What does it mean to be a Luxury Wedding Photographer?
Choosing a wedding photographer is a huge decision. When you’re choosing a photographer for luxury wedding photography, it’s even more important. You of course want your investment to be protected. However, before we get into how to choose a wedding photographer, let’s talk about what luxury wedding photography actually is.
The best way to introduce this concept is to compare it to something we all relate to: food! I’ve eaten my fair share of food at some of the best and worst restaurants in the world. While I left each of those restaurants with food in my body, not all experiences were the same. The French Laundry, which I’ve enjoyed twice, is considered one of the best and most luxurious restaurants in the world. Here are some lessons I learned from the Michelin star Napa Valley restaurant:
- Guests deserve personalized attention from specialized staff. When I walked in the 2nd time (6 months later), they greeted me with: “Welcome back, Mr. Benfield.” This was before I even said a word. Yes, they remembered me after a single visit.
- They use the best equipment and ingredients possible. They used vacuum sealers and sous vide machines, and the finest copper pans and pots.
- The chef and this restaurant are leaders in technology and technique. Again with sous vide, they are advancing the industry through innovation and education.
- Their product is timeless and doesn’t buy into trends or gimmicks.
- It’s as much about the experience as it is the product. This to me is the biggest elevator of a premium brand to luxury. They ensure their guests are completely satisfied and that the experience was one-of-a-kind.
These, as you might realize, are the same tenants of business that I have in place at Benfield Photography. For more about the qualities of a luxury wedding photographer, check out this post: 5 qualities of a luxury wedding photographer.
Why is it Important to Hire a Luxury Wedding Photographer?
When something is important to me, I invest in it. For example, traveling safely is important (and I spend so much time in my car). Because of that, I invested a lot of money into my automobile. When choosing my car, I wanted something safe (my car has an anti-roll bar). I also wanted something that was from a trusted manufacturer with a long history of great performance.
Wedding photography is a lot like that. Choosing a destination or local wedding photographer with a proven track record of consistency and quality is important. If for nothing else, for the peace of mind that your wedding is in good, experienced, trusted hands. Each and every wedding is unique and has special intricacies. Hiring a wedding photographer to navigate these intricate wedding details with style, talent, and experience is very important.
How to Find the Perfect Luxury Wedding Photographer?
You would search and research any big decision. It’s important to research when looking for luxury wedding photography. Research might involve getting referrals from educated friends and family, though that is typically the first step. You might also just google “luxury wedding photographer” and do some deep diving into the results. It will be easy to spot luxury photographers as you go through their sites.
Finding timeless images over trendy ones will be your first clue. Luxury photographers don’t buy into gimmicks of what the latest trends are. Think about long-term luxury clothing and jewelry brands: they don’t produce trendy, short-lived options (I’m thinking Burberry vs. Forever 21 if that helps you visualize).
Pay Attention to the Language
You’ll find another clue in the language used on the site. Thoughtful, personal language indicates that the photographer understands that the photographer-client relationship is important. Therefore, this photographer will likely deliver a personal and thoughtful experience. You might also notice some exclusivity, both through their pricing and the language on the website. For example, you might see “we only take 10-15 weddings”. Why exclusivity? For me, the answer is two-fold.
- I only take 15 weddings per year so that I can focus my time and attention on my couples. The reason for this is I like to get to know them personally whenever possible. It’s important to understand the relationship between the couple as well as the relationships within their families. This important work takes time and effort. However, it pays off when I am able to capture real, intimate moments on a wedding day.
- The other reason for exclusivity is to avoid burnout. The couple’s last thing is for the wedding photographer to show up and go through the motions. They don’t want a photographer who is burned out because of the other 40 weddings they have on the books.
Why is Luxury Wedding Photography so Expensive?
A question you might be asking yourself is why is luxury wedding photography so expensive? It’s not a money grab, as I’ll explain. First, you are paying for quality images. And believe me when I say you get what you pay for. Any photographer can hire a couple of models, take them out into the sunset and capture portfolio-worthy images. If that’s all you see on a website, make sure to ask to see a FULL wedding they have photographed. Ask for one that shows different lighting scenarios. If you’re having an evening reception, you will want to see how that photographer handles dark lighting situations.
In addition to quality images, you want timeless images. You’ll want to look back on your images in 10 years and see that they have withstood the test of time. Avoiding heavily stylized presets or filters is the best practice here. You’re in love; your wedding images should reflect that even decades later.
A third reason luxury wedding photographers are so expensive is that they can only be in one place at a time. I only take one wedding on a wedding day (obviously) so I can only be at one place exclusively. Because art and experience are such a personal connection, it’s not something that can be mass-produced.
Oh, and Camera Gear is Expensive
Interestingly, I haven’t even mentioned camera equipment until now. However, quality camera gear for luxury wedding photographers is extremely expensive. Quality camera bodies cost between 4-8 thousand dollars each. Professional quality camera lenses typically run between 2-4 thousand dollars each. And well-equipped wedding photographers have backups of their gear. After adding in all the accessories like flashes, lighting, stabilizers, batteries, media cards, etc it gets expensive. While I do have the best gear, my wedding day setup easily surpasses 30 thousand dollars.
Finally, luxury wedding photographers are expensive because they charge what is needed to stay in business for the long term. Remember 2020? Covid killed a lot of photo businesses because they couldn’t sustain the long-term hit of wedding postponements. Other photographers go out of business because they don’t charge enough to put away for retirement, or don’t buy insurance, and then disaster strikes. Good business practices are key to a sustainable wedding photography business. It goes without saying, wedding couples want their photographers to stay in business in case they need more prints, albums, negatives, or digital files in the future. It ties back to the peace of mind we discussed earlier. To me, peace of mind is very much worth the premium price I pay for such important goods and services.
Luxury Wedding Photography
We’ve discussed what luxury wedding photography is, why it’s important, and why it costs what it does. Luxury photography isn’t for everyone. Some couples value other things above photography, and that’s fine! However, luxury wedding photographers are important to find for those who want their precious memories thoughtfully recorded! If you’re looking for a luxury wedding photographer for your big day, I would love to discuss how we might work together! Fill out my contact form and let’s start!
Talk to you soon,