Wedding Photography, even an option in my case?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by TheMasin9, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. TheMasin9 macrumors 6502a

    TheMasin9

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Huber Heights, OH
    #1
    Hey guys,
    So, i tote my camera around with me quite often just to capture the odd snap here and there, a few of my coworkers and my supervisor went rock climbing and my supervisor asked me if i was interested in photographing his wedding later in 2008. I said i would definitely have to get back to him regarding it. I have little to no experience in photographing weddings, just the occasional family wedding (i have a load of cousins) from my seat in the wedding party. I know that my setup would be limiting in a wedding situation: A nikon d50 with sb600 and 18-200vr. I would have my brothers d40x on hand as a backup in case the worst should happen. I have done a couple of modeling shoots in the past and have a reasonable eye for good composition.

    My concern is missing "that shot" or "that moment" for the bride and groom. I understand after doing some research on the matter (and from attending several weddings as well) that most situations are low light and would require fast glass, that there are things that i will miss, and that i will have to scout ahead to plan my shots, most likely at the wedding rehearsal. Since i am just getting started, and am not even sure about making a part time "career" out of this, i dont want my limited experience and equipment availability to mar my future.

    My supervisor has offered me between $800-1000 to do the wedding. He as already priced area photographers and apparently this would be a great deal for him (and me considering my experience level). But, i would more than likely invest the paycheck in equipment, either some new glass or a D200 (supplemented with some of my own funds of course) before the wedding so i had it on hand to use.

    I would appreciate any input or advicewith regards to the situation as i am in a tough spot.

    Thanks
     
  2. swiftaw macrumors 603

    swiftaw

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    Jan 31, 2005
    Location:
    Omaha, NE, USA
    #2
    I would turn it down. There is a high chance (due to lack of experience) that your photos would not turn out as you had hoped. This is bad enough, but throw in the fact that he is your supervisor too, I would definitely decline.


    A good strategy to learn is to try to find a local photographer who you can assist, and who can show you how to set things up.
     
  3. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

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    #3
    I agree with swiftaw completely. Weddings are important business, you need to know what you're doing. He's offering you a fair bit of money, in my opinion, which could mean that he thinks you may have more experience than you do, at least with those kinds of situations.

    If you could perhaps get some experience in the mean time, before the wedding, maybe you could pull it off, but as swiftaw pointed out, its a risk.
     
  4. TheMasin9 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TheMasin9

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    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Huber Heights, OH
    #4
    i guess the distinction as supervisor carries a bit of weight. He is my direct supervisor, however, our jobs both lie in the residence life department. I do not think the result of my product would have any direct impact on my future employment.

    Thanks for the input. Others gladly welcomed.

    Thanks.
     
  5. M@lew macrumors 68000

    M@lew

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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #5
    If you have a few mates who can help, maybe you can ask that you all do it for the price of one person. Either that or turn it down. Weddings are hard work and you would definitely need better lenses if you were to pick it up, adding to the cost of the wedding. Then should your pics turn out crap(they might not though) then both you and your supervisor won't be happy. Maybe ask to be an assistant to the pro though. That would be good experience unless you're invited to the wedding. Then just enjoy it as a guest.
     
  6. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Oregon
    #6
    I had a friend that went from a completely different business/profession into shooting weddings. It was not a gradual thing really either, it seemed like he went from the job to the business in just a few months.

    He basically did on advice from friends, they saw his photographs and hobby-work and said "you should do this for a living", and he took their advice.

    About four years later he is going strong.

    Do it because its something that you want to do, not on pressure, but if you want it go for it. Risk is part of doing something new, 100% of the time.
     
  7. SolracSelbor macrumors 6502

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    Nov 26, 2007
    #7
    I would ask to do it for $100, mainly for the experience of doing so. Maybe you'll learn something useful.
     
  8. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

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    Location:
    Bay Area
    #8
    Absolutely not. That lowers expectations, makes him think that you really aren't capable of doing it.

