Advice needed from experienced wedding photographers

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by todd frederick, Dec 27, 2004.

  1. This is a very personal question, and I would not ask it before
    downing a few cocktails! (^O^)

    I have come to a point in my life where I realize that photographing
    wedding is becoming both physically and emotionally painful.

    I love the wedding photography event, but the aftermath is
    torture...physical pain.

    I'm 63, was in a vehicle collision, and have increasing problems
    with aches and pains and the whole catastrophy that you all will
    eventually experience.

    In the 1970's, I taught adult education classes in creative
    landscape photography, figure photography, and studio portraiture,
    with considerable personal satisfaction and success.

    I do not see a long future for me in wedding photography unless it
    is for close friends and such.

    However, I have considerable experience (not just in hardware) but
    in the psychology of the wedding photography experience.

    Do any of you think there are new photographers out there who might
    be interested in short courses in: "Getting Started In Wedding
    Photography"? I could do this privately or through the University
    Extension probrams.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated.
  2. Generally no. The idea of a class is fine. But one cannot be 'taught' to draw by going to art class, nor can one be a very good composer by listening to CDs day in and day out. The photo 'bug' is something that is there or isn't. Handling the couple, the groups, the time ... all needed to a degree, along with getting images that are very good to great -- a class may not cover everything. Experience is a teacher.

    Good luck!
  3. "One cannot be 'taught' to draw by going to art class, nor can one be a very good composer by listening to CDs day in and day out."

    I tend to agree with this statement only because I'm one of those "unscholared" photographers, but I also believe you have to "learn" wedding photography. Whether it be on your own through research and experimentation or by being taught/mentored, there's a lot that goes into wedding photography. It's a one time deal with lots of variables in lighting and exposure, there are equipment needs, there's ettiquette to be learned, and then there's the business side...well that can be a course onto itself. The business part is always of interest to me--I can take the pictures, but I'm not sure I'm so great at the selling part.

    Now, there are tons of books on the subject and there are all kinds of professionals throwing seminars in cities near and far. Depending on where you live and the need for such a program, it could certainly be a fun and helpful addition to a community college program.

    Enjoy your cocktail! ;-)
  4. Perhaps you could restrict yourself to shorter weddings, or find someone who wants to get
    started and could soon do most of the work. I think you have plenty to offer as a mentor.
  5. Experience is a great teacher, especially after you have completed your education. Most things related to photography can be taught which is why we have so many professional photographers with photography degrees attending seminars and workshops.
    Todd, I've taken several courses on-line through and my local state University. There may be something for you there or in a similar program. Good luck from a self-taught photographer who believes in education.
    Al Rohrer
  6. Go for it, Todd! Why not? If you could do it gthrough the university I'm sure that it would attract people. You'd get a bit of money and enjoy the satisfaction of passing on your knowledge and experience to a new generation. I just turned 62 myself last month. I remember carrying around a Hasselblad 500CM, two extra magazines, 50 and 120mm lenses, a brick of VPS-120, assorted filters and do-dads, a "pro" strobe with seperate high voltage power pack, plus a Rollieflex and a smaller flash "just in case". Well, it as hell beat carrying around a Crown Graphic and a sack of 4x5 holders like the generation before us, along with half a dozen sleeves of Press 25 flash bulbs.
  7. Not yet being on a faculty (or such) I cannot answer directly to the question of offering it via a Uni.

    However, there is a growing market for some one with good tech skills to share their general knowledge with (at a price of course) those new to the biz. Many will pay for that type of education I dare say.

    My gut reaction... Great! Do it.
  8. Todd:

    My two cents:

    Why limit your education to just wedding photography? The student market for new entrants to this specialized skill seems small unless you live in a huge urban area.

    It seems to me that for the 'teaching market' there is a bigger potential for general photography. In fact, almost every Christmas tree has had a digital camera under it for either of the last two years, gifted to a novice eagerly waiting to be enlightened by someone like yourself...

    Maybe you could also organize an amateur/pro club sponsored by your local lab in which you could charge fees for photo field trips?

    Just some quick thoughts Todd...

  9. Todd:

    I'm with Al. Go for it.

    Approach your local community college. What's the worst that could happen? Spend several hours for nothing. What's the best that could happen? Use your imagination! Seems like the payoff is potentially larger than what you could lose.

    Have you thought about hiring assistants to do the tasks you don't want to do? Either that, or advertise that you'll pass your skills along to interested interns.

    Lots of possibilities. Keep thinking positively, and I'm sure you'll come up with something that works for you.
  10. Todd-I am in a very similar situation as you. Having shot over 1500 weddings over 25 years and a former teacher {adult ed/univ. and on the board of advisors at local photo college}. I was also diagnosed with terminal cancer-6 months to live -17 months ago! LOL -I think they were wrong!With surgeries,radiation,chemo -I was very weak and had a hard time with weddings. I trained an asst. to be with me to shoot when I got tired..... I would start -they would typically finish the wedding. I also shot a lot of family portraits/senior portraits which I did have enough energy for. I have also basically given up commercial photography-too demanding. I am contemplating going back to teaching-I have an offer from the local photo "college". Todd-it is especially hard when weddings are booked 1-2 years out -how will you feel about it then. Hope this helps Todd - but I would go for it. Best regards -RichD
  11. Todd,
    I have only been doing wedding photography for 1 1/2 years. I would have jumped at a chance for a class like this! I worked as an assistant for another photographer, and he had training sessions for us. There are a lot of circumstantial things that happen at weddings that you need to be ready for. Even if you know how to take pictures, there is a lot more to it. We went over a lot of what if situations. I also read a few books and took tons of notes. If I had a class available, I would have taken it! Go for it! The worst that would happen is that you won't get many students, and you'll know not to offer the class again. What have you got to loose?
  12. At one of our post secondary schools (SAIT), a photography certificate program includes a wedding photography component. The course description is included under PHOT-245 Wedding Photography.

