Success Ratio - How Did I Do?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by gnashings, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Wedding photography is not my forte, not really something I ever planned on doing - but, a friend asked me if I could take some photos at his wedding. I was not the "main" photgrapher there (a good friend of mine was doing that) so I was shooting exclusively B&W, and being a bit of a "rover", almost a journalistic approach (I declined doing the posed stuff).
    In the end, I had one camera, one lens (Canon EF, 50mm f1.4 lens - no flash). I ended up with 7 rolls of film from the ceremony, in front of the church, and in a park right after (an impromptu session with family and friends, etc).
    I developed the negs, and noticed that I got exposure/developing correct on all the film, and that most of the photos were properly focused and exposed (probably 30+ from each roll of 36).
    I started printing the photos, and have noticed that I am fully satisfied with maybe 5 photos on each roll, and have between 10-12 images that I would term as "acceptible" to me.
    How did I fare? Is this respectible ratio for this type of work? I was just wondering, thought maybe some of you would share your takes on this.

    Thanks,

    Peter.
     
  2. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    5 from one roll beats my hit rate which is generally the reverse of that.
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    For even agreeing to bring a camera to a wedding, as your avatar suggests, you may well be a saint. I'd rather have a root canal than do that!
     
  4. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Dave:

    I was being rather generous with those numbers, seeing as I had no "vision" for the pictures, anything that looked more less the way I thought it would was "acceptible", anything that in any way stood out above that was termed "good"(that's the 5). I don't think any of it could go in a contest or anything! Thanks for the encouraging words!

    Jovo:

    I think it was an act of ignorance more than saintliness, hehehehee :D
    Believe me - as the pictures I want to print sit and gather dust (figurtively speaking, of course) I am slaving through the wedding shots...
    This is a very, very good friend of mine, a person I value tremendously on many levels - otherwise I would certainly either run far, far away, or ask for a large sum of money (hoping it accomplishes the same):smile:
     
  5. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Peter, going to a wedding and watching how hard wedding photographers work at their craft always reminds me of that time time in my life when I also earned part of my living recording these events. It also reminds me of why I made the decision to have a career change. I attended a beautiful wedding yesterday that again made me most grateful for not earning my living as a wedding photographer.

    Five that you really like out of a roll of 36 is pretty good. I heard Dewitt Jones speak one time and in his presentation he said that whenever he gives a presentation there is always an amateur photographer who asks him how many "good shots" he gets out of a roll of 36. He said that this is the amateur's question. He went on to say that when shooting an article for National Geographic, which might have 15 or so images included in it, they would shoot 400 rolls of film (over 14,000 exposures). The professionals question was not how many good ones you get out of a roll, but rather, "Did you get what you needed?"

    Now I know Dewitt was not talking about wedding, however his perspective certainly helped to changed mine about what to expect from a roll of film. A friend of mine is in the wedding phototgraphy business and he shared with me some images he did at a wedding he attended, not as the official photographer. They were captured on B&W film using a Canon point and shoot rangefinder camera and they are some of the best wedding images I've ever seen. I'm sure yours are the same and will be the ones the couple enjoy the the most as they record the feeling of the event not just who the people were who attended.

    I'd be happy with five any day of the week. Bill Barber
     
  6. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Sometime as photographers we are to discerning of work of ours which although may not be acceptable to us in some way, may still hold some importance, in this case to your married friends. Let them see all the photos, and hold the best for last, maybe in a small album. Many times what I thought might be a throwaway wound up being cherised by someone else.
     
  7. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Considering this is (I assume) not something you've done much before and given the constraits and style of shooting, I'd say you did quite well.
     
  8. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I realized even as I was typing the question that... well... it is quite "amateurish" - but alas, I am an amateur, so I thought it would be forgiveable:smile:

    I never did assume it was easy - but given the very relaxed circuimstances of my foray into photographing a wedding and seeing how it beat me up - I have a new perspective at how hard these people work! By the time the ceremony was over, I was sweating like a 500 pound man in a sauna!