    If you have 6+ months, I would take it. Go to weddings in the meantime, teach yourself more about photography, get ready for it and then have a good time when you get there. If your brother has the d40x, then maybe he knows something about photography? Have him come along as a second shooter and maybe he can capture what you miss (offer him like $300)
     
  9. Cloud9 macrumors regular

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    Aug 10, 2005
    Location:
    between flesh and thought
    #9
    I doubt anyones opinion is really going to help you on this.

    You need to ask yourself a question.

    Is what I am going to produce worth a $1000.00 If you think it is then say yes and you will be confident on their wedding day. If you are not sure then you will be taking advantage of their misconceptions about photography.

    Still life's are easy to shoot. Look at a bunch of new wedding photographer websites and half the pictures are of shoes, dresses, and flowers. Capturing and anticipating events is a whole another world. Your supervisor has a misconception about photography. Most people do. They think taking pictures is easy because it's just pressing buttons on "a nice camera". Or they think because you can shoot good pictures of multiples subjects that a wedding must be the same thing or easier. It's not. My first wedding as a second shooter I had maybe 30 good photos that were more then just "snap shots". Your going to be swallowing your fear if that happens to you on your first wedding.

    Second shoot at least 1 wedding to get a feel for what a pro does for the day.
    Then, speak to the bride about your ability and what you feel you can accomplish. It's the Bride who is the main subject for the day and she's the one whose emotions are going to be most affected by your performance. Then make your decision. You may feel you can do it, and do it well. You also might also feel differently.
     
  10. TheMasin9 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TheMasin9

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Huber Heights, OH
    #10
    This is a good thought, but my brother has quite possibly the shakiest hands i have ever seen, he mainly uses the camera to capture images, textures, and objects which then takes into photoshop and illustrator. He is finishing up graphic design school and while he is very, very creative, i would not trust him with much more than automatic settings on a dslr. I can more or less run circles around him when it comes to composition and camera physics/use, but he can also take me to school when it comes to photoshop/illustrator/C4D.

    I dont think ill do something of this magnitude for $100, i know that i will provide a better finished product thatn $100 will buy them. Heck, proofing books etc will cost that much. I am doing small time modeling shoots that take about 4-5 hours for around $100 (could be more soon). A wedding will involve alot more prep and post production. So at the bare minimum $500, but im thinking the $800-1000 is reasonable/fair, supposing i can provide a quality product, which i believe i can. It is just a matter of knowing what to do, where to be and what shots i make sure i get.

    though i am not sure entirely either way as i will need to further discuss the matter with the parties involved. I was wondering what you guys think about my equipment. Assuming i have the minimum of $800 to spend supplemented by say $300-500 of my own funds, are there any pieces of equipment that you would think are absolutely necessary for success?
     
  11. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #11
    I've shot a wedding for friends November last year and it was fun. I wasn't paid and their `expectations are low' (although I was surprised that I did very well, considering the circumstances).

    Your equipment is IMHO not suitable for a wedding, you definitely need a lens with a much larger aperture. The VR won't help. 90% of the good shots (inside the church) were taken with my 2.8/80-200 bazooka. And I was lucky, because I had to push the ISO to 1600 or 3200. If they had given me any budget, I would have rented another flash, a tripod and another lens.

    With the money you're being offered and the expectations your boss has, I'd tend to say no. Unless you really want to and you can convince him that you need to rent extra equipment. Ideally, you should practice with the rented equipment and test the light at the location. You would know about the details of the ceremony and everything.

