In this series of blog posts we are introducing people who are speaking at and attending Inspire 2013. We are delighted to introduce Kate McElwee, owner of Kate McElwee Photography. Kate will be teaching with Leah Haydock on The Dichotomy of the High End Bride 

By Kate McElwee

When I first started shooting weddings in Seattle, WA, I LOVED my clients.  They couldn’t pay me much (heck, my pictures back then weren’t worth much) but they were good people.  Smart, sweet, often a little nerdy, mostly smiley, happy, huggable people.  I’d look around at my colleagues who charged more and photographed the fancy-pants pretty weddings, and thought to myself, “but I bet they don’t have these great connections with their clients, like I do”.

As the months went by, I realized that I’d never be able to sustain a career in wedding photography and keep a decent work-life balance if I kept charging $1500 for a wedding … so little by little I nudged up my prices.  Each change brought with it the panic that I’d lose my lovely, sweet, nerdy clients … but I never seemed to hit the “bridezilla” market.

Three years ago I moved to Boston.  My friends on the west coast told me that they were “really conservative” over there, and that although I could charge more, I’d be “working much harder” for a “more demanding clientele”.  I was a little dismayed … but figured that surely not all couples on the east coast were uptight - and maybe I’d find my niche there too.

Moving to Boston, I had three years of shooting under my belt, and I raised my prices once again to start at around $3k.  It seemed to be a sensible price to charge based on the research I’d done online.  Despite having lost my referral base, I booked up that first year here.  With the same awesome, laid-back, nerdy, happy people that I’d come to love as my  clients back west.  I raised my prices.

Three years later and I’m still working with awesome, hip, fun, loveable nerds.  They just happen to have money.  My starting price these days is $6k - and I regularly book collections at a much higher price than that.

In our Inspire presentation, Leah and I will be showing that there isn’t such a thing as a “high end bride” - and that by charging good money for good work doesn’t mean you’ll get stuck working with high-maintenance “bridezilla” types.  We’ll be offering tips on how to attract the couples that are the perfect fit for you and your business - at any price level.


Kate McElwee Photography

Kate McElwee's blog