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Photography Question 
Kristi Eckberg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/22/2003

Wedding Photography: Getting Started

Any advice on how I can get started doing weddings? If you view my gallery, you will see I have only done children, families, seniors. I feel I am ready now to take on some weddings but don't know how to get started ... as who would hire me with no wedding portfolio? Have any of you ever called up a local photographer and asked to be an assistant at one of their weddings? If so, how did it go? I am thinking of doing this but wonder if they would view me as upcoming competition and not be willing to help? Any advice on how to get started would be so great.

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6/18/2005 7:27:32 AM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  If you have a family or a friend's wedding, go to that and take photos. Or if someone you know still has their wedding dress, ask them if you could take photos of them in it (like the photos on the invitation). I've never done any weddings (other than snapshots), so this is just what I think might help.

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6/18/2005 7:41:25 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  If you would like to do weddings and have the equipment to do so, then I suggest that you make up your cards and maybe some brochures that display your work. Take these and visit your local bridal and tux shops.
Also visit some of the small local country clubs in your area - talk to the banquet coordinator there. Start a portfolio and have it with you in most cases. You never know when you'll run into someone looking or knows someone. Make sure you know the poses and have a contract. I and others have a book that can help you. I do hope this helps.

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6/18/2005 9:57:07 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
If you haven't already done so, you need to learn the nuts and bolts on the business end of it. It has some similarities to doing other paid work, such as portraiture, but there are distinct differences as well. You need to work out your pricing structure for it. As you're undoubtedly already aware, weddings go beyond portraiture. They are documentary of an event that spans the better part of an entire day, and more time is spent shooting candids than shooting the portraits, although being able to do both well is important. If you haven't done much candid work at events, start shooting them at anything that might be considered an "event", looking for anything of significance. Being there when something of interest starts to unfold, in position, and timing the photograph itself are crucial. Some "candids" of major events can be controlled some. Others cannot be. Because the entire day is a entire series of events, you have to choreograph where you will be and what you will do ... your work flow doing the shooting ... from start to finish.
Hit a major library and find what they have specifically on wedding photography and begin devouring what you can about the business end, the mechanics of covering a wedding day, and the types of photographs that are desired. The other "work flow" is the timeline of what you do from initial interview through delivery ... and how this will fit in with the other photography you do ... and you need to think about that as well.

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6/18/2005 11:17:58 PM

Ford    Photo assist and you'll be on your way in no time.

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6/19/2005 11:15:44 AM

Maria Melnyk   There are lots of good ways, and the best way to learn is to do ALL of the following. You will need to put out some money, so be prepared.
1.) Get books on both general and wedding photography, and read, read, practice, and practice.
2.) Attend a wedding ceremony or two at a church, even if you don't know the couple. Watch the photographers work. Watch them do the altar pictures afterwards and observe how they pose the couple. (This one doesn't cost anything.)
3.) Attend a photo seminar; there are some offered in most areas. WPPA offers them twice a year in most large cities, for about $100. There are others as well.
4.) Don't call up a studio and ask if you can assist unless you've been hired by the studio, or unless you know the owner. You can, however, ask larger studios if they have any training sessions they offer, a few might.
5.) OK, now here's the best way - ready? Once you're familiar enough with wedding photography, hire two friends, models, neighbors, whatever, for at least 1/2 day and recreate an entire wedding. Pay them if they'll take the money. It will help tremendously if you can also hire a wedding photographer to guide you throughout the day, but if not, you'll have to do without. Your model bride must wear a gown with a train and veil, and have some type of bouquet. Buy her one. Start at her home, and have a few girls there to be "bridesmaids". Have her parents there. Do all the stuff you would do at the house if it were a real wedding. Then, go to a church for the "ceremony". You must also hire a priest or minister. If you belong to a church and know the pastor, that's great, but please pay him for his time. Do the entire ceremony. Photograph it. Feel free to ask the priest to repeat something. Then do the altar pictures. Photograph the couple exiting the church. Go to a park and take pictures. Then go somewhere and have a "reception", even someone's basement, or your church hall. Do portraits. Find something to use as a cake to do the cake cutting. Do the toast, first dance, bouquet and garter toss. Don't forget good-bye shots. Do Shoot a total of at least 10 rolls of film. (OK; digital works too.) Then get everything printed, and look at your work. Have a pro critique it. Learn from this experience.
6.) Even after all this, it is too soon to follow Debby's suggestion about putting up cards and brochures. You cannot advertise your services, nor can any business recommend you, until you are an established professional with several excellent wedding jobs behind you.
7.) Realize that it's a long hard road. You will be learning even long after you think you already know everything. Good luck!