    Just to give you an example how my wedding `gig' went: I accepted by e-mail and asked them that they should send me details on the ceremony and shots (of people or things they would like to have pictures of). They didn't get back to me. I arrived at the church 45 minutes early in the hopes that somebody tells me what I could and couldn't do (e. g. where in church I can go). Many people did know I was the `official' wedding photographer (much to my surprise), but it was only during the ceremony that a relative of the bride told me: `Oh, you can move around everywhere, you know. We've talked to the priest in advance and he said, it's alright.' ;)

    If you want to know what kind of equipment I'd advise you to get, here's a short list:
    (1) Batteries and memory cards. I took 400-500 pictures that day, nuff said. Especially your flash will eat batteries, have at least two additional sets of batteries.
    (2) A tripod! Very important for the ceremony.
    (3) 1.4/1.8/85 mm lens.
    (4) 2.8/17-50 standard zoom. My kit lens' pics didn't turn out so well, I really want to replace it.
    (5) I found the bazooka zoom (2.8/80-200) very useful.

    Seeing as how at least one or two of the lenses don't have AF-S and that you cannot really manually focus with a D40, you could use the D40 as a second body with the standard lens, for instance. As you can see, the list is quite extensive.
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #12
    While not as expensive equipment-wise as sports or bird photography, being equipped for a wedding can be relatively expensive- *lots* depends on the venue. A dark venue where flash isn't allowed *sucks* without the right equipment- and backup equipment.

    How well do you know the bride? As others have intimated, she's the one to please and there's no telling (the word bridezilla isn't thrown about in wedding circles for no reason at all- watch any of the wedding shows on cable for an idea of what you can be in for.)

    Years and years and years ago, I shot exactly three weddings. I was pressured into it by friends who had zero budget in each case. The ones I didn't like, the brides liked. The one I really liked, the bride hated- you really can't tell how much it will affect not only your relationship with the parties, but their relationship with one another *no matter what they say up front when they're just thinking about the money.* Even with someone to round up the right people, a good shot list, and someone who knows what shots they want you just can't tell how it's going to be seen in the eyes of the bride.

    One of my best friends and my primary business partner got married last year. Zero budget for a photographer. He totally didn't understand why I wouldn't shoot his wedding. They ended up with no photographer- and while that may bug them, I'm perfectly happy not to have done it. Even though I know they'd have been ok with less than stellar results (I wouldn't have been and I'm not set up for shooting events and couldn't have gotten there for less than about $3000.) I could have shot the formals in my studio or on location with my strobes, and the reception would have been no problem, but shooting in a dimly-lit church by myself would have been a challenge with equipment I was familiar with, let alone with new gear.

    There's a good reason that good wedding photographers get $5,000 and up a wedding. But it's not an easy craft, and if you're thinking about it because of the money, then I'd advise against doing it. If you're thinking of doing it because you think you like it, then that's a different story, but I'd still be really wary of doing a first wedding on your own without some experience.

    Absolutely necessary for success? About 12 weddings as a second shooter, good fast glass (70-200/2.8 or 80-200/2.8 and something wide for group shots depending on the sizes of the groups,) 2 more flashes and stands/modifiers for the formals, a cooperative priest, a well-lit venue, a short ladder, a shot list, a strong-willed helper to corral everyone, a second shooter to get the groom's preparations and alternate angles/views, a week to PS everyone afterwards, and lots of practice getting a white dress and black tux well-exposed in whatever lighting conditions you'll encounter, and good old liability insurance.

    Perhaps you could start by getting a couple of friends to dress up, walk around and see how well you do? Maybe you could also talk the couple into doing engagement pictures for $500 or so- that'd certainly let you see how they'll be to deal with as clients. It'll also give them an idea of how you are to work with and what sort of results to expect. It's also easier to reshoot or offer a refund on a relaxed, prepared single shoot than it is the actual wedding.

    If you do decide to do it, I'd start by increasing the budget, because the low end of $800 really isn't going to be worth it.
     
  13. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #13
    A wedding is an unrepeatable event. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong and wreck the 'perfect day'. Don't be one of them.

