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Photography Question 
Brooke Peterschmidt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/20/2004
 

Wedding guests with cameras causing problems


I was hired to photograph a wedding last weekend and ran into an unforseen problem. Dozens of the guests brought their cameras and took pictures the whole time I was working- during the posed formals and some guests even stood up at the back during the ceremony and took pictures while the ceremony was taking place. This caused lots of problems for me. First of all, I have lots of distracting people standing in the back of the processional shots. The really cute pictures of the flower girls are practically ruined by the people standing in the background! Then, to make matters worse, while I was taking pictures of the wedding party (pictures I worked hard to pose artistically) there were several people standing around behind me, also taking pictures of the group. The wedding party got confused by all the extra cameras, and many of the pictures had members of the wedding party glancing off to this or that other camera. Fortunately, I took enough duplicate pictures to get plenty of good shots, but the extra people milling around and getting in my way turned out to be very bothersome. Has anyone else ever had this problem? It just seems so strange to have dozens of folks hovering around with their cameras while I'm obviously the one doing the job. If this happens in the future, should I be so bold as to kindly ask them to take their seat during the ceremony, or to stop taking pictures while I'm doing the formals? Any advice or experiences you could share would be appreciated!


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6/20/2006 11:55:21 PM

 
Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  Hi Brooke! Everyone is excited at the wedding, wanting their own pics, but bottom line is the bride & groom are paying you to get the shots, whatever it takes. It's definately ok to take charge and set ground rules with pesky guests during formals! During the ceremony... well personally I don't think that's a photog's place to tell people to sit. Capture the moments as they happen as best you can. But during formals, tell them you need to get your shots, then you'll give them a few seconds to click off a few of their own before moving on to the next pose. If they're still clicking, and you need to move to the next pose, too bad for them, YOU are in charge! :)

During my own wedding, I wondered why my photog seemed a bit cranky. Now I look back & totally understand- my bridal party was 16 people, and at the formals various spouses came along as well, all with cameras. No one was paying attention, busy chatting. Poor guy! But he did what he had to & got great shots!


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6/21/2006 4:59:57 AM

 
Autumn Todd
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/27/2005
  Brooke,

I have only done three weddings so far, and without fail, I had problems with people and their cameras each time. It makes things take longer, and the wedding party starts to get antsy. I don't feel comfortable saying anything to people, but I told the last bride that this could be a problem and will make things difficult. She handled it pretty well and helped me keep things moving.

If you don't mind me asking, how did you produce the glowing, soft look of your pic with the couple dancing? Its very pretty!

-Autumn


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6/21/2006 8:22:26 AM

 
Brooke Peterschmidt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/20/2004
  Thanks, Denyse and Autumn, for your suggestions. The picture of the couple had that effect added in photoshop. I made a duplicate layer of the original image and applied gaussian blur to the top layer at about 19-20 pixels. Then I decreased the opacity of the top layer until it had the effect I wanted. I usually do around 20-30% opacity, but for this particular image, I think it was closer to 40%. Hope you have fun trying this out on some of your own pictures!


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6/21/2006 11:01:28 AM

 
Mellanie    I actually have something in my contract about guests taking photos while I am. I won't put up with it. They get in your way, or flash when you aren't. It's a big pain!
The bride and groom know where I stand on this issue ahead of time and warn their guests. The last wedding I did, the groom actually told every one to hold off with their photos until I said it was ok. Worked wonderfully!!!


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6/21/2006 11:06:26 AM

 
Jerry Frazier   If my son or daughter was getting married, and the photographer told me to stop or to get out of the way, I'd tell him or her to buzz off.

Remember people, this is a family event, not YOUR event. Yes, you are hired to do a job, so do it. You should be competent enough to do a couple of things to resolve this. It's not that hard to walk up to the bridal party, and tell them, very clearly, to look at your camera lens, not the others. Then, you turn around to the guests and tell them to put their cameras down, and let you get your shot, then after that, you tell them to take theirs. You do this over and over again. Easy.

Next, and this is not negotiable for me. When I do bride and groom alone shots, no one is allowed except me and them. Not even the videoographer. This is a special time where the bride and groom get to be alone, and I capture those moments.

