New to wedding and event photography

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by diana_s|2, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. Hi everyone,
    First I want to say that i'm so glad i found this forum, i've learned so much from reading the other posts.
    I'm a portrait photographer (mainly children and families). I was asked to photograph a sweet 16, which I did tonight and had a great time doing it. I was also hired to photograph a small wedding next week. I've never photographed a wedding before and I did tell the B&G up front. They weren't concerned about it, it's a second wedding for both of them and they just wanted to capture the moment and didn't want to spend a lot of money. The family of the sweet 16 party also knew that i am not an event photographer, but they are family friends so it didn't matter to them. I'm really grateful for the opportunities that i've been given to photograph these two events. Anyway, since I'm new to event photography I had some questions I was wondering you guys can answer:
    1) If any of you are only a single photographer without an assistant how do you carry around your equipment during the event. backpack? fanny pack? vest? luckily i was able to keep my stuff in the bridal suite, which was locked during the event, but im not sure i'll be able to do this. Would it look weird carrying a whole camera bag around the whole event?
    2) When you get pictures of the guests do you just go around asking if you can take their picture? I did this tonight, since most of the guests were kids they loved it. The adults were ok with it I think. Is it ok? is it too intrusive? Also the birthday girl was shy and seemed to avoid the camera and i felt bad because i didnt want to make her feel uncomfortable, but i was there specifically to photograph her during the event so i dont think there was any way around it. What would you do?
    3) How many pictures do you usually take during an event? I took about 500 tonight. Do you just shoot everything and anything? I kind of felt like the pictures i was taking was getting kind of repetitive but i couldnt just stand around doing nothing.
    Thanks for any advice you can offer.
  2. I carry camera bag with me everywhere I go and excess equipment empty bags ect. in the corner of the room or in some closet. Covering an event means taking pictures of all the people or at least the closest people to the host and hostess. What ever works to get the picture I do it. You have to walk a line sometimes from being intrusive and not. You are being paid to do a job and you have to come back with the goods. Take as many great pictures as you can. 500 usable pictures is good. One usually has to shoot 1000 to get 500 good ones. You did not say how long your job was so I cant say if 500 total is good or not but again it is more about quality than quantity.
  3. I'm just a part timer, somebody else might chime in with more credible input, but here's how I've been doing it.
    1. I'll empty the content of my bag and leave it in the car, or talk with the organizer and see if there's somewhere we can keep the -empty- bag. I'd carry a rather small messenger bag to put all the spare batteries, cards and whatnot, and at least one spare lens. It's important to keep it simple when we're alone. I'll equip both cameras with necessary lenses and flashes, and hang them on my shoulder. I'll make ready a light stand somewhere safe (it won't harm the guests or anybody) if I think I'm gonna need it. My lightstands are cheapos, so no biggy. Carrying a camera bag won't make us look weird, but it will unnecessarily bump over people (or glasses and plates, the horror).
    2. You may ask, you may not, according to the circumstances. Some would spontaneously pose for us, some would not. As for the birthday girl, perhaps we must observe the moment, and perhaps a long focal range to capture some candid of her. Try to communicate with her rather than just pointing the lens at her, so you're not just "some photographer" to her. Observe whether she has been more open while doing selfies with her friends, or her friends (or families) taking the pictures, then you'll know.
    3. depends on the event, 300 to thousands, it doesn't really matter, mind your processing times though. No, we don't just shoot anything and everything, but try to shoot everything. Repetitive is normal, but there should be reasons behind that. No, you won't just stand around doing nothing, you'll stand observing.
    have a nice weekend.
  4. Thanks for you answers.

    The sweet 16 was about 4 hours long.
    The only posed shots were beforehand
    with the family. I shot pics of the room,
    decorations, cake, ice sculpture. Other
    than that it was mainly the kids on the
    dance floor and I asked people if I
    could take their pictures. Most seemed
    to enjoy it, some were a little iffy, some
    asked me to take their pictures. I really
    didn't want to be intrusive, and I felt a
    little bad about asking people but its
    why I was there really. I tried looking at
    portfolios from other photographers
    who did weddings and sweet 16s but i
    found that most wedding pics were of
    the b&g and the wedding party. I never
    really see many shots of the reception.
    I couldn't find that many pictures of
    sweet 16's.
  5. Whatever type "event" I do, I carry my main go-to rig on me and keep a full size over the sholder Tamrac 514 bag with my
    spare bodies and lenses, batteries, flashes etc. During the job it's always nearby within eyesight. I also keep a light stand
    and second light with me. When I get to the reception, I have a very noisy set of holiday door jingle bells that hang off the
    back of my bag out of sight. If someone picks up my bag unknowingly, they make quite a racket all of a sudden and sound
    like Santa is arriving so they attract immediate attention.

