The bane of the existence of the midlevel wedding photographer is what is referred to as the "GWC," Guest With Camera. This is the guy, or woman, who shows up at a wedding or event with a good, solid, entry level camera. They are determined to show the bridal couple or event organizers that they can do just as good a job as the professional who was hired to do it. Thus, they spend the day jockeying for position with the pro, shooting over his or her shoulder, running to get to a spot first, you get the drift. After a couple of these, the GWC now feels like they can shoot a wedding on their own. So, now, they put up an ad on Craigslist saying something to the effect of, "All Day Wedding Coverage For $500!" Or $200, or $250, or even "FREE!!!!" Now, someone looking for a wedding photographer, and seeing them priced at a minimum of $2000 thinks to themselves, "Wow, I know this person can't be as good as the others, but it's 1/4 the price!" So, they either go for the Craigslist guy, or go to that $2000 photographer and work hard to get him, or her, to do the wedding for $500. Now, that wedding pro has a choice, either don't work, or drop the price. Now, maybe, the price can be $1000, more than the CL guy, but less than the usual price. Still, it's more than could be made, sitting at home watching Two And A Half Men... So, off goes our formerly $2000 wedding photographer to do a wedding for half price... But that's not the end of the saga. That couple's friends see the quality of photography they got for $1000, and now they expect everybody to shoot for that price. Yeah, that $3000-$6000 photographer does much better work, but Sally and John only paid $1000 for theirs. So, now, they're trying to get that higher level photographer for that $1000 price. All well and good, if they can do it, but that photographer has far more invested in his business than those part timers. Thousands of hours of working as a photographer, getting experience in handling weddings (it's far more than pointing a camera at a pretty bride and telling her to smile), hours developing the talent to do wonderful things with a camera, and thousands of dollars on equipment, insurance, licenses, etc. And protecting his or her integrity, always being where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there.
In a two week period, we were contacted by 6 couples who had lost their photographer. All of them were paying $1500 or less for coverage of the entire day, including abum and "negatives." Three of them said they had a death in the family. C'mon, three photographers have deaths in the family in the same week?!? They just realized that it was more work than they thought and not nearly as easy money, or items they included were more expensive, and couldn't be covered by the price they quoted. So, they just disappeared, taking the deposits with them. None of these couples could understand why we wouldn't match the price of the now missing photogs. They kept saying, "But he was going to do it!" Never understanding that, when all was said and done, "he" WASN'T going to do it. When you hire a true professional, you are hiring, among other things, their reputation. They know how much it costs to run a business, how much it costs to get the items they re-sell, and, above all, they know the value of maintaining that reputation. None of them would ever run out on a wedding they'd committed to, and if something unavoidable happens, they would bend over backward to find a replacement, at the price they quoted. They would never leave their clients to flounder about, calling photographers who cost 2 to 3 times as much, and they would never leave them hoping to get their deposits back so they can pay the new photographer. Sad the way some of these wannabees leave the people who depend on them.