I wonder how much of the haggling is just a reflection of the low opinion many have of photography. They believe almost anybody can do it so why pay so much? Not many would consider asking the person next door to make a wedding dress but many will consider asking almost anybody to take pictures. Worse with digital I'm guessing now people will be looking at injet 8x10s and wondering why they should pay more.
Personally I think if you can't handle Aunt Edith and Uncle Bob with thier cameras you're in the wrong business. People will bring thier cameras no matter what you do. You can try to stress everybody out by banning them but I bet some body will still sneak one in.
"Personally, I find most wedding photography tedious and formulaic,"
Quite true but aren't 95% of wedding tedious and formulaic. The B&G are wearing their uniforms, as per tradition. The bride wears white( now there's a strange tradition). The whole thing is this strange interplay that is basically a blur to the B&G. They are herded to place after place for the entire day to live out this strange fantasy that has been instilled in women for centuries.
The family pays thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for clothes, cake, hall, limo, music, booze, food, and of course photography. And the next day it is all gone except the pictures. And only 50% of the marriages last. It is a very strange industry.
I agree, get married, invite a few friends to your house, have a party and get a friend to take some pictures. Then give the B&G a great honeymoon and give them the downpayment for a house with the money you saved.
"Quite true but aren't 95% of wedding tedious and formulaic."
Absolutely! We also dispensed with as much of the tradition as could be dispensed with without offending the family too much, while still having a good party in a nice place with good food and good music and our good friends and family having a good time. I wore a suit that I wear on other occasions, and my wife used her sister's wedding dress. The formalities were performed by a judge and took about 10 minutes (I edited her prosposed speech down to about 2 pages). Limos were not rented, bouquets were not thrown and there was no striptease garter dance. We had a great jazz combo that did not play "Turn the Beat Around" or "Electric Slide" (which for some odd reason are on every "Wedding Band" video demo). Instead of a stacked wedding cake, with the B&G in plastic on top we ordered a desert we liked from a favorite restaurant. A good time was had by all (except for one neurotic friend who was going through a depressive episode, but she seems okay for now).
We don't have albums of photographs, but we have memories in the place we usually keep memories, and that's enough.
I sympathize with the wedding guys here a bit , because I have to shoot alot of public events and often have a dedicated shot list that I have to get done. Sometimes we do setup shots of groups of schoolkids etc, on stage at awards type ceremonies, and will have literally less than a minute to do the shot. We may do 25 or so one right after another....on a stage in front of maybe 350 people waiting for us to get off so they can move on. We do 2 exposures, next group, 2 shots, next etc. ....there have been times, where people would get up there and try to get a shot and trip the synced strobes of whatever--the kids think it's done & they split--we miss the shot etc. Or, mass confusion, we look like idiots--the subjects don't know where to look. " Do I look at mom, or the photographer??" You might say "look at mom"...but I'm the one who gets yelled at if the shot doesn't turn out.....I had to shoot a big ribbon cutting type ceremony over the holidays--I was told there'd be like 5 people in this one group shot, and it turned into 25+ before my eyes.In a lobby that was packed with hundreds of people. I set it all up on a staircase and almost lost my voice trying to keep everyone in line--I had to yell, because it was so noisy. One person was AWOL, and they *had* to be in the shot...we waited about 5 minutes and everyone wanted to leave, go back to the party all around us. Finally, this person shows up, and I have to continually move this crowd back (unfortunately a long buffet table is behind me) and just barely get these people framed in with a 20mm lens. Now I'm sweating it out because I'm shooting with one strobe on a bracket. I get ready to do the shot, and then--bam!--there's like a half dozen people behind me with point-n-shoots shooting from all angles. The people are confused , because they all want to get out of there and think I did my thing...I have to politely put everyone back in place, move these people behind me out of there, move the buffet line back etc. Who am I to these people? I'm the staffer--the employee...who are they? These are not just "everyday" people...I'm not in a position to be pushy or rude here. But I had to be very clear and firm in the end-- to the point of being pushy....so put in perspective--you got some poor guy trying to do his job, let him do it. He's the one who'll get chewed out afterwards, when everyone has forgotten what Uncle Joe did etc. He's the guy y'all are complaining about now....
Like any working photographer, I have people approach me for weddings all the time. I don't do them. I tell them, no way. You hire a professional--too much work. But really, they approach me because they think as a photographer who's not a wedding photographer, I'll cut them a deal. They always mean well, but there's some sort of bizarre reasoning that kicks into intelligent people about any sort of commercial art or design. They think it's "fun"...."why should I pay you $2000 to shoot my wedding, when it's fun?". C'mon, fess up--who hasn't had someone ask them to shoot a wedding for the cost of film, because it's "fun"....Even if it's fun, it's still alot of hard work....
