“Wack Attack” Response | Erie PA Wedding Photographer Follow Up

Over the last few days something phenomenal happened.  I posted on my blog a response that I sent to a bride who was upset about the price of wedding photographers, and it. went. viral!  Not just a little viral, but all over the world viral.  Getting 130,000 page views in 3 days VIRAL. Today is the fourth day and things are finally starting to slow down a bit.

First of all, I want to thank the overwhelming number of people who took the time to comment and e-mail me, both good and bad.  I moderate my own blog and therefore I have to approve every comment before it appears on my site. Although it was difficult to approve some of the low blows and scathing messages I received, I thought it was important for everyone else to be able to share their opinion and thoughts on the situation, just as I did. Lucky for me, the number of kind words, supporters and people who understood the overall message I was trying to convey FAR outnumbered those who were critical or missed the point.  To all of you, THANK YOU.  You kept me sane over the last couple of days.  I apologize that I am not able to respond to all of you individually due to time and sheer volume, but please know that I appreciated every single comment.

I also want to thank my brides and clients who understand my message.  I
appreciate your support as well.  My clients very often become friends.  I
do try to work with every client and potential client to create customized
package  options that will fit particular budgets and needs.  And I work
very hard to give my clients a product worth every penny.

I am in the business of being judged – by clients, vendors, other wedding
photographers or just photographers in general.  In college we called it a
“critique.”  At the various news resources I worked for we called it
“editing.”  Now, as a wedding photographer, it’s called a “consultation.”
Throughout my years in the industry though, no one has ever been as critical of me as myself… that is, until I posted this blog!! HA! I have never been judged on such a large scale!  I have to admit that there were various
points over the last couple of days while I was obsessing over the hundreds of comments and e-mails that I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. Honestly, if I knew my response to this bride and my blog was going to get this much attention and spark such a debate I would have changed about 1000 things, from grammatical errors to the generalization and guesstimations of many of my expenses.  BUT I still stick by my point
and message.

That being said, there were a few things that people were commenting about that I would like to touch base on – not because I am trying to defend myself (ok, maybe a little), but because after reading through all the comments I feel I owe a response.

The email was originally a response to a bride complaining *specifically*
about the money we photographers make because “all they do is hang out” for a day and then take our money and laugh all the way to the bank, which simply isn’t true.  I addressed the bride back *specifically* about costs and expenses, and not talent or experience, because she addressed the industry *specifically* about our prices.  The bride also had the unfortunate misconception that “You guys make so much money its CRAZY” — which, again, simply isn’t true.  Wedding photographers and all freelance photographers are also small business owners. A lot of behind the scenes work and expenses go into owning a small business. Gross income for a salaried person is considerably different than gross income for a small business.

Could I have explained this point better rather than quickly estimating my
many many expenses and investments?  Well, obviously.  But, in my own
defense, I never in a million years guessed that over 100,000 people were
going to go over every detail with a fine tooth comb.  I’m sorry I quickly
responded and listed things as I did, because a lot of people focused more
on the “inaccuracy” of some of my operating costs than on the very important point of the message.

Of course I don’t pay my taxes off the top OR deduct the full price of my
house, car, computer, equipment, etc. from my taxes. I used these figures to make a POINT to one specific bride. That point was sadly overlooked by those who decided to focus more on my car lease payment or how much I spend on internet per year.  I will say that there are more expenses that I didn’t list which would help even out the mistakes in the expenses that people are nitpicking about.

Also, I don’t only work 4 months a year…  Although wedding photography is the lion’s share of my business in the spring and summer months, I also do portraits and corporate events year-round.  Did I include
that in the e-mail response to the bride? No. Why?  Because it wasn’t
relevant to her complaint about wedding photographers.

In “my spare time,” I also create albums, fulfill print orders, advertise, attend workshops and continuing education classes, do branding, update my website, mobile website, fb page and blog (marketing), work on my websites’ SEO and involve myself in every online listing I can find in order to rank myself online.  I attend bridal shows, send invoices and billing, file, copyright register my work, network with vendors in my field, create promotional materials such as business cards and brochures, create guest books, make new templates for both wedding albums and save the dates, make thank you cards and save the dates for my brides, take and edit engagement photos and create engagement albums.  I offer my services pro bono for charity events, answer hundreds of calls and emails from brides, attend consultations to book brides (often multiple times), update contracts and other business documents, research, scout locations and the list goes on and on and on.  In my “extra-extra spare time” I clean my studio, do my bookkeeping, keep my office supplied, and countless other odd jobs that small business owners do.

