This is the age-old question that usually gets asked right after the lead-in question of “How much does it cost?” Most couples are shocked at what even decent wedding photography costs. Most think “you’re only taking a few pictures – why so expensive?” Sometimes you’ll hear “that’s like €100 to €300 an hour – I don’t even make that kind of money!”
The reality is that most people aren’t aware of what actually goes into making great pictures that you’ll cherish for the rest of your days. They’re not familiar with the processes that most photographers go through – it’s much more than just showing up to take the pictures and then handing you a CD or printed proofs. There is actually quite a bit that takes place before, during and after your wedding that contributes to the final result.
Before the Wedding
Most good wedding photographers didn’t just wake up one day able to make the kind of beautiful images that you see in their wedding portfolios. Most of them started their careers with education – both formal and informal – on how to make great pictures.
Having gotten this far in their photography careers, once the photographer decides to take the plunge into wedding photography, a significant additional learning effort must be undertaken to learn and perfect the science and the art of photographing weddings. Making great photos at a wedding is completely different from making great pictures in a studio or for a newspaper or magazine.
Once the photographer has a handful or more weddings under their belt as a second shooter, they will often perform a couple of weddings for free or near-free as a primary shooter. It’s critical for the photographer to continue to gain experience in the dynamic wedding environment. This experience is invaluable, as you never truly understand the demands of dynamic event photography until you’re “on the hook” to deliver the final product from start-to-finish.
During the Wedding
During the wedding, your photographer will arrive many hours before the ceremony to capture the details – often this includes the bridal party getting ready (hair & makeup, putting on the dress, etc) as well as the groomsmen and groom getting ready. Also, as the ceremony and reception areas are set up the photographer will capture the details of the decorations, etc. Of course, the photographer will then make photos of the ceremony and reception, as well as any send-off.
After the Wedding
This is the component of the process that is probably the most misunderstood by the average person, as it is the one that they have little-to-no exposure to, generally speaking. On average, your photographer will spend not less than five hours on the back end – selecting, processing, enhancing and tweaking your images – for every hour that they are in front of you. That means that an average 8 hour wedding will requiremany hours of work on the part of the photographer. A “one day” wedding has suddenly turned into several weeks of work.
Editing the photos and doing all the post-processing is usually completed not before 2 months after the wedding.
Other Considerations – Equipment
Most photographers will need at a minimum of two professional quality camera bodies (usually two or even three including backups), which can cost anywhere from €1500 to €6000 or more. Add to that an array of lenses costing anywhere from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand euros each, lighting equipment, required software, etc. and the costs can be more than €15.000 just in basic equipment to be able to make, edit and process photos. And like most technology, much of the above equipment will be obsolete in 3-5 years due to advances in capabilities and industry trends.
The intent of this article is simply to attempt to illustrate that which most couples shopping for a decent wedding photographer never realize – that there is much more than “show up and shoot” on the day of your wedding that went into your photographer’s ability to be there and make images that will be cherished for the rest of their lives.
Are you looking for more about weddings?
Check the wedding category on this blog or the wedding section on the UnusualFocus website.