Getting a start in wedding photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by anthony.grimes, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. anthony.grimes

    anthony.grimes TPF Noob!

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    I am interested in getting into wedding photography, and am curious how people here have got their start.I assume that many of you acted as a second photographer, shadowing an experienced wedding photographer. How did you get these experienced wedding photographers to agree to have you help? How did you contact them? Where did you advertise yourself?

    I have been contacted by an inexperienced photographer who has a agreed to do her first wedding as the primary/only photographer. Apparently the client understands and doesn't mind, looking to save money and all that. This photographer contacted me and asked me to do the shoot as a second for the wedding. Sounds like a bad idea to me but I am curious how may people have done this and had it work out, or not work out? Thanks for the info.
    -Anthony
     
  2. shmne

    shmne No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Speaking as a youngin here, I shadowed a photographer shooting a wedding a while back for free. He was a friend of mine, but more importantly he needed someone to talk to while he did the shoot (seeing as he had done so many, he didn't need a helper just someone to keep him busy) in exchange for my time and friendship he gave me many good tips about shooting weddings.

    I would like to think that if you are not comfortable with shooting a wedding on your own at first (it is very scary if you don't have the confidence) any experienced photographer that happens to be shooting weddings wouldn't mind having you as at the least a tag along.

    As far as going with someone fresh to weddings, you may potentially learn a lot from this wedding. They are going to make mistakes (unless they plan ahead very well, which is tough without experience) and you get to learn from them without hurting yourself.

    This is just my opinion though, I see pretty much every experience as a photographer as a learning one regardless of the trauma suffered throughout.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Working for/with an experienced pro shooter is a really good way to learn. Finding one that will 'take you on' can be hard to do. There are plenty of other people in your position.

    I'd suggest putting together a portfolio of what you have done. It doesn't have to be weddings but it should include a high percentage of people shots. Then you can contact photographers that you would like to work with. E-mail them or call them or send them a letter...whatever, just keep in mind that it's likely you'll get some rejections. Probably just as or more important than your portfolio is your attitude. People will want to see professionalism and enthusiasm.
     
  4. shmne

    shmne No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Adding onto the personality thing real fast, I actually landed my first job for a modeling agency because I had met the lady and she loved my attitude towards work. She is new to the area and I was the first photographer she found, now I get every job that comes through unless I can't make the shoot dates.
     
  5. anthony.grimes

    anthony.grimes TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies. Yeah I have heard the same thing about personality and I think that I am professional and I know that I am eager to learn.

    Working on getting a portfolio together so hopefully that will help with the hunt. About how many photos should be in it? I was thinking about 10-15. And I have had requests to see prints in person as opposed to on the computer, how do you display them? The photo albums that I have seem are more geared towards a lot of 4x6's not a few 8x12's.

    I am having a hard time trying to decide about what to do with the wedding shoot with the amateur photographer though. I am not really sure how to look at the opportunity. On one hand it could go well and be a great learning experience for the both of us, and even if something does go wrong it doesn't make me look bad because I am not the photographer. On the other hand it could go wrong and why associate yourself with a bad situation, word of mouth gets around and why do that right off the bat in a potentially new careen opportunity. Any thoughts or experiences?
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    You will need to go to a specialty store to find a portfolio book/holder etc. A well stocked photography store, or maybe an art supply store should have them. It doesn't have to be something special or specific...it's just something to hold your photos. Some people mount them onto matte board, or put them in sleeves etc...it's up to you.

    As for how many, my opinion is that less can be more. Don't sacrifice quality in favor of quantity. 12 really great shots is better than those 12 great shots plus 6 only OK shots. We like to judge ourselves by our best work, but remember that others might judge us by the weakest shots they see...so only show them the best you have. If that's only 8 or 10 shots, that's probably OK.

    I'd go for it. Sure, it might be a recipe for disaster (hopefully not) but this sounds like a situation where your name/reputation are not at risk, so it could be a good learning experience either way. As mentioned, every opportunity to work/shoot can be a learning experience.
     
  7. shmne

    shmne No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Adding onto the portfolio question, many photographers and studios appreciate a photographer that can tell a simple story through their portfolio. Similar styles, moods, and situations, because this takes planning and foresight. Just something to consider if you have ever done something like that before, when I compose a digital portfolio I will actually edit pictures again to make them more similar to each other. This adds a feeling of unity to the portfolio, which is a very important gestalt principal.
     
  8. anthony.grimes

    anthony.grimes TPF Noob!

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    Great advise guys, thanks for the input.
     
