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Torn Between Passion & Common Sense


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18 replies to this topic

#1
DarrenJudson

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I'm really struggling today.

I posted on my facebook page a few weeks ago that I would be offering free photoshoots to friends and family as a portfolio building excercise.

One of my freinds has obviously shown one of her friends who has now contacted me.

She has only asked me to photograph her flaming wedding and has said that she didn't want to hire a professional because she only wants a couple of nice shots from the day.

Now my passion for photography is say 'go and bloody do it'!! Where as my common sense is saying a big NO!!

What would you do? I see that I have a couple of options.

1.Turn her down and explain my reasons i.e that I can't assure her that I will take any astounding shots and although I appreciate the invitation I don't want to inadvertantly ruin her day...and my reputation if the scorned bride decides to!

2.Offer to shoot the wedding but explain all of the above and that I can't promised any decent shots.

3.Cross every limb on my body and hope for the best.

I'm thinking that sense is going to win and I'm going to decline her but I can't help feeling like it would be a massive missed oppertunity!

#2
Merco_61

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Weddings are probably the most stressful situations you can put yourself into as a relative beginner. When everything works out it is wonderful, but the scary thing is that the important shots must be nailed, there are no second chances. Be upfront and explain, and see what she says.

If you do it, prepare a list of all the important shots beforehand and make sure you have backup equipment and are familiar with the backup.



#3
JMH-D3200

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Hi Darren

My daughter asked me to do her wedding.

I thought long and hard about it and decided not to do it.

 

1. I didn't want to disappoint her by not being able to be both father of the bride and wedding photographer.

2 I felt very uneasy about never having done this type of pressure shoot.

 

I explained this to her and she got the hump anyway.

You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

 

Good luck with that!



#4
Jerry_

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Fully share Peter's recommendations.

Personally, in your situation, I would listen to your sense and decline.

If you will however accept to do it, I would (1) plan for a pre/post-wedding photo session and (2) ask to have another friend/photographer taking additional pictures.

#5
Veloman

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I can understand your dilemma.But my view is,with digital photography being the excepted method these days (not always)the margins for acceptable work have widened so that the number of good shots taken,plus the instant playback, increases exponentially.With this in mind I'd go for it,a steep learning  curve for sure,taking two or more camera's would increase your confidence,going in at the deep end could be good for you Darren.

 

PS,  don't forget to take your Nike running shoes. :D

 

PPS.They realise that you're not a top end professional and should take responsibility for their request.They obviously trust you.



#6
Afterimage

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I shot my sisters wedding and will be doing my cousins in a few months... I HATED the idea of shooting weddings but it ended up being a fun learning experience leading to some professional and artistic growth.

 

I say give it a try. Explain you are not a professional and cannot guarantee results but you will do you best. Research key shots, look at other wedding photographer's work, practice in similar lighting conditions, and just give it a solid effort. I also recommend NOT charging for your work. That eliminates a TON of mental stress and the problem of "disappointing results" coming back to bite you. Just explain you are doing this as a friend not as a professional... 

 

What kind of gear do you have? Body/lenses? 



#7
DarrenJudson

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Thanks for the advice guys.

I mis-read her initial email as 9th Jan 2015.

The wedding is actually 9th Jan 2016..which would give me an entire year to practice.

Then again, if a years worh of practice has an impact and the quality of my knowledge and shots vastly improve..I'd be charging next to nothing for my services.

One of my main worries was, as Afterimage mentioned, my gear. I currently only own a D5300 body, a 50mm f1.8 prime and a Tamaron 70-300mm f4-5.6 zoom. I have a YN-560iii coming this week and a wireless control unit.

By next year I hope to have some more additions but I can see me justifying the cost of a pro body until I'm making a least a small amount of cash from portrait/family shoots.

I'll have a think about it and get back to her tonight.

#8
Afterimage

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You have a full year to get squared away.. I say take the "job" but let them know that if they change their mind and want to hire a pro you'll gladly come as a "second" (a lot less pressure on both parties that way!)

