My 1st Wedding HELP

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by stephanie_pare, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Hello Everyone!
    I'm doing my first official wedding in September and it's a Biker Wedding. The whole event is being held at the couples house, the couple is on a tight budget and don't want to pay a lot for my services.. I don't know what to charge them. I know part of my services is a gift but, l need to make some money from this event.

    I'm doing photography, videography and considering buying disposable camera's to put on the tables so all our friends can take pictures of their big day and just ask the couple just pay to have the disposables developed... I have a couple of people who's going to be helping me with this event.
    I don't have a camera that does RAW photography l only have JPEG camera's ... I'm trying to get my business going but, I don't have the $$$ to go out and buy the right equipment just yet. I'm slowly trying to get there...
    Also what kind of collection should l offer for weddings? I personally believe that if l don't have collections then the couples can make their own and be happy with it... What should l charge for an hourly rate or should that be included in the total cost? HELP Please
    Any Suggestions, Advice, Tips anything would be greatly appreciated
    Owner / Photographer
    Rocks Edge Photography
  2. Hi Stephanie,
    I don't know what your level of photography expertise is, and if you've never done a wedding, I hope you've been honest with them about your experience level to avoid problems. If you have told them, one option may be to rent the gear you need to do the wedding. Also, getting an understanding of what they want and expect as a result of your work seems like a good idea because that may dictate what you do.
    As to what to charge, you say you need to make some money from this event, but you don't say how much you need to make. Also, you don't specifically say that they are friends, but you mention that part of your services are a gift, so the question that I would have is how close are you to the couple?
    All of these factors would come into play for me if I were doing this.
  3. I am curious why it is that people think you can start a photography business without the proper tools just because you can't afford them? Please name me any other profession where that would serve as an excuse?
    The short of it is, you shouldn't be charging for this wedding, period. If you want to do it for experience, as Matt says, make sure the prospective couple knows of your lack of experience/equipment. And get it in writing. There are no do overs at a wedding. Beyond that, the best advice I can give you is to seek out a professional photographer with whom you can assist for a couple of years. That will be the best way to learn photography and wedding photography in particular.
  4. Hey Matt,
    I've been doing photography since l was a child. Of course i'm honest with them I'm honest with every one! I'm very close to them we are "brother and sister" in the biker world everyone your close to is a brother or a sister. They know my work, they've seen me at Biker Charity Event's, Birthday Parties, etc. I did do one wedding as a candid photographer and that was my brother's wedding back in 08 and that was a medium of the line digital camera and even the professional was very impressed with my work... Thanks for the idea of renting the proper equipment i'll look into that ....
    To John,
    I live in Maine where not everyone has the $$$$ to go out and get all the right equipment to start a business off the bat like people who have the $$ to go spend to get everything they need. Some of the BEST Professional photographer's didn't start their business's with all the proper equipment they built their business and got the equipment as they could afford it.. AS a professional to help me yeah right they'll want to get paid for their the event and how can l do that if your telling me NOT to charge for the wedding ?!?!?
  5. If you'd like to know more about me please go read my bio on my page maybe you'll get a better idea of who l am.
  6. Welcome to P-net. Instead of asking for generic help you might want to simply begin reading the threads archived under first weddings. Also suggest that you check out: Since you are not yet a pro, I would suggest that you offer the photography as a gift to them without charge, gain the experience for yourself and give the couple the digital files to print at their own expense.
  7. Stephanie,

    A few thoughts.

    You said the wedding is in September. This is February. You do have time to prepare.

    What I want to say is that, shooting a wedding under contract, when it's your job or obligation, is COMPLETELY
    DIFFERENT from shooting an event as a guest or spectator when you do not have any obligation. Money changes
    everything, but this is true even if you do the wedding for free. When you shoot as a guest, you aren't stressed. You
    can pick your shots, take your time, and if you miss something — the Kiss, or whatever — no big deal, you weren't
    under any obligation to get that shot anyway. When you are The Photographer, on the other hand, it is your job to get
    that shot and all the others, and while they don't have to be prize winners, they do all have to be reasonably good.
    Reliability under pressure is pretty much the essence of being a pro wedding photographer. Quality counts, too, but I
    think reliability is the first requirement. That's why we put so much stress here on things like having backup equipment,
    on being prepared, etc.

    WHY do you need to make money from this event? When I shot my first wedding on my own five years ago, I shot it
    for free. I shot several more for free after that. I remember that the first bride wanted to pay me. I told her that I would
    have been willing to PAY HER for the opportunity to shoot the wedding, and that was true. The gig is almost certainly
    worth more to you in experience (and future marketing materials) than your services as a first-timer are going to be
    worth to the clients. No insult intended here. That was certainly true for me, and I'd been a very active photographer
    for almost thirty years before I shot my first wedding, had been a photographic team leader and editor way back in my
    school days.

    You said you don't have a camera that can shoot raw. This worries me. Are you thinking of using a compact, fixed-lens
    camera to do the wedding? I hesitate to say that it CAN'T be done — but boy, I wouldn't want to do it. I don't
    romanticize equipment and don't imagine that owning a camera that costs thousands of dollars makes anybody a great
    photographer. Equipment is just equipment, but when you're trying to be a pro, you discover that some tools are better
    suited to this job, and others better suited to that. You could rent equipment, but you'd need to rent it now and rent it
    long enough to learn how to use it with complete comfort.

