Being asked to shoot a wedding when you aren't a wedding photographer

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Kerbouchard

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Thanks, Kerbouchard. I appreciate the help.

No problem...

But then again, nobody is responding to my 2012 thread, so maybe all my pictures suck and you should just do the opposite of what I do. :wink:
 
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I'm new here but I just had to respond to this. I used to work at a florist where my manager kept mistaking my event coordinator certificate for my photography interests and would tell people I was a wedding photographer lol. As a coordinator I understand the question you're asking and I have to say step one would be what someone else said early on. Is it a venue? If it's not someones back yard you will very likely HAVE to have insurance. I would find that out initially and then how much. This answer alone may make you decide it's not worth it. I'm in no way saying you shouldn't but it may just make it clear that it's not worth it this time. If it's not much, sometimes it's not, then you can move on to worrying about other things. Also some venues won't allow outside photographers. In my city the botanical garden requires certain photographers to pay yearly dues to be their 'select' photographers. If you aren't the select few there is a hefty fee to shoot there. Crappy? Yes, but that's just how it is. The business aspect always seems to get in the way of creativity. When getting your info from the family, find out who the other vendors are. Introduce yourself beforehand if you can. I doubt they will have a planner but if they have someone coordinating by all means make them you best friend! Try to get an extremely detailed itinerary. They may try to be laid back with you since you already said they are making out like it's not a big deal but on that day emotions will be high and you won't get any questions answered then. So be heavy handed with them to make sure you know how the entire day will play out beforehand. And by all means, get some sort of contract, casual or not! Have you watched Judge Judy??? I know its more from the planner side but I hope this helps a little at least.

All expenses will be covered. I'm not paying anything out of pocket. Contract is definitely a priority.

Thanks for your insight :)
 

12sndsgood

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I'll disagree with kevin a little bit. preparing for my first wedding was a lot of what made me able to do the job on the day and not worry so much. I got to the church ahead of time, and i planned my visit around the same time as when the wedding would be. so that I new my light would be similar. ( as much as could be) I had the wedding couple talk to the officiant, and I got in writing well in advance that I had free reign during the wedding, we were even allowed flash (wish we didn't use so as not to be a distraction) so we new ahead of time where we could be, where we couldn't be. how the lighting was going to be, how the ceremony was going to go down. by talking with the couple well in advance and finding out what they really wanted picture wise I was able to setup a shot list that I went over with the bride before the wedding to make sure that I was getting what they wanted. This went a long with with allowing me to help in planning there day and more importantly planning the timeline of the day so that I had the time nessicary to get the shots.


They are hard though as said, and things change on the fly. for my wedding we planned outdoor morning shots. it rained. so we had to switch gears on the fly and shoot indoors. luckily I had allready scouted out a sanctuary we were allowed to use and with some quick furniture moving, we were off and shooting. You have to plan for the worst and hope for the best and be able to change on the go.

Another thing you might think about is finding a buddy to go along with you and second shoot for you. Something I chose to do as well. only takes one mistake to miss a batch of important photos and having another person there to back you up so to speak can be very valuble. Maybe find someone in the area that is halfway competant willing to shoot for experience.
 

tirediron

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...First, the biggest red flag I saw in your original post was that you felt you needed to scout the venue. I understand why you wrote that. Heck, I've probably given that same advice on this forum...but that is usually to somebody who just got their camera and thinks their new DSLR with kit lens is going to cut it. They scout it, figure out they can't take a picture in those conditions, and we never hear from them again.
I won't say that scouting a venue is a complete waste of time, but the thing about photographing weddings is they are all hard. Either you have the skills and equipment to do it or you don't. As far as scouting, you won't know what the light setup is going to be until you get there. The DJ is probably going to bring lights, the venue might set them up, but rarely are the lights going to be the same from one day to the next. You have to walk into the room, figure out where the shots will work from and where they won't. You also need to figure out where all the 'core' shots are going to be...cake cutting, toasts, etc. And you have to know where you need to be to get those shots and make sure you get there before it's announced and a guest has taken your spot. Now, most of that is for the reception...

Ummm... What? I'm sorry Kerby, I normally agree with your thoughts, but in this case, I'm going to have strongly disagree. While weddings are NOT by any means my primary interest, I would never take on one without scouting the venues first. As the saying goes, 'time spent on recce is NEVER wasted!". Yes, weddings are all hard, some are harder than others, but I couldn't imagine showing up at the church on the day of and asking, "Anyone know where they're going to stand for the ceremony?" I've received some excellent advice and suggestions from the various Rectors and Deacons; they've seen hundreds of weddings, and can make suggestions such as, "One photographer went over there and did this... the couple told me he got some great shots." You're absolutely right that conditions on the day of will never be exactly the same as the day of the recce, but you can often get some good ideas. IMO, a venue recce is as essential a part of the photographic process as a pre-event consulation.
 

kathyt

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...First, the biggest red flag I saw in your original post was that you felt you needed to scout the venue. I understand why you wrote that. Heck, I've probably given that same advice on this forum...but that is usually to somebody who just got their camera and thinks their new DSLR with kit lens is going to cut it. They scout it, figure out they can't take a picture in those conditions, and we never hear from them again.
I won't say that scouting a venue is a complete waste of time, but the thing about photographing weddings is they are all hard. Either you have the skills and equipment to do it or you don't. As far as scouting, you won't know what the light setup is going to be until you get there. The DJ is probably going to bring lights, the venue might set them up, but rarely are the lights going to be the same from one day to the next. You have to walk into the room, figure out where the shots will work from and where they won't. You also need to figure out where all the 'core' shots are going to be...cake cutting, toasts, etc. And you have to know where you need to be to get those shots and make sure you get there before it's announced and a guest has taken your spot. Now, most of that is for the reception...

