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Photographers Are Not Grains Of Salt

I’m often asked if I can “price match.” It’s when a bride-to-be prefers the quality of my work but saw a cheaper price from another photographer. So, in an understandable effort to get the best value she can, she asks if I can match the other photographer’s price.

What she’s really saying is, “I want the high quality of your photography, but I only want to pay a low quality price.” That high quality she’s looking for isn’t the result of a better camera, it’s the result of a lot of hard work and a good deal of skill that’s been learned from extensive experience.

Photographers Are Not Salt

Photographers are not a “commodity” like grains of salt. Each one is different, each one has a different style and each one has a different level of quality. It is this very reason that different photographers charge different rates. Naturally the additional work and skill that goes into higher quality work is an added value that needs to be accounted for in the photographer’s rates.

What is the difference between a $1500 and $2500 photographer, assuming they each offer similar items; an album, engagement session and the CD? What additional value does the $2500 photographer offer?

I’ve seen a lot of portfolios in the $1500 range and most seem to have decent images. However, I also noticed a lot of direct flash and harsh lighting. Mostly I saw a number of posed photos that do a very decent job of recording the participants but I didn’t see a lot of intimate, emotional moments. Anyone can buy a book of wedding poses and copy them, but what story does that really tell about this couple?

Capturing True Emotion

I know the added value I bring to the table: my passion for capturing the real emotions of the day. This is something that requires far more than the technical ability to operate a camera. It’s knowing when to stay invisible and capture moments as they happen naturally and knowing when to step in and create a moment.

I create moments by simply talking with my couples and asking heartfelt questions, then capture their very natural reactions. “Eric, if you could tell Carissa just one reason, more than any other, why you chose to share your lives together, what would that be? Just whisper it quietly in her ear.” Sometimes it’s something silly and they break out laughing. Sometimes it’s sweet and tender and they both have tears in their eyes. But, those are REAL emotions, that’s REAL passion. And years from now, when they look at their photos, they’ll remember the feelings they felt and not some pose the photographer set up.

What is the price of capturing that emotion and passion? That is one of the primary added values of my photography packages. Anyone can “take a photo” but it takes something extra to capture true emotion. It’s the difference between taking a picture and capturing a cherished memory.

Do you want just a picture, or a memory?

All Photo “Editing” Is Not Created Equal

Additionally, I literally hand craft each and every image. Anyone can run an automatic batch process on hundreds of images and call them “edited,” but I spend considerable time with each and every image, one at a time, manually correcting each to bring out their maximum potential. I “paint” areas brighter and darker, adjust the color and bring out details otherwise lost in a batch processed image. My process draws the eye to the center of interest in each image, making each tell the story better than a “snap” ever could.

Naturally, that’s a LOT of additional work, and far more than most wedding photographers go through. I typically spend between 20 and 40 hours enhancing a couple’s photos to give them the specific look that couples seek me out for in the first place. Then I’ll spend at least another 20 hours custom designing and binding their album.

A typical $1500 shooter tends to do a batch auto process on all the photos, burn the CD and paste the photos into an album design template.

Go from "blah" to "Wow!"

But Is It Worth The Difference?

In the end, my couples don’t really care about the process, they just want their photos to look their very best. Couples I work with put a high value on the emotion, the passion, and the artistic enhancement that I offer and recognize the additional value that makes to their life-long memories.

So, is the difference in final quality worth the additional cost? For a bride who just wants snapshots and standard poses, probably not. But for couples who recognize that their wedding is about the passion they feel for one another and want the essence of that emotion captured for a lifetime, then the small additional cost is far outweighed by the value that they receive.

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