THE VALUE OF HIRING A PROFESSIONAL
Many couples are justifiably confused when they find people who charge just a few hundred dollars for a wedding while other photographers charge thousands of dollars. Heck, your friend has "a nice camera" and he said he'd be happy to take your pictures and give you all the photos on a disc--for free! Why such a drastic difference? Besides everything we've already discussed about style and vision, personality, and trust, it's helpful to distinguish between the hobbyist and the professional. It's also important to distinguish between price and value.
The hobbyist looks at a wedding as an opportunity to make some extra money with his camera on the weekend. The professional, however, is running a business and is striving to give clients excellent value. As such, a professional invests thousands of dollars in professional equipment (multiple camera bodies, lenses, and lighting gear as well as computer hardware and software) to do the job. He also has to ensure a level of profitability to maintain and replace that equipment as it ages. The professional photographer will have file backup and archive systems established to ensure that your images aren't accidently lost or deleted. He will also work with professional photo labs and other vendors who provide top-quality prints, books, and other products. The hobbyist, on the other hand, may print your photos at a drug store or with other consumer services. Additionally, professionals will regularly invest in education--conferences, seminars, classes, and workshops--as they continue to develop and enhance their skills. By constantly learning, professional photographers provide their clients with better quality and service time and again. Since he is running a business, the professional will also carry liability insurance and be required to pay taxes; the hobbyist typically does not have these additional expenses nor the risk protection that insurance provides.
As a comparison, you can buy the same bicycle that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong rides. In 2011, it will set you back nearly $8,700 but you can buy it and many people do. Few, though, believe that simply owning the same bike as Lance Armstrong will give them the ability to compete in the legendary race. While wedding photography may not be a grueling 2,000-mile bicycle race, it takes not only the right equipment but practice, training, and the right vendor partners to achieve consistent and quality results. Don't be misled into thinking that anyone with "a nice camera" can make great images.
Cameras don't make photographs; photographers do.
PRICE VS. VALUE
Acclaimed investor Warren Buffet has said, 'Price is what you pay. Value is what you get' Why does professional photography seem expensive? In short, it's expensive to run a photography business that consistently delivers outstanding results for its clients. Remember that the professional photographer is on the job not only the 8-12 hours of your wedding day but will also put in an additional 25-35 hours editing and selecting proofs, retouching, archiving your unique images, designing the wedding book, preparing images for printing, delivering files to the lab, blogging about your wedding, and more. Altogether, your one-day wedding event takes your photographer an entire workweek (perhaps more) to complete.
If you hire a hobbyist or a friend for cheap (or free), you might get lucky and get acceptable images. But you don't get a chance to repeat your wedding day. Where the hobbyist relies on luck, a professional brings consistency. Discerning couples will appreciate the added value that a professional photographer brings to their once-in-a-lifetime event. (Here are some additional thoughts on the the value of professional photography).
LOOKING AHEAD - THE ENGAGEMENT SESSION
I will discuss why an engagement session, is a "must-have" part of your wedding package in my next blog posting. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you found it helpful, drop us a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) to say so or leave a comment below-- We'd love to hear from you. If you're interested in contacting us about a photographic project, whether a portrait, wedding, commercial job, or event.