Going from hobby to semi-professional

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Grym, May 25, 2006.

  1. Grym

    Grym TPF Noob!

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    I've been a hobby photographer for a while and I am getting ready to make the leap into semi-professional, doing wedding photography and maybe broadening out from there as different opportunities present themselves. I have a pretty cheap little camera that I use, it is a 5.0 megapixel Lumix, which just cost a couple of hundred dollars and has really been the biggest camera purchase I've made in the past...

    So, for the wedding photography I am planning on making the bulk of my investment into equipment right off the bat, and get a Nikon D200 with all the needed lenses, filters, flash devices, memory, tripods, etc. - the problem with this is that I don't really know what lenses, filters, flash devices, memory and tripods I am really going to need. I would really like any advice from anyone here who has experience with the Nikon D200 and/or wedding photography? I am ready to make the investment, I would just like to make that investment as wise as possible.

    Also, if there are any books and/or websites that anyone would suggest for someone new to this level of photography, I would definitely appreciate it.
     
  2. jwkwd

    jwkwd TPF Noob!

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    One thing to think about, June is just about here and if you have some of your equiptment ( body and lens ) everybody knows somebody that is getting married. See if any of your friends or co-workers have a wedding coming up and see if you could do some photos for them. Tell them that it would help you for your future project and maybe you'll get a candid shot they fall in love with that the primary could not get. If you find one or two, go not as the primary photographer, but as the friend that takes pictures. Stay out of the pro's way, watch and learn. Worse case senario is, you can go to a couple of weddings, learn a lot, and probably get a meal and a cocktail.
     
  3. An interesting article:

    http://shutterbug.com/refreshercourse/family_tips/1004weddings/

    The best advice I can think of is to invest in very fast lenses. Those are usually the most expensive, but they will allow you to shoot without flash a lot more often. Your lenses are a more important investment than your camera. You will probably replace/augment your camera body in a year or two if you get good and confident, but your lenses will never be technically obsolete. So opting for the lens that is a couple of hundred bucks cheaper is a penny wise, but a pound foolish (do people still say that?)

    I'm not sure of the exact Nikon-compliant lenses that are available, but a 24-70mm 2.8 sounds like it would be your main lens. A prime like a 50mm 1.4 is great, and if you can swing it, look at a fast 85mm. A 70-200mm allows you to shoot the actual ceremony standing further away, without crowding the rabbi and the couple.

    Best place to practice is with your friends and family. Shooting a wedding is ultimately just shooting people. There's the set-up shots (groups of relatives standing around grinning) and then there are the candid shots, which is where you make your reputation. Getting good pics of your friends and family is the same idea as shooting wedding candids. This may lead to a nice second side-line: shooting kids and families for holiday cards. Ask to shoot friend's (or friends kids') b-day parties for practice.

    Learn how to use your camera. There are a number of good after-market user guides that show you what the camera can do, and why it matters. You can control things like sharpness and saturation in your camera, and still tweak them later.

    Learn (read: take a course and buy books on) how to use flash, because if you have to, it can become your biggest enemy.

    Learn to shoot RAW (NEF.)

    Get books on how to shoot weddings. Believe me, they're out there. They may not always be right, but it will start you thinking about it.

    This will be fun, enjoy your adventure. Keep shooting, and be prepared: the better you get, the more you will think your work sucks - whereas others will think you're a genius :)
     
  4. Grym

    Grym TPF Noob!

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    Hey, I appreciate all of the advice - especially on the lenses.

    I have a friend who has started up a pretty successful wedding videography business that worked on independent films before that, and I'll be going along with him for several weddings as a kind of "freebie" to his customers and giving me a chance to watch any other wedding photographers in practice and develop some experience and shots to use for my portfolio, so that will help on the business end.

    I plan on really doing a lot of reading on the camera before/after the purchase. In the past I've always had a knack for catching on to anything that I can read enough about - good thing about living in the communication age. Right now I'm just trying to get through this all under 4k$, but not sure how that will work out. Any kind of comparison on what I would NEED right away and what I could do without till later on?

    I plan on doing mostly "photojournalism" style jobs, with some poses and haven't really considered the idea of getting a portable studio that I've heard a lot of wedding photographers talk about.

    I think I will add some specific wedding photography books to my reading list. Thanks a lot!
     
  5. JohnMF

    JohnMF TPF Noob!

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    shooting weddings is tough...
     
  6. Grym

    Grym TPF Noob!

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    I have been putting together a "wish list" on Adorama, I think I'm settled right now on 3 2GB cards, 2 extra batteries and a card reader/portable HDD 20GB - as far as my computer goes I've recently upgraded so I got 2GB RAM in it and plenty of HDD space - I am having a hard time with lenses because I've been a point and shoot amateur photographer until recently and I am not even really sure from looking at the specs which lenses are "fast" - any suggestions on good cost efficient lenses for a Nikon d200 would be much appreciated.:hail:
     
  7. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    Nikon 17-35 f/2.8 $1,450 from reputable store. I suggest used ones though.
    Nikon 35-70 f/2.8 $700 from reputable store. Again look for used.
    Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 $900 from reputable store. Again look for used.

    Sigma 24-70 F/2.8 EX DG $375 from reputable store.
    Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 EX DG $725 from reputable store.

    The Nikons will be sharper but you can get very good pics from the Sigma lenses. Try to get the faster lenses what ever you choose. The Nikon lenses above are the previouse series. They have newer models now with VR and sonic focusing motors. But the older plain D type AF lenses are very sharp. And are available used now.

    Remember you can buy the lower priced Sigmas and if in the future you decided you want and can afford the best. You can sell them and get quite a bit of money back on them. So they would not be a total loss. You get fast good lenses for a lower price. Or buy better Nikons used and save some money there too.
     

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