  9. Breanna

    Breanna TPF Noob!

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    I contacted the photographer who shot my own wedding back in 2005. I assisted/second-shot with her for a wedding in May, shot my first solo wedding in June, and I'm most likely booking my 2nd solo wedding tomorrow. I am planning to second-shoot with her a couple more times this summer because you can never get too much experience...and she pays me! haha.
     
  10. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are many people out there, thats a fact... but it is easy to set yourself apart and almost assure yourself a spot.

    To the OP here is what I believe it takes:

    1. Have a STRONG understanding of the basics of photography. A wedding photograoher is not there to teach you about metering modes. If you cannot talk about aperture, ISO, shutter speeds, the Zone System and have not mastered your own camera at the advanced levels... don't think to waste the time of the professional. They are there to show you wedding photography... not where the ON switch on your camera is. There are some things that I know more about than my mentor... but HE is the teacher and I am the student... in all things.

    2. Have a STRONG understanding of the basics of lighting. That means off and on camera lighting.

    3. No emailing, fax or phone calling BS... if you want to mentor with someone, you go see them FACE TO FACE.

    4. Be ready to show a strong portfolio of your work. It doesn't have to be hundreds of shots... I used my top 25 in different areas, and knew how to tie each one of them in with wedding photography concepts.

    5. Be ready to be THE MOST enthusiastic and passionate person from the crowd.

    6. Be a sponge, not a leech! That means to be ready to show that pro what YOU can do for THEM. If that means you lugging around bags of heavy equipment and running around with a light stand for days on end... thats the price. No complaining allowed, and always in a humble spirit of learning.

    7. Be ready to work hard... for free. if they see how hard you can work for them, they will be ready to compensate you, if they are sincere and honest.

    8. Be ready to sacrifice... that means some may one day ask you to take shots, but anything you shoot belongs to them... thats fine and I see that as part of the price for the free education.

    9. Personality. If you don't have it, no one will take you. Be friendly, receptive, customer friendly and know that it takes WAY MORE to being a good wedding photographer than being able to press the shutter. If you are an asset to them, you climb the ladder MUCH faster than if all you can do is hold a light stand really well.

    So... does this work? Well it worked for me, not once... but twice! First time I did 4 weddings and 2nd time I did many more (likely 10-20 events this summer alone!), and now, this second time has evolved into me moving from a baggage carrier, to a voice operated light stand, to a part time 2nd shooter to a full time 2nd shooter and by next summer to a full time photographer shooting weddings on my own, and I am not yet done... my plans, if things work out, is to help them take their business to the next level. If he benefits, so do I!

    It is easy to write about this, but there is a HUGE commitment to doing things once and doing them right. never take short cuts, and using this outline, you learn the most in the least amount of time.

    Which brings me to the final part... do not just choose ANY photographer... do your home work! I looked for some of the most AWESOME wedding photographers in my area, and these are the ones that I approached. Nothing BUT the best for me, right?

    If the pro is a weak photographer... YOU will be a weak photographer!

    --------------------------

    Shooting a wedding as a newbie... all I will say is this:
    There is NO MORE DEMANDING form of photography than a wedding. In no other venue are you challenged to take shots indoors, outdoors, in bright places, in dark places, is slow moving and running fast dymanic places in ONE DAY. The equipment demands are extreme, the skills demanded are extreme.

    If you do not know how, don't do it. Do a search, there are a couple of nice threads here on it and one thread in particular about how a couple of youngsters completely BOTCHED a wedding day. If you screw up... the bride and groom lose the chance to preserve a moment in their lives that is NEVER going to happen again... no second chances here!!

    Then there are the two situations that I am keeping tabs on... where the brides are suing the photographers. One is totally unwarranted (the man is a consumate pro of many years and has INCREDIBLE pictures), and the second one is a newbie story gone bad.

    Last update, the newbie has spent $9,000 so far in lawyer fees, and its not looking good for him. I figure he will be out a good 50-60 Gs before the bride and his own lawyer are done with him.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2009
  11. FourAcesPhotography

    FourAcesPhotography TPF Noob!

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    Do you have links to those cases? Sounds like an interesting read.
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Both are in private forums, no photographer would be so foolish as to place info where that their client could use this against them. You will also forgive me, but until the proceedings are completed, I'm not posting links here. That was a request made by one photographer and common sense, so I am doing it for both. I'm not even posting much more info here than that, but most beginners do not even dream that they will be taken to court... it is starting to happen more and more, so people should be made aware . :)
     

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