How hard is it to get into Wedding Photography..??

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by sreegraphy, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. I am a newbee trying for wedding photography and started my photography career a year ago with serious passion though knowing it is an expensive adventure. I shed out all my money I earned to buy camera and lens which is not the right time to do at this present economic crisis. But still I took a chance all becoz to "Document one's life On a special day". I am new to the country, I am a new photographer, I don't have any friends to refer, I never been much out other than Metro Detroit, Even published Wedding Ad in Craigslist stating "I make Wedding photography for free" Nothing turned out fruitful so far.. Can anyone suggest me how to break the barrier.. I know it's a hard question but all questions has an answer..
     
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    A few suggestions:
    > read and digest all the old threads here about getting started: http://www.photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/?category=First+Timer+and+Newcomers+to+Wedding+Photog%2e
    > rephrase your description on your web page to focus more on photography and not on your engineering professional and amateur passion for Photography. Also have someone proof-read it, to correct grammar and nuance, such hat it reads more easily and communicates better as a marketing tool. Also remove all the self images where you are wearing sunglasses.
    > assist established professionals - not in your area - if you are going to do anything for nothing - do a few of those gigs and do NOT offer to do free Weddings.
    > join a professional association and network within it
    > network with other vendors and think along the lines of do quid pro quo advertising and / or referrals with them.
    ***
    Do you have business cards?
    Are they blank on the reverse side?
    Do you carry at least 50 of them at all times?
    Do you carry a distinctive pen and is you handwriting neat and accurate?
    ***
    Do you have a Standard Contract?
    Do you have Public Liability and General Business Insurance?
    WW
     
  3. This is going to be a hot topic! I'm going to say something you don't want to hear - but I hope you won't hold it against me if I tell you the truth (as I see it).
    Look for another career.
    It sometimes seems that every third person with a DSLR these days wants to be a wedding photographer. Competition is beyond fierce - it's absurd. It's possible to succeed, but it will be very difficult. And remember, getting one or two free gigs isn't success. If you want to do this seriously as a business, you need to make money. That means you need to be able to charge a fair bit of money for a service that many, many other people are willing to provide for free or nearly for free. I could expand on this theme for a while, but I'll stop there.
    But I want to add one or two related points.
    I think photography is a bit like playing the guitar. Many people find it very enjoyable - and many people find it easy enough at first that they think they're good at it. Their friends tell them they're good. So before long, they start dreaming of fame and fortune. Amateur photographers start thinking, "I could make money doing this!" But the only market they can think of is weddings. Why is this? Because it doesn't take any credentials to talk a bride into hiring you. But it's rather harder to get National Geographic or the Detroit News or Ford Motors or Vogue magazine to hire you. All these photographers "doing weddings" are like all the guitarists appearing in pizza parlors and bars around the country. They may be good. But turning this hobby - this passion, if you prefer - into a full-time job is very difficult. They're just aren't enough weddings with $2000 budgets to support half of the people who want to do weddings now.
    And why would you WANT to do it?
    People typically say that they "love doing photography", they "have a passion for photography." That's great. But succeeding as a businessman isn't about passion or love, it's about competence and business ability. A person whose job involves shooting weddings has to be a business person first, and a photographer second, otherwise they'll soon find that they're only a photographer. Now, the business part of wedding photography is, like the business part of nearly everything, a pain to deal with. As they saying goes, money changes everything. I mean, if your passion is business itself, then for pete's sake, get an MBA or do something that might make you rich, instead of just barely making you a living. And if you think you can deal with the business side of wedding photography, understand that shooting weddings is WORK. When people pay you to take photos, they expect you to take photos they like - not photos that YOU like. Shooting weddings involves real risks: People may be mad at you if you screw up (and you WILL screw up now and then). Shooting for money changes your attitude toward working with your camera. Every wedding photographer is, to some extent, just a few steps away from the person who shoots portraits at Wal-Mart.
    I think that, for a large majority of people who have discovered that they love taking photographs, the best route is to pursue photography as an avocation, rather than a business. Some of the greatest photographers in the world are not making their livings primarily with their cameras, and many have jobs that aren't related to photography at all. Photography for them is like poetry has almost always been for nearly everybody, something done for love rather than money.
    There's a great saying about photographers: "The amateur thinks about his equipment. The pro thinks about the money. The master thinks about the light." Everybody needs to decide which of these things they want to think about. And while you're at it, go through the great histories of photography and count how many wedding photographs you'll see in there. (Hint: If you count on your fingers, you won't have to use both hands.)
    If you want to be a business person, and you can see a business model that will work for you involving photography, go for it, and good luck to you. But if you love photography and want to take photographs, then save yourself some grief and take photographs. Enjoy the freedom to pursue your passion on your own terms.
     
  4. Great answer William.
    I do it for the fun/art of it primarily and the fee I charge supports my desire to produce that. I also love being at weddings/gatherings etc. Watching people interact and enjoy catching up. Having the generations gathered, and all the stories that fit within the wedding story. I love the challenge of consistently creating images that will be artistic yet emotionally powerful to the clients. Images that invoke a visible response, one that shows the person looking at them is moved.That is my starting point for weddings. If you do it for the $$$, you will be disappointed I dare say.
    If you feel passionate about weddings, love to shoot and have good eye for what makes images sing... then begin with your passion and if you can get paid too, that will be great.
     
  5. It's not hard getting in but it's way harder to stay in. v/r Buffdr
     
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    That's succinct, William P.
    I read it twice.
    It is difficult for me to find arguments to mount against the points you make.
    It would be sensible for all those thinking of this particular career path to read your valuable contribution with an open mind.

