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A Question About Pricing // Cleveland Wedding Photographers

I recently had an e-mail exchange about pricing with a very nice potential client. She had a question about pricing and asked if I had any packages that were cheaper. I was higher priced than what she had anticipated and budgeted. I think posting my response is a great way to educate anyone researching local wedding photographers and wonder about dramatic differences in photography pricing.
This was my response:
“It’s a complicated question. Most photographers offer hourly packages making their initial service more affordable. The problem with hourly packages is that you have to decide what part of your wedding day isn’t important enough to have photographed. You have to sacrifice photography coverage.

  If you look at my website, you see very intimate moments. Some of those moments happened early in the day when the bride was getting ready. It could be when the bride’s mom or bridesmaid was helping her get ready. Or, it could have happened at the very end of the night. These are real moments that can’t be posed and can’t be planned. So, although you will find a photographer that charges less initially, you have to decide if saving money is worth missing these moments that will happen on your wedding day. You have me all day, from beginning to end, so you don’t have to sacrifice a single moment of your day. You will get a combination of posed pictures and candid moments which are equally important.

  Also, it comes down to a matter of quality. That is purely subjective. You have to look at a photographers work and decide if it’s unique, and if it appeals to you visually. This is a really big factor in a lot of photographers pricing. Some photographers work is indistinguishable from the next. There is nothing wrong with this, but if you want a unique style of photography and don’t want your pictures to look like everyone else’s, that comes at a price.
  Lastly, a more experienced photographer will cost more. Someone who has been a wedding photographer for a short period of time (1-5 years) will be much cheaper than someone like me who has been a wedding photographer for 19 years. Less experience means a lower price but it also has major disadvantages, for obvious reasons. Having shot over 300 weddings you can trust that I’ve pretty much seen and done it all at weddings. This will take a lot of stress out of your day because you don’t have to worry about me missing anything, Again, that comes at a price.
  I had to consider all of these things when my wife and I started planning our wedding back in 2012 (we were married 10/11/14). We ultimately decided that having unique, beautiful pictures was worth the sacrifice. And having an experienced photographer took a TON of stress out of our day because we trusted that our photographer knew exactly what he was doing. Was he expensive? Yes! Way more than we had planned for, but it was really important that we had the best pictures and didn’t have to worry about him missing anything. And looking back, it was totally worth it because our pictures and wedding album are awesome.
  I can completely understand wedding budgeting having gotten married not too long ago, as I mentioned. That is why I split up my fee allowing payments before the wedding day and having any balances due beyond the wedding day. I try to be as flexible as I can with my clients so that I can charge what is fair based on my experience and the quality of my pictures while giving my clients the best pictures and the best experience. One that they can’t find anywhere else. That is super important to me.
  I have past clients that were exactly in your position. I can send you a list of references so that you can get their input directly if you think that would be helpful. You can also see my reviews on Google, The Knot and WeddingWire.”
Having been a groom just 4-1/2 years ago, I can understand the overwhelming task of planning a wedding. And, at that point, I had been in the wedding industry for 14 years! I had SOME knowledge of what to look for. I can’t imagine going into it with zero knowledge or experience.