PDA

View Full Version : Having the confidence to go out there for real (in the wedding photography world)!



Pages : [1] 2

ted_smith
01-03-2011, 02:39 PM
Hi

I'm in a bit of a moral dilemma.

I've photographed two weddings for friends in the past 18 months or so. The first went OK and the second went very well as a result of learning from my mistakes at the first. The clients of the second wedding were thrilled with my pictures, and even several APUG folk said the majority were very good photos (though one has to take into account pleasantries).

I used my Nikon F5, Fuji films and SB-800 flash.

I am very keen to publish a small advert in a local circular that gets posted in the houses in and around my area with the hope that I might get one or two "real" clients but not so many that I am unable to deal with it.

I am confident that I am creative, personable, approachable, professional, adaptable, courteous, thorough and I have a true belief in marriage myself. My business is already setup (accounts, website etc) and have a good mix of quality lenses but I don't do that much professional work.

What I am getting at is that I feel I could be a good wedding photographer, but I feel stupid to think that with two weddings under my belt and having never worked alongside a full time wedding photographer, I could actually do it "for real, with real clients". But then when I think about reasons as to why not, I don't actually come up with many, other than light extremes and rain, neither of which I have much experience of dealing with. But it worries me so much as to the consequences if I get it wrong.

I don't know what to do. Should I go for it, or should I not? Have any of you been in this position or did you all graduate from arts college and\or have experience as a second shooter before you went out on your own?

(PS - I have asked a couple of local photographers about assiting them, but I got either no reply or an indirect no).

Ted

jp498
01-03-2011, 03:09 PM
It's not that hard if you are a skilled and careful photographer AND are sociable. Be able to consistently and confidently make photos like you intended. Be able to herd a group of people for the group photos, or have a family member assigned to help you.

If you want to do it for money, you must not allow any situation that could result in excuses needing to be made. Have a second body, second flash, extra batteries, extra film, arrive early. Make photos that exceed the quality of every guest present in as many situations as necessary. Prove yourself and seek word of mouth referrals as your long term marketing.

I've done some weddings. Back in the '90's I'd shoot a wedding and give the film to the couple in exchange for $ and be done with it. When I got married, I hired a normal color photographer and hired a friend to do B&W. Lately, I've done a couple weddings with DSLRs. The last one, I did a nice MF B&W environmental portrait of the couple as a cherry on top.

I already have a real job, so I'm not desparate for money. I kinda like weddings but don't do them much for lack of time more than anything. Your local photographers don't want competition, that's why they didn't allow help. Lots of people with varying qualities of skills and preparation are "wedding photographers" and prices and results vary considerably, weakening expectations and prices. They know that and shudder at some of the people getting into that work. I've thought about offering being a second separeately hired photographer to do B&W film, sort of like how many couples hire a videographer as well as a photographers. THat would let me do mostly what I like best and not have the pressure to be the main photographer.

Christopher Walrath
01-03-2011, 08:12 PM
Here's my advice.

Just try one more wedding and see where you are after that.

TSSPro
01-04-2011, 01:01 AM
There is a lot to consider when you want to throw your hat in the wedding ring- marketing/adverts, client relations, business organization, taxes, networking...et all possible points of worry and frustration on top of making the clients that you get happy.
One thing is for sure, the value of working weddings where you are not the sole image maker in the beginning is invaluable. Being able to learn from a shooter that had been in the game, not only creatively and technique wise, but managerial knowledge, and learning the market you want to shoot for is totally and 100% invaluable.
Personally, I would keep pluggin away with other photographers, sending in resumes, dropping by studios with your portfolio and making sure that they take notice. I've gotten more call backs from studios for the simple fact that they dont get people who are willing to show up and drop off some leave behinds, a portfolio or resume at the front door or mailbox anymore. Mostly they are getting people sending e-mails with links to a myspace or flickr. Selling yourself, aka marketing yourself, to other photographers it a good testing ground on your ability to market to clients. The images and abilities you show to impress another shooter are more than likely the same types of skills and images that clients will want to see, too.

