Do Wedding Photographers Charge Too Much?

I keep a very tight record on expenses and accounts receivable. There are two good reasons to do this. One; it’s how you run a business. Two; it’s how you should run a business. I could look at any year, but since 2014 is coming to a close, let’s take a look at our expenses this year. I am going to break down the expenses into categories, the same way the IRS does.

A disclaimer; every business is unique and we are not suggesting we are representative of all wedding photographers. We only aim to illustrate some of the expenses and challenges that most wedding photographers face. In 2014, as a photography company, we spent:

Bridal Meetings with Photographer | and Mom and Dad

Photography Meeting Weddings are obviously expensive, we all know that. Often times the photographer is one of the biggest bills on the wedding day – accounting for 10-15% of the total wedding budget. That means that the average wedding photographer is asking for a 2500-3500 dollar check. That’s a lot of …

Fashion Inspired Engagement Session

Engagement sessions in the fall can be tricky. It could be 50 or minus 5 degrees. This past Saturday we had the pleasure of photographing this lovely couple and fortunately, the weather cooperated as much as can be expected. It was mostly overcast and in the mid forties. Christina and Anthony came prepared. We began shooting at Union Station and made our way east down Jackson Boulevard hitting the Chicago river, the financial district, and finishing at Federal Plaza. As with all of our engagement sessions, we shot for about two hours. By the end of our shoot we laughed as Anthony prescribed, “that wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared it was going to be.” We take that as a compliment.

Ashley + Joey | Coming Soon

Coming Soon Ashley and Joey – you guys are awesome. We know you are itching to see just a moment from your amazing day. We can’t continue to keep ALL this wonderful footage to ourselves. Here is a teaser, a taste, a glimpse. Also, a special shout-out to a kick-ass bridal …

Breakfast and Baseball

Brunch at the Dawson, Drinks at Citizen Bar, and Wrigley Field As we move into fall and our wedding load goes down we have more time to catch up on our social lives. My sister Cassie and her husband Tom were up for the weekend. We started our Saturday with our …

Shooting the Dress | Before and After

Shooting the Wedding Dress | Before and After Photojournalism in wedding photography is not exactly photojournalism at all. It’s not like we are shooting the news overseas. If there is a Corner Bakery bag in every shot while the girls are getting ready nobody is going to be happy about that. …

Riverside Reception Hall | Geneva, IL.

Kristen and Brian at Riverside Reception Kristen and Brian were married on August 9th 2014 at St. Mary’s Church in Huntley, IL. This lovely couple celebrated in style with family and friends at the cozy Riverside Reception hall in Geneva, IL. We has such a great time working with the two. When …

Columbia Club Downtown Indianapolis

Margot and Mitch | Indianapolis Wedding Photography Margot and Mitch are two of the sweetest people you could hope to meet. While it is very satisfying to meet new people and share in their most special day, it’s such a pleasure to share the day with a family we have …

Omni Severin Indianapolis Wedding

Abby and Adam We had the honor to capture the amazing wedding day of Abby and Adam. We couldn’t possibly say enough great things about these two. We could feel the love in the air. A warm-hearted, genuine, deep, family kind of love flowed plentiful. From morning to night this lovely …

Bride and Groom Portrait Before and After

Bride and Groom Before and After This is a simple before and after shot. As we were walking around the Chicago Art Institute we were looking for good light. We were just wandering the halls waiting to see something that looked interesting. I always look for large walls of color or …

Artistic Night | Wedding Photography

Artistic Night – Wedding Photography using Flash This post has two purposes. First, I want to talk about doing an artistic shot to end your wedding day. Second, I want to talk about this shot in particular. When we shoot a wedding we spend almost all day with the bride …

The Woes of Owning a Business | Photography

The Business side of Photography Starting, owning, and operating a small business is hard work. For those outside looking in, it might seem glamorous at times. It is not. There is this impression that you get to make your own hours, work from home often, and do what you love to …

Bridal Party Pictures | Tips

How to take large bridal party pictures Taking large group photographs is not easy. Nay, doing it well is very difficult. It’s not something you master overnight. In fact, I volunteer to say it’s one of the things I still struggle with. It’s difficult. First of all you are trying …

