Having the confidence to go out there for real (in the wedding photography world)!
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).
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.
Last edited by jp498; 01-03-2011 at 03:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Here's my advice.
Just try one more wedding and see where you are after that.
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,
M. David Farrell, Jr.
~Buying a Nikon doesn not make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner!
~Everybody has a photographic memory, but not everybody has film!
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.
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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...
Good luck Ted I am in exactly the same situation as you! Your pictures look great so try not to put yourself down!
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!
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.