While I don't wish to claim film and chemicals are free, I still think they are small potatoes.
In 1985 my (non-photographic) billing rate was ~$70 an hour. That's ~150,000 a year in invoicing. As a rather boring, and middle-class, consultant I'm pretty damn near median. "Touching" even a million dollars worth of film and paper in my lifetime is still secondary to what I've charged for my time in just the decade of the 80's, not to mention the rest of my professional career. Then we get into sevencrossing's point about weekends. I stand by my initial assertion that time is the dominant cost of photography for all but the "bottomfeeders".
I thought long and hard about that word, as I meant no offense. I know the word has a slimy connotation, but I can't think of a better word. Just take it at my word I mean no disrespect.
I was trying to give a 'basis' or a 'rationale' for why one should charge what they charge. There's a element of reason for why a surgeon with his training gets more for removing a cancerous tumor than a carpet sweeper cleaning a carpet - something I had hoped would come through. Apparently it was lost.
Whatever one does to get to where ever they go needs some sort of training and education. I've been very clear about what I've done: self taught as a youngster (not very good for anyone, but it is the first training regime most do), worked as very young man in a studio, trained as photographer in the US Army, worked for a news service as a photographer and writer. These aren't minor stepping stones.
I count myself as very, very lucky to have had some very good training - that is knowing how to use equipment and gear, and education, that is the formation of character and development the background on the history of the art and science of photography. For one, I've been lucky, too, to teach in some of America's nicer universities, too.
It's terrific you were able to bring home the bacon in the mid 80's. Money's your thing obviously. I don't know what you do, but you must do it well.
As to your intent to disrespect - it was clear enough.
As to the topic, people can charge what they want, and get whatever they can. The free market is Darwinian. On the strong survive It's possible that the Hawaiian photographer won't be around in a year or two or maybe he'll increase his prices just enough and work just enough to find a golden mean. If he can make it on his fees, good on him. I couldn't put a single price tag on all wedding packages everywhere. To do so would be plain silly.
There are great people doing work everywhere, at every age, with every sort of equipment, from the fantastic to the sublime.
What's important is the work and the ability to pay for it. If purchaser likes what he sees and has the ability and desire to pay for it, then go for it. It really doesn't get simpler than that.
I do agree that there should be a semblance of professionalism, a solidarity of spirit, if you will in what a professional brings to the table, but that's a topic for another thread.
My best to all,