Bridal Portrait Posing | Over the Shoulder

Bridal Portrait Posing Tip Posing is hard. In fact, it’s so difficult, I think it’s why half of the photographers in the industry are claiming to be ‘pure photojournalists’. Bogus I think. A true photojournalist would never tell a bride how to pose – they would only shoot the event …

before and after photography

Retouching the Background | Bridal | Before and After

There are many things that make a good wedding portrait. Lighting, posing, background, just to name a few. Don’t let anyone fool you, they are all important, but lighting is the most critical. Light is what allows us to take a picture in the first place. It is a necessary ingredient …

Chicago Wedding Photographer Prices

What do most people spend on a Wedding Photographer? The average bride spends 8-12% of the wedding budget on the photographer. Does that sound reasonable to you? The average cost of a wedding in the Chicago area is between $35,000 and $45,000 – so, if we assume the stats are …

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How I Got the Shot | Senior

Outdoors| How I Got the Shot I really wanted to share this photo from a recent senior portrait session because I love the way it turned out and I think there are several things worth pointing out. As we were walking the west loop looking for locations to shoot we …

Photography Styling, Trends, Fads and the Future

Photography in the Past When we flip through our parents wedding albums we can’t help but laugh at many of the pictures. Why is that? Is it because everyone is lined up staring straight at the camera or is it because dad has a handlebar mustache and long hair and …

How To Install Lightroom Presets

How to Install Your Lightroom Presets:  Go into Lightroom and click on Edit at the top (next to File). Go down to Preferences and click on it. There will be a new screen that pulls up.  There will be six tabs at the top, click on Presets (second tab). Click on the box titled, Show Lightroom Presets Folder. This will reveal the folder in Explorer Double click on Lightroom Folder. Next double click on Develop Presets Folder. Copy your downloaded preset into the “Develop Presets” folder or into the “User Presets” Folder. Restart Lightroom and you are complete.

Blackstone Hotel Wedding Chicago | Photography

Michelle and Michael Wedding at the Blackstone Hotel Pabst Photo had the privilege of shooting the Miller-Shea wedding this past weekend. It was our first wedding of the Spring and the weather cooperated in fashion. Michelle and Michael were married on April 5th 2014 at St. Mary of the Lake Church …

Chicago Food Photography | Big Hatt Gourmet

Big Hatt Gourmet | Txoko Dos We both love food. We both love photography. Why not mix the two?! Event and Food Photography Last Saturday Josh and I had the awesome opportunity to work with Chicago Chef Craig Bell and his Big Hatt Gourmet team at the Subzero-Wolf showroom in the …

Cancun Vacation 2014 | Casa Manga | Hotel Zone

2014 Cancun Vacation | Hotel Zone A few facts to start this post. We live in Chicago. Chicago has had one of the coldest winters in 30 years. This was the 5th snowiest winter in Chicago’s recorded history. Going to Cancun in February was a must. Jamie and I set …

Chicago Cinegraphs | Pictures in Motion

Chicago Cinegraphs Cinegraphs: uncharted territory for me, but I really like the idea. Since I came from a videography background I still love the art. Video is simply nothing but 24 pictures taken every second. The concept of stills in motion is really appealing. I think it is important for …

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Accounting Software for Photographers | TAVE

Freelance Wedding Photographer Accounting Software: Choosing TAVE If you are serious about your small business, it’s time to take your accounting to the next level – on par with the work you are doing. For the first year I was using Google Documents to manage my business. It was okay …

Matt and Christina | Engaged at The Rookery

My good buddy and his beautiful girlfriend Christina got engaged today. Matt chose the Rookery in Chicago. I didn’t ask him the exact significance, but I can offer my two cents – for what that’s worth – very little I suppose. The Rookery is a great symbol of Chicago architecture …

Logan Square Chicago | Wedding Photography | Kathy + Rich

The Wedding of Kathy and Rich in Logan Square at St. Luke’s Church and Revolution Brewery A destination wedding in Chicago! Well, sort of. Kathy and Rich had some Chicago roots but have since moved to the east coast and planned their wedding from afar. Josh and I initially met Kathy …

