Anyone Do a Wedding with Two Independent Primary Shooters? -- Advice?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by astrostu, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    <Prologue> This is a semi-long back-story to this question. You can skip to the end where it says Questions if you really don't want to read the back-story.</Prologue>

    Back-Story

    A friend of mine from college is planning her wedding for next September and she just assumed I knew I was invited (as did I). Actually, looking back at the conversation, she stated, "you're coming to my wedding, dammit ... i will be a bridezilla on your ass if you don't."

    I asked her if she had a photographer partly out of curiosity and partly to see if she said that she did for everything including the reception, since I thought photographing her reception would be an easy present. She said, "actually...yeah, want the job if the first falls through?"

    I've never actually done official wedding formals, nor do I have the proper lighting nor a backup body, so I told her, "I don't have the equipment to please you," meant in a completely innocent way. I clarified with, "I don't have the right photography equipment to do a good job with formals. I could do reception, candids, if you want."

    She replied with, "but [my friend] doesn't have the right equipment for it
    so she was going to just to candids ... but, she's a friend from childhood...and not exactly reliable these days."

    This conversation was about 2 months ago, and she asked me last night for a website and a few samples (since I don't actually have photos of people on my website) because she's making "a book" codifying the wedding stuff. The current situation, as she explained last night, is now that she wants both me and her friend to basically take all the photos, doing formals, reception, etc., where (assuming I'm there) I'll definitely do it, and if her friend actually is reliable and shows, that there'll be two sets.

    I know what you reg'lars of this forum are thinking: "Stu, you need to tell her to hire a professional." "If you've never done a wedding, you risk damaging a friendship if the photos suck." "She shouldn't put you in this position and you shouldn't feel obligated to say 'yes.'" That about cover it? ;)

    And I explained this to her. I told her that all because I have "good equipment" doesn't mean that I have the expertise to pull off a wedding. But she doesn't seem to care. She has said in no uncertain terms that they will not be hiring a professional photographer. She has also stated that she wants photos that tell what happened during the day, not the formal stuff. She also said, after I sent her some samples, that she would've thought they were done by a pro.

    So at this point I've tacitly agreed, and I've also stated that I would make them sign a contract (standard model release, explaining no liability for quality, etc.) even though I'd do the photos for free (as a present). I'm at the point where I figure that "a few lucky good photos are better than none" and that it'll give me practice and some portfolio shots.


    Questions

    So at this point, I have three questions:

    (1) Besides the obvious "you never should have agreed to do formals," are there any tidbits of advice out there, common pitfalls, etc.? Yes, I've read practically every wedding-related question asked on this forum, so I'm looking for anything that's normally not mentioned.

    (2) Have any of you folks ever NOT been the exclusive pro photographer at the wedding? I realize that it's a standard clause that you have exclusivity, but I thought I'd ask. If so, how did you deal with it? Did you trade off on poses, photos, etc.? Or did you do it some other way?

    (3) Is there any additional MUST-HAVE equipment for doing a decent job? I have my camera body and lenses as described in my signature, a tripod, and a 430EX flash. By the wedding, I should also have a 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. I'm thinking I should also probably have its bigger brother so I can have 2 flashes, with the option of being off-camera. Anything else (other than giant umbrellas and a spare body)?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2008
  2. DeadEye

    DeadEye TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Well you are now in a sort of bind but its Ok as it will work itself out. I did the same for a friend and it all worked out. #1 This is a MUST ~ Have a TAKE CHARGE ATTITUDE because a friend will see you as a friend not THE PHOTOGRAPGER. Tell them what you need and don’t let them ignore you as friends do (rambling about chatting when you need posing). Find out from the Priest or whoever the photography RULES. The bride will almost always think its my wedding so of corse you can use flash. Often not the case. Use fast glass at least f2.8 or better. Restage the ring and kiss at alter after ceramony if necessary. Hope this helps Deadeye

    If possible shoot the rehearsal as if if were the real deal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2008
  3. NateWagner

    NateWagner TPF Noob!

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    Definitely try to shoot the rehearsal. If for no other reason than getting an idea of how the photos will look, and what you will need to do differently considering the lighting conditions. It should allow you to go back, look over the photos, find out what you liked and what you need to change.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've never shoot a wedding as one of two 'independent' primary photographers...that sounds like a fiasco. I do shoot lots of wedding as one of two primary photographers though (we don't really shoot as 1st & 2nd...more like 1 and 1a).

    My advice would be to work something out as early as possible. Talk to the other photographer and get a feel for things. Ideally, you should be helping one another out, for the benefit of the client. If it's not that easy, then at least agree to stay out of one another's way. For shooting formals, either take turns or maybe try to set up two sets, where one can be shooting one group while the the other tog. shoots the other group.

    I've also shot plenty of weddings where I was 'hired' but not as the primary...usually for friends or family. In this case, I make an effort to stay out of the way of the primary pro and help them out when needed. I'm otherwise trying to shoot supplemental things while they are doing the primary stuff. No point in getting the same shots that they are.

    As for essential gear. I'd suggest the 17-55mm F2.8 IS (or maybe a similar Tamron or Sigma)...rather than the 24-70 F2.8 L. I personally couldn't work without something that wide....and you probably don't want to use your 18-55mm 'kit' lens. In fact, I usually have a 10-22mm with me as well.

    A second body and a second flash should be mandatory, so make sure of that.
     
  5. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    Thanks for the advice, all!
     
  6. visualpoetry

    visualpoetry TPF Noob!

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    I work with other professional photographers on a case by case basis and we both shoot the same things, but from different angles/perspectives. BUT - when and if you're in a time crunch split up and save half the time. Also, it comes in to handy when you want photos of the groom/groomsmen and the bride/bridesmaids.. we'll split up and cover both. But, I suppose this works the same with a second shooter too.. but I'm sure another primary will make you more comfortable that the images will be good.
     
  7. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would probably find out more about the other shooter.

    Are they actually a good photographer?
    Do they have good equipment or a cheap kit with slow glass?
    What Camera(s)/lenses are they planning to use?

    Worst case would be that they have junk for equipment, suck at photography, and think they are Ken Rockwell.
    In that case you have to worry about trying to get all the important shots yourself, without coming off as a jerk.

    Best Case, She has some really nice Canon equipment to share with you, and is really easy to collaborative with.

    Over in the Professional Gallery, somewhere in the wedding sticky, there is a shot checklist. I would find that and work out who will get what shots. You should probably work it out so your shooting different angles and different focal lengths, you could shoot mostly with your 70-200 for the ceremony if the other friend is shooting with a shorter lens. You 35mm will be great for reception shots.

    Doing a at least a "dry run" at the rehearsal would be a big help figuring where to shoot from, and the pace of the wedding.

    Have Fun!
     

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