At one of my weddings this past summer, a father of the bride came up to me and told me he had read my college thesis.
He found it online while he was researching me, and while he was trying to figure out how wedding photographers worked and why wedding photography costs so much.
As the father of the bride was explaining all of this to me, I literally started to sweat. I had no idea where this was going. For my honors thesis project, I wrote a business plan for, you guessed it, Jenna Hidinger Photography. I’ll be honest – I haven’t used it much since. If there’s anything I’ve learned about business while running a business, it’s that nothing stays the same for very long, and that you have to be constantly adapting to changing clients, markets, products, and services. But while he was talking, I kept thinking I wrote that paper almost four years ago, so much has changed since then – I hope he doesn’t hold anything I wrote against me!
But then he said something that astounded me, that I rarely ever hear: “Now I understand what all goes into wedding photography and why it costs so much. I used to think a photographer would just show up the day of, take some photos, and leave. But after reading your thesis, I feel like I understand and really appreciate what you do. You do so much. Thank you for all you’ve done for my daughter.”
Cue the gasp again. Those were most certainly not the words I expected to hear, but they brought so much joy to my heart! As his words echoed through my mind throughout the remainder of his daughter’s wedding day, alternative thoughts from other photographers kept echoing through my head: People should inherently know the value of what you do as a wedding photographer. You should never have to explain yourself or your pricing. People should know.
But if you’re not a wedding photographer, if you’re not friends with a wedding photographer, if you’re not married to a wedding photographer, if you don’t have a wedding photographer in your family… how are you supposed to know? How is anyone supposed to know unless we, the wedding photographers, tell them?
So today, I would love to share a few things you might not know about wedding photographers. There might be some pieces that have to do with money, and some that don’t. But my goal today isn’t to guilt you into paying more for your wedding photos - it’s to show you everything that goes into what we do outside of just showing up and taking photos. Because if no one has ever told you… how are you supposed to know?
We love when you ask for our advice and help!
From a photography perspective and a planning-a-wedding perspective, few things give me more joy than being able to help a bride out, whether it’s by providing vendor recommendations, giving a second opinion on decorations, or helping create the perfect timeline. Most couples have never planned a wedding, so they aren’t always sure, for instance, how much time to allot for family formals, bride & groom photos, or bridal party portraits. Always double check with your photographer to see if they have a specific amount of time they recommend!
I’ve created an 80 page magazine brimming full with tips, tricks, and advice all relating to engagement photos, wedding photos, timelines, first looks, rain, details, destination weddings, and the like. All brides who book with me receive this as my gift to them!
There is a LOT more to photographing a wedding than showing up the day of!
Emails, phone calls, timeline creation, location scouting, questionnaires, invoicing, contracts, album designing, product ordering, blogging, packaging & mailing – just to name a few! On top of the routine items in each wedding’s workflow, we’re also doing things like improving our education, bookkeeping, collecting and paying sales tax, creating educational resources for clients.
We have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest (more on that here).
Pinterest has given all brides everywhere access to more ideas than EVER before in every style, variety, and color scheme imaginable. Sometimes, it’s so easy to get caught up in the “Pinterest-perfect” photo opportunities, that you forget to let your day unfold in a way that’s true to you. Don’t miss out on true and authentic moments while trying to recreate someone else’s!
Editing thousands of photos can take a long time.
Sorting through 4,000 to 5,000 wedding photos, then editing ~1,000 can be a big job. Know that most wedding photographers want to finish editing your wedding photos as fast as you want to see them! But they also want to make sure that your once-in-a-lifetime day is edited to perfection – and perfection can take a little bit of time!
Knowing of any family drama ahead of time is a HUGE help!
It’s oh-so helpful to know any sensitive family situations so we don’t have two people who aren’t so fond of each other nice and close in a family portrait! The last thing we want is to make anyone feel uncomfortable on our account due to ignorance.
The price you pay for your package is not what we get to keep in our bank accounts.
If you want to make a buttload of money for working one day, wedding photography is not for you. Being a wedding photographer means lots of expensive equipment (which is expensive to upkeep!), backups for that expensive equipment in case something stops working mid-wedding day, liability insurance, equipment insurance, sales tax, editing software, computers, income tax, paying for continued education, hard drives to store our client’s photos, paying out of pocket for health insurance (or paying for an expensive plan not through an employer), not to mention every day expenses that don’t even have to do with the business (rent, cars, groceries). Don’t get me wrong – I love photography and it has been worth every single penny invested! But to be a full time, professional wedding photographer, major cost is involved.
Besides actually taking pictures, keeping the wedding day on time is one of our biggest jobs.
This is especially true if there is no planner! It’s easy for family members and friends to get swept up in the emotion of the day (for good reason!), and lose track of the timeline. Keeping the timeline on track ensures that we’ll be able to deliver the quality (and quantity) of images you would expect from us!
We want to know what you like about our work.
It’s helpful to know what a couple is attracted to in our work. Is it the light? The colors? The posing? The bridal detail styling? Reception lighting? Another special technique? Knowing in advance will help us pay special attention to what’s most important to you!
We love recommending people who know, love, and work well with.
On a wedding day, the vendors you hire will have to work together to help make your vision come to life, and if those vendors work well together, it’s going to make your wedding that much more epic! We have some vendors who we absolutely love to work who have a similar goal to us: to love on our couples and make their day as amazing as possible! If you would like to see a list of our favorite recommended vendors, including videographers, DJ’s, florists, hair artists, makeup artists, calligraphy specialists, invitation designers, caterers, photobooths and more, feel free to use the contact tab above to reach out! (Or, I linked to a few of my favorites above!)
We love when you trust our expertise and opinions!
Decisions we make can sometimes seem counterintuitive as to what could make for an epic photo or location, or how much time we allot for photos on a wedding day. The great thing about hiring a professional wedding photographer with experience? You shouldn’t have to worry about those decisions. We’ve acquired experience and education to be able to approach and photograph your wedding day in the best possible way. We love when you trust us to do our job!
The truth is, we never really know what goes into any profession that isn’t our own. We don’t know the time or money spent, or the work that goes into something behind the scenes. But we can listen. We can learn. We can ask questions – heck, we can even read theses! Most importantly: we can give each other grace.