Weddings & amateurs, another example

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by JerryPH, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I often try to discourage beginners from taking on doing weddings by themselves because of the equipment and skill needed to give the bride and groom what they deserve. I tell people that this is not a place to learn and that it happens once and never again... no 2nd chances. I ask them to leave ego at the door and if they care about the couple, let a professional do their job.

    What happens when you have a photographer with more than beginner abilities? Someone that's taken a few classes and perhaps even had a few pictures published? Well, the results are pretty ugly. What I appreciate about this man is his honestly to not only face reality, but to write about it.

    Maybe this aritlcle will save some bride and groom the pain of needing to look at crap pictures all their life. I sure hope so.

    The article can be found HERE. Enjoy the read... I know that I did, because it is well written and pretty much says it all... complete even with a few comparison shots. :)
     
  2. farmerj

    farmerj TPF Noob!

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    The guys a professional writer asked to do an assignment. Put it into proper prospective.

    Not saying that the article doesn't have merit. But the same can be said for going to that "once in a lifetime" vacation, first communion, kids first prom, grandparents 50th wedding anniversary or any other irreplaceable and memorable event.
     
  3. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I place a little less importance on a vacation or first communion than a wedding... I think most people do as well.

    Even then, the point was not about the relative importance of differing events, but the value of an experienced wedding photographer vs someone who "thinks" they're good enough. He is an avid amateur who has taken courses and has had pictures published. That more than anything else, I think, places his approximate skill level. :)
     
  4. Alleh Lindquist

    Alleh Lindquist TPF Noob!

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    Thank Costco for the DSLR kits sold in mass numbers for the bad wedding photography.
     
  5. blash

    blash TPF Noob!

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    Yep. For most stuff other than a wedding (well excepting Bar/Bat Mizvahs, at least - most people get those professionally done and mine was as well... now that I think about it, not really sure why, guess it's more for the up-to-date family formals more than anything else), that's what the family DSLR is for, to capture those moments. They're irreplaceable which is why they do have to be photographed, but they're not a defining point in anyone's lives generally. Weddings are quite different to say the least.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Great link Jerry. :thumbup: It's now bookmarked.
     
  7. Big

    Big TPF Noob!

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    I was thinking that since my brother and his fiance are getting married sometime (no idea when) that it would be nice to take some shots only if he had a professional too. I would love to have a part in that if nothing else. I would never do it by myself.
     
  8. Bee Bee

    Bee Bee TPF Noob!

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    See just to throw a spanner in the works... I HAD to do my sisters wedding as they could not afford a professional and would otherwise have had no photographic record of their big day. I was (and still consider myself) a beginner at the time and had no confidence in my ability, but knew how important it was to be able to look back (personally I hate my wedding pictures with a vengeance - they are too formal and do not capture our personality at all - but then I am lucky as we are renewing our vows next week in a ceremony that is totally 'us' and things will be different - if I can find a photographer!). I only had 5 weeks from the time that they decided to get married till the actual wedding day and so I spent many hours looking at wedding photographers work and reading up on how best to capture their day. My sister made it more awkward by not knowing what shots she would want but I think I did an ok job considering I only had my father in laws Canon 1000D at the time....

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  9. Good article, thanks.
     
  10. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I'm not quite sure about that. You choose to go with the definition of amateur as lacking in experience. But there is another one: "one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession" and I've know a few of those who were much better photographers than the so called pros.

    Now, I tend to do the same thing you do on this forum, push for hiring a professional. Especially in threads that start "I've been hired to shoot a wedding, do I need a camera?" :lmao:

    With my friends and family I do the same but only after I have pushed for not doing a traditional wedding and break the bank. I was once part of the wedding industry as a photographer and I know it's a racket.

    When I started I attended a workshop by the top US wedding photog of the time. All his weddings were the same. If it wasn't for the color of the bride's maid dresses, you could almost have pasted the heads of the bride and groom on a set of photos and be done :lol: There was absolutely nothing in those photos of the personality of the couple. I just could not believe this guy was the top of the profession.

    Anyway, not everybody is the same or has the same expectations or desires. A lot of times, hire a pro is the right suggestion but not always. If we really want to help, shouldn't we ask a few questions first?

    I had no photographer at my wedding. We had no desire to pay for photos we don't even find appealing. And I can just imagine the answers if my nephew had come on this forum saying: "my uncle, a professional photog, asked me to shoot his wedding, I've never shot one before..." By asking some questions you may have found out we had asked everybody coming to the wedding to do the same, with their P&S cameras. :D
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think that the best path with the highest assurance of quality is:

    - Get your photography basics down. Normally this takes at least a year, if you work diligently at it and can take longer.

    - Get your lighting (strobist) basics down. Normally this takes at least a year, if you work at it and can be part of the same time above. For me it was after I had my basics down (year 2) and I am glad it was... I did not compromise my time with any one aspect. For some, this can take longer.

    - Mentor with a truly good professional... one on one. This is the ice breaker and REALLY made my eyes go wide. I'd divide this into 2 sections (watching/helping and then carrying a camera). By "truly good", I do not mean just someone that takes you in, I mean someone that as they are working, seamlessly take the time to explain things to you, show you the results and carry on a running dialog with both you and the client. This is a HUGE skill of itself.

