Are you really a pro photographer?
Recently I was reading an article from Scott Bourne that really got me thinking about pricing and educating our clients on photography. You can check out the article here: And you call yourself a photographer
One of his main points really struck a nerve with me (in a good way) and also confirmed a lot of what I got out of WPPI this year. It was changing our viewpoint of the weekend warrior photographer, the craigslist people that are out there shooting $500 weddings. I used to think about them like a lot of you do, “who cares if some joe blow goes out and shoots $500 weddings on the side, the work is poor quality and if brides can’t see that there is nothing I can do”. I never really spoke out to brides against these cheapo photographers or other industry people. When I used to advertise with bridal magazines I never spoke to the editors about this problem to get them to write up about it. I basically just ignored it as something that was going on but wasn’t really a problem.
But some of Scott’s points in his articles I think we should all take to heart and start to advocate against these amateur photographers. Really the worst part about part time photographers working weddings is that the client is the one that gets hurt. They are having one of the most important days of their lives and are going to have bad photographs to remember their day. When their grandkids look at their photos on the computer (if they have backed up and archived that DVD they got) they will be poorly lit snapshots of the day. There could be a entire generation of brides that have bad wedding photos and because of that also have a bad view on photography. They might never want to have professional photos taken again because they don’t know how amazing a true professionals work can be. Bad photographers do put a stain on this industry and should be something that we all work to educate our clients and the industry about.
And I am really talking about part time photographers that don’t know the art of photography yet, they haven’t learned the true art of lighting, composition, etc… I don’t mean for this to be about part time photographers who have learned the art of photography and are committed to producing great work. I know we all start somewhere and when I finished up my degree in photography I didn’t go full time right away. I had a job to get by and did weddings on the weekend. But I didn’t take on my first job until I knew a lot about photography, I had multiple camera bodies, lenses, flashes. I have learned a lot since that first wedding over 11 years ago and will continue to learn every year, but I did have 6 years of training under my belt already.
Another thing he mentioned that we should all pay attention to is that these cheap photographers are dragging down the industry. They aren’t just effecting the clients they shoot for but as more and more $500 photographers come into the scene the pricing of wedding photography will go down. Sometimes when pricing goes down due to competition that’s a good thing for the consumer and the industry but in this industry it really isn’t. The main reason it isn’t is because most photographers don’t know anything about pricing and how to run a business. Full time professionals start to drop their prices because they feel the pressure to do so and the next thing you know they are running their business at a loss. They close down shop and open the way for more part time bad photographers to enter the scene. There is a very big reason why wedding photography can be expensive, it’s an art form that takes a lot of skill and creativity to produce great work. It also takes a lot of money to run your own business. Once you take into consideration your own insurance, cost of goods, equipment, computers, employees, you quickly realize that $3000 for a wedding doesn’t mean that much in your pocket at the end of the year. So the more that pricing is pulled down by cheap photographers the more real professionals that are trying to run their business legitimately are hurt.
I care way too much about the art of photography to see it suffer any longer. Any chance I get I will speak out about bad photography in the wedding industry and am going to be contacting all of the magazine providers. They always write up editorial content that sometimes hurts our industry. Speak out against it, if you advertise in a magazine suggest an article to them that shows the artistry and creativity in our industry. Maybe write an article about why clients might not always need a CD, something that shows a new perspective to some of the garbage that is out there.
I am an artist, always have been always will be. I will always promote the art in photography and will now be much more vocal about it.
And for those of your weekend warriors out there again this isn’t written to slam you. I want you to be inspired to create amazing work, take some classes before you take on a new wedding. Take a workshop, read a book, learn the art of photography first then shoot as a professional.
Also check out our other article on pricing here: Pricing your wedding photography