Why do customers pay outrageously high wedding photography prices in New York City and other metropolitan areas? We are fascinated by how easy some professionals command prices north of $7,000 for documenting a 10 hour wedding while others struggle to charge $1,000 for wedding photos.
What influence couples willingness to pay exorbitant prices for photography services? To understand brides' psychology, we need to look at luxury brands. After all, how can Hermes charge an arm and a leg for a purse or Rolls Royce command an amount that exceeds the price of a house in many parts of the world.
Most people think that high prices are a reflection of the product and service quality. After all, we all know that you "get what you pay for." In other words, if you pay an exorbitant price, the product must be amazing.
Some famous photographers can sell their packages to affluent clients and not only because they can tell all your friends about them. A well known wedding photographer who shall remain unnamed told us that he overheard his clients bragging how much they paid for his services and that they flew him in for their wedding. Will that impress your friends? YOU BET!
That is why many wedding photographers strive to win many photo awards so that their packages can jump into the pricing stratosphere.
A clue into how clients think was given by The New Yorker experiment. After Conde Nast acquired The New Yorker, originally tested lowering the prices and the volumes did not increase to offset the revenue lost. As such, the pricing team increased the prices and the volumes did not drop. As a result, even today the New Yorker charges twice as much as competitors and their revenue and profit margins are very healthy while many publications suffer.
The clients identify with a certain perceived quality or photography style and are willing to pay extra for that. The price sensitivity of those clients is negligible, especially for low share of wallet products or services.
Sometimes brides love so much a certain style that they spend more money on the photographer than on the reception. We heard of cases where famous photographers shot backyard weddings and charged full price. The professionals were truly honored to be invited to those weddings by couples who love photography.
On the other hand, we also know artists who shot hundred thousand dollar weddings where the photographer was paid peanuts because the couple did not appreciate the importance of photography.
Many brides want to be rich and famous and hiring an expensive photographer allows you to be treated like royalty on your big day. On your special day, money is less important than your experience and we often see couples spend outrageous amounts of money for dresses that the bride only wears once.
How much does your dream cost? That is a question that only you can answer and the wedding industry is well known for making your wildest dreams come true...at a premium price tag.
Supply and Demand
Famous artists do not photograph 70 weddings a year, but rather 20 and to be able to maintain their lifestyle, they charge premium prices. The best New York wedding photographers are booked 18-24 months in advance, often before the couple even secured their venue. Because the demand for their services is so high and they only photograph a limited number of weddings, it necessarily follows that their packages are quite pricey.
Peace of Mind
A great photographer does not sell wedding photography, he sells peace of mind...and that is worth a lot for a couple. After all, we all heard stories of lost images, crazy artists, brides crying and so on. Prices are often dictated by more than supply and demand but rather by the fine balance of fear and thriftiness.
On the one hand, many couples want to save money, but the fear of failure makes them pay a premium just to ensure they have an amazing wedding album their children and grandchildren will cherish for decades to come. For most brides, hiring professionals that capture the essence of the big day in a masterful manner is crucial.
Stellar Customer Service
Some clients have very little time and their time is worth a lot of money. Let's look at a multimillionaire and see if she would ever book a cheap photographer. We are talking about an artist who, to make ends meet, also works two jobs so she can buy the latest cameras, lenses and those Profoto strobes you have to have to take your photography to the next level. Such photographer will take 2-3 days to return an email and for a bride who values her time, she wants a quick response.
Often successful studios have a dedicated customer service team who replies to inquiries in 15 minutes. Well, how many affordable photographers can brag about such turnaround times?
Understanding and Offering Value
Maybe this is the most important attribute of all high end wedding photographers. They understand how their clients think, what excites them and how much that excitement is worth.
For example, Brett Florens, an iconic professional fashion and wedding photographer offers engagement sessions anywhere in the world. His package price tag? $20,000! However, for many couples $20,000 is worth less than the adventure of being photographed under the northern lights in Iceland next to the body of a crashed plane.
Artists who have a signature style and are totally different from the crowd are known to not only receive accolades, but also nice paychecks. The top wedding photographers in the world are easily identifiable through their images and that distinguishes them from the crowd. Among them, thiking of Yervant, Jerry Ghionis, Ryan Shembri, Rocco Ancora (all Australians) or Jose Villa (who created the bright and airy style) are able to charge north of $10,000 for a day of shooting.
Photography has been around for almost two hundred years and it is very difficult to come up with something new. Still, wedding photographers such as Ryan Brenizer, Sam Hurd and others were able to bring innovation into this industry and build successful businesses.
Most wedding photographers charge average prices but some artists are able to raise above the crowd through innovation, uniqueness, creating value for the couples, great customer service and experience.