It’s that time of year when album orders start being finalized and deliveries of these gorgeous books start rolling in!
We just delivered this beautiful album, a thick 12×12 book featuring 56 pages and our brown patterned “Truffle” leather and blue suede accent stripe on the cover, to the hands of newlyweds Vi and Steven Aranda.
If you’ve been following our blog, you may remember Vi and Steven from their Los Willows wedding this past July. You can read their full blog post here.
On Sunday, September 16th, Loren and I had an amazing afternoon photographing an engagement session with Krystal Muñoz and Travis McGee.
Krystal and Travis had been granted permission by a family friend to have their pictures taken at this private horse ranch near Tenaja Trail in west Murrieta. The weather was great, the sunlight was warm, and we were able to take our time photographing Krystal and Travis beneath beautiful massive oak trees. The ranch was utterly peaceful. It was just the four of us with an audience of horses, and I’m absolutely loving the images that we captured!
Out of respect for the animals, we didn’t photograph any horses because without a handler there, we didn’t want to do anything that could spook the horses in any way. But we did stop on our way out to pat the muzzle of one of the tallest horses I think I’ve ever seen! He was a beautiful chocolate brown boy, very friendly, even eager for our company.
The ranch offered up a great variety of backdrops to use for pictures. From walking trails to the large trees to mounds of rock to bales of hay… Some of my favorites images were at the very end of the session with Krystal and Travis cuddled against an old fence highlighted by the sunset haze.
Congratulations on your engagement, Krystal and Travis! Thank for you allowing us the opportunity to visit such a beautiful place for your engagement session. We look forward to the wedding in May of next year at the Bella Gardens Estates in Murrieta!
Congratulations to Sabrina Osse and Geoff Schultz, who were married on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at Wiens Family Cellars.
Let’s start off by pointing out that September 15th was a HOT day in Temecula! Definitely one of the hotter and drier days that we’ve worked during this summer. The outside temperature peaked at somewhere near 103 degrees, and there was very little breeze so of course 103 felt like 110! And yet, somehow despite all of that, Sabrina still managed to look beautiful and fresh during the entire event!
Sabrina and Geoff had decided to do a ‘First Look’ prior to their ceremony. First Look = Everyone has more time to relax and enjoy the festivities! We love doing ‘First Looks’, especially in the fall and winter months when days grow shorter. We can take advantage of pre-ceremony sunlight to photograph the couples with with their wedding party and immediate families without the threat of looming darkness. First Looks allow the wedding party to enjoy the event more, because more pictures prior to the ceremony means less pictures during the cocktail hour while the rest of the guests are off having fun! First Looks also allow us more time to get creative with our portraits and to capture a lot more variety than if we were trying to cram all of the couples pictures, wedding party pictures and family formals in just one hour.
And, Sabrina planned her photo checklist schedule to perfection! She accounted for plenty of time for each part of her day, and stuck by our rule of anticipating an average of 2 minutes per grouping during the family formals. And, with the help of the Wiens staff of coordinators keeping everything moving and on schedule (as they always do!), Loren says this turned out to be one of the most stress-free weddings he’s ever had the pleasure of photographing!
A big thanks to Shillawna for assisting as Loren’s second photographer for the day, and to Brandon for being our fun and efficient photo booth photographer.
To view Sabrina and Geoff’s entire collection of wedding images, please visit www.pictage.com/1315868.
I’m always thrilled to find new and exciting products that I know will knock our clients’ socks off! Well, I think I’ve found our “IT” product of 2012…
A couple of weeks ago, we received delivery of this unique and gorgeous wall art piece – The Bamboo Print – from our partners at Pictage. We put it on display at our studio to see what kind of reactions it gets, and yep! Everyone who sees expresses nothing but love for it!
With Bamboo Prints, images are printed directly onto bamboo with 1/4-inch backing. Bamboo is an eco-friendly, renewable resource that provides a subtle but distinctive texture and warmth to the image. As with all fine art prints, images are printed with archival quality water-based inks. The bamboo is treated with a proprietary receiving layer to further ensure that vibrancy and color do not fade with time. The piece is finished off with recessed backing for a floated look.
I absolutely LOVE this product. I love the texture and grain of the wood, and I love how it is both rustic and modern at the same time. In case you were wondering, this piece is a 16×20, the perfect size for a small focal wall in a foyer, living room, bedroom or hallway.
