The term ‘Cowboy Builder’ is something we’ve come to recognise as a term for someone who possibly isn’t the best qualified to carry out work on your home, or who might infact just take your money and run, but what term could we use for the photography industry charlatan?
I’ve a suggestion: ‘Monkey Photographer’
Since we’re talking in terms, what about the one “You pay peanuts, you should expect monkeys”..? I think this fits in very well with the professional wedding photography industry. There are a lot of ‘bargain’ wedding photographers out there, knocking out cheap wedding books (I refuse to call them albums, due in part to the fact that they’re not anywhere close to being considered an album) passing themselves off as pro’s, this isn’t snobbery by the way, nor me being bitchy, this is defence of the profession that I’m passionate about. However I’m sick and tired of those wedding photographers who come down from the trees at the weekend, with their one body/lens and all the posing techniques of a Mafia execution squad (line ’em up and shoot) and who charge less than what it takes to actually run my business on a per wedding basis.
I’ve heard what’s been said by these Monkey’s:
“Sure they charge the earth some of these photographers”
“I can do it for a fraction of the cost”
“I don’t see why they think they can charge so much for a wedding”
I understand where they’re coming from, and it’s simple really. Ignorance.
Not having any overheads in their mind means that what they charge is pure profit (aside from the £24.99 photobook). I mean seriously, I’ve heard of monkeys charging £200 for wedding photography services! What galls me most is that these monkeys over time will one day think about going into this profession full time, and this is where it bites them in the arse. It’s only then do they realise that the cost of actually being a photographer is far more expensive than they might have first thought. I’d like to think that some of them take out insurance (a legal requirement), then there’s advertising, marketing (they’re different), hosting, new equipment, equipment upkeep, samples, printing, suppliers, designing, fuel, more insurances, more hosting, more new equipment, contracts, accountants, bookkeepers, accounting software, invoicing, direct debits, etc etc. The list goes on and on.
£200 a wedding isn’t even going to scratch the surface. I’ve nothing against people wanting to become wedding photographers, I really don’t. The more the merrier. What I don’t like is people with little or no experience seeing this industry as a fast and easy way to make a few extra pounds at the weekend. If you want to do that, go do a car boot sale or something else instead. Because if you come into this industry competing on price, then you’ll never ever be able to make a living from it. It’s simply not possible, and if your not doing that, then you can’t focus on your craft and become an inspirational photographer, who produces timeless classics, wedding after wedding.
I love being a wedding photographer, I love the pleasure it gives my customers from seeing my work, I love how on the most amazing day of their lives, I get to share every moment of it with them. Making sure I don’t miss a thing, so that they have a record of it for their rest of their family to see.
So, if your a Monkey reading this, do one of two things. Shadow a professional and learn from him/her. Work out what everything is going to cost you if you decide to go into this sector, charge appropriately and don’t ever compete on price. Or… Fill your boot, take a stall at the car boot sale next Sunday, and leave the photography to the photographers.