    Jokes aside - thank you very much for the kind words and I am glad I was not completely "blowing it" up there! I really appreciate your input. I think you guys sensed the kind of thing I was after - the little "moments", like when the maid of honour realized the bride's vail was slipping a little and she snuck up and fixed it, and the look exchanged at that time between the two. That was what I was after. And since I was shooting 35mm TriX rated at 1000 and dev'd in Acufine, I knew that poster sixe prints were pretty much out of the question :D When I managed to keep the crowd, intently observing the ceremony through their little digi-gizmos, out of the images look kind of vintage, which I thought was neat.

    Actually, I couldn't help myself - I took a photo completely for me! Out in front of the church, I swung the camera away from the happy couple and pointed it at the crows - no one was talking, no one was involved in anyway... they were all staring, zombie-like, into their digitals' LCD's... sign of the times, captured on TriX:smile:

    Thanks again for all your input!

    Peter.
     
  9. sajianphotos

    sajianphotos Member

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    Probably the married couple would find many more that they like. As said, you are probably your harshest critic. But if you're like me and roam around the awesome galleries here in APUG you are viewing your own work with a higher level of scrutiny.

    I perform (minister) weddings and am amazed how many times I have heard couples say later how glad they are that someone else was taking pictures because the "pro" had some pretty shabby work (not in your friend’s case of course). In the last couple of years I've noticed that wedding photography has become, at least in my area, almost exclusively digital.

    Often the photog will snap off pictures at a gazillion frames a second with a camera that is doing everything by itself. I wonder what the difference is in two pictures that are a 20th of a second between each other as two people are standing still looking at each other?

    30 years ago, even 10 years ago I saw many more photogs that would CAREFULLY form a shot with their Hassies or even 35mm’s. Now there's a quite a few more that look like paparazzi trying to get an exclusive. I don’t want to over-generalize though, there are still some good wedding photogs around.

    I may be wrong but I’ll bet you considered each frame before you shot it. That just comes naturally from walking around this site for a while.
    BTW I’m happy with 1 good shot per roll.
     
  10. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Being on this site has improved me as a photographer SO VERY MUCH that I can't even think of where to start the praise for the people and the very concept. Even the way you folks responded to this verythread shows that to good adventage! I am eternally grateful for you thoughtful, supportive and contructive responses (here, and wherever else I come crying for help:wink:).

    The galleries here took me a while to get into, frankly. The first time I scanned them, I seriously considered erasing every post I ever made that was not a humble question! But, once the intimidation goes away, aided by the caliber of people who make up the majority of the membership on APUG, I just looked, and looked, and looked... So much to learn - but also, so much learned already! I love this place. And if my friend who got married knows whats good for him, providing he likes the pictures I took, he should write a thank you not to you guys - I know for absolutely certain that they are many times better than they would have been before I started to take in the knowledge that you folks so generously share with all who ask!

    Hats off to APUG'ers, and once again thank you

    Peter
    (aka that long winded guy:wink:)
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Peter:

    If you read any of my posts, you will note that I have done a reasonable amount of wedding photography. I like the work, but I too find it very demanding.

    You may be bringing the wrong "lens" to the evaluation of your photography at the wedding.

    Weddings are events and celebrations. When you photograph a wedding, you always hope to come up with a few photographs that you and others might want to enlarge and put in a big frame on the wall somewhere, but in my mind that is not the main reason to have someone photographing a wedding who knows what they are doing.

    Instead, you want photographs that, even though they might be 8x10s, 5x7s or even just 4x5s, in an album amongst many others, they effectively tell the story, and capture the feel of a special occassion.

    I consider the best compliment to me and my work is when I can tell that my clients (or friends) look regularly through my photos, share them with others, and enjoy them and the memories they invoke. That tends to occur when the photographer is both technically competent and, more importantly, attuned to the people involved, including their likes and sensibilities.

    It's also nice as well, when they buy more. :smile:

    I've been at a few weddings, where the photographer exhibited no sense of identification with those involved - they were just firing away, probably according to a formula. I didn't see anything that would likely result in anything more than an uninteresting record of the event.

