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Photography Question 
Gerald Pope
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/5/2005

Tips for Taking Wedding Photos

I want to start doing wedding photography in the hopes that my expensive hobby will become a sustainable one. I have talked a few friends into letting me "practice" at their weddings while another photographer did the official work. I have had good results, but I feel that I still need more experience (and equipment) before I would be comfortable doing this on my own. My friends don't get married every week, so do you have any suggestions on how to get more experience?

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4/12/2005 3:54:04 PM

Michael H. Cothran   Join some wedding photographer organizations, and online forums. WPI is probably the largest organization, but joining your local, state, or national PPA would also be an asset to you. Your best-case scenario would be to hire yourself out as an assistant, if you can get the work.
Michael H. Cothran

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4/12/2005 4:17:50 PM

Gerald Pope
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/5/2005
  Thanks for the advise! I have found the PPA group here in SEattle, and plan on attending their meeting next month. Since I am trying to find a job there, I would like to put together a portfolio. I have only done a couple weddings, so I may not have enough of that genre to put together a good collection. Should I include some of my other work as well? Oh yeah, and I have got a clue what a portfolio should look like or include. Any advise or direction to portfolio info would be great! Thanks!

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4/19/2005 9:56:23 AM

Gregg    Apprentice and freelance for a studio as an aditional photographer. After observing a few weddings they will kick you out of the nest and make you do one on your own. That's when you'll really learn.

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4/19/2005 6:37:53 PM

Maria Melnyk   Aside from the excellent suggestion from Gregg, another terrific way will work wonders if you have a lot of friends and family willing to help. This is the way one of my colleagues learned, and we've suggested it to others who have very successfully and quickly learned wedding photography this way.
Hire a couple to pose as bride & groom for a day. Hire a priest or minister to perform a "mock" ceremony. Either pay him or donate something to the church you're "borrowing" for the day. (This will be easy if you know your priest/minister well.) The bride should wear a gown with a train and veil so that the new photographer properly learns to position them. The groom should at least wear a suit. Get a few more friends to pose as bridesmaids, groomsmen, and guests. Start at the bride's house, just as a real wedding would begin. Depart for the church in a regular car (pretend it's a limo). Go through the entire ceremony (and yes, you may stop the priest if you'd like to repeat something). Do the altar pictures. Go to a park for pictures. Then go somewhere for a mock reception (someone's basement will do). Do formal portraits with backdrop and lighting. Do the first dance, cake-cutting, bouquet and garter toss, good-bye shots, etc. Use fake props. Then get everything printed, and learn from your efforts. Practice on perfecting your shots.
This may all sound silly, but it works. It's live training without interfering with someone's real wedding. And you know what could happen? The bride & groom could end up with better photos than they had at their real wedding. This happened to my colleague; he sold a lot of his practice-wedding shots to his volunteer-models.
One more thing. If you possibly can, hire an established photographer to teach you and guide you throughout the day. Some photographers will be willing to teach you, but you must find them.
Now, about that portfolio. Have two. One should be a book of proofs from a complete wedding, and in the other have enlargements showing a wide variety of work. Color and black & white. Make some wall portraits too. You can't sell what you don't show.
Good luck. It's a long road, but the rewards will be great.

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4/19/2005 10:49:25 PM

Gerald Pope
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/5/2005
  Thanks for the great suggestions!
By the way, I meant to say in my previous question is that I HAVEN'T got a clue what a portfolio should include or look like. I have enough photographs to show a wide variety of work, but don't really know how to put it together to make it look like more than a photo album. Do I need to?

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4/21/2005 3:30:26 PM

Maria Melnyk   Hi, Gerald. As a wedding photographer your portfolios should look like whatever you intend your final product to be that you give to the bride and groom. I have a sample finished wedding album (the professional kind, with mats, like you see in the studios.) I also show a sample proof book from 3 different weddings with about 300 total photographs. These pages are removable (3-ring binder) so that I can show the weddings I feel are most appropriate for the type of bride I'm meeting with. For example, if I'm meeting with a Mexican bride, I'll show her a Mexican wedding, and 2 others so she sees a variety. If her wedding will be held outdoors, I put an outdoor wedding in the binder. I work out of my home, by the way, so I don't have a studio that brides can visit. By the way, I do realize that you probably don't have a lot of photographs yet. That's OK; just work with what you have. In either case, do show some enlargements. If you don't have a finished wedding album (they're expensive) you can buy a nice 3-ring album, and fill it with plastic pages that will hold 5x7's or 8x10's. Buy them at office supply stores, or order them from photographic supply houses. The important thing is that you have something nice to hold your photographs in. You should show a variety of posed photographs (bride alone, bride & groom, groups, etc.), and photojournalistic-type images; there is quite a market for thoses. Also, show something in black & white; you will get requests for it.
Now, if you intend to show your work solely to photo studios to see if they will hire you, all you need is proof-book-size images. The large albums are for showing to prospective clients.
Small suggestion: After I did just a few weddings, I spent a lot of money to gets tons of samples printed. Later, my work got better, so I replaced them with the newer stuff. So the old expensive stuff is just laying around gathering dust. Moral of story: Don't spend too much money at first on samples; just print what you need.

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4/21/2005 5:39:30 PM

Jerry & Karen Bengtson   Check out

Consider buying
PhotoShop Simplified
Digital Workflow Simplified
Digital Portrait Techniques
Digital Wedding Techniques
Album Design
Wedding Techniques

These are outstanding lessons to help you get started.

If you can attend go to the free clinic at

Plus you can buy the lessons I mentioned above for $99 vs $150.

Good luck.

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4/23/2005 3:30:46 PM

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