First wedding

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by martin_z., Sep 27, 2011.

  1. The bottom line: The bride cried like a baby when she saw her photos.
    Last week, I shot my first wedding. I broke every "rule" that I see on these forums:
    No written contract
    No backup camera
    No backup battery
    No backup flash (I did have extra batteries)
    No previous wedding experience
    Hey, it was a dear friend, who couldn't find / afford a photographer for a destination wedding. She paid my expenses, and I agreed to give it a shot. I'm glad I did, and so is she.
    Believe me, folks who shoot weddings full-time should not do it the way I did. I'm just saying that it can be done under certain conditions.
    Craigslist, here I come! I'm not in the $3,000 category (if you see my stuff, and disagree, I'll be glad to hear it!).
    Anyway, I just wanted to let y'all know how it went.
  2. Hmmm...That all pretty much speaks for itself......Robert
  3. Robert, I'm not quite sure what your comment means.
    By the way, I was mildly kidding about the Craigslist thing. If I do advertise anywhere, and shoot weddings for money, I will surely be more prepared with contracts, backup equipment, etc.
  4. The bottom line: The bride cried like a baby when she saw her photos.​
    That's the best confirmation you can get as a photo, more than money.
  5. No backup camera
    No backup battery​
    Playing with fire there. There is no such thing really as a "backup" camera and a backup battery is meaningless. You have spare batteries available, fully charged when your initial batteries lose charge. Anything can and will happen, not always, and a 2nd or 3rd camera is a must -- even if it's a decent P&S like a Canon G12 or similar (as your 3rd system for emergencies). Your 2nd camera already had your other lens combo mounted and ready to use pronto.
    A tip seldom mentioned: ensure your cameras' clocks are closely synched -- it's easy to get them with 4-5 secs. of each other.
  6. I'm just saying that it can be done under certain conditions.​
    Those conditions are when Murphy doesn't decide to clobber you, which is totally arbitrary and uncontrollable. I'm glad it worked out, but frankly, you were lucky.
  7. who couldn't find / afford a photographer for a destination wedding.​
    It sounds less a hard luck situation and more a mere choice about allocating resources to the destination aspect. Plus there was a friend to be "asked" to shoot it. Fortunately potential negative consequences didn't come to pass in this particular occasion and everyone is happy. I wouldn't recommend the lack of procedures used in the instance for other occasions however.
  8. Hmm, as a friend who wasn't going to be held to the same standard as someone paid, and contracted, I'm going to offer respectfully, that the bar was held pretty low.
    Crying at ones wedding photographs is a good thing, but hardly a portfolio review. I will NOT say the client shouldn't be happy. I would say that YOU shouldn't be satisfied. Nadine is right, Murphy had his own destination wedding, or was tired from causing 200+ brides on the Eastern seaboard to have to cancel their weddings due to Hurricane Irene.
    I've said it many times. I'd rather be lucky then good,
    but when luck isn't around, I want good in my back pocket.
  9. Put this one down in the I did it and got away with it file.
    What whould have happened had your camera died? Had the battery died? Had you forgotten to charge the batteries? Almost all of which have happened to me or someone I know.
    Since the bride could not afford a photographer at her location or to pay a pro to travel with her - I'm assuming she knew what she was getting.
    I'm glad she is happy with the results and that you enjoyed doing it, but before doing another one - get some backup gear...
  10. I'm glad it worked out for you and the bride.
    Regarding backup cameras: I could turn down the last offers to shoot a wedding by promising I would show up with at least a dozen cameras from the 50s, 60s and 70s :)
  11. Glad it went well... not sure what the post was trying to prove as such, people have been shooting weddings for friends for decades, very low expecations + decent ability = everyones happy. As I say, glad it went well, you're a good friend.!
  12. All of the folks saying I was lucky nothing went wrong are absolutely correct! In fact the bride, groom and I had the conversation about Murphy, long before the wedding. They were made aware that I only had one camera, and that bad things can sometimes happen. Fortunately, they didn't.
    I also agree 100% about having backup gear if I were to do a paid wedding shoot.
    Daniel, I don't know why you think I shouldn't be satisfied. The bride and groom are happy, and I think I did a nice job of capturing their day. Are there areas in which I can improve? ABSOLUTELY! Overall, I am satisfied in how my first wedding shoot went.
  13. What whould have happened had your camera died?​
    They wouldn't have got any wedding pictures.... However, the world wouldn't stop turning and more importantly, they would still have got married.
  14. I also agree 100% about having backup gear if I were to do a paid wedding shoot.​
    Having two cameras to me aren't only for backup purposes. I look more menace with two big cameras hanging by my side and people usually give way to me. People take you more seriously, they will listen to you more so that you can do your job easier.
