The Difference Between a $500 Wedding Photographer and a $2000 Wedding Photographer
Recently I was chatting with a newly engaged woman and she asked me about my pricing. After I explained my starting price and what it includes she simply dismissed that I was too expensive. But then, she asked me a really good question. A question I had never been asked before.
"How can I tell the difference between a $500 photographer and a $2,000 photographer? I just see pictures." My gut instinct was a little hurt that she only saw "pictures and dollar signs" when looking at my work. However, she can't be alone. I've spent over 10 years learning and practicing photography. But you probably can't tell that just from looking at my website.
I'll probably get some backlash for sharing these secrets with you. Keep in mind this is just my opinion, but as someone that has friends, colleagues, and idols in the photography field, I've seen a lot. Here are the 3 ways you can tell if a wedding photographer is worth $2,000+: [The basics: the subject in focus, the rule of thirds, and some sort of lighting pattern.] + They have backup equipment AND insurance. The easiest way to find this out is to ask. It's not something that most photographers talk about on their website. For every shoot I go to I have a back up camera, lens, flashes, memory cards, batteries, AND insurance. Accidents and errors happen. A responsible photographer won't let you suffer because their gear or insurance isn't up to par.
+ Education. Another thing that you won't find on most photographer's websites but I feel like this goes hand in hand with having back up gear. Photography is an art that uses technology. We all know how far cameras have come on our phones and the learning curve with that. DSLR cameras are going mirrorless (no worries if you don't know what that means) and the tech for images is improving so quickly! I'm a member of MPPA (Maine Professional Photographer's Association) and PPA (Professional Photographer's Association) and education is encouraged more than anything else. If your prospective photographer isn't willing (or excited) to learn new techniques, gear, or even lighting patterns this should be a red flag. There are basics to good photography and while the client isn't expected to know what these are, I think the photographer is.
+ Experience. One thing that comes with experience is education. This is the school of hard knocks. It's the shoot where you realize a shot list would have really helped make things go smoother, finding that a rowdy reception at 8pm requires your flashes to have lots of battery changes, it's realizing the dynamics in families can be just as tricky as finding the perfect location for photos at 12pm full sun. Learning that a certain lens is more flattering on faces than others is something you can learn in a class, and not something you want to learn on paying clients.
Beyond that, the most important way you can tell if a photographer is worth $2,000 is to look at their client testimonies. Are their customers happy with what they paid/received?