Being a traveling wedding photographer is the dream job, at least for me. When I tell people about my job, I get a wide variety of responses. Here are a few:
“Oh, I bet that pays well!”
“That’s a great job for a mom!”
“Oh, right. I guess every photographer has to pay their dues doing weddings for a while.”
“So people actually pay you to travel just to take pictures for their weddings?”
Each of these responses has some truth to it, and each is also WAY off. Yes, I charge in the “middle to upper” range for wedding photography. In the interest of you learning from this post, I will be very transparent: My profits are MINIMAL. I put most of my profits back into the company, to help with marketing, maintenance, website costs, classes, equipment, insurance, and a heavy ETCETERA. This makes said profits…well, not profits. Ha. Getting the dream client can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be, but marketing (the expensive kind) sure does help, of course along with good customer reviews (more on that another time). People do pay a premium price for premium service. Providing fantastic service requires a GREAT deal of time and sacrifice…and money. That’s just a fact.
Is it a great job for a mom? Yes and no. It’s great in the sense that during the week, I am home with my babies. Usually that sentence is followed by “So, I don’t miss any big moments,” but you know what? That’s not true. I miss a lot of moments because I’m trying to be a full-time SAHM and a full-time business owner. I’m often distracted from my littles (working on that), because weddings and brides and making sure my brides know how much I care is a big freaking deal. Are my babies more important? DUH. But that often gets lost in the day-to-day struggle of balance. Shall I write a separate blog post about mom balance? I think I will!
One fantastic thing I’ve been able to do in the last year is offer complimentary travel fees to most of my brides. How in the world can I do that? Yep, less profits. It’s kind of built into my price, kind of not. Basically, in 2016 I raised my prices (something every photographer should do every year or so) but instead of keeping the profits, I put it all toward a “travel budget” so that my brides would know exactly what they were paying as soon as they received my packages list—no added fees. Yay! It’s been a huge help to my strategy of marketing myself as a traveling photographer. It’s a win/win. I get to travel—WIN. My bride tells all her friends that her photographer traveled for free—WIN. Happy client, fantastic reviews. WIN/WIN.
Let me be very clear about one thing: I am in no way “paying dues” by shooting weddings! In my mind, though others may look at my job and cringe, I have arrived. And I don’t mean that to brag in any way, but just to express how much I absolutely adore what I get to do. Two of my greatest passions, travel and photography (and design makes three!), are merged into an addiction which I get paid to have! I know there are a lot of photographers out there who hate weddings and “pay their dues” just until they can earn a living off of portraits, and more power to ya! But my happy place is right here in the hustle and bustle of the wedding day and the days leading up to it. I find a rush in the “backstage passes” I get to these insane celebrations of love and mushy souls and happy tears. In the weeks and sometimes months in between my gigs, I dream of moments I may capture or new poses I could try; I read wedding blogs and try to predict upcoming wedding trends. THIS is the dream job. And if it sounds like your dream job too, well then I hope you keep coming back here to read more :)