Considering a Bamboo print for your home? Please contact us for special ordering information.
PS: If the couple in this sample print look familiar, they are John and Megan Proctor, married last summer at Keyways Winery. Their beautiful wedding images can be viewed here.
It’s engagement portrait season! On March 6, 2011, we photographed the engagement session of a beautiful couple, Kelly Keprios and Tim Jiannino, at one of our favorite locations in Laguna Beach.
Here are just some of the amazing shots from the session that Kelly and Tim selected for use in their custom Photo Guest Book that we’re designing for them. And, check out their cinematic engagement video too! They loved it!
Aimee Jones and Jeff Gutman are a darling couple who were married on October 23, 2010 at Thornton Winery in Temecula, California. Aimee and Jeff had included two parent photobooks with their custom wedding collection. Jeff’s mother, Bobbi, upgraded her book to this gorgeous 10×10 heirloom album with a full black leather cover, cameo image, and silver cover imprinting.
Take a look!
Update June 1st, 2011: Here is what Amiee’s parents just wrote us regarding their Parent Album that Rachel custom-designed for them:
Rachel and Loren, I cannot tell you the number of extraordinary compliments we are getting from friends who see our parent album. And we did nothing but attend. The compliments all belong to the two of you. Your work is beyond description. The photos are beautiful and the work that went into to album is incredible. We feel like we are reliving the moment every time we look through it. We cannot thank you enough. — Roslyn and Marc Jones
So we just shipped out another wedding album! This album is for a darling couple, good friends Natalie and Michael Hirt, who were married back on May 21, 2010. Natalie and Mike had the most elegant and intimate little wedding at the Temecula Creek Inn. And, all that gorgeous decor of theirs was designed in collaboration by Debi Matthews and Christie Campbell of The Socialites Event Planning & Design and Fifi of Finicky Flowers, both local Murrieta vendors. So a big thumbs up to these ladies for putting on such a fantastic wedding! Natalie and Mike had the best day, thanks to them!
Natalie and Mike’s 10×10 wedding book features a full image cover and dark gray leather spine (fitting, since their wedding colors incorporated yellow and gray!). And, for a really personal touch, the album slip cover is a custom felt case that I made specifically to go along with the gray bird and branch pattern to match Natalie’s wedding theme.
Natalie and Michael, we hope you enjoy your beautiful new album!
This is what Natalie wrote to us when she received her album and prints:
Yes! They came and it was all wrapped so beautiful! Thank you. I love the album and I’ve been showing it off, telling everyone how much I love the way you put it together using the photos I chose to make a story of our wedding day. Very lovely. The prints are wonderful, too. Thanks again! — Natalie
On Saturday, November 27th, I documented our final wedding of 2010, the wedding of Erin Eubanks and Richard Nordeen!
Erin and Rick were married in a very classic church ceremony at Christ The King Lutheran Church in nearby Fallbrook. Classic touches included a bouquet of creamy white roses, a strand of pretty pearls around Erin’s neck, and a line of old fashioned Rolls Royce cars waiting outside to carry off the entire wedding party! After the ceremony, Erin and Rick smashed cake in each others’ faces and had fun with a photobooth during their reception at the beautiful Pala Mesa Resort, also in Fallbrook.
If you follow our blog, you know that I am no stranger to Pala Mesa Resort! In fact, we’re proud to be one of Pala Mesa’s preferred photographers! However, this was the first time that I had photographed just a reception at Pala Mesa with a ceremony held elsewhere. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue. But, what with a late afternoon ceremony, plans for all portraits to be taken after the ceremony, and a sunset schedule subject to Daylight Savings Time, by the time we arrived at Pala Mesa at 5:00pm to begin formal portraits of the bridal party, the sky was already turning pitch black! As usual, I had my studio lights and portable power pack with me, and was able to light up the wedding party well enough. What was unusual was that it seemed like Pala Mesa’s automatic timers for the outdoor lighting had not adjusted to account for Daylight Savings Time, leaving all of the usually-stunning lamp lighting off during all of the portraits! Thus, the background was unusually dark, and with the temperature starting to drop quickly, Erin, Rick and their entire wedding party were understandably anxious to get into the reception tent with the heaters to warm up! Even so, they were all great sports about tolerating the conditions, and the small number of portraits we were able to take at Pala Mesa came out nicely.
