Why does Wedding Photography have to cost so much ?
Why does Wedding Photography cost so much? I can get a print for 0.19 cents at Xmart!
Why does Wedding Photography cost so much? This is a common question that is asked a lot. Here are some things to consider when placing a value of Wedding
Professional prints are a rip off, I can get a print for 0.19 cents at Xmart! That’s true you can and all it costs you is a little time. You were at the Wedding having a
good time, you pulled your camera and snapped off a shot, easy. What about the Wedding photographer isn’t it that easy for him too?
Wedding photographers (the good ones) really care about the bride and groom. We want to take the best photograph possible for the given situation and in order to
do so it requires us to be prepared and put some thought into every shot.
First is the equipment.
You must have good quality gear and you must have back up. At any given Wedding we bring 5 camera bodies, 6 flashes, 4 power packs, 8 lenses, lots of AA
batteries, 50 GB of memory chips, extra batteries for the cameras, tools to clean and repair cameras or lenses, extra cables. Light stands, reflectors, a white balance
target, light meters, 800 watt strobes for formals (3 of these), umbrellas, flash bracket, diffusers, and well you get the idea.
A good camera and equipment (gear) do not make one a good photographer. A skilled photographer can make good images with even mediocre equipment. The
reason to get expensive gear is because it can make good work great, but it won’t save a poor photo no matter how much money you have spent. Pro cameras focus
more accurately, track moving objects better, focus in low light conditions faster and better, they are more rugged, weather sealed, shutters have a life of 250,000
frames. They have larger buffers so you can take more shots with slowing your camera down. The camera is only part of the equation. Your lenses can play an even
larger role than your camera body in the quality of the images. In other words if you have an $ 8000.00 DLSR and put a cheap $ 300.00 lens on it you just wasted
Why do we need all of that gear? Simple, for backup, reliability, quality, and to create images that can’t be created without the proper tools. We want to make
images that have a third dimension to them.
It’s called the WOW factor.
Yes anyone can buy a camera, flash, flash bracket and run around and call themselves a photographer. It’s also a fact that anyone can buy a pair of scissors and cut
hair, but I will bet you are going to have a skilled person cut YOUR hair. The same is true for photography, there are skills, technical learning, people skills, posing
skills and things you can’t learn like having a vision, seeing the light and looking beyond the obvious to create something great from something Others see as common.
Anyone can buy brushes and paint and take art classes, but not everyone will become an artist.
No it’s true there are people out there that shoot an entire wedding with 1 camera, 1 flash and call themselves by various popular names (photo journalists). Now I
don’t want to start any fights but many professionals feel that the majority of PJ shooters and people who don’t know how to light, pose or frame their subjects. Don’t
get me wrong there are a few that are really good, but I do feel that many people whom just one to make an extra buck hide behind the reputation of the good PJ
shooters in order to take advantage of their clients. These are usually the guys who at one time realized that anyone can snap a picture, so why not get paid for it? The
photojournalist wedding photographers that are really good are in a league of their own. They have unique skills, and have one BIG advantage over the wanna be
photojournalists and that is they actually have been photojournalists before getting into Weddings.
Ok. I am off that soapbox for now.
Hidden labor and time worked but not seen.
There is a lot of time spent after the wedding for the final production of the images and album that will be created. But before we go into that lets take a look and the
hidden time and expenses that you would never know about unless you did wedding photography for a living.
At the initial meeting of a bride and groom we will spend about 2-3 hours discussing their day, giving them ideas and writing down information. We provide forms to
help them organize their day (and their thoughts) and to help them plan. Our job is not only to photograph the day but to take stress off the bride and groom by giving
advice and helping them plan the wedding day. The photographer you choose will be responsible for a good part of your day. If your photographer only wants to
meet with you to take your check and then ask you what time do you them to show up you might want to consider a photographer that wants to actually get involved
with the wedding day.
The average bride and groom will spend about 2-4 hours on the phone with us asking questions and preparing for the day. Add more time if there is an engagement
session. Let’s also remember all of the email’s that will be sent back and for.
The wedding day photography schedule.
