Monday, 5 April 2010

The wedding photography business

Where there is a human need; there will be a business. Welcome to the highly specialized world of wedding photography.

Not the Indian variety. The Indian wedding has now become a video occasion of the silliest sort. Bright lights are shone at all and sundry, and in the hot Indian clime, it is a virtual torture. Most people are unused to being videoed ; so they put on their most solemn expression and look fairly miserable – a smile is not to be seen within a million miles. I wonder who watches these videos ; I bet certainly not the bride and the groom.

The market leaders, by far, in wedding photography are the Chinese. The whole wedding photography business is a fine art, unlike any other. Firstly wedding photography has been completely separated from the wedding itself – it could take place weeks before. These photos are always shot in fancy places – parks, beaches, gardens, whatever , depending on how much you can afford. Both the bride and groom are dressed in elaborate western costumes ; she in flowing white looking like a princess and he in dapper male finery looking suitably love struck. The shoot can take hours and is exactly like a model shoot. They are clicked in all sorts of poses, carefully choreographed , including the obligatory groom lifting the bride – it helps that most Chinese women are amazingly slim. Hard to imagine that happening in India !!

The capital of the wedding photography business is Taiwan, where its apparently a $200m business. Because they are the best, couples from Hong Kong, Singapore and further afield go there for their wedding shots –the sets, the locales, etc are , I am told, the best there. Average prices are some $10,000. Mainlanders don’t find it easy to travel to China ; so the Taiwanese companies set up shop in mainland China. But now there is fierce competition from the local companies who have learnt the tricks of the business and prices have crashed. The Taiwanese are venturing further abroad – in Europe and in the US, all targeting ethnic Chinese.

Might be an interesting line of business to get into. Its one of the few workspots, I suppose, where you are surrounded by happiness. Not bad for a career choice.

This is a creative field and perhaps not very different from model photography. Creative types may be keen. Now there is one blogger we know whose blog has the most amazing photographs. He had some familiarity with the Chinese diaspora and has recently entered the creative field. Seems to be a good career choice for him !


  1. There is this lil place in Sentosa and a lil place in Birds Park, the backdrop of which is used for wedding photography. Imagine looking at people dressed the exact same way u describe, bang in the middle of Sentosa! There was this once, I watched some part of the 'photo shoot' and liked the way it was conducted..That is when I realised it was serious business, as opposed to the Indian weddings.

  2. 10000 USD? for wedding photographs? Well, as long as someone is happy and is paying!

    It has always intrigued me, this market for anything connected to weddings. Wedding planners, wedding decorators, wedding lawns and gardens, caterers, and photographers. Anything to do with wedding is always a hit. And when its your wedding people (me included) go crazy and dont mind spending anything for everything. But then my heart says, if you like it, why not?

    Good luck to Srivats, its indeed an interesting line. Another incentive is, weddings are the official hunting grounds for single men and women! :)

  3. @AJCL - OH yes; can well understand Sentosa or the Bird Park as setting for the shoots. Here, any patch of green and there are to be newlyweds getting photographed.

    @Deepa - Oh yes - One thing is universal in Asian cultures ; the word spending has a whole new meaning when it comes to weddings.
    The veritable industry around weddings is amazing. Complete with eunuchs who in parts of India specialise in doing their stuff at wedding processions.

  4. Sandhya Sriram6/4/10

    I sometimes feel when our ancestors set these practices, there was some business logic in this. if you have put more money in the business, you try to wait a little longer in the hope of some returns... and where the costs are prohibitive, you really dont want to enter again and again and lose.
    maybe it was their technique to make marriages last

  5. Durga6/4/10

    It's good that you have wedding pics being clicked far away from the confusion of the altar! Imagine the pics shot when you are going through the elaborate rituals and ceremonies in an Indian wedding! All kinds of facial expressions are frozen in time when you are pouring ghee into the fire & doing the innumerable saashtanga namaskarams to all and sundry! People who get to see my wedding snaps will have a whale of a time laughing their guts out! Sweating and looking highly uncomfortable in a nine yard saree, head which was rendered immovable with the head gear (heavier than the head - is that what you call headweight?!?!?!), kumkum all over my forehead.... phew! I should admit, I was dressed more like Kaali than Durga!!!

  6. The worlds funniest video is watching one's own marriage video ;)[Full Disclosure: I am still single :P]
    In a certain state of India,there are people who help you to broadcast your marriage over the internet to your relatives in US. Also heard it is a booming and good business with great profit margins.
    Even in India,I have heard of these shoots!
    BTW can't the pics taken during honeymoon or during courtship could be considered as wedding photograph! well even they are supposed to be shot in fancy locations!!

  7. @Sandhya - Hey, that's good logic. Maybe that's how it came to be ...

    @Durga - Photo, Photo, Photo, please - :)

    @zeno - Now we shall wait for the big day and see if zeno gets videoed as well !!

  8. That nickname is coming all over with me. Even when I comment on others' blogs. Shall keep it on for a day and then will kindly hand it back to Deepa :)

  9. Sandhya Sriram6/4/10

    wow ramesh!!

    that was so nice of you to have taken that piece of leg pulling so seriously and updated on your profile as well. I never for a while thought you would take it so seriously.

    you are absolutely amazing - Ramesh, Take a Big Bow!!!!

  10. Ohh Thiru K'ung Tzu! I am smiling from beyond one ear to beyond the other ear! You justify the nickname really. Indeed take a bow!

  11. Yeah... Thiru K'ung Tzu!

    Absolutely great career in photography for people who are really creative... I checked a few snaps on Srivats' blog, mind blowing pieces.