Despite the frigid temperature outside, the party warmed up quickly and Erin and Richard had a great time with their friends and family all night. Even the late night rain that forced their sparkler exit to occur inside the reception tent didn’t keep the smiles from their faces!
A special thanks to the lovely and talented Erin Saldaña for accompanying me as my second shooter. Many of the detail shots as well as the great shot of the bouquet flying through the air were Erin’s shots. Here is a highlight slideshow followed by some photographic stills of Erin and Rick’s day:
Erin and Rick love photography! Besides hiring me as their primary wedding day photographer, they also hired Poetry Photos Booths to provide a photo booth within the reception tent for the guests to get shots taken for use within a special scrap book. I have seen a lot (and I mean A LOT) of cheap photo booth set ups, both as a photographer and as a wedding guest at events of friends and family. The photobooth setup at Erin and Rick’s wedding was definitely the best I have ever seen! I was thoroughly impressed — and when a professional wedding photographer says that they are actually impressed with a … ack… photo booth, well… that says A LOT!
After a little prodding, the guys working the booth talked me into getting in and having some fun too (see top image below). In the the first of four shots taken (bottom left), I was not even ready. I was too busy checking out the design of the booth. On the fourth shot (top right), bride Erin popped her head in to make a cameo appearance. Ha ha!! Next up, my second shooter, Erin Saldaña, hopped in the booth with me and we hammed it up good. There almost wasn’t enough room between the two of us and all of our camera gear!
On Sunday, October 31, 2010 (Halloween), we photographed what was a very special wedding for us because it was the wedding of long time friends Cherina Hardiman and Joseph Emery.
Cher and Joe have been together FOREVER. In fact, the day after their wedding, November 1st, was going to be their 10th anniversary since becoming a couple! So, everyone kidded them that it was about time that they made things official.
Joe had proposed to Cher at Tom’s Farms in Corona earlier this year during a Mother’s Day Festival. Although they had already casually discussed getting married, and even had a conflict-free yellow diamond on order, you know, “just in case”, Joe, after many beers, got up the nerve to approach the stage where band The Onesies Twosies was performing. He asked if he could borrow the microphone to ask his girlfriend to marry him, and the band happily obliged. So, Joe got up there, pointed Cher out, and asked her to be his wife. With “awws” and applause from the crowd, Cherina quickly accepted with, “Yes, Thank You.” – a response that will forever serve their memory with laughs and giggles — and then ran back to her seat! From there, they set the date, picked out a ring for her diamond, reached out to us for their photography, and then found the perfect venues to host their ceremony and reception. After that, everything else fell perfectly into place!
Cherina got ready in a suite on the 14th floor of the Embassy Suites Glendale, where she had a really cool view of the city and this unique little window nook with a floor to ceiling view that was the perfect setting for some of her bridal portraits. Cher was such a radiant bride!
From there, we met up with Joe, looking quite handsome in his tux, just before the ceremony started at Casa Adobe de San Raphael & Park, also in Glendale. About 85 of their closest friends and family witnessed the sunlit ceremony. Afterwards, we took advantage of the beautiful garden surroundings and captured some family portraits and fun bridal party photos.
Finally, it was time for the reception! Cher and Joe had told us what a cool, chic looking venue Palladio of Glendale was, but we honestly had no idea that it looked like this! Uh, can you say, “GORGEOUS!”? And the staff was awesome! Cher and Joe had opted for a “family-style” dinner, meaning there was going to be FOOD, FOOD, and more FOOD all night long! And the servers were on top of things, super friendly and always smiling! The tables were constantly stocked with food, and drinks never went empty. I’d say “family-style” was a hit! And after dinner, things really got going! The DJ, Scott, another friend of Joe’s, kept the party going late into the evening! As evidenced by these pictures, a fun time was had by all!
Cherina and Joe’s Video Testimonial
Saturday, November 27th
On Sunday, October 24th, I was back at one of my favorite wedding venues, Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbook, to photograph the wedding of Dana Wilson and Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman. Rob is a professional leadership speaker and author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Never Fly Solo. As a former combat fighter pilot, Rob’s book and lectures have a definite fighter pilot theme to them, as did the wedding. There were many references to being one another’s “wingman” during the ceremony and also in the toasts during the reception.
To reduce the delay between the ceremony and reception, Dana and Rob elected to do a “First Look” prior to the ceremony. This allows us to still capture the reaction when the two first see each other for the first time on the wedding day, and allows most of the formal portraits to be taken care of prior to the ceremony. As Dana came up the stairs behind Rob, his look of anticipation was priceless. And, when he finally saw how beautiful she was in her dress, his jaw dropped. It was a great moment!
