What Are You Paying For?
The cost of a professional wedding photographer is often a source of amazement to couples sorting their weddings out. In this brief article 1 want to give some thought to the reasons behind wedding photography prices.
The cheapest way to get photos of your wedding is to ask a friend of relative to bring their camera and snap away. With today’s modern cameras even a compact can do a reasonable job “given enough light”. So your wedding photography price could be zero.
Fine – let us see what could go wrong. Memory cards – unless your appointed friend is very prepared, his camera and cards will run out of memory before the big day is over. Well before – even before your vows. That is if the cameras battery does not give out first! Now, assuming your appointed friend has brought plenty of batteries and memory cards, what else could go wrong? What other reason could I give you to up the wedding photography price?
That little detail I mentioned earlier – “given enough light”. Now, weddings are very complex affairs, taking place in a variety of situations from inside a dark church, in a doorway of an anteroom, suddenly out in bright sunlight or pouring rain. It may then move to a reception venue partially lit by neon, tungsten and halogen or worse still the latest energy saving lamps. You get the picture – sorry – idea.
A modern compact is just not designed to deal with this range of situations. Yes, you could dig deep in the menus of that camera and optimize the device for each situation, to a degree, but by the time the switch is made the moment is lost. It is interesting to realize that some of the most emotional moments in a wedding, those very moments that you want to capture, occur during a location change. For example, entering the church (bright to dark) leaving the church to receive confetti (dark to bright) getting into the car (bright to dark again) being greeted at the reception by friends as they arrive (bright to dark) and so on.
Ok, why not just leave that compact camera on auto and let the built in flash take the strain? Well apart from the fact that the batteries will go really quickly, a compact camera’s flash will create very ugly photography. Red-eye, bleached out wedding dress with dark shadows all round, blurred movement from lack of shutter speed control – the list is long.
Still not convinced that your wedding photographer should have a price?
Ok, let us say you are really lucky and you have a friend with a big digital SLR camera. And he wants to help you and do your wedding. Great -wedding photography price – zero! Ok, 1 knows you can see all this coming now but let me pull that one to shreds too.
Apart from the memory cards and battery risks (yes these still apt to big cameras) what lenses does your friend carry? And why would you care? Well if you hired a professional wedding photographer you would not need to care. It would all be handled for you. But we are learning here, right? So – lenses.
Different situations in a wedding may require different angles if view. From wide and ultra wide (whole room shots, groups, etc) to narrow and long (candid shots of guests at a distance, close-ups of details like shoes or wedding cake decorations) many different views come into play at a wedding. OK you could get a lens to do all these ranges, but that flexibility comes at a price. Firstly they are expensive (about GBP 1,500 for a decent wide zoom) and secondly, no zoom that can be lifted by one person could handle low light without a flash.
Starting to sound like your friend might not have this equipment? Let us explore the wedding photographers’ kit bag for a minute, and see how he justifies his wedding photography price.
- 2 professional camera bodies capable of working under rain.
- A backup body just in case.
- A variety of lenses, 2 main ones already mounted on the 2 bodies.
- An organised ample stock of numbered memory cards.
- Pre-charged replacement batteries of the correct type for each body.
- Powerful flash units for very dark situations – flash units that do not cause red eye and that re-charge instantly.
Depending on the photographer’s style he may also carry:
Finally, he is also insured so should someone get clonked by a lens or trip on a camera bag, all is covered.
Oh one more thing – a car with sat nav and backup sat nav.
My final persuasive argument to justify the wedding photography price is this: experience. Weddings are very complex, very fast and very unrepeatable. It is a long series of once only chances to catch intense moments of emotion that you want to remember forever. A professional wedding photographer knows where to be, when to be there, what position to be in and many other little tricks including how to relax people, disappear when appropriate, re-appear by magic when appropriate, and finally remain completely sober as a judge throughout.