    I understand you when you say that you found it exhausting - it can be very demanding. I suggest though that you ask yourself whether you also found the experience (in particular your interaction with your friends and the events of their special day) enjoyable or inspiring. My sense is that you probably did, and it is quite likely that your photographs will reflect that enjoyment or inspiration.
     
  12. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Thank you for your thoughtful response - I appreciate it, as always.
    Did I find it enjoyable, rewarding? Well... I think not being a pro - and thus not used to the pressure - I will have to wait to answer that one. Right now, and ever since I agreed to do it, I was more overwhelmed and scared witless! I hope (and presume) that I will find the answer to be yes, once these wear off.
     
  13. sajianphotos

    sajianphotos Member

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    That's good advice! If the photographer knows even a little about the couple He/she has a huge advantage at capturing the "moments". Often when I am counseling a distressed marriage I ask the couples to bring in pictures of their wedding and ask them to pick the pictures that mean the most. Often the picture is not one of the perfectly framed, professionally perfect picture of the crossed hands with the wedding rings sparkling, but of a snapshot of the two spontaneously smiling at each other. In fact seldom has it been the 8x10 perfect pose at the alter in a $50 frame. In most cases the pic will be one showing compassion, humor, respect, etc. and a lot of times it is one that a friend took.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2005
  14. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    That's a great point - and one that showed insight on behalf of the priest as he echoed it before the ceremony. I was very shocked at the absolute back seat he was willing to take to the event itself and what it meant to the couple. I was very pleasantly surprised, as I know many clergy who really think they have a direct line to God and therefore everything pales in importance next to them! This older gentleman (and a Catholic priest at that), although very traditional in many ways, not only didn't impose any restrictions on us (the photogs) but took us aside and encouraged us to shoot as much as we can, mainly for the very reason you mention! In that respect it was a great experience, and a pleasant surprise.
     
  15. sajianphotos

    sajianphotos Member

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    I also encourage a lot of pics. The more taken, then the better chance my handsome frame will be shown (the tongue is massaging the cheek) ;-) I also don't mind flash but some clergy don't like it. I also really like to sit down with the photog and see what I can do to help her/him.

    I guess being an amateur photog of sorts myself makes me pretty sympathetic. I have had occasion, though, to experience some pretty haughty photogs. Several I can remember, I'm sure, thought they had a direct line to God too. I remember one that took 1 & 1/2 hours after the ceremony to set up his studio and take pictures in the sanctuary. He wouldn't even let the couple go through the reception line. I tried to explain to him a reception was waiting but he remarked that my job was done and his time was worth a heck of a lot more than mine, or anyone elses there, and he would finish when he finished. In no uncertain terms, he told me to let him alone. By the time he was done most the guests had left. After that I began to pay more attention to who the photog was going to be.

    I'm not sure how many wedding photographers realize how much help a clergy person who likes their demeanor can be. In fact, it has never happened, but I would be pleased if a photog would call me ahead of the ceremony and set up a time to meet. I think pictures are that important, If there's any wedding photogs out there reading this, I'd be interested in knowing how close they work with clergy. But then I'd be stealing your thread. I just might be a good thread to start.

    Anyway, fortunately, the vast majority of photographers are considerate and professional (even if they do use a digital). It's a shame but a moody photog too full of themselves can ruin a wedding about as fast as a clergy who's too full of themselves.

    I've never seen one ruin a ceremony as well as a demanding mother, though. They can be downright nasty.
     
  16. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    You did pretty good, especially if you don't do it that often, when I was shooting weddings for money, I figured about 20% ratio on images that I liked, not the couple, but me myself, normally if it was exposed properly, eyes open no gastly shawdows and such, I would allow the couple to view them as proofs, which surprisingly, they accepted about 70-75% of the shots, you have to remember, we look at images all the time, the couples normally don't and they are surprisingly easy to work with, if you have laid everything out properly and cultivated a bit of a relationship with them.

    Outdoors weddings were always the biggest challenge to me, there are so many variables that can and do change the exposure right at the time you make the exposure, I have some great shots of a large brown goose chasing the groom across the lawn at one of the weddings I did a couple of years ago, and believe it or not, that turned out to be a favorite with the bride and groom! :smile:

    But you sound like you did okay, congrats.