My second-shooter — I mean, “wingman” — on this day was the talented Annie Laurie. Many of the excellent detail shots, the groomsmen portraits, as well as secondary angles of the ceremony and reception events were expertly shot by Annie.
Here are some highlights from their day:
On Saturday, October 23rd, we were at Thornton Winery in Temecula for the wedding of Aimee Jones and Jeff Gutman. Aimee was truly one of the most relaxed brides I have ever met and her dry wit was always there all throughout the day.
Theirs was a traditional Jewish wedding. And, as is the Jewish tradition, Saturday weddings cannot begin until after sunset. Their rabbi informed me that there was to be no flash used during the ceremony, which was not going to be a problem since the video guys had three hot lights that would be on the whole time — one on the left, one on the right, and one at the rear center.
All was going well until about 15 minutes into the ceremony when someone at the venue accidentally cut the power to the cord feeding the right and rear lights, leaving only the single left light available for all video and still photography. Just before the end of the ceremony, a little bunny hopped right up the center aisle and sat there for a few minutes, watching the ceremony, before hopping away. The rabbi mentioned that that may have been a sign of many babies to come!
Just as Aimee and Jeff were coming back down the aisle, the power was finally restored. So, the lighting may not have been optimal for their ceremony. But, that didn’t affect Jeff and Aimee as they enjoyed the whole event to the fullest. Here are just a few highlights from the evening.
Although Saturdays are still the overwhelming winner as most popular day of the week to get married, we have seen more and more non-Saturday weddings in the past year. (In fact, our own wedding was held on a Friday — last December 4th!) Another trend that continued this year for us, is that October was our busiest month for wedding bookings. We photographed six weddings this October! So, on Friday, October 22nd, we found ourselves at the California Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside for the wedding of Helena Stevens and Jay Hakomaki.
Helena and Jay’s wedding was a very family-focused wedding, with two of Helena’s daughters acting as junior bridesmaids in the bridal party. Jay is a photography enthusiast and appreciates professional photography. Because of that, it was extra important to them that their wedding photography was of high-quality, which made me extra pleased that they liked my work and selected me as their wedding photographer. And, since I had so much fun shooting their engagement session in May, I knew that their wedding day would be a fun one, and it was! Here are some highlights…
I had previously posted a blog entry with photos and info on the engagement portrait session that I shot for Joe Emery and Cherina Hardiman on August 29th (HERE). Well… during that session, on the spur of the moment, we decided to also film some video snippets and see what we’d get.
I didn’t have my good off-camera mic with me, so I ended up just using the mic built into my Canon 5D Mark II DSLR. Except for an occassional bit of noise from the wind on this day, it came out rather well. And, in the end, I was able to put together a pretty cute little piece for them.
At one point in the middle of the video, Joe tells the story of how he proposed, with Cherina offering color commentary. This video definitely shows off their personalities and how much they are meant for each other.
I look forward to photographing their wedding this Sunday (October 31st). Enjoy!
On Sunday, October 10th (10/10/10), we were in Santa Monica, CA at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel to photograph the wedding of Yoko Tsuchihashi and Sammy Shakerchi. Their wedding had a unique blend of Yoko and Sam’s respective Japanese and Jewish traditions, combining a Japanese Sake ceremony with certain Jewish traditions such as signing the ketubah and the breaking of the glass.
This was a beautiful location for the ceremony — which took over the normal entryway for the front of the hotel, and offered a huge fig tree as the background. The reception hall was beautifully decorated and, as is Jewish tradition, the newlyweds and their parents were each lifted in chairs above the dance floor while the guests danced around them.
Here are just some of the highlights of the day:
Congratulations Yoko and Sam!
On Saturday, October 2nd we started our day at the awe-inspiring Mission Inn in Riverside, where Renee Schiavone and her bridesmaids were getting ready for her wedding to Edward Fernandez.
Renee is a producer for CBS television. And, this wedding was extra special because Renee and her girls all had their hair and makeup done for them for an episode of a new TLC television show called “Wedding Day Makeover“. The television crew was documenting their day from the girls getting ready through the end of the ceremony. It was a blast to watch them in action. We were so busy doing our own documenting of the day in photographs that we’re not even sure if any of the video clips caught us in action. So, we’ll have to watch the show to find out. The series is supposed to premier in January. Check your local listings!
