I was checking my position on Google today. Yes, I’m one of those sad muppets who googles themselves.
Anyway, I was surprised to find a new advert above mine. For those who don’t understand Google Adwords, the more you bid, the higher you go. The more you spend, the longer you stay there. I’ve been top for a while, so you can imagine my response: “E gad!” or words to that effect. My concern was heightened when I checked out the usurper – he’s half my cost.
Now, here lies the rub. We live in a capitalist society, like it or not, and market forces can dictate prices. That’s fine for groceries – one carrot is pretty much the same as any other. (Luckily I’ve disabled comments on my site or I’m sure that crass generalisation would have the vegetable police coming down on me in digital droves!) But for wedding photography services, it simply can’t hold true. I charge what I do because I do this for my living. I have a small amount of income each quarter from graphic design but the vast majority of my income is as a result of me pushing a little black button a few hundred times a week at weddings in Liverpool. There it is: Wedding Photography distilled!
But because this is all I do, I have to ensure that what I charge covers more than my costs. I have to live on what I charge. So does my family. And my runner beans, which aren’t doing so well, thanks to this unseasonal freezing weather. (The rocket leaves are going great guns though!)
So what concerns me about photographer X and his tiny prices is that he can’t possibly be making a living out of photography. That means he’s not a professional. But why should that be a problem? Well, if he’s no good, then no problem. He goes back to the day job. I can’t do that – wedding photography IS my day job. So I have to ensure that my skills are up to scratch and that I’m honing them all the time. I have to invest in equipment and assistants. I have to work hard not to upset vicars, priests, ministers and maitre d’s, because I’m going to be working with them again in the future. Photographer X doesn’t have these concerns.
What I’m trying to say is this – please don’t risk your wedding photography to anyone who doesn’t charge enough to make a living out of it. Because that means they don’t care enough about it to do it professionally and wedding photography is just too important to take that risk. I may not be the cheapest (I’m certainly not the most expensive) but I regularly hear back from my customers that I’m excellent value for money. Many photographers charge more than me and I’m not ashamed to say that I think they’re better than me too – when I shoot as well as Jeff Ascough, I’ll charge what he does! But in the mean time, my prices reflect what I need to live on as well as what I think my photography is worth, and I’m very grateful to all the couples who agree.