All the best,

dehk
01-04-2011, 01:11 AM
You can do it, as long as you don't overcharge them. And remember, if anything, you can only f it up once, there are no 2nd take. Keep that in mind and focus.

ted_smith
01-04-2011, 03:02 PM
There's that old saying "Fortune favours the brave"? I'm either very brave, or very stupid (time will tell) but I've decided to go for it by placing a small advert in a local advertising booklet that is posted to households in my area. So it's not national or anything. If I get one or two clients from that, I'll see how I go. If I fail, at least I can say I tried because every month for the last year it has been niggling at me, the "What if's".

FYI, here is my advert. Whilst I usually encourage positive criticism, on this occasion, as it's already been sent to the publisher so it's too late to change, only positive notes about it please! lol...

http://www.tedsmithphotography.com/temp/Flier2011.jpeg

dehk
01-04-2011, 03:39 PM
Good luck!

Paul Green
01-04-2011, 05:00 PM
Good luck Ted I am in exactly the same situation as you! Your pictures look great so try not to put yourself down!

segedi
01-04-2011, 06:04 PM
I would expect you could create a nice niche - do it. Most wedding photogs ditched film for digital because the cost of processing... then waiting if they sent film out... then printing, etc. But I do see photogs offering film and some funky services (I've seen Holga shots!). So if you have the stamina to keep up with demanding brides : ) - I say go for it. BUT, before you book your next wedding, get yourself a backup body. Not only is it nice to have another lens at the readyy, but you're totally SOL if the F5 (touch wood) acts up. Or a battery dies. Or the myriad of other things that can go wrong actually does. Plus you can have a B&W and a color switch readily available. Best of luck!

ted_smith
01-05-2011, 03:51 AM
Thanks guys. Lets see what happens.

I quite agree re the niche aspect of "selling film prints" - I think the addition of a line about traditional B&W work acts as a good selling point. These days, because so many people have DSLR's and a good number of pro wedding shooters also use 35mm DSLRs like D3's etc, it seems to me that medium or large format digital shooters, or film shooters of any format, subsequently stand out a lot more than they used to as being different. I'm not saying I consider such shooters to be any better or worse, but that seems to be the view of the general public.

Often people have 'wowed' when they've seen my F5, having initially thought it was a DSLR and then discovering it's film. I think the whole inability for a photographer to see what he's taken also instills confidence because the public think "If he can't see what's he's taken, he must know what he's doing!"

I agree re the backup body. If I secure a gig, I'll buy a second one and, as you say, have one loaded B&W and one colour.

cjbecker
01-19-2011, 11:09 PM
I am right there with you. I have shot one wedding on my own (it was actually the guy I normally assist for) and have been the second shooter for 5-6 weddings. But I still donít have the confidence to take one on myself. I am going to feel this way until I actually take one on. It is being scared of the unknown. So once I have all the gear and backups I am going to start talking them on.

cjbecker
01-24-2011, 11:08 PM
Well i just got my first official wedding. The date is yet to be set. But im exited. Hopefull i can shoot it 100% film.

ted_smith
01-28-2011, 05:23 PM
The tradesman magazine in which my advert appears begain distribution yesterday. It goes to about 3,000 homes in my area and it takes them about 3 days to complete distribution. 24 hours after mine landed through the door, not a sausage. Not one phone call or e-mail :-( I hope I am just being impatient.

CJBecker - congrats to you. Do you need a second shooter? :-) ;-)

rphenning
01-28-2011, 05:30 PM
it will probably take a bit of time I would think, but I have no experience with this sort of thing. Pretty cool, good luck!

Diapositivo
01-28-2011, 06:56 PM
Some sparse thought, I understand I am possibly suggesting things that you have already made, or thought, or considered.

If you are unemployed and with plenty of free time, I would propose myself as assistant to a photographer pretty much away, but not too much away, from my area. He would be confident that, once your apprenticeship is over, you are not going to cover his area, but you will be able to act as a referral for each other, and as a backup for each other in case of illness, accident, "double booking" etc.