The girls all rode in a Hummer limo to the ceremony, which was held at St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church in Riverside. The reception was held in the back yard of a private estate. Custom wooden decks were constructed over portion of the swimming pool to hold the sweetheart table and the stage for the live band.
Here are some highlights from the day’s events:
Congratulations Renee and Edward!
On Monday, September 6th, we were in Laguna Beach at the beautiful Pacific Edge Villa for the wedding of Natasha and Steve (last names withheld by request).
The villa had just been completely remodeled and looked amazing! And, by “villa”, I mean, this was really a gorgeous three-story house right there on the beach. The ceremony and reception dinner were held on the beach-facing deck and the dancing was inside the lower-level.
As with many modern-day wedding couples, Steve and Natasha elected to do a “reveal” or “first look” of each other prior to the ceremony, where we documented the first time they saw each other in their wedding attire. This allowed us to not have to rush after the ceremony to get all of the formal portraits that they wanted, since we were now free to get many of the shots of them together with the bridal party prior to the ceremony.
The day was overcast, but not gloomy. It was actually perfect for an outdoor wedding in that the thin layer of clouds acted as a giant soft-box in the sky to provide even soft lighting, rather than the harsh shadows and blown-out highlights you may see in photographs taken in bright sunshine.
Steve and Natasha had a dove release at the end of their ceremony. There were two doves in a cage of their own, one each for the couple to release, followed by about 20 other doves that were released from the rear of the seating area. Ironically, as the officiant was just starting to mention the doves and how they were a symbol of love, the two doves in the front cage began pecking at each other, causing the guests who saw this to chuckle somewhat at the timing.
Their cake was meticulously-designed with a nautical theme to match the beach setting — and it tasted delicious too! The beautiful floral arrangements for their wedding were crafted by Everyday Flowers of Tustin.
On October 2, 2010 we hand-delivered a custom-designed wedding album to Felecia and Michael Pendleton. If you follow our blog, you may recall that Felecia and Michael were married earlier this year on June 5, 2010 at Gershon Bachus Vintners in Temecula, California. It was a gorgeous wedding, and the pictures were beautiful! So, it’s no surprise that this album is so striking! This 12×12 flush-mount Tuscany album features a black cover with a square cameo image, cover imprinting in silver, and vintage marbled silver gilded edges. The design spans 25 pages (50 sides)…a nice, big album to tell the story of their day!
On Friday, August 20th, I received a call from Dean Stoecker. He had a plan. On the following night, Dean and his girlfriend Angie were going to attend the Bobby Caldwell jazz concert at Thornton Winery in Temecula, and Dean was going to pop the question there, and he wanted me to document it in photographs.
Dean had already coordinated the scheme with Bobby and would have Angie on the dance floor during Bobby’s seventh song of the evening — “What You Won’t Do For Love”. The show was scheduled to start at 7pm, and I arrived at 6:30 and immediately made distant eye contact with Dean.
Before the band took the stage, Dean skillfully coaxed Angie into positions near the front of the stage where I could snap some shots of them cuddling together before the big moment. She did bust me shooting in their direction a couple of times, and I quickly fired off a couple random shots in other directions to try to minimize the “who the hell is this stalker dude with the camera” factor.
After the sixth song, with Dean and Angie already on the dance floor, the sax player in the band started playing a melodic riff and Dean got ready — pulling the ring from his pocket and holding it behind his back as Angie’s eyes were looking towards the stage. Then, Bobby Caldwell exited the stage and walked backstage. The sax player continued his solo… now walking through the crowd. Dean stole a glance my way, shrugged his shoulders to indicate that he definitely did not get the memo about the sax solo after the sixth song, and tucked the ring back in his pocket.
After a few minutes, that I’m sure seemed like a lifetime to Dean, the sax player finally finished his solo, Bobby returned to the stage, and the band started into the song that is perhaps his biggest hit (out of many). Dean and Angie started dancing again and, near the end of the song, Dean dropped to a knee. At first, Angie had the look of “What are you doing?”, until she saw the huge rock that Dean was holding out to her. Then, she knew what he was doing, and her jaw dropped wide open in shock. (Now, THAT was a Kodak moment!)
The crowd saw what happened and broke out into applause. Oh, and by the way… she did say “yes!”
Congratulations to Dean and Angie!