With the only exception being above, all else is fair game for p&s guests. If people get in the way, I shoot them being in the way, so if later the bride is upset that Uncle Harry was in every shot, I can show her, "Yes, he was. See him there with his big rig on a bracket with a huge lens. Yes, he was there in every shot, standing in front of me all the time". But, my style really is more of a PJ style than anything else, so I tell brides, if they have intrusive family members that jump out in the isle during the procession, I shoot it as is. I don't get upset or yell, or try to get around it, I just shoot it as is. My style isn't for everyone, but I never claim that it is.


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6/21/2006 11:34:15 AM

 
Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  I agree with you Joe on if it were my kid, I'd tell the photog to buzz off! So I think there just needs to be that compromise. Like you said, take command, get the shots, then give that opportunity to the guests. You'll pull your hair out less that way :)

I also have it in my contract about guests not getting in my way, but stuff on paper means squat when your in the moment.

Brooke, thanks so much for the great photoshop tips. I was also wondering how you got that effect. I'm still struggling to comprehend PS, I feel like everytime I learn a new technique, I forget another one!! Can't wait to try it out!


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6/21/2006 12:07:12 PM

 
Jerry Frazier   You cannot "contract" the guests getting in your way. That's silly. Take that out of your contract, that's not even enforcable. What you should have is something about general circumstances beyond your control, and such.

The problem is just going to get worse as cameras capabilities improve. So, the key is to not fight it, and just deal with it.

Recently, I had a large purple lady standing directly behind the bride and groom at a beach wedding. I was trying to wave her out of the way, and she wouldn't move. So, during the ceremony, on a beautiful beach, with the ocean as a backdrop, is this large lady in a purple moo-moo with wigged out hair standing there with her little P&S. What was I to do, go over and tackle her? It's just a matter of people being completely clueless to the situation.

Not much I could do. And, if they want her PS'd out, I can do that, at my rates for that kind of work :)


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6/21/2006 1:18:16 PM

 
Nick Milton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/25/2003
  have to agree with above,

I do weddings,when people take photos themselves,i actually help them,why not,im being paid anyway,I wouldnt dare tell someone who maybe related they cant take a photo???get real,i would get thumped,why shouldnt they,I would in reverse situation,my comment be simply be,hard luck mate,im taking a pic,do what you can or want!!

if your good,your images will kill theres anyways,mine do.

Nick.


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6/22/2006 12:59:59 AM

 
Carol A. Morrison
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
  Speaking of Wedding pics. My son is marrying in August and they put out their "engagement pics" as they call it online for the family to view. Im telling you they are the most photogenic couple I have everr seen. My son is extremely attractive and his fiancee...ohh my god, shes a cross between either Reese Witherspoon or Alicia Silverstone...cant decide. They can both be photo models the way they look. I wish I could let someone see these pics, they are soo photogenic.

carol


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6/23/2006 3:54:09 PM

 
Carol A. Morrison
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006
  Speaking of Wedding pics. My son is marrying in August and they put out their "engagement pics" as they call it online for the family to view. Im telling you they are the most photogenic couple I have everr seen. My son is extremely attractive and his fiancee...ohh my god, shes a cross between either Reese Witherspoon or Alicia Silverstone...cant decide. They can both be photo models the way they look. I wish I could let someone see these pics, they are soo photogenic.

carol


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6/23/2006 3:58:22 PM

 
Nick Milton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/25/2003
  carol,

Your work looks ok to me,why dont you sign em up and portfolio them yourself????


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6/23/2006 5:29:29 PM

 
Klassic_Images    I have done a few weddings. This is how I combat that problem. If I notice there alot of people with cameras and it is becoming a distraction, I stop what Im doing and ask for everyone's attention. Then ask that everyone wishing to take pictures of the bridal party to please be patient. Once I have the shots I need, the Party will reamain in place for a few minutes so that you can take you own photographs. In most cases, it works and everybody is happy.