I would never do a marriage as main photographer with only two marriages on my shoulder "as a friend". When you do things for free, and for a friend, they are bound to be good. It's not that your friends want to flatter you, it is really that expectations are totally different. I am no wedding photographer, but I suspect the mother of the bride, the bride etc. will have a totally different attitude toward you, your pictures, your time, your availability etc. than your friends.

Rather than "wedding" photographer I would sell myself as "ceremony" photographer. How many people are going to marry in your neighbourhood of 3000 households in the next few months? On the other hand, somebody might look for a photographer for a birthday, a first communion, a confirmation, a baptism, a graduation, the opening of a shop, the presentation of a book, etc.

Besides, a graduation or a birthday are less stressing than a marriage.

I would have 3 cameras: one for colour, one for B&W, and one as a backup. If a camera fails, the backup one can replace the B&W or the colour one and your work goes on undisturbed. The third one is to be left in your car etc. provided it is not too far away. You also need a backup flash, and backup of anything that you may need (backup glasses if you are a glass wearer, for instance).

Most of all, you need a backup photographer. What if you are ill the day of the marriage?

I did not attend many marriages, but I never saw a marriage with a photographer without an assistant. OK the last marriage I saw was in december 2003. Old same Hasselblad 500c, two Metz torches, photographer & assistant.

You should also prepare a contract where you lay down clearly what the clients will have, and what they will not have. Contracts change enormously, some photographers give copyright, some retain it, some photographers give the negatives, some retain them, you have to specify how many large format images are you going to print, how much is for each extra print. Your clients might have totally different expectations and would give for granted the opposite of what you give for granted. As far as I remember having read, photographer account to print sales to relatives and friends for around one half of the revenue.

An insurance for professional damages would not be a bad idea at all. People can get very angry if you screw their wedding photographic service. Your contract should also try to foresee problems. This business can be risky.

Also I would begin following fora by wedding photographers (not that I knew any, but I suppose there are a few around).

If you have spare time, I would just go around assisting to wedding ceremonies, to see what the photographer does at every moment of the ceremony. Study the mass carefully, see when the photographer can use a flash, when cannot, when he's not supposed to take any picture at all. Study also the way the photographer deal with the couple, when on the parents, the friends etc. "Steal the skill with your eyes".

Make friend with your local priest. Ask him what a wedding photographer must do, what he must not do. Wedding photographers often have to have a nulla osta from the priest in my country, priests don't like having photographers who are invasive, disturb the sacred character of the ceremony, attract attention, divert attention, flash around as if they were to a party. Make your your priest knows you understand his needs.

Well, good luck. You believe in marriage, so you definitely must be an optimist :D

Fabrizio

PS If there are people of other religion in your area, study their marriages, their equivalent of baptism, first communion etc. Make yourself known to the local rabbi/pastor/imam/etc. Let them your telephone number, some couple might ask their priest if he knows a wedding photographer.

Have more than one formal dress, of course, unless everybody is informally dressed. Perspirate professionalism...

ted_smith
01-29-2011, 04:20 AM
Rather than "wedding" photographer I would sell myself as "ceremony" photographer. How many people are going to marry in your neighbourhood of 3000 households in the next few months? On the other hand, somebody might look for a photographer for a birthday, a first communion, a confirmation, a baptism, a graduation, the opening of a shop, the presentation of a book, etc. - good idea.

I will consider that but the problem with those kind of events these days is the whole "Everyone is a photographer" concept. In other words, ever event I go to these days of that nature, there is at least one person there with a DSLR who thinks he's a pro. I find that inevidtably, these days, people rely on those friends to provide photographic coverage of their event. Still might be an idea though.

Contracts - done it. Checked it.

Insurance - got it (and have had it for two years for my other pro work). Checked it covers professional damages.

Backups - not got them all yet, but in the process of doing so. If and when I actually secure a booking, I'll make sure I have it. Considering 2 x F100's as backups to accompany my F5. Have just bought an off-camera flash shoe too. Might look a 2nd SB-800 as you suggest.

