Weddings... I don't get it.

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by sabbath999, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Why is it that so many photography newbies want to take pictures at weddings?

    Why is it that so many people who see that you own a DSLR are shocked to find out that you DON'T take weddings?

    These are two of the many wedding questions I have.

    A bit of background. I shot weddings when I was a starving newspaper photographer/reporter/editor. I did it strictly for the money, to put my wife through college. I knew what I was doing, a full set of lights, pro cameras and lenses (Hassy) with backups of everything, liability insurance, etc. I hated every minute of it, but man the money was good.

    I can understand experienced photographers wanting to cash in on the wedding photography business... people who know that the business side of a wedding is more critical than the pictures (assuming you want to be in business in the long haul)... Those of you who have been in the trenches know exactly what I am talking about...

    I see so many newbies come to this site (and others) talking about how they want to take wedding pictures... and I honestly don't get the attraction to it.

    Perhaps it is from personal experience... one too many bridezillas or momzillas on the most stressful day of their lives... or one too many proof sessions when you show the size-16 bride her perfectly exposed, crystal clear, immaculately composed shots and she looks up in tears saying "All your pictures make me look FAT".... and you want to tell her "honey, you are a porker, what do you expect?" but you know you can't. (BTW, I myself am/have been a porker who always looks too fat in pictures, so I am qualified to make this statement)

    Then there is part two of my question.

    I have had many, many former clients want me to shoot their daughter's or son's wedding... I am both thrilled that they liked my pictures of their own wedding enough to want me to shoot the ceremony of their child, and horrified that I am THAT old... Ok, satisfied customer, that I understand...

    But...

    Why is it so many people assume the simple ownership of a camera with an interchangeable lens qualifies somebody to take wedding pictures? I have been asked many times how much I would charge by people who didn't know me "back in the day".

    To me, it is rather like seeing somebody walking around Sears with a new socket set, and asking the person how much she would charge to change out a transmission on a car.

    I don't know.

    I generally tell people that I am a wildlife photographer (wildlife and zoos), and that if their son or daughter is a bluejay, cardinal, dik dik, crested crane, white tailed deer or red tailed hawk, then I am their guy... if not, it might be better to hire somebody who has the professionalism, knowledge and equipment to do the job right... and not "just some guy or gal with a DSLR".

    Weddings (except things like reception candids, which are given to the couple without charge) are the domain of the professional, IMHO. I can't for the life of me figure out why anybody would WANT to do weddings (other than the money), but that's me (can you tell how TOTALLY burned out on wedding photography I got over the 8 years I did it?).

    Please feel free to share your thoughts.
     
  2. hudsonp

    hudsonp TPF Noob!

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    world class rant!
    :hail:


    seriously though, i can understand where you are coming from - i would have no desire to do weddings either
     
  3. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    People believe that shooting weddings is where the money is. And there is also plenty of work (or so it would seem).
    It is the one event in a couple's life where generally money is no object and having a 'professional' photographer to imortalise it is de rigeur.
    From the wannabe photographer's point of view all you need is a camera and a suit and you are off. Set up a website and print a business card and before you know it the work starts coming in.
    And you can just do them part-time at weekends whilst holding down a day job until you get established.
    This has been the situation for over 30 years.
    I remember talking to several long established wedding photographers in the late 70's who were moaning about the 'weekend amateur' killing their job. Because the amateurs were doing it as a hobby they were undercutting the pros in terms of price.
    Doing weddings is also attractive because it makes you appear important. You get to carry cameras and boss people around. Real high visibility.
    I have only ever shot two weddings. Both for friends and both as favours (no money changed hands). And I insisted they still got a 'pro' to do the traditional stuff.
    I don't do weddings because I see it as being beneath me :mrgreen:

    I will tell you a story.
    When I was at College we used to get working photographers to come and show their work, talk to us and get drunk with us after.
    Such was Bournemouth's prestige at the time that the top photographers of the day - not to mention Art directors - were queueing up to see us.
    One day the Head of School told us that we had a treat in store and he introduced a local wedding photographer. This chap had won National awards and was considered good.
    We respectfully listened to him, looked at his work and then asked intelligent questions.
    Then he left.
    When he had gone the Head of School turned gravely to us, looked at us all for a minute. Then said "well I'm sure having heard him speak and seen his work you have all realised why we asked Mr - - - - to come and talk to you. That's right - that is what will happen to you if you f*ck up your three years here!"
    It sobbered us all up.
    The guy was supposed to be one of the best in his field - and he was cr*p.

    True story.
     
  4. julie32

    julie32 TPF Noob!

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    This is the best written post I've ever seen. I'm canceling my interview with the wedding studio.
    ;)
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    I'm slowly trying to get into the wedding photography business. Partially because I love shooting weddings...and yes, the money is there to be made.

