Bottom Line; the old cliché that 20% of those in sales make 80% of the money does really apply to this industry. You have the established big hitters and the rest scrambling in a business that affords you less than 52 opportunities per year for success.  You have to commit to thinking of this as a business, park the negatives and look for opportunity at every corner.  

⛪️   As said before, it’s all about levels and commitments.  The most important factor being diversification, are you diversified enough to put aside your beliefs and do the job.

We will have the top professional shooters with a studio and office, possibly doing portrait and commercial work. We will have a middle echelon of those who will be making it to maintain their comfort level. They also will be supplementing photo income or photo income might supplement their real job. And then we will have the random shooter, try it, seems easy, PRO is easy to spell and put on cards and my camera will do the work for me...  for a while.  

⛪️   The top guns have the experience do the research and are highly recognized based on their work or the niche they prevail in.

Simply put, 52 five-hundred dollar weddings is 26,000 dollars a year gross and “that’s if you are lucky or cheap enough to be booked 52 times a year”. That’s a big if. For many it’s 10 to 15. That’s how many friends and freebies they can do.  It's the lack of work and low revenues that drive many out of the business. A small yellow page's ad can cost $200 a month, multiple listings and so forth. Studio, Insurance, Rent, go add it up. Hobbies always appeal to us. I think it’s everyone’s dream to make their play their passion, their provider. 


Expect more of this, as bread on a table is essential and it is to be expected, and you should explore both your options and decisions you might have to make.  The additional income lost profit on prints is in jeopardy because the next step is their referral to the local Walgreen’s, Costco, or Wal-Mart, etc.,  Simple, shoot more volume, and make the difference off the front end.

The second problem we read about the most is “low-ballers”, those that advertise the lowest prices probably commiserating with their craft and then bump the clients after they have been taken out of the market.  This closely and systematically represents the same feeling you get when you read the car dealer ads.  You know they are not true and the small print is too small to read or too fast to understand on the TV.


Simply put, explain to the bride she can see your images and the CD’s that are available and show the quality of your work from several different weddings. You should do a better job of selling yourself.  Offer a list of referrals, take the high ground. 

Show a better approach to quality rather than knocking the competition. Utilize the once a lifetime importance of her wedding.  Potential clients are more informed and mis-informed due to the internet and although I hear a lot of complaining about what has happened to wedding photography, you should recognize that you must adapt and not waste energy complaining.

Spend more time learning rather than complaining so that your product is better than the other competitor's product.  Make that information clear on the internet that you offer a better package not necessarily a better deal.  You can offer digital only packages that come with print quality CD's and let the clients take care of their own albums. You will be busier than ever was, have less overhead, can shoot more and as a result, your photography skills will improve greatly.  To achieve more work you have to diversify, funny how that word keeps popping up.


Losing business is a good reason.   Everyone needs to adapt to the market, be flexible with lower price alternatives, and learn how to market yourself to all religions and beliefs.    Not like some jerks who put their brand of camera on their business cards.  It says to a client with a brain, he is nothing but a branded freak.  Show them your artistry, passion and finished work. 

People who can and do market themselves well will remain to get those high paying jobs; the high paying weddings should remain relatively unaffected, the “El-cheapo" weddings and wedding photographers are only lowering the value of the low-end weddings.

When people contract Weddings, they are buying things and they have expectations.  It is your job to accept and have a working knowledge of the clients beliefs.  Include in your portfolio the shots from other religions explaining, carefully, this is GODS playground and you respect all those playing in it.  The purpose of the other shots is to show you understand their beliefs and this shows you have experience, knowledge and confidence.  Very important selling manner here!

When those expectations are satisfied, they are comfortable with their decisions. When they are not, they are dissatisfied.  Only when the expectations are exceeded, will they be very happy clients.

No one is denying the low-end photographers cutting their profits and working as more of a part-timer, weekend warrior, or hobbyist than a professional that the market is changing.  Another point offered is the economy is forcing those to think of extra income.  If you are income driven rather than business driven you tend to lower your standards.

There are things we can control and things we can’t control and one of those things is the economy. But it is safer in this game to be doing the higher end quality weddings rather than the low-end stuff simply because of the dollar volume. Your profit goes up faster than your expenditures.


The problem, if we go back to the beginning is the battle between the full-time business-oriented studio owning or at least a store front professional vs. the part time shooter. The full time pro needs to earn enough to pay for equipment, a location, and health insurance, liability, electric, employees, taxes etc.  The weekend shooter needs the insurance and benefits of the day job.  

The PRO does not discriminate but broadens his scope.  He does not judge, nor does he have prejudice, it’s a job, he is paid and does the best possible job that he can.

In other words, what every business should earn in gross dollars to support an operation. This is really a one or two day a week job when you absolutely must show up.  Health insurance alone easily uses up the profits from one wedding especially if you have family, now add the liability and the business coverage and you are broke. 

The hobbyist gets this from his or her other job or if the wife has a secure day job with benefits. He has no real overhead. He retains a larger percentage.  The simple answer is, it’s not a fair playing field.


They can be a problem, so make sure you connect with him/her ahead of time.  The complaints I am reading here about digital killing the business or low-ballers is a wedding industry wide complaint.  The DJ business is experiencing some of the same complaints on the transition to digital with people downloading their own music. It does sometimes bring down the price you can get for your professional services as people simply do not want to pay $700 to $1500 for a DJ.

After seeing some of the DJ’s at weddings I have witnessed there is the second industry I would like to see some level of competency in.  I really don’t expect grandma to be doing break dancing on the floor other than with the permission of her orthopedist.   

There are some Gulags that need entertainment on Saturday night. On the other hand, I have seen some that made the evening run smooth.  It also might be “You get what you pay for”.  Referrals are the best way to learn about that cool dude spinning discs for you.  One DJ commented, “I don't think digital has much impact on us at all, it is just a new tool that helps us do our job more efficiently.  That efficiency can directly increase our profit margin being able to create scenarios and music blends. 


If you are a good photographer you will be more sought after.  Both the frugal and high- end wedding clients will want to retain you.   At that point, it is up to you to decide what to charge and how busy you want to be.  Just don’t get greedy, they just might have a plan B and you lose.

You can’t ever forget how in a volatile market you must be aware of that market and what others will do to steal your job.  Do not let your ego get ahead of your common sense.  Place yours far behind the competition.  Someone once told me the best time to tell your lover you love her is before someone else does.

To say that "newbies will ruin their own business" is probably incorrect...everyone must start somewhere, and if a client finds a newbie with greater skills and a style that better relates to their needs, with better prices, and a great personality...watch out.  

Keep improving what you are doing, attend good seminars, don't knock the competition, take things seriously  whenever people try to tell you something and stay current.  That's a recipe for success.