A Response to a Craigslist Rant

Bit of a blow up the last couple of days over a Craigslist ad.

The ad in question has been taken down. Here’s what it said:

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WHY is finding an amazing wedding photographer so difficult? :/

I am a Bride who is getting married this summer and have yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.

WHY because the word “WEDDING” is involved photographers think they can change you $ 3,000.00 for wedding photos? Oh, because no bride is going to go without so they are going to pay it, because they HAVE to. They are ripping people off for all they have! Why when you want to get married it costs you AT LEAST 15 grand after all is said-and-done? Its such CRAP!! I love all you $ 3,000.00 photographers out there but i think your prices are WACK. All your doing is hanging out at a wedding taking tons of photos and editing them.. and thats owrth 3 GRAND!!! You’re making so much money its crazy. I just wish people would be more realistic. I mean the “average” persons salary for 1 freaking month is somewhere around 3 grand. (Thats making 19$ an hour) So you’re going to take someones WHOLE MONTH paycheck for one flippen day of photos? Just because you CAN!!?????? So that maybe they will not be able to feed themselves or pay any other bills they have, right? It makes me SICK!

I know im speaking for more than just myself right now. Alot of brides out there think the same thing. & I bet all you fancy photographers wont even read this. oh-well.
Maybe there are cheaper photographers that will read this and LOVE to take my photos
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To start, I sympathize. I really do. Weddings are expensive. Always have been. Likely always will be.

(Quick point: be thankful the practices of the dowry, dower, or brideprice are no longer common!)

But the above contains a whole load of misconceptions. Let’s tackle some. Not necessarily in order.

 

1. “All your [sic] doing is hanging out at a wedding and taking tons of photos and editing them.”

Sounds easy, right? Just hanging out? It’s like a vacation and a party all at once!  WOOHOO!

My wedding coverage ranges from 8 hours to all day. Regardless, my day starts early and ends late.

But that’s not the stressful part.  I’m being paid to provide a product to a client, and I get one shot at it.  I spend all day running around, organizing people, looking for shots, rushing from one location to the next, setting up equipment, tearing down equipment, and the whole time trying to stay fresh so I don’t miss anything.

By the end of even a short wedding, I need a shower. Bad.

Think about it. Your wedding photographer sticks with you the entire day. Make up artist? Pre-wedding. DJ? Reception. Baker? Not even there after delivering the cake. Florist? Sets up and leaves. Limo driver? Now that’s a guy that spends a lot of time hanging out.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love this work, but it’s exhausting.

And then I have to actually, you know, DO something with those photos.  I have vacation photos from 4 years ago that I haven’t even looked at yet.  I don’t have that luxury with a wedding job.

 

2. “You’re making so much money its[sic] crazy. I just wish people would be more realistic. I mean the “average” persons[sic] salary for 1 freaking month is somewhere around 3 grand. (Thats making 19$ an hour) So you’re going to take someones[sic] WHOLE MONTH paycheck for one flippen[sic] day of photos?”

I get where this one comes from. It does seem like a lot of money.

There are people out there who feel like you should know a completely itemized breakdown of all of the expenses for a typical photographer.

It’s crap.

I mean, it’s important information, sure. But the only person who should care about what my expenses are is… me.  I have to cover more than just the day shooting the wedding. I have to account for working on the photos, too.  But as a customer, my cost of doing business should not influence whether or not you hire me.  How much time I spend, or what my gear costs, or how much I pay in rent, or any other cost is arbitrary to my clients.

My work is what matters.

We all make choices about what we value and what we don’t.  For things we value we are willing to pay a premium price for it. I buy expensive coffee over Folgers. Some people might think that’s a waste of money, but for me it isn’t because I enjoy the experience of good cup of coffee.  That’s what I’m paying for and to me, Folgers is the waste of money.

I want people to hire me because they love my photography, not because I’m the cheapest guy around or because they’ve been guilted into feeling sorry for my expenses.  I charge what I do because I feel it values my work and is enough to allow me to continue to do this.  That’s all I feel like you need to know.

 

3. “I am a Bride who is getting married this summer and have yet to find a decently priced, exceptional, amazingly talented, fun photographer.”

It’s hard to address this one without sounding like a jerk.

It’s the qualifiers here that trip it up. The bride wants premium work – “exceptional” and “amazingly talented.” But she doesn’t feel those qualities should cost much.

That’s kind of like saying you want the quality and prestige of a Rolls Royce, but at the cost of a Kia.

A Rolls is hand made to exacting standards. A Kia is mass produced on an assembly line by machines. You’re not going to get the quality of one at the price of the other.

Not everyone can afford thousands for their wedding photography. That’s cool. But it’s not fair to get pissed at the photographer who is outside of your budget, especially if you agree that the photos fit your criteria of exceptional and amazingly talented. Nor should someone expect an established photographer to match the prices of someone trying to break into the business by portfolio building.

Some responses I’ve seen to this try to break down all of the photographer’s expenses to every last dollar. This is ridiculous. My expenses are different from the guy down the street. Whether our prices are wildly different or virtually the same, what’s the point in justifying that? Clients don’t care about business expenses. They don’t care about how much I work.

And they shouldn’t.

They should care about the photos.

And this is the part where I have to be careful to not sound like a jerk. People who don’t see the value in photography aren’t my customers. I’m not interested in people like this Craigslist person, who thinks wedding photography is a rip off. I want couples who come to me because of the work.

When it comes right down to it, nothing said about what it costs to run a business is going to sway someone who views wedding photography the way this Craigslist ad does.

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