    I have flagged this as a “to read” so I can link to it later – I am sure there will be other questions like this in the future

    WW
     
  7. I think it's always wise to concentrate on the basics first.
    It's not a good idea to become a wedding photographer unless you are already a good photographer. The people who do well establish themselves with some solid work, learn good skills and polish their technique. Then they go looking for weddings, have happy clients and get more work and raise their prices. The people who do it the other way round end up eroding their reputation and getting into complicated disputes with clients, and they never enjoy a business that grows. Usually they fail very quickly, and sometimes very publicly.
    I notice from your portfolio that all your flash shots are over-lit, and all your non-flash shots are under-exposed. This would suggest that you've got some work to do in those areas before you are in the position to offer your services for money. Weddings are fast-paced and complicated and offer unpredictable light and no second chances. In my opinion no one should ever look for paid wedding work unless they're skilled and very consistent in all technical areas first. Understanding correct exposure and being able to use light to a high standard is fundamental.
    You have to have a product to sell people, and it needs to be a lot more special than 'I own a camera'.
    Once you're ready, all the advice in this and previous threads on the topic will be very helpful to you.
     
  8. If you really want to get in the wedding business I suggest you work as an assistant to an established photographer. The experience will be invaluable. Then at a certain point decide if you want/can go out on your own. Over the years I've mentored various assistants - some stayed in the business, others didn't.
     
  9. I appreciate & thank every one of you for your valuable response
    Williams Porter:
    I specially thank you for taking some time for giving valuable suggestion. My first motive is to see if wedding is an art "I just want to Document that art.." No matter how hard it is.. I understand the level of risk involved.. and could be I am not equipped enough to capture the moments in a right way or would I've to even learn a lot more. At this point I am just exploring where is the gateway to enter and learn. Making money is secondary. The reason I got inspired about doing wedding is not just to think about making instant money and I very well knew it's not going to pay off with in the time frame I anticipate.
    Steve crist:
    I tried with local photographers to join and assist who are well proficient in wedding photography but my request was turned down by all.
     
  10. My first motive is to see if wedding is an art​
    This is the line I keep getting stuck on. Unlike testing the waters to see if you have the aptitude and vision to shoot landscapes or architecture or products or..., shooting a wedding involves two other people for whom this is their big day. This is their big moment and it's not fair to them to use them a a litmus test to see if wedding photography is something you want to do or not.
    As others have noted, William (Porter) has written a very insightful and helpful post - which I have also bookmarked for future reference.
    If the photographers you have contacted turn you down, try this:
    • Find out why you are being turned down
    • Keep asking them
    • Find more to ask
    I don't know how you are approaching them or what you are saying to them, but it's possible that you are being misunderstood. But also be prepared to fill a role that you are not expecting. It is entirely possible that you will be accepted as an assistant but not paid and you won't do any shooting. If that happens, don't turn it down. Under the right mentor, assisting will teach you far more about the business of wedding photography, lighting, timing, ettiquette, etc. than being a second shooter ever will.
     
  11. I second what Rob said about assisting teaching you more than second shooting. Many a time have I trained someone to shoot weddings where they get too wrapped up in what they are shooting to notice things around them, including what the lead photographer is doing, that would teach them more than shooting. If it were up to me, I'd make trainees assist at least 3 or more times before they ever pick up a camera.
     
  12. Rob:
    To be very precise I did what you said.. In fact I do not know how to spell DSLR a year ago I was making fancy photographs with point-n-shoot just for passion.. From ppa.com I found bunches of photographers in the locality doing weddings. I tried calling them everyday which went for months finally decided to buy a camera learn on my own after heart full of frustration. You can visit my website www.sreegraphy.com I do not know how good or bad you feel looking over my pics but that's what I managed to do in 1 year right from knowing nothing about photograph. There could be wedding couples who cannot afford to pay but would be wishing if someone photograph and make their wedding a future memory I am concentrating crowd of that kind which would be of 2-in-1 deal (I'll get a chance to learn and they'll be happy that some one captured their wedding) If anyone say I'll be equipped to do wedding photography once I cross the ocean then I'll put my efforts for it. If my efforts pay it'll be gain else it'd be loss
     
  13. I am not going to look at your website (yet) because I don't want to run the risk of turning this thread into a critique of anyone's work.
    If you've been unable to find anyone willing to take you on as an assistant after a month of calling, then I really want to think that there's a communication problem. What you are saying may not necessarily be what they are hearing. I don't mean that in a nasty way at all, but rather that, from your posts here, I assume English is not your first language and that could be the root of your difficulty.
    If you want to get into wedding photography or just test whether or not you want to:
    • Join a photography group (maybe through Meetup.com) and shoot, shoot and shoot some more to hone your craft. Remember, I've not looked at your work yet, so I offer this as a "we all can continually improve" statement.
    • Create an inexpensive portfolio of your best work. Preferably of people and portraits but, since you are starting out, a portfolio of fairly strong work will suffice.
    • Attend a bridal expo or two and, with your portfolio in hand, introduce yourself to one or two of the wedding photographers there. HOWEVER, if they are busy or with a potential client, go back later!!! Introduce yourself, tell them you are looking to assist (for free) a wedding photographer so that you can learn the business. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee and dessert if they're willing to look at your portfolio. It's much harder to say no to a person face-to-face than it is over the phone or, worse, over email.
    Be willing to take critique and advice as offered since you are there to learn. If/when you find a mentor, know that you'll be tasked with the non-sexy grunt work. I will send an assistant to my car to get extra light stands, to the bar to get a glass of water, send them ahead to ensure rooms are open, etc. in addition to working with them on the schedule and the more "photography-related" tasks.
    But, to get back to what I think is at the heart of the rejections you keep receiving, have a friend who has stronger English language skills read over and edit any written communication that you send out.
     
  14. The best thing I've read so far is to join a PPA. You need to at least run in the same circles as those you aspire to be.
     
  15. Once again a post about doing one of the hardest jobs in photography from a beginner's background. You have to work as an assistant and then second shooter in order to learn what you need to know. Maybe you have a talent for it but you still need to get all of the basics down first. A doctor does not start as a surgeon. Intern - resident - then maybe if the talent is there. Weddings are only done once. Can you be 100 percent certain you can get it all right the first time? You are dealing with a sacred event in people's lives. If you know you can deliver, fine. If you think you can deliver, you're not ready.
     