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6/21/2005 12:25:58 PM

barry ellis   G'day Kristi,
All the above advice will work in a fashion, without wishing to offend anyone, and I sincerely mean that, you must get experience working with a photographer who does weddings week in and week out, taking pictures is the easy part if you know how to use your equipment, Posing is so important, and has to become second nature, everything you do during the wedding must be slick and smooth, if you do make a cock up during the wedding then you must be the only one to know it, you must exude confidence, be prepared to take over and gently move the event along, everyone there will look to you to guide them through the day, so you must be sure of the sequence of events. Steven F. Said it, and I will repeat it, get yourself an assistants job, part time if you have to, working with a good Photog will be worth it. do it for nothing until you can honestly say to yourself that your ready, the rest will happen for you. Best of luck.

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6/21/2005 3:45:36 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004

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6/21/2005 4:13:17 PM

Norbert Maile   Bambi Cantrell has an excellent book and a web site also. Place an ad in the paper that you will shoot a wedding for "free", cost of film and printing etc. only. Get a model release signed by everyone and use it for your portfolio. Experiment alot while doing it. Read as many books as you can. Bambi's is a good one to buy and the library is a good resource center. HAVE FUN !! It will rub off on the clients.

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6/21/2005 10:06:31 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
I am going to add a little here and please know that I think Norbert is on the right track,and with absolutly no offence intended I'd like to say:
Please be VERY careful about putting a ad in the paper to do FREE weddings, though this idea can be good in the right town in the right time-but these days you really must be carful.(it is a good idea to get portrait subjects to practise on though)
TWO things come to mind:1) In my life I and my family have owned a few businesses (3 banquet halls with catering and 4 trucks- grooming shop- Vet. transport- 3 resturaunts and this photography team. ) In every situation there were times that we tryed doing something "nice",giving something away etc.and each time it seems that unforunitly it's those you try to help or give something away to that want to complaine the most-as if your giving them this gift because it is worthless.So get something for your valuble time-I am not saying don't do it -just if you do please go to some place that ( like a church etc,i did one for a beautiful girl I met in a good will store she let us use the portraits in exchange) can help you choose someone deserving and needing a gift such as that.
Now 2) Weddings are a one time deal . And those of us that do weddings as I have said before -say a little prayer in hopes that all goes exactly as it should before each one , because the honeast truth- there have been those that (unfairly) have been drug to court for failing to proform thier duties up to the client expactations.
and if you still choose to try this ,please make sure that someone(you know) has witnessed you disclose your abilities and portfolio to this client and have a contract that states that "Photography is a artistic media and you and the client may not always agree in the value of each and every shot" but that you will do your best to cover each and every pose required."
I am not tring to be sinical or scare you just give you a larger picture to look at and think about - it is a shame but you have to cover your rear-especialy in business today.
but hey-most events are successful and if you want it and watch your steps you can do this and enjoy it.
I wish you the best of luck in your ventures,

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6/22/2005 6:29:40 AM

Maria Melnyk   One does not need a model release for a portfolio; this applies to photographs submitted for publication.
As for shooting a wedding for "free", the only time you should do something like that is for those that can't afford a photographer, someone that isn't going to hire one anyway.
Start at your local church. Sometimes there are immigrants getting married. Sometimes there are baptisms or anniversaries where the people didn't consider having a photographer; these are the types of people you should approach. They will be more than happy to have you photograph their events. This is how I got some of my early samples.

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6/22/2005 11:34:34 AM

Tara    I actually am planning on getting married in January in North Carolina and would LOVE to have a photography that is trying to get into the Wedding business do mine for free or reduced rate. Of course, I would want to see a portfolio of some of their work. I wish there was a way to get a hold of people that would be willing to do this. Also, I am an aspiring photographer and would love to take the pictures myself - but I guess have to be in them!!

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7/21/2005 12:56:43 PM

Maria Melnyk   How's North Carolina in January? Tara - every now and then I lose control of my better judgment and make an offer like this:
Would you be willing to pay the expenses of a Chicago photographer to come out and photograph your wedding? I would be willing to do it pretty much at cost.
I've done this before for friends and aquaintances of friends. What do I get out of this if I don't make any money? A chance to see a part of the country I haven't seen before. A chance to make new friends.
The last time I did this was in March. I flew to Canada and photographed a large birthday party at cost. My plane ticket was paid for, and I got some awesome pictures of the Rocky Mountains that I sent to the family. And my client got three days worth of photographs
E-Mail me.

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7/21/2005 6:08:13 PM

Barry W. Ellis   G'day fellow photographers,
What a splendid idea from Maria M, 10-10 Maria, Get a nice little holiday in exchange for doing something we enjoy, so without wanting to stand on Maria's toes! I would be more than happy to photograph Tara's wedding with just the costs covered, though it would cost a little bit more for the plane ticket from the Uk!!!
Any news from Kristi on the first wedding? did you manage to do anything Kristi?
Cheers, Barry

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7/22/2005 2:31:40 AM

Mary E. Heinz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/23/2005
  Thanks everyone for the wonderful advice. I just set up my new Web Site..
FamilyTies Photography....including
restoration services....
Tara.....I know how the weather is in
my part of part are you
getting married ?