    Best of luck,

  8. My question would be, why do you need to make some money from this event? I'm not being rude, just asking, because it sounds like you are using the event to launch a business for which you don't have a lot of experience. Unfortunately, doing photography since you were a child does not necessarily mean you are qualified to start shooting events professionally. Maybe you are, but maybe you aren't, and there are many things you won't know until you are shooting weddings or events from a professional perspective, which is why assisting and then second shooting is very valuable, if you can manage to find a pro who will take you on.
    You misunderstand what John Deerfield said--he was talking about assisting and second shooting for a professional before even charging for a wedding, not getting a professional to assist you at this wedding.
    Most people starting out don't charge anything for their services so they can get their feet wet and get samples. I agree with the people above--don't charge anything, unless you have a good answer to the question I asked above. If you are talking about covering expenses, such as the disposable cameras, or rental of gear, that is a different story, but that is covering expenses, not charging for your time and talent.
    One reason beginning wedding photographers don't charge for their time and talent is because once money comes into play, there are client expectations to be met, and you will be held to a higher standard re their satisfaction. The latter encompasses technical quality, coverage, people management, and that one very important intangilbe--what the client thinks are 'good' pictures of themselves and their friends and families. It doesn't matter whether the fee is high or low.
    If you have to name a fee, I'd first try to find out what the client is expecting you to say. Seems you know these people, so that shouldn't be hard to find out. Things can get awkward if you name a price they don't like or won't pay. If you ask for a fee, I'd make it pretty low--just a nominal amount, but be sure the client understands you are charging that nominal amount basically for being there, and (very important) get a detailed contract signed.
    Just to answer your question, I'd say $300 for the entire day (however long it takes to cover the event), plus expenses, assuming $300 isn't a fortune for your clients. Then add whatever expenses you will incur on their behalf. Again--if it were me, I wouldn't be charging anything in exchange for their permission for you to use their images as samples.
    I wouldn't even consider collections until you really have your business going (with the gear appropriate to it). Just give the client a disk of images and let them do what they want with them.
    William P.--we are thinking along the same lines it seems... :^)
  9. I too say charge nothing. These folks are risking a lot by trusting their imagery to you. Understand that. I'm not trying to isinuate that you can't or won't handle it, but Essentially, they are putting their trust in someone whos A) never done it, and b) hasn't been trained to do it, and c) doesn't have adequate equipment to handle the task.
    By ALL measurments, this is a risky proposition for them, and they are the ones who have the most to loose.
    If I were in your shoes, I would charge nothing for time/work, cost for materials/expenses, and that's it. oh, and thank them profusely for their trust in you, and promise you'll work very very hard to make their pictures as great as you are capable of making them.
  10. Stephanie -
    You don't say what type of camera or lens you're shooting with so it's a little hard for most of us to say good enough or not. Generally though a camera that only shoots JPEG and not RAW implies a Point and Shoot. Which, while good for a day of riding and shooting at a charity event, is probably not any pro photographer's first choice for a wedding setup. There are a couple of reasons for this - 1) There is a noticeable shutter lag on most point and shoots and 2) the typical point and shoot sensor is very small - which limits 2 things - depth of field and enlargement size and quality.
    Having a passion for something is great and most on here would argue that it is the photographer, not the camera, that makes the images good or bad...
    With that being said - weddings are generally the exception to that rule - the rule for weddings is to 1) have the best equipment that your budget will allow and 2) have 2 of everything (at least) - because a wedding is a once in a lifetime event - you really don't get a 2nd chance to get it right and Murphy's law will strike at the most inopportune times.
    It does sound like they know you and your experience level - so that's a positive - and if they're okay with that then great.
    As for price - I'd do this one for little or nothing - as the others have stated - you don't start off charging $3,000 for a wedding when you have done no other weddings. If they insist on paying you - I'd say $25 - 30 per hour.
    Packages are a hit or miss thing. More and more couples don't want print packages, instead preferring to get images on DVD or CD.
    Good luck with your business and this wedding!
  11. "I'm doing photography, videography and considering buying disposable camera's..."
    Why? Stick to one type of photography at the wedding and do your best to capture the couple's happy day. Trying to be a jack-of-all-trades is not a good idea at a wedding. [Disposable camera's may make your camera's images look better, but those boxes have plastic lenses -- for a wedding?]
  12. Jerry -
    Putting disposable cameras on tables has been done since disposable's came out. Kodak even packages one especially for weddings.
    It is something that used to be very common in the Midwest - but has kind of fallen out favor, since the bride and groom often would pay for the cameras, then pay to have them processed and end up with 500 shots of some kid's mouth, butt or other body part and about 10 shots that were worth anything.
    In the past 5 years - I've had one couple that I was talking to bring up the topic of disposables and I strongly discouraged it. They were looking at it as a way to get my time down to 2 hours - needless to say they booked someone else.
  13. To Jerry & Dave, I'm doing the Photography, my Finance is doing Videography and everyone at the wedding will have 1 disposable camera at each table so all of our friends can take candid pictures ...
    It was brought to my attention by the bride that she want's disposables at the wedding cause there is NO children at this wedding it's not their 1st marriage they want a FUN Biker Wedding not looking for anything fancy... Why wouldn't you want a video of the big day there's going to be a HELL of a lot of people who know my equipment that can HELP me run everything!! I was thinking of either Kodak or Fuji cause that's the brand the bride want's for disposable camera's ... I'm the one buying the camera's and they offered to pay to have them developed to cut down on cost. We're a very close bunch of friends helping with this wedding....
    My first wedding i did with a medium grade digital camera and that was at my brother's wedding in 08 and I was one of the family member's that did the candid shot's the the professional missed and even the Professional photographer was VERY impressed with the photography that came out of my camera.... That's a hell of a compliment from a pro.
  14. l need to make some money from this event
    I'm trying to get my business going but, I don't have the $$$ to go out and buy the right equipment just yet
    I'm the one buying the camera's​
    What was the question again?
  15. Stephanie,
    As a fellow Harley rider, please take the advise not to charge anything for this wedding. The combination of close friends and only one other wedding as experience are the reasons. Would you want one of the guys who is working on his first gasket replacements to do it on your bike? ..and if you let him, would you want to pay him to practice on your bike?
    Also, aren't you really going to be a guest at this wedding of very close friends? It's impossible to be a guest and also the paid professional photographer.
  16. If photography is your gift to the couple, don't charge. You don't go to someone's wedding, give them half a rice-cooker and expect them to pay for the other half.
    They can probably find a budding photographer on Craigslist, possibly with experience, who will charge them $200 for the entire day, edited CD included.
    (sorry if this is a double post)
  17. Hey Hannah,
    Yes, l understand where you are coming from but, they asked me to photograph their big day and they want to pay me but, my finance and l are considering giving them my labor and time for their gift and only have them pay for the prints and the sizes of prints they want and to have them pay for the disposables to get developed... Which was the couples idea to pay for the disposables not mine... I would only do that if I knew them cause this is a Biker Wedding not just anyone would work l could do that for a any day wedding but, not this one... Hard to explain if your not a biker... Sorry but, it's just the truth. Thanks for your input l appreciate it a lot...
  18. Then here's your solution: take the pics, upload them onto a gallery such as Shutterfly where people can order prints at their own expense and you don't take a commission. It's tacky. You would have to pay websites in order to take a commission and you don't seem to be at this point in your photography career. This way they get your work/labor as a gift, but you don't make money from them.
    My step father is a biker, a professional photographer, but would never do what you're trying to do. Wanting to give the couple a gift that doesn't cost you anything in cash, I understand, but making money out of a wedding gift is just out of my realm of comprehension.
    Don't you mean "fiance"?
  19. Hi Stephanie
    I visited your website and I have to agree with the above responses that you need to hire some equipment and practice, practice, practice before you take on this wedding. You should not charge them anything as your displayed skills are not up to the standard of a wedding photographer. Remember this is their special day and the photographer can make or break their experience. Do you have back up gear in the event of a breakdown or malfunction of your current gear.
    Since you wish to become a professional you need to take a look at your website and tidy it up. The first image has 7 lines of coding under it. A lot of images are underexposed and the composition is not up to professional standards. Perhaps it would help to take a course and as suggested assist a professional for at least a year before embarking on a wedding.
    Best wishes
  20. The original poster does not seem to want any suggestions that say she should not do it the way she is going to do it.
    A photographer stating they are impressed does not mean anything significant because you do not know their motive.
    You do not have any professional quality work on your site. I would say good luck tracking the moving subjects
    and handling low light situations, but the extreme depth of field with small sensors and your guaranteed use of on
    camera frontal flash covers both of those problems pretty easily.

