Building a wedding portfolio?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by kim_l., Apr 17, 2008.

  1. Times have changed. This business is substantially more difficult to enter and/or make a viable profit from than when I started. Probably the same for many established photographers here. There are many reasons for the changes in wedding photography as a business, but few would debate that it hasn't become more difficult in the past ten or even five years.

    Old methods and approaches that once worked have been far less successful these days. This may require a "rethink" on how to gain experience and build a portfolio.

    One suggestion would be to pay a successful Wedding/Event/Portrait photographer to teach and advise you ... both on the job, and with some one-on-one consultations.

    Think about it ... you pump thousands into gear, pay for a web-site, but expect a free education from a busy professional.

    Once upon a time, I could afford to take on clueless assistants to play it forward for the industry ... but trust me, their contribution in the beginning was less than zero because of "Hit the ball and drag Billy" efforts while in the middle of a hectic shoot : -) They got an intense education that translated into a viable career in photography ... and I paid them ... ???? That's like going to a college where the professors pay you for attending their classes.

    Your thoughts?

    - Marc
  2. I think you're pinning yourself too much in a corner, and consequently see too much bears in the road, by (initially) limiting yourself too much on the term 'wedding

    Rather then only trying to find experience with shooting weddings, I would look for similar events which you can easier, and with much less risk and/or responsibility for the end result, shoot
    By only thinking in terms of weddings, the opportunities for picking up experience either by riding along with a more established/experienced photographer, or doing so as a unexperienced first time shooter, are as already stated in several reactions very scarce

    Let's first look at what a wedding shoot, technically, and shootingwise, actually is:
    - As far as the techniqiue is concerned, you'll need to be able to shoot fast, be able to very fast adapt to changing shooting conditions, and master shooting with natural as fflash light, under ideal and less then ideal/bad lighting conditions
    - Shooting wise you'll need to be able to handle constantly changing situations, the sitters/ nervous bride and groom (eg for the formal shots), the guests and family (for the PJ/informal/wedding reception), and outside parties (eg handling the limitations imposed by the priest when taking pictures in church)

    You in my experience can find those kind of challenging conditions, both technically or shooting wise, by taking pictures of at first sight completely different subjects.
    If you eg shoot a ceremony celebrating somebodies xxx-year anniversary at his work, you'll, just like a wedding, need to be able to shoot fast, capture the 'important' moments (speech by the manager, handing over of the golden watch etc) etc. As well as recording the whole event like the arrival of the 'birthday boy, his wife and family, and the reception (old friends/collegues meeting up, present collegues partying)
    And technically, need to be able to handle the equipment for shooting the whole event, like using flash if the 'reception is held in the office under the usual horrible fluorescent lighting, or at an event center where you might also have to do some 'family and close collegue' shots outside under natural light
    And be able to work/handle fast with/constantly change different lenses/focal lengths, multiple bodies (one body, one flash, one lens really isn't the way to go for this kind of work, and not just as far as 'looking' professional' is concerned), changing lighting conditions, and having to change/find new/better shooting positions

    Sounds much like a wedding, doesn't it?
    But you'll much easier find those to shoot as a first timer (without prior experience) then a wedding, and the routine/tricks learned will in my experience easily transfer into shooting a wedding when it counts (although there of course will/should always be some kind/a bit of stress, complacency is the lfirst step to falling flat on your face)

    E.g. when I shot my first wedding(s), I already had shot a number of events at companies I worked at (as just one of the guys on the payroll who happened to take a camera along) and events as catwalk/runway shows
    Sometimes as freebies, like the anniversaries at work, sometimes for pay, like the catwalk shows, selling the images afterwards to designers and models (= when the pictures stunk, I simply wouldn't sell, but not be blamed for messing up a prior agreed upon shoot)

    So while for my first wedding, I had to do some research on what the 'standard' pictures should look like (and that's what the internet is good for), I already had a - perhaps at first sight non related - portfolio that nevertheless showed I had experience with similar events
    And more important, more then enough (proven) experience, and confidence/little trouble with shooting fast, anticipating/recording 'important' moments, and handling different shooting techniques and changing conditions
    Maybe not the easy way to make a fast buck right from the start (which seems the aim for many debutant photographers nowadays) but IMO a better strategy for the long term, and avoiding to just be another one trick pony/failure
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  3. In my opinion I think it is getting very tough to find an established wedding photographer that is wiling to take on someone looking to learn the business. Look for opportunities to be a 'Second shooter' either by posting a request to second-shoot on this forum or elsewhere on the 'net.
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    For perspective, it is worth noting that the original post of this conversation was made in 2008.

    Also noteworthy is that a SPAM comment was made 2nd May 2017 and this was deleted and the user banned.

    It was this spam comment that moved this thread to the top of this Forum; subsequently this discussion has continued.


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