Though I've only shot a few weddings, don't be under the illusion that I've just woke up and thought "I know, I'll do that". I've spent a lot of time buying\loaning and reading wedding books, have toured probably hundreds of wedding photographer websites and spoke (often via PM or whatever) with many. I have treated this endeavor with the professionalim it respects and would not embark on it if I had doubts that I could do it. I'm just not sure about having the confidence to do it due to the many things that could go wrong, thus this thread was started.

Christopher Walrath
01-29-2011, 06:36 AM
You speak of backups. Consider backup photographers as well because you never know.

markbarendt
01-29-2011, 08:50 AM
Hi

I'm in a bit of a moral dilemma.

I've photographed two weddings for friends in the past 18 months or so. The first went OK and the second went very well as a result of learning from my mistakes at the first.

That is perfectly normal. The learning curve is steepest in the first few weddings.


The clients of the second wedding were thrilled with my pictures, and even several APUG folk said the majority were very good photos (though one has to take into account pleasantries).

The only thing that counts is the clients.


I used my Nikon F5, Fuji films and SB-800 flash.

I don't care how reliable these tools are, they aren't indestructable, having a (preferably matching) backup camera and strobe is important if you are going to do this.


I am very keen to publish a small advert in a local circular that gets posted in the houses in and around my area with the hope that I might get one or two "real" clients but not so many that I am unable to deal with it.

If you get too many jobs you are not charging enough or being picky enough about the jobs you take.


I am confident that I am creative, personable, approachable, professional, adaptable, courteous, thorough and I have a true belief in marriage myself. My business is already setup (accounts, website etc) and have a good mix of quality lenses but I don't do that much professional work.

Having the business setup is great.

Having a well defined product is of paramount importance; exactly what does the bride get?

And yes, I really do mean "exactly".


What I am getting at is that I feel I could be a good wedding photographer, but I feel stupid to think that with two weddings under my belt and having never worked alongside a full time wedding photographer, I could actually do it "for real, with real clients". But then when I think about reasons as to why not, I don't actually come up with many, other than light extremes and rain, neither of which I have much experience of dealing with. But it worries me so much as to the consequences if I get it wrong.

Weddings are, at least for me, just the perfect setup for a long series of staged "environmental" portraits. Everyone is normally dressed well and expecting to be photographed. It's not a tough world to work in.

At weddings, you just photograph more people, in more setups, than you do in other situations.

I find that once I "get in the groove" it's just a matter of remembering to look around and keep up with the plan.


I don't know what to do. Should I go for it, or should I not? Have any of you been in this position or did you all graduate from arts college and\or have experience as a second shooter before you went out on your own?

I did one assisting job, no arts college, just went for it.

Since you like the idea of it, go for it.


(PS - I have asked a couple of local photographers about assiting them, but I got either no reply or an indirect no).

Ted

They don't want the competition. ;)

Steve Smith
01-29-2011, 09:34 AM
Might look a 2nd SB-800 as you suggest.

If you need to get a second flash quickly, I have an SB-600 which I was planning to sell. If you want to borrow it I could post it to you to try out on a sort of sale or return basis.

It was going to be sent to Ffordes with some other stuff which they are going to sell for me but if you want to borrow it, let me know.


Have just bought an off-camera flash shoe too.


Is that the SC-28A lead? I have a Nissin version of that spare too!


Steve.

Shadowtracker
01-29-2011, 09:53 AM
I don't shoot weddings, but do have a suggestion for you in terms of adverts; most churches have a bulletin of some kind, and they sell low-cost adverts in those, and they are VERY worth pursuing. The local people/church members really do read those, and the fact that you have a business size ad in it will usually mean that you are somewhat "local" and they like to support local companies most of the time. Getting to know the ministers at a few different churches can be good for a few different reasons. For one, the minister then knows you or has met you one-on-one and can suggest you as a photographer - don't underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. The other aspect of getting known by a minister/church is that it's usually "just a few" weddings each year, so you won't be flooded by requests, but you will get requests. Part of getting to know the church members/minister, can include shooting some photos for an event they are having sometime during the year as well.

Just some thoughts.