As a wedding professional, I stay pretty active in Facebook groups and forums geared towards engaged people. Sometimes these groups are for couples to connect with vendors, and sometimes it’s just for couples to connect with each other and share ideas. Nonetheless, literally every day I see photographers offering wedding packages for $1000 and I see couples looking for them. I’m not here to budget shame anyone – let’s get that out of the way. But there are some things you need to consider before hiring that $1000 photographer.
#1. They likely don’t have experience.
To be totally transparent, I charged $750 for my first wedding ever. The couple knew that I was new, and they were ok with that. Thankfully, it was an easy wedding with a fantastic couple and they loved their photos. But had that wedding been in a storm? Had my equipment malfunctioned? Had the ceremony been in direct sunlight? I really wouldn’t have known what to do. In the 4 years that I’ve been shooting weddings since then, I’ve learned soooo much about how to handle almost ANY situation on a wedding day. I’ve shot weddings on sunny days, rainy days, stormy days, cold days, hot days, you name it. I’ve learned how to manage a multitude of different personalities that I meet on wedding days. I’ve shot weddings in barns, gardens, ballrooms, hotels, churches, backyards, and more. Now – there is no situation (lighting or otherwise) you can throw at me that I can’t handle. Hiring a $1000 photographer most likely means hiring someone that doesn’t have as much, if any, experience.
2. They almost definitely don’t have insurance.
Did you know that I carry $20K of insurance on my photography gear, and $2 million in liability insurance? I pay for that, because my clients deserve to be protected in case anything were to go wrong. It sounds extreme….but if someone trips over one of my light stands at your wedding and hurts themself, they can sue me! Having insurance protects my business and helps ensure I’ll still be in business 2 years from now and even further down the road. And given that couples often book me up to 18 months out, that’s an assurance they deserve.
3. Along those same lines of building a sustainable business, a $1000 photographer probably isn’t paying their taxes.
Which means, they could get in trouble and get their business shut down, or worse. Tax evasion is serious stuff and people DO get caught. Luckily, I work with an incredible accountant (bastianaccounting.com) who not only takes care of filing my annual taxes for me (because taxes are complicated and scary, y’all), but is also constantly brainstorming ways to lower my tax liability (so I have more money to invest in my clients), and also stays on top of paying my sales tax (that pesky little 8.25% I have to charge on top of the package price…ugh) so that I have the peace of mind knowing that I’m running a fully legal and compliant business. And just to be totally transparent, I couldn’t afford her if I only charged $1000 for weddings.
4. A $1000 photographer probably doesn’t have the top professional gear or the systems in place for backing up and protecting your images.
Here’s a little insight into why your photographer’s gear matters. The digital camera that I use has 2 card slots in it and my camera is recording to both simultaneously on any given shoot or wedding. That means even if one card corrupts or fails, I have another one with all of your images on it, and the probability of two cards corrupting at the same time is like…..negative a billion to one. That’s just one way I protect your images. I also have multiple hard drives I back the raw images up to after a wedding, as well as an online backup in case of fire or some other disaster. For one last layer of protection, I don’t delete those memory cards until after I’ve delivered your photos. So between your wedding and when you get your images, I have anywhere from 3-5 copies of your images in storage just in case. Most $1000 photographers I’ve seen shoot with consumer level gear that doesn’t offer multiple card slots, and don’t have a similar, if any, backup system in place for your images. I see photographers online every day asking for help because they had a card corrupt and they lost some important images, so this is something that happens…frequently, I might add.
Trust me, I know the struggle of wedding budgeting. I paid for a significant portion of my wedding on my own. Just remember that $4000 doesn’t last forever, but your wedding photos will. If you can pull it together, it’s worth the investment. Wedding photos are definitely something where the phrase “you get what you pay for” rings true.
Want more tips on how to pick a photographer? Check it out here!