Another thing I want to explain is that I was in no way trying to complain
or cry a sob story or have people feel bad for me.  I made the decision to
leave a very well paying job as a photo editor at a very large corporation
where most of my expenses including computer, software, office supplies,
health insurance, continuing education, and even transportation to and from locations were paid for me because I was MISERABLE.

Working in all different aspects of the industry for the last 8 years, I had
no misconceptions of what I was getting myself into when I decided to start my own photography business.  I CHOSE to give up financial security, consistent hours, great benefits and a lot more money to run my own business, and I absolutely love what I do now.  I have THE BEST clients, and I get to do what I love and build a career and business out of it! Why would you feel bad for me?!

What I did want people to feel was RESPECT – not just for me, but for
photographers and small business owners in general and see that there is A LOT of time, investment, sacrifice and things behind the scenes that many people may not realize when they drop that $3000 check in the mailbox.  Most of that money is going to expenses and being re-invested into our business, and most of us are in no way pocketing that money and living the luxurious lifestyle this bride implied.

Again, I appreciate you all taking the time to share your support and
opinions, but over the last 3 days this has consumed way more time than I
can manage and I need to re-focus my attention onto my business and clients. Luckily I was supposed to be on a family snowmobiling vacation this week (which got rained out) so I didn’t have anything booked! Great timing eh??

As of right now I will not be approving any more comments on my blog related to my last post.  (If you have already commented, you can still reply w/o moderation.)

To close, I want to thank you all again.  Even with the good and the bad,
I’m glad that I was able to open up a discussion in the community and
educate some people.  Also, I’m glad that I can walk away with a TON of new friends!!!

Oh, and to answer the #1 question I received?  No…. I never heard back from the bride.

XoX -N


Categories: Uncategorized


Nikki is a Naples and Fort Myers, FL based photographer specializing in Weddings, Portraits and Kicking Ass. Please visit my website for more information. www.nikkimaydayphotography.com

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22 Comments on ““Wack Attack” Response | Erie PA Wedding Photographer Follow Up”

  1. mahoganie
    January 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    I love it! I loved your original response and even shared with a few friends who are also professional photographers. They appreciated the post and loved the slight humor in it! Thanks for breaking it ALL down. Some people just need to SEE that being a photographer is more than just “hanging out and taking pictures.” 🙂

  2. January 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Ditto. Loved it and shared it… as did many other videographers I know just because even though ‘The Expenses’ may vary, ‘The Point’ is the same. And we all ‘Got It’. x

  3. January 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    …and ‘Boo’ to ‘The Bride’ 🙂

  4. January 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Nikki, you are excellent ! I, and I believe most sensible folk, certainly got the point that there is valid and sincere reasoning behind a professional photographer’s rationale for costs. Afterall, superb skill and insightful talent have a higher value than the mediocre, n’est-ce pas ? No need to explain me – you said all the right stuff ! You rock in my book !! Thank you !

  5. January 31, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    It was a great read and I related immediately to your post. I own a small IT business and I can totally relate to your response. Thank you for posting this and I hope the message gets out there and more people support their small local businesses.

  6. February 1, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    Nikki, I just came across your letter to that wack craigslist bride via Zenfolio’s post on Facebook. I just finished reading it and immediately had to send you a message… as a fellow photographer/small business owner, I want to send you a big THANK YOU for writing that letter!! You stated it so well, and so simply. My husband and I run our own photography business and its just us (and the occasional assistant) we do it all. We have had so many clients not realize or understand why we charge what we do. It can be frustrating to explain to them without getting too wordy or technical, or going off on a tangent having to explain RAW vs. JPG, etc.
    Your letter was very well-said and makes it crystal clear to people. So, as someone who is in the same boat as you….THANKS 🙂 its very much appreciated. Also: fantastic images! I checked our your website before posting. Your work is great. Keep it up!
    One last question: Do you mind if I paraphrase part of your letter on my website’s FAQ??? I will gladly link your website and name at the end of it. If would prefer me not to use your letter, no problem, totally understandable! just let me know 🙂

    • February 14, 2012 at 7:42 am #

      Absolutely, Feel free Jennifer! Thank you so much for your kind words and support!

  7. February 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Loved it too Nikki. Good on you for coming out the other side of it with your sanity in tact and some kind words to say. It’s not easy posting your opinion online for the whole world to critique, but if no one did that the internet would be a very boring place!

  8. David Fook
    February 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Hi Nikki. I am not surprised your excellent response to the allegations levelled at your profession went viral. In fact it is a surprise this sort of thing hasn’t happened before. As a fellow member of the creative community – a graphic designer – I understand the way people make snap judgements and ill informed comments about what we do. However while I hope I have a degree of skill and creativity, photographers and illustrators possess a talent that I and most others can only dream of. Near the top of that tree come the unsung wedding photographers: as difficult as a brief as I can imagine; nervous, edgy clients; and only one chance to get it right. Now that’s pressure. In return, as you say, folks get to keep hold of their memories. Forever. Well done on the riposte, good luck in your job and congratulations on a great body of work. I’m sure your customers are mighty happy and that, after all, is what it is all about.