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7/7/2008 2:37:55 PM

 
Jennifer Harden
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/1/2004
  I discuss these situations with the bride and groom at the time I do our contract. I tell them that they are paying me a lot of money to shoot their pictures. Almost all the weddings I shoot now get CD's so I tell them there is no reason to have the other people taking pictures. Not to sound cocky but I'm a professional and I will undoubtedly get the best shots anyway.

I tell the couple that when me and 5 other people are all trying to take pics at the same time, the other persons flash can ruin my pic. Even if they aren't using a flash, the people being photographed need to know who to look at and when so we don't have people looking in 5 different directions.

I tell the bride I don't care if they want to allow other people to take pictures as long as they let me take mine first and the couple are willing to sit there the extra time to let everyone else their shots. If not, it's up to the couple to tell the guests the rules.

Addressing this problem before-hand has made it a non-issue for me.

Good luck!


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7/7/2008 2:53:07 PM

 
Jerry Frazier   Yes and no. At the last wedding, there wasn't time for screwing around. So, I got a little impatient with a few of the snapping guests. At a previous wedding, they were ruining my images with 1) flash, and 2) eyes looking at them and not me. I got pissed. I'd say at the last 2 or 3 weddings, I totally lost my cool and yelled at guests. This is not my style, but it's beyond just a little annoying. I'd explain in more detail, but I gotta run. I'll just say that in every case the brides supported me.


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7/7/2008 3:01:28 PM

 
Michele N. Yamrick   I too, do what a previous poster mentioned, by simply getting the guests' attention, and reminding them gently, yet firmly, that the couple are paying for the shots I'm doing, and deserve to have the very best they can get, and to please let me get my shot, and then I'll happily motion them to take theirs, and then we'll move on. Usually works very, very well, its polite, and everyone's happy.

I've only had ONE seriously BAD experience, where I did simply tell the woman to get out. She decided she had to get a chair from the back of the church, and stand on it, DIRECTLY BEHIND ME, high heels on and all. She nearly fell off of it once, twice, and third time was the charm, she went face first, off the chair and on to ME, sending me into the tripod holding my Nikon D3. I caught the camera, and managed to right myself, saving the camera and me from hitting the floor, but Miss "I MUST have a picture" did hit the floor. I made sure she was not injured, and then said in no uncertain terms, "you need to leave...NOW." She got pissy, insisting she HAD to have HER photos too, and I said again, "NO you need to leave. NOW." She finally got the hint.

You all don't even want to know what my reaction would have been had that D3 hit the floor. Oh hell no.


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7/16/2008 7:59:29 PM

 
Dolly L. Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/10/2007
  I did my first wedding about a 3 weeks ago. I was hired 9 days before the wedding, and didn't get to meet with the bride until 7 days before the wedding, for only about 5 minutes. To make a long story short, during the reception, when it came time for the bouquet toss, the people on the other side of the room all had their cameras and their flashes going off ruined my shots of the bouquet toss. It was very dark inside, it was at a big bar place they rented for the night. Needless to say the bride is very upset with me. I did try to contact her the whole week before the wedding to go over things, have her sign the contract and go over it, and she would not return my calls until 2 days before the wedding, in which she hung up on me, as she did not want to talk about anything, she said I was the professional. They only gave me an hour before the wedding to do all their portraits and the wedding parties, and their relatives' families. They ended up being 40 minutes late for that, so 20 minutes to do everything. They did not get many poses of the two of them together, only about 4. There was no time. They did sign the contract, the day of the rehearsal, however they did not read it. I tried to talk to the bride before and after the rehearsal, and she would walk off and ignore me. So did the groom. In my contract it states I am not responsible for any missed portraits if they are late to the session. They are furious they didn't get more of themselves alone, however, they didn't show up until 20 minutes before the wedding. They were very drunk also during it all. It was a very learning experience for me.


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7/20/2008 5:51:48 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  So Dolly, welcome to the wonderful, whacky, exciting world of professional wedding photography.