  16. it's harder to stay in than it is to get in
     
  17. it's harder to stay in than it is to get in​
    ditto..i think from all the CL ads these days you can see that anyone can get in.. whether they stay in biz and continue year after year is what is hard.
     
  18. I wasn't going to respond to this one, but I guess I will anyway...
    It is NOT hard to get into wedding photography. All you need is a camera, and someone willing to give you a chance to document their most special day... BUT, it is hard to do it well!!! I can't stress this enough! If it were EASY, EVERYONE would be churning out amazing photographs. But, they're not! It is never easy to be great.
    Based on your website, your post, and your photography portfolio, I would guess that you are just beginning to really delve into the world of photography. You also seem to be VERY new to this country.
    I see two obstacles for you as a budding photographer: You are not fluent in English, and you have not had enough practice/classes/etc in basic photography skills. If I were you, I would endeavor to work on both at the same time.
    Most community colleges offer basic and advanced Photography classes, which will help develop the skills necessary to use your equipment to it's full potential, as well as more exposure to the English language. This goes a long way in breaking into the industry, if that is indeed what you want to do.
    You could view your lack of English as a downfall, but perhaps look at it as a strength. There are a lot of other Indian families in this country, and I've found (as a non-Indian descended American) that most Indian families would prefer to work with an Indian Photographer. Try getting involved with other Indian people locally and offer to take photographs, probably portraits to start with. Practice, practice, practice. Then maybe when someone you have taken portraits for is looking for a wedding photographer, they will ask you. Take your time. Practice takes time, and you can't expect it to happen over night. If you are patient, and always continue to improve, you just might make it. Good luck!
     
  19. Sree -
    I agree with a lot of what's been posted here already - about it being easy to get into Weddings and difficult to stay in them. I also agree that way too many people think that having a DSLR automatically qualifies them to shoot weddings...or seniors....or sports...or anything beyond good family snapshots.
    Communication is critical in wedding photography - I know it is common in some areas of India to say - "I have doubts" - Meaning in American - "I have questions" not doubts as we Americans tend to view them. If I were to go to a bride / groom and say "I have doubts" - boom - conversation over they've moved to the next photographer. If a potential assistant / 2nd comes up to me and says "I have doubts" - I'm looking for my next assistant. I wholeheartedly agree with William W's suggestion that you have someone proofread and edit your text on your website. My spouse is from China - she has been in America for 20 years... She still has me proofread and correct her e-mails / memos for work. Why? Because she is worried that she will use a word or words incorrectly - plus English / American is not her first language.
    You have a few good referals / comments on your site already - keep working with those folks and build your client base from them. That's the start. As for your portfolio photos - I saw some I really liked.
    Assisting a pro photographer would be a huge plus for you. Put an ad on CL for it and see what happens. Detroit is going to be a tough market to crack and make any kind of a living in right now. The last I heard the un-employment rate there is well above the national average.
    Having a passion for something is not a bad thing - looking at your photos and reading your site - I believe you do have a passion for photography. You just need to channel it properly and crawl before you walk, walk before you run.
    Good luck!
    Dave
     
  20. Thanks E. Hughes and Dave for your positive response..
     
  21. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Umm? I asked six questions.
    I do not expect a reply, so this is not a personal whinge in any way whatsoever.
    So don’t think that I am upset – I am not.
    I am confused.
    You asked a business related question.
    You are willing to engage in two-way conversations and have done so and your responses have been slightly off topic (i.e. not specifically a core business theme which your original question exhibited),
    So why would you not answer six business related questions which could advance your cause and might expand the business information you might receive?
    I understand that you have changed the parameters of the tpoic and you might now think this is no longer about business at all . . . but this is why I am still confused that you have not answered me . . . even if you do not see this as a business matter any more . . .
    Just ponder these points:
    > even if you are looking only for Brides who cannot afford to pay anything for their Photos
    > even if you are looking to work for no pay with an existing Professional
    > even if you just want to record a Wedding for the Documentary Beauty of it and to sell nothing
    You are still “In Business”. Because you still have to:
    > Market and Sell your wears that Bride – you might find it even more difficult to market and sell product if you charge zero.
    > Convince that Professional (another business person) that your business (i.e. you) will be an asset and NOT a liability to his or her business.
    > Have enough business acumen and marketing skills to get a front row seat at a Wedding (be there a Pro covering it or not) to make that “Beautiful Documentary”

    WW
     
  22. Let me submit (with kindness) that I think you underestimate wedding photographers and the considerable skill set they possess. You are a computer engineer. No doubt you combined years of education and experience to develop your expertise in your field. Yet is seems you believe that you can buy a camera, perhaps ( I hope) read a few books, place an add in craigslist, and risk screwing up the very important pictures taken on a what is, arguably, a person's most important day. Really not cool. Not cool at all.
    It is true that there are tons of GWC's (guys with cameras) out there proclaiming themselves wedding photographers. And there are an almost equal number of screwed up weddings. Some would say that it serves a couple right when they go for the freebie and expect professional results. I am one of them. But I am going to call shame on you too Sree for insulting the many accomplished and professional wedding photographers out there by thinking that seconding someone a couple of times is going to give you the lifetime of hard earned experience and education that they have. It won't.
    I looked at your portfolio. Where are the adults? Where are the formal portraits? Where is your demonstrated ability to shoot a diversity of people in varied situations? Or on a more basic level. What kind of back-up camera do you have? As William said in his excellent post, where are the business skills you need. I suspect the local photogs are not hiring you because they know you are unprepared to enter into the apprentice phase of your training yet.
    Good wedding photography is far more than you appear to think it is. It requires a very substantial skill set, split second timing, nerves of steel, and the work ethic of an artist driven by his/her passion for excellence in expressing that art. If I had to guess I would say you are about three to four years away from being a wedding photographer worth his/her salt. Remember how you became an engineer? Work that hard in preparation to be a wedding photographer and you will be ready to go shoot a wedding.
    Your site includes some nice shots. You appear to be an accomplished amateur. I hope you do achieve your dream of being a wedding photographer. Now go do the hard work it takes to do that. And get that add out of craigslist. Don't risk someone's important day on your desire to practice.
    There is an old saying. Some people have one year of experience, some people have 20 years of experience, but most people have one year of experience 20 times. Learn to honor the art in wedding photography. Learn to honor the skills great wedding photographers have. Find the people who have 20 years of experience and study, study, study their work. You have tons of work to do.
     
