Wedding – The Marriage of Art & Business

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“Wedding photography isn’t just about shooting the bride and groom—it’s an artistic mix of all the photographic disciplines.”

 

Such is the philosophy of the Wedding and portrait photographers of the philippines. i-mag got hold of nine of its members — emil buencamino, chito cleofas, ariel Javelosa, Lee Llamas, Jorge maniquis, bern mejias, Lito perez, Lito sy and edwin tuyay — for a very informative (and entertaining!) evening, focusing on the business and art of wedding photography.

They believe, and rightly so, that to be an effective wedding photographer, you not only need to know how to shoot portraits, but you also have to be proficient in product photography (to shoot wedding details); architecture and landscape (to do justice to the setting); events (to make sure that the grouped guest shots come out great); photojournalism (to capture those beautiful, unguarded moments); food (because newlyweds enjoy seeing the food that they never really tasted during their reception); even sports (to catch all those quick action moments, like the bridal bouquet toss or the galloping flower girl).

 

BEGINNINGS

Wppp was organized over five years ago, when wedding photography as a business reached the beginning of its proliferation. the organization’s goal is to ensure that wedding photography as a craft—and as a business—continues to grow by constantly educating the market, wedding vendors and photographers.

 

The group recognizes that it was Patrick Uy that catapulted the wedding photography industry to the level of prestige and professionalism that it commands now. the more senior members of the team, emil buencamino and Jorge maniquis, on the other hand, are mentors to most members.

 

THE BUSINESS OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography is now one of the top two priorities of would-be couples. From being near the bottom of the list, the market has learned the importance of ensuring that the special occasion gets captured and preserved and not just merely documented.

Having that level of importance, wedding photography became a very attractive business for anyone who had a camera, thus the mushrooming of wedding photographers. the advent brought to life price-drop wars which, in the end is a no-win situation for both the clients and the professionals.

As an organization, Wppp only accepts members recommended by other members, with the necessary photography and “business of photography” experience. even one negative vote from a current member can impede the induction of a potential member.

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Everybody is required and expected to abide by the standards, particularly on the aspect of giving value to the craft, relative to pricing.

 

BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH A WPPP MEMBER

Each member carries with him the responsibilities of being part of the organization, which is also tantamount to a service level guarantee that clients can expect. almost everybody can recall a situation when a member would help out co-members during a shoot – may it be to rush deliver spare equipment, to pitching in for members who may all of a sudden be under the weather.

The members proactively educate each other on the latest trends, technologies and techniques. clients may expect no less than the most reliable, state-of-the-art equipment from them; and it goes without saying, expect a top notch team who will be handling the actual shoot to post production.

 

THE DIFFERENCE IS IN THE PLANNING

Getting to know the clients and establishing rapport with them before the wedding day is the key to taking memorable pictures. having a pre-nuptial shoot is strongly recommended since this allows the photographers to understand their subjects in an intimate manner.

Also important is the pre-production meeting. before the wedding day, plan out the timeline and shot list for your shoots, e.g. sessions with the bride an hour before the wedding; 20 minutes of portraits at the church after the ceremony; whether or not the couple will make the rounds of the guest tables or let the guests come to them; what are the couple’s “money” shots, or required pictures, etc.

 

SERVICE LEVELS

The bottom line for wedding photography though is that you should deliver exactly what you promise. maybe even more. that’s the best way you can survive in this business.

 

Wedding Tips

More nuggets of wisdom from the WPPP members.

 

ON GETTING A SUPPORT GROUP: Sometimes it’s better to have an in-house digital artist (for the album layouts) and photographer, because the quality of the work is more consistent, and they are more reliable.

ON THE WORK HOURS: the hours are long, sometimes 12 to 18 hours! so make sure you get enough rest.

ON WORKING WITH THE VIDEO GUYS: Ask the couple to initiate a meeting with the video group, so you can properly discuss issues on lighting, blocking and priorities. the photographer usually takes the lead. After all, there are a lot of weddings without video coverage, but rarely is there a wedding with only video coverage and no photographer.

ON PROVIDING YOUR OWN VIDEO GUYS: Honestly, having to supply video is a pain—the editing is difficult. But it does augment your profit, and some clients prefer to deal with only one supplier for photo and video.

ON PHYSICAL FITNESS: It’s important to keep healthy. Exercise. sleep early.

ON SHOOTING WITH A STEADY HAND: Remember BRAS —Breathe, Relax, Aim, squeeze. Keep calm. And work out your arms with weights.

ON MAKE-UP: Speak up if the makeup looks bad or won’t come out well in photos. Practice diplomacy and tact.

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ON WHAT TO WEAR TO A SHOOT: Ask the couple what they want you to wear; in general, wear whatever the groomsmen will be wearing, so you can blend in with the guests. As a rule, no jeans, no rubber shoes. Long sleeved shirts are a minimum. Avoid black clothes at a Chinese wedding.

ON PHOTO LABS: These are very important, because they will produce the final results of your hard labor. Know the capabilities of each; e.g. some print with a yellowish cast, so you know where to go or not to go, in case your client isn’t too fond of warm tones.

ON STORING FILES: It’s a practical idea to give the clients full copyright and RAW files so you don’t have to worry about storing their files forever.

ON ADVERTISING: Word of mouth is still the best—you get an 80% chance of being booked when someone else recommends you. Websites are also good marketing tools; you may even get bookings from abroad.

ON THE HUNTERS, OR THOSE UNOFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO TAKE, PRINT AND SELL PHOTOS AT THE WEDDING AND RECEPTION: Let them be; they are also trying to make a honest living. You have to have respect for these guys. But also be wary of the unethical ones.

ON CHURCHES: Get to know the different churches. Research and know the rules, like some churches don’t allow photographers to wander around freely, some don’t allow lights. Among the strictest churches are Manila Cathedral, Mary the Queen and san sebastian.

ON ACCIDENTS AND MISHAPS: they happen; that’s why you have to have a backup – or a plan.

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Why WPPP?

An unlikely bunch, if you ever saw one. From the plebeian appeal of Ariel Javelosa to the high society crowd of Lito sy, you may never see such a diverse group of individuals in the same room, let alone working together for a common cause. Yet it is their common desire to excel in their photographic art—producing competent and dedicated photographers— that brings them all together.

The Wedding and Portrait Photographers of the Philippines’ goals are manifold. they are naturally devoted to uplifting the standards of their work, and to winning the trust while building and nurturing relationships with their clients.

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They are equally dedicated to sharing their knowledge and expertise with one another and with the public—hence their regular congresses, workshops and talks.

So why WPPP? As a client, you get the assurance of the wedding industry’s best photographers to cover your most joyous occasions. From driving miles just to bring a special lens, to acting as backup to those who feel under the weather—WPPP members support one another. You can easily find a WPPP-accredited photographer by logging onto their Website, where they are even categorized by location, from Baguio to Angeles to the different cities in Metro Manila.

Getting listed with the WPPP, though, is not as easy as filling out an application form. First, a member has to endorse you. second, you must have a legitimate photography studio. You also need to have at least five years’ experience in the wedding photography business. Finally, there is a probationary period before you can be a full-fledged WPPP member.

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