I ain't no wedding shooter, but I have to ask: Other than blaming the bride, groom and family for about everything that went wrong, do you think there was anything you could have done differently from the beginning and throughout the process to avoid any of what you described?
Take it light.
Mark


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7/20/2008 10:25:58 AM

 
Dolly L. Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/10/2007
  Mark, I could have stood there until I made sure they read the contract. I should have. I thought he was reading it actually while he was filling it out. That was my wrong. I SHOULD have said something about others waiting until I was finished getting my shots for them to get theirs. I didn't know before hand. I do not know what I could have done differently concerning them being late, drunk, not returning my calls. I was at a loss. I guess I could have threatened them that I would not shoot their wedding unless they called me back. I did try to get more portraits of the two of them together after the wedding, however they declined. I didn't mean to blame everyone else, or come across that I was. I was frustrated. I did learn that you cannot talk to someone about things when they are very drunk, and have them understand. So, what could I have done to prevent that? And prevent them from being late for the portrait session? I don't know them. I had no idea that they would be drunk during the rehearsal and wedding like that. I had no idea how to handle it all, never having done it before. And, only 9 days to try to learn, while working a 50 hour week at work besides. So, I ask you, what should I have could I have done to make them return my calls, show up on time, etc... I know the bouquet toss is my fault. I did not know that would happen. I offered free sessions to get more portraits of them together, they declined. Mark, please enlighten me on what I could have done differently. She came to me 9 days before the wedding and asked me to shoot her wedding, as she had seen me around different places with my camera. I do not advertize. I am not a wedding photographer or portrait photographer. When I have time outside of my job and other things, I take shots for fun. I did explain that to her when she hired me. I shouldn't have accepted shooting the wedding to begin with, with that little notice, not knowing anything about them. I would love to know how I should have done things under these circumstances. I know I really tried. And, I really tried to get ahold of her before the rehearsal and wedding to speak with her. I could have not taken shots of their relatives and had a few more minutes to take shots of them alone. I should have told them we didn't have time for their relatives portraits since they were late? I didn't know what to do, Mark, I really didn't.

I have a question for you. Why is it my fault they were 40 minutes late for a 1 hour session, that they were drunk and unable to communicate with me over things. I am just curious. And, honestly, should I have demanded they speak to me about everything when they were walking me off when I tried to talk to them? I really do want to know how to do it right. I do not know how to deal with people when they are drunk. And aside from meeting with the bride for those 5 minutes a week before the wedding, they were drunk every time I was around them. (The rehearsal and the wedding). Yes, I failed in areas. I did.


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7/21/2008 11:21:53 AM

 
Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  MARK- how the heck are ya!!!!! I'm never on BP these days but miss ya! I'm 3 mo. preggo :-)

Getting back to topic- Ah the joys of wedding photography. I feel you pain; some clients don't understand (or care) that they also have a responsibility for making great images by showing up on time and being sober for starters.

You live & learn in these circumstances- based on the late booking and them not being cooperative right from the beginning it tells you they'll be difficult clients, and maybe next time you'd decline. I've turned down clients before if I truly think we are not a good fit.

You also learn to watch where the big grouping of guest cameras are in the circumstance of the bouquet toss issue... and position yourself where you can still get the shots and avoid their flare.

And sometimes things just SUCK at weddings, and you have to accept the limitations you were dealt. I shot one yesterday that was entirely outdoors... and it rained like a monsoon! We did 5 MIN of formals IN THE RAIN. It's all we could do with the circumstances.


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7/21/2008 11:51:09 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Well Dolly, first I think I should tell you that I don't think this is about fault or blame. Rather I think this really comes down to experience on both sides of the fence, yours and your clients. Don't beat yourself up but instead, try and learn from the experience as it clearly appears you're trying to do. And sure, there's a lot to learn here.

As I said earlier, I don't do weddings. In my entire career I've only shot two of them. One while I was still in high school and the other for a friend who, is also a photojournalist where about 25 fellow photojournalists showed up with equipment in hand to shoot this occasion. It was more like a roving press conference and a real hoot but that doesn't help you at all. I think you'd do much better to get specific input from wedding shooters here. The experienced ones really know their craft and all aspects of the buziness. Remember it IS a real specialty.

Another thought I have about this is that perhaps you need to back off and consider your options in terms of your business and client acumen. Maybe until you get a better handle on this specialty, you'd do well not to take assignments on short notice, say not less than a couple of months in advance because to me, that would signal trouble like someone forgot to do something and/or photography was an afterthought, unimportant to them or they didn't allow enough funds, or combinations of those, among other things.