  23. "When people pay you to take photos, they expect you to take photos they like - not photos that YOU like."
    This is a recipe for unhappiness and disaster. If people aren't hiring you because of the unique photographs that you want to make, then what separates you from anyone else? Why should any one hire you over another person? Because you have a business plan? It begs the question- why did you chose photography as a career?
    "Every wedding photographer is, to some extent, just a few steps away from the person who shoots portraits at Wal-Mart"
    WHAT??? Do you really value wedding photography so little as to say something like that?
    Do you have business cards?
    Are they blank on the reverse side?
    Do you carry at least 50 of them at all times?
    Do you carry a distinctive pen and is you handwriting neat and accurate?

    The key to networking isn't having a lot of business cards, is it? I'd say you'd do better with a good personality and a professional attitude. People will do business with those they like and trust and really, who cares about the fancy pen?
    Neil addresses a good point- if you are a good photographer already, photographing a wedding should be an easy transition. You shouldn't need to assist any one as there are plenty of cheap clients out there looking for something for nothing that would allow you to learn on the job. But it sounds like assisting might help you. Just make sure you're doing enough learning to compensate for the damage to your back by carrying someone else' s bag. I don't think you need to attend a wedding expo- just find photographs that you wished you had taken, find out who took them, and contact them. Tell them you like their work and see where it goes. When I was an assistant, that's how I went about finding work. I want to stress the fact that you don't want to work for any one other than those whose work you admire. Otherwise it's a waste of time.
     
  24. This thread reminds me of something a friend of mine said recently. She is a fan/connoisseur of photography, cognizant of its history, and past member of the young collector's group of a prominent photo museum. But she doesn't take photos, pretty much at all. She has a Canon G9 and has maybe shot it a hundred times in a few years. Yet she "thinks" she would be a good photographer and thinks highly of her own eye. She has dealt with photographers in her occupation for years, and has translated the idea that the equipment/technical understanding is not of primary importance into, "well if I have a good eye then the rest is easy." I wanted to tell her that's like saying if I could transmit directly from my brain onto the written page, I'd be an absolutely brilliant novelist.
    My point is that I suspect amateurs tend to underrate the sheer technical challenges of photography, which is also part and parcel of the artistic element (you can't achieve one without the other) which in my opinion are only more difficult in something like wedding photography. As I've worked on my own photography more and more, as well as been reading the wedding threads here and browsing wedding photographer blogs, I have more and more respect for them, as they not only have one chance and pretty much one chance only to get the shot, they have to do it in way that satisfies brides demanding beauty, despite unpredictable, changing, and often adverse conditions. Perhaps that's why I find their blogs the most helpful when it comes to handling lighting, which is a subject I think is only better appreciated as you delve into photography more.
    Sreehari - I guess what I'm trying to say is that wedding photography is not exactly the easiest of photographic disciplines. If you're truly interested in it, my suggestion is that you must not only learn about the areas where you are weak, but also actively search out areas of knowledge that you've never even heard of. That is, tackle both the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns. I could never imagine going in to shoot a wedding and looking at it as practice for myself - its far too important a day for the participants for me to treat it so cavalierly.
     
  25. My experience was that it's easy to get in, very hard to get out :)
     
  26. Sreehari - I guess what I'm trying to say is that wedding photography is not exactly the easiest of photographic disciplines.​
    Well put, George.
    The ability to take great pictures is just one part of being a successful and responsible wedding photographer.
    And no, Senor Crocodrillo, it is not necessarily an "easy transition" from being able to take great photos to becoming a wedding photographer. For example, take landscape photographers. The great ones are the people who hump their gear for miles and miles into rough and off-track terrain, set-up their gear and wait for hours (if not days) for the light to be perfect before tripping the shutter; the exact opposite of wedding photography.
    I need to know all of my gear intimately because I can be given any kind of situation at any moment and I have to get the shot. A few weeks ago, I shot a wedding where I went through my normal pre-ceremony tasks. One of them, of course, was to set my custom white balance and exposure levels for the three different locations I'd be shooting from during the ceremony. Right before the ceremony started, the event manager (this was at a resort) walked in and said "oh, the lights are too bright, let me make the room more romantic" and proceeded to turn the lights down low. Both my exposure levels and white balance were shot. But that problem was mine and belonged to no one else.
    I attend the rehearsal for a variety of reasons and, while I shoot rehearsal pictures, that's just one of the reasons I attend. I get to connect with the officiant, it's one more chance to connect with the couple, I get to find out the rules of the church/synagogue/mosque/resort instead of on the wedding day, I get to choose my shooting positions, etc. None of those are directly related to my ability to take great photos, it has everything to do with my craft as a wedding photographer.
    I find out from the bride where the bridesmaid dresses were purchased and what color(s) are used. I then go purchase thread in those colors and carry it with me... just in case a bridesmaid puts a heel through the hem. I can't sew very well but usually there's a mother or grandmother who can. I am just the hero for having the right thread. Nothing to do with being able to take great pictures.
    I've spent a lot of time learning the minute details of the wedding ceremony for several religions. Again, nothing to do with taking great photos.
    If there is no wedding coordinator and/or the emcee doesn't keep a handle on the schedule during the reception, I can step in if needed. No other vendor witnesses and learns every part of the wedding day like the photographer does. I can't count the number of times when I've been asked by one of my couples or their parents if a last minute change to the ceremony or reception is okay from a "tradition" point of view.
    So, people are right when they say it's more than having the technical knowledge of your gear. But if they think that having the artist's vision is the only other part of the equation, they are still missing the vital ingredients of being a trusted wedding photographer.
    Yes, you should assist photographers whom you admire and respect. But that respect needs to be based on a lot more than their ability to take great pictures. But remember that no one puts bad photographs into their portfolio. So be prepared to be disappointed if the person you ask to mentor you ends up not being good at it. Besides, being a good wedding photographer has absolutely no correlation to being a good teacher or coach.
    And, yes, as William W points out, you do need business cards, a business plan, a contract, and liability insurance. And, yes, memberships in organizations are important. Carrying business cards does not a wedding photographer make. Being a member of an organization won't make you one, either. However, such things do show potential clients and other photographers that you care about your career and are willing to put effort into your craft.
    As a member of PPA, WPPI, and NAPP, I could drop all three tomorrow and my status as a wedding photographer won't change. But I maintain my memberships because they are avenues to continuing education and allow me to show prospective clients that I care about what I do (and, consequently, care about what I do for them).
    I guess what I am trying to say is this: becoming really good at photography will make you a really good photographer. But there is a lot more that is required to be a really good wedding photographer.
     
