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?


Wedding photographers – too expensive?

I just read a post by a bride-to-be on a website, and in it she lambastes wedding photographers for charging too much for a wedding. That prompted me to write something for all those people who think wedding photographers charge too much.

This is how it goes:

We start working early, when the bride has her hair and make up done. We finish late, sometimes only leaving at midnight. During that time, we quite often skip breakfast and lunch, working right through to get those arty pics you brides love so much. We take photos of the bride, the bridesmaids, flower girls, dresses and jewelry. The flowers, the shoes, anything that remotely has anything to do with your special day, because we don’t want to miss a thing.

From there we take posed photos of the bride and the bridesmaids, at home, on the road, basically stopping wherever we find a really cool background on the way to the church. All this in order to give you, the bride, really amazing photos that you’ll cherish and enjoy for a long time.

After the trip, in the church, we work quietly in the background, taking photos of the ceremony. Quite often stumbling over and into guests who have taken it upon themselves to take photos of the wedding, totally ignoring the fact that the official, paid photographer is trying to his/her job. Nevertheless, we diplomatically avoid any confrontation with these guests and continue to work at your amazing photos. Sometimes this lasts up to two hours, including the signing of the documents and some posed family photos outside the building.

We then take the bride and groom out for about an hour or so, diligently working at getting those perfect photos you show to your friends, family and colleagues.

Off to the reception. There we work tirelessly to get photos of the guests and the bridal couple, every smile and laugh and embrace. We work through the speeches and the toasts, the entreés, dinner and dessert. We take photos of the first dance, the parents and bridal party dancing. All the while accommodating your inebriated guests who insist on having their photos taken with numerous people.

We take photos of the cake being cut, the garter and the bouquet being tossed. People eating, laughing and joking. We take photos during the reception, outside in the moonlight or wherever we think we can find another beautiful photo.

After the wedding, we drive home from wherever the ceremony was. More often than not, somewhere in the sticks.
I takes an hour or longer to get home.

We spend hours going through the +/- 2000 photos we took on the day, narrowing it down to the 200 most beautiful photos. After that, we start editing those photos, spending about 30 minutes per photo, getting it just right. 200 photos at 30 minutes per photo, equals 100 hours.

We take these photos on equipment we pay a lot of money for, edit them on computers and with software that cost a small fortune. All this to ensure that you, the bride, gets the perfect photos of your wonderful day. We go on courses and attend workshops, we upgrade memory cards and other equipment. We forgo a social life to get you your photos on time. Spend hours posting the photos to Facebook, our websites and other social media. All of which costs money in terms of data. We go the printers and drop off all your photos at your home.

Consider this: Of everything you spend money on for your wedding, your wedding photos will last the longest. The cake will be forgotten. The venue and the food and the flowers a distant memory. All you’ll have left of that day are your photos.

Do you still think we charge too much?