On Saturday, August 7th, we were down in San Diego for the wedding of Chelcey Cervantes and James Barraza. The bridal party got ready at the W Hotel, just a short half mile from the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic church where the ceremony was to be held.
Unfortunately, a mix-up with their limo company left them without a ride to the church. So, the bridal party ended up having to split up into separate personal vehicles to get to the church. Just after they all left the hotel for the church, a smaller replacement limo from a different company showed up (just a simple 12-person stretch and not the 20-person Escalade limo they were supposed to have) and took some of the couples’ family members to the church.
But… getting to the church (again, just a half mile away) was easier said than done because, on this particular day, a Farmer’s Market was going on right down one of the streets in between the hotel and the church, causing everyone to have to figure out a different, longer, route to the church!
As the reception was about to begin, word trickled into the bride’s ears that their wedding cake, that was supposed to be stored in the freezer, had been instead stored in the refrigerator, and was now covered in condensation droplets that the hotel staff were now in the process of trying to pat dry.
Through all of this, both Chelcey and James did not let any of it get to them and instead enjoyed their day to the fullest — as they should!
At the end of the night, they were saying such nice things to me about my work, that I asked them if they’d mind saying it on video instead. They quickly agreed, and I set up the camera on a tripod on the sidewalk outside the hotel, hit record, and walked away while they recorded the sweetest testimonial I have ever not paid for!
“Omgosh, all the photos are amazing, I knew they were going to look great but I was blown away with how incredible they turned out! I’m so glad the stars aligned and we were able to have you as our photographer!!! We can’t wait to get our album and will probably be in contact with you once we get back from the honeymoon next month…Tahiti!! Thank you again, it was great working with you!” – Chelcey
To view all images from this event and to order professional prints of these images from Loren Scott Photography, click HERE.
Flowers provided by Modern Bouquet, San Diego.
I will begin this blog entry with a story that I have heard told with many different subtle variations, but the point is always the same. So, here it is:
One day, the famous artist Pablo Picasso was sitting at a table outside a Paris cafe. A woman recognized him and asked if he would draw something for her on a napkin. He complied, doodling as only he could. After he quickly finished he requested the French equivalent of $5,000. Shocked, the woman protested, “But, it only took you two minutes!” To which Picasso smiled and replied, “No Madam, it took me my whole life.”
The point there is that while the woman simply expected to pay the cost of the napkin, the ink, and a mere two minutes of someone’s time, she instead should have expected to pay the true value of the end product — in this case, an actual piece of art — which was clearly much, much higher. The same principle applies to a photographic print of an image created by a photographic artist. The end product is also a work of art that has a value far higher than the cost of the paper it was printed on.
I have had some discussions lately about the cost of quality professional wedding photography with several of my friends as well as with several different potential wedding clients on shoestring budgets. Part of our discussions involved why I charge the seemingly high rates that I charge for my work.
In my specific case, I am definitely not the cheapest “professional” wedding and portrait photographer in my area. I put the word professional in quotes because too many people these days buy a low end digital SLR camera with a cheap lens or two, order some business cards, and toss up a web site, and call themselves “professional”. To someone such as myself who shot his first weddings (on film) way back in 1982, and who makes 100% of my money with my cameras these days, I may have a biased opinion of what really counts as a true professional photographer.
Anyway… so as I was preparing to write a blog entry to hopefully educate those who were interested on why real “professional” photography costs what it does, I did a Google search to see what others had already written on the topic — to ensure that I didn’t miss any key points. Well, I found another blog post, written last year by another real professional photographer (Shawn Richter from Caught on Film Photography), the content of his blog entry said exactly what I wanted to say. It has been very well received by the photography community, and was published in the December 2009 edition of Professional Photographer Magazine.
With Shawn’s gracious permission, I have reprinted his content below. Enjoy!——
In this digital age where everyone has cameras, scanners, and home “photo printers,” we hear this all the time: How do professional (or personal) photographers charge $X for an 8×10 when they cost just $1.50 at the drugstore? Simply put, the customer is not just paying for the actual photograph; they’re paying for time and expertise.
THE AVERAGE ONE-HOUR PORTRAIT SESSION
First, let’s look at the actual work involved:
- Travel to the session
- Setup, preparation, talking to the client, etc.
- Shoot the photos
- Travel from the session
- Load images onto a computer
- Back up the files on an external drive
- 2 – 4 hours of Adobe® Photoshop® time, including cropping, contrast, color, sharpening, and backing up edited photographs. Proof photos are also ordered.