  27. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "The key to networking isn't having a lot of business cards, is it?"
    I didn't write that it was the key to networking.
    If one is going to quote it is my opinion that the quote should remain in the context it was written.
    Business cards were one of several suggestions made in that first post. There are TEN suggestions, actually, including networking, and also assisting a working Professional, pro bono, which it appears also has much credence amongst others who have later commented.

    ***
    “who cares about the fancy pen?”

    I actually care about the fancy pen. It, combined with the blank reverse of the business card is a very valuable yet inexpensive marketing tool.

    Also so, are personality and a professional attitude very important.

    Come to think of it – a personality which might ask open questions rather than “slam dunk” and a professional attitude that has attention to detail . . . is very important: I do agree . . .

    I guess one with those attributes would seek to ask why something might be important or useful to address “Can anyone suggest me how to break the barrier”. ?

    I guess one with a professional attitude would pay attention to how one quotes matters and subsequently manipulates the meaning and original intent of them, or not?.

    WW
     
  28. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Neil addresses a good point- if you are a good photographer already, photographing a wedding should be an easy transition."

    We must be reading from different chronicles.

    I cannot find anywhere where Neil wrote this; or implied that a transition to Wedding Photography would be easy, in any manner whatsoever.

    This another application and another example of attributing words and / or meanings, which never existed in the first place.

    WW
     
  29. I read in a book, heck maybe it was here on photo.net that the most successful photographers are not necessarily the best (talking money), the ones that know how to market him/herself are usually the most successful. I believe that statement to be true. I often look at the people who respond to posts and give suggestions especially the ones that tend to be more critical and too often find that they have no images posted on photo.net even googling their names does not take one to a web site, why is that? google my name, bing my name, yahoo my name, you will find good images, bad images, some that some people consider excellent images, why are people afraid to show their work??? Why should anyone take them seriously, this is for the person that asked the question to consider when evaluating the responses.
     
  30. A great thread, and William nailed the issue. Professional wedding photography is tough, skilled, competetive work. The market is saturated with amatuers and semi-pros who are working cheap. It is hard to make a living and, even if you can, it may not be as much fun as you would think. I am a serious amatuer with very good gear. I do an occasional wedding fro a friend or relative who will accept my very good (and cheap or free) work as good enough and skip the even better (but expensive) real pro. I have fun, in part because I do not have to do this every weekend. My friends get good work cheap. Everyone is happy. However, I would hate to try to do this for a living. As my wife (a nurse who plays jazz at a very high level) often advises other musicians, "keep your day job and have fun."
     
  31. I cannot find anywhere where Neil wrote this; or implied that a transition to Wedding Photography would be easy,in any manner whatsoever.​
    Correct, I didn't say that. (Thanks, William). But since there seems to be some confusion about what I might have meant, let me rephrase my remarks more clearly.
    If someone is not already a good photographer they have no real likelihood of making it as a commercial photographer of any type. The competition is too strong, clients are well informed and usually demanding, and the chances of failure are very high. An unskilled photographer will struggle to get work and will probably start - and remain - at the bottom end of the market. In the worst case they'll end up in legal disputes and become infamous, and possibly bankrupt.
    If someone takes the time to become a good photographer first, and only then considers getting into weddings, their chances of failure are reduced. Their chances of success will be determined by other factors - mostly their business and marketing skills, their personal drive, and the reach of their network. But all of those things depend on a strong foundation of photography skills, because in a competitive market it's impossible to build a reputation on work that isn't very good.
    I know a lot of very skilled photographers who are not yet successful in their chosen ventures. Mostly because they're competing in a saturated market in the worst commercial conditions in recent memory. This is today's reality. Most new entrants into all forms of commercial photography are struggling to get out of the super-budget end of the market.
     
  32. "If one is going to quote it is my opinion that the quote should remain in the context it was written."
    I'm curious, what context did you provide? Several of your questions are ridiculously esoteric. How would any one, other than the author of the outdated networking book you read, know what you are talking about? Distinctive pen? Don't shoot weddings for free? Maybe offer some substance to those one-liners...
    Did I say, "would be easy" or "should be easy?"
    While both words allow a bit of conditionality, they certainly are not the same. If you're going to insult my professionalism over my misattribution, at least don't make the mistake of quoting me improperly.


    "The ability to take great pictures is just one part of being a successful and responsible wedding photographer."
    It may not be the only part, but it's the part that's most important, no? If you can't make unique photographs, what's the point? Why add to the mess of bad wedding photography out there already? And a landscape photographer is not a very good example- why not choose a journalist or an editorial shooter? These types are much more likely to make the transition. And if they're talented, than they're probably smart enough to get by in business aspects or at least know when they need to seek out professional advice. See? It should be an easy transition. As a side note- I think a stain remover kit and some fashion tape would serve better than going through the trouble of buying thread. It's very thoughtful, though.
     
