An inquiry about comparing wedding photographers on price
Recently, a prospective client requested that I justify the differences in price between myself and another wedding photographer under consideration. My desire to be informative resulted in a relatively long response. I decided it would make a great resource article for future couples who are comparing wedding photographers on price. All identifying details have been removed, her question was altered for conciseness, and my response was edited for clarity and suitability for the article format.
It was great talking with you yesterday. We really like your work. However, we’ve been considering another wedding photography studio and were hoping you could provide some information regarding the differences in price. They have several packages that work for us and I’ve attached a screenshot for your reference. Please let me know what justifies the differences in price between your services and theirs.
My response to comparing wedding photographers
Your question is a tough one to address, but I’ll make an honest attempt. Keep in mind: I’m assuming that you and your fiancé care a lot about your wedding photography, appreciate it as an art, and understand the nuanced differences between various photographers and their approaches. If my assumption is incorrect, then please skip to the last paragraph.
It’s important to understand that comparing wedding photographers on price alone is neither a fair assessment nor a comparison of like-for-like. Wedding photography is an active creative service that can’t be comparison shopped in the same manner as you would with products. If ten different stores sell the same widget at ten different prices, you’ll likely buy from the store that offers it for the lowest price, because, well, they’re all identical. (This is very basic and doesn’t account for customer loyalty, extent of post-purchase support and warranty, and convenience of location – but you get my point).
A like-for-like comparison can’t be made with creative service providers. If you could recreate the same wedding over and over and asked different wedding photographers to give it their best shot, no two would produce the same results. You would then be hard-pressed to find an objective way to rate them, for photography is generally considered an art, and the appreciation of art is highly subjective. Each photographer would have their own creative inclinations for composition, timing, subjects and mood, photo curation – that being the photos they select from a group of similar shots – and editing style(s). As the prospective client, these are all points you must consider and attach value to.
With that in mind, let’s get into the nitty gritty. The price list you attached appears to be from Popular Wedding Photographers. Don’t get me wrong, Popular Wedding Photographers is a safe choice for basic wedding photography. They’re a Jack-of-all-trades and have mastered the business of wedding photography; however, if you want pictures that go beyond the fads of today then Popular Wedding Photographers may not necessarily be the best choice. Lastly, no matter how many times they may claim it, they have not mastered wedding photojournalism, which is the style I excel at and, I assume, the reason you really like my work.
Points to considering when comparing wedding photographers
- Is their wedding photography portfolio representative of the full product you’ll receive or are they cherry-picked highlights?
- Is the collection composed of images shot by a single photographer or from the various photographers on their roster?
- Can you select the photographer assigned to your wedding?
- Is Popular Wedding Photographers willing to show you several full wedding galleries that were shot by the photographer assigned to your wedding?
- Are the photos in the full wedding gallery consistent in style, well-curated, and tastefully and carefully edited?
The last two points are perhaps the most important ones because they establish the value proposition. It’s impossible for me to address your question and justify the differences in price because it’s really a personal decision based on whose service you see greater value in. My speciality is documentary wedding photography, and I practice this at the exclusion of other styles. [I attached links to three full wedding galleries so she can use them for comparing wedding photographers.] I encourage you to carefully consider each wedding gallery against the points I mentioned above and determine whether the qualities you enjoy about my portfolio carry forth into the final product.
I do not compete with other wedding photographers based on price alone because, (a) this assumes that our results would be identical (which they won’t be), and (b) because this strategy would quickly spiral into a race to the bottom and, ultimately, the quality of work and service suffer. My strategy has always been to compete on the calibre of my skills and exceptional service. If your research shows that the differences between myself and Popular Wedding Photographers (or other photographers) are minimal, then you should go with the lowest bidder. Whatever you decide, I recommend that you not take this decision lightly. Within a couple years, you’ll completely forget how much you spent on capturing the experience, but every time you view the photographs you’ll be reminded of the quality that you received.