- 2 – 3 hours to talk to the client, answer questions, receive order and payment, order their prints, receive and verify prints, package prints, schedule shipment, and ship.
- Possibly meet clients at the studio to review photos and place order. Meeting and travel time average 2 hours.
You can see how a one-hour session easily turns into an eight-hour day or more from start to finish. So when you see a personal photographer charging a $200 session fee for a one-hour photo shoot, the client is NOT paying them $200 per hour.
THE EIGHT-HOUR WEDDING
A wedding photographer typically meets with the bride and groom several times before and after the wedding. And it’s not uncommon to end up with 1,000 – 2,000 photos, much more than a portrait session. Many photographers spend 40-60 hours working on one eight-hour wedding if you look at the time that is truly involved. Again, when a wedding photographer charges $4,000 for eight hours of coverage, clients are NOT paying them $500 an hour!
(Don’t forget that the photographer runs the wedding day to some extent. A comfortable, confident wedding photographer can make a wedding day go more smoothly.)
THE EXPERTISE AND COST OF DOING BUSINESS
Shooting professional photography is a skill acquired through years of experience. Even though a DSLR now costs under $1,000, taking professional portraits involves much more than a nice camera.
Most personal photographers take years to go from buying their first camera to making money with photography. In addition to learning how to use the camera, there is a mountain of other equipment and software programs used to edit and print photographs, run a website, etc. And don’t forget backdrops, props, rent, utilities, insurance, etc!
In addition to the financial investment, photographers actually have to have people skills to make subjects comfortable in front of the camera. Posing people to look their best is a skill by itself. You could argue that posing is a more important skill than actually knowing how to use the camera. A poorly exposed photo can be saved, but a badly posed photo cannot.
THE CHAIN STORE PHOTO STUDIO
Chain stores do have their place. For a very cheap price you can run in, shoot some quick photos, and be done with it. But you get what you pay for.
Consider the time and effort that a personal photographer puts into photographs, compared to a chain store. Store sessions last just a few minutes, while a personal photographer takes the time to get to know the people, makes them comfortable, makes them laugh. If a baby is crying at a chain store, they often don’t have the time (or the patience) to wait because everyone is in a hurry.
The truth is that many chain store studios lose money. In fact, Wal-Mart closed 500 of their portrait studios in 2007 because of the financial drain. What the chain stores bank on is a client coming in for quick, cheap photos…and while there, spending $200 on other items. They are there to get you in the door.
THE REAL DEAL
Professional, personal photographers are just that—professionals. No different than a mechanic, dentist, doctor, or electrician. But a personal photographer often becomes a friend, someone who documents a family for generations with professional, personal photographs of cherished memories.
Maybe we need to help clients look at it this way: A pair of scissors costs $1.50 at the drugstore. Still, most people will gladly pay a lot more to hire a professional hair dresser to cut their hair.
The added attention and quality that a personal photographer gives is worth every penny.——
Loren here again… To add to what Shawn wrote, in our studio’s specific case, our rates are not only based on the value of me. That is, my own level of experience in photography (both formally-trained in school, and also from shooting hundreds of actual weddings). But, additionally, our rates are also based on the level of experience that my wife Rachel brings to the table. She is a real formally-trained, professional graphic artist. She even has a Bachelor’s Degree that says so! A good majority of photographers (pros and amateurs alike) do their own Photoshop retouching of the images. (Well… actually, many of the cheaper photographers don’t do any retouching.) In our case, when you hire our studio, you are not just getting a formally-schooled photographer in me, but also getting a formally-schooled graphic artist in Rachel. Kind of a two-for-one deal.
Often times, when a bride-to-be is shopping for the right wedding photographer for her, the first inclination is to ask for pricing and what she’ll receive (in time and products) for that price. In short, she is looking to do an “apples to apples” comparison of photographers. This type of commodity-based comparison shopping may work well if you are truly comparing something that is identical, such as a book. If the same exact book is $10 at Amazon.com but costs $15 at BarnesAndNoble.com, the choice is clear. With photography, not so much.
With photography, you may be able to objectively compare the time allotted and perhaps the products received (assuming you can guarantee the exact same quality of prints and exact same album vendor). However, you cannot objectively compare the photographers themselves. You can only subjectively compare them. For example:
- Which photographer has the style you prefer? Photographers may share a similar style but, as with snowflakes, no two photographers are exactly the same. One might be a traditionalist that prefers to stop the action of an event to pose each shot, while the other might have a more modern photojournalistic and candid style. Which is best? That is subjective, based solely on what you prefer.