 

for your gear... I shot my sister's wedding with a D7100 which is very very similar to the 5300. Heck the 5300 might be better here and there... so that's not a problem. The 50mm prime is excellent too. The only real gap I see is the Tamron 70-300. I own that lens as well and it's a fantastic piece of glass but it's a little slow for a wedding shoot. You need a fast intermediate - wide lens like a 17-50mm f2.8 or that new Sigma 18-35mm f1.8. And, if you can swing it, a fast telephoto for candids. You really don't want to be on top of the wedding party during the "I Do's" trying to capture that intimate moment with a 50mm lens LOL. Renting a lens like that would be a good solution since they can be pricey. 

 

Hope this helps!



#9
Thumper

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Dude, don't do it!!!   :lol:

 

Seriously, I would not even consider it right now, even for an event scheduled for next year.   If I were you, I would advise her to commission a professional and book him/her now. She won't want to be trying to book a photographer at the last minute if you decide that you aren't ready by this time next year.  This is a once in a lifetime event that won't offer second chances as far as capturing moments.  If you worked protege under a professional for a solid year between now and then, that would be one thing, and you might be ready to take on a wedding as the primary photographer.   Shooting a wedding is not like shooting anything else.   They are their own unique monster, and it is a major undertaking with a large responsibility.  You would be doing a disservice to your friend by taking on their wedding at this stage of your experience.  If photography is indeed your passion, get some time under a professional wedding photographer and learn to do it correctly.  Learn the special things that make a great wedding photographer truly great, and glean as much from them as you can.  Then tackle a wedding on your own and make it special for the couple and their family.  Over confidence will ruin the day for everyone.   If you are going to do it, then do it right.   ;)

 

 

If you offer to be a "secondary" photographer, that is, to run around the wedding and just take photographs without the pressure of being the primary photographer, just make sure that you don't get in the way of the primary photographer or interfere with any of his/her shots.   (Like standing behind them with they are doing a group shot, then half of the wedding party is looking at you, and the other half is looking at the primary, and the primary's shot is ruined because everyone is looking in different directions).  I've seen this happen a few times at weddings that I have attended.  



#10
TBonz

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To me, weddings are probably the most difficult shoot there is because they require talent in pretty much every photographic arena out there.  You will need to be able to capture posed group photos, street-type candids, artistic photos and in a sense, advertising photos (like a shot of the cake or flowers or...) and all the while, you are working as a photojournalist making sure to capture the key moments of an event.  

 

That said, it is a great learning experience.  The last wedding I shot was as a "second" - really as a "spare" photographer.  The groom and his parents (long time, close family friends) asked me to shoot the wedding well in advance.  About a month before the wedding, the bride's father told them that he had hired a wedding photographer.  They had 2 photographers show up.  I shot the wedding, but made sure to stay out of the way of the hired folks.  I gave the bride and groom my photos as a wedding gift.  I was glad I did it as it had been many years since I'd photographed a wedding (2005?) and even more years since I'd photographed one (90-91?) before that.  I actually may be trying to do some weddings in the near future so I now have some photos to include in my portfolio along with some I took back in the 80s :)

 

Given a choice, I'd suggest they had at least one other person shooting since that will relieve some of the pressure.  If I were the primary photographer, I would be sure to have a wider angle as AfterImage suggested.  You may want a lower light telephoto as well as some churches, ministers or even the couple don't want flash photos during the service.  I'd also probably have a second body just in case.  You can rent all of them as AI suggested - just build your cost into the cost you give them.  If you aren't getting paid, I'd suggest not renting, but also not being the primary photographer.

 

One of the things I found strange about the wedding earlier this year was that team of photographers who "officially" shot the wedding.  They were standing next to each other or very close to each other when shooting.  I would have suggested that they separate to get different shots / angles but they didn't.  Whatever you decide, I hope you are able to shoot the wedding for the experience and that you get a chance to check out images from those who regularly do weddings so you have some ideas of where to be, what to look for when you shoot it.  And, of course, get lots of practice between now and then!

 

Good luck!



#11
nbanjogal

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Lots of good advice here, on both sides of the issue. I think I will come down on the side of being audacious...

 

Since she is not interested in hiring a professional, if you don't do it, someone similar to you will do it--someone less experienced with a decent camera. Maybe her Uncle Bob. So why not you? You get the experience and maybe a few shots to add to your portfolio.

