COVID Discounts: Why wedding photographers cannot offer them

A quick look at why wedding photographers cannot offer ‘COVID discounts’ during the pandemic

The ‘COVID situation’ as we call it, has changed the face of Indian weddings as we know it. With changing governmental regulation aimed at keeping celebrations in check, there is no ‘The-Big-Fat-Indian-Wedding’ anymore. Weddings have scaled-down considerably, and in turn, budgeting for a wedding and ensuring you get value for money is paramount. This has led to a new culture of “Covid Pricing”.

A couple of days ago, Karan Sidhu, a wedding photographer, and a good friend posted a story on his Instagram that got us thinking. He had written about why he isn’t offering any ‘Coronavirus discounts’ as a company, and flatly refuses to engage in conversations that ask for one. We’ve been speaking to our peers, and it turns out that a lot of wedding photographers are feeling resentful about the fact that they constantly get asked for special discounts because of the pandemic. (And because “other” people at a wedding are offering them).

Is asking for a discount justified? Maybe, maybe not. This post is an effort to address why wedding photographers don’t offer (and shouldn’t offer) discounts during this time.

But first, why asking for a discount isn’t bad

The logic makes sense to us all. The wedding has been scaled down, instead of a 1,000 guests there are only 100. The entertainment costs have been slashed, the hotels are offering huge discounts, and so are the caterers. If costs are being cut across the board, so shouldn’t the wedding photography costs. Right? Wrong! Here’s why.

In our past blog posts, we’ve often spoken about setting a budget for your wedding photography. We usually recommend keeping about 10% of your overall wedding cost aside for photography. Of course, now, with the overall wedding costs coming down, 10% might actually not be enough to cover high quality wedding photography.

Wedding Photography Costs DO NOT come down just because the rest of your wedding costs are coming down. Here’s why!

#1 Wedding photography isn’t about scale

With the new guidelines and situation, the number of people at a wedding has come down significantly. There can no longer be a guest list of a thousand people. With only a gathering of 100 people allowed (as of Sept 2020), it’s understandable that all the wedding expenses have come down. But wedding photography remains one service that isn’t scalable. Our job will always remain capturing your story at the wedding from the perspective of a close friend or a family member. For a large-scale wedding in the ‘before’, we may be added a few photographers and cinematographers for extended coverage of guests but our core work remained the same. Then and now, the most important images are the ones of you and your family. Those are the photos that you want from your wedding, important rituals, and intimate moments with your close ones. So our jobs essentially remain the same. Same job = same costs!

#2 Wedding Photography prices aren’t calculated per head

When you’re budgeting for a wedding, you calculate the total on a per person basis. A lot of costs work this way, like the cost of catering, the cost of the banqueting venue, the costs of hotel rooms, airport transfers, flight tickets and so on. How much you’re willing to spend on a person versus how much your total budget is, etc etc. But wedding photography isn’t something that you can scale to a person ratio. For us, a wedding with 100 people or a wedding with 400-500 people equals EXACTLY the same work, which is why asking a wedding photography team for a lower price because of the lower per head cost doesn’t make any sense. Your precious memories aren’t calculated per head – it’s the only thing that remains after the wedding!

#3 Our “product” remains same

Even when we shoot a wedding of 50 people (and we have in the past), what we do and what we deliver to our clients remains broadly the same. In other words, a smaller wedding doesn’t make our job any “easier”. We still need to shoot your portraits, your family pictures, create your story, get those in-between moments and so on.

Broadly speaking, the structure and work-flow for a wedding is the same, whether it has 50 or 500 guests. Apart from executing a wedding, our post-production work and time involved is very similar – we put in the same excruciating attention to detail for any wedding, whether small or big. We still work just as hard to give you the best wedding memories. We put the same amount of passion, creativity, and heart into our work as before. And putting a discount on that seems a little unfair.

#4 Risking our lives to shoot

By going to a wedding with so many people and vendors, or even travelling to a different city for a shoot, we’re putting ourselves at risk. During a wedding as well, we’re the people getting exposed to the maximum number of people from wedding guests, planners, hair, and make-up artists to hotel staff. It’s the nature of our jobs – we need to be everywhere, all at once! If anything, we’re the guys most at risk! (If you consider a DJ is behind a console, a make-up artist only interacts with the bride and so on…). If anything, wedding photographers should charge MORE than before to cover possible Covid-19 related hospitalisation costs, loss of business costs and so on. Hey, this is hazardous work! But we never complain – like the postal service, wedding photographers will always be there for you, through thick and thin! So hey, we’re putting our lives on the line (literally), and that’s never done at a discount.

#5 We’ve all had a bad year, and we need our businesses to be viable

Let’s face it. Everything went kaput in March, and we’ve all had a tough time staying afloat. We know you have too. But at the end of the day, the world is getting back to love, and as we always said, #LoveAlwaysWins! But having said that, as artists, we’ve all sailed through this period due to the love and support of our clients, friends and family. As we repair our lives and livelihoods, it’s time for our livelihood to become positive once again. For us to build that equity to hire great talent, to pay for great vendors, to reward our teams for sticking through thick and thin and putting themselves in harms way and so on. These goals don’t rhyme with discounts!

What you should do if you’re a bride or a groom

Like we said before, even though all your other wedding costs are going down, wedding photography is still something you should invest in, even more so than you would before.

Do NOT ask your wedding photographer for a “Covid-19 discount”. Instead, ask them what packages they have for intimate weddings.

Of course we understand that a small and intimate wedding should cost lesser than a big-fat-thousand-pax wedding. Of course we are smart enough to create lighter and easier packages that involve lesser deliverables and lesser coverage.

It’s a little unfair to ask for ‘Covid discounts’ because our work and what we do remains the same. In fact, we will work harder this year than the others. Because all your family, friends and other guests who will not be able to attend the wedding, will relive it through our photos and videos. And we want to make your wedding special for you and your loved ones. So think about investing a little more in your photography budget this year.

Do you agree with our thoughts? Feel free to message us or comment your thoughts on the topic.

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