- If one photographer is a part-timer with a day job, and the other is a full-time professional photographer, is one “better” than the other? Simply being full-time does not necessarily guarantee talent, and being part-time does not necessarily rule out talent. It is subjective. Being a part-timer may mean that the other “day job” will slow down their ability to edit your images or design your album as quickly as the full-timer. But, maybe not. It is subjective.
- Which photographer does the best Photoshop retouching (or has the best dedicated graphic artist to handle that specialty for them)? Again, that is subjective. What type of retouching do you like? Do you want to look like yourself (but better), or do you want to look like a mannequin?
- Which photographer do you want to spend your whole wedding day with? Your wedding photographer is really one of the few wedding vendors (along with, perhaps, your wedding coordinator) that will be with you from the time you are getting your hair and make-up done until the end of the reception. So, if you pick someone just because they are cheaper than the next guy, even though their personality and yours do not really gel, you may be in for a long day. Forget the “because they are cheaper” part for a second. Even if they are the most expensive photographer and have awesome work, if they are not the type of personality that you’d want to just hang out with as friends, then you probably should keep looking.
In short, when you hire a photographer, you are selecting them, more than you are selecting the paper their photographs are printed on (you trust them to take care of that), or the quality of the final album (you trust them to make it everything you dreamed of), and so on.
While you may be able to commoditize the physical items within a wedding photography package, the value of the photographer themselves (their skill level, personality, sense of how and when to click the shutter, and so on), is not a commodity. It is a set of unique traits amongst all photographers with values that are completely subjective.
Ultimately, the laws of supply and demand also come into play. If a photographer finds themselves in high demand, the price will go up, because people are subjectively deciding that the photographer (not all of the material stuff) is worth it. Conversely, when a photographer is getting very few bookings, their price (as well as their own perceived value) can plummet. Therefore, most low-cost photographers are not in high-demand. If they were, they wouldn’t be low-cost photographers anymore. Trust me.
The last point I’d like to make is one that I really think sums it all up, as far as wedding photography budgeting goes… Do you really want the lowest bidder photographing something as critical as your wedding day?
During his retirement speech as a U.S. Senator, former astronaut John Glenn said this:
I guess the question I’m asked the most often is: “When you were sitting in that capsule listening to the count-down, how did you feel?” Well, the answer to that one is easy. I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”
I believe the same philosophy should be applied to historical photographic moments. A portrait session can be reshot if an inexperienced and low-cost photographer happens to mess up the taking of the photographs. A wedding cannot be reshot. Your photographer has only one chance to get it right. While I realize that budgets can sometimes be tight in this economy, every effort should be made to minimize the chance for disaster when it comes to your choice of wedding photographers.
On Saturday, July 10th, we traveled a whole 10 minutes from our Murrieta home/studio all the way over to the beautiful Monteleone Meadows to document the wedding of Kelly Kowaleski and Dustin Howard.
We are family friends with Dustin’s parents, and our usual policy is that we do not shoot weddings for friends or family. The reason for this is simple. If, by chance, something should go wrong and you take sub-par photographs of this important event, you are no longer their friend or are disowned by the family! High stakes for sure. Also… to photograph a wedding correctly, you completely give up being an invited guest. You are now working the event.
However, since Dustin and Kelly are such a cool couple, and since Monteleone Meadows is so close by, I decided to take a risk. And, I am so glad I did. This was a perfect day all the way around. Everything went smooth as silk. Everyone had a great time. And, best of all for us, we got great shots of the day.
Here are just some of the highlights from Dustin and Kelly’s special day below.
While I was getting this stright-on angle…
…Rachel was catching the same shot from a slight side angle. I think I like both!
The Photo Guest Book that we designed with shots from Dustin and Kelly’s engagement portrait session was a big hit!
Congratulations Kelly and Dustin!
Quite often, I shoot engagement portrait sessions for my wedding clients at Laguna Beach. And, sometimes, the couples like to get a little bit wet and walk barefoot through the very edge of the surf for some shots. And then there are Natasha and Steve who really wanted to get wet — and did.
They had a blast, and so did I. Their wedding is coming up on September 6th, and I cannot wait to see how they let loose then!