Are wedding photographers too expensive? – Part 2

In a previous post I responded to a complaint I saw that a bride-to-be posted on the internet somewhere. I’m not going to go through what I wrote in that post; if you want to, go read it again just to recap.

What I do want to do, is “South African-ize” something I read elsewhere on a different blog. It’s basically a continuation on the subject of wedding photographers being “too expensive”. So here goes…


“Are wedding photographers too expensive?” – Part 2

So you’re getting married. Congratulations on taking that next big step in your relationship. May the Force be with you – or something like that. You’ve got the venue scouted and booked (how insanely expensive was that!?), flowers arranged, the cake, the dresses and suits and all the other little details are falling into place, or will be soon. The Wedding Photographer. Oh dear… That wedding budget isn’t looking so good after all the other things you’ve had to pay for, is it? So what to do? – You go online, search for wedding photographers, contact them, get quotes and slowly but surely realize that they’re mad. Insane. Completely bonkers. R15 000 for a Mid-range wedding package! Must be smoking their socks. And drinking their bath water besides. Who in their right mind will pay R15k for a couple of photos?

“No”, you decide, “not me! I’ll do it myself. It’ll be much cheaper that way. I’ll save lots of money. Maybe even be able to upgrade the dessert on the dinner menu…”

Now you’re on a mission to expose wedding photographers for the crooks they are. It can’t possibly cost as much as R15 000 for a couple of photos, surely? You look around at rental companies and service providers to get the gear necessary to take the photos. You’re going to get the good stuff – the same cameras and lenses and flashes the so-called professionals use. You have a plan. You’ve got that 16 year-old second cousin twice removed that you can get to take the photos. He can bring a friend. Teenagers are so tech-savvy nowadays, you know. Yes. You’ll get them to take the photos, pay them each R500 and do the editing of the photos yourself. I mean, how hard can it be?

After doing a lot of searching, the pricing looks as follows:

Four camera bodies (each photographer has two cameras in case something goes wrong with one of them), A bunch of lenses for each photographer (the guy on the phone said you’ll need something called a 24-70f2.8 and a 70-200f2.8 with vibration whatchamacallit), light kits for each photographer (you want them to just snap away and get as many photos as they can), flashes, tripods, reflectors, batteries (you can rent them?) and remote triggers (sounds fancy) should fulfill all the gear requirements for your baffled cousin (twice removed, of course – you know he wouldn’t have minded if you hadn’t invited him to the wedding in the first place).

All of the gear above for two photographers for only R9 980.00 (Including insurance, lest a drunk uncle knock something over) – Wow! It’s already so much cheaper! Mind you, you got the gear for two days, so that your cousin and his friend can learn how to use them the day before the wedding (these tech-savvy teens learn how these things operate so quickly, you know). Oh wait, you’ll need memory cards. Lots of them, because you want as many photos as possible. You’ll instruct them to just keep those cameras on rapid-fire mode (or something like that) and shoot everything that moves and breathes. You’ll have TONS of awesome photos of your special day. The memory cards cost R500 each – you’ll need at least four 32Gb cards per photographer. That’s another R4000 – Ouch! But it’s worth it – just think of all the photos you’ll have of the wedding!

“How am I going to edit them”, you ask? Well, you’re an intelligent person right? You check the internet again, and YouTube just has every tutorial you can imagine on how to edit in Photoshop! Awesome! It’ll take you about a month to learn everything you need to know, you think. But first, you need to get the software program. Adobe have a Lightroom and Photoshop bundle for $9.99 a month – that’s only about R145.00 a month! Even better. You can learn to use it for a month, then edit the photos for another month and then discontinue the subscription to Photoshop – saving even more money!

Things are looking really good so far. The gear only cost R9 980.00, the memory cards were R4 000.00, Photoshop only cost you R290.00 for the two months, and you’ll only need about 20Gb to watch all those tutorials on YouTube. (20Gb @ R149 per 1Gb = R2 980.00) – So far you’ve only spent R17 250.00!! Ha! You’ll show those photographers…

Oh, wait… R17 250.00??? But that’s MORE than the wedding photographer quoted you… Something doesn’t add up here. So you do the math again. And come up with the same figure. Except now, you think of all that time learning to use Photoshop and all that time spent editing the photos (2 months in total!) How in the name of everything holy do these crazy photographers do it??? And they include canvas prints and photo books in that price!

So now you have 20 000 photos of your big day. Half of which are blurred, under-exposed, over-exposed or doubles of others. So, call it 10 000 photos. Halve that again for duplicates or closed eyes. Halve that again for wrong composition, people in the background, terrible facial expressions. Halve that again because, you know, the photos are just terrible. You now have 1250 photos that you MIGHT just be able to use for editing. Spend 30 minutes per photo on editing, and besides acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI (repetitive strain injury), you’ll have spent 625 hours on those photos. And they still won’t look like the ones you would have gotten from the proper wedding photographer.

It’s 6 months after the wedding. You can’t remember what the cake or any of the food tasted like, you don’t remember how sore your feet were from all the dancing, and the day itself is just a blur. The wedding dress and suit have been returned to the vendor. All you have of that day are your wedding photos – Which your second cousin twice removed took (and him and his friend seemed to have availed themselves of the free booze, judging by the declining quality of the photos sometime after the reception started). You still haven’t had the canvas prints or the photo book done, because who has time for that?

