WEDDING PHOTOS THROUGH THE EYES OF A PHOTOJOURNALIST by Rose de la Cruz ( www.rosedelacruz.com) 30June 20078
Mel Cortez, proprietor of DecisiveMoments Photography, along with his two lens men were professional photographers affiliated with mainstream media mastering the art of “photo journalism” or reportage photography. This meant capturing moments in pictures as they unfold.
This same photojournalism is what he now brought into DecisiveMoments, one of the country’s hottest photography and video studios catering to weddings from high end to medium end.
Cortez took the name of his company from the phrase coined by the world’s most famous photojournalist, a Frenchman, Henri Cartier Bresson, who explained what a decisive moment in photography meant.
A decisive moment is one where all the technical considerations (aperture, speed, lighting and composition), the pace and mood of subject are captured in one artistic shoot. It is usually fleeting and transitory.
“I brought the drab wedding coverage into a higher photojournalism plane so that no wedding picture becomes boring, commonplace and uneventful,” he said.
Cortez (a professional photographer for 24 years) got the idea of joining the two words because of his previous employment at BusinessWorld, where he worked for eight years. He said he left newspapering because he saw no bright income potential in it what with his growing kids.
He registered DecisiveMoments as a single proprietorship in 2001 and his capital came from clients, who booked for weddings and paid 50 percent down.
His first studio-office was in the GSIS Metro Homes in Sta. Mesa, which though accessible was not presentable enough to his clients who were paying a fortune for the wedding memories.
So he transferred to Katipunan—across Ateneo de Manila—his current address where clients make their bookings, pay down and make last minute arrangements with Cortez and his fellow photographers.
Because he learned about digital photojournalism from BusinessWorld, he brought it to the wedding photography industry, he said. At first he considered getting into advertising. “The capital requirement is so huge and I did not have it neither did I have a professional studio and network,” he said.
Luckily, he was endorsed by a wedding website (email@example.com) where he got calls and bookings via email. It was also at this website where Cortez got awarded for being the top five weddings supplier in 2004.
Having gotten 20 clients from the website, he resigned from BusinessWorld after 6 months. He had his first studio for six months only then moved on to Katipunan, which was more presentable even to high society clients.
DecisiveMoments had its first biggest exposure at the one-day bridal fair held at EDSA Shangrila on Sept.2, 2001. Here he got on-site bookings. But there were inquiries for cheaper bookings, which was not the scope of DecisiveMoments, which charges from P79,000 and up per coverage.
He then thought of another company that would take care of children’s coverages and those with lower budget weddings. He formed LittleDreams which began in January 2004. This was meant for kiddie parties and other memorable children’s functions. LittleDreams is now able to cover weddings with video budgets of P36,000 to P66,000.
Early 2005, he formed CandidPictures , his video coverage company, that would shoot from start to finish at a budget of P25,000. This operation is not just limited to weddings but also to events, campings, debut and other social activities.
A coverage can last from 8 to 12 hours. Cortez also gets bookings for shoots here and abroad, all expenses shouldered by the contracting party.
“Eventually, these three offices—now housed in Katipunan – will split off. I plan to relocate LittleDreams in Cebu to cater to the needs of residents in the South and I am still thinking of what to do with CandidPictures,” he said.
His vision for the next five years is to expand the business by franchising it. But he would rather not get into details now. “I’d like to make these three companies very strong and stable first before I ever entertain getting into expanding our operations through franchising,” he said.
Even when Cortez is on travel, he has studio managers to take care of the requirements and bookings. He has five in-house photographers plus himself. He said he can do 8 coverages a day.
He also outsources some jobs—from shooting to developing, digital video editing and putting the pictures in a special imported book album.
Cortez belongs to the Wedding and Portrait Photographers of the Philippines (WPPP), which easily accounts for 80 percent of wedding coverages in the country. He is participating on Oct.9-11 at the Wedding Photo Fair, which aims to get 300 photographers in the country at the Megatrade in Megamall.
Right now he has a training program for students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines , where he makes them experience wedding coverage on- the job- training in exchange for an allowance and certificate of OJT completion.