    There are a few of my colleagues and friends who indeed make very good photographers!!!

  12. I love photography and weddings can get you some real good captures, including Indian all depends on the photographers and unfortunately the ppl who call themselves professionals lack creativity, in wedding photographer is one gr8 example and my album was the most ridiculous thing i've ever seen and i look miserable in every one of them...the video is a laughing stock...both me n my hubby hate it n whenever someone asks for it we say we lost it or its with someone else or just ignore the conversation :D...but there are some real good wedding photographers in India...
    chk these: - by Rads (amateurish but better than the pics taken by the professional)

    Also we can't expect Indians to wear long flowing dresses unless they r Christians and anyways, since not many are slim, Indian brides look good in saris...saris n dhotis can't be shot in parks - that wont be a good composition - they are shot better during the ceremony or in a temple...

    Srivats has some real good shots...

    you can chk out my photostream here:

  13. You seem to be totally revelling in being TKT :)

    In a tamilian wedding the oonjal ceremony is probably the only function with both the bride and groom in natural light and indoor pictures are usually not particularly flattering. So the video guy has to resort to some distracting (actually pretty awful) background music cutting out the perfectly nice nadaswaram and other tricks like having five faces of the bride going round and round in circles :)

    That being said, the pictures that Rads linked are all very nice so there is hope for your business idea!

  14. Rads7/4/10

    Here's another gr8 wedding photographer...

  15. @Sandhya - Bowing deeply :)

    @Deepa - Now I have to think up of a name for you :):)

    @rads - Of all your multifarious talents, I had no idea wedding photography was one of them. The very though of a dhothi and nine yard saree clad couple posing on a beach had me in splits ;)

    @J - The oonjal is a real laugh, with sundry old women of indeterminate age flinging missiles in all directions. Perfect photo shoot opportunity !!

  16. @Vishal - Yes, there are a lot of good photographers, but somehow the thought of being a wedding photographer can make me blanch. But then that's not surprising - I am not a photo fan, and don't even own a camera !!

  17. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but... the wedding photos that Qian and I took before our Chinese ceremony in Xi'an was a wonderful experience that we'll always remember.

    We started the day at around 9AM and finished around 10PM. We took two sets of photos outside and two inside (with four different sets of clothes).

    The end product was unbelievable. We have dozens of super high-quality photos. Qian and I have received nothing but high praise for the way they turned out.

    My uncle told me that my cousins talked about our photos for hours after they saw them because they were so struck by the photos.

    Getting wedding photos was one of the times I "felt the most Chinese" in all of my time in China!

  18. Ramesh7/4/10

    @mark - Your photos were superb Mark ; so worth all the trouble. Wow a 12 hour photo shoot - that must have taken some doing. The photos were magnificent mainly because you and Qian make a stunning couple. After all, a photo can only show how things really are !!

  19. Thiru K'ung Tzu- awesome.. this sobriquet shall live long!..

    @Deepa- Thanks for such a nice nick

    @Rads- so nice to cya back in this space- reminds me of our initial days :)loved the photos.

  20. Anonymous7/4/10

    @Ramesh- Ohh god, I can see you sharpening your knife! :D

    @ AJCL- we have to thank Sandhya, the contest was her brain child, rest just fell in place! :)


  21. You understand China very well. And you brought a interesting topic.

  22. @Half Indian - Oh thanks - coming from you that is high praise although I know I know very little about your great country and culture.

  23. that indeed would be a very long wait and if posted in youtube will hit the top of the charts as "the most funniest videos ;)

  24. You may not believe,after seeing our wedding video we felt like going through all those again,literally we wanted 3 more day of celebration again,but you see my father refused to spend again,so we thought will wait for our kids to perform " Arupatham kalyanam".

  25. @ambulisamma - Really ?? Wow !!

    @zeno - we'll see; we'll see, how long the wait is :):)

  26. Anonymous8/4/10

    kandipa America's funniest videos mathiri namma blog makkal marriage videoslaam wl qualify for India's funniest nu nenakren :D :D

  27. @Gils - Not too loudly. We know of a certain "gentleman" reader of this blog, whose "day" will be eagerly anticipated by all in the blogosphere :)

  28. :-D :-D All the wedding photos / videos are like the 'patel' shots (the snaps taken in front of monuments et al). It will be seen, maybe once or twice, then condemned into antiqued archival.

    We do all gymnastics here with the groom/bride like being horsed around. :)

    There are still a few readers of yours here, who are yet to do the cross-over. Lets see ...

  29. @RamMmm - Yes, there are. Strapping youngsters these. Isn't it now a fundamental right that blog followers get to witness "the crossing over" on live webcast ??

  30. Ramesh - thanks for sharing. And you have given me this wonderful idea for a photo shoot for the upcoming Upanayanam function of my sons. Will do this and I am really planning on using some unusual landmark of Namma chennai. Thanks again

  31. @Priya - OMG, the poor kids. Don't do that to them :) :)

  32. U come up with amazing topics...every blogger who's been blogging for sometime will know the effort it takes;-P. Kudos!!!!

    Take a look at this one.....even the Philippinos here show off their pics whenever they can;-P

    We are serious abt the nickname are we;-D. Pray tell us ignorant simpletons, the true meaning??? Are u named after a Chinese emperor or something??? But the thiru sounds very tamilian;-o

  33. @Reflections - Ramblings of an idle mind .. that's all :) High praise from a master blogger like you; much thrilled. Thanks.


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