 

As long as she CLEARLY understands that 1) you are not a professional, 2) it would be a "practice" shoot by a photographer who doesn't typically shoot weddings, and 3) they get what they pay for, I'd say go for it, especially since she says she only wants a few decent shots from the day (and you will over deliver and have many decent shots). If you truly do have a year to prepare, you'll be more than capable.  You're already doing good work. I'm sure you've already thought about this, but throughout the year you may want to study the work of other wedding photographers and then offer to second shoot for some established wedding photographers in your area (I did the second shooting thing and learned quite a bit).

 

I shoot weddings, though they are not my main subject, and they are a ton of work--both during and after (lots of post-processing hours after the shoot is over). It is stressful because as so many have said above, there are no do-overs. But they are also lots of fun.

 

Just to second a few things that have been said…  

 

Definitely rent a long lens to go with the kit you already have...and even consider renting a second body to put that lens on so you can switch quickly between focal lengths (second body is not a must AT ALL, just kind of helpful). My go-to lenses for weddings are 24–70 and 70-200, with the 24-70 being the one I use most (I always have to hire the 70-200…hoping to buy my own this year!).

 

Having a second shooter is a good idea--maybe BEING the second shooter to a seasoned wedding photographer would be the least stressful option, though it sounds like she is not interested in hiring a pro.

 

The thing is, if you do it, it will be one day. It will be one experience. Maybe you'll screw it up. But maybe you won't. You will screw up some things, but not everything. And you'll learn a ton. Maybe you'll find out that you actually love shooting weddings. 

 

You mentioned not being paid by the time the year rolls around and you're a better photographer. That's okay, isn't it? One of the photogs I know second shot 12 weddings before he ever took one on as the lead photographer. Another one shot about that many for free before he felt confident enough to start charging people (and he's really awesome). But he was still shooting weddings during that time of low confidence…you have to start somewhere, ya know. :)

 

And many of the wedding photographers I know would just roll their eyes at what I just said and then complain about newbies taking their business and underpricing them and such. To that I would just say that this woman was never going to be their client anyway since she already said she didn't want to hire a pro.

 

So…do it. :)



#12
Veloman

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You've said it much more eloquently than me Nicole.Perhaps I didn't want to offend by saying that they wanted the cheap option.(which is not the same as saying that Darren is a cheap person by nature,quite the opposite I would think)I would understand someone trying to save money by cutting down on the photographer,but,as I said,they MUST carry the responsibility by requesting a non professional and carry the weight if things go wrong.I thought that this approach from them would have been fundamental to the request.However,Darren ,do it.It's your call,your gain, without any comebacks.

 

The person who has never made a mistake,usually,has never made anything.Carpe Diem.



#13
nbanjogal

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they MUST carry the responsibility by requesting a non professional and carry the weight if things go wrong.

 

This is key, in my opinion, and Darren really needs to make this clear in order to make sure nothing comes back to haunt him.

 

JMH-D3200 also mentioned having his own daughter ask him to shoot her wedding--I would have done the same thing he did. I have a 22-year-old stepdaughter whom I am very close to and whom I suspect will be getting married in the next year or two. I'm already shopping around for wedding photographers because even though I am fully capable of shooting her wedding, I want to enjoy it as a mother, not as the photographer. Besides, I want to be in some of those photos!



#14
TBonz

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I agree - you said it very nicely Nicole...here are a couple of comments...

 

First, I'd be sure to clarify what specific (if any) shots fall into those she wants...better to know well ahead of time if there are any specific shots she wants - and then make sure you get those...

 

Second, in my personal opinion, a second body MAY be an option for you if you are doing it free / cheap, but I consider them a must have.  Not having to change lenses can help quite a bit, but if nothing else, I would be too worried about the small possibility of an issue with the body and being stuck with nothing to shoot.  Back in 2005 when I shot a wedding, I only had my D100.  It was a second wedding for both and they didn't want much, but they did want someone to shoot the wedding (kind of like your situation).  I took along a point and shoot camera along with my D100 that I could shoot if needed.  I actually used it for some shots where I had the longer lens on my D100 and needed some quick wide angle shots.  It worked out OK and they liked several of the shots I provided from that camera...