We will spend 1-2 hours with going over the sequence of the day and helping put in writing a time line of events. The purpose of this time line is to help the couple get
the photographs that they want. This is also a major stress reliever for the bride because the photographer becomes that bad guy and gives the wedding party a
schedule for the day. There is nothing worse on the day of your wedding then having a wedding party member be a no show until 5 minutes before, especially if you
wanted pre ceremony photos. There is always one bridesmaid that takes forever to get ready and is famous for being late of forgetting things, the mean photographer
that gives a schedule to the bridesmaids is doing so to help the bride so she won’t have to dread dealing with the extra drama that can be created by slow and late
bridesmaids, after all its her day.
Scouting the area.
If the events are at an area I have not shot at previously I will go to the wedding site and the reception area and photograph the areas and meet the people who will
be in charge on the day of the wedding. I go back to the studio and load up the images and plan out shot I want to get using what is available in the area and then I
organize the shots and plan them in a logical order. There is another 3-4 hours of planning, plus travel time.
We attend the rehearsal. This is good way of learning about last minute changes, getting to meet the family and wedding party and of course handing out the
photography schedule. So there is another 2 hours on average.
The day before the wedding.
All of the equipment is cleaned, inspected and tested. Batteries are charged. Equipment is organized. Cards are formatted, cameras have their clocks synchronized,
lenses and sensors cleaned, I organize my shot list, pack up the lighting equipment, tripods, etc. Another 6 hours of work.
The Wedding day.
The average wedding for us is 8 to 11 hours, yes we are not the 4 hour wedding photographers. I always wonder how they can get away with that.
Now it’s nice to think that you can plan out a wedding day and after that you just execute the plan. Well now it’s time for a reality check.
Weddings are organic.
They have a life of their own and not everything goes as planned. But, that’s ok. Part of being a great Wedding photographer is being able to think on your feet, to be
flexible and change all of the plans in a moments notice and still get great shots and keep everyone smiling. You want a challenge try squeezing 2 hours of shooting
into 45 minutes. Oh yeah, the shots still need to be great.
After the Wedding.
Ok the Wedding is over we get home about 1:00 am unload the equipment, start reading the images of the chips. Throw them online and wait for the money to roll
in!!! In my dreams.
Just taking the images off the chips take about 3-5 hours. Next the images have to be processed.
We do not shoot in jpg file mode, we shoot in RAW. RAW is to digital what negatives are to film. The files have to be loaded into a RAW editor. We use Capture
Processing the RAW files.
The average Wedding will have 1000-2000 shots. I will spend about 10-16 hours processing the RAW file to get the absolute best quality from each one. You can
take shorts cut and not be so picky, but any Wedding photographer worth their salt will want to make the proofs look great.
It takes time to do proper color correction (actually correction and white balance begins before the images were taken, that’s what the white balance target was for).
Files are backed up on three different external hard drives for redundancy. The chips are not formatted until all of the files are backed up.
The RAWS are output as high resolution jpg files for building the albums and for posting on the Internet. Now we build the album. The average album takes 40-60
hours. You could buy software that automatically dumps photos from a folder into pre-made templates, and it takes about 20 minutes. But there is no creativity or
customization involved. The photographer selects the images for the album and the bride and groom get to make changes 2 times. Many photographers work this
way because it is faster. But if the bride and groom really appreciate good images and don’t want a cookie cutter album then it requires creativity, communication and
Using Professional lab.
Professional photographers use quality monitors and hardware devices that create a profile that
modifies their screen display so when we edit and color correct, adjust the density and sharpen and image the print will come from the lab looking like the image on
our monitor. Professional labs charge more because they offer a level of quality and consistency and used calibrated machines that are checked daily.
So let’s total it up.
Initial meeting of a bride and groom 2-3 hours.
Time on phone and writing email’s to iron out details and answer questions 2-4 hours.
The time line for the day 1-2 hours.
Scouting the area, travel and research, planning shots. 3-4 hours.
The rehearsal 2 hours, plus travel time.
The wedding day 8-11 hours on average.
Uploading data from chips. 3-5 hours.
Processing the RAW files, building web pages for the online shopping cart, uploading files and data back up 10-16 hours.
Build the wedding album pages 40-60 hours.
People who are talented make their work look easy. Talent, hard work, patience, flexibility and a good sense of humor are all part of being a great Wedding
photographer. You are inviting this person into your life for the day of your Wedding.
So, when you buy a photo from the Wedding photographer your not just buying a piece of paper with some printing, you are getting a part of the time, emotion and
investment that the bride and groom put into their day, and they trusted in that photographer to be there for them.
This person they have put their trust in has done a lot more than just snap a few pics.
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