Ummm... What? I'm sorry Kerby, I normally agree with your thoughts, but in this case, I'm going to have strongly disagree. While weddings are NOT by any means my primary interest, I would never take on one without scouting the venues first. As the saying goes, 'time spent on recce is NEVER wasted!". Yes, weddings are all hard, some are harder than others, but I couldn't imagine showing up at the church on the day of and asking, "Anyone know where they're going to stand for the ceremony?" I've received some excellent advice and suggestions from the various Rectors and Deacons; they've seen hundreds of weddings, and can make suggestions such as, "One photographer went over there and did this... the couple told me he got some great shots." You're absolutely right that conditions on the day of will never be exactly the same as the day of the recce, but you can often get some good ideas. IMO, a venue recce is as essential a part of the photographic process as a pre-event consulation.

I don't scout reception venues anymore for the reasons Kerby mentioned above, but I always scout the ceremony venue if I have never shot there before. When I first started out, I did scout both though.
 

Kerbouchard

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Ummm... What? I'm sorry Kerby, I normally agree with your thoughts, but in this case, I'm going to have strongly disagree. While weddings are NOT by any means my primary interest, I would never take on one without scouting the venues first. As the saying goes, 'time spent on recce is NEVER wasted!". Yes, weddings are all hard, some are harder than others, but I couldn't imagine showing up at the church on the day of and asking, "Anyone know where they're going to stand for the ceremony?" I've received some excellent advice and suggestions from the various Rectors and Deacons; they've seen hundreds of weddings, and can make suggestions such as, "One photographer went over there and did this... the couple told me he got some great shots." You're absolutely right that conditions on the day of will never be exactly the same as the day of the recce, but you can often get some good ideas. IMO, a venue recce is as essential a part of the photographic process as a pre-event consulation.

Well, as I said, I've given the same advice dozens of times and I don't think it's a complete waste of time, but I personally don't visit the site before hand. Occasionally, I will get on their website and look at their 'weddings' page and most of the time, they have stuff that's been shot there before so that can give you an idea.

For me, personally, I just don't do it anymore. For one, we shoot at a lot of the same places so not much point in making a special trip just to look at it. Plus, it's not that hard to adjust to whatever the situation happens to be.

In any case, I will concede that my way isn't exactly helpful or recommended for somebody doing their first wedding. But then again, personally, I figure somebody shooting their first wedding should have the experience to shoot in whatever situation is required...but I do realize that's becoming less and less common.(Not a stab at the OP...just kind of in general)
 

Mike_E

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Has the decision been made?

If not consider that your Wife's BOSS is after you to do this.

Quote her a price of $1200 and tell her that there will be a second shooter.

If she accepts then go out and hire a Pro and pay him/her with the understanding that you will be shooting second and what the general deal is. Get a contract and if anybody comes to you with grief then you go to him/her.





TL;DR: Contract it out.
 
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Has the decision been made?
Not yet.

If not consider that your Wife's BOSS is after you to do this.

It's been mentioned, and considered multiple times throughout the thread.
Ballistics said:
The whole wife's boss thing is a non-factor.

Quote her a price of $1200 and tell her that there will be a second shooter.

If she accepts then go out and hire a pro and pay him/her with the understanding that you will be shooting second and what the general deal is. Get a contract and if anybody comes to you with grief then you go to him/her.

A pro wedding photographer with a second shooter for $1200? Sounds... fair. :lol:
 

Josh66

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Has the decision been made?
Not yet.

If not consider that your Wife's BOSS is after you to do this.

It's been mentioned, and considered multiple times throughout the thread.
Ballistics said:
The whole wife's boss thing is a non-factor.

Quote her a price of $1200 and tell her that there will be a second shooter.

If she accepts then go out and hire a pro and pay him/her with the understanding that you will be shooting second and what the general deal is. Get a contract and if anybody comes to you with grief then you go to him/her.

A pro wedding photographer with a second shooter for $1200? Sounds... fair. :lol:

Kind of deceptive (well, not really - it is deceptive, lol), but I guess it would work.

Price seems low if Ballistics is going to get a cut though. :lol:
 

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Gotta' love the naysayers.

