With any other jobs, photographers are paid for our time. The time that we spend behind the camera actually pressing on the shutter button is just fraction of the time spent for a shoot.

Let’s talk about a typical Chinese weddings.

Alex Foo & Lilian Heng Tea Ceremony

Due to some Chinese believe that certain ceremony needs to be held at certain time, Chinese wedding ceremony can start as early as 4 am in the morning, to prepare, to dress up and all these needs to be or are expected to be documented.

In Chinese weddings, the groom often travels to the bride’s to pick up the bride. Then traveling back to the groom’s.


Photographers usually arrive as early as 5am in the morning to catch the preparation of the bride and groom. Let’s make it 6am for convenience sake. The whole ceremony would probably ends at 1pm when lunch is served back at the groom’s side. That’s 7 hours of shutter clicking photography work.

Because wedding events happens as spontaneous as it could be, the photographer must be on alert at all times.

Wedding - Ken Fai & Sheau Han


Let’s say for example we are paid 700 for the work, for 7 hours of shutter pressing work, just to keep things simple.

After the session, we go through images to select the best out of thousands of shots. Not only that, we also edit them. Editing here is not the removing of blemishes, or removing of objects but more to alteration of colors and exposure of the image. These usually needs manual work, and more often there is no proper automated system to do this. I usually take 5-6 hours selecting and performing these edits. Let’s make it 5 hours for simplicity sake

So we have 7 hours of photography time, 5 hours of editing time, 1 hour to factor in the traveling time and meeting with client. We spent 13 hours with this client. That’s 53 bucks an hour. But wait, we hired a photographer for the other location. We will pay him 300 for his work. So that 36 bucks an hour rate for ourselves.

Lenna Wedding

Lets say your business is good, people come to you every day to photograph their wedding, but I like to keep things simple, we photograph one wedding a week (Weddings in Malaysia usually is on a weekend). So now we have 1600 a month.

But who would only photograph weddings for a living right? Let’s make it more realistic, we use back our hourly rate of 53 bucks, and we will do a 40 hours work week.

That is RM2120 a month. Looks like it’s a good income after all.

But wait.

Lenna Wedding

I got to put off some for my EPF. If you are employed your employer will contribute 13% to your EPF account, but I do not have an employer and I am very bad at keeping my savings. So to make it simple, I contribute 20% to my EPF savings.

`I am left with RM1696`

I got to travel to meetings with clients, travel to location too. So I bought a MyVi. Lets say at RM30,000 and I am paying for 5 years. Interest rate for loan repayment for cars for 5 years with various banks are between 2.71% to 3%. So

`RM1696-RM568=RM1128`

My MyVi needs petrol to move. MyVi fuel capacity is 40 liter, and I pump once a week. At current rate of RM1.97 per litter for RON95, I spend RM78 a week, which translate to RM312 a month. So

`RM1128-RM300=RM828`

I can’t afford eating Chinese food, so I eat at the mamak. RM3 for a plate of magee goreng kosong and a glass of water. Or I can switch with roti canai, just for variety. roti telur is out of the budget, for now.

`RM828-(RM3 a meal x 3 times a day x 30 days)=RM558`

I need to pay for car insurance and road tax.
RM1273+RM70/12=RM109.5 a month

`RM558-RM109=RM449`

[adsense] Statistics shows that each household average electricity is about 251 kWh a month. So 251 kWh as per average household of 4 is 62.75 kWh per person.
Current rate with Tenaga Berhad is 21.8 sen per kWh for the first 200 kWh. That is RM13.67 per month. Probably means no air conditioning, and just a table fan. We can probably switch on our computers once a while and charge our phones, but our equipments needs to be charged too, so we will do that at Starbucks.

`RM449-RM13.67=RM435.33`

I am not sure how much to pay for water. The Star say an average person uses 226 liter of water a day. I think I am just going to shower, and do my shitting in the mamak or petrol station. I will probably also wash my clothes in the petrol station to save water.

Standard shower head sprays water at 2.5 US gal per minute. Which is about 90 liter per 10 minute shower. Minimum charges for water tariff in Selangor is RM6.

`RM435.33-RM6=RM429.33`

I would also need Internet to send emails, reply to emails, upload photos to Facebook, etc. The lowest package offered by Telekom Malaysia 1mbps @ RM 110. I could opt for UniFi VIP5 for RM149 but that 39 bucks would make a lot of difference by end of the month.

`RM429.33-RM110=RM329.33`

Average single room rental in Cheras is between RM500-RM350, and I am already not making enough.

Lenna Wedding

Don’t forget I have yet paid for toll, medical insurance, equipment insurance, liability insurance, doctor because I eat magee mee every day, hygiene because I only shit at other people’s place. Not forgetting hard drive space, DVDs, backup drives, computers. I have also yet to pay for my camera, lenses, flashes, filter, bags, tripods, vest, gloves.

I also do not go to the movies, eat KFC or watch Ironman 3. I also do not have money to educate myself, to attend courses, to join WPPA. There will be no technical talk sessions, no teh tarik, no hanging out, unless Uncle Lim wants to buy me every time. Certainly I cannot afford a boyfriend or girlfriend.

So, do you think the RM700 you paid your photographer is enough?