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:
These, as you might realize, are the same tenants of business that I have in place at Benfield Photography.
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 quite a bit of money into my automobile. When choosing my car, I wanted something that was 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. Furthermore, I needed something that I knew would last for years of heavy use. The bottom line is that I wanted my investment to be protected. I needed peace of mind knowing that my short-term sacrifice (money) would pay off long-term.
Wedding photography is a lot like that. It’s important to choose a wedding photographer who has a proven track record of consistency and quality. 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 details with style, talent, and experience is very important.
You would search and research any big decision. It’s important to research when looking for luxury wedding photography. Research might be getting referrals from educated friends and family, though that is typically just 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 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).
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, it’s likely this photographer will deliver a personal and thoughtful experience. You might also notice there is some exclusivity, both through their pricing and through the language on the website. For example, you might see “we only take 10-15 weddings”. Why the exclusivity? For me, the answer is two-fold.
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 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.
It’s interesting that 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 important goods and services.
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, for those who want their precious memories thoughtfully recorded, luxury wedding photographers are important to find! 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,
Dale Benfield is a Northwest Arkansas Luxury Wedding Photographer serving Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville, and Destination Weddings / A Fine Art Wedding Photography Studio. Benfield Photography is a staple in NW Arkansas and has photographed luxury weddings, Italy weddings, celebrity weddings, private estate weddings, Crystal Bridges weddings, Carnall Hall weddings, Weddings at Osage House, Bachelor Nation Weddings, and more.
He has photographed every style of wedding you can image: intimate weddings, Catholic cathedrals in Italy, church weddings, elopements, destination weddings on the beach in Mexico, and so on.
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