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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 15 Mar 2004 (Monday) 10:07
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How Do I Get Into Wedding Photography?

 
Johnnynf
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Mar 15, 2004 10:07 |  #1

I am a relative amature at photography, although I have been taking A LOT of pictures lately and am getting pretty good at it if I may say so myself. :D I am also quickly amassing a wide array of equipment. Anyway, I was thinking over the weekend, I might like to try my hand at wedding photography as a part time "hobby/job". I realize that this is quite an undertaking. However, since I do already have quite a bit of equipment and some basic experience, it may not require a second college degree and thousands of dollars to get into the "business". My question is, does anyone have any suggestions as to where I can get some good training? I have been searching the local colleges and community colleges all morning, and have thus far found nothing. The state University here in town offers some photography classes, but they are all either tied into the journalism school (which is VERY hard to get into) or the art school.

Then, I thought I might try an online class. There are places that offer some wedding photography classes online, but I question the legitimacy of some of these places. One site advertised their wedding photography class as "How to become a pro wedding photographer and drive a red Ferrari". Another place (the link below) has their wedding photography class listed just above the "ghost investigation class". Obviously, these places leave a little to be desired.

http://my.universalcla​ss.com/i/courses/instr​uctor24.htm (external link)

So, does anyone have any thoughts? Can I learn all I need to know just by reading some books? Can I learn all I need to know by shadowing a pro for awhile? As I said, I realize that this is not going to be an overnight thing, and I am willing to put in some time and money to learn this stuff the right way.




  
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G3
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Mar 15, 2004 15:43 |  #2

Well, at least you didn't book a wedding eith no experience. :)

You have no idea what you are getting into. I'm not trying to be mean or smart-alecky or anything like that, just stating a fact. To try to hire out to photograph a wedding with no experience is sheer foolishness and just asking for a lawsuit.

I would suggest that you go to work for a full-time professional Wedding Photographer for at least a year, working every Saturday (most weddings are on Saturdays, a few are on Sundays). You will do all of the grunt work at first, then he may let you help with posing after a while, then maybe after a year or so he'll let you shoot some. Take some photography courses in the meantime. Learn all you can about location portraiture, it's the closest thing to wedding photography.

There are several threads regarding equiment, just do a search on the forums on "wedding". I think you'll be surprised at what you really need...two of everything.

Wedding photography is not really like any other kind of photography. If you are just doing portraits, and you mess up or have a camera malfunction that you weren't aware of or the lab loses you film or CD's or whatever, you can call the client and schedule a re-shoot. You just can't do that with a wedding. You have one chance to get it right. If you mess it up, they will very likely come after you.




  
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DeAnn
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Mar 15, 2004 21:40 |  #3

Johnny, :shock:

G3 did give you some good advice. However I would like to add that it is possible to break into the business very slowly by pretty much shooting your first dozen (at minimum) at 0% profit. Basically, charging ONLY your actual expenses.

This will benefit both you and the couple. Often times couples are young, paying for their wedding expenses from their own pocket and simply looking for the cheapest way to go. (They often get what they pay for)

This will allow you to get a good taste of Wedding Photography and slowly build a working portfolio. The old addage, be careful what you wish for comes to mind here. :wink: while allowing the couple to at least "feel" that they got a great value in hiring a advanced amateur.

First and foremost you should always be upfront with the couple, telling them in the first 5 minutes you in fact have NOT shot a wedding and promptly showing the people portraits that clearly demonstrates your technical skill and know how AND creativity. You may or may not get the job but you under NO circumstance want to tout yourself as well versed and experianced when you aren't. That will definitly get you in HOT water and the couple will definitly be very verbal to their friends and family about the misrepresentation and heavens forbid lousy job done.
Here you would think "Word of mouth advertising working against you"

If you are unsure in the least of your ability, I wouldn't suggest even trying a wedding that was for strangers, maybe a friend, family member co-worker etc will get married soon and you can show up early enough to watch what really is involved with the job you will face. And have the opportunity to take a few candids during the reception. Generally its at least rude to shoot along side the Hired gun, and you can trigger his or her slaves yada yada, they will often give friends and family members the opportunity to snap their own image of a great post once they have completed their task, at least I do allow that opportunity.

If you can find a Photographer who will let you assist most likely free of charge in their studio, or on location, jump at the chance.

In my small town, the self appointed professionals are truely snobs who won't give the aspiring amatuer the time of day, thus this was the long, hard, slow, route that I myself had to take, while occasionally shelling out some of my own cash when things went wrong (reprints, enlargements) to keep the client happy.

Check with your local Camera clubs, High Schools often have classes in the evenings, there may be a Photography class being offered, even if its out of your immidiate area. Check with Vocational type places and again, find a camera club in your area the would certainly be able to point you toward a class. If they don't offer one.

