It’s been a long day at work. You’re tired. You keep imagining spreadsheets where people’s heads should be, you probably smell a bit, and now all you want to do is take a bath, catch up on Netflix and go to bed. But wait - you hear your phone ringing. You pick it up and, to your horror, it’s your boss. What could this possibly be about, at 6pm on a Friday? Did you accidentally send porn to all your colleagues again?
“Hi there, I was just wondering if you could let me know when you’ll have that presentation ready? And, about that meeting next week, could we bring it forward? I have a dentist appointment that morning. Oh, while you’re on the phone, can you also add a couple of other things to your to-do list?...”
You stand there, wondering whether you’ve fast-forwarded through the weekend and it’s now Monday morning. But, after checking the time, you realise that your mind isn’t playing tricks on you...
In this scenario, a full-time employee would happily cite their contract, remind their boss of their hours and massacre their phone with a steamroller, never to be contacted again. In my world, it isn’t that easy. Some freelancers fantasise about all the things they’d be able to do if they switched off their phones and laptops at 5pm. Many might spend time with family, others might nurture a hobby. Me? I’d finally submit my application to Mastermind and prove that all those years of repeat-watching Star Wars were not in vain.
Let me confirm; I’m not complaining about being freelance. I really, really, really love my job. But the scenario that I mentioned above is not a rarity for me - in fact, it’s pretty common. And unless you’re calling me in the middle of the night to tell me about your mum’s gallstone removal surgery, I’m happy to chat. I’ve been known to leave a family dinner to talk to a client, even pick up the phone during a World Cup final. I think I’d only ever miss a call if I got sucked into a black hole (hopefully to a dimension where water was gin, and exercise made you fat).
Why do I do this? It’s no secret that wedding photography isn’t something you can buy at Poundland, so I ensure that your hard-earned money is spent on excellent service, alongside an equally awesome product. And because I put in all that work behind the camera, and take every call, email, or homing pigeon sent to me, I put what I believe to be a fair price on my photography.
Unfortunately, no one sees all the work that goes on once I leave a wedding, so that price might seem high for ‘what appears to be’ a day’s work. I’m sure there are some people who think photographers push a button on a camera, then sit on the photos for a month while they lie around in piles of money laughing maniacally to themselves. But sadly for me, I’m not part of that crowd. And I don’t pluck my prices out of thin air, so it can leave me a little irked when I’m bartered down to meet the price of Johnny No-Portfolio across the wedding fair hall.
I’m not decrying Johnny. He might be passionate, capable and possess all the lenses in the Nikon catalogue. But photographers aren’t churned out of a machine in a Chinese iPhone factory; each one is different. Johnny may be retired, or have a day job, or rely on his other half for an income (or, if nothing else, be a terrible photographer). And just because he charges Poundland prices, it doesn’t mean we all do.
I’ve spotted many a ‘savvy’ bride working her way around a wedding exhibition, visiting each stand armed with a pen and clipboard, ready to negotiate. I’ve browsed the Facebook groups, where people are discussing hiring a student photographer on the cheap. However, I’ve never been to a petrol station and overheard a customer asking for half-off. I’ve never been to Tesco and saw a customer asking for a BOGOF deal which never existed. Isn’t it strange how we accept the value of some products and services over others?
I get it. Weddings are expensive. But there are many ways to cut down your costs, like uninviting that aunt you always hated. And let me give you some advice: if your priority is beautiful photos that will last a lifetime (ahem, check out my non-fade guarantee, ahem) - stop bartering with your photographer and pay them what they’re really worth.