Robin & FrankOver 100 times a month, I get requests for rate and package information. Gladly, I send the information to potential clients. Rarely do I get a response like the one I recently received. A mother of a bride, after reviewing my rates responded with, “I don’t feel that anyone deserves $200 an hour for any work.” 

That statement is couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When you factor in all of the preparation and post production time, in no way does that equal $200 per hour.

Starting with the initial meeting, which generally takes an hour. I try to find out what it is that the bride and groom are looking for from the photographer. I ask what will happen throughout the day? Do they need 3 hours of photographic coverage, 6 hours, or more? Do they want an album? What is their budget? Can I work within that budget?

If they book me, then I’ll give them a basic shooting script that details what images I look for while photographing their wedding. We’ll then sit down and go over the list, adding or subtracting what they’d like covered.
Another 2 hours here.

Then I scout out the location for the ceremony and reception, because I want to make the best images possible for a couple. That takes at least 3 hours.

What are we up to now, 6 hours? And I haven’t even made one picture.

Then comes the day of the ceremony. Factor in the fact that most weddings are at least one hour from me. There we have two hours travel time, to and from, of which I don’t charge. I arrive generally a half hour before I am to start shooting. Another half hour. Now I’m at 8.5 hours for a wedding which I have yet to make one image.

Let’s say it’s a 5 hour wedding shoot. I generally make about 1,500 images during a 5 hour wedding.20080329_CAI_3655

Then comes the editing. All of the images need to be toned, color corrected and ready for printing. Editing the images takes about 3 hours. Post production another 3 hours. Writing the DVD and placing the label another hour. Shipping takes about 1 hour. Uploading the images to the online archive for viewing takes at least 6 hours, and that’s on a good day.

And we have yet to begin working on the album. This is just for photographing the event. Album production takes another 8-12 hours.

Without even factoring in album production, I calculate 26.5 hours worked for a 5 hour wedding, in which all a couple wants is someone to photograph the wedding and reception and to provide a disc to print photos as desired. It actually works out to $7.50 per hour for an “average” 5 hour wedding shoot.

Maybe I should charge $1 per image?