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Photography Is Deemed The WORST College Major!

Why Do Wedding Photographers Charge So Much

By Jeffrey House Photography


Recently, I was watching the morning news broadcast on News Channel 13.  Sabrina Dhammi shared a report about the 5 worst college majors and photography topped the list as the #1 worst major with an average annual salary of $30,000.

When you consider most photographers own their own business, this salary is even worse than it appears.  Sure, running your own business has its advantages, but having your own business is a 7 day a week job.  The responsibilities that come with being a business owner far outweigh everything else.  

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a fresh perspective

For those of you that believe photographers - especially wedding photographers - are getting rich, does this news story change your thinking?

This topic is always a hot button for most photographers because most people have a perception our yearly salary that is grossly misjudged.  Many photographers have written articles detailing all of the expenses associated with being a professional photographer and why we charge the prices we do.  While the information is really helpful, I think it's a complete waste of time.

How can I possibly think this?

Let's be honest.  No one cares about a photographer's "business expenses."  Listening to a photographer share their woes and drone on about their business expenses is worse than watching paint dry.  It's boring and it doesn't concern you.  Believe me, I get it.  

But here's my question.  Is there something you can learn from this news story that DOES affect you?

Hold that thought, we'll come back to it.

how much does "price" relate to quality?

Are there photographers out there getting rich?

Absolutely!  There are wedding photographers literally charging $50,000 a day to photograph a wedding.  Obviously, there are a limited number of couples that can actually afford their services, but it exists.  We typically see this with celebrity type weddings.  

Are these $50,000 wedding photographers that much better than everyone else?  

The answer is "no."  Generally speaking, we the biggest differences in quality with "cheap" photographers.  We commonly see remarkable differences in the photos created by the $1,000 photographer when compared to the $3,000 photographer.  You might see some slight differences between a $3,000 photographer and a $6,000 photographer, but a lot of times the extra money is due to aspects that unrelated to quality.  

There is a point where price is unrelated to quality.  

Let me explain.

Consider a photographer that charges $3,000 and a photographer that charges $10,000.  You might instantly assume the $10,000 photographer is better.  This very well may be the case; however, in many instances, this photographer is the same or less talented than the $3,000 photographer.  The $10,000 photographer might have 30 years experience and they charge a premium for this.  At that point, it's up to you - the client - to decide how important this is to you and whether they are worth it.  

Let me show you what I mean.  Take the Royal Wedding for example.  It's estimated the Royal couple paid $24,000 for their photography/videography.  With that being said, take a look at one of the most popular wedding photos to surface from their big day.

Photo courtesy of Alexi Lubomirski

Photo courtesy of Alexi Lubomirski

We are going to critique this image, but before we do, I want to say one thing.  This is not meant to bash the photographer - Alexi Lubomirski.  Alexi has a very high-profile and successful career as a portrait photographer.  He has photographed Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, and some other celebrities as well.  His resumé is extremely impressive.  

However, while this photo of the Royal couple has received enormous attention, it's not a good photo.  It's certainly not a photo I would ever expect when shelling out $24,000.  Let's take a closer look:

  1. Prince Harry's left arm/hand is the most obvious and most glaring issue.  In a photo like this you never, ever cut the hand off your subject. It really makes the photo awkward.  
  2. Where is Princess Meghan looking?  I love photos where one or both people aren't looking at the camera.  It can make the image look very candid, but in this photo, it's just looks weird.  Is she looking and laughing at someone standing to the side?  The pose doesn't not fit the image and it only serves to ruin the story.  
  3. What about Prince Harry's right arm/hand?  When hands wrap around to hold an arm or body, it's essential that enough of the arm connected to this hand is visible so we understand the origin of the hand.  When it's difficult to tell how the hand is connected, it looks creepy.  While it's not horrible in this photo, minor improvements could be made to increase the value of the image.  

Let's take a look at another example.  This next photo is much better.  Great pose and great expressions, but again, there is a glaring issue that severely impacts the quality of the image.  Meghan's elbow peeking out from under Prince Harry's right arm.  There are several "quick fixes" to resolve this issue, but as is, it's awkward.   

Photo courtesy of Alexi Lubomirski

Photo courtesy of Alexi Lubomirski

The issues present in these images is surprising given the photographer's experience.  These are "Photography 101" mistakes, oversights, etc.  If I pay $24,000 for my wedding photos, they better look better than this.  

It's possible Alexi only had a few seconds in which to capture the wedding day image - that's common at weddings, but he could have resolved these details in less than 5 seconds.  Maybe it's because Alexi is not a "wedding photographer."   Weddings are very demanding and covering the Royal wedding has got to be incredibly stressful.  Probably even more of a reason to hire a well qualified professional wedding photographer - not a portrait photographer.  

what can you learn from all of this?

Earlier, we asked if there is something you can learn from "photography being the worst major in college" and the average photography salary being $30,000.  Well, there sure is.  

Wedding photography prices are impacted by the market you work in.  Obviously, wedding photography in Manhatten, NY is going to be fare more expensive than Albany, NY.  The average cost of wedding photography in Albany, NY is approximately $2,800.  If the average photographer is charging $2,800 per wedding and making $30,000 per year, what is the photographer charging $1,500 or $1,000 making?  What corners are they cutting to make up for these low prices?  How will this impact your wedding memories? 

were you surprised to learn photographers salaries are so low?  share your thoughts - i'd love to hear what you think!

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