Client control is a big part of any business particularly wedding photography. From the time you meet with them to the time you sit down and order prints and ESPECIALLY SHOOTING, you need to control the scene, drunk or sober or have someone delegated to do just that. If someone is hammered and beligerent, either decline to photograph them or wait til they sober up and get themselves together.

Yes, communication (together with imparting some education to the client) is a key to success in any business, and again, especially this one, I think. You can't be expected to do what you need to do to fulfill an assignment unless you know WHAT that assignment is, and make sure the obligations and responsibilities on the part of both bride and groom parties are pretty clear. There are ways to do that as long as you have time.

And without being judgmental, if your clients seem to be lit most of the time you need to be imparting information to them, send them a polite letter stating that "due to an irreconcilable breakdown of the photographer-client relationship, I find I can no longer fulfill my obligation as your wedding photographer and am unable to do the best job I can to meet those associated responsibilities." Refund their deposit or a portion of it according to your contract which should have a cancellation clause written into it.

Aside from those things, join a professional association and if some of the wedding gang here chimes in, so much the better.
Good luck and as I said, don't be too hard on yourself.
Be well.
Mark


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7/21/2008 12:08:28 PM

 
Jennifer Harden
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/1/2004
  The best advice I can give is to review the contract with the clients when they sign it. I always point out that I can't get pictures of "Uncle Joe" if he's passed out in the back of the car. I explain that I will do my best to take pictures of everyone they would like but I can't be responsible if someone is inebriated and that is specifically listed in my contract. The contract also addresses people taking pictures. Always going over these points with the bride and groom prior to the event only take a few moments (it could have been done in the 5 minutes they alloted you) and everything is in writing too. It's really the best way to cover yourself if something, exactly like you're describing, occurs.

Good luck!


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7/21/2008 12:40:25 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  HI YA Denyse !!!! Sorry, I didn't see your post above til just now. DUH!
I'm doing just swell thanks. Hope you are too! Good points, btw. I think if you shoot weddings, all of you deserve, and should get, combat pay.
Take care.
M


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7/21/2008 3:00:37 PM

 
Sarah G   Combat pay. That sounds good. Good wedding photographers are blessed with a special gift and deserve every penny they charge.

Here's a story...

About 4 weeks ago I was a GUEST at a wedding and I deliberately left my camera at home. During the wedding I was glad I had because the place was a circus.

Would you believe that there were several guest that actually kept jumping up out of their seats and taking pictures. Several even went up on the "stage" to get the pics they wanted. At one point in the service there were at least 6 standing up there getting the unity candle shot and that was NOT including the photographer.

How the photographer got anything is beyond me. How any of the guests actually saw (or enjoyed) THE SERVICE is also beyond me, but to each their own.

It seems that this digital age has made everyone THINK they can do what photographers do.

(Dolly, I am STRICTLY A NOVICE so I can't suggest anything...sorry.

Just remember, hind sight is always 20/20 and life is about learning. KEEP MOVING FORWARD.)


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7/21/2008 3:55:50 PM

 
Dolly L. Davis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/10/2007
  I didnt take a contract with me when I went to meet her. I didn't have one yet. I said she hired me 9 days before the wedding. I should have said she called me 9 days before the wedding. She wanted me to come to her work a couple days later to look at my portfolio before she hired me. I didn't have one, so she looked at one I quickly made on my computer. She didn't actually hire me until a week before the wedding, when I took my laptop to her work to show her. That was the 5 mintues she gave me before she had to get back to her work. I never had a wedding contract typed up, as I never planned on shooting a wedding. After she hired me I went online and found some wedding contracts and typed one up. I don't have clients, as I am not a portrait or wedding photographer. I charged $400 for a total of 11 1/2 hours work, about 5 hours total driving time, with 50 free proofs that are 4x6. Then, from shooting in direct sunlight at 1:30 in the afternoon, I spent way over 40 hours editing the shadows on the faces, and spent over $500 for different plugins and actions for PS CS2, trying to make it easier to do. I had to try to learn photoshop real fast, too. I wasn't that fast. There were no clouds, and Lake Superior was right behind them. I tried to get them to do the portraits in the shade, but she demanded they be done at the arhbor. I don't know, but I thought I was suppose to do what she wanted. I did explain about shooting in the direct sunlight at that time of day, but she didn't seem to care. I ordered the speedlight and flash bracket and sync cord express delivery from B$H photo, however, they didn't arrive in time for the wedding. But, I did order them right away. It has been a very hard learning experience. That I never want to repeat again.


