Mel Pettit Photography

People photography…and more!

Yes, I do charge for my services…..

Before I start this blog, I’d like to make it crystal clear that this is not a rant, nor is it pointed at any particular individual.  I hope that this post will provide the reader with my point in a balanced and considered view and you’ll see where I’m coming from by the time you get to the last paragraph.

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of photographers out there, many of whom shoot weddings.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s how I started.  A few kind people who knew me took a bit of a gamble and gave me the opportunity to shoot their big day, and I jumped at it.  My point is that I did it for free, on the understanding that if it went wrong there would be no comeback.  That’s a massive leap of faith on their part, but the important thing for me is that I did it for FREE.

I liked what I did, and so did my couples.  Nobody threatened to sue me, and prints were sold.  I also started to design and produce albums, all for no charge except for the actual cost of the prints.  I made not a penny.  After a while, wedding photography got serious and I decided to up my game substantially, and I decided to charge for my services.   That action started to cause a few problems, not least that I stopped getting inquiries from people who would have approached me when I wasn’t charging.  I knew that would be the case and accepted it wholeheartedly.   The annoying thing for me is that I was considered to be expensive.  It’s not my intention to discuss my prices, you can see those on my website here, it’s the thought that some people think that I just turn up at the church and venue, point my cameras at the action and pretty pictures appear from nowhere and make lots of money.  Therein lies my first issue.

Note that I said cameras, plural not single.  Well, I shoot weddings, so one camera is not enough.  The thought of having a body fail on me whilst I’m mid-way through shooting a wedding mortifies me.  I need two, one as a back-up, but we’re not talking about any old cameras.  I’m talking about having kit that’s able to cope with low light situations in churches, some of which are dark, very dark indeed.  That’s magnified by not being able to use flash during the ceremony.  To counter that, I have very capable camera bodies to deal with situations such as that.  Good cameras cost a lot of money.   That brings me neatly to my next issue.

If I had a pound sterling for every time I’ve been told that my camera must be good to get the pictures I do, I’d not be photographing weddings.   As I’ve mentioned, I do have good quality cameras, but I don’t turn up at a venue, put them on the ground and let them take pictures on their own.   As good as they are, I have to have some input in the picture taking process.  I have to assess the location, light, people and a load of other things before I press the shutter button to get the shot the bride and groom are going to love.  That’s me pressing the shutter button, not the camera doing it for itself.  How do I make the right decision?  Through training and experience, that’s how.  Experience you get as you go along, but training costs me annually.   The cost word seems to be appearing frequently here.

What if it rains?   That’s ok, I’ve got some studio lights, some portable flash heads and some flashguns.  That’s enough to get me out of any sticky situations caused by the weather.  Sure enough, each one of those items costs me too.

I could go on for quite some time yet, listing things like my PC, electricity, heating, petrol, repairs, replacements, consumables, insurance – your photographer is insured for public liability and public indemnity I’m sure – but I think you can see my point.  Factor in editing time, about four hours for every hour at a wedding, taking into account my booking fee only, and I’m getting considerably less than £1.50 an hour.  Would you work for that?



One Response to “Yes, I do charge for my services…..”

  1. Simon

    All very well put Mel. Charging the right amount to live is the correct thing to do. Clients that want consistently incredible imagery will be happy to pay.

    Like you said, many people assume because I have a expensive looking camera every time I press the shutter some magic inside the black thing happens and a work of art just pops onto the memory card.

    Working for free was a lifestyle choice you made before. It is now time to move your business attention onto those people that understand asking Bob from the pub to bring his IPhone and take a few snaps is not going to cut it on their big day.

    You’re working in a highly competitive market segment but as I said before focus on your best talents for portraiture and make it stand out in the crowd.

    Good luck…


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