It can be done, it isn't easy, but it is doable if you have a sound technical understanding and the motivation to succeed. Make no mistake though, weddings are NOT even comperable to shooting, flowers, babies, or boats, this type of job is its own living breathing sometimes snarling beast... LOL tread with caution! Best of luck.




  
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Vegas ­ Poboy
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Mar 16, 2004 00:35 |  #4

I have to agree with the last two post. Weddings is very serious work & its a one time one shot deal. Knowledge & equipment is a big factor & the best way to get that is OJT or wedding photography class or both. I'm currently in a wedding class and it has alot of information that I would have never thought about. From contracts to web posting. Do yourself a big favor & take it slow & wisely before jumping into this type of shoots. It can be done but you need to be prepared or have good lawyers to bail you out. :)


$$$ in Canon Gear & Lighting Equipment

  
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Johnnynf
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Mar 16, 2004 08:32 |  #5

Thanks guys for the advice. Like I said in my posting (apparently I was not clear enough), I am definately not naive about all of this. I realize that shooting weddings is not something to be taken lightly. I just got married last summer, and payed very close attention to what the photographer was going through. We had our share of problems at the wedding (main road to the church was closed before the wedding due to a car accident that required extraction--photographer was 45 minutes late) and the photographer handled them with great composure. Then I look at the photos that we got back...and I realize...I can do that...with A LOT of training of course. I wouldn't even think of booking a wedding without the proper training...that is why I posted here...to find out what "proper training" was...and how I could get it. I am willing to take as long as necessary to learn before I actually do it for myself. I mainly want to start shooting for friends and family (I am young...a lot of my friends and family will be getting married in the next 2-5 years). Then, once I get a little experience doing that, I would like to slowly begin taking on paying clients that I don't know.

As for equipment, like I said, I think I have a good start. The local camera shop does rent out lenses and other equipment...this seems like a good solution until I get some of those paying gigs and can buy my own stuff.

I mean, everyone has to start somewhere....as I am sure not all of you started out as professional photographers either. I am sure most (as I) started as amateurs and found that their hobby might actually be able to make them some money some day. I mean...isn't that what everyone is after...getting paid for doing something they actually like?




  
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G3
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Mar 16, 2004 10:05 |  #6

Johnnynf wrote:
Thanks guys for the advice. Like I said in my posting (apparently I was not clear enough), I am definately not naive about all of this. I realize that shooting weddings is not something to be taken lightly. I just got married last summer, and payed very close attention to what the photographer was going through. We had our share of problems at the wedding (main road to the church was closed before the wedding due to a car accident that required extraction--photographer was 45 minutes late) and the photographer handled them with great composure. Then I look at the photos that we got back...and I realize...I can do that...with A LOT of training of course. I wouldn't even think of booking a wedding without the proper training...that is why I posted here...to find out what "proper training" was...and how I could get it. I am willing to take as long as necessary to learn before I actually do it for myself. I mainly want to start shooting for friends and family (I am young...a lot of my friends and family will be getting married in the next 2-5 years). Then, once I get a little experience doing that, I would like to slowly begin taking on paying clients that I don't know.

As for equipment, like I said, I think I have a good start. The local camera shop does rent out lenses and other equipment...this seems like a good solution until I get some of those paying gigs and can buy my own stuff.

I mean, everyone has to start somewhere....as I am sure not all of you started out as professional photographers either. I am sure most (as I) started as amateurs and found that their hobby might actually be able to make them some money some day. I mean...isn't that what everyone is after...getting paid for doing something they actually like?

You are correct on all counts. It sounds like you are formulating a workable plan for your future.

You can rent backup bodies and lenses for the event, so you have that part covered.

What you can do is check with your friends who have hired a pro to do their weddings and see if he will let you unobtrusively watch him and ask questions. Most people (myself included) DO NOT allow other photographers to take pictures while they are working. It is in the contract and is cause for non-completion. That goes for other pros and "Aunt Millie" with her disposable cameras, alike.




  
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KiwiRob
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Mar 25, 2004 21:40 |  #7
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I am so glade that I live in NZ the threat of being sued for cocking up is not worth the risk. The worst that could happen here is that the client would refuse to pay you. I'm happy to live in a free society without the threat of stupid litigation and dumb tort law hanging over our heads.




  
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CyberDyneSystems
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Mar 26, 2004 12:48 |  #8

Did you read the "Sticky" in the EOS forum?