    How many pictures you take and whether you get their attention or pose certain things is totally up to what you have to do
    to get the goods. There is no one way to get everything you need, so just do what you feel necessary. IMO, I will tap or
    pose any shots that I feel are must-haves that I don't see coming other wise. Your style might be different. There are
    candid and PJ purists, I'm not one of them.
  6. I like to use an over the shoulder bag that I can shoot out of. Cameras I sling over my shoulder and then put extra lenses, flash units, spare batteries etc in the bag. I may put down my shoulder bag if I'm stationary for while.
    I think it's a lot easier to use a bag that you can reach into and grab things while you shoot. A backpack or roller bag would only do for basic transportation as you cannot wear them and get things out of them at the same time. Sometime you need more than one bag though.
  7. So what would you say is a good
    amount of pictures to take of a 4 hour
    sweet 16?
  8. You did good. I estimate at least 100 images per hour after the edit. In general one tends to shoot double the amount than what is finally edited. This is based on your average full active party in which there is a full range of things to shoot. If the party is dead then you will have to adjust your picture count.
  9. Hi Diana,
    I recently shot a very informal wedding where I ended up with about 600 shots total, around 350 or so of which made the final cut. I shot everything - the family pics, some of the B&G after the wedding, all the reception events, decorations, and candids of guests. Go ahead and shoot - it's not costing any more to do so, and you might be surprised by what you get.
    As for how to carry gear - I'm still learning and not overly equipped at this point. I have a flash and two lenses, a tripod and an extra battery. I have a bag that I stashed in a quiet corner of the venue's kitchen area and just walked around the reception with my flash attached and my other lens in my pocket. If you have a lot of gear, chances are good that you have specific items that are your "go-to" favorites. Have a bag, whether it be over-the-shoulder or fanny-style, and have just those items at your reach and you should be good. If you have a second body, I've seen those holster-style carriers that you might want to try. That way, anything you might need (and likely your most expensive-to-replace items) are on your person.
  10. Diana: My wife and I specialize in bar and bat mitzvahs, so not unlike a sweet 16, just with younger kids and more adults. For a 4-5 hour party we typically come home with 1500-2000 images (that's for the two of us), and we toss about 1/3. My wife uses a Shootsac if she needs to carry anything with her, which is rare. I wear a Think Tank belt with two pouches for an extra lens. Flashes are in the hotshoe, and my battery goes on my Think Tank belt as well.
    Our larger bag is a Lowepro X300 roller that we lock (it has a built in cable lock) to a table or pipe or other immovable object during the party. Make sure you have good insurance. We have two more bags that we bring with us, but we don't travel light ;-)
  11. Diana:
    1.) I think this is a crucial part of location photography strategy which deserves thoughtful attention, and I think it's prudent of you to be considering these issues now. In part, your gear carriage/storage strategy may also be dependent on the type of equipment insurance you carry (if any). My insurance policy (insured specifically for business, not a homeowners' policy) covers forced entry only, but it does include theft from vehicles (some don't). So often, extra gear is stored in my car. Here's what I've been doing:
    A. Small event (unsecured public location); parked on street: All body-worn--single FX body w/24-120mm f/4.0 + SB-800/Quantum Turbo/handheld bounce card. Spare batteries, CF cards, lens fluid/tissue, etc. is stowed in a belt-worn ThinkTank Skin50 pouch. The only thing in the car is an extra Quantum Turbo battery, a back-up Nikon SB-800 Speedlight/TTL cable, and a back-up only DX body with a 17-55mm f/2.8 mounted.
    B. Large publicity event (public/private/multiple shooters); parked on street: All body-worn--twin FX bodies, SB-800/Quantum Turbo. If more than two lenses are required, they're stowed in belt-worn ThinkTank Skin50 pouches. No gear in the car except for a spare Quantum Turbo battery, back-up Speedlight/TTL cable, and more 'AA' batteries.
    C. Location portraits/headshots (unsecured public location): Any and all unused lighting and grip equipment stays in the car. If practical, even my heavy Dynalite XP1100 inverter stays in the car, and I'll just run an AC cable to the monolight. When car is parked within sight (I usually park within a few feet of the shooting location), all unused bodies and lenses stay in the car, and I'll work from the car like a small "mobile studio." If the car is out of sight, all bodies and lenses are removed from the car.
    D. Public venue-oriented event shooting (e.g., weddings, etc.): At these types of events, I've been planning something very similar to what Peter does. Again, all unused lighting/grip would stay in the car. However, I'm planning to secure any unused bodies/lenses on-site in a lockable Pelican case (which has a padlock receiver), chained to something at the venue in a high-visibility area. AC monolights, modifiers, and miscellaneous grip equipment would be staged unsecured (since they'll often be in use anyway).
    So, basically, I'm usually wearing my gear so that it's always immediately accessible, ready to shoot. People seem less interested in stealing grip equipment, so all of that that mostly stays in the car. I gave up on photo backpacks long ago, since they're not securable, and take forever to get anything out of. But for a wedding-type event (where you may need more gear) I'm definitely planning some form of Peter's approach: a locked case, cabled to something at the venue.
  12. In terms of approaching wedding guests, my usual strategy is to approach them with a smile and an ice-breaking comment such as "I'm sorry, there's no escape!". A medium telephoto or equivalent setting helps to avoid getting into guests' faces (something like 90mm full frame equivalent). Also, once used to your presence, it's possible to be in stealth mode to capture more candid images (perhaps a longer focal length being useful). I usually try to get a head and shoulders shot of each guest as well as groups. A couple of weeks ago, a guest paid me the compliment of saying a shot I'd just taken of her as the best she'd ever seen.
  13. +1 for what Simon suggests. Wear a smile and be respectful of what people are doing at the time. I usually ask, "Can I get a shot of you together?" if there's a small group during cocktails. With kids I am more directive in asking them to emote or make a fun expression/pose. If I don't get what I want on the first shot, I'll say "Really? Is that the best you can do?" and that usually gets them going for something memorable. Most people enjoy having their picture taken and they know it's your job to do just that, so try not to be hesitant.
  14. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I carry only what I need to use, which is usually two cameras, two Flashes and two or sometimes three Lenses. If I have a third lens it is usually in my jacket pocket. The rest of my gear is stowed, but is close by. I generally use a back pack for cameras / lenses and portable lighting and tripods etc. has its own roller bag.


