Time to admit something: when I first started my company, I would get so annoyed when photographers used the term “investment” on their websites instead of “price.” It felt like an overly-flowery use of a thesaurus - trying to make things sound fancier than they are instead of being simple and understandable. It also seemed like a bizarre euphemism meant to hide the fact that wedding photography is a business agreement with a cost associated, just another way the Wedding Industrial Complex was trying to con me out of more money.
I am here to say that I was so, so wrong.
And look...before we go any further, I know you're reading this on my website and I use this website to run a business, and that business requires folks to exchange money for my services. I get it, I've got a bias here - but what I want to write about today isn't whether or not photography should be free (I can write a whole other screed on the capitalist value of time BELIEVE IT), it's what I think the true value of photography is, for couples who choose to pay for professional photography. In fact, “investment” is really the BEST word to use when describing the money that is paid to a wedding photographer - as with any investment, your return on it will not necessarily come at the moment of purchase, but over time. And marriages last a long time, if we’re lucky.
Try to imagine a day way in the future, like the year 2053, when Facebook and Instagram are just distant memories. There have probably been some absurd technological advances when it comes to social media (or maybe the tech sector has turned their attention to SAVING THE PLANET vs selling you that dog food it overheard you discussing yesterday, who knows). Anyway, it’s 34 years from now and you and your spouse have traveled the world, enjoyed time with your family, probably discovered the cure for cancer (you smarties), danced together, and cried together. You have gained and lost friends and relatives. Your lives have been rich and full and beautiful.
In 2053, you have been looking at and enjoying your wedding photos for 30+ years. You have a fancy-shmancy album*, and maybe you look at it every year on your anniversary. Maybe when loved ones visit you, you pull it out and show them. The image of someone’s father, who is no longer with us, dancing his heart out. The image of a flower girl, who is now almost forty and a mother of two, sobbing her way down the aisle. Your best friend from college (who is now a big deal comedian) cracking everyone up with a hilarious toast. Your first kiss as a married couple.
Without photos, these images may fade from memory (and to be fair, some folks like that. Respect.) But when you hire a wedding photographer, you’re making an investment in remembering, and in how you remember. You’re not just paying someone for their time shooting, but for their experience, their eye, their ability to make you feel comfortable in front of the camera, and their understanding of what moments are important to you. You’re paying them for their work that day, but also for their work standing the test of time for the next few decades.*
So here’s my official apology to any photographer I judged, back in 2012, for using the term “Investment” - I’m so sorry. I get it now. And while I’ll never call wedding photography the “most important” investment of anyone’s life/marriage (hellooooo I’m not that egotistical, we’re not ending world hunger over here) I completely understand what an investment it really is.
*Now do y'all see why I'm so adamant about the albums? I care about 2053 you! I care about post-Facebook you! I want you to actually invest in a thing that will give you SO MANY returns for SO LONG!