Instead of Asking me "Why are you so expensive?", Why You Should Be Asking This Instead

February 11, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Copyright Mike Yost Photography Yes, Weddings are expensive...

And every bride wants the very best she can get for the budget she has set. I talk with couples everyday and many ask me "Why are you so expensive?". Yet, they have no problem with paying a venue $5,000, a caterer $3500, or the cake makers $500-1000 for things that last only for the day.

Back 10 years ago, we "lowly photographers" were considered to be one of the most important hires any couple could make. 5 years later, not so much. It became more about "the experience" and less about the memories. Yet, today, those same "less about the memories" group is regretting their decisions regarding hiring a professional photographer. I see them everyday and hear their stories and "wish we would have hired you back then" to capture our wedding.

There is also the couple who hired that "cheap wedding photographer" and also have many of the same regrets. Usually they got nothing but a disc of images and vowed to make their own album. Sadly, that disc is no longer sitting in the drawer where they put it for safe keeping, the photographer is no longer in business, and all their wedding day memories are lost to the ozone layer. The simple fact is, if I listed all the "horror stories" people have told me about their wedding photos, this would be 40 pages long.

So what about these "cheap photographers"?

As a wedding photographer in Jacksonville, Fl, I can tell you there are tons of them out there. In many cases, these are people who got a brand new DSLR for Christmas and "love photography" and want to convince you that they are a "professional photographer" since they charge people to take pictures. Well, sadly, these people actually get couples to hire them and that's when the regrets start to surface- usually about 3-4 weeks after the wedding and you get to see your photographs.

There is a lot more to photographing a wedding that carrying around a camera all day and snapping pictures. If that's all you want, then hire that cheap photographer. But if you really desire those professional images that are going to be a real, true representation of your wedding day, consider asking this important question of the "other guy"...

"Why are you so cheap compared to everyone else?"

Usually you get that dumb look from the "cheap photographer" when you ask that question. That is the tip-off that you are going to get the "I don't want to rip you off like those expensive photographers do" reply. That's almost a sure fire sign that they are just "starting out" and think that weddings are a quick and easy way to make a little extra money taking pictures. Rarely are they a full-time professional photographer.

There are several other questions you should be asking as well. "Can you show me printed images of your wedding photography?" "Can you show me a complete wedding album?" "How man weddings have you photographed in the past 3-4 years?" I could give you another 20 or so other "technical questions" to ask, but they would perhaps be meaningless, but you get the idea. So what are the correct answers?

Printed images are vital to understanding if the photographer really produces quality images. Are they "grainy" or pixelated? Do they actually have any to show you? A printed image shows every flaw they have in editing. An image on screen vs. one in print- they are 2 totally different animals. If they don't have printed images, then run. And if they break out the cell phone to show you their portfolio, I think you should get the idea of what to do. You want to see BIG photographs- printed ones, not tiny little cell phone images.

A true professional wedding photographer is going to want to show you an album and usually of a complete wedding they have done. This is your way of determining if their style matches yours and if their images ARE of print quality. It will also tell you if color correction is good and the quality of their editing skills. WAY too many "cheap photographers" do very little editing and just "shoot it and burn a disc" for you. Once they discover the amount of time needed to properly edit your wedding images, they rarely are "cheap" for long.

Another measure is to know how many weddings they have photographed and for how many years. Honestly, it takes a couple of years as a "second shooter" to learn the flow of a wedding, the proper place to be for photos, and how to handle the horrible lighting that often times weddings have. Even then, photographing a wedding without a minimum of 30-50 weddings under their belt is a risk you are taking in hiring them.

"So what do I really need to ask?"

First, ask if they have a business license. If they are claiming to be a Professional Photographer, they will have one. They are also going to be registered with the State to collect Sales Tax as well. If they don't have either, they are not a legitimate business and you take a risk they could "take your money" and never show up.

Ask if they carry Liability Insurance. Without it, and someone trips over a light stand at your wedding, YOU could be liable if someone gets injured.

Ask if they are a member of any Professional Photographer Associations. A wedding pro is going to be  a member of the PPA, WPPI or perhaps their Local Association. This shows your commitment to their profession in learning new techniques that are always changing.

Because someone is "expensive" is usually because they are genuinely a Professional Photographer. They have all the necessary education, experience, and know how to provide you with the images that you so much desire. Hiring "cheap" can be the disaster you will dread and discover it's way to late to do anything about it. As I always say, "I only get one chance to photograph your wedding. There are no do-overs".


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