starting at the top.  The owner and the manager run the company during the week and become the team leaders on the weekend.  Our life is our work and all sales calls, accounting, editing, etc. are handled by this team.

So, when you’re comparing photographers and wondering about the cost, don’t be fooled into thinking that you always get what you pay for.  Unless you really want to pay someone’s high rent, overhead, and vacation bills.

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