Ready to shoot weddings... problem is...how to start?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by keith204, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Checklist
    • Backup body [check]
    • Good lenses [check]
    • Camera know-how [check]
    • Comfortable with equipment [check]
    • Gained much knowledge from pro wedding photographer [check]
    • Comfortable with my personality and positioning people for poses [check]
    • Comfortable working with many people and not spazzing out [check]
    • Wife to aid with detail (straighten dresses, collars, etc) [check]
    • Mentally critiqued thousands of wedding photos to find what I like/dislike in wedding photos [check]
    • Wedding to shoot... (!)
    I am dying to shoot weddings - you have no idea. I can't stop thinking about it, and in the past week, I have come to the point where I am completely comfortable taking on a wedding.

    The problem is...where do I start? Do I shadow somebody? Do I find somebody who has a tight budget and shoot theirs for free? How do I shadow somebody? Would they really want to let me shadow them, since I could be competition in the future? How do I get my first clients, without a wedding portfolio?

    The town I live in, is overflowing with weddings (baptist college town) and there are few wedding photographers. Once I start, I can advertise, pass around my portfolio, and have great success. But, where do I start?

    So, wedding photographers - where did you start? If one of you guys does wedding photography around Missouri, maybe we can work out something. More than anything, where do I start?
     
  2. noob873

    noob873 TPF Noob!

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    I havent done anything like a wedding yet, but how I plan on starting is if a family member or family friend or something is having one, I'll offer to do it for free just to see how I'll do/how they like it (if it turns out good they'll prob give you some money anyways).
    Then based on how good I do they might tell someone else, or i'll be able to do another one more comfortably having the first one under my belt and some wedding pictures for a portfolio.
    Just a thought. ;)
     
  3. Crosby

    Crosby TPF Noob!

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    I'd go to the college campus and put a few fliers out (students get alot of info from bulletin boards) and advertise a good low rate (students are broke usually) or talk with the campus ministers and let him know and he might send you some business.
     
  4. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    LOL @ server & JIP :mrgreen:

    Try your local craigslist if there is one, and yes college bulletin boards. Have you shot a wedding as a backup at least? Some online wedding oriented sites like theknot.com are good for networking too. Networking is the key.
     
  5. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well the way I personally started was to work for someone. When I wanted to shoot weddings I purchased the gear I needed and got a job shooting for a local studio. Of course they were not the most expensive place in town and I was not paid a million dollars but I put my time and after a little training I was out shooting for him on my own in no time. This gave me a real good foundation and alot of experience shooting for someone without the pressure of running my own business he was able to back me up if there ever were any problems and all I had to worry about was shooting. Of course I had to sign a no-compete for a while but it still gave me the chance to learn the shooting without having to worry about everything else. So I would suggest going out to some of those other photographers and see about shooting with or for them because there is nothing like practical experience. You say you have other photographersin your town well this is the way to go and I wouldnt worry about not having any wedding images you r experience is your experience let it stand for itself I looked at your site and you have some nice images there put something together and go for it. Of course I would favor portrait type images and I might stay away from too many of the cage fight images but you have alot of great images to show people and really all you are showing them is you know how to handle your camera.
     
  6. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    All fixed up.....
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sheesh JIP... little case of the stutters, or just trying to raise your post count? :lol:

    Keith, at some point, I also wanted to do a wedding and I loved the experience, even though I have no desire to turn pro (I make a good living at what I do already and photography is just a serious hobby for me).

    You could do what I did... approach a professional and ask if they wanted a second shooter for free just looking for experience. Don't pick anyone, though, pick someone KNOWN as being thorough and good. I did this expecting to do it once... got called back 2 more times afer the first one.

    Though I said "no money involved", he was gentleman enough to insist and pay my gas and a meal the first time, which I was *not* expecting. The second and third times, I was again ready to do it for nothing and stated so, but made some money anyway. Not a lot, mind you, but more than I was expecting to come home with.

    By the way, "comfortable with my equipment" is not really enough. Understanding the basics of photography VERY well, knowing how to use it to your advantage and being at the point where you know what you want in your mind's eye and how to get close with the settings in your camera are more of a prerequisite BEFORE you ask to shadow a pro, otherwise they just won't bother calling you back for the second time once they see your results.

