The Secret Life of Wedding Photographers

What do Wedding Photographers Really Do?

Usually when I’m standing in the buffet line for dinner, or when there’s a slow time during the day when I’m not taking pictures.

“So you’re the photographer?”
“Yessir, I am, and I absolutely love it.”
“Well I don’t doubt it. You’re doing a great job out there. It must be great to work only one day a week!”

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions regarding what wedding photographers actually do all week. It’s perfectly understandable, after all, the only time most people see us working is at the wedding. You can find an interesting survey answered by wedding photographers and discover what they really do besides take pictures every weekend. Hopefully it will help clear up some misconceptions and give some insight into what goes on behind the scenes after we leave the reception.

Some interesting quotes:

“From start to finish, our company invests 90 man hours in each bride.
I always laugh when people ask me what it’s like to only to work one day a week. I wish! :)”

“On a day to day basis, marketing, networking and other business activities take such a big chunk of time that I consider weddings my day off!
I get to relax and do what I love. And on Monday, it’s back to business.”

“A wedding photographer wears all the business hats: CEO, advertising exec, HR person, teacher, accountant, IT guy, vision-caster, investor, designer, researcher, client meeter, negotiator, webmaster, marketer and office cleaner.”

“Going into my 4th year of business, I find myself constantly analyzing my marketing and looking at competition. With an ever changing industry, it’s almost a full time job just to stay current and know what’s going on in the world of wedding photography.”

“As a photographer, you spend a huge amount of time in front of a computer. The changes in advertising methods and social media have also required more computer time. So we should not be called photographers, but photographers/graphic artists/web designers/accountants/receptionists/bloggers!”

I totally agree with them.
Editing the photos and doing all the post-processing is usually completed not before 2 months after the wedding.

Why is wedding photography so expensive?

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.

Wedding guest or photographer?

You cannot be both.

If you have been to a wedding recently you may have noticed how many people are taking photos on that day. Nothing wrong with it, but why do not enjoy moments and remember them for what they are?

Wedding guest or photographer? If you really cannot avoid taking photos, well it’s fine. :) It’s just matter of keeping an eye and respect the other people around you. Maybe if you notice the official photographer is just behind you while the bride is coming along the aisle, well.. you could maybe avoid standing on the aisle itself and taking photos from the side.

From the Neil van Niekerk’s blog post:

  1. With the family portrait session, let the hired professional photographer be the only one taking photos.
  2. Don’t obstruct the hired professional’s view of the processional or other key events.
  3. As a guest, you really don’t *have* to take tons of photographs as well.
  4. Don’t put emotional pressure on the bride to get permission to also be a photographer at the wedding.
  5. My advice? Be the wedding guest, not the photographer.

A recent article on the Off-Beat Bride blog, dealt with the topic of the unplugged wedding: couples tell guests to put down their devices.
I can assure you that often it’s not a bad idea at all :)

Ensuring your peace of mind

A wedding is something that takes months to prepare. Every moment is carefully planned, and everything usually happens as you want it to happen. Still, something might go wrong.

That’s why it’s extremely important to have your services done by an experienced photographer who really cares about you and takes all possible measures to minimize risk. A professional will put all effort to ensure you get a flawless service.
Read further to learn how I care for your peace of mind.

Gear.
I always shoot a wedding with at least two cameras, plus an additional camera and two flash units in my car. Just in case. Should all my SLRs fail at the same time, my Canon G11 is in my coat pocket. The importance of having adequate backup equipment cannot be stressed enough. No investment in batteries and memory cards is ever wasted!

Insurance.
I am insured against any damage caused accidentally to any person or property during the provision of the service. This could be a simple accident such as someone tripping over a tripod to being “bumped” with a long lens right through to more serious issues.
Public Liability insurance also covers damage to 3rd party property.

Backup.
A good backup routine is extremely important to keep all those precious photos safe. I always make multiple copies of my work and store off-site backups. I have at least four copies of all weddings stored in different locations.

€50 Referral Program

Get cash by suggesting UnusualFocus Photography to people you know!

Recommend the website to friends and relatives who are getting married and you will get €50 for each successful booking they make for their wedding photography service!

  • €50 will be sent to you as soon as the couple finalizes the booking. They simply have to mention your name and contact details.
  • The offer is valid for any service package chosen.
  • Unlimited referrals are allowed.

Feel free to contact me for any additional information you may need and don’t forget to like UnusualFocus Photography on facebook!

What to expect from my Wedding Photography

Wedding photography is about capturing the memories you have created and reflecting these moments the way you experienced them. Your photos will be a stunning collection of candid and more formal photos, details, portraits of guests, romantic picturesque images and any special photos you request.

The picture set should reflect what happened during the wedding day and the feelings that you and the guests experienced, so as to retell the story every time your wedding album is opened.

 Meeting your photographer

Whenever possible, I will meet you in person well in advance of your wedding. I usually propose an informal venue such as a cafe: this will give you the possibility to view sample albums, have a relaxed chat about your wedding plans, and get a feeling of what it would be like to have me as your wedding photographer. After all I will be there throughout your special day, and it is paramount that you feel I am the right person for you.

 Coverage

Coverage typically starts when the bride is getting ready and continues through the day to the start of the meal. There are different packages depending on your needs. For instance, a package can include traditional and storybook albums, prints, canvas prints.

All packages come with a DVD of all images in high resolution at no extra cost.

Make sure you contact me now to ensure the availability of your wedding date.

Read testimonials here, and view samples in the wedding gallery.

I’m currently based in Dublin, Ireland and available for assignments anywhere in Ireland, Europe and the rest of the World.