    And as Jim said, watch out for mothers and mother-in-laws!!! Yikes!!!

    Dave
     
  17. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Jim,

    The mother comment was priceless! Fortunately, I had a couple of very sweet, very classy ladies on my hands:smile: - but I can only imagine!

    Dave,

    Thanks for the input, I do appreciate it!
    Once we got outside we had some clouds - so that the light was not horrifically contrasty. Lucky for me - I got some nice, reasonably soft and even light!

    Peter.
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Jim:

    I always try to at least say hello to whoever is officiating. If I have a chance to ask about preferences, likes and dislikes, I welcome that too. When I can, I discuss angles, positioning, and lighting, as well as the "signing the register" shots.

    I photographed one wedding in a large, circular church (with a gospel music ministry), where they ended up following my suggestion to have the guests, including in paricular the immediate family, sit in the choir area as well - essentially it was a wedding in the round, and all my shots during the ceremony show the happy couple surrounded by family and friends throughout. Apparently, the minister has used that idea in subsequent weddings. I know that the bride and groom really appreciated it - their church formed an important part of their lives, and they really liked the fact that so many of their friends and relatives, many of whom were part of the congregation, were prominent in their wedding photos.

    All this is a roundabout way of saying that the more you ask, discuss, and learn, the better your work tends to be. I expect that Peter's photos reflect his interest in the people.

    Matt
     
  19. sajianphotos

    sajianphotos Member

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    Thanks Matt. You are absolutely right in what you have done and said. That must have been a great set of pics.
    You say you don't do weddings anymore because it's too demanding. It sounds like you have a real talent for it. If you don't mind my asking what about it was the worst?
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Actually, I usually end up doing about one a year - this year included. Strictly for friends or friends of people who were previous clients.

    There are two reasons I don't do more.

    The first reason is that I have a full time practise as a lawyer - the usual 45 - 60+ hours per week that small firm practise entails. It's possible to schedule the actual photography into the midst of that, but there just aren't enough hours in the day to cover all the other responsibilities that quality wedding work requires (equipment maintenance, purchase of supplies, working with the professional lab, editing proofs, organizing proof albums, assisting clients with orders, masking negatives and/or preparing custom printing instructions, spotting/retouching, preparation of albums, not to mention promotion, sales, consultation with clients, discussions with the officient, etc., etc., etc. ...).

    The second reason is the one that will be very evident to Peter. Wedding work is quick. You have to be able to handle the technical details instinctively, without pause or delay. If you photograph weddings, you have to be able to handle the cameras and the film and the lenses and the flashes and the tripod and the reflectors and ... quickly, and almost automatically, otherwise you won't be able to anticipate appropriately and you will miss important images. In addition, if you are not quick, you will find yoursely just rushing to keep up, and as a result unable to bring to bear your photographic talents, judgement and imagination - your photographs will be at best, blah.

    If you do the work regularly, you adjust to the pace, and gain and retain the ability to work accurately and quickly, while still bringing your photogaphic skills and vision to the task. If you are not doing the work regularly, you just aren't as able to do it with the same facility, and both the quality and the enjoyment may suffer. My circumstances force me to do it part-time, if I am going to do it at all, and that is one of the reasons I too find it more demanding now than in the past.

    I'll save the sort of funny, sort of scary wedding photography horror stories for another time. :smile:
     
  21. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I had a good laugh at the first part - it was so very true! I am not horribly out of shape, but my wife thought I was going to have a heart attack up there! Either that or dehydrate myself - there was so much sweat pouring off me! Part of it was the fact that I was in a suit and tie and the church was full and the day was warmer than anticipated. But - I think at least 50% of it was just my lack of experience causing a lot more leg work not to mention anxiety about missing shots or just plain screwing up!:smile:

    And I would love to hear those horror stories - I think if you started that thread in the lounge, it would take on a life of its own and lead to many hours of side splitting laughter! I would love to see it!
     
  22. sajianphotos

    sajianphotos Member

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    Here it is.
    http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?p=209776#post209776