  9. Dave Pierce
    February 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    While I’m not a professional, I do share a like passion and investment in this artform.
    Those that have never strived to create images that will endure for a lifetime surely can’t appreciate the lifetime of commitment and sacrifice that it takes to create those memories.
    Thank you for stating so well what all of us was thinking.

  10. Anna Dobbs
    February 5, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    Hey Nikki,

    I stumbled upon your response to the ranting Bride and thought, as a result, that I would also check out your website. I really enjoyed what I found. You have done some beautiful arty photos. I am from NZ so will most likely never have the chance to get closer to your work than this website but I am glad I have been able to have this sneak peek. You do a great job and sound like a really committed photographer to work with. I hope your business grows and grows.


  11. mareadyphotography
    February 5, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    nicely done

  12. February 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    You don’t have to defend yourself Nikki!! Your response was well thought out and regardless of people’s judgment and being knit-picky over the details of your own personal response, you did a great job. My biggest recommendation would be to NOT re-read the negative comments, posts and emails because they will eat you alive. Focus on what you do best (as I know you will) and re-read the positive ones so that happy energy just keeps on floating around you. Best of luck girl!!

  13. February 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    I linked to your amazing dissection of where that $3000 goes in my blog post http://www.michellebrooksphotography.com/blog/?p=663 Great work!

  14. February 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Hi Nikki! I know you’ve heard this a ton but I included your links in my blog post today. 🙂 You did a marvelous job of respectfully showing why we charge what we charge. Forget all the haters. Most only hate because they either don’t understand or because they feel a sense of being left behind and a sense of jealousy. You were spot on and you should feel proud of yourself. Never feel the need to justify yourself when defending your work or prices. Enjoy your art and your friends and colleagues that support you.


  15. Swiss Boy
    February 15, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    like your language and argumentation. Very educated and nice written! Congrats!

  16. May 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    you are my hero. im not even half kidding. i don’t think anyone could have summed it up better. no one, let me say it again, NO ONE looks at photography as a career. but to some it is, and it should be treated as such. it is not fair for those to look at it so lowly, if you think all we do is sit around, snap a few shots, then take ten minutes editing said shots-then by all means take your own fotos and see how they turn out. get back to me and see how you feel then.

  17. June 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    You are a BFF (Best Foto Friend) I’ve never met; you took an extremely negative situation and spun it into a positive response favorable to all of us engaged in the photography/videography industry. People will spend $35,000 on a new car, $15,000 on dental crowns, braces, and a new smile, but somehow balk at paying the piper for the education and experience behind the shutter on the most important day of their lives. We don’t shoot Brownie Hawkeye’s and Polaroid Instamatic’s anymore; it’s a whole new digital world out there today. You have to be in this industry because the relentless pursuit of photography excellence is more important than trying to become a millionaire doing it. Intelligent people tend to say intelligent things; I’m one of many new followers following you on Facebook now simply because of your blog response.

  18. Carlos
    July 23, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    Hi Nikki. I really enjoyed your post about the cost of running your own business, and I agree that what I and my fiance are paying for is your experience, talent, and all the other tangibles/intangibles. My fiance and I are in the process of looking for a photographer for our wedding and we’ve budgeted about $5,000 for our photographer. We strongly believe that you get what you pay for, and even though were college students on a budget, we know our picture are an investment. With all that said, I have a question I was hoping you could answer. Why does the photographer own the rights to our wedding pictures and can further profit from them after we’ve paid them for this product? I hope I don’t come across as rude, I just don’t get it. I know that there are laws about this, but can you explain it from your perspective as the photographer? Thanks!

    • August 1, 2012 at 2:56 am #

      Carlos, Thank you for your comments! As for your question I can only speak for myself and not other photographers. In all of my packages I included a DVD with full printing permissions. This means that my clients have access to ALL of their edited photos and can print, make copies to give to family and use their photos in any way for personal use. I do retain the copyright to all of my images… not so I can further profit off of them (in fact I have in my contract that I will not sell or use the photos commercially before obtaining permission from my client) but I retain the copyright so that I may use the photos in my portfolio, on my blog, on my facebook and for self promotion purposes. I also retain the copyright so that others may not profit off of my work. If I release the copyright, and then I find my images printed in a magazine, or used on another photographers site claiming them to be their own I would not be able to file suit against said persons because I would no longer own my own photos. Make sense?


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