If you are getting married or have been married recently you would have had a tough time getting the right vendors for your wedding. It can be quite daunting to get the right venue, caterer, photographer, videographer, decorator/planner, make-up artist, choreographer and the list goes on…no wonder the brides are a bunch of nerves as their wedding day comes closer. One of the questions that I get from the couple’s is why is the wedding photography so expensive? Where can we find cheap wedding photography?
I have put together this blog to shed some light on this topic because very few people actually take a moment to reflect on what goes into the prices, afterall it’s more difficult to price a intangible service than a product which can be mass produced. Also, I consider it my duty to explain this as It’s a life event for my clients and it cannot be re-done.
here are some important points that need to considered when you look into the pricing
1) Full time Vs Part time Photographers
As per wikipedia, a professional is a person who is engaged in a specified activity as their main paid occupation. I rate this very highly because this is what differentiates an amateur from a professional. A professional has made the leap of faith and has put his everything on line so as to be in that one profession, and thereby saying “NO” to all other possible opportunities for themselves. On the other hand, an amateur has no such compulsions, they are still not quite sure and are in the ”testing waters” phase of their careers, they don’t yet have the confidence to go all out. A professional photographer has too much at stake, they have committed to give great results irrespective of what happens, weather the light was good or not, weather the venue was upto the mark or not, weather the clients were in the right mood or not. As a full time photographer for the last 10 years, there has not been a single photography assignment which was picture perfect from start to finish, each assignment had its own challenges, but the commitment to be a problem solver than a whiner has been my best teacher. I put in a lot of time to read blogs, books, attend workshops, learn on the internet, and network with fellow photographers. All this requires time, money and loads of commitment to be the best. It’s not been a easy journey for me from any stretch of imagination. Every shoot, I have learnt something new (technically or skill wise) and all these little learnings has become now a huge wealth of knowledge for me (and my team). With this arsenal of knowledge and experience I know i can produce fantastic results from any situation.
It is not only important to be a professional and be technically sound in your craft but it is important to be "the expert" in “the genre” of your field . It’s important to know who, what, when, where and how to shoot, the single point of focus for me for all these years has been the genre of “people photography” which includes weddings/portraits/street/documentary & fashion. This is what gives me the know how about all the little things about people, composition, rituals, quality of light, human psychology, time lines, equipment etc. This is my jungle and this is where I hunt (laughs). It’s like in any other discipline, be it medicine, law, aviation etc, the more experienced you get the higher you are paid because of the predictability of the results that you can promise, and this specialized knowledge requires investment in the right resources (education/equipment/people etc).
I am not in favour of talking about equipment as i believe the artist is known for the canvas they paint and not for the pen that they use to paint it. However, with the technology advancing in quantum leaps, it is important that we all benefit from the latest and the greatest that is available. This helps us giving superior outputs in all areas, be it capturing the right moments or fine tuning it in the post production. For this reason, all professionals keep updating their equipment. Personally we use full frame cameras made by Canon and Sony. The lens are also of the highest quality (L Series) which gives us a huge edge in the pictures/movies we make. All good things come with a price, the average price of a full frame camera with lens is upwards INR 500,000, and not to forget how fast it gets obsolete with the next shiny toy in the offering. Plus, we like to keep a back up of all important equipments so just in case one fails we still have another ready to be deployed. We cannot take chances when memories are so precious and so ephemeral.
4) Team Work
A wedding is not just the about the bride and the groom, It also about their families and friends. It is for this reason a solo or freelancer photographer will only be able to focus on just the bride and the groom and that too either for photography or the video. On the other hand, a team will be able to get a 360 degree coverage of the entire wedding using both photo and video. For this, picking the right team is paramount, it's just like a game of footer or cricket, it's all about teamwork, and as the saying goes, you are only as strong as the weakest link in your team. Since we offer both photography and videography it’s important that the entire team to be in sync. This way everyone compliments each other and has someone to cover their backs. Ultimately, it's the client who wins because of this team effort. All this needs a lot of planning, bonding and understanding amongst each person in the team. A great team is fantastic but to have them trained and retained takes a lot of effort.
5) Every minute of your day counts
In order to make it a day to remember every minute counts (I mean literally). And, for this reason quality professionals like to work on an hourly basis because each hour of photography needs 4-5 hours of post processing time, so by the end of each day of photography/videography there are 4-5 days that are needed for post processing the images/movie and have the album/movie ready (preferably with some time between them). On the face of it we only see the hours of shooting but we fail to see the back end work needed to produce amazing pictures. Post production is where the story comes alive, a skilled back end team is the unsung hero that works behind the scenes and brings sense to all the madness. We deliberate on each image and then connect it back to the story so our clients are wowed even after many years. For this, we pay premium professional fees so it keeps them motivated and hungry.
7) Add ons (Frames/Album)
These are those services that we don't provide in-house, but we collaborate with the best in the industry to make our service offering the best for our clients. We partner with Squarespace to keep our client memories on a secure website so they can choose their pictures for their album, share them and enjoy them much after their wedding is over. We use Canvera albums (One of the biggest wedding album brands in India) to give the very best flush mounted albums that is available in India, these Ultra luxurious flush mounted albums are said to outlast a generation and they even keep a backup in the clouds so you don't worry about losing them :)
Just like a wedding vow, our contract is a promise to our clients about everything that we say to them but on paper. We are perhaps one of those few top wedding photography teams in India that give a wedding photography contract. This is important for us because it gives our clients a snapshot of the details including the payment. We want them to be at peace, instead of stressing up and following up on missed opportunities and broken promises. A contract makes it transparent and hassle free for tax paying citizens
9) No PF/ Retiral Benefits/ Insurance
The wedding photographers/vidoegraphers have no employer contributed PF benefits/retiral benefits or even any kind of social security. There are no insurance provided at work. Every medical bill or contingency has to be borne directly by the photographers themselves. The only payment that a photographer gets is the one that you pay them for the assignment, and then they have to pay for their own insurance, health and retirement schemes. It can be very challenging for some photographers because after a certain age they will no longer be able to physically work the same way that they did when they were younger. So when you factor in the cost for the assignment you are also providing them a chance to save for the rainy day.
10) Guaranteed results
No one offers guarantees in this Industry, but we do because we believe we have it in us to protect memories, we do this not only for the couples but also for their future generations to inherit from them memories as their legacy. For this we are completely devoted in the art & science of photography. We use 3 back systems to store the memories (Sandisk Memory Cards, Seagate Hard Disk & Apple Hard Disks) No shortcuts and no false promises
I hope this will give you some insight into how we work and why it takes a price to offer you a world class product,