    Instead of being the official photographer (that's one hell of a lot of stress, especially for a first attempt) say you'll be happy to take the relaxed, informal shots that the pro won't cover. He or she will have a list of shots that MUST be taken, so you can wander about getting the unposed stuff. Which means you can relax, be 'snap happy', have a drink or two, chat up the bridesmaids... :)
     
  14. TheMasin9 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TheMasin9

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    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Huber Heights, OH
    #14
    backup photographer

    well, from what im gathering, it seems that i am not prepared experience wise or equipment wise. I dont know if i would be able to expand my knowledge in this area enough in 4-5 months to be able to provide the type of shots that are needed in the case. I might still have to talk with my supervisor and his fiance to see if all they are looking for is a minimum number of pictures. I will probably suggest that he look elsewhere for professional quality results and kindly ask if he could request the photographer let me tag along and gather knowledge.
     
  15. pprior macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #15
    It doesn't sound like you have the equipment, the experience, nor the judgement to shoot weddings.

    Weddings are one of the most high pressure jobs out there, and not something you want to jump into before you're experienced, have appropriate backup equipment, and the old adage, if you have to ask....

    Especially with a supervisor! Can you imagine what would happen if you blew it....

    I guess if he's going to have nothing, or that - then I'd do it. But I'd do it for FREE and make sure he understands you can't guarantee anything at all. If you charge money, you're committing to professional results and can you really honestly say you can produce that?

    In short, I think the posting right above this one shows you've thought about it and came to the right conclusion. Let us know how it goes if you do end up tagging along and show some results.
     
  16. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #16
    And "tagging along" doesn't mean shadowing the official' photographer, or asking what f-stop s/he's using, or checking out the equipment. The photographer will be very focussed on the job in hand.

    Wedding photography is very tough, for all the reasons people have mentioned. You'll seldom have more demanding clients or less room for error. Actually, it gives me clammy palms just thinking about it (don't like weddings... especially my own ;))...
     
  17. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #17
    This is exactly why I would decline the offer.

    I'd be happy to bring my camera and shoot what I could, but I wouldn't want the stress or responsibility of being the photographer.
     
  18. TheMasin9 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TheMasin9

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    Location:
    Huber Heights, OH
    #18
    Thats what im thinking, just because the folks who are "the" photographers are the ones who have done it for a while and know exactly what they need, what shots to snap, and where to be. I am probably going to decline the official photographer spot, but see about tagging along...well see.
     
  19. jtblueberry macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Location:
    Pismo Beach, CA
    #19
    As a pro, the only way I would feel I could be profitable for $1000 would be to give them the images "as is" on a dvd and call it a day. What are you giving them for $1000?
    You can probably make more putting in some overtime at your day job. On the other hand, if they know they're not getting professional photography, and they are will to pay you $1000 for the images on a DVD, and all you have to do is take the photos that day, go for it. Just be sure to let them know what they're getting ahead of time (a photographer with no experience).
    Also I gotta say it...stuff like this is really hurting everyone...the photographer who doesn't get the job, the bride and groom who get sub-par photos, and the person who takes the job that doesn't end up being profitable for them. Leave paid photography to the pro's who rely on it for a living.
    On a positive...photograph the wedding for free and have fun to see if this is something you want to do...if so, invest in it and get everything together...and charge enough to make some good money : )
    You'll be lucky if his real photographer lets you "tag along" (I wouldn't teach someone how to take my job for free), but you can compare your photos to theirs and see where you stand.
     
  20. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    Location:
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    #20
    While I agree with what you're saying to a degree, what about people who simply can't afford $3000-5000 for photography at their wedding? Should they just forgo it?

    Also, I think that the reality is that digital changes the business model of photography, and I can't see why making $1000 on a Saturday wouldn't be profitable for someone whose other option is to make $0 that day. Take for example your suggestion of putting in extra hours at one's day job. Many people, like me, do not get paid extra for extra hours worked (exempt employees). Other people have jobs that won't let them work overtime precisely because they'd be paid too much for it.