    One time the bride was late, we rushed into the church and I didn't have time to talk to the priest. The priest signaled to me that it's OK to get up on the alter to shoot behind him. Obviously he did that because it's obvious who I was with two big cameras. Other GWAC didn't get this special treatment.
  15. I'm assuming GWAC stands for guest with a camera, and love that this is such a common place thing that you made an acronym, and that I think I probably nailed what it stood for ;)
    As far as having two cameras making you look official, I don't think that's a good reason behind lugging 2 cameras with you on your body, I think if it makes sense for the shot yes. Otherwise my back up bodies stay nicely protected in my gear bag. They are out for when I quickly need to be able to have a totally different lens without taking the time to switch them off of a single body, i.e. during the procession in, during the first dance, during the entrances, etc. Plus I like to have both on me then as an insurance policy, in case something happened to one body, the other would at least get SOME shot probably.
    For the OP, I fear this post may do more harm than good for most beginning Pnetters reading this forum. The job is easy when everything goes right, the job is a real job when things go to pot and you have to be able to shoot from the hip and and make the most of a bad situation. Way more often than not, things go to pot and don't go perfectly. So any newbs out there reading this and hoping to emulate the original poster's lack of back up equipment, even for a friend's wedding, PULEASE don't do it. First off try to help them fund a pro photographer, and if you can't do that If you want to keep your friendships intact have SOME form of back ups!!!! PULEASE!!!.
  16. Martin, I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't be happy that luck was on your side. I just don't see any real acknowledgement that skill and craft were part of the results.
    That being said, and this is important.
    1. I haven't seen the photos
    2. I haven't seen the photos
    3. Did I mention 1&2?
    You may be a hands down great wedding photographer, and I'm hoping that your post is more a metaphorical wiping of the brow and saying "damn I was lucky" as David suggests but there is something that the more seasoned of us worry may be "damn, why all the fuss?" I'll give you the benefit of the doubt because
    4. I haven't seen the photos
  17. Hey, thanks for the thoughtful responses.
    Daniel, I appreciate the clarification. "Damn, I was lucky" or "damn, why all the fuss" - funny, and completely accurate. It was a combination of both.
    Thanks again.
  18. very low expecations + decent ability = everyones happy​
    I've browsed hundreds if not thousands wedding photography sites since I started doing this. And I have to say expectation isn't high nowadays in the market. I only managed to find only 5 photogs' blogs that's worthy to follow for inspiration out of the thousands sites I've seen. Everyone seems to be doing the same thing, like jumping shots and people are happy with it.
    I would add fabulous personality to the above equation. As long as you are half decent, your personality is more important than your pictures. If they like you as a person, they'll like your photos, almost guaranteed.
    Some clients think I'm the best thing since slice bread from the moment they first met me, I'll bend over backwards for them because I know they'll like my stuff at the end. For those that are skeptical at first, I have now decided not to push too hard to sign them. Although not impossible, it is harder to make someone to like you if they didn't already.
  19. Green, I know you are keeping anonymous on this site, but at some point I'd really love for you to post some work. You've been really active on the forum and it'd be great to see some of your stuff. You don't have to put a link to your website, but at least a little of your work would be nice. =)
    As far as the photo blogs, if you could share the 5 photoblogs you like for inspiration that'd be wonderful. The ones I regularly follow are Jasmine Star and Daniel McGarrity's. Neither one really does the jumping shots.
    As far as clients not having very high expectations, I'd say it really depends. It used to be that people just expected a good first kiss shot, a good set of family formals, good first dance shot, and good cake cutting shot. Now people seem a bit more educated in the world of photography. They often know the buzzword of Photojournalism. They may not know EXACTLY what that entails, but people read magazines that have editorial shoots, they watch shows like America's Next Top Model. Do they expect our shots will be executed as well as a leibowitz shoot, or do they have the eye to see a big difference, not likely. But they are looking for more dynamic shots than was the norm in the 80s and 90s.
