Photographing weddings: What people pay for
One day a photographer in Israel was riding a bus. A young couple sitting across the aisle noticed he had a professional camera and asked whether he could take a few pictures of them.
The photographer said, "Well, you look awesome together, but the light inside the bus isn't that inspiring."
"Here, my name is Max," he went on, handing them his business card. "Why don't you guys call or email me later so we could make arrangements for a professional photo shoot?"
And so they did. A couple weeks later, the young couple – Mary and Adam – came to Max's studio for a professional photo session. In the beginning they felt somewhat self-conscious, seeing all the equipment – numerous stands, softboxes, umbrellas – and trying to imagine how they would look in the pictures.
Max instantly noticed their tension. As an experienced photographer, he knew exactly what to do. He started making small-talk, told a few jokes, and paid some compliments, sounding deliberately casual. In a minute, Mary and Adam forgot their apprehension and visibly relaxed.
This had an immediate effect on the quality of pictures: the young couple looked authentic and attractive, with the romantic chemistry between them plainly obvious. In turn, the photographer now had a more engaging subject to work with and could put his creativity to good use.
In the end, Mary and Adam were totally delighted with the result and told Max they would want him to provide photo and video services at their upcoming wedding.
Max was happy to oblige. "You guys are in luck," he said. "I am a wedding photographer first and foremost. I have been photographing weddings in Israel since 2012 and doing video recordings for a long time as well."
"We're glad to hear that," said Adam. "After all, we've already seen you at work and liked the results."
"It's true," Mary said. "Although still I am wondering, why photographers – not just you, Max, but professional wedding photographers in general – charge so much for your services? All you do is put some lamps around and then just point and click your cameras…"
"You know," Max replied, "I'm actually glad you asked. People deserve to know what they are spending their money on. For example, when buying a new smartphone, you know you're paying for some sophisticated circuitry that is pretty expensive to produce and exciting new features that'll make your life easier."
"With professional photography, it's more or less the same," he explained. "I have several digital cameras and a medium-format film camera. I have a variety of lenses, flash and strobe lights, reflectors, diffusers, triggers, etc., all of which are pretty expensive – especially lenses and cameras. Every time I use this equipment, it slightly wears down just like any other gadgetry. I also run the risk of accidentally breaking it and having to buy replacement. And remember, quality professional photo equipment costs tens of thousands of dollars."
"But this is just a part of what you're paying for when paying a photographer," Max continued. "Good equipment helps a good photographer but doesn't make the photographer good. What makes you good is your eye, skills, and experience."
"First, you have to be able to see the shot. This means you instantly notice something unusual and potentially engaging visually. I suppose you can learn this by studying and practicing, but if you have an innate talent for seeing the shot, you already have a jumpstart, and theory and practice only add to this."
"Then come the skills. This is where studying theory and practicing all you've learned comes handy. You have to understand how aperture and shutter speed work in order to use your equipment best and achieve the effect you need. You have to know the physics of light, the physiology of human eye and brain in order to understand how people see what they see. And today photographers also need Photoshop skills: even if you prefer straight-out-of-camera, no-post-processing pictures, sometimes you can't avoid digital editing."
"For a professional photographer, another crucial component of quality is experience," Max went on. "I specialize in wedding photography, so I've learned hands-on how to take pictures of merry crowds and shy couples. I know the exact moments my clients will want me to capture on photo and record on video. Weddings in Israel involve traditional ceremonies like the ketubah signing, the chuppah, the seven blessings, breaking the glass, etc. Best wedding photographers know all these customs and are ready for them, but they also take pictures during the informal part, because wedding is a happy celebration, and people want to see themselves being happy in the photos."
"I hope I have answered your question," said Max to Mary, "and now you can see that what wedding photographers charge is not so much after all."
Max Dupliy is a professional Israeli wedding photographer. His additional services include photo sessions, videotaping, creation of family albums, and editing video for YouTube.
For Maxim Dupliy main page and portfolio click here.