    I understand real pros frustrations with weekend semi-pro types who undercut their business and, if they aren't any good, make things worse for everyone like you say. But if they are good enough, they have fun and make a some money, the bride and groom and their families get pictures they enjoy and save some money. In many cases, it's a win-win situation and not a loss for any pros who charge too much to be considered anyway. Not everyone can afford to spend $20,000-50,000 on a wedding. And not everyone who can would even want to.

    That said, someone who can who afford it and wants to save 50% or even 67% of the cost is probably making a mistake by not going with a real pro for all kinds of reasons generally summed up as reliability.
     
  21. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #21
    Have some fun? Win-win situation?? Doesn't sound like you've ever photographed a wedding... :eek:
     
  22. TheMasin9 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TheMasin9

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    Dec 22, 2004
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    Huber Heights, OH
    #22
    I was thinking something along these lines, probably a handful of touched up, color adjusted images. Extending to them reproduction rights.

    Considering i dont get paid by the hour, when i do work on breaks its about $100 per day, i dont know if this would cut it.

    i would most definately let them know this, experience is the key factor it seems when it comes to this.

    very good observation, let pros be pros, let students of the trade stand back and observe.
     
  23. jtblueberry macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2007
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    Pismo Beach, CA
    #23
    Plenty of people can't afford professional photography. They shouldn't forgo it but they should know what they're getting for their money. Anyone with a digital camera can take "good photos" but the bride/groom should know that there is a big difference between "good photos" and the products that can be produced by a professional. If everyone understands that, cool. Some people are fine driving a pinto while others want a mercedes...or something in between.
    The OP could make money but to say they're gonna make $1000 in a saturday can be deceiving. If they just give them the images, like I said, that would be profitable. But, anyone who has photographed a wedding knows that's not how it typically goes. $1000 on a weekend sounds good but you need to factor in a lot of things: research time, scouting the location, meeting with the bride/groom, showing the images, editing through the images, producing proof books or buying presentation software, producing the prints, albums and other products, retouching, investing in better equipment, I could go on and on.
    From the bride/groom point of view it may seem like a good deal but there are other hidden costs and things that they'll now have to deal with. If they just get the images on cd they have to figure out how they're going to get them retouched, printed, put into an album, etc.

    I would only charge $1500 for the images "as is" on cd if that's all they wanted from me...maybe they should ask the pro's they're seeing if they have an option like that. I guess some people just want the images on their computer to do what they want these days.
     
  24. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #24
    Three in the last year. Loved every second of it. :)

    Two were for friends. I was essentially backup in all cases to a professional. In one case, a cousin shooting film, so took fewer shots but took responsibility for the essentials--and I didn't shoot the ceremony in that one because I was a best man, in another the main photographer (a sports/equestrian photographer by trade) was a friend of the bride's sister, and in the last there was a hired pro who was incredibly nice about sharing tips while I was, I believe, appropriately deferential.

    Totally agree. It's all about people understanding the difference and making an informed choice. Also, there are things like taxes, insurance, backup equipment, etc. that you are either cheating or skimping on with probably almost all semi-pros.

    And profitable, you're right. It's probably not profitable as a legitimate business. And as I learned trying to edit 1200 RAW files on a 1.0 Ghz eMac, it's not even "profitable" as an unpaid hobby. I wanted to shoot myself in the head. Still though, I find the idea of being a bargain basement wedding photographer for people who cannot afford more (and only those people), being very upfront about my abilities and what people would get by paying more with a professional or less with uncle Jimmy means, appealing. Or at least I did until I accidentally left half my gear on a bus. :(
     
  25. jtblueberry macrumors regular

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    Dec 20, 2007
    Location:
    Pismo Beach, CA
    #25
    It doesn't sound like you photographed 3 weddings...it sounds like you took photos at 3 weddings...big difference : ) No offense. (I'm not saying you didn't take good photos)
     

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