  33. "I often look at the people who respond to posts and give suggestions especially the ones that tend to be more critical and too often find that they have no images posted on photo.net even googling their names does not take one to a web site, why is that? google my name, bing my name, yahoo my name, you will find good images, bad images, some that some people consider excellent images, why are people afraid to show their work??? Why should anyone take them seriously, this is for the person that asked the question to consider when evaluating the responses."
    Nonsense. Some of us do not want to post images here. We are not auditioning for anything. Some of us share internet photos with clients privately but not with the general public. Some are good enough salespeople to realize that they have a much better chance of closing the sale in person with the bride and groom than they do with them cruising a web site. As someone said earlier, a bad photographer can pick 20 picutes from 20 different screwed up weddings and look marvelous on thier web site. Choosing a photographer from a host of web sites is a recipe for disaster. And even if you get a good one by accident, the expectation that one's wedding pictures will all look like the portfolio will probably be mistaken expectation of what to expect from their wedding. As so many pointed out above there is far more to being a good wedding photographer than a client can determe from five minutes on a web site.
    One never knows on a site like this whether or not the person posting is the real deal. But you sure can hear the words that ring true. Choosing to believe folks here because of the pretty pictures is not too smart. It is entirely possible for a truely crappy photographer to put together a bang-up portfolio. How many people here would maintain that the select pictures on their profile represent what they can consistently produce on a daily basis, in all weather, with people pushing them and a schedule that keeps them on the run?
    Google Annie Leibovitz. See if you can find her web site. I doubt she is afraid of posting her shots for us to see. I seriously doubt that you are qualified to critique them and I suspect she knows it. I know I am not. It is not fear that keeps some of us from posting here. It is that we are not looking for a job. And just maybe when we are looking for a critique we go to people whose opinions we respect. Some here and some elsewhere. And in private.
     
  34. I read in a book, heck maybe it was here on photo.net that the most successful photographers are not necessarily the best (talking money), the ones that know how to market him/herself are usually the most successful. I believe that statement to be true.​
    Well, that's about as clear as mud. I always thought the end result of proper marketing was to be hired and make money. :)
    To me, successful wedding photography is indeed measured by one's ability to pay the bills and stay in business. Otherwise, you're just another hobbyist. Some of you people seem to define success based too much on other photographers approval for your "art" and not enough on your own bank accounts. :)
    This industry is merely serves as an outlet to unleash one's ego and based on a passion. It's all about the photo and other than the person paying for it nobody really cares who or what's in it. And coincidently, for passionate people there's a lot of weddings so... if you're business-savvy, relentless, have a keen eye for composition and, are one of the lucky ones... you get paid well enough to attain self employment status. All without an MBA. :)
    the ones that tend to be more critical and too often find that they have no images posted on photo.net even googling their names does not take one to a web site, why is that?​
    I can peruse the web all I want preening over all the cherry-picked images that everyone shows but this doesn't tell me anything about the "success" of the photographer behind those images. If they have 3 other jobs and fetch carts at Wal-Mart on Sundays I think I'd find somebody else to listen to if I wanted to do this full time.
    And the best advice I can give to Sree is to move as far from Detroit as you can. Honestly, I can't think of a worse location to start up in right now.
     
  35. Google Annie Leibovitz. See if you can find her web site. I doubt she is afraid of posting her shots for us to see. I seriously doubt that you are qualified to critique them and I suspect she knows it.​
    Right now, Annie Leibovitz probably couldn't muster enough cash for a busted 50 f/1.8 off ebay. She's broke. I would've picked somebody else to use as the shining example for success in a wedding biz forum.
     
  36. It's even harder to leave ........
     
  37. google Annie, first thing that pops up are images by Annie?? What is the point? Google Rick McCallum and one finds???? Hey if you are good let us see some of the images that you do? Simple, I am sure that not every photograph one takes is private. I have many images that are private, that I do not post. Again for the original poster take the advise with what I stated in mind, some of the best advice was given by the person who posted these images , http://www.photo.net/photos/William W End of discussion. I don't want to step on any more sensitive toes. I will leave with what I consider a good quote "Find the people who have 20 years of experience and study, study, study their work."
     
  38. Sree, I looked at your portfolio/website and wouldn't hire you as my photographer. If you're really good at business, get yourself a pair of good photographers to shoot the weddings for you. Maybe you can make that into a service chain someday... like "Glamour Weddings Inc".
     
  39. Right now, Annie Leibovitz probably couldn't muster enough cash for a busted 50 f/1.8 off ebay.
    I don't think Annie went belly up for her bad pics. Probably more due to NAS (Nikon Aquisi....), applied to paintings and furniture. Not that I like her pics, including the first family's. But then I also don't like AA landscapes.
     
  40. Not sensitive sir. Just correcting bad advice. Basing one's acceptance of business advice on someone's ability to find a few good pictures and post them on an open forum is not too smart. Nor is it very smart to assume that because someone does not choose to maintain a portfolio on this site that their advice is poor. William's advice is excellent. So is RT's and he posts no images on this site.
    The most successfull photographers are first good salespeople. Even if they are not the best photographers their potential for success is better. On the other hand. Anyone who wishes to be an "artist" (as Shree says he wants to be) should to learn to take artistic skills seriously. It seems to me that he not taking the steps necessary to learn the craft from top to bottom.
    Wedding photographers share one thing in common with news photographers. There is no redo. Either get it right or go down in flames. Even the best salesman can't talk his way out of poor photos.
    For the record, Annie Lieboviz has dodged the bullet for now. She is in debt as are so many but she is still a very wealthy woman. And she commands fees that, even if she should go bankrupt, would restore her fortunes fairly quickly. In the end, the use of the internet is a marketing strategy. Usually a good one. However. I know of many good photographers who, for valid business reasons, choose not to use the internet for marketing. I know far more of them who put up super web sites and just can't understand why the phone isn't ringing off the hook.
     