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Dick ­ Arnold
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Mar 27, 2004 09:54 |  #9

Wedding photography

I had my own wedding business for about six years. I quit about a year and a half ago because I was working so hard I couldn't enjoy my retirement from my former job. If you have a decent technical base, establish rapport with your clients, market well you can be very successful. I was working as a stringer for a local newspaper when I was asked to do a wedding for one of the employees. I already had medium format equipment and a sound background in using 35. I did some 11x14s of that first wedding and posted them in the newspaper office. That led to more business and I was on my way. Firstly I undercut other local photographers on prices. Some of them were outrageous. Secondly I delivered proofs in less than a week or when a couple returned from their honeymoon. I used local processors to do this. They were not always the best but they were the fastest. I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and showed my photos to the employees so they knew I did good work and they did recommend me often. I did enough work at local Inns and hotels that I got on their preferred lists. Given adequate human and photographic skills the most important thing is to understand that you have competition and that doing weddings is a business. I did other events and grabbed a couple of good commercial accounts. I got rid of my medium format when I closed the business and bought a Canon D60 to go with my Canon L lenses. I have a new Canon i9200 printer that produces exquisite 13x19 pictures that I exhibit. If I did weddings with this equipment life would have been so much simpler than dealing with bad processing and my own dark room for initial prints. One major prerequisite, which I think I did well at, was getting people to emote and show their personalities in front of the camera. Some people do well at it and some never get it.




  
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goldstrikn
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Mar 19, 2005 12:40 as a reply to  @ Dick Arnold's post |  #10

I am learning a few techniques, mainly by reading, not by practice. All weddings have a "shot list" that it can be staged, but the ones that have more of a WoW factor are the ones that you take improvised.

I do agree though that you should do a few for free to build your portfolio, and only sell the proofs that the couple want to purchase, this way you will not only be compensated, but you will feel vindicated that you took good pictures enough for it to be bought.

You also have to look into insurance for your profession, but if it is done for free I am not sure if it will apply, unless you do a written contract, you should have insurance for it. I've noticed that the photographers that I've worked with they are not willing to teach you the ropes in this field, I wonder why? By the way I am a Wedding Disc Jockey, so this is how I meet the photographers, most are polite and great to work with, but when it comes down to ask them if you can be his assistant in weddings pro-bono they never get back to you, well at least in my situation. So I've learned to practice, practice, and practice.


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robertwgross
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Mar 19, 2005 13:42 as a reply to  @ goldstrikn's post |  #11

Practically any friend of the family can take amateur snapshots at a wedding, as long as they don't get in the way of the pro photographer.

The pro photographer probably makes his living doing just that.

The problem is in the gray area between those two extremes. If you are doing it as a business, you generally need to have a business license and do taxes and write contracts and all that. It is harsh to cross across the gray area from one to another, because you generally get hit with all of the expenses and problems of professional status, yet you don't have the skill or clientele to demand full professional fees.

---Bob Gross---




  
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DocFrankenstein
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Mar 19, 2005 13:47 as a reply to  @ robertwgross's post |  #12

robertwgross wrote:
The problem is in the gray area between those two extremes. If you are doing it as a business, you generally need to have a business license and do taxes and write contracts and all that. It is harsh to cross across the gray area from one to another, because you generally get hit with all of the expenses and problems of professional status, yet you don't have the skill or clientele to demand full professional fees.

So, how would one go about crossing the grey area?


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robertwgross
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Mar 19, 2005 14:17 as a reply to  @ DocFrankenstein's post |  #13

DocFrankenstein wrote:
So, how would one go about crossing the grey area?

Doc, I think I have posted something on that topic just within the last couple of days.

One way is to join in as a "second shooter" for an established pro photographer. It doesn't pay very much, but it allows you to get in, learn the craft, learn the business, and establish yourself a bit. The pro photographer carries the business burdens and takes the risk, so he collects the lion's share of the profit.

It is something like an internship. While you do that, you can start shooting weddings on the cheap for friends or relatives, where you won't have complicated contracts. When or if you are finally ready, you can "hang out your shingle" with advertising, licenses, and all that. The internship is the bridge to cross the gray area.

Hey, I kind of like the sound of that phrase!

---Bob Gross---




  
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JX
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Mar 20, 2005 22:09 |  #14

Hi Johnnynf,



Do a search on Bloo Dog posts. He has some good stories.



I shot weddings for a studio for one year. Over the years I have been asked by family and friends to shot their wedding. I politely tell them no.



But if you are determined to do it, find a good studio and start as an apprentice. You have to do a lot of grunt work, but you will learn a lot.


JX

  
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Jon, ­ The ­ Elder
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Mar 21, 2005 11:07 as a reply to  @ JX's post |  #15

I would rather slash my wrists than shoot a wedding !

You can have my spot.

I shoot horses - they kick but don't sue you for nonsense!


A 40D, a 30D, some nice glass and a great Shooting Partner.
"...As in music, so in life."

  
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How Do I Get Into Wedding Photography?
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