Low Price Vs. Best Price

The age old question comes up on our phone more and more these days; “What are your prices for wedding photography?”

It’s the first thing out of their mouth – and the first sign that they may not be a Fotowerks client.

What? Not a potential client?! How can you say that? Simple. They aren’t asking us about our availability for their wedding date. They aren’t asking us about scheduling a consultation. It’s clear as a bell, from their very first question that they are running down a list of vendors, anyone, who will utter a dollar amount somewhere close to their budgeting goal. This bride is preparing herself for a potential disaster and try as we might (believe us, over the dozen or so years we’ve been doing this) there’s no budging her once her brain is locked in this mode.

There’s no doubt that Fotowerks loves brides and weddings. Our track record proves this hands down. But what we saw years ago in price shopping as ‘hit or miss’ is becoming more and more of a mainstay these days. One could argue that it’s the economy and that brides are having to economize more and more with budget. The other side of that argument is that we’ve just magically become too expensive in our market – despite that our price increases over the past decade are clearly below the rise of inflation (a testament to our efficiency as a company).

So, being connected as we are, we did a little unscientific research and polling behind the scenes. What we found was shocking, but not surprising. Understand that our rate of growth and inroads to the industry as well as our ability to dodge the potholes is based on an eerily accurate crystal ball. (i.e. we’ve always had a pretty good nose for what happens next). So, here’s the sad news and it’s, even sadder, that we saw this coming and being the problem almost three years ago. Below are the major contributing factors in bridal confusion about wedding photography.

The #1 culprit in the destruction of wedding memories are these. Wedding mags. and other online offerings know one dark and dirty secret that editorially they follow (with rare exception) to a science; There’s ALWAYS a new batch of brides. This explains why they rehash editorial content but keep the eye candy fresh. Go to a yard sale or library and look through 5 or 10 year old wedding magazines. You may giggle at the hideous wedding gowns (ahem, nowadays “dresses”) and the gross colors, but read an article or two. Yup, it’s the same stories and advice you see today. They know that on a monthly basis, there’s new brides picking up their offerings for the first time and have never seen these articles before. Ironically, there’s some beautiful photography that they paid or traded handsomely for and dress, jewelry and other ads that rely heavily on photography. So there it is, your “dream image” of how you’re going to look in your dress with all the wedding day trimmings, all shoved in your eyeballs and shot by a professional photographer. You can bet that the photography you’re drooling over was budgeted for and the best was hired but scarcely a scant article telling you to properly budget for a professional of your own. We doubt seriously that a wedding magazine or website would last very long offering features photographed by the lowest bidder or some bff/soccer mom faux-tographer.

Our industry is saturated with faux-tographers who got a camera for (insert your occasion here). They have no business licenses, no insurance, no backup equipment, no training, {formal or otherwise), and are out there waiting to take the money of Brides-to-be. And that is not fair to the brides. Why? I have heard the argument from fellow photographers that it is up to the bride to properly vet their wedding photographers. While that may be true, how do they go about doing that when they DON’T KNOW WHAT TO ASK?

Think about it. REALLY think about it. Where would a bride get the knowledge of what to ask a potential wedding photographer? From those same wedding publications and online sources?  Yeah. So, we have this opinion. How about wedding vendors sticking together and educating OUR potential clients? Hey wedding venue, caterer, DJ, floral designer! How about referring ONLY professionals? You’ll get better photos for your PR and marketing and your brides will be happier! Don’t refer your BFFs who just bought a camera and really want to do wedding photography! Let them do what the rest of the professionals have done. PRACTICE, LEARN, REPEAT. Let them cut their teeth on their families and friends. Then and only then, they should go out and get insured, get their business license and start charging clients.