    As I once stated before, if you don't deeply understand the intricacies between shutter speed, ISO and aperture and have to ask, you are not ready. If anything you read at www.strobist.com is new to you, you are not ready. If you are shy, you are not ready. If you don't have at least 5,000 good keepers in your collection, you are not ready. These are my standards, not some defined way. This is the way I was before asking and I got the job, not once, not twice, but three times. This is a big part of what it took for me to get the job.

    Having a good set of lenses is more important than a backup body (as long as its not a point & shoot. I have a D200, a camera KNOWN to be reliable), as a second and "free" shooter. I had several good lenses and he asked to see my equipment and even demo it for him while we were chatting over coffee. He openly admitted that he was very nervous about me, the first time and I I told him that I was too but that I was determined to do my best, we chuckled about that. I think for me, a big factor was the fact that I was 47 years old, and able to meet the guy at his level. I think had I been 18-19, he would not have been able to take me as seriously about my request (just a feeling I got based on a few of his comments).

    I learned a LOT from those three weddings, but the most important thing that I learned was that though I was good enough to be called back twice more after the initial tryout, based on the results of my actions and the positive commentary of the clients, I would not personally feel comfortable doing this on my own. Being a second shooter is one thing... once I saw what it was really all about, and how important that day is to the client, I would not wish to jeopardize this one non-repeatable event for them in any way. I did not wish to be the reason why someone's wedding turned out poorly, and thats a HELL of a responsability.


    Anyways, good luck.
     
  8. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First off there was some kind of burp in the system this morning and evrything froze at first I thought it might be on my end but I guess it turned out to be something with the server. Second and most important, whileIagree with most of what you said and do agree that a good selection of lenses is imperative there is nothing more imprtant than having reliable ready backup gear. I shot weddings for several years when I shot medium format with nothing but a 75mm lens (normal lens for 645) and never had one problem. One of the reasons I never had a problem was because I had 2 complete sets of gear 2 cameras 2 flashes 2 lenses. When things broke down (and they did at baaaaad times to) I was always ready with a backup.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I know. ;) I was just ribbing you. :) It's happened to me a few times on other forums. Happens mostly when server is overloaded or while backups are being made. No biggie, and why I added a smilie. I was hoping you would have caught that.

    Regarding backup gear... as a full time pro? Absolutely! As someone just learning and wanting to start out? I think that until they decide if this is what they want to do full time, a backup body is an unnecessary expense.

    I think you misunderstood my intent, but I agree with you that every pro that does weddings should have backup equipment... just that until you decide that this is what you want to do as a pro, its lower on the list of priorities compared to lenses... especially if your one main body is a reliable one.
     
  10. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for all the great advice everyone.

    The equipment I plan on using for this...

    Canon 40D and 20D
    Sigma 70-200 2.8 & Tamron 28-75 2.8 & Canon 17-85 IS
    50 1.8 & Lensbaby for play, as well as the Sigma 10-20

    My wife will use a borrowed 30D and my 17-85IS for candids most likely.

    430EX, and 420EX

    brackets, lightspheres, bounce cards - whatever is necessary for the location. I am very comfortable with using my strobes in advantageous ways.

    Gobs of batteries :)


    I do know how to use the equipment more than most do. I don't only understand what ISO, shutter speed, and aperture do....but I can quickly and accurately control them to produce the image I want.


    Also...wedding photographers in the area - there really aren't many. None that I would want to shadow, as I don't like their work. That's my delimma.
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If shadowing is what you want to do, you may have to jump in the car/truck and travel a bit or find out yourself how good the local ones are before asking... thast not hard to do. If you feel you are ready, skip jumping into a car/truck, and jump right into the business end of it. ;)

    The first one is always the hardest.

    If I can share the advice of what several pros shared with me... the MOST important part to have... is a good contract. One that protects you and your client from all those things that drive many a good pro out of the business.

    There are a couple professional wedding forums (some ask yearly fees to get in), that offer good examples. Before doing your own first shoot, I would suggest that you look this up, and also read a lot of the horror stories that come up, you will find that there is a repeating theme and then know how to prevent or avoid or work through them.

    Wise is a man that learns from another man's mistakes and avoids them. :)
     
  12. Big Mike

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

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    Word of mouth...tell everyone you know.

    Get some business cards and a wedding site up.

    I wouldn't suggest doing any weddings for free...but it might not be so bad to take a couple at a reduced rate.

    If you can work with another photographer to get experience...that would probably be a good idea.
     

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