    The thing that is working for us is that usually that may very well be the prettiest they will ever look in their life that day (by conventional senses...yes, I know some people would say a mom right after she gives birth is more beautiful, etc). They often have makeup done professionally, hair done professionally, in the best shape of their life, and are in a stunning gown. So right off the bat the shots you take will likely be better looking than the ones they have on a day to day basis. The shots are of an event they are VERY passionate about, so they will cherish just about any image from that day (case in point I even love some shots my friends took on their cell phones that day). They don't usually have as critical eye for shots and composition as we do. As I've said before, if the shot is in focus, and the bride looks happy and pretty, she'll likely be happy. And we are shooting with better equipment than most. Add in an advanced skill set and an artistic eye, you'll get shots that are even more compelling that most brides will surely love.
    But when you get down to it, not everyone loves dramatic directional lighting, or tons of buttery bokeh. Some photographers do tons of those shots where the bride is in focus and the groom behind them is out of focus. Some of my clients have asked, was the camera broken or something when I show them a sample shot like that. They shouldn't be considered ignorant or unrefined, it just is a style they don't particularly like. Just like not everyone loves picasso or monet.
    As for the jumping shots, I doubt every photographer does it because they love doing those shots. At least for me, the ones I have done of that, the couple asked for it, so I accommodated them. If you have some good suggestions for "Fun" bridal party shots, they would be super welcomed. I've tried to keep a running list of them for couples that ask for such a thing. But I find there are only so many things you can do in a limited amount of time with people in clothing you don't want to get dirty, etc. My go to "fun" shot is having the couple kiss and the bridal party look all surprised by it.
  20. Green, I know you are keeping anonymous on this site, but at some point I'd really love for you to post some work. You've been really active on the forum and it'd be great to see some of your stuff...​
  21. Green, yes I do agree with your thoughts there.
  22. Ah the first wedding. My back up camera for my first wedding was a film camera and about 10 rolls of film which i prayed I would never have to use, but gave me comfort in knowing that if something happened, I would at least have something that could use.
    Everyone photographer has a first wedding. Good for you in that you were lucky - as you recognized. It's a scary thing not to have the right back up equipment, or proper lenses -- but I understand how up and coming wedding photographers don't have the cash up front to get it. I would recommend renting...which wasn't something I checked into when I first started out, but would have had greater peace of mind had I done that.
    Don't get all full of yourself yet, though, haha. If you get into wedding photography, you'll look at your first wedding (after having shot several more) and realize how naive you were. For example -- no offense -- but I find nothing attractive about the photo you posted. This doesn't mean you will not go on and become great at it -- but you got some ways to go, and understandably so, since you've not done this before. Someday you will have your own survival stories to tell and you'll understand why the seasoned photographers (because you'll be one) are not so forgiving of those who aren't properly prepared for weddings.
    Then again, maybe the wedding industry is changing. The bar isn't set so high anymore as price drives many consumers these days. Average and satisfactory are very acceptable to many brides and grooms who don't place a value on photography. Many people are willing to accept what friends can give if it means they get to save a couple, three thousand bucks. Then it becomes a cycle -- because the friend thinks they are really good because their photos didn't suck (too badly)....all of a sudden, they think they can do it again. And they will. They will find a couple that doesn't want to pay a lot of money and aren't educated about good versus bad photography....and so on and so on.
  23. " Obviously he did that because it's obvious who I was with two big cameras. Other GWAC didn't get this special treatment." Special treatment? he likely didn't want to embarass the wedding group further than your late arival already had...
    " I look more menace with two big cameras hanging by my side" Menace....well that's always good at a wedding...
    "I didn't have time to talk to the priest" ...and why should you anyway? What's the priest got to do with anything?
    "The bride cried like a baby when she saw her photos." I have only seen the one photo you posted. I have to sympathise with her too...
    "For the OP, I fear this post may do more harm than good for most beginning Pnetters reading this forum" Gottta agree with that for sure...
  24. Lots of interesting comments here. Thanks for the feedback.
    For some reason, I'm unable to copy and paste on the forum today, but I wanted to say I appreciated the critiques of the one photo I posted here. Obviously (after all, I put it here), I found the shot to be a nice capture of a very emotional moment immediately following the ceremony. Maybe it was a "you had to be there" thing. Objective criticism is always welcome, so if you can express why the shot doesn't work for you, I'd appreciate it.
    Robert, your "critique" seems a little mean-spirited and angry.
  25. "Robert, your "critique" seems a little mean-spirited and angry."

