First off, I started photographing weddings as a teen
First off, I started photographing weddings as a teen, so having 40 years of experience doesn’t necessarily make me old. I’ll only be 60 in 2005 and I run marathon races (26.2 miles) and I average running about 35-40 miles per week year around, so I’m in great shape! In the Indy 500 Mini-Marathon of ’04, I beat 14,975 out of 30,000 total entries and passed between 500 and 1,000 runners during the last 4 miles of the race, most of which were 20 to 30 years younger than me!! So, you see, I feel like I am 25 to 30 years younger than others people that are my age!
(Pause) To me, weddings, and photographing them, is a dance. A very beautifully flowing, enjoyable dance that I’m lucky enough to get to dance nearly every week of the year. That dance is done with everyone else at the wedding and reception. Every week, your ‘dance partners’ might change and a few of the dance steps differ from week to week, but after you’ve pretty well done that same dance week-after-week for 40 years, you get to where you are a very accomplished dancer.
“What I enjoy the most is going out each week and seeing just how beautifully I can do the dance that week. You finally get to where you are ‘so light on your feet’ with all your quick steps that you can thoroughly do your best dance and go totally unnoticed throughout the evening. When that happens, I can feel it and it’s almost magical. It’s like you are in another dimension or time warp and you are invisible to those around you. Really neat what that happens!”
WP: “How are you able to pack so much value into your wedding photo packages? Other professional wedding photographers of your stature are charging two to three times what you charge and giving a heck of a lot less in return?”
Bill Collins: “I have to thank my wife for that. See taught me how to manage my money efficiently and really make every dollar count.”
“Thanks to her, As I am edging my way towards semi-retirement, I’m lucky enough to have been totally debt-free for several years now. Our home is paid for. My studio is paid for. All my camera equipment and my new car were purchased for cash. Besides that, I don’t have very many personal needs and I live a fairly lean and simple lifestyle, so it doesn’t take an awfully lot of money for me to have the kind of lifestyle that makes me happy.”
“Being in this strong financial position makes it possible for me to share my good fortune with my clients, as well. You see, I can afford to only charge a price for my services that I am comfortable charging. Unlike a lot of struggling photographers, I don’t have to ‘charge what the market will bear’. I can charge a price that let’s me constantly stay busy shooting a wedding almost every weekend throughout the year.”
“Hey, when you are a great dancer, with a lot of smooth beautiful moves, you want to be able to dance as much as possible. That’s why I pack so much value into my packages….so that I’ll be sure to get hired to photograph weddings every week. You can’t do your dance steps, if you’re not invited to the dance!”
WP: “Do all wedding photographers feel this way about photographing weddings?”
Bill Collins: “Actually, a lot of the really expensive wedding photographers are ‘burned out’ on photographing weddings and they use high prices to try to get by with earning a living on just as few weddings per year as they can get away with doing. They’ve grown to hate what they are forced to do to keep their studios in the green. So, if you are going to force them to do what they hate most, then, by golly, you are really going to have to pay them big money to compensate for their misery!”
“Also, can you imagine what it would be like on your wedding day, if you were to end up hiring a photographer who hates doing what you are asking him to do for you on the most important day of your life? Off hand, I’d say that you’ve only got about a 15 to 20 percent chance of getting to hire a really top notch wedding photographer who enjoys photographing weddings. By the time they have had enough experience to really get that good, most seem to burn out simply getting there! “
“I found about how other professional photographers feel about photographing weddings just by listening to groups of top pros and top pro wannabes when they’ve gathered together at trade conventions, seminars and workshops and are just sitting around talking shop about wedding photography in general. It’s something that the general public would never ordinarily ever be let in on. It popped by bubble when I first learned how other photographers felt about photographing weddings. At the time, I really did believe that everyone else doing weddings enjoyed doing them as much as I did! Boy, was I wrong!”
WP: “You were one of the true digital wedding photography pioneers in the Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky area, what doors did going digital open for you?”
Bill Collins: “It was so liberating and rewarding to go digital. Suddenly I could afford to take many times more exposures as I could with film. I was able to capture so much more of the details, decorations and the fun of the festivities for my clients. It’s really gratifying to be able to instantly see the results of everything you take, too and know that you have captured it just the way you wanted to before moving on to the next photo.”