Resources advice - lighting?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JenPena, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    Hi all, long time no see. I've been busy and not even at photography, but my "other" love - graphic design.

    I'm working my way towards a freelance home business combining my graphic design and photography, specializing in weddings and special events, but also business services. I LOVE doing weddings - I've done a few now and am getting better, but I still want to be happier with the work I'm giving to people. My photos are okay, some are a little better than that, but I'm my own worst critic and I want an edge - that pesky thing called lighting! I also would like to learn more about settings I can change on my digital D70 to have more control over what I'm shooting.

    I feel like I need a more formal education than just buying a bunch of books and hoping for the best - because I still would like to have a live person, (or at least via the Web) looking at my work and critiquing it to help me get better. I just don't know what the best place is to do this.

    I've tried the New York Institute for Photography but it was a real pain to not have electronic access to my lessons and my instructors. Has anyone tried or heard anything about the School of Photography? I'm willing to take courses longer if I get into a good program, I just like the idea of doing more work electronically than what NYI does. I got sick of having to go have my photos processed, pay for the shipping and waiting weeks to hear back from an instructor, and in the meantime forget the lessons I was supposed to be learning. Local colleges here don't have a program for photography, maybe a class or two, and I'm afraid I won't get enough out of it by doing that.

    I am starting to get iniquiries about my services just through word of mouth and I really want to provide photography service, but only if I'm confident I can give them a good product! Anyone have any advice or been there, done that? And have suggestions on courses I can take, books I can buy? I'm eager to learn! Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    You have the right attitude...so I think you are off to a good start.

    I would have suggested local college courses...but if they don't offer much, then that may not be a good option. I don't have any experience with on-line courses so I can't help there.

    There are plenty of books which will help you with the basics...but I've found that the advice and opinions in books about wedding photography...will vary just as greatly as advice you will get anywhere...so it's a good idea to take in as much info as possible and form your own opinions.

    Probably the best way to learn this craft/art/business...is to hook up with an established pro and learn from them. Many people will assist a pro for a while before going out on their own.

    So back to the question...what exactly about lighting do you want to learn more about? All photography is technically 'lighting' :lol: Studio lighting? On-camera 'hot-shoe' flash lighting? Off camera 'hot-shoe' flash lighting? Natural lighting?
     
  3. Groupcaptainbonzo

    Groupcaptainbonzo TPF Noob!

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    YOU LOVE DOING WEDDINGS ! ! !

    I've always said that if you make a mistake at a wedding, If you're the Groom / Bride you can always get a divorce. But if you're the photographer you're Beggared ! ! .

    I suppose that with practice and the digital age it has taken a bit of the panic out of it. But I still think you are very brave.....
     
  4. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    Hey - why not all of it??!! :lol: I like portraiture work but with weddings you always end up with big groups and sometimes outdoors, so I need to understand how to light for different situations...I feel like an idiot because this is so hard for me to just "get" - I haven't had the lightning bolt of "AHA" yet and it makes me wonder if this is really my calling or not! Trying to understand aperture and focal length and anything to do with flash lighting is like reading a medical book to me - it doesn't sink in. I love taking photos, but that doesn't make me a photographer! But I'm still bound and determined to try.....
     
  5. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    I started taking pictures at weddings because my "PRO" photographer did a crap job at mine and I was in tears about it. It basically was a lot of yellow-tinted shots indoors with lots of closed eyes and boring poses, and I didn't want that to happen to other people, so I started shooting whenever I was asked, for no fee but experience. And I've never had any complaints but my own. I still want to do more with the camera and not have to adjust in Photoshop so much. I want to like my shots from a photographer's eye, not from someone who says "they're okay" because they don't see all those "errors" I've been learning to pick out! I do enjoy being part of the wedding process, it's such a happy time and it lets you be creative even on spur of the moment, and when I'm done and my feet are killing me and I am sick of holding my camera, I know it's a job that I really earned my pay from. And part of the fun is not having a guarantee - I know how important every shot is because the moments don't come again, and that's a real challenge. Digital format helps a TON because you can keep track of yourself and whether your shots are coming out, and I can take a ton of them as "just in cases" - like the last one where the bride was known for closing her eyes in pictures. It was an easy fix - I just shot 4 at a time and always had one good one to use. See how fun that all is??!! :lol:
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    You certainly have the right attitude. You have to love wedding photography to do it for any length of time.
     
  7. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike, you always post reassuring and encouraging posts. I would love to be able to work along a pro but lo and behold, in my town of just under 10,000, there currently isn't a pro photographer working. There's another gal like me that hasn't had any training and just happened into doing photography, and is now getting more and more business, and the other place in town was a well-known family business that was sold and is now having trouble - with talk of them going out of business too. So there's a great market for it here, especially combined with my graphic design services, but I really want to get good before I start advertising it to people. I've taken jobs from the word of mouth thing ONLY after warning them that I'm not a pro and am still learning, but they still want me....some people don't mind it if they can pay $500 for wedding photos instead of the $2000 going rate....

