Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Your Wedding = Your Big… Week?

Tell someone you’re a photographer and they will usually respond with, “Ah yes, weddings”. But of course some photographers never shoot a single wedding, and some, like me, shoot them very rarely. In fact, I’ve shot two weddings so far this year and have one in the diary for 2014 but before this year I haven’t photographed a wedding for over two years.

But I still get enquiries, which, thanks to the many wedding photographer listing websites, usually begins with “I’m getting married on this date. How much?” Occasionally, the client will also say “We only need you for an hour or so between x o’clock and y o’clock” to which I might reply, “Okay, that will be £1400” (for example). “What?!?” they shriek, “for an hour’s work?”. What clients often fail to realise is two things…

  1. That while you’re covering an hour of their wedding on the first Saturday in August, you could be covering another wedding at the neighbouring church for the whole day and charging accordingly. You clearly can’t be in two places at once.
  2. A wedding is not just an hour’s – or even a day’s – work. In fact, even with a fairly slick digital workflow, you may well be spending the equivalent of a whole week on what they will consider their “big day“.

Let’s travel back in time to the days when you’d shoot a wedding on film: You take the pictures (and I was usually given enough film to shoot a maximum of 60 shots), get them developed and printed and arrange them aesthetically in a nice album. Job done.

The advent of digital has not made this easier – one might argue that it has made it harder and more time-consuming. At the weddings I have photographed so far this year, my “second shooter” and I have taken upwards of over 1500 images, all of which have to be looked at, edited or deleted as necessary, and then possibly whittled down to the album edit which then have to be arranged in the more modern album style. So how long does all of this take? Every photographer will have a different method and workflow split but here is an idea of how mine looks…

  • Pre-wedding Consultations: usually a minimum of two prior to the wedding day plus phone calls, emails and contracts =4 hours.
  • The Wedding Day: Including travel, photography at up to three geographic locations, equipment checks, location scouting etc = 14 hours.
  • Assistant/Second Shooter: Let’s not forget that a second photographer will do almost the same hours as you will on the day so that’s an additional, say, 12 hours.
  • Initial Edit: Uploading, backing up, and weeding out the “blinkers” etc. = 3 hours.
  • The Tweak: Going through all of the whittled down selection (usually upwards of 1500 images) and making adjustments to exposure, crop, white balance, matching the “look” of shots from two photographers and possibly up to 4 cameras, deleting more of the duplicate images, aligning images chronologically.  10 hours.
  • Viewing: I usually meet with the couple to show them my edit and gauge their reactions, removing images that they have a negative reaction to and highlighting images they have a very positive reaction to in order to prioritise for the album. 2 hours.
  • Album Design: If you’re producing an album for the couple, you’ll need to carry out an even more radical edit to select the final 120-170 images for the album from the 800+ acceptable images. And then there’s the design of the album itself, which even by using the album printing company’s own design software, can add up to quite a few hours (especially if you’re a perfectionist). Plus add uploading files, and even collecting the album. So in total, say 13 hours.
  • The Presentation: Possibly my favourite part of the whole process – handing over the final album to the excited couple and seeing their faces as they go through the album. 2 hours.

I make that 60 HOURS! So the next time you get a call (as we once had at Fotofilia), saying “We’ve been quoted £70 for our wedding, can you beat it?” you will have a good idea what to say, won’t you?

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5 responses

  1. Fairly typical workflow David and, as you point out, far more time consuming that we might like to think. I find it sad, and short sighted, when couples just don’t grasp the importance of professional photography for their big day, the photos are really the only reminder of that special time that can last for generations but is so often the first cut in their budget to bring down costs. Shoot and burn seems to be a growing direction, everything shot, good, bad or indifferent, is burned to a disc at the end of the day regardless of quality, then the couple wonder why the resulting images are disappointing. Sign of the times as they say.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:04 am

    • Absolutely right, Jeff. Only comparatively recently have I even considered non-album packages. Couldn’t stand the thought of them getting inferior prints from my images but they inevitably still do.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:31 am

  2. I think a fair compromise is the ‘images on a disc’ package but suitably culled and edited with the suitable caveat regarding results from Tesco.

    June 24, 2013 at 11:11 am

  3. I love this David !! , well written ,
    I never realised how much time I spend on the so called “a day’s wedding” ends up being a two week job which most clients fail to understand , I’m sending them to this info ,

    Kind Regards

    June 26, 2013 at 9:36 am

    • Thanks Evans. I must admit, it surprised even me when I added it up and I was probably being a bit conservative on the estimates.

      June 26, 2013 at 9:57 am

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