I just took a stand for photographers everywhere. You can thank me later. Why? What did I do? I just wrote an email to a bride that you would want to write, but cannot write for fear of it hurting your business with future customers if it gets out.
Here is what happened....
I get a phone call from a bride in another state. She found out about the wedding walks from a fan of the show. She apparently called them for service, but he was already booked. He told her about the Wedding Walks we do and told her to call me. (Thank you, whoever you are).
After hearing where it was, I really did want to do it. It would occur in a part of the country that many of my listeners are from, and it would be a good opportunity for some of them to attend a wedding walk when they otherwise would not have attended. It is a great location and a golf country club. A beautiful building. A beautiful set of grounds. She was even hiring a lighting crew to come in and custom light the reception. Those always make for the best pictures.
Man was I tempted.
The problem is I already have a wedding scheduled for the following week. Back to back wedding walks are just out of the question logistically speaking.
So I said that I could probably help her locate one from my audience. But what was her budget? My jaw dropped when she told me.
I go online and ask for a wedding package from the country club. Starting price for a wedding is $10,500.00. Another $3,000 for the light package. And that is just to get in the door.
So let me get this right... You spend a minimum of $13,500.00 for your location. Plus your dress. Plus the DJ. Plus decorations and flowers. And the list goes on. All so you can have a single days worth of experiences. But you are only willing to pay $1500 for a mandatory 6 hours of coverage from a photographer to remember it forever? I bet she paid more for than that for just the cake!
She went on to tell me that all of the photographers she was looking at were at least twice what her budget was. Now I know there are a ton of photographers in her area in her budget. But she does not want those photographers because they don't have that artistic developed look that only comes with experience.
So you know what I did? I wrote her back the following email for all of the hard working photographers out there that can't write this email because if it got out, you look like a jerk of a business owner to your local community. I did this for YOU!
For that rate you are going to only find someone with just beyond Beginner status. Most start at $500 when they first launch in, but then quickly go to that price. Someone with just past beginner experience usually runs about $2000 and up. Good experience and a developed artistic style will run you 3 to 5K.
Now I understand your issues finding someone in budget. You are wanting a developed style and experience, but you don't want to pay for it.
I realize a lot of Brides think we charge too much money for our pictures, but they seldom understand what it takes to get to this level in experience, pay and go through constant training to forever be improving, the tens of thousands of dollars in professional equipement it takes to do it at this level, etc. So they will pay huge amounts for a venue, catering, lighting, a dress, etc. that will only be experienced for a single day, but not be willing to to spend the money to ensure they get images that will help them relive that day for the rest of their life.
Don't misunderstand me. A budget is a budget and if you don't have the money, you don't have the money. I totally get that. But I went online and looked at the venue, and for weddings over 65 people to 350 people there is a $10,000 food and catering minimum. Plus a $500 fee to set up the tables. That is just to get in the door. Not exactly a budget minded location. My intent is not to fuss at you. My intent is to set expectation. Just like doctors work hard to learn what they learn, and expend large amounts of cash to be a professional in their trade, so to do we spend large amounts of cash to try to be the best that we can be.
If you are going to establish $1500 as you max budget, then you are going to get someone that has that level of experience, equipment, and developed style. As your wedding is about a year away, there is likely plenty of photographers in that range in your area that are available. I think the problem you are having locating one, is you are looking for a particular developed style. That style likely exists with a photographer that has spent the money and time to get to that level, and no offense, deserves to be paid what they are worth.
I realize that may have stung a bit coming across in email form. But I have to tell you that as a professional in this industry, it stings a bit when Brides come to us wanting a certain level of experience and developed style, but don't want to pay us what we are worth.
Again, in your market, at $1500, you are going to get someone that is just past the beginner phase. There are plenty to be had. If you are wanting that developed style that you told me about, then you are going to have to pay for that.