    Since the expectations are low, it seems like a good match.
  21. Focus like a laser on the job at hand. Get some education, and a lot of practice before the day.
    Preface what I say here with the idea that I would like you to succeed by the standards of the couple in question.
    So, I looked at what you show on your website (biker stuff) and frankly, it is not pro level work. Some of it has balance regarding composition, but largely its snapshot work. Competency and consistency will be key for you, so learn how to compose, light and "see" the things you need. Get a handle on the learning side before their day. That's what I think.
    As a side note: Perhaps uploading some work between now and then for members to critique for you will be a good way to learn?
  22. Ditto Ditto Ditto
    I visited your website and saw nice snapshots of animals and people. If your friends want snapshots of their wedding (and if you're SURE they understand that's probably the majority of what they'll be getting) then go for it. BUT, like everyone else here, my suggestion is to do a few free weddings as a backup photographer and learn the craft… do candids and such but you're not depended on for THE shots. And if you MUST shoot this wedding then call it "educational" and do it for nothing…
    I'd never hire a contractor who'd never done the work and didn't have the proper equipment, I wouldn't go to an uneducated/inexperienced Dr or Dentist who was using substandard equipment, and I sure wouldn't have someone shoot my wedding with no prior experience or anything less than professional equipment… Some things are just too important to take risks with.

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