Something different for the wedding crowd.

Discussion in 'Alternative Techniques & Photo Gallery' started by Efergoh, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. Efergoh

    Efergoh TPF Noob!

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    I have an incredible amount of competition in my area. In order to keep food on the table you either have to offer your services at cut throat prices or offer something spectacular that no one else does, or knows how to do.

    Nearly every wedding photographer around here shoots digital exclusively. Most of them would run and hide if you said the word "darkroom" out loud in their presence. Many wouldn't even know what to do in the darkroom.

    Film is a profit loser for the most part. Developing the film, making proofs and prints just costs too much these days which is why we have all switched to digital in the first place. Lower costs and quicker turn around and all.

    I've taken to offering bridal portraits in large format film, as well as a list of alternative processes.

    This is one I shot last summer. 8x10 film printed in exhausted Kodalith.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You need to scope your clients when they are scoping you. I would steer clear of the couples that would pay $100 to any 17 year old that walked in off the street with a D-SLR. You offer a service at a quality (I presume) that outshines most others, regardless of medium. So while they're checkin you out, look hard at them. If they aren't cheap and are open minded to different things then you might want to take them on. Also, reconsider albums. They are time consuming and dropping them would enable you to take on more jobs. More time taking pictures and less time behind the scenes shackled by bonded leather albums and leaves and mattes and brass rods and tape and prints and which one goes where. It's a no brainer. I wish I had thought of it while I was shooting weddings. Honestly, too many album assemblies is what turned me off. If I had stuck to shooting primarily I might still be doing it. Can't say as I miss it though.

    Just my $.02.
     
  3. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Efergoh, I love your use of alternative processes. They're quite intriguing. I'm not familiar with film development, but I don't see that as a failing, just a product of being born at a time when digital photography is predominant in my adult life (what little adult life I've had, that is). These are definitely things I'd aim to get via digital though; alternative processes are cool, and I think worth the effort (well, in digital it's worth the effort to tinker with settings and try to emulate an alternative process).
     
  4. Efergoh

    Efergoh TPF Noob!

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    Actually my prices do the screening for me, but every now and again I'll get someone that wants me to drive 300 miles, shoot for 8-10 hours, edit and retouch for another 30 and do it all for $250. No $hit, that actually happened last week. I tried to work with her, cut corners on services, but I wouldn't go below $600, and that, frankly, was a gift.

    Never did 'em in the first place. I would offer prints ala carte, and print packages, or just a printable CD (which is what most folks do these days), but if they wanted an album, they were on their own.

    For the alternative process stuff, it really is a specialty item. I only get one or two takers a year. I charge $50 per sheet of 8x10 film. If they decide they liked the contact sheet, then the price for the prints depends on what process they like. Lith prints, VanDyke, Albumen, etc. all start at $150 for an 8x10 printed on 11x14 paper. Mordancage starts at $200 due to the cost of the chemicals.
     
  5. Efergoh

    Efergoh TPF Noob!

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    I never intended to imply such. Ignorance of a subject is merely an absence of information curable through education.

    I do firmly believe that any formal study of photography must include traditional web lab processes. Shooting film over digital forces you to plan ahead and know that you got the shot when you fired the shutter as you don't have the instant feedback from looking at the LCD. If you know you have the shot, there is no need to look at the LCD and you won't miss the shot of a lifetime because you were looking at the LCD.

    Because a roll of 35mm film has only 36 frames, you have to be more selective in what you shoot, think more critically about what you want to create. If you're shooting large format, you get one shot before you have to reload (or two by turning the carrier around).

    This is an incredible tangent from the original post, but I think it a worthwhile conversation....

    I'll qualify this by saying that I am not bashing digital. I shoot digital all the time...I simply prefer film. With the advent and proflieration of digital photography, photography itself has become a disposable medium. There is no need to sit and really enjoy an image. There is no need to dissect, critique or analyze an image...for one there isn't time, but because another image will come along in just a moment.

