I know what you are thinking…what is this crazy post about?
Breakfast. Yup, but more specifically, eggs v. bacon. Stay with me, stay with me….
I heard a quote once that stuck with me. “When it comes to breakfast, the chicken is INVOLVED, but the pig IS COMMITTED.”
Believe it or not, this quote does relate to wedding photography and let me tell you why.
So often, newly engaged couples (and their parents) will have sticker shock when they begin searching for a wedding photographer. In the vast sea of photographer websites, they will see prices ranging from $500-$10,000+. It can be extremely confusing so today, I want to keep things simple for you.
It comes down to EGGS v. BACON.
Remember how the chicken was “involved” in breakfast? That’s where the $500-$3000 photographers fall.
I can speak to this category because it is exactly where I started. Back in 2008, I charged $1500 for my first wedding. I was a girl with 1 year of amateur experience under my belt. I had a high-end, consumer grade camera (Canon Rebel, y’all!) and no external lighting experience. To be honest, I loved natural light images of the happy couple but reception lighting and dark churches TERRIFIED me. I just didn’t have the gear or education yet to handle low lighting situations.
I was just learning how to use the one flash I owned and I also owned 2 lenses. I didn’t yet own a back up camera body or other back up lenses. Thank goodness that equipment didn’t fail me.
The money I was making was purely supplemental to my family’s income. We didn’t rely on my “side hustle” money to pay the mortgage yet. This was a hobby-on-its-way-to-becoming-a-business. I didn’t know how to accept credit cards at the beginning. I certainly didn’t have a business license yet. That also meant I didn’t have liability insurance either (which is required to shoot at many churches/venues in the Charlotte area).
If I had become ill or injured, that would have been a SERIOUS issue on a wedding day. I only had one friend who was a wedding photographer and we didn’t have an official “on call” system. Heck, I couldn’t even provide a second photographer on wedding day because I didn’t know who to hire!
Back then, I would meet with prospective clients in coffee shops around Charlotte or possibly in my “home studio” (which was really my living/dining room that we cleaned up frantically before clients came by. Think, “kids, do NOT come out of that playroom unless you are on FIRE!”).
I was not part of any professional wedding organizations in town so I couldn’t make many recommendations to my new brides. My early brides picked their own florist, bakers, DJs, etc. and we all hoped for the best.
I was also newer at editing and trying to fit all the post-production work into my regular life as a stay-at-home Mom was challenging. My typical turnaround time back then was 4-6 weeks for newlyweds to see their final gallery.
Most venues and fellow vendors had never heard of me. There weren’t glowing reviews about my hobby-on-its-way-to-a-business on Wedding Wire or The Knot. My early brides had to go out on a limb and *hope* the woman she was giving $1500 to was an honest, trustworthy person who would in fact show up at her wedding 12 months in the future.
I am so grateful for the early clients who trusted me to capture their weddings and helped me to build my portfolio along the way. Of course, looking back, I *cringe* at the quality of my work, but truthfully, it was exactly what they paid for….not the greatest, not the worst, and certainly within their budget.
I was definitely “involved” in wedding photography but I wasn’t “all in/committed” until 2011. In the local Charlotte market, 80% of all photographers fall into this category. The other 20% are quite different.
Now, let’s shift gears and talk about BACON.
Remember, while the chicken was “involved” in breakfast, the pig is “committed!”
Now, we are in the $3500-$10,000+ range of wedding photographers and the differences are many.
These photographers have multiple professional camera bodies and lenses. They have spent years perfecting their craft through professional education seminars, on-line courses and training. The professionals are great at natural light photography AND any other lighting situation on a wedding day. They bring multiple off-camera lighting sources to set the mood, tone of any reception. They are proud to show off their work that was captured on a rainy wedding day. Low lighting doesn’t scare them one bit….they actually *enjoy* the challenges that night and rain bring to a wedding day. They have shot hundreds of weddings.…seen it all….done it all…survived it all…and still LOVE capturing weddings.
They are supporting their families with this job. They can no longer shoot for fun or even “for exposure” in a magazine or blog. This income pays their mortgage and puts food on the table for their families. You can easily click HERE and find their registered, licensed business with the NC Secretary of State. They pay their taxes. They carry a $1 million liability policy allowing them to shoot weddings at any and all venues in the city.
They have a back up system in place in case they are ill or injured. They have invested time into their local photography community and developed strong relationships with other photographers. Some (as in our case) are even a multi-photographer company for exactly that reason. Should anyone go into labor (remember, you often book one year in advance!), have a family emergency or come down with the flu on your big day, we are prepared for that situation and no stress will be added to the bride. We are all trained, professional photographers who will do an excellent job capturing your day.
We now meet with our clients in our commercial studio. No more loud coffee shops or banishing my own kids to the upstairs playroom. Now clients pull up to our business in a well groomed, commercial shopping center and can see behind the scenes of our company. We have been at this studio location in Ballantyne for 4 years now and our clients love knowing where to find us any day of the week. We run a solid business and that front door proves we pay our bills and keep our promises (to our bank, state government, landlord and clients).
We have vendor relationships that benefit our brides in so many ways. I’m the first to steer a girl away from a venue that might have a pretty website but also happens to be in bankruptcy, or has a reputation for terrible customer service or is ill-prepared for a rain plan. I can recommend amazing hair/makeup teams who are always running on schedule, a string quartet who dresses professionally and arrives an hour early and a DJ who would never, ever drink on the job. Our relationships were built over the course of several years and our brides feel so taken care of by the people we recommend to them.
Now, we have 2 editors on our team and turn around wedding galleries in record time for our anxious newlyweds. While the industry standard is 4-6 weeks, our internal goal is always 14 days or less. We are solely devoted to weddings and the efficiency of our company shines when it comes to post-production.
The trust factor is much easier now. Brides can find dozens and dozens of reviews about our company on Wedding Wire HERE or The Knot HERE or our own FB page HERE. Keep in mind, these are unsolicited AND cannot be taken down. If we had ever lost wedding images, never delivered wedding images or had a bad relationship with any bride, her review would be there. We could not take it down. Thankfully, the reviews our sweet brides have left have given our prospective brides so much comfort when choosing us. The photographer you choose should also be raved about by your venue (where they have likely shot dozens of times now), your florist, your baker, your DJ, your wedding planner, etc. People in the wedding community know and trust other reputable professionals because they are committed to wedding photography. A solid reputation can only be built over time. It can’t be bought. It’s about making promises and delivering on them hundreds and hundreds of wedding days.
Again, those in the “bacon” category are fully committed to wedding photography. And in this category too, you will get what you pay for.
I hope you found this post helpful. Believe me, I know how overwhelming it is to find that just right photographer. Do your homework. Ask for referrals. Read reviews. All brides have a budget but I strongly suggest investing in a true professional who is fully committed to wedding photography.
And in the end……
who doesn’t love BACON??? Mmmmmm……..
The ladies of Old South would love to know more about your big day ahead!! Click on the “Contact Us” button for more information. We will be in touch with you very soon!