#15
Ron

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Weddings can be rough.

 

All of the advice that's been presented is good and you might actually enjoy the experience. Just be up front about your qualifications and equipment.

 

I think Peter said it best when he mentioned that with weddings, you have to nail the shots. Once the cake is cut, it can't be uncut if you fail to get the shot. Ditto for the bouquet toss although this can sometimes be redone. I'm sure that somewhere on the interwebs there has to be a list of must have wedding photos. If you can find that, commit it to memory.

 

You might want to look at renting another camera and a couple of fast lenses. One wide to normal or short tele and a second short to long tele. I mention the second body because not having to change lenses can cut down on the number of missed shots considerably. You may need fast lenses because churches and reception halls can be rather dark and flash can sometimes ruin the mood. 

 

The big unknown with weddings is usually not any of the above or the bride or groom. It's their family... and specifically, the MOTHER OF THE BRIDE! Even if the bride and groom are cool with less than perfect photos, SHE is the one you have to please and SHE can be relentless! 

 

Good luck! 

 

--Ron

 

 



#16
OTRTexan

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Just a couple of things to add to the already great advice given.

If I were in your shoes, this would be what I would do.

First, get it in writing that they understand you are not a pro, and that there are no guarantees that they will receive a perfect photo shoot. You said it was a friend of a friend. Sadly in these days of constant litigation, I wouldn't do it without it.

Second, if you do feel the need to rent gear, have them pick up at least a portion of the bill.

I did a 50th anniversary not long ago, and it was a great learning experience.

#17
Jim_TX

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Back in the film era, I was pressed into, or drafted against my will to photograph two different weddings.

 

This is the deal I made.

 

I'm not a Pro.  You're taking your chances.

 

You're buying the film, in advance.  You're buying the batteries.

 

I'll shoot all that I can, to the best of my abilities. 

 

At the end of it all, I'm dumping all of the exposed rolls into YOUR hand.  I've already told you where to take them for processing, and possible enlargements.

 

This is the END of my photographic obligation to you, your wedding and your photographic happiness.

 

Digital world?  Here's your chip, toots.  Go all Bridezilla at the processors.  Me?  I'm outta here.



#18
Ron

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You've really dug up an old one.... LOL

 

Anyway... yeah, I understand your reasoning. Just take the photos and let'em have the film/memory card. However, I would never do that. They're not getting either my film or digital card(s). They can pay for the processing if film, and a jump drive, if digital...but I keep my originals.

 

I still maintain that the best way to handle weddings, if you're not a pro, is to just say no.

 

I've done exactly one(1) wedding and I would never wish that experience on anyone. LOL

 

--Ron



#19
fallout666

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I'm really struggling today.

I posted on my facebook page a few weeks ago that I would be offering free photoshoots to friends and family as a portfolio building excercise.

One of my freinds has obviously shown one of her friends who has now contacted me.

She has only asked me to photograph her flaming wedding and has said that she didn't want to hire a professional because she only wants a couple of nice shots from the day.

Now my passion for photography is say 'go and bloody do it'!! Where as my common sense is saying a big NO!!

What would you do? I see that I have a couple of options.

1.Turn her down and explain my reasons i.e that I can't assure her that I will take any astounding shots and although I appreciate the invitation I don't want to inadvertantly ruin her day...and my reputation if the scorned bride decides to!

2.Offer to shoot the wedding but explain all of the above and that I can't promised any decent shots.

3.Cross every limb on my body and hope for the best.

I'm thinking that sense is going to win and I'm going to decline her but I can't help feeling like it would be a massive missed oppertunity!

do not do wedding in till you done few and know how to do them. i did friends 50yr birthday and it was chore and did not have right equipment. only had flash i could add to top of camera. was not for place being the best lighting i ever seen for photo shot. also you do wedding could ruin your friend ship too. since one of 2 could get mad ruin there event. also you could have this one of 2 parents could turn them against you. go watch few videos from Vahagraphy he teach you why weddings so hard to shot. and pro and cons of shooting them. unless i get really better and can drive would try to do one since have all lighting equipment now. only need back drop for one item. at least under stand what takes to do weddings 

 https://www.youtube....nnel=Vahagraphy