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Old Jan 11, 2005, 11:19 AM   #1
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To my photography friends:

I was asked Saturday night if I would shoot a wedding. Having never shot a wedding, I have lots of questions! I haven't given them an answer yet, I just told them I would think on it. The client would actually be this person's husband's half-sister's daughter... or something like that.

Of course, I am thinking, "I'm not good enough to shoot a wedding!" But then I also told myself, "Even the best wedding photographers had to shoot their first." I also don't want to mess up someone's wedding. I have heard the horror stories surrounding wedding photography. I have never assisted for anyone. I probably should assist before doing a wedding, but I don't know anyone I could assist for prior to doing this one.



Can you give me an idea on pricing?

How should I price for my time, etc...?

Should I price as a package? (i.e. my time, plus 400 prints, an album for the couple, album for the Groom's parents, album for the Bride's parents, etc...) or should I just charge for being there, taking pictures, my time, etc... and then sell prints individually (using a service such as PrintRoom.com).

What about getting a deposit?

Should I get a non-refundable deposit or a refundable deposit? (Like, if they cancel within x days of the wedding, then they forfeit their deposit, etc...)

I have a copy of a wedding contract from "Business and Legal Forms for Photographers" (
http://tinyurl.com/4qbu2).



Thank you in advance!
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Old Jan 11, 2005, 12:26 PM   #2
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Well, wedding photography can be very difficult. You stated you don't have specific experience, but do you have related experience? Are you adept at flash photography? Have you done individual and group portrait work - both outdoors and indoors?

Second, do you have the minimal equipment you would need to shoot in the required environments (e.g. wide lense for group shots, good telzoom with wide aperature for 'bokeh'). Do you have a powerful external flash with bracket and potentially slave flashes for reception shots? Do you have a backup camera body and flash? Since you are talking about a paid gig rather than just 'doing a favor' that raises the expectations. If you don't have backup gear then I don't think you should take on the assignment.

These are the easy questions - if you haven't done flash portrait photography and you don't have backup gear then I would say 'no' - you are not qualified for a paid wedding photography gig. Just my two cents. I personally did completely unofficial photography at a friend's wedding a few months back and realized that a lot of my flash work has a lot to be desired. For posed shots it was one thing - but un-posed when my metering was bad the picture was a 'loss' - maybe able to fix up enough for my photo album but certainly not worth someone paying for. And a good number of shots at a wedding and reception are one-chance events. Just my humble two cents for what it's worth
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Old Jan 11, 2005, 1:41 PM   #3
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John,

Thank you for your reply. Based on your response and also the advice of others I trust in the photography community, I think I am going to deline this offer.



Thank you again,

Neal


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Old Jan 11, 2005, 4:02 PM   #4
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My personal opinion , you really should pass on this wedding. With what you're working as for experience I dont even think you should do it even for free. John covered a great deal which is right on cue. And just from your opening, basicly for a friend of a friend of a friend, is adissaster in the makings.

You probably could get by if you had packages that included, shooting the wedding from a strictly candid basis. Normally thats a package that you could get by with even arounf $500 or so. And you would have lattitude to still shoot closeup portraits that you could even sell at a later time. But thats mostly when the wedding couple just want what they think is someone professional to at least shoot an affordable wedding. And to get by with that you would at least need a wide to moderate zoom, and TTL flash and camera, with a diffuser on flash.

I would never accept doing a wedding without some prior experience. Its already a nervous occasion for everyone, and if you arent adapted those snappy attitudes from just about everyone will have you walking out.

Try finding someone that wouldnt mind you shadowing first. Most experience photographers welcome newcomers to have a chance for the experience.



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Old Jan 11, 2005, 4:25 PM   #5
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I'm am very happy to hear that you chose not to do it. My suggestion was going to be this:
run, don't walk, away... no drive, no fly, go as fast as you can. Wedding photography is generally considered the hardest type of photography to do.

I picked up this link from a forum dedicated to wedding photography:
http://www.koskiphotography.com/amateur.html

I've also written extensively about this topic here. People that think its easy just don't understand the trouble they are getting into (And the pain they can cause when they screw up the pictures.)

You seem to have an understanding of this, so I won't go further.

Eric
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Old Jan 11, 2005, 5:43 PM   #6
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but then again I read a book on Wedding Photography while my wife drove to our first wedding shoot! :|

(gosh, if I think about about all the stupid things i've done... well... i should either be dead or still in jail... LOL)
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Old Jan 11, 2005, 6:12 PM   #7
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Well, a friend wanted to save money, so his Bride gave a 35mm P&S to her sister to shoot the wedding. When they got the pictures back, they were all slides! The sister "heard that slide film brings out colors."


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Old Jan 11, 2005, 6:13 PM   #8
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eric s wrote:
Quote:
I'm am very happy to hear that you chose not to do it. My suggestion was going to be this:
run, don't walk, away... no drive, no fly, go as fast as you can. Wedding photography is generally considered the hardest type of photography to do.

A professional photographer friend of mine got my e-mail his morning and said "RUN!"
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 11:40 AM   #9
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My personal suggestion is to talk with the friend of your friend, or wahtever, and explain him the situation. You are not a professional, but you really want to do your best.

Ask him for a chance to take pictures in the wedding, you can offer to take a lot of picts and show him after. I he likes some ones, he will pay you for them. If he doesn't likes anyone, you will have alot of experience now.

He have to decide to take the "risk" or hire one photographer more. You will not have all the responsability on your shoulders and you will get the perfect situation to test yourself in wedding photography.

Good Luck!!
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 12:26 PM   #10
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msantos,
If you are suggesting that he do it if they understand his skill level then I have to completely disagree with your advice.

If he is the only shooter there, then he should not do it. Absolutely not. Even if they work out a deal where no money exchanges hands and there is no obligation... there is. This is (in theory) the most important moment in two people's lives. Even if they stand on the empire state building and scream to the world that there is absolutely no responsiblity there is.

Wedding photos are something you put over your fireplace for the rest of your life. They are something that has symbolic meaning. They will say it doesn't matter, but it does. Bad wedding photos (even unpaid for) will be regretted for the rest of their wedding (which is hopefully the rest of their lives) and they will think of you every time they look at them. The risk of ruining their friendship is there and very big even if they say otherwise.

I have read too many stories about it playing out that way that I do not recommend anyone shoot a wedding without having shot several as a backup.

Eric
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