A myth called candid wedding photography!

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I woke up today to find a 1 minute crash course on market economics in my inbox.

Yesterday, like any other day, I had sent out some proposals/quotes to clients. Usually, I receive responses from people who are either willing to go ahead/discuss further or people who simply tell me that the quote is out of their budget …or there is no response and I get the hint. But today when I woke up, I had the following email in my inbox -

Manas,
    Definitely not reasonable. Art is not negotiable, and every artist holds his work supreme and thats acceptable, but when an artist quantifies his skill, he needs to account for the market. I work in a company in Mumbai which has spent about quarter a crore on photography in the last one year, and i hence understand when photography skills get quantified.
    For X hours of photography, your charges are very high. Please be reasonable for us to go ahead and be rest assured that on a good and reasonably priced job, you will attract more contracts. Please check [company website link] for some of the work our company has engaged photographers for.
Best
XXXX

To be honest, I was a little annoyed in the beginning and felt like sending across a stinker. But then I do understand where this person is coming from.

This is what a typical soon-to-be-married couple faces today

Candid Wedding Photography is the latest trend and they feel that they absolutely need to have it for their wedding. They see website after website, page after page …and with so many photographers around, most of the work they see online is so similar that they can hardly distinguish between photographers. On being contacted, almost everyone promises to shoot special moments and emotions. Pricing makes matters even worse. The range varies from 10K a day (or less) to 3L a day (or perhaps more) and this huge gap can be incredibly confusing and overwhelming. Add to that, the traditional mindset of thinking of your photographer as a paid vendor who gets in, does his/her job, takes the money and gets out.

Frankly, I don’t even subscribe to the concept of this umbrella category called “Candid Wedding Photographers”. Candid simply means shooting informally and capturing moments without influencing them. Look carefully and you’d find that every wedding photographer, be it traditional or so called “Candid”, shoots candid moments at a wedding (besides the posed shots). If you don’t believe me, go look at your parents’ wedding album and you’ll see more candid shots than you’d have thought.

In fact, think logically about this for a moment – isn’t it easier to take informal/candid pictures of people when they’re not looking? All you need to do is get a long/telephoto/zoom lens on your camera and wherever you see a few people having a good time, point and shoot!

Some of the couples I talk to these days want candid photography just because they’re uncomfortable in posing in front of the camera. In all honesty, your best friend attending your wedding with his/her new DSLR could be as candid as any other photographer you’d hire at a premium.

So, why should you pay a premium for candid photography?
…and my answer to that is - you shouldn’t!!

When you hire a professional artist to shoot your wedding, you don’t pay them for being candid!!
Professional artists are paid for -

  • their vision i.e. the ability to visualize their subjects (people, stories, moments, even inanimate objects) in a way that conveys a certain emotion.
  • their skill to predict and capture beautiful moments that happen for a split second, that too in a highly random and dynamic environment where people are constantly moving and light is constantly changing.
  • their keen sense of aesthetics, colors and contrasts.
  • their knowledge of light and the ability to save you from bad light and to bring good light to you.
  • shooting you in a way that highlights your best features and de-emphasizes your not-so-good side.
  • their experience and willingness to help you make the right choices to avoid any points of failure.
  • being able to see, shoot and present the big picture along with the small stories it is made up of.
  • bringing their passion and energy to your big day so there’s never a dull moment in your pictures.
  • thinking through and worrying about the whole plan because they have just one shot at it.
  • understanding & experiencing your relationship and expressing it through their pictures.

you pay artists for who they are, what they know and what they do!

Now coming to the email which triggered this post. My reply was firm, but polite -

Hi XXXXX,
    I respect your opinion regarding my pricing. That said, I’m not the most expensive photographer around and definitely not the least expensive either. What I’ve quoted is exactly what I charge from all my clients and so far, every single one of them had a smile on their face as they wrote that check. So, let’s agree to disagree on the costs involved and leave it at that.
    I can totally understand if this is not inline with your expense plans and if you wish, I would be more than happy to recommend a photographer at a lower price point.
Shine.

Manas

No replies since!

PS: As I write this, I do find myself guilty of extensively using the term “Candid Wedding Photographer” on my website and honestly admit that I’ve done so purely for SEO purposes.