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7/21/2008 4:49:43 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Off hand, I see a number of problems working against you from strictly a business perspective.

First, you mentioned this is someone you work with. THAT can be problematic or at least trickey to handle as you discovered. You need to be politically careful with that one from both the employers perspective and fellow-employees. Personally, I'd never do business with someone I work with. IMO, it's like dating someone in the same office.

In addition, professional photographers get paid to SOLVE problems and not to allow clients to either further them or create them altogether. As I said earlier, "client control". One way to do that is to have the location scouted before you shoot. Careful planning is really important to location work and you're doing location work. Determine logistics and solve poitential problems before they happen. You should have known everything about the location before you had to shoot, including where electrical outlets were to recharge your flash if you had one. If you had to spend a night in a motel to do that, you should have built that into the cost of the job.

Also, presenting a contract for someone to read AFTER they hire you is a lot like buying a new car before you get a chance to read the warranty details and agree to them when the warranty was delivered in the glove compartment. Bad idea.

Sure you're providing a service and you want to please your client(s) but you can only do that within the realm of a myriad of factors like weather, time constraints, equipment limitations, exterior LIGHTING, time of day, and available settings.

Ordering new equipment before you shoot an assignment isn't generally a good idea UNLESSS you have sufficient time to become intimately familiar with that equipment, use it, practice with it and it becomes second nature to you as your camera should be. I've seen photographers fumbling with new flash brackets, blushing and dropping things, offering excuses up to an increasingly hostile mob of drunken guests. It ain't pretty. In the event that happens, light a match, I hear fire frightens them.

Lastly, you need to learn about pricing. $400 bucks to shoot a wedding, I think, is waaaaaay to little, especially for what's involved in terms of pre-shoot, shoot, and post-shoot work, transportation to and from the event, all the b.s. you need to deal with in terms of contracts, clients, ad infinitim and this subject has also been discussed here a zillion (or more times).

Join a professional association Dolly, get some classes in this kind of work, develop a business plan, have the proper equipment and know how to use it, be prepared for contingencies and know both your craft and business aspects that apply to it. Have a flexible, written business plan that includes rates/fees. I think those factors generally and specifically apply to what you're trying to accomplish here.
Take it light ;>)
Mark


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7/22/2008 9:24:00 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  While we're sort of on the subject, get a back copy of the wedding specialization issue of PDN Magazine (Photo District News) with the cover date of April, 2008. Great stuff. Better yet, if you want to do this work for a living, get a subscription. It's what's happening in the business end of photography around the world.
Their online site is at: http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/index.jsp

M.


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7/22/2008 8:29:24 PM

 
David Van Camp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/27/2008
  OK, hellish wedding photog stories? How about this:

I've shot (well sort of) exactly one wedding in my life, and not by choice.

I did so for a good friend, my father's senior lab tech, who made a side career out of shooting weddings.

When he asked I told him: "You know I've never shot a wedding, I don't have the equipment, etc." He said, that's fine. The key, most important shot he wanted was him and his new bride descending the broad, opulant stairway of the reception hall.

OK. So I set-up at the bottom of the stairs with my F2 all ready to snap. And waited. And waited.

They had taken the elevator, went to the limo and left.

I was so pissed I didn't even speak to him for a few weeks. I could have been upstairs partying (which I was as soon as I learned I was wasting my time!!)

Moral? Never shoot a wedding for a wedding photog... they are worse than anyone else!! :D :D

dvc


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7/22/2008 9:24:02 PM

 
Jerry Frazier   I think this is an awesome posting. Basically, it shows something that is often over looked...

