Coming to you live, at your wedding

by Serena Luo

AS MISS S. Huang sat in seclusion in her wedding gown, waiting for her groom to come ‘claim’ her, she caught some TV. No, not regular television programming, but a live transmission of her husband-to-be swallowing wasabi sandwiches outside her home as he underwent the traditional ragging of the groom by her posse of girlfriends. The live ‘show’ was wired up by Lighthouse Studio, a photo and video company she had hired for her big day. ‘Most brides wouldn’t know how hard their grooms have ‘worked’, but I did,’ she said. Photography and videography companies are coming up with novel ideas to attract customers, who can range from wedding couples to corporate groups hawking high-end goods and services.
These clients all want visuals and mementoes of the day, so the shutterbug companies duly deliver – live video transmissions, interactive touchscreen consoles for guests to ‘write’ their well wishes in digital guestbooks, photographs projected on large screens and even photo postcards as keepsakes. Also offered: Hosting of online galleries of photos or videos so friends and family can view them or put them on the popular social networking site, Facebook. The industry is competitive, so companies are coming up with such services to stand out from the crowd. And what a crowd it is: More than 500 listings exist for photography businesses, including those no longer in business, going by a search on the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority website. The figure, however, excludes the dozens of unregistered freelancers who secure jobs by word of mouth. With some photographers charging as little as $50 an hour, or about $600 for a day’s work at weddings or corporate functions like product launches, it is getting tough to compete on price alone, companies interviewed said.
With the prices of professional-grade digital cameras and video equipment having tumbled in recent years, it has become much cheaper for anyone wishing to enter the business.
Lighthouse Studio co-founder Ang Ming Song, 30 and an engineer by training, said he bought transmitting devices and tinkered around with them, converting a regular video camera into one that could pump out – wirelessly and instantly – whatever was being filmed. One of three co-founders of photography business 1stJournal, Mr Andrew Chan, 35, said nine in 10 of his clients now want extras such as live projection and printed photos. Mr Willy Foo’s six-year-old photography business LiveStudios, which counts luxury brand companies among its clients, said such extra services are asked for at events these companies throw to thank loyal customers. They want to engage their guests and make the event memorable, said the 34-year-old. It helps that players like Mr Chan and Mr Foo have a knack for software programming, which enables them to write customised software for their clients – and charge a premium rate. For instance, Ms Sophia Joanne Chong, 35, paid LiveStudios $7,000 for capturing her wedding last October. The communications manager went for the works – digital guestbooks, photographs beamed onto giant screens at the reception and photocards for her guests. ‘Of all the expenses incurred, my husband and I think this is the best investment,’ she said, adding that their guests ‘are still talking about it’.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.