    Look at MySpace, Flikr, Facebook. Folks go on vacation and snap away, snap away. When they get home, they shove all 300 images from the trip onto a gallery. No critical sorting or consideration is given to any of the images, they are just shoved in our face, and we are overloaded, and can't process all of the information, so if we do look at them, they might get one or two seconds before we move on to the next one because the next one isn't all that different from the first.

    With film, you have a finite number of images you can capture before you have to reload the camera, or go buy more film. After you develop the film, you have to make another decision about which ones to print. Want to share them online? Well, now you have to scan them. Those images that do make it online have been screened at least 3 times before they make it to cyberspace. By virtue of the very amount of work involved, the chaff is separated from the wheat.
     
  6. UUilliam

    UUilliam TPF Noob!

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    Hm, another thing you could do to beat the competition is: there are loads of newbie toggers who want to make a quick buck, but there are sensible ones who do it for the passion
    you should allow a togger who wants it PURLY for the passion to follow you around for a few weddings, then once he decides he/she has learned enough, offer them to become part of your wedding firm
    that way you wont have competition as the Colud-be-competition is then working FOR you and just tell them you take 25% of all profit and they can only sign with you and can only do weddings that get passed by you first and make them sign a contract to agree to this, that way the competition is paying you :) and it also means if you have an off week you always have someone who can then go out and do the shoot for you, and you still get a return on it, say you charge $1000 for a wedding (im unsure how much the average togger charges anymore.. .with all these new-wanabes charging likes of $100 - $400 for a togger where as higher end TRUE toggers charge $800+.)

    Tl:Dr = let aspiring toggers follow and become part of your firm and get 25% from their profits = no competition as competition is working for you
     
  7. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Never thought you were implying it was a failing. ;)

    I definitely see your point, and have seriously considered such things when I'm out shooting. Not just from the standpoint that if I shoot once and know I've got what I want, it means I'm shooting smarter and actually thinking, but it just feels good to release the shutter once and get everything right the first time, rather than firing away and hoping everything works for at least one shot.

    That said, there are plenty of times when shooting scads of digital is useful, like if you're fighting motion blur and camera shake at a low-light event, say, and there's so little light that even on high ISO the shots are still hit-and-miss. I think for portraits it's also nice to sit there with a cable release and interact, not worrying about having to reload film at any point.

    That said, I totally understand what you're getting at. And to show it rather than just yap, this photo and this photo are both examples of shots where I took as much as I could (the knowledge I've got from my limited experience, that is) into consideration before pressing the shutter release. Granted the second shot is a tad overdone (there are so many people doing railway tracks and converging lines, though apparently people still looked at me funny for laying on the ground for two minutes changing my camera settings) I only have one shot of each, and I'm really happy with the one. It feels good to get it right the first time, because it means "well, hey, I actually do know something" as opposed to "I'm still pretty shakey with this photography stuff...let's just shoot a bunch of frames and see what happens."

    Damn you UUilliam for beating me! *shakes fist* :p : Very sneaky, though good business sense.
     
  8. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Beautiful lith. :thumbup: I'm betting the couple absolutely loves it.

    I think you're spot on to offer something the average wedding shooter will not - that's certainly not a new concept. In this genre, you are trying to lift the shoot into something more personal and show the artistry of photography, as well as capturing Aunt Tilly's smile on their special day - so I hope this approach pays off for you.

    Be patient, and let your work speak for you. Soon enough there will be people seeking you out just get one of those cool shots for themselves, and they'll more than likely be willing to wait for it, too. ;)

    Great to see you continuing on with your alt work. :D
     
  9. tylerzachary412

    tylerzachary412 TPF Noob!

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    Reminds something from 30's! In this amount of digital world is very good see something like that;)
    It's different and it calls to look at it;) Great job!
     
  10. Menthol

    Menthol TPF Noob!

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    Am not sure. Vintage looks can be created in photoshop fact.
    I would suggest competitive pricing and quality work drives competition away from you. In fact competition if good for the art but you need to manage it by staying on top.

    Sent from my Galaxy SII using PhotoForum
     

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