  41. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    For the clarification of my posts as it seems too that some folk do not understand what I have written either:
    Six questions were originally asked by me. They were asked to the OP. They were asked in the context of two separate groups of questions to then OP. No more context than that is required as the questions they were asked to stimulate thought and discussion.
    One set of questions was about business cards which are a business marketing tool – used by many people in business. Some people might see the use of business cards as old fashioned and only referenced in antiquated Marketing Text Books.
    However in my day to day business activity I find that most folk that I deal with still use business cards.
    This of course is a little conundrum (in my opinion only of course) . . . because when I see that I am doing something in my business that everyone else is also doing, then I usually take the time to think through questions like: “Am I being a sheep?” “If everyone is doing this – how can I do it better?” “How can I do it differently?”
    So I have taken some time out and given a lot of thought to business cards and how they are used – but I have never read a book on the use of business cards.
    ***
    The other set of two questions was about insurance and contracts – most business people consider these to be fundamental elements of business. Though it is apparent from reading several previous threads here that some folk begin a business without either of these fundamental elements.
    In my humble opinion, it is actually quite useful to ask these two fundamental questions and direct both to the OP in a thread like this.
    ***
    Not one of my questions was esoteric: all were concrete and all were soliciting answers.
    ***
    The suggestion NOT to shoot Weddings for free was given in the context of advice – and that if anything was to be done for free - it should be assisting an existing Professional.
    As to adding more substance to one liner advice – I think that if one reads on a tad one will find this: “You are still “In Business”. Because you still have to: > Market and Sell your wears that Bride – you might find it even more difficult to market and sell product if you charge zero.”

    IMO there is quite a deal of “substance” in those 30 or so words. But then again, I might just read more accurately than some folk – I don’t know.
    ***
    Upon re reading my posts: all “quotes” I have extracted are accurate, verbatim.
    The differentiation of meaning between “should” (which I “quoted”) and would (which is the word I used in my commentary), is understood by me.
    I used “would” in my commentary because it pertains to the SECOND clause in the sentence in which it is used. Using “would” was not a mistake, nor was it half-witted of me to do so.
    The FIRST clause in that sentence pertains to the quote I extracted.
    The two clauses are separated by a semi-colon (;).
    Clauses, separated by a semi colon are individual and stand alone thoughts.
    But that’s enough about parsing sentences and correct use of English grammar, I think, as my intent was merely to clarify what I have written for those folk who seem to have had serious trouble in understanding the technical and literal meaning of the written word or the reasons and rationale for my contribution, in the first place.
    WW
     
  42. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    On another matter:

    I note that my Photonet Portfolio has been referenced.

    I note that in so referencing my photographic work, there was an implication that my contribution to this thread was somewhat substantiated and my business acumen was sound. Making a conclusion such as this - is not the best business logic. Looking only at a Portfolio is not adequate research to necessarily establish an author's credentials. A Portfolio should not be the sole evaluatation of any commentary.

    Please do not misinterpret my meaning.

    I am chuffed (happy) that someone has quoted my portfolio – and I would like each of you to have a look, and hopefully find something there that you like and perhaps laugh at . . . because that’s why they most of the images are there.

    But just because I choose to show one small area of my Photographic work, that of itself, is not a reason to assume I know what I am talking about.

    Display of one’s work forms part of the picture, yes – but there are many other elements by which one should judge the value and worth of commentary.

    I mention this particularly, as it is thrown up from time to time – and also there were quite a few years when I had zero postings in my Portfolio here, though I had posted many examples, when necessary to illustrate my point, inside threads.

    FWIW: very few of my Wedding Images are on line, anywhere, which is simply a result of they way we originally structured our business and we then decided to keep to that way, as we moved through to using digital capture.

    But, I am very pleased that a link to my work is in this thread – thanks for that.

    WW
     
  43. Sgreehari is now doing business in the US. It is incumbant on him to learn the business climate in the US and that is, in part, what some of us are trying to do for him. The market will not make allowances for either poor work or poor business practices.
    His stated goal is to be a wedding photographer. To do this he must acquire business skills, marketing skills, sales skills (they are not the same as marketing skills) and, of course, wedding photography skills. He is making a good start by asking the questions. It will do him absolutely no good for us to post platitudes. He needs to see the hard reality of a very compteitive market. But are we to be all warm and fuzzy? Or are we to tell him that his photography site does not tell the visitor where he is doing business? That it does not contain his phone number or email address or even what city it is in which he is working. This website of his that is not even among the 535,000 hits on google under Detroit Wedding Photography. At least not among the first few hundreds of pages of them.
    What good is advice to a new person that does not stress the need for him to take seriously the huge skill set a wedding photographer ought to bring to the table. Then how about telling him how to go get that experience.
    Shall we tell him about how network and with whom? He said he can't get a photographer to give him an opportunity to assist, not to mention second. Why would they? Now if he got his sister and best friend to borrow a wedding dress and tux and then put togeather some idea of his vision a photographer might help him critique his work. After doing a few sessions like this he might have something to show his potential clients or maybe catch the attention of the photographers with whom he would like to apprentice.
    On his web site from which potential customers are to get confidence he mentions that he bought a digital camera in 2008 and that he has had not training nor education in photography. Refreshing honesty but not likely to inspire a young couple to let him document their big day.
    It sems to me that the best thing we can do for him is to point out these issues and hopefully inspire him to work on them.... Maybe Make a list. Tick off the steps one by one rather than jumping headlong onto craigslist. There are some pretty darned good photographers here taking their valuable time to give him free advice. I wish I had been so fortunate when I was getting started.
     
  44. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I agree 100% with the thrust and with almost all of the content of Rick’s last commentary.