    Safe to assume Robert either woke up on the wrong side of the bed, isn't getting any, or is one of those tortured souls.
    Sorry, was THAT too much? ;-)
  26. Just commenting on what I read...and see. Not that there is much to see....sadly...R
  27. Moderator Note: Now that you've all expressed your opinions, how about you all oblige Martin with a constructive critique of his photo, since he asked.
    Martin--you may also post a number of images on your portfolio and post a link to them. This way people can see more of the images.
    The following is not as Moderator:
    The photo above is, as you say, a "you had to be there" image to the extent that the bride's expression isn't (without further explanation as to context) particularly attractive. Add to that the two people behind who appear to have their eyes closed, and the only person who looks OK and is expressing an interesting emotion is the woman who is soothing the bride. Did you have any others taken before or after?
    Obviously, with these kinds of situations, one has very little time to be thinking, much less trying to do something about what or who is in the background. However, if one's anticipation skills are well honed, it is possible to focus on the one moment that makes the perfect or best image out of the many moments surrounding.
    It may go something like this--you spy the bride beginning to react by tearing up. Having observed such happenings before, you know if you have enough time to maneuver into a position which gives you the best background to frame the moment while still showing both faces (bride and woman). This all happens in a split second. If you determine you don't have enough time to do anything but aim the camera lens and shoot, you do so. Or you start shooting and continue to maneuver, all the while shooting.
    Perhaps you did the above and the image is the best that could have been gotten under the circumstances. The client will surely appreciate it. But next to amazing captures of emotional moments, it isn't top notch. Perhaps it might have been better if you had more experience, perhaps not. This is not a criticism of you personally.
    Technically, it appears to be underexposed and needs some attention with white balance (even though I guess it is sunset and should be a little orange) and other processing elements.
  28. Martin, at least you did have the presence of mind to use flash in this picture, so she isn't back lit and we can see the expressions on her face and the girl's to the left. Yes I'm sure it was a had to be there moment to be appreciated because there is a difference between getting an emotional shot, and getting a good emotional shot. This would be the first. It will likely be meaningful to the bride, but it isn't going to win any photo awards. With your flash you have created a huge shadow on her with her bouquet. The shot is just not flattering of the bride. The angle she is at with her neck has given her a bit of a double chin (I am NOT saying she normally has a double chin, if just about anyone who isn't malnourished puts their head down at that angle, they'll get the appearance of a double chin). It's about 2/10th of a second too soon to take the shot. Instead of getting the embrace, you have the moment right before it, so it could look almost like the other woman is slapping her. To me it looks less like tears of joy, and more like, I got left at the altar. This is me looking from the outside in. I wasn't there, to the bride when she looks at it, I'm sure she'll remember tears of joy. While it's good you aren't focused on the people in the background, they are still in too much focus for me, particularly with the one woman having her eyes closed. To address that and save the image, I would have added more blur in post production in photoshop. Also, the way it is cropped it is cropped right at the bride's elbow. You generally want to avoid cutting off at joints. It just tends to be a bit off putting psychologically they have found.
    Depending on how high a resolution your camera is, I would find the salvageable parts of this image that you could crop down to being the bouquet which is in nice focus, and a bit flashed out, but still acceptable.
    But again, I've seen much worse and seen much better. I get what you were going for here, and if that was the best shot of that emotion and you think it's important enough that she wouldn't mind it being an unflattering shot of her, then leave it in. But in general with my brides, I try not to give them any shots that they would likely find themselves not too attractive in unless that is the ONLY shot I have of a key moment, and then those go on their disc but not on the online proofing gallery that they can share with their friends. Then I go into photoshop and do what I can to make things better. In this case, you may not have much room to use say the liquify filter to bring up her chin, but you could at least try.
    That's my 2 cents on the image you provided us.
  29. I think when you put an image up for critque given the preface of your comments - I would assume you would put up your best of the best best best shot - not an image which "you had to be there" This image is not flattering to anyone especially the bride - while she may love it now I doubt she would want it in an album. You obviously were using a flash and looks pretty much like auto to me. It's a snap shot... yes there are plenty of snaps during a wedding and generally these are not the ones which make it to the album. So my question is post your best of your best best best and lets critique that one...
  30. Green, thanks so much for posting some shots and giving your blog suggestions. Rather than hijack this post I think I
    will make a new one asking about people's fav blogs to follow and why. On a side note, I don't know if you know the
    comedian Demetri Martin, he is quite good. I did a double take when you listed the 2nd blog. I was like I know Dmitri
    draws but I didn't know he did photography too! so I go to his daily sketch page and what do I see, a photo! So thank
    you for randomly getting me to see this.

