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 …

Make it about the Work First

MAKE IT ABOUT THE WORK FIRST

Sometimes we forget that we are more than brands. Sure, we are Pabst Photo, but we are also just people. We interact with others. We are selling more than photography, more than art even. We are selling ourselves. Not in the dirty way. :-) Jamie and I are people and almost every time, we become friends with our clients. We share such a special day with our couples. It is such a unique experience. We are grateful every time we get to shoot a wedding. It truly is a privilege to share in their day. When we have satisfied clients it does feel amazing. Sure, there’s money involved, but hearing from a bride/groom about how happy they are with their photos feels pretty incredible.

Bridal Party Photography | Make it Fun

Dealing with a large bridal party. Make it fun. Photography tips and how we got the shot. Before and After Bonus. This post is two parts. First, I want to talk about the importance of having fun. As a wedding photographer, we are often asked to wear a lot of …

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. …

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 …

Before and After Bridal Party | The Little Things

Before and After, bridal party, and fixing the floor. Great photos don’t happen by accident. At least not very often. This is a very simple post, but I think it’s an important not to make. We live and shoot in an imperfect world. We cannot control our environment all the …

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 …

Godox Ving 860c Review and First Impressions

First Impressions Godox Ving 860c You asked for first impressions and first impressions are mixed. I love the feel of this thing right out of the box. It is heavy. Feels great in the hands like its Canon counterpart. The battery door opens and closes like it’s meant to last. …

Photo Case | Lowepro Pro Roller x200 | Review

Lowepro Pro Roller x200 Review vs the x100 We were in the market for a gig bag to be used primarily shooting weddings. Ordering such things online is difficult because you can’t touch it, can’t load it, roll it, lift it, or get a feel for its overall size. We …

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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 …

chicago wedding photographer

Natural Light Wedding Photographer

Natural Light Wedding Photography What does it really mean to be a natural light wedding photographer? Is it a good thing? I’ll do my best to answer these questions and more in the following paragraphs. But first, I want to state that when I first started taking pictures I was …

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Shooting a Wedding with a Canon Rebel | Photography

T1i, T2i, T3i, T4i, xsi, Rebel Wedding Photography Get Over It There are going to be a lot of people who will not like, will not agree with, this post. I don’t care. A camera is just a camera. Real talent, real artistry, comes from the mind of the photographer. …

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 …

06 Don’t Compare Your Chapter 1 to Someone Else’s Chapter 20 | Wedding Photography

I intend to keep this short and sweet. As always, the Photography Business Journal series on Pabst Photo is as much for me to document my ups and downs with owning a business as it is for any reader. I came across the quote – in the title – and it resonated with me and how I think about Pabst Photo. It’s very dangerous to look at another photographer and the success they may be having that you don’t. However, we never look the other way and see how far we have come or see how much further along we …

Custom USB Photography Delivery Pabst Photo Wedding Engagement (3)

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 …

05 | I hate Posing Photography and Shoot Only Natural Light

Wedding Photography | Photojournalism | Posing and Natural Light The title of this blog post is meant to be ridiculous. I would NEVER say that. I think that photographers that say such things are photographers that only know how to shoot natural light. They don’t know how to pose a couple or a bride and groom. If they don’t know how to shoot flash – well – it’s easier to say, “I’m a natural light photographer,” than it is to learn flash-photography. Similarly, if a photographer says they never pose a couple, they just shoot the day as it unfolds …

04 | Looking at other Photographers | Reference Imagery

Other Photographers Work It’s amazing how many wannabe photographers I meet – especially online and in forums – that are truly self depreciating. Websites like Digital Photography School are full of these types. So many photographers, especially those starting out look at the work of others and drool. They convince …

How I Got The Shot | Beautiful Bride Wedding Dress

How I Got The Shot – Bride Putting On Dress As with all the HOW I GOT THE SHOT series I have started with a 3D diagram to better illustrate the concepts behind what is happening. This was a difficult spot, but we can’t always control where the bride has decided …

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 …

Planning the Perfect Wedding – Featuring Pabst Photo – Obviouschild Productions, LLC.

Planning the Perfect Wedding – Book – Available now on Amazon.com Obviouschild Productions, LLC. DBA Pabst Photo’s very own Josh Pabst shares his wedding expertise about hiring the right photographer – videographer. It was my privilege to offer some of what I’ve learned in the past seven years about what to look for when hiring a photographer or videographer. I think I’ve learned more than the 15 pages I contributed to this effort, but that is an aside. For those that don’t know, Jamie and I got our start in this industry doing videography, not photography. Our wedding videography website …

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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 …

W-9 For Photographers as an LLC | Limited Liability Company

So, you are a photographer and a company has asked you for a W-9. Don’t panic, it’s not a big deal at all. It’s mostly just for tax purposes on their end and it really shouldn’t change anything for you. The form is 3-4 pages, but really you only need to fill out the top half of page one. The first box is your Name and should be simple enough. If you don’t know what your Name is, I’m afraid I can’t help you. Next is the Business Name. I am writing for those that have an LLC. like I do. If …

Creative Live | Free Live Workshops for Photographers

Creative Live is full of talented photographers eager to share their tips and tricks with us. Workshops can be expensive, and if you don’t live in a big city, then they are difficult to get to. CreativeLive has changed that and I have to admit that when I can, I watch them all. You can watch them for free while they are live, and afterward you can buy the workshop – usually for around 100 dollars – more after the event.This week has been jam packed with talent. I’ve listened to Scott Robert Lim talk about manual off-camera flash photography, …

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 …

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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 …

02 | Free Photography Services | Getting Started

Offering free photography services sounds terrible, but we have to keep a long term perspective on this endeavour. When I started my wedding videography company I was terrified. I truly didn’t know if I could do it. I had purchased a professional video camera at the cost of 2000 dollars while working as an architect in Chicago, IL. It was a lot of money, but it was money I had. I purchased the camera as a toy as much as anything – I thought I would tinker in short films with friends. I soon realized that I did love shooting …

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. …

Camera-ISO-Simple-Funny-Explanation

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 …

01 | Building a Photography Business

I wish I had started something like this years ago when I was beginning in the wedding industry. If nothing else to remind myself how hard it is to start and maintain your own business. I’m not sure if this ‘journal series’ is aimed at other people starting their photography business or it’s selfishly for me to look back at someday. I’ve thought about writing posts like this in the past, but always thought it was too late – but I finally decided that was foolish and it’s never too late to start something. The same goes for starting a …

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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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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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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 …