    I am in business. It is the read deal. I do not back and fill. I do not exaggerate. I call it as I see it. I am neither rude, nor abusive. But if one is seeking to enter into the foray of business (as is the OP) and(taking just as one example) they are not communicating their intent in a reasonably articulate manner to their customer base - then one needs to:
    > either learn an effective communication to that customer base,
    > or change customer bases.
    Both these ideas have been floated on this thread – just as one example, of one point we have covered.
    And neither example should be taken defensively or seen as severe by the OP. Both ideas are suggestions to help - as are mostly all of the other ideas, here presented - very few of all the ideas here are more worthy than others - as ideas - some might work better than others, but as ideas, all are pretty equal thus far.
    WW
     
  45. Hello Folks... Thank you all once again... and special thanks for new responses..
    Comments & Suggestions so far
    Rob said, work as an assistant :
    I'll be really glad to do it without pay if any one gives me an opportunity. If you look at one of the post made on No 19 by Monica Cortes "anyone need a reliable assistant/ second photographer?"
    Pl see how many responses she has got... I am mentioning it over here to point out there should be experienced wedding pro's who is a member of PN and who is from LA... I am just curious to know How many of them came forward to help her
    Comments by Indraneel
    Sree, I looked at your portfolio/website and wouldn't hire you as my photographer
    I take this in a positive way...
    Indraneel, I admitted upfront I am a newbee to digital photography.. Yet I managed to produce only fractions of what I originally thought..
    Comments by Rick
    Website of his that is not even among the 535,000 hits on google under Detroit Wedding Photography. At least not among the first few hundreds of pages of them.
    Rick, I agree 100% of your comments that are based on real world problems.
    Comments by George
    I could never imagine going in to shoot a wedding and looking at it as practice for myself - its far too important a day for the participants for me to treat it so cavalierly.
    George, I am not married yet.. If by chance a photographer is hired to do photograph of my wedding and if he screws up I'd be annoyed for sure. Other way if I do not hire a photographer and perhaps ask some of my friends to take the pic of my event and if the pic screws up I don't mind because I know my friends are not professionals.
    I need to create a wedding portfolio with some of my best works...
    People who want have their special day documented professionally will not hire me..
    Wedding photographers are not interested to hire me even without pay..
    My English is Poor as critiqued my many which they suggest the reason for my failures..
    I've website with clumsy images and flaws
    As said before I am looking for couples who cannot afford to pay the photographer but would be interested if some one can make photography free for them
    Marketing ability, Sales & interpersonal skills, communication skills is added flavor to the business but the back bone relies on what product you make and what impact it is going to have in the market..
    Some of the suggestions were too away from the topic which I ignore now but consider to be useful in future...
     
  46. I think this may have been hinted at earlier. Join Model Mayhem and look for models to shoot TFCD with, which means no money exchanges hands. You shoot models - they get a CD of the photos for their portfolios and you get more experience shooting people. Plus you get fresh new images for your website and portfolio. Everyone wins. Or you can put an ad in Craigslist looking for models to shoot TFCD. Same outcome. Working with models will also give you experience, and confidence, directing and posing them - skills that may come in handy when you start shooting weddings. The main thing is you are continually taking photos. Try to shoot in a variety of conditions - dimly lit interiors, bright mid-day sun, etc as those are all conditions you will likely face as a wedding photographer. Again, this is invaluable experience which is out there for free. Take advantage of it. Good luck!
     
  47. On the ground floor -- not too difficult
    <p> >>>> ---to make a living ?? about 20 years ( in a good economy ) ~~~ I am on my 31st year.
     
  48. It's not hard to get into wedding photography and lots of people do it with only basic photographic skill and an advert in the local free press. The thing is, customers are increasingly seeing through it because a professional has to offer more than the most enthusiastic amateur guest at their wedding offers them. And a lot of people calling themselves professionals, frankly, don't do so.
    Ask yourself two questions:
    1) if a couple have an enthusiastic amateur as a guest who can do their photography for free what do you offer them that is better or different or that in some way validates your cost? An album or other material thing isn't enough - the internet now means anyone can produce a passable album. It has to be something that is artistically or interpretively or personally unique in what you do.
    2) if you shot a wedding and found out one of the guests was a professional wedding photographer established for several years would you feel intimidated or that their work might be of a far superior standard to yours? If so then you are taking the step too soon.


    Think about what it is in your photography that makes you genuinely different from the thousands of other people who are trying to make a living from it and don't run before you can walk or you'll give yourself far more stress than it's worth.
     
  49. 2) if you shot a wedding and found out one of the guests was a professional wedding photographer established for several years would you feel intimidated or that their work might be of a far superior standard to yours? If so then you are taking the step too soon.
    I really don't understand this obsession some of you guys have with what other photographers think of your work. Especially with so many subjective variations in style out there. To me, getting accolades (or criticism) from folks that haven't paid a nickel for the right is meaningless and certainly no barometer for one's success.
    Your paying client has already compared you to other photographers... no need for you to do it yourself.
     
  50. Fairly easy, shoot a few weddings for free, look at others work & prices, start prices low then slowly increase them. BUT REMEMBER, after you have photo'ed for several years, increased your prices, there are a bunch young people starting right behind you. Doing a good job for 1/2 your price. I saw the work of a 17 year old girl, pretty good photos, needed a little fine tuning, only charged $125.00 to photo a wedding. Also, REMEMBER, it is not the quantity, it is the quality,,,,,,
     
  51. RT Jones I understand what you are saying in that if the couple have booked you that should be validation enough but that's not the point I was trying to make. I didn't refer at any point to anyone else criticising work or giving accolades so your assumption that's what I meant shows your own obsession with what you view as other people's obsession blinding how you view what people write :)
    What I said was if YOU think there's a chance a guest - professional or not - could do a better job then you're not ready. It's personal criticism (that has to be honest) that matters, it's nothing to do with other people.
     
  52. Clear as a bell now Steve. Apologies for the misread.
    -RT
     

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