    I started taking my camera to family weddings. My Wife's family is largely of Ukrainian heritage and are or have been farmers or raised on farms. The results of that is that we get invited to around 3 to 6 weddings every year. I started taking photos on my own, then was hired to take photos supplemental to the hired pro...and now I'm finally set up to be the primary.

    While often very stressful for us and the clients, the Wedding Day is a special occasion...It should be a once in a life time event. I love that you have a bunch of people who are dressed up as good as they ever will be (which often comes with a pretty good feeling). All the girls get their hair done and they look great. The parents are usually beaming with pride etc. In short, weddings have a great vibe and it's fun to be a part of that.

    As for why the photographically illiterate think that an SLR automatically makes one a qualified wedding photographer...I don't know...that is sort of an anomaly. All they see is someone holding a camera and pressing the button. They can tell good photographs when they see them (well, some of them) but because they don't see the whole process (unless you shoot polaroid), they maybe don't put it together that it's a good photographer that makes good photos. All they see is that (for the most part) a good photographer has a good camera and the photos looked good. To them, it's just as easy to associate the good images with he camera as the photographer.

    It goes back to the old...."You have a nice camera, it must take great photos."...."Ya well, thanks for the great supper, you must have nice pots"
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    As with many businesses, quite often, to be successful...one must be a very good salesman and have adequate skill. Having the best skills and knowledge is impressive to those on the inside...but not necessarily to the public.

    So if someone ask what to do to be come a successful wedding photographer...I might tell them to go to business school.
     
  7. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Man, that is like asking a crying three year old why he stuck his hand in the fire? I want to hear these thoughts. I have never have, nor will I ever shoot a wedding. I hate the things, and that's just as a guest. :lol:
     
  8. S2K1

    S2K1 TPF Noob!

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    The problem is people demand A LOT from the photographer and people around here(Utah) give short notice and are young so they don't have much money. I in no way, shape, or form want to get into wedding photography. I think some people see it as a path to other forms of photography while others see the $$$.
     
  9. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I did my first one as a favor to a friend of my wife. She had seen some of my previous work of portraits and just miscellaneous photography (still, landscapes, etc) and felt I would do a good job. I protested for months that I didn't want to do it, b/c I was afraid of screwing it up. We finally agreed that I would do the engagement pics and if they liked them and were pleased, I "may" do the wedding. I ultimately agreed and really enjoyed it b/c of the challenge. It was new, unpredictable (to some degree) and a real test of whether I could do this professionally in the future. I was pleased w/ the results, and they were thrilled (it was ultimately free work, so why not be thrilled).

    Anyway, those pics got passed around to friends, family, etc. and I had a second call. I didn't have any connection to these people and I decided to charge a reasonable sum. It didn't go as smooth due to wedding party being late for this and that, but again I was pleased w/ the results.

    I upped my price again and I now have another couple who I will be shooting in October and doing bridals, engagement and the wedding for. At this point, I don't necessarily market myself. The wedding jobs and other work I've done for hire have paid for all the equipment I have accumulated so if I get more work in the future that's great and if not that's fine too. While it's a challenging and fast paced enviornment that keeps you on your toes, it's also a heckuva lot of work afterwards. After this wedding in October, I will again up my price to be quite comparable to those who do it for a living. If I get more customers, great, if not, that's fine too but I will at least be paid handsomely for it and make it worth my while.

    I think the $ is the largest motivating factor for most people. If photography was price controlled and you only made $15/hr for shooting weddings, do you think many of us would be there? No. It's also a field where you can make a decent living w/o a degree/training/licensure in the field. That makes it pretty appealing for folks like me who went to school and earned a master's degree in another field and now loathes what they do for their primary income and considers switching careers in the future.
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    I tell people that I want to shoot weddings just to make enough money to pay for all the cool photo gear that I want...but really it's more than that.

    On one hand, I would be a dream to actually make a living doing something I love as much as photography. On the other hand, I may not love it as much is I'm relying on it to make my living. For now, I'm fine with doing it on a part time basis...but maybe I'll change my tune if I can book 20 weddings or more in a year.
     
  11. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I too would like to make my mortgage payments w/ my camera most days, but at the same time, I find that I much less enthused about editing wedding pics and seeing that same bride for the bazillionth time than I am when I am editing a nice shot of my daughter. I tend to take much more time and and enjoy the time spent making her eyes sparkle than the eyes of a random bride, groom, etc. I wonder if I would like it if I was dependent on that income.
     
  12. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The same reason that people think a person who tells a funny joke should be a comedian, or that someone who makes a really good plate of pasta should be a chef, or that someone who wrote a cool story should be a screenwriter, or etc. etc. etc.

    Its human nature to be impressed by thing, especially when our knowledge on the subject is very limited, and what we are seeing is actually quite amateur.

    What the f---. That boggles my mind. With all due respect to the posts you're referencing, you're basing your decision on two inviduals who have had sour experiences in the field (one of whom Im assuming WAS good - so the quality wasn't an issue).

    Why cancel the interview before even having a chance to see their work? Mind boggling.
     

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