Dayna and Benjamin Ari visit to Atlanta

This post is looong overdue, but here it is! I went to visit my best friend and college roommate, Dayna, in her hometown of ATL a few months ago for some quality girl time, and most importantly to meet her precious baby boy!! So glad I brought my camera with …

Bride and Groom | Wedding Photo | 3D How I Got The Shot

How I Got The Shot | Pabst Photo Part of the ongoing How I Got The Shot series from Pabst Photo encouraging better photography for all. Gear: Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4, Yongnuo TN-622C Wireless E-TTL trigger, 2x Yongnuo TN-468 II TTL The following diagrams illustrate the lighting scheme …

Rachel and Evan | Engagement Session Chicago River West

River West E-Session in Chicago – Rachel and Evan and Miles the dog! We had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Rachel and Evan this past Monday. They brought along the newest addition to their family – Miles – a rambunctious and beautiful boxer mix. Anyone that knows my Jamie is …

Yorkville, IL | Farm Wedding | Jen+Josh | Photography

Jen and Josh’s Farm Wedding in Yorkville, IL. Jennifer Schmitt and Josh Junge were married on Jennifer’s dads farm on September 07, 2013. We shoot a lot of weddings every year and they are all unique, but every once in awhile a couple, or a bride, goes the distance to …

Willis Tower | Weddings at the Skydeck | 99th Floor

Kristen and Tim: Wedding Photography by Pabst Photo Kristen and Tim were married on July 28, 2013 in California. July 28th just so happens to be our (Jamie and I) anniversary as well! Kristen and Tim wanted to have a party here in Chicago to celebrate their west coast nuptials. …

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Photography Delivery | Custom USB Drive for Digital Images

USB Drive Engagement and Wedding Photography Delivery All of our engagement sessions and wedding photography packages come with digital file delivery in a customized Pabst Photo metal tin. The USB drives themselves range in 4gb – 16gb depending on the breadth of the shoot. It’s important to note that we …

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Lincoln Park Engagement Photography Session | Chicago

Just three days ago Jamie and I set out with Eli and Stefanie on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to capture some engagement photos. Stefanie and Eli are set to be married in TEXAS, but wanted their engagement photos to capture the city in which they met and live – Chicago! …

Indianapolis Museum of Art | Wedding Photography | IMA

Lauren + Mike | Wedding | Museum of Art (IMA) Indianapolis Just three days ago we attended the beautiful wedding of Lauren Staub and Mike Hewitt. The ceremony and reception took place at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It is a beautiful museum both inside and out. The expansive grounds …

The Griswold’s are Here | California

The joke carried through the week with the Pabst clan laughing at themselves as the out-of-town mid-western folk arriving in each location claiming, “the Griswold’s are here!” Unfamiliar with 5 lanes of traffic and motorcycles zipping between the cars we made our way from LAX to our temporary home in Long Beach, CA. From there we ventured in every direction in search of familiar faces, friends, and family members we’ve lost to the left-coast. In short, we had a great time exploiting the fruits, fun, friends, and food of Malibu, Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Aliso Creek Beach, Huntington Beach and …

Chicago History Museum Wedding Photography

Kim Barrash and Mark Kappelman Tie the Knot Chicago History Museum Wedding This magical wedding took place on July 6th 2013.  Just imagine if you will, summer, Chicago, 4th of July weekend, and the Chicago History Museum. Add a couple beautiful people, a white horse and carriage, a gorgeous evening for an outdoor wedding, a patio-cocktail serenaded by a string-quartet, and a DJ to light up the dance floor. Those are just a handful of the ingredients that added up to one heck of a Chicago summer night. The holiday weekend ushered in tons of family and friends for an …

Cocktail Hour | The Tasting Room | Chicago, IL

Julie and Anthony Wedding Reception Part II Julie and Anthony were married in California not long ago and had the full wedding experience out west. However, the couple wanted to come home to Chicago and share the joy with even more friends and family and decided to throw a beautiful …

Evansville Indiana | Wedding Photography

Evansville Wedding Photographer | Kokies | Echo Valley This beautiful wedding took place on Memorial Day Weekend 2013. Jaci and Adam are both from Indiana and the parents of the bride, Judy and Tim, live in Evansville, Indiana – which is exactly where this wedding took place. The ceremony and …

03 | Photographers Laid Off | Sun Times | What it means?