I've shot one wedding. One. It was the wedding of two dear friends. When they asked, I politely declined. They then told me that at least they would have the photos from the disposable cameras they would put on the tables at the reception. They were on a shoestring budget, had no prayer of affording a wedding photographer, so I agreed to do it. It was with the full understanding that I was NOT a wedding photographer, so I wasn't guaranteeing the results. When they asked what I charged, I simply said "I have no idea, I'm not a wedding photographer. Pay me what you're comfortable with". Honestly, I didn't care what they paid me. If they'd slipped a $20.00 in my pocket, that seriously would've been fine with me.

They paid me $600.00, and were absolutely ecstatic with the results. A photo I took of the two of them, printed on canvas (a gift from me), hangs in their home, so I guess they really liked the results.

The fact that I'm an experienced photographer made the difference and, if the OP is one as well, I see no reason not to do it, considering the caveats he's already provided.
 

manaheim

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The naysayers are, in this and in most cases around here, mainly words of caution and wisdom.

Us patting him on the back and saying "Yeah! Get out there!!!!!" and little else would be both stupid and horribly irresponsible.

Your anecdote is just that... an anecdote. It neither proves you can do it without experience prior, nor does it prove you cannot. It is a single story in a field of thousands of both good and bad experiences, and for every good one there is a bad one to cancel it out.

There are plenty of folks on here with far MORE than one wedding under their belts... myself included... that have shared warnings about some of the potential pitfalls involved here, and I would comfortably pit any of those people's positions up against yours any day of the week.

I think the OP is going into this with his eyes wide open, and from what I hear he's not a clueless noob. Given that, if he chooses to go for it, I imagine he'll be fine, but anyone who dismisses articulate and experienced words of caution as "naysaying" is really missing the boat.
 
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The naysayers are, in this and in most cases around here, mainly words of caution and wisdom.

Us patting him on the back and saying "Yeah! Get out there!!!!!" and little else would be both stupid and horribly irresponsible.

Your anecdote is just that... an anecdote. It neither proves you can do it without experience prior, nor does it prove you cannot. It is a single story in a field of thousands of both good and bad experiences, and for every good one there is a bad one to cancel it out.

There are plenty of folks on here with far MORE than one wedding under their belts... myself included... that have shared warnings about some of the potential pitfalls involved here, and I would comfortably pit any of those people's positions up against yours any day of the week.

I think the OP is going into this with his eyes wide open, and from what I hear he's not a clueless noob. Given that, if he chooses to go for it, I imagine he'll be fine, but anyone who dismisses articulate and experienced words of caution as "naysaying" is really missing the boat.

In Steve5D's defense, I think he was comparing his situation specifically to mine, making mention of "the caveats provided".
I don't think he would recommend just anyone to shoot a wedding because he succeeded. I think because of the details given, he posted that.
That is after all, just a guess.
 

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The naysayers are, in this and in most cases around here, mainly words of caution and wisdom.

Us patting him on the back and saying "Yeah! Get out there!!!!!" and little else would be both stupid and horribly irresponsible.

Your anecdote is just that... an anecdote. It neither proves you can do it without experience prior, nor does it prove you cannot. It is a single story in a field of thousands of both good and bad experiences, and for every good one there is a bad one to cancel it out.

There are plenty of folks on here with far MORE than one wedding under their belts... myself included... that have shared warnings about some of the potential pitfalls involved here, and I would comfortably pit any of those people's positions up against yours any day of the week.

I think the OP is going into this with his eyes wide open, and from what I hear he's not a clueless noob. Given that, if he chooses to go for it, I imagine he'll be fine, but anyone who dismisses articulate and experienced words of caution as "naysaying" is really missing the boat.

Yeah, I especially enjoyed the advice that said he should be deceptive in the hiring of a pro as a second shooter; that was special.

More than anything, it seems like people are trying to talk him out of it; that's the vibe I get reading this thread. I don't think that's the way to go.

But, yeah, you're right. After all, what photographer wouldn't want to build a reputation for being dishonest?

I dismissed the naysaying because the OP is going into this reasonably and intelligently...
 

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The naysayers are, in this and in most cases around here, mainly words of caution and wisdom.

Us patting him on the back and saying "Yeah! Get out there!!!!!" and little else would be both stupid and horribly irresponsible.

Your anecdote is just that... an anecdote. It neither proves you can do it without experience prior, nor does it prove you cannot. It is a single story in a field of thousands of both good and bad experiences, and for every good one there is a bad one to cancel it out.

There are plenty of folks on here with far MORE than one wedding under their belts... myself included... that have shared warnings about some of the potential pitfalls involved here, and I would comfortably pit any of those people's positions up against yours any day of the week.

I think the OP is going into this with his eyes wide open, and from what I hear he's not a clueless noob. Given that, if he chooses to go for it, I imagine he'll be fine, but anyone who dismisses articulate and experienced words of caution as "naysaying" is really missing the boat.

In Steve5D's defense, I think he was comparing his situation specifically to mine, making mention of "the caveats provided".
I don't think he would recommend just anyone to shoot a wedding because he succeeded. I think because of the details given, he posted that.
That is after all, just a guess.

And a more accurate guess you could not have made...
 
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