    This is more of his typical "art"
  31. Thanks for sharing the tidbits about Dimitri, Vail. It is very interesting to know.
  32. Yikes! Why am I unable to put spaces between paragraphs? I've tried several times.

    Thanks again, for all of the comments.

    Hey, I forgot to respond to Steve. He was thinking along my lines, exactly! If my camera died, the couple would have had the same thing as if I hadn't been there. They would have had shots from the guests' P&S cameras. As it turned out, they have those, and my shots.

    Come on, Robert...I'm guessing that you can be more constructive than you've been here. Mean-spirited snark only goes so far.

    Francie, Nadine, Stephen, Vail...thanks so much for your comments, as they are very appreciated!

    Vail wrote: "so it could look almost like the other woman is slapping her."
    - Funny, in a way! Obviously, that wasn't what was happening, but I get your point. Having been there, I knew she was comforting the bride. Of course, the bride knows this, as well. Still, I understand. A split second will make a difference.

    Vail also wrote: "While it's good you aren't focused on the people in the background, they are still in too much focus for me, particularly with the one woman having her eyes closed."

    - Agree completely.

    Stephen wrote:..."and being blown all over the place in the wind spoils what might have once been a nice hairdo."
    - actually, that's one of the things I like about the shot...the hair in the wind.

    Francie...I've got a few other shots on my website. I didn't want to put too many here, as it's not a "critique" forum.

    Again, it was a good learning experience, as is posting here.

    Thanks again.

