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Jan 26, 2012

Why is wedding photography so expensive!?

I came across this online & had to share. It's a conversation between a bride who posted on Craigslist asking WHY wedding photographers charge so much, and the photographer who responded to her (and shared the email on her blog). I think this is a question that many people wonder, and one that is not often answered. So here it is!

Original post by bride:
"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 :)"

Response from Erie, PA photographe, Nikki Wagner
Dear Bride,
I am a wedding photographer in the Erie, PA area.  Wedding season only lasts about 4 months here, so I photograph an average of 20 weddings per year for an average of $2500 / wedding.  (which totals about $50,000 / year).

- That being said, I am a small business owner, so I pay all of my taxes, totaling about $15,000 / year which leaves me with a gross income of around $35,000
- Of that $35,000 I pay $600/month in rent for my small house and garage which I converted into my studio (which is where I would be editing your wedding images at) $35,000 – $7,200 = 27,800.
- Then I have my car, which I would use to get me to and from your wedding, which I pay $400/month for the lease, Plus $200/month in car insurance = $7,200 = $20,600.
- To get to your (and my other brides) wedding consultation, second wedding pre-consultation, the wedding itself, and to and from the printers I need gas money = $840/year = $19,760
- I also have insurance in case you sue me, or if any of your drunk guests would happen to break any of my equipment = $500 / year.  = $19,260
- You also probably found me through my website, which I pay $30/month for hosting, and another $30/ month so that you can view your photos online and share the images with your friends and family =  $720 = $18,540
- Or perhaps you found me through my advertisements in the newspaper or local bridal magazines, OR a bridal show that you attended that I paid to have a booth at $18,540 – $1,000 = $17,540
- I also pay for my own Health insurance in case I were to get hurt at your wedding = $250/month = $14,540
- And I pay for a second shooter for your wedding, so that you can have more images and different angles, as to make sure you get the best images possible at your wedding = $200/wedding = $10,540
- I also need to have a new pair of shoes every season because my shoes get worn out and dirty from season to season = $100/year = $10,440
- I need high speed internet so I can upload all of your images online, my home phone for my business and my cell phone so I can communicate with you = $2,500 / year = $7,940
- Oh yes, and I also pay a lawyer to make sure my contracts are iron clad and an accountant to make sure that I am paying all of the taxes I need… = $500/year = $7,440
- Sometimes I attend workshops and seminars to teach me how to better my business, and make my client happier (that would be you), as well as keep up on the trends and learn new techniques so that I can make sure you have the best quality images available.

That would technically leave me with about $7,000 / year to feed myself, buy groceries, pay for my heat and electricity, cloth myself etc…. BUT, usually I end up re-investing whatever I have left on upgrades and new equipment:

During your wedding, I bring my professional equipment that I use so that I can make sure you have the highest quality images.
- I have 2 Canon 5D Mark II cameras (because you always need a backup in case of a camera malfunction which would ruin your big days photographs) which cost $2500 / camera = $5000
-I also have quality lenses which can capture your special moments in low light situations:
Canon 24-70 f2.8 lens = $1,200
Canon 70-200 f2.8 lens = $1,300
Canon 50mm f1.4 lens = $500
Canon 100mm f2.8 macro = $600
Canon 10-22mm f3.5 wide angle = $800
- and I have speed lights to catch the fun moments at your reception:
- 2 Canon 580EX II = $1,200
- Also multiple battery back ups and memory cards, lens filters, light stands, umbrellas, light boxes, external battery packs and a bag to carry everything in.  = $1,500
- Because this is equipment, sometimes I need to have it serviced or cleaned to make sure it is all working properly = $200
After spending 8-10 hours at your wedding, I then come home to my home office and spend about 20-25 hours editing your images, creating your album, blogging about your wedding, posting pictures on facebook, ordering you prints and burning your DVD’s
- I edit your photographs using a 27inch imac computer = $2500
- I edit your photographs on Adobe Lightroom = $200 and Adobe CS5 = $400 (for the upgrade) and $900 for the new program.
- and I print your DVD’s on a printer which = $300
- Using ink = $200/year
- and I buy the DVD’s and jewel cases your getting printed =$300 / year
-I archive all of your photographs on 2 2TB external hard drives = $500
- And I also back up all of my photographs online so if there was ever a fire in my office, you would never lose your photographs = $400/year
- I also have office expenses as far as buying paper, staples, envelopes, packaging, filing cabinets and files, etc. etc. etc.
- I also spend time and money ordering your prints and albums, paying for shipping, going to the post office etc.
All of that being said, I’m usually in the hole at the end of the year, and take on many family portraits, senior portraits and corporate jobs in order to make ends meet.

Photography is my passion and my livlihood, and it is also EXPENSIVE. Yes, it seems like a lot of money for one day, but one day isn’t all we spend on your photographs or on our business.  You will spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress or flowers or a venue or on catering which you are going to have for only ONE DAY, but your photographs will be the only thing you have to remember that ONE DAY for the rest of your lives.

I’m extremely insulted by your craigslist post and hope this sheds a little light on why we charge $3000 for one day of your memories which are going to last you forever.

Jan 23, 2012

Take a Tour of the New Studio!

If you've been following this blog, then you know that I've moved my studio. I opened a new art building downtown, in the 500 Block of Main St (across from the Hyatt Hotel, between Huron & Mohawk). I posted some photos of the renovations in progress but realized I never really showed off the finished product!

City Lights is on the second floor of this building, inside MAIN STREET STUDIOS. Here's a view of the block looking north on Main St towards the M&T Savings (gold dome building!)

Inside the first floor gallery space; not a bad commute to work :)

City Lights at the top of the stairs

900 sq ft studio with window transom to allow light to pass through.
View of gallery wall, meeting table, futon & changing area.

Three HUGE windows overlooking Main St; allows for gorgeous natural light in the studio!

View of shooting area with backdrop & lights set-up.

Outside studio on 2nd floor; 11 other artist studios

Artist common space on 2nd floor

Early morning light coming into artist common space

New Style Parent Album

I've offered really great coffee-table style books as sign-in books & parent albums for years now; they've been a big hit with all of my clients, as they're panoramic with full-bleed spreads that can be exact duplicates of the couple's modern album design. However, sometimes Mom & Dad want something a little more traditional :) I'm now offering thick parent albums that hold one photo per page, with black leather cover featuring a smaller version of your favorite image. Like all products, they come beautifully gift-wrapped & ready to give. Check out some sample photos below & contact me directly for more information.

01.28 | Sultry Saturday Boudoir Sale!

Sultry Saturday special available 01/28 only; limited spots available; includes hair & makeup session at Spa Alexis inside the downtown Hyatt, and then a 45 minute completely private boudoir or glamour session in City Light's gorgeous new downtown studio across the street! Includes two outfit changes and your choice of backdrops; combined spa & photo sessions will take approximately 2 hours; price may subject to sales tax; booking requires $50 deposit; if prints are ordered by 02/06 will be ready for Valentine's Day!

Email for additional information or to reserve your spot. Offered at Spa Alexis, 2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo NY 14203 and City Lights Studio, across the street at 515 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14203.

View samples & more information here :