I've shot 5 weddings, everyone loved the shots. Me, though? It wasn't fun....I did it professionally at 3 of them, even though I knew all these people. I charged real money and worked my ass off on that day....and the days after it getting it all squared away. I let others shoot, it didn't matter to me as long as I got what I needed, but I made sure I got what I needed and I did it like I do at work--politely, but I make sure I get it, or try the best I can, even if I have to step on some shoes....
So what about the other 2? Well, both were courthouse weddings and they were actually fun. The first was my own wedding. I shot myself--no pun intended!--I took my old Nikon and a 20mm lens and a 283. I held it out at arms length, bounced it off the ceiling and shot it on tri-x...gave it to the witnesses and had them take some shots....we had all had a blast. The second one, my wife & I were witnesses for some friends of ours. I shot in on a couple of leicas and some fast film....to me, this is the way to do it. Save your money, have fun, enjoy yourself...but if you hire someone, or enter a business agreement? It's business, that's all there is to it.
Opinions expressed in this message may not represent the policy of my agency
BTW--y'all complaining about the video guys? Guess you've never shot any news events, huh? I shoot news events in my job--from the other side though--not the media, but the gov't. angle. same sort of thing though, we're in there with the press. I do the inaugurations, bill signings, ceremonial stuff etc. Video is only a pain if you're shooting TTL strobes (sometimes they can wreak havoc on the metering, of course your strobe is killing the video camera slowly, so it works out)...I've always liked the extra light, even though it's the wrong color balance, at least it's warm and not green....If you shoot alot of handheld, events type work, you shoot wide open alot and drag the shutter. Having a camera crew there means you might be able to actually stop down, or shoot at a decent shutter speed.
Too true. Weddings are a nightmare of excess.
My sister recently went to a wedding in Boston. It was at the Four Seasons. The thing was over the top. Total was in the low $100,000 range!
And of course the wedding industry is such that EVERYONE wants their share.
A few wedding industry "rip offs" -
Wedding Butterflies - $10.00 EACH. You release them instead of throwing rice. At $10.00 a PIECE, it seems cheaper to hire the kids in the neighborhood to collect them for $1.00 a shot.
Cake Serving Fee - If you don't buy THEIR cake, they charge you a fee per plate to serve cake. Even if YOU serve it yourself! Good lord!
Drinks - Seriously, $6.00 for a cheap glass of domestic wine from Arkansas? This is why I bring a flask to weddings....
And I definately agree that weddings are tedious and formulaic. Especially in that I have yet to see anyone really request anything arty. I'd imagine many shooters would love to have someone say "What do YOU think we should do?"
So that's the real reason why men always want a son.... so the other family can pay for the wedding.
An interesting thread.
I don't do weddings - I don't have the disposition for it --- I shudder when I think of what working with the Mother of the Bride would mean.
I think it has cooled down somewhat lately - but in the near past I would have equated Wedding Photography as trying to compete in a barrel of wolverines. It had been, nearly, a showcase for rip-off artists.
Case in point - a friend of the family was preparing to be married. She approached me, and I told her that I did not do Weddings, but I referrred her to another photographer who would.
I saw her a couple of days later - she said that they had engaged a Wedding Consultant - and they had "taken care" of everything - and "photography"(n.b.) was included.
We attended the wedding. The photographer appeared professional - medium format camera - the usual pictures "down the aisle, the "tossing of the boquet", the formals, etc.
The couple went on their honeymoon. A week or so after they returned, the received a post card - their pictures were ready.
To the photograper - and the usual proofs. They selected this one, and that ... and the wonderful Leather Bound Album. Then...
The Five O'Clock Surprise -- What they had selected would cost them $2500 - additional. They, shocked, said, "I thought that photography was included in the Wedding "Package". The answer? "Oh it was -- the *photography* alone. The prints (8" x 10"s at $100 each), the album - everything of any use to the couple was NOT - and would be extra. By the way, *I* own the negatives - and it is my policy to detroy them if the prints and album are not ordered within one month."
My friend had quoted them a price of $1200 - with everything - including ownership of the negatives - so that they could choose whoever they wanted for reprints.
Only one of many horror stories... there are others - the Photographer who was enticed by the open bar and proceeded to get *smashed* with predictable photographic results - and it took the couple a session with their lawyer and the court system to get their deposit back... with *NO* photographs...
One of the worst "scams" I know about is these disposable cameras at each table during the reception. It is not uncommon for fifteen or twenty of these things to be at a wedding, and not produce ONE half decent photograph.