Why does professional photography cost so much? This is the biggest question that potential clients always pose. In the current age, anyone can call themselves a professional photographer, go down to their local box store and buy a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. Take some pictures at a friend’s wedding over the shoulder of the paid professional and throw them up as a portfolio. Some of these people offer to shoot weddings for free or exceptionally low prices. There is no way around it in Photography, quality results come at a price.

Gear

You can’t expect stellar results with sub par gear. The lens that comes with the camera from the box stores has plastic elements in it and sells for $50. All of my gear is professional level gear. Another thing you want to consider in choosing your photographer is backup gear. I have backups for all of my gear, as well as the camera body itself. I will always have at least two professional grade camera bodies with me at all events. Failures DO happen, they’ve happened to me before.

Time Investment

This is the biggest area that most people don’t understand. When I spend 8-10 hours shooting your event, I then have 20-30 hours at home of culling over the images, making any required corrections, cropping, and finally posting them for your proofing and ultimately your ordering. I will openly admit that I am not a huge fan of photoshopping images into a surreal effect. If there is a need to photoshop out a wrinkle, deodorant mark or something along those lines, I’m all for that.

Prints

The lab that I use for prints uses professional grade papers, professional inks that aren’t going to fade in a couple years, and printers with color corrected print profiles. The inks by a professional studio have a shelf life of 200 years in a closed book, and 100 years when exposed to light! Frankly I want YOU to be happy with the images I took, and my future business relies on your happiness and the wow factor associated with the images you’ve purchased. I will gladly bring sample images to our meeting from the corner drug store, my photo printer, and photos produced from my fulfillment lab so that you can see the difference for yourself!

One other area that I greatly disagree with most other photographers is what prints are made available to you. Many photographers will put a numerical limit on the number of pictures you get. I will openly admit that I typically overshoot a wedding and have TONS of pictures. I have had numerous friends and heard of others where grandparents/great grandparents passed away and the wedding pictures were the last memories they had of their loved one.

Real Company

I am a real company, I have a tax payer number and am registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. For that reason, I do have to collect PA sales tax on my services offered. However the site I use for print fulfillment is not located in Pennsylvania, so they do not charge sales tax unless the ship to address is in California. This also gives you the assurance that I am not going to take your money and run.

Following the business model, I do carry full insurance. Insurance is outrageously expensive for photographers. My insurance policy exceeds the cost of my homeowner’s policy! What happens if your free photographer knocks over a candle and causes a fire? Who is the church going to go after when he can’t pay for his damages? In all honesty, more and more venues require proof of insurance when you walk through the door. Do you really want to find out on your wedding day that your photographer isn’t fully insured?

Experience

Most importantly, experience. I have been enjoying photography since the early 1990’s. I have photographed numerous events in that time. From bright sunny days to candlelight ceremonies, I’ve seen it all.

Your wedding photographer will largely run your wedding day. Choosing someone that has photographer numerous weddings ensures that your day will run smoothly. An inexperienced photographer has the potential to drag out those critical moments following your service, before heading off to the reception.

Weddings are very stressful and fast paced. The photographer doesn’t get a second chance for the key pictures. Having experienced a number of weddings, you begin to anticipate what will come next and what to look for in that special shot. Weddings are a ritualistic experience. The same base events happen in all weddings. The bride getting dressed, the emotions between mother and daughter, the first look the groom gets of his beautiful wife, and the precious first alone moments as a wedded couple. Positioning yourself to capture these moments is key to catching them in a truly heart felt moment. Recreating the shots doesn’t hold the same meaning as that first look, or the tears shed. An inexperienced photographer will “Spray and Pray” that they got a good shot.

Striving for Excellence

There is no licensing to call yourself a professional photographer. My portfolio images are all from weddings that I was contracted to photograph. Anyone can go shoot over someone’s shoulder, and put up pictures, and call themselves a photographer. What separates me from the rest, is that I am constantly pushing myself. Attending trade shows and classes to enhance my skills and stay abreast of the current trends.

If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur!

Matt Potvin