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What are pros and cons of hiring a larger retail studio VS an independent photographer?

Four factors can help measure the scope of your wedding photography investment:

  1. Time
  2. Personality
  3. Cost
  4. Talent



Whereas larger retail photography studios may employ a staff to regiment and streamline production, independent wedding photographers will cater to the individual needs of their clients, which may limit their time and only permit them to capture a limited amount of weddings each season. An independent wedding photographer regards their consultation time as valuable moments to engage and learn about the objectives of their clients, straying from providing amalgamated coverage of their event and instead personalizing the objectives in order to execute to their client’s desires.



As often illustrated with larger retail wedding photography studios employing numerous staff photographers, you may never meet your photographer until the day of your wedding. With an independent wedding photographer you will naturally meet them right away, allowing you to measure your level of compatibility immediately.



Larger retail studios systematically use an opportunity to cut costs by providing a company spokesperson or sales representative whose responsibility it is to meet with every client and provide them a generalized code of conduct, a universal task/shot list and other common objectives that their assigned photographer must pledge to demonstrate. While larger retail studios may also receive discounts from product manufacturers for producing such high volume sales which aids in keeping their prices aggressive, independent photographers offer competitive industry standard rates based on their merit while striving to provide the best quality products and services for the amount of time not divisible amongst a staff, whereby shooting fewer events per year and hence providing a more personalized, prompt performance. An independent wedding photographer may offer to discount their services based on a given time period such as an off-peak seasons event or a Friday or Sunday service. Larger retail studios however rely on a constant price structure which is as low as they’re typically willing to go based on a system driven on volume, whereby not allowing clients to bargain for discounts and/or other special offers.  And though larger retail studios may entice you to walk through their doors with the promise of an inexpensive “package”, this offer usually includes their lowest tier, lackluster, self-assembled album of comprised of considerably less pages/photos than an independent photographer’s comparable product that the studio anticipates you’ll upgrade to meet the level of popular consumer spending averages which compels their bottom line: a compounded and generalized service with additional products offered based on an average of volume sales.



Photographers hired by larger retail studios earn a fraction of the larger studio’s profit forcing these photographers to often also hold a full time job which may not prove as beneficial to the client as an independent photographer honing their craft constantly. These retail studio freelance photographers are usually new to the industry and utilize the opportunity to work for larger retail studios as they practice their profession while perhaps continuing their education. Most successful, established independent wedding photographers have sought their apprenticeships previously and finished their primary education prior to gambling with not only their reputations but their client’s memories as well. While an independent photographer’s livelihood and continued success relies heavily on loyal customer referrals, larger retail studios more often than not focus on their bottom line - quantity often over quality.


Contributed by Jason Kaczorowski a Chicago Illinois wedding photographer.

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  1. Before the Wedding
  2. Looking Your Best
  3. At The Wedding
  4. After The Wedding