You’ve probably heard about the 28 full time photographers that were recently laid off by the Chicago Sun-Times. I want to talk about it in a different light than most of the news; I’ve heard a lot of Armageddon-like chatter from the photography industry and I’m not buying it. What I hear Photographers Saying There are many who think that the photographer is being further marginalized as cameras get better and better and phones like the Galaxy S4 and iPhone5 sport incredibly good cameras that people have on them at nearly all times. The concept of crowd sourced news and journalism imagery is ever increasing; especially …

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Natural Light | Flash Photography | Sun as Rim Light

Natural Light vs Flash Photography This post isn’t really about natural light versus flash photography, it’s about making our photographs the best that they can be. That is the point of our profession after all. I shoot natural light all the time, but I also know WHEN and HOW to use a flash …

Paris Club Chicago | Save The Date | Graphic Design

Chicago, Il – Paris Club – Save The Date Graphic Brian and Cecile were married in Cecile’s home town in France. How romantic must that have been?! A few months after the big day, they had a wedding reception — appropriately enough — at the Paris Club in River North, …

Necessary Steps to Becoming an Amazing Photographer | Funny Answers to a Silly Question

Becoming a Professional Photographer the Easy Way Sometimes you will hear the question asked from someone just starting out in photography, “How can I take amazing pictures like…” Anyone who is a professional in the industry has had someone approach them with a similar questions because he/she has purchased a DSLR and thinks they are going to be making beautiful pictures and a fortune in no time. I want to just SARCASTICALLY say, “all you have to do….”   To Become a Professional Photographer Simple. Put the camera in full auto mode. Depending on the model it will likely be the green …

Before and After | Studio Portrait | Female

Adobe Photoshop Portrait Before and After First of all, this beautiful girl really doesn’t need any Photoshop touchup. That said, what girl doesn’t want a little post-airbrushing? We’ve all seen the magazines, why not let your wedding photographer do the same thing? We here at Pabst Photo do not like …

Shamrock Shuffle | Chicago, IL | 2013

Sponsored by Bank of ‘Merica the Shamrock Shuffle is an 8k race through the streets of Chicago. The race just so happens to go right by the Pabst Photo studio. The race took place this morning at 8:30am. I was also pumped to see the Chive flag being flown proudly …

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Photoshop Tutorials | Green Screen Compositing

Tutorial on green/blue screen Chroma Key Photoshop Compositing Steps in text below. Chroma Key In this tutorial, we  search the net for a previously shot green/blue screen chroma image. Make sure to search for a large image when using Google Image Search. Next, we have to remove our image from the background. …

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Canon 50mm 1.8 Sample Pictures

Canon 50mm 1.8 Sample Pictures – Photo’s, Images, and Test Shots Sometimes you just want to see pictures taken with a lens you are interested in buying and that’s all there is to it. You have read the reviews, you know the price points, now you just want to see …

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Exposure Compensation | Camera Settings

Camera Exposure Compensation-Metering There’s a reasonable chance that you have never used or adjusted your exposure compensation. That’s okay. Some photographers never do. Let me start by saying it is an advanced feature. Photographers at this level often shoot in full manual or shoot in a semi-auto mode like AV or …

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Chicago Engagement Photography | Union Station

Engagement Session in Chicago | Mike and Lauren Union Station and the Studio of Pabst Photo Jamie and I had such a blast photographing Mike and Lauren this past weekend. They are wonderful together and we just loved the way their photos turned out. A mix of traditional and contemporary …

Aperture Settings | Numbers in Photography

A look at Aperture Settings and the Numbers in Photography I’m sure we can both agree, there a lot of numbers in photography; especially to those just starting out. It’s a lot to keep track of. There are fundamentally only three ways you control your camera to take a picture. …

