Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How much are wedding photos rly worth?? (Sponsored by Sunshine Charlie)

I'm pretty excited about this one. Think I'll let Nicole do the talking...

Hello, I am Nicole Firestone, a Seattle-based wedding photographer. I am insatiably curious about life and people. I also believe in magic. Not in the fairy tale way, but in the way that human emotion can be communicated through photographs stopping you dead in your tracks or instantaneously bringing you to tears. It is truly magical when all goes right!

I am not your average camera lady who likes to pop in and out of your life for the events. I am interested in being a creator and producer of ideas and connecting with you on a higher level. It is this connection and intimacy in people that makes magical photographs, not cameras.

I decided that in order to better understand what goes into making photographic magic, and therefore what “value” people place on it, I would launch this project called Gimme This For.

Here's how it works:

1. You book your wedding with a $1000 deposit.
2. I deliver your photos and return your deposit in full.
3. You pay what you think your photographs are worth.

I want to stress that I am not doing this experiment because I believe the cost of wedding photography is unjustified. I honestly believe it is worth every penny!!  My goal is to stimulate conversation. I want to challenge people to think about not only what their photos mean to them, but also what the experience of creative collaboration means to them, especially on one of the most important days of their lives.

Weddings are an amazing time of support, love, and celebration. A wedding is an event composed of and by awesome people. And this is the day most “ordinary” people get to feel creative, make decisions, and plan something extra special for themselves. My idea is that if people have to decide what to pay me for their wedding photos, they will become more invested in the creative process. And the photos will be (intrinsically) worth that much more.

I've already been told that I'm crazy and that I'm going to attract the wrong crowd. I am aware of this possibility, but I trust my intuition to guide me in how and who I choose to participate in this study. Not having a price tag on my work does not devalue it.

The Gimme This For project is intended to be a feel-good experiment, not an insult to the community. So let’s get on with spreading the love.

I believe in challenge and contribution. I believe risks are worth taking. I believe in taking a chance to find truth. I believe in pressing on even in the face of opposition. I believe in listening and taking notes. I believe in goodness and life lessons. I believe in thought-provoking conversation and constructive criticism. I believe in making many friends along the way. And, most importantly, I believe people are inherently good.

Photos by Sunshine Charlie


  1. I'll be really interested to see how this plays out. Lovely idea.

  2. really tempting for this REALLY POOR bride-to-be. (read as: so that means i could pay her $500. okay, let's. oh, wait, that's not really what you mean. now i have to guess what you think your photos are really worth. ) isn't the issue more about what someone can afford, and not about how much it's worth? all great things are priceless. am i crazy for thinking most people spend as much as they reasonably can on such things?

    1. do it. then you can write us a follow-up about how much you decided to pay ;)

    2. way existential... i'm still tempted.

    3. Yeah, I agree that it's really difficult to put a price on beautiful wedding photographs. We booked an up-and-comer who only charged us $925 for 6 hours of photography, traveling over an hour to our location, and a second shooter. It was risky in that she hadn't shot many weddings when we booked her, but our photos came out better than I could have imagined, and she now charges more than twice as much (which I think is totally worth it, but which we couldn't have afforded to pay).

  3. i strongly recommend that nicole talk to julie at up up creative about her "name your own price" experiment with wedding stationary last fall (creatively titled up up yours) for lessons learned about this kind of initiative.

  4. This is a lovely idea for couples but I'm curious how the wedding photographer is able to rely on this method of payment if this is how she makes her living\income?

  5. That second to last photo just made me tear up! I'm pretty sure I've never cried looking at a picture before... beautiful.

  6. that is bad ass. I wish I'd known about you in 2010, Nicole! I suspect people will end up letting you keep the $1,000

  7. as long as she doesn't allow $0 to be an amount and people understand that from the outset it's a cool idea, and she could probably end up making a heck of a lot more than $1k per wedding. A cool promo too... gets people talking about her.

  8. An interesting experiment. I suspect people will confuse, as others have said, what they can afford/are prepared/want to pay with what they think the photographs are worth. That said, something is really only worth what someone is prepared to pay, so maybe those two things aren't really so far apart...

  9. I think the sentiment behind this is lovely and idealistic.....but as someone who is self employed and works in a service based industry (Pilates Instructor) I do think there is something to the idea of devaluing your service. When I have negotiated my price with people or given deals in the name of being nice and accommodating I have ultimately been taken advantage of. When YOU decide what YOUR time and efforts are worth (within reason and competitiveness within the market) and then set that as a price you will be amazed at how many people will respect that.

    I also agree with the already mentioned idea that there is a big difference (especially with weddings and with creative services) between what someone might think the service is worth and what they can afford to pay. I would be very interested to see how this turns out.

  10. I love any project that begins with the concept that people are good. And I wish her the very, very best of luck.
    It's not that I think it's a bad idea, it just... would confuse me...
    Regardless of price, if got photos I wasn't happy with, I'd be upset. If I got photos that were incredible, I'd be ecstatic. To ask my brain to put a price on my satisfaction level would be difficult.

  11. Wow. I would love to see how this works out, not just from a financial point of view but the feedback and reasoning from couples. Good luck, I wish you all the best.

  12. Your soul and images are beautiful. I've heard of successes and failures with these kind of experiments. My only hope is as more people participate, the more will understand.

  13. I wish you the best of luck, and I love your intention. And the photos are rad.

    That said, name your price experiments for stuff like this make me a little crazy. Because people already do that. It's called setting a budget. You decide how important something is and look at how much money you have and then you decide how much it's worth. TO YOU. In your own life, given your own resources. Unless you're pretty set for money, it's hard to just pay what you think something is worth in the abstract. Childcare, for example: wildly expensive, extremely important, and what people pay for it is most certainly not based on what they think the care of their child is worth. When people decide how much to pay you, it's going to be at least as much about them, about where they are and what they can afford, as it is about how they feel about you, your work, and your deservingness.

    Anyway. I hope you find what you're looking for. I just don't really understand what it is.