Photographers are not monkeys. Just because you take a nice picture of a flower does not mean all the sudden you can shoot weddings. Just because you got a few lucky shots of your kids once, does not make you a catalog photographer for children's clothes.

I don't take jobs that I'm nto qualified for. I don't really care how much someone begs me to do it. And, this is the difference between a pro and a non pro.

Would a basketball player go play baseball? It's all sports, what the diff? Well, the diff is huge.

So, if you've never shot a wedding, why do you all of a sudden just go shoot one without knowing anything about it?

I have been asked to shoot many things such as product catalogs and buildings for architectural things, but I say no and refer them to photographers that I know that do that type of work. I have learned that if I shoot a product catalog without knowing the ins and outs of what they expect, I could get in a lot of trouble, in more ways than one. Also, I might charge a stupid rate (stupidly low) and not really know it.

So, how do you get in?

You do one of two things, from my perspective. The best way is to assist someone who is doing what you want to do. You will learn alot just assisting and observing.

Another way, and this is probably more what I would do, although I would look to assist if a friend had something coming up and didn't mind if I tag along, but I would call a friend who does the thing I am thinking about, and ask the ins and outs. They might tell me a few things to consider, what to watch for, how to upsell or how to make money, and what the deal is overall. This is very helpful.

If you are new, I think the ONLY way is to assist. If you don't want to take the time to do that, you are going to learn some very hard and expensive lessons, as I think you've realized by now. And, it doesn't get better, the lessons keep rolling in for years.

The fast track to success is to assist someone who is currently doing what you would like to one day do.


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7/23/2008 12:50:25 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Without at all intending to berate Dolly here as I sense she's well-intentioned, I agree, Jerry although IMO, while there may be fast tracks, there are still no genuine short-cuts to success (depending on how one defines "success" I guess) particularly in this business. Finding an assistant gig / apprenticeship, along with getting a firm understanding of pricing and how the business operates, any aspect of the business you're interested in pursuing from magazine shooting to wedding work, is always why I recommend joining a professional association and attending local chapter meetings, even (or especially) at assistant levels. Gettintg to know others in your professional community IMHO is always helpful whether it's ASMP or WPA, PPofA, etc., along with a subscription or two to professional publications (which does not include Pop-Photo or Shutterbug but ones along the lines of Photo District News, Rangefinder, etc.
Latah
M.


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7/23/2008 5:13:32 PM

 
Jerry Frazier   Hey Mark,

What I was saying is that there really isn't a fast track. The methods you mention are the fast track.

And, the 2nd message I was trying to get to is while just "doing it" like a Nike commercial seems like the fastest track, it's far more expensive, and maybe painful to the point where you wont make it. I've seen things happen to these cowboys and cowgirls that you wouldn't believe. The wedding community of photographers is actually very small, even though it doesn't appear that way. We all pretty much know eachother, or of eachother. In an odd way, we all watch out for eachother too. And, there have been some things going on around my area where some newbies have been shocked at our force when we find out what they are doing. (No, I wont go into it here).

It's like asking 'what's the quickest way to get through medical school'. Someone will probably say, 'get A's'.


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7/24/2008 10:04:10 AM

 
Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/2/2002
  Jerry- best statement ever:
"I don't take jobs that I'm nto qualified for."

I sooooo agree. I've had people tell me I'm crazy, b/c how will I grow if I don't challenge myself. That's just not an accurate statement. Taking on a task that is beyond my current abilities is not a growth experience, it's just a foolish move.


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7/24/2008 10:21:49 AM

 
Jerry Frazier   Hi Denyse,

I'd take it one step further and say it's just a matter of specialization. If you shoot weddings, that's what you do. You don't shoot food or clothing.

Now, if your wedding shooting is an off-shoot from your photojournalism, and then you are asked to do a lifestyle family session, I see that as the same thing. That works and it's inline with what you do. But, how would lifestyle photojournalism translate into food photography?

If you respect the business and the individual specialties within the business, I think that your success will greatly increase.

Also, most business books do state the those that specialize do better in the long run than those who are spread thin all over the place. There's good reason for it, but if you don't believe me, just go read some recent business books on the topic.


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7/24/2008 11:29:57 AM

 
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