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1/25/2006 12:36:32 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  Maria- in NY at least you need model releases if you plan on using any of your portfolio work in any advertising! (website, brochure, etc) I learned this the hard way when having to remove photos from my site per my lawyers advice for people complaining & no release... (it is a misdemeanor in NY to use a photo for ANY business purpose w/o a release) Just a word of caution for everyone to protect themselves!

Kristi- I did a wedding after doing only portrait work because a friend with a small budget wedding had the photographer back out last minute. (traveling from maine to ny in december, couldn't make the trip)

I think attending a friend/family wedding and taking some photos is a good place to start, but the craziness of a real wedding can't be comprehended until you do one. If you can find someone you know with a limited budget wedding willing to let you shoot, and you practice ahead (go to the places & test shoot) I say go for it.

"Faking" a wedding by dressing your friends up for posed photos doesn't really cut it in my opinion. A former friend of mine who started a photo biz after mine did that, and it really burns me up to see her website & fake photos, knowing she is misleading clients. Posed photos do not compare to the chaos you need to perform in at a wedding. (I've only done one wedding, so take my advice for what it's worth, haha)

I know this is an old thread- so like Barry said, any update??

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1/25/2006 7:12:00 AM

Kristi Eckberg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/22/2003
  Hi everyone and sorry I did not respond with any updates. I have not done any weddings yet. I guess you could say I chicken'd out! I did help with a friends wedding. She got a pro photographer for free b/c it was a friend of a friend but she asked me to be there to take as many shots as I could get since the other photographer was not going to be there for to long. It was interesting. Small wedding but it made me realize how much is involved and how you have to keep the flow going and be on a time frame. I did get alot of great shots and got a TON of compliments which made me feel good but wasn't able to do nearly half of what I wanted b/c I didn't want to step on the other photographers heals. I do think when I start weddings I would like an assitant or another photographer b/c I feel there is so much involved and so many shots that can't be missed. A friend of mine started her wedding business with a partner and has been on her own for awhile but she said it was a great way to start. She is an amazing wedding photographer now. I have been asked to do a friend's cousins wedding this summer and they asked me knowing I'am looking to get into weddings and they are having a real small wedding in the park and I believe it's her second time around so that is why they are not going all out and thought of me as their photographer. I will take this one but after that I feel I really need to be and assitant for awhile to see what really goes on and what I need to learn. I'm sure I will have more questions later. Thanks again, Kristi

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1/25/2006 9:27:10 AM

Autumn Todd
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/27/2005

Your pictures are great! I think once you get going, you will be great at weddings. I think that everyone's advice is very good. I myself have done three weddings and feel this advice is right on. I fell into weddings unintentionaly. A friend of my aunts asked me to hers, and the other two resulted, and I have a few upcomming. Although I feel fairly confident at this point, I'm very upfront with people that call me and tell them that I've only done three weddings and the pictures they see are a result of the three I've done. I don't really put myself out there; Theres alot of pressure involved. Everyones right that weddings are a whole different ball park and there is alot that you can benefit from on the job. I wish that I would have had someone to shadow. I don't know where you live, but around Chicago there are some companies that offer training, then send you out with someone (I can't tell you the names of hand, but usually they pop up on the job search sites and a few people have mentioned them to me). Maybe thats an idea.

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1/25/2006 11:28:43 AM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  ""Faking" a wedding by dressing your friends up for posed photos doesn't really cut it in my opinion. A former friend of mine who started a photo biz after mine did that, and it really burns me up to see her website & fake photos, knowing she is misleading clients. Posed photos do not compare to the chaos you need to perform in at a wedding."

Denyse, If you were refering to my comment, what I ment was that maybe she could get someone and take pictures of them in it. NOT trying to make them look like they were taken during the wedding, but like the ones that you would see on the invitation or in the wedding anouncement section of the paper. Also, I made that comment forever and a day ago, and have learned tons since, and now I realize that it probably wouldn't have helped much to prepare her for a wedding.

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1/25/2006 3:32:44 PM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  I understand what you meant Brendan, but still the only reason to do photos in wedding clothes when you haven't done a wedding would be to make it seem like you have on some level, wouldn't it?

I'm a little over-sensitive on the subject, so you'll have to forgive me, no offense meant!! :)

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1/25/2006 4:36:37 PM

Maria Melnyk   I had thought that the "faking of a wedding" comment was referring to my suggestion. If so, please keep in mind that when my partner and I did this, we didn't have friends dress up; we hired a couple and paid them. We paid a priest to perform the entire ceremony in a church, we got a bridal party together, we got "guests" to come, we paid for flowers, we paid for music at the reception, so we pretty much had a "real" wedding going. All of this still cost a lot less than any other paid photography education would have. And the emotion displayed at the ceremony was real indeed; the couple we hired were very much in love. So the pictures were by no means fake. They were the ones that went up on the wall of the couple we hired. And we were well prepared after that to handle the chaos that came with photographing our first "real" wedding.

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1/25/2006 9:29:52 PM

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