The Fate Of Wedding Photography

As a whole, where does the industry of wedding photography stand today?

I just read an interesting post by David Ziser (a June post, must have missed it when he originally wrote it) and thought it was filled with a lot of things I too have witnessed in this industry. (It’s worth the read.)

Wedding photography is more than just shooting a few pictures at an event. In my eyes – as a professional wedding photographer for many years – it is the most difficult form of photography.

  • You have to mix with dozens of different types of personalities, some with frazzled nerves.
  • You have to photograph a bride’s white dress with a grooms black tux, in the blazing sunlight, and in the dark reception hall – making every photograph turn out perfectly.
  • You have to photograph professional portraits, and become a dynamic photojournalist, anticipating where the client wants you to be.

I could go on, but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying.

Yet you continually see Craigslist listings for free photographers, or an entire wedding package for $250. There is no way a professional photographer can remain a professional photographer at this level. Instead you’ll get the comments I hear almost every day of:

“I used a friend who loves photography, but they did a horrible job and now I have no photographs from my wedding.”

To be a professional wedding photographer, you have to dedicate yourself to the art of wedding photography. You have to practice. You have to understand every nuance of the day. AND you have to charge what you’re worth to stay in the business.

I recently did a post on The Pendulum Swing Of Photography. Every single point holds true to this post as well, but let’s discuss point #7 again here:

7. The photographer that isn’t out for the quick buck, and caves into “what everyone else is doing”. The biggest statement I hear from photographers on why they charge one low fee and hand over the digital files – “everyone else is doing it”. That’s not how to get to the top. The way to the top is to give what no one else is giving.

The only way to remain a true professional wedding photographer is to provide 110% service to your wedding clients – and tell about it. Do your clients really want to rely on the free Craigslist photographer – that may never show up? Do they really want to rely on the friend – that only photographs landscapes? Do they really want to trust their memories to a photographer that has never photographed a wedding before? Do they really want to trust a photographer that hands over the files – and doesn’t understand the professionalism of helping you design your wedding album?

I can go on and on. It all boils down to how much you put in is how much you will receive.

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  • http://www.ninelivephotography.ca Alan Nielsen

    Too true. Too many times do you respond to a craigslist add or a Kijiji add and they say, but I only have $100.00 for a photographer. I’ll accept an amateur.

    Well, I will still send them my quote and I try to explain the difference between your “aunt” and a true wedding photographer.


    Alan Nielsen
    Nine Live Photography
    http://www.ninelivephotography.ca

  • Mark Tuck, M and R Studios

    I battle AWACs (Amateurs With A Camera) every day. I shoot sports and HS athletes in their environments for one of a kind portraits that no-one else can offer.

    Your comments about a friend shooting a wedding and having no pictures of the event is tragically very typical. I have been shooting (beginning with 35 mm’s ) since I was 13 yrs old. I learned the hard way while shooting airplanes, drag-racing, and stock car events under all kinds of lighting conditions that there is absolutely no substitute for the following:
    1) Know your equipment, blindfolded and in the dark.
    2) know the limits of your abilities to get the shot – i.e. lag time of the shutter, ISO maximum, focal length available, depth of field, etc.
    3) know how to compose the shot on the fly,
    4) plan ahead – walk thru the church, church-grounds, receptiion halls. check out the lighting, (meter it!!) mentally walk thru the events of the day and position yourself while looking thru the viewfinder.
    5) talk to officials and site managers (in the case of a wedding this might be the minister or his representative) about limitations on you and your plans.

    know your job forwards and backwards before taking on the task. (if this isn’t possible, shoot as an assistant for some else a few times. It’s like playing rythm guitar before soloing in front of a live audience.)

    my two cents worth.
    Mark

  • Virtual Photography

    Great comment Mark – I couldn’t agree more. Professionals will prevail over time. There truly is a difference.

  • Brian Core

    I believe your all going about this wrong in the attempt to educate the public. Educate the craigslist photographer instead. First tell them to get in the right section called “Services” and out of the “for sale section”. I assume their prices are so low because they are just starting out,practing and building their portfolio. So second ask if trading services is an opotion ? I am practing to become a doctor—is operating on you out of the question ? or try a dentist ? maybe an investor or even a mechanic—I own a couple of wrench’s. I have never had anyone take me up on this— WHY ? but messing up someone’s wedding does not seem to be a big deal to them because they are just starting out. Ask if they let a rookie do their wedding ? Ask if they ever intend to raise their price’s ? Well yes of course when I get good—-OH, so you just became me losing out to the new person charging $250. OH I get it now,so I won’t be able to raise my price’s after I get better ? Well that’s not fair,but but but I worked really hard and all. Is the picture becoming clear now ? Ever wonder why an attorney is so expensive ? Because there is no low baller out there. You people have taken the professionlizm out of photography and turned it into a laughing stock of NO CREDIABILTY. Ask if they ever worked for a union ? Ever go on strike for more money and dare the SCAB WORKER to cross the line because they will do it for less?. Bet you never considered yourself a SCAB ? Furthermore to all my fellow PRO’S, I have stopped doing buisness with any company,lab or service that accepts work from a start-up nobody. If they have Wal-mart price’s then let them have Wal-mart processing. One more thing,can we start understanding the word “SHARE”. Most site’s want us to share our idea’s back and forth and so on. The word SHARE means FREE AND WILLING, so when you say you want to SHARE your BOOK that you have written, I assume you mean FREE and NOT FOR PROFIT—Right ?