    I'd still like to keep learning. I guess I just have to do what everyone else says, keep practicing, buy some books, and hope I get that "AHA". Thank you again for being an encouraging voice!
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    Looks like you will have a good market...just make sure you have a plan for when you have already photographed all 10,000 people...:lol:

    I recently took a wedding photography course (sounds like a course you would have liked). One of the main points that the instructor made, was not to charge too little for your services. I know that you don't have a lot of experience...but if you are good then you need to charge for that. Being a graphic designer...you should know that you have to charge for computer time as well as shooting time. When you break it down...you will see it better. Lets say that for a wedding, you meet with the couple a few times before the wedding...maybe you go the the church beforehand to check it out and talk to the officiant. That's a few hours plus driving etc. Then you shoot for 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 hours on the day. Then you have 500-2000 shots to download, backup, cull, edit, proof etc....that could be a lot of time...and seeing that you are a graphic designer...I'm guessing that you would have plenty of ideas and different things that you could do with the photos...but that takes time. You might spend up to 20 hours editing the photos. So now we are up to over 30 hours of your time spent. At $500, That's not even $17 per hour...then you have to consider overhead, like the cost of your equipment etc. Business expenses like taxes, insurance, advertising etc....it adds up quick. Not to mention if you include prints in the package.

    But you already know that $500 is too low and that it's just a starting point...but the catch is that it will be harder than you think to raise your prices...especially in a small town. If you charge one person $500...then their cousin gets married and got a great recommendation to you...how do you all of a sudden charge $2000? And if you charge $2000 for the whole package...everything you can do; 16 hours of coverage, 200 prints with customized special effects, engagement shoot etc....the whole works...then what can you ever do for $2500? You have to leave room to charge more for more of your service.

    Finding the right price point for you market is an age old dilemma...and you will have to figure it out...but don't sell yourself short. If your product is good...then experience should not be a factor in your price.
     
  9. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    You're right, Mike, and that's part of my problem - I don't have enough faith in my own abilities to really force myself to charge competitive prices. The $500 we charged was for a friend in another town, who was of course a friend and who we gave a deal on it as part of our gift to them. We haven't charged in this town yet and the one I have possibly set up for this coming fall is in yet another town. Word of mouth is amazing! Even for someone who isn't a pro!

    I'm trying to find info to be competitive, but not too high or too low - I am figuring out my costs and what my time is worth, especially knowing that even my design rate is VERY reasonable. I worked about 3 days STRAIGHT - no sleep - to do 150 wedding invites all by hand with assembly for a co-worker who didn't pay me so I KNOW my time is worth more than that! :) I just don't have the same confidence in my photography yet but I'm going to start making time to practice and that will make me feel better.

    I LOVE your advice, so thank you - and keep it coming when you can! It really gives me more to think about and helps with confidence! I appreciate it a lot.
     
  10. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Why would you even say that I'm sure there are alot of people like me who loved doing weddings from the first one I did for a friend to the many I have done up till today seven years later. I think if you have that attitude yes, stay away from doing weddings but I don't think it is helpful to try and discourage someone from doing it. And digital has made alot of people think doing weddings is easier but it is still a very important day in someoes life that takes real talent and creativity to do right. Thatbeing said a great book I just read and loved is below. This is one of the few books of this type that I have actually felt compelled to read cover to cover.

    [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Wedding-Photography-Capturing-Beautiful/dp/0471790176/sr=8-1/qid=1172009891/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-9350429-6777424?ie=UTF8&s=books[/ame]
     
  11. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    Thank you JIP for the input since I was feeling a little discouraged just from thinking about posts I've put on here, and how inexperienced I feel. I too have been doing weddings for friends and am now being asked to do them on a more professional basis, but I still feel like I have plenty to learn. At the same time, I REALLY want to do the wedding I've been asked to give estimates for this coming fall. I can do the wedding and the stress and the running around (I LOVE that) okay, and everyone I've done stuff for really likes it, but I can't help it - I would love to be great at it instead of "okay"! Lots of people in the same position as me have just told me to read everything I can and practice, so I'm going to start collecting and soak up as much as possible. It really helps to have people such as yourself that have been there, done it, and are still doing it. Thanks for reading my post!
     
  12. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    Interesting thread.
    My best friend is getting married in May. It's my duty to GRILL potential photographers. Just like lots of new couples they too are on a budget.
    But I've always been a strong believer in 'You get what you pay for'. While asking my 1001 questions to a number of photographers, most amateur, I got the feeling that few of them were confident in their work. And I believe their prices reflected that.

    There's a fine line between charging too little and too much depending on your skill level. Too little you could lose potential customers because they too could feel they'd be getting what they pay for. Then again, charge too high for your skill level and they'll be disappointed. So I can't help you there except to say that I too agree $500 is way too low.

    Two years ago I was asked to take pictures for a small group taking fire fighting in town here (we have the best fire fighting school in north america, people come from all over the world to train here). All I had was a digital rebel 2000 with the kit lens. The opportunity was more for my own enjoyment and experience than anything. Until they wanted to buy some pictures.
    I took 3 rolls of color, 1 black and white, and about 100 pictures with my crappy digital camera.
    I made each of them (4 guys) a copy of all the pictures and put the digitals on a disc. When they asked what I wanted for them....... PANIC!!!!!
    One guy suggest $60.00 for all the prints and $10.00 for the disc.
    I made over $300. I feel bad now because going through the pictures now I realized I should've had better equipment.
    BUT THEY LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Probably not for the quality but because they're keepsakes from something cool they got to experience.

    As consumers we all have an idea of what we're willing to pay for certain things. Ask friends and friends friends and family and familys friends what they feel would be a good price given your experience.

    Hope this helps!!
    Be sure to post some of your work here in the future.

    I admire anyone who can do wedding photography. It's an area I would never touch.
     

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