  33. Sorry the above is so hard to read. I have no idea why I couldn't space between paragraphs.
  34. Martin.....offer me something more to work with and I will be more constructive....The one image you show is in focus....actually, it isn't really, but the people in the background the background, so it's not your fault. us a broader range, and even I will strive to nice....encouraging...all that stuff....truly, I will.....Robert
  35. The morale of this story is that, Martin, emotion is a hard thing to sell. Beauty is more or less universal, therefore, it is easier to sell. But emotion is hard to share photographically to the uninvolved parties.
  36. Thanks, Robert. Perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot. As this is not a critique forum, you're welcome to check my website. Honestly, I'd be more than happy to hear your critique.
    Hey, somehow, I'm able to separate paragraphs now.
  37. Thanks for the link, Martin.......I'm pleasently surprised by the breadth of your work....I hadn't expected that.....lots of good stuff there....not much repetition, and, I admit, a really good eye for the creative edge.. Honestly, I didn't like the wedding picture you posted...but I am impressed in a good way with what I see in your link....Regards, Robert
  38. Martin, I really enjoyed the stuff in your commercial portfolio best. Plus the witty titles made me giggle a little. =) Nice use of lighting.
  39. If Murphy had played a visit, and he often does, we'd see yet another post of woe is can I fix this? Quite frankly, I think it was plain stupid going in like you did and risking so much at an important event. It shows the value you place on such an event. I also think it shows your character.
    Sorry if you find that a bit cutting.....but I'd be ashamed to make the post you did.
  40. Green Photog [​IMG], Sep 29, 2011; 09:15 p.m.
    but at some point I'd really love for you to post some work.
    By popular demand, prepare to be impressed:
    Actually these 3 weddings I didn't blog as they are slightly below average by my book.
    I also follow Jasmine Starr (who doesn't), the other 4 I follow are:
    Some beautiful work in those links. Not a fan of Dimitri's at all. Looks like a 12 year old newbie does the photoshopping. Perfect example are cyan skies and the couple on the boat. Looks like a quick lightening of their faces in PS that looks hilarious. Some of the worst Photoshop skills I've seen in years.
  41. Robert, thanks for the kind words. I knew you had more than nasty one-liners in you! Seriously, I appreciate you taking the time to look.
    Vail, thank you as well. I appreciate your comments.
    Dave, was a very casual event. The options were:
    Show up with my gear, and try to document the day.
    Show up without my gear, and leave it to the guests with P&S.
    Not show up at all.
    After telling the bride and groom about the possibilities if Murphy showed up, we agreed on the first option.
    Dave said: "I also think it shows your character."
    Indeed it does, Dave. I agreed to help a friend, by offering what I have, in terms of equipment and skill, at no charge.
  42. . . . and I think it shows your character​
    I don't know, I think that statement more fully reveals yours.
  43. Well...that was fun!
    Now I'm off to play a gig at Carnegie Hall. Do you think I should bring extra guitar strings?
  44. good sense of humor Martin ;)
  45. No bring a spare guitar. It takes too long to change the strings :)
    Personally I feel that if someone is just helping out family members or friends by shooting some pictures for them at their wedding then the couple really has to just accept what equipment the stand in photographer has. They can't really expect that the stand in photographer goes out and purchases spare equipment that they don't really need. If they feel that the photography is that important and can't accept equipment failure then they should reconsider if asking the friend was a good idea in the first place.
  46. I just done a wedding as a favor to a family member. I was fortunate enough to have a second "shooter", a second body (not needed), a good P&S (not needed), an extra battery (not needed), but only one flash. All that gave me peace of mind going in to the event. But If I hadnt any of those things I would still have done it had they needed my help. I think that is the point of a friend doing a favor.
    Also, a destination wedding can be done on the cheap, in many circumstances meaning that can cost the bride and groom much less doing it this way.
  47. he did a wonderful job, i like this photographic. the brides peoples are like this.
  48. Now I'm off to play a gig at Carnegie Hall. Do you think I should bring extra guitar strings?​
    Only if you are playing guitar.
    I know this is tempting fate but in the last five years of playing two or three gigs a week, I have not broken any strings! (I did break a guitar once though!).
  49. I broke my first string in about 3 years at band practice a few weeks ago. Just happened to be the only time I did not have a spare guitar with me or strings. To make it worse it was a floating trem.
  50. hmmm, it's very nice posts to share our comments.

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