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Camera ISO | A Simple and Awesome Explanation

Camera ISO, What is it? One of the questions I get most often from people just learning to use their DSLR camera is what is Camera ISO and what does it do? Most people are pretty keen on shutter speed and aperture even if they don’t know exactly what they …

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Face Explosion | How I Got The Shot

How I Got The Shot of My Face Exploding! This is another post with some high level post production and is not for everyone. I want this blog to be helpful and enjoyable for photographers and designers of all skill-levels, so if this post is not for you, close your …

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How I Got The Shot | 3D Green Screen Composite

This is not the typical “how I got the shot“. It’s more involved, but it does represent an idea that anyone can play with. Let’s start with the concept of taking a picture, in the studio or anywhere for that matter, and then transporting our subject matter to some other …

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Revolution Brewery | Brew Tour Experience

Brew Tour at Revolution Brewery Chicago A while ago we went to the Revolution Brewery here in Chicago and as expected, I had my camera with me. I intend to keep this post short and sweet, but as usual it’s always fun to share some personal photography and videography work. A blog …

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How I Got The Shot | Window Light

This Is How I Got The Shot | Natural Window Light Not every picture we take is a huge production. In fact, more often than not we have our camera and little else. No strobes and reflectors and so forth.That means we have to take advantage of what the natural environment has …

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How I Got The Shot | Snow Flake Focus

This is How I Got The Shot | In The Snow This photo was taken in the winter of 2012 (see more from this photo shoot in the snow. There was about five inches of snow on the ground. As any photographer knows, shooting in the snow offers a unique set of …

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Image Manipulation in Photoshop | How much is too much?

Photoshop Image Manipulation | Post-Processing Photoshop is an extremely valuable and powerful tool for tweaking images. Just about every photographer who shoots digital photography uses Photoshop. It can be used subtly and to excess and both are not hard to do. To do the simple tweaks like brightness and contrast …

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How I Got The Shot | Photography Studio Lighting

This is How I Got the Shot This senior portrait was taken in our Chicago Photo Studio. In this short tutorial of sorts, above you can see 4 images in the slide-show. This is a recurring theme from Pabst Photo, check back for more 3D photography tips. Number 01 | …

Canon 50mm 1.8 vs Canon 50mm 1.4

The Nifty Fifty : Canon 50mm 1.8 vs Canon 50mm 1.4 When comparing these two lenses, I don’t think it matters whether or not you are using a full-frame camera or a crop-sensor camera. So we’re past that. Now let’s look at the two lenses a little more closely.First of all we have to recognize that there is a 300 dollar difference. In terms of the cost of lenses, that’s really not a whole lot. But, every photographer has a different budget and different needs. It might seem that if money was no object that the canon 50mm 1.4 would be …

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Polar Bear Plunge Chicago | January 26 2013

Lakeview Polar Bear Club | Chicago Polar Plunge 2013 A Celebration of shrinkage at Oak Street Beach: My good friend John Testa has been talking about jumping into Lake Michigan for the past couple weeks. This is not the first time he’s done it, but it is 15 degrees today, so for …

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5d and 7d | Canon Camera Head to Head | DSLR

5d vs 7d Many people get stuck on the fence when it comes time to shop for a new DLSR. One of the common places many people get stuck is when trying to decide whether to buy a high end crop-sensor camera like the 7D or making the move to …

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Canon Lenses to Have | 100mm f2

Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 | Lenses to Have Can you really afford not to own this lens–that is the question. Now, I am assuming that we are talking about portraits or general shooting firstly. Okay, if you are looking at this lens seriously, there’s a good chance you do not …

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Studio Pictures | Photo Studio

Shooting in the Photo Studio I absolutely love shooting in the photo studio. I think the main reason is that I love to control light. I love shooting on location too, but it’s obviously harder to control the environment. A good photographer can do both really well, and I like …

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Tilt Shift Camera Lens | Try Before you Buy

Rent a Tilt Shift Camera Lens Before you Buy | Photography There are many purposes a tilt-shift lens can serve, but one of the most popular uses, and the one I use, is for architectural photography. I am not going to focus on that however. This article will be more broad and …