As I wrote in my last blog (“Losing Your Memory 101”), professional photographers are constantly having to defend themselves against the onslaught of photographers willing to sell discs of images as part of their wedding packages.
Yes, professional wedding photographers can be costly – particularly if you’ve just talked to someone who will shoot your big day for $500 or $600. So, why is it worth forking out all that cash? It’s simple: you’re paying for peace of mind, as well as a high-quality product.
Clients who book me are looking for a way to capture their family sharing moments. They’re looking for classy, stylish photography that they will value and hang prominently in their homes. Some folks invest money in Robert Bateman or Group of Seven paintings; the people I see are also interested in investing money in decorative artwork for their homes – but their family becomes the subject.
In recent debates with my husband over some redecorating that needs to be done in our London flat, I pointed out that while, yes, I do understand that he could, in theory, re-paint the baseboards and ceilings in several rooms and probably do a half-decent-but-not-awesome job of it, he has been saying he’d do this project for the past year or even two. He’s a busy guy – active social life, golf and travel enthusiast, and a very hard worker (when he’s not off on a golfing holiday). Why would he put pressure on himself to deliver on a promise, and then feel guilty every time he walks in the door and sees that blue painter’s tape (which has been up since April)? Is it really worth it? Add to that the fact that a painter could come in while everyone in the house is at work, do a job that he knows inside-out-and-backwards, and hubby can walk in the door to a sparkling new paint job and no interruption to his social schedule instead of the dreaded blue tape and evenings/weekends of boredom. No muss, no fuss. But yes, it will cost us money – and I’m willing to spend the money so that we can stop trying to figure out when it’s going to get done.
Apply that same idea to wedding photos. You know that you could, in theory, get a photographer who will do the job cheaply and provide a disc, then you could go through the disc, choose the photos that you like best, edit them to your liking and get some printed, and you could figure out which company to use to create a half-decent photo book and then actually get the thing made after working your way through their software or editing tools. So the conversation goes like this for several months – “Gotta do those wedding photos this weekend, right, honey?” And you start to feel more and more bogged down by the task.
You could take your disc to someone like me (or even better – hire a photographer like me who offers the service from the get-go), sit down for a half hour or so to go through the images and talk about which photos best capture your wedding. Then you could walk out the door, knowing you won’t have to think about it any further until you get a phone call saying “Great news! Your album has arrived. You are going to love it! Come by the studio and I’ll go over it with you.” At which point, you could go and collect your high-quality, won’t-tear-if-you-turn-the-page-too-quickly wedding album. Your weekends, now full of the things that you want to do (or things from the ‘honeydew’ list), let you stop feeling like the photos from one of the biggest days of your life have become the bane of your existence.
Keep in mind, if you get someone like me who provides a disc of proofs, you won’t be able to print them, but you will be able to post those images on Facebook or other social networking sites. You’ll be paying more, but you’ll already have the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that someone else is doing the nitty-gritty dirty work of making an album for you.
Photographers who work full-time make it their job to maintain contact with print labs, album companies and other industry professionals so that they know who to go to in order to get results and so that you know that you have invested in a high-quality, finished product.
Before you book your next photo session, ask yourself, “Do I really want dozens, if not hundreds, of photos that are just going to sit on my computer?” If it’s the price of a photographer that puts you off, take another look at their photos and ask yourself how much value you would place on photos of that quality. If your answer is “a lot”, then bite the bullet, put some value on the price of memories, recognise that you’re investing money in something that is designed to last your children’s children’s lifetime, and talk to a professional about their album and session options. You’ll never look back – unless it’s to turn the page.