Still think we charge too much?


100 Things you should know about Photography

100 Photography facts/tips…

1. Just because someone has an expensive camera doesn’t mean that they’re a good photographer.
2. Always shoot in RAW. Always.
3. Prime lenses help you learn to be a better photographer.
4. Photo editing is an art in itself
5. The rule of thirds works 99% of the time.
6. Macro photography isn’t for everybody.
7. UV filters work just as well as lens caps.
8. Go outside and shoot photos rather than spending hours a day on photography forums.
9. Capture the beauty in the mundane and you have a winning photograph.
10. Film isn’t better than digital.
11. Digital isn’t better than film.
12. There is no “magic” camera or lens.
13. Better lenses don’t give you better photos.
14. Spend less time looking at other people’s work and more time shooting your own.
15. Don’t take your DSLR to parties.
16. Girls dig photographers.
17. Making your photos b/w doesn’t automatically make them “artsy”
18. People will always discredit your work if you tell them you “photoshop” your images. Rather, tell them that you process them in the “digital darkroom”.
19. You don’t need to take a photo of everything.
20. Have at least 2 backups of all your images. Like they say in war, two is one, one is none.
21. Ditch the neck strap and get a handstrap.
22. Get closer when taking your photos, they often turn out better.
23. Be a part of a scene while taking a photo; not a voyeur.
24. Taking a photo crouched often make your photos look more interesting.
25. Worry less about technical aspects and focus more on compositional aspects of photography.
26. Tape up any logos on your camera with black gaffers tape- it brings a lot less attention to you.
27. Always underexpose by 2/3rds of a stop when shooting in broad daylight.
28. The more photos you take, the better you get.
29. Don’t be afraid to take several photos of the same scene at different exposures, angles, or apertures.
30. Only show your best photos.
31. A point-and-shoot is still a camera.
32. Join an online photography forum.
33. Critique the works of others.
34. Think before you shoot.
35. A good photo shouldn’t require explanation (although background information often adds to an image). *
36. Alcohol and photography do not mix well.
37. Draw inspiration from other photographers but never worship them.
38. Grain is beautiful.
39. Ditch the photo backpack and get a messenger bag. It makes getting your lenses and camera a whole lot easier.
40. Simplicity is key.
41. The definition of photography is: “painting with light.” Use light in your favor.
42. Find your style of photography and stick with it.
43. Having a second monitor is the best thing ever for photo processing.
44. Silver EFEX pro is the best b/w converter.
45. Carry your camera with you everywhere. Everywhere.
46. Never let photography get in the way of enjoying life.
47. Don’t pamper your camera. Use and abuse it.
48. Take straight photos.
49. Shoot with confidence.
50. Photography and juxtaposition are best friends.
51. Print out your photos big. They will make you happy.
52. Give your photos to friends.
53. Give them to strangers.
54. Don’t forget to frame them.
55. Costco prints are cheap and look great.
56. Go out and take photos with (a) friend(s).
57. Join a photo club or start one for yourself.
58. Photos make great presents.
59. Taking photos of strangers is thrilling.
60. Candid>Posed.
61. Natural light is the best light.
62. 35mm (on full frame) is the best “walk-around” focal length.
63. Don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO when necessary.
64. You don’t need to always bring a tripod with you everywhere you go (hell, I don’t even own one).
65. It is always better to underexpose than overexpose.
66. Shooting photos of homeless people in an attempt to be “artsy” is exploitation.
67. You will find the best photo opportunities in the least likely situations.
68. Photos are always more interesting with the human element included.
69. You can’t “photoshop” bad images into good ones.
70. Nowadays everybody is a photographer.
71. You don’t need to fly to Paris to get good photos; the best photo opportunities are in your backyard.
72. People with DSLRS who shoot portraits with their grip pointed downwards look like morons.
73. Cameras as tools, not toys.
74. In terms of composition, photography and painting aren’t much different.
75. Photography isn’t a hobby- it’s a lifestyle.
76. Make photos, not excuses.
77. Be original in your photography. Don’t try to copy the style of others.
78. The best photographs tell stories that begs the viewer for more.
79. Any cameras but black ones draw too much attention.
80. The more gear you carry around with you the less you will enjoy photography.
81. Good self-portraits are harder to take than they seem.
82. Laughter always draws out peoples’ true character in a photograph.
83. Don’t look suspicious when taking photos- blend in with the environment.
84. Landscape photography can become dull after a while.
85. Have fun while taking photos.
86. Never delete any of your photos.
87. Be respectful when taking photos of people or places.
88. When taking candid photos of people in the street, it is easier to use a wide-angle than a telephoto lens.
89. Travel and photography are the perfect pair.
90. Learn how to read a histogram.
91. A noisy photo is better than a blurry one.
92. Don’t be afraid to take photos in the rain.
93. Learn how to enjoy the moment, rather than relentlessly trying to capture the perfect picture of it.
94. Never take photos on an empty stomach.
95. You will discover a lot about yourself through your photography.
96. Never hoard your photographic insight- share it with the world.
97. Never stop taking photos
98. Photography is more than simply taking photos, it is a philosophy of life
99. Capture the decisive moment
100. Write your own list