4. Education. Any wedding photographer who has been at this for a little while has invested in their education. No, not all of us have a degree in photography, but we have all spent countless dollars and even more hours learning, practicing, and honing our skills. I'm pretty much always stepping up my game and adding to my arsenal. Which brings me to the next point!
5. Equipment. Being a photographer, especially a portrait photographer, is EXPENSIVE as heck. Like, to be totally transparent, since January 1, 2017 I have spent $23,000 total on my business. A BIG portion of what I make gets put back into running this thing like a well oiled machine. No that's not all equipment, in case you were wondering, ha! It's important to understand that high quality photos come from high quality equipment. There are the obvious things, like the cameras and the lenses. Yes, both of those things are plural. I do not show up to a wedding with any less than two camera bodies. Right now, I have five lenses that I bring with me to every wedding to use throughout the day. You might wonder why I need so many. Well, there are the standard lenses, but then there's the zoom lens for the reception so that I can take photos of you and your new husband on the dance floor, and then in the next second take photos of your niece sitting on the side of the room smashing cake in her face. Also, you want that beautiful up close shot of your engagement ring right? I want you to have that too, and that's why I have a special lens for it, because my other lenses won't take that photo! OH and DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED on how much the bags and cases to carry all of these things around cost. I could go on and on, but you get the point! Now, that doesn't include the memory cards, the hard drives I use to back up your wedding photos so they never go missing, my computer that I use to edit your photos, the flashes and lighting equipment I use to give you awesome reception photos, the comfortable shoes I buy so that my legs don't fall off by the end of your day that are also nice looking so I don't resemble your grandma, enough gas for my car to run all over the world, etc. etc. Long story already to long, when you hire a seasoned wedding professional, you get the best equipment to capture the best moments of your day.
6. Time. You might think that you are hiring your wedding photographer for an hour long engagement shoot and 8 hours on your wedding day. You may think that the hourly rate for your photographer is EXTREMELY high, but when you add up all the hours I spend working for you, it's actually quite low. While your engagement session and your wedding day might be the only time we spend face to face with you, that is a small fraction of the time we spend working for your wedding. First, I spend time corresponding with you via email. I really do care about providing the best service, so I think through my responses and I try to be as thorough as possible. Sometimes I drive many miles to meet you in person, sometimes I spend an hour with you on Skype, or on the phone. Then, if you decide to book me for your wedding day, I prepare your contract and invoice, and I review these with a fine tooth comb to make sure we are both protected! I help you pick out what to wear for your engagement shoot, I help you figure out where it should take place, I'll fix your hair and hold your purse, I'll tell you jokes to make you laugh and stand knee deep in water to get your perfect shot. I answer your emails and your texts whenever I can to keep your wedding day stress free. I spend time hiring and preparing an assistant. I help you create your timeline. I go to your venue to scope out the best spots. I put your groom's boutonniere on for him because no one else knows how, and I'll figure out how to bustle your dress for you when one of the hooks breaks. I'll vacuum my food into my body so that I can make sure I get shots of you with your guests. When your day is over I'll go home and edit a preview or two so that you don't have to wait to see your photos. And then...the EDITING. I spend A LOT of time editing your wedding photos so that they are perfect. I mean, I want them perfect before you receive them. This takes SO much time.
7. Care. I mean it when I say that I truly care about my clients, and I care about your wedding day. To the right photographer it matters deeply how your photos turn out. We stress about it. We get nervous before your wedding day. We sweat and run around and get blisters and aching backs because your wedding photos MATTER. Invest in someone who cares about you. You should feel important to your wedding vendors. Your wedding is important. And it should be just as important to them as it is to you.