    Most of these courses are taught by experienced, local photgraphers and are very good value for the money. For the most part, unless one registers early, prospective students find themselves on a waiting list. Photography classes here are also offered through the university, college, including the Alberta College of Art & Design (ACAD) as well as through city run programs although this seems to be the only one geared for weddings. Based on your experience in adult education where you have had considerable personal satisfaction and success, I think there should be nothing to stop you.

    Good luck with it!
  13. " ... the whole catastrophe that you all will eventually experience."

    Todd, I hear ya. My theory of growing old is that you go through life collecting injuries and
    problems that never really heal, you just get used to them ... until the last one breaks the

    I've got my own collection of them, mostly from doing stuff when afflicted with the
    immortality of youth ... including 20 + years in the martial arts ... which I can thank for
    bone-on-bone arthritis in my knee, a split sternum, ripped muscles and stretched
    tendons, spiral fractures of most my fingers, and crusty rotator cuffs. I did more stuff to
    myself than any imaginary assailant could've ever have inflicted on me.

    So, the aftermath of a wedding shoot is similar to a direct encounter with a Mack truck.

    And now I can't even take Celebrex, for God's sake !!!

    But I refuse to give up. I'll just shoot with a demure Leica M and get some younger person
    to assist.

    As to your teaching idea, why not? You're a trained and experienced teacher, as well as a
    photographer. Not every good shooter can also teach. In fact some really good creative
    people are the worst teachers I've ever encountered.

    Good luck.
  14. The artistic side of photography is best born not not taught and experience is the best of all instructors. That said, most of the artistic or skilled photographers don't have a damn clue how to run a successful wedding photography business. I include myself in the "most" group. Almost everything I know I have learned from experience. The rest I learned from others. Most of what I learned from experience has been the negative. What I have learned from others has been more positive. In some cases, through others' experiences the blatently obvious and been made clear or reinforced (kind of like how a hammer reinforces the act of not placing your thumb between it and a hard surface).

    From your own experiences, you typically learn what not to do. From others experience, you can learn what to do. This forum is evidence of that fact. People come here seeking other's tidbits of how to do something or what has worked for them in a certain situation.
  15. Why not consider shifting to some area of people photography that is not so wearing? Portraits for example.

    Have you maintained a list of your clients- perhaps they are having kids now.

    Monte Zucker was at PPGBA a couple of months ago and a lot of his work is done very simply these days- often a window plus a reflector.

    What do you mean by emotionally painful?
  16. Why don't you E mail Monte and get his thoughts. I'm sure he would help you because that's his main goal in life now is to help others.
    Try here:
    Monte's Forum
    My wife & I spend at least a week each year with Monte. Besides learning from him we get a good shot of a caring positive person interested in helping us along the way.
  17. Thank you for your kind, honest, and encouraging comments and suggestions.

    I may not have made myself very clear on what I intended to propose.

    I was not thinking of teaching a wedding class that delt with the mechanics or the artistry of wedding photography, though it could include such, but more on the psychology of the event...the human dynamics of the wedding.

    We sometimes discuss such matters here, like the eternal "crazy mother of the bride" issue, but I have found that there is more discussion of equipment and equipment technique here than the personal side of wedding photography.

    You can be a total master of your camera, but blow the wedding if you can't be flexible and patient with people.

    In the 1970 and 1980's I taught classes out of my home, but there is also The University of California at Santa Cruz Extension Program that might go for the idea.

    Marc, as we've discussed before, I am not giving up on photographing weddings, but am cutting down on the number and size, and looking to other options in photography.

    Monte Zucker is about 75 and is now actively teaching. Sometimes we need to shift gears.

    Blessings for a great New Year.
  18. You could also teach a course on the business side of wedding photography.
  19. I agree with the folks encouraging you to try! I am a professional outdoor photographer and have often been asked to shoot weddings for friends. If there were a course on Wedding Photography at the local college I would jump on it in a minute! Even if it were only to know how to set up the portraiture type photos - Where would one learn that if not for fellow photographers willing to share their knowledge? True, experience is your best teacher, but long before you shoot the first frame a smart person would want some knowledge of how to approach the work in the beginning.
    I really hope you will look into sharing your wealth of knowledge with the newbies to the world of wedding photography. Teaching those who want to learn is such a rewarding experience!
  20. A course specifically on the psychology of wedding photography might be too narrow in scope to interest me. I think it would be a valuable part of a more comprehensive wedding photography course - which judging by the success of others, would seem like a more than plausible thing to do. But best of luck at whatever your endeavour!
  21. I have tried to offer some "one-on-one" instruction in the past...But the students only want my business contacts ->- step into my network of 25 years > to compete. So really shy away from anything related locally to the wedding business. Only directing my skills in the fine art~lecturing department. WHich I may start moving in that direction--with a partial retiring from weddings, in the near future. I was in the Midwest, this Fall, for a two day lecture.
  22. With all the skills and contacts you've accumulated over the years, have you thought of trying the wedding planning and coordination route? If you can coordinate weddings, you can coordinate major parties as well (the contacts are largely the same - DJs, caterers, vnues, etc). And I can assure you that some companies will pay well for those services. Some of it is dependent on your geographic location, but someone who can coordinate weddings and even smaller parties will always be in demand. If you want details on how one friend of mine does business, email me, I'll share the details. She esentially guarantees her fees will be paid for through savings from other vendors and less agravation. She does quite well for herself!
  23. Chris, you have a good idea. I'll get in touch with you soon. Todd

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