    The watching phase is where you are an assistant. You take no pictures but study how and what they do. This includes after the wedding as you study their post processing techniques and workflow processes.

    The final phase is where you grab your camera and start shooting.

    Here is the part that some may not entirely agree with me, but what worked for me in real life after completing the previous steps. The last phase takes a minimum of 15 weddings. 10 weddings where you study the photorapher, shadow them. I had a small voice recorder and anytime I had a question, I spoke into it (later on I bought a nicer one and just let it run for hours on end during times I could, they capture everything so using them at the reception during the music blasting... useless! ;) ). I never interrupted my mentor with a question while he was at work. I took verbal notes and questions and asked later or while in the car, going from location to location. This info is all transferred into a Word document (my own personal secrets of wedding black book, if you will), along with the matching pictures from the pro after he makes them available to me (usually the same time as they are made available to the bride or as we are doing the post processing together).

    After 10 weddings, you then bring your equipment and are basically a 2nd shooter... most likely none of your shots will be seen by the B&G, but you share them with the mentor. The first 2-3 weddings you will really struggle because there are a million things to remember, but after that you start to build an internal workflow clock and a system is developed.

    For me personally, I extended the last phase where I did 10 weddings of no pictures, 2 weddings of just the brides in her house, 2 weddings of just the groom at his house, 2 weddings of just the churches, 4 weddings of just the formals and reception and either this upcoming wedding or the next I kick in as a full 2nd shooter. I already have my first solo gig lined up for September 12th (a 50th anniversary).

    I have a domain name and base website up, but thats not going out anywhere yet because now I am learning web design and stockpiling up some really nice portfolio shots.

    Do you see the progression, amount of time and effort involved to do it right? The results are incredibly different. One is kind of like asking a 6-year old to discuss in detail the intricacies of black holes, folding space and stars... the other is like sitting down and listening to Stephen Hawkings himself.

    All my life, my mantra has been "do it once, do it right or don't do it at all". I try to live by that standard in anything family, hobby or work related that I do. I bet if more wedding photographers followed this path, there would be a lot more happier brides.
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would agree that there are many good amateurs out there, some better than many pros. However, just like there is no way to become an excellent macro shot taker, there is NO way to become an experienced wedding photographer... unless you do it over and over.

    Now, if you are learning wedding photography by screwing over wedding couples many times before you get "good", *that* is what I am saying is totally wrong due to the nature of weddings (once in a lifetime and never again). That flower will be back and won't mind if you took 50 times of 50 blurry shots of it to get down your technique. Those first 50B &Gs are now dealing with uber-crap while you were "practicing", no matter if you were the best general photographer in the world, until you've sat down with a pro and been guided through the process as it *should* be, you are going to not be ready... no exceptions. Until you are ready, I feel that you have no right to screw up someone's lifetime memories.


    "Rackets" are everywhere. In particular, my PRIME example is Jasmine Starr. Someone that didn't even know how to hold a camera at her own wedding, talked a predominant good photographer to mentor her in it, shot to the top of the wedding photography food chain, and now spends more time in front of people in lecture halls selling her time as a speaker than behind a camera. Marketing tells people that her photos are untouchable by anyone. My brain screems "MEDIOCRE!" when my eyes see her work.

    A racket. There are a million other ones out there too, trust me, I've spent the last 2 years studying *all* aspects of this game.



    There are cookie-cutters out there, that is true, but also do not forget that the people that select him, do so just for those reasons, they want to look just like the brides that are in his portfolio. Now, I personally do not want all my weddings to be the same and they won't be, but my style will be the same from event to event. This is why the client chose me, this is why they wanted me.

    Of course! I never say to find out if they are against it or not, I say that if they are spending $50,000 on a wedding (the *average* amount to spend on a wedding in the USA... add another $25,000 to that if you live in California), and want to save $3's on a wedding photographer, but have $6Gs in the wedding cake... to think a little. After the cake is eaten and crapped out, what do YOU have for your money? NOTHING. The differences in quality of the pictures between your guests and an experienced good wedding photographer are not even comparable. What do you want to look at for the rest of your life... blurred, washed out underexposed pictures or memories that glorify the event and make you smile each and every time you look at them?

    Of course there are weddings held by people of much lower means, people who do NOT have the money as perhaps that $3G photographer is 50% higher than the budget for some bride's ENTIRE wedding... in her case, she may not be able to afford a photographer.

    In my *own* case, at my wedding, I did not even want one there, even if he was Jesh de Rox and offered to work for free. At the time, I could not care less and would not be bothered with it. Today, I repent my attitude and thoughts because it was a special moment that I cannot ever repeat again.

    Sorry, there is no such thing as an unappealing wedding photo when done properly by someone who's style you like and chose. NO ONE goes "oh, he's a crappy photographer, but he's $100 for the week, let's take him!" :)

    I never said not to ask. I do say that the vast majority of couples that want memories need to understand that there is a difference between Nephew Larry and a trained, experienced photographer and to understand the consequences and results of both sides of the coin.

    If they do not care about the quality of the shots, they are entirely free to choose to have all or none of the guests do this for them, or they may choose to honor and preserve the memories in a manner befitting such an important even in their lives. If they do want memories... there is only ONE way to do it... and that is to choose someone who cares and lives with a mantra... do it once, do it right... or don't bother with doing it at all.

    Under those circumstances, who would you rather have doing it? :)
     

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