    Rarely do I ask permission to take a photo: to me it is obvious why I am there, part of my job is to blend in and not be intrusive. I would be more likely to say ‘thank you’ than to ask permission. It is likely that some people being ‘iffy’ was more your perception than a reality; you probably just need a bit of time and experience time to settle in and to relax and create rapport quickly with this type of People Photography: it being en masse / on the hop / at an Event - (as opposed to a more structured and controlled Portrait Sitting, with substantially fewer people).


    How many pictures I make depends on the Event: mainly the number of people and the style/type of Event.
    In the Event in question - the mathematics of it - 500 images in 4 hours is essentially one shot every 30 seconds (on average). To keep that average, it means there were times when one would probably be shooting 4 shots a minute – there would have to be a lot of people at that event (hundreds) for me to shoot that many frames.
    The variance of the number of pictures that any one Photographer will take may be great and seems mainly dependent upon the type of business that each is in and then also the expectation of their Clients and perhaps, which drives what.
    There is a definite trend to measure performance in the number of shots taken: more meaning a better job. I don’t think this trend is good, for several reasons - but it is a trend nonetheless. It is a mainstream performance indicator.
    I have never thought that I am standing around doing nothing if I am not releasing the shutter.


    In summary, you asked what I do and my answer to your three questions can be summarized - Less is More.
    At Events I don’t carry much gear on me; I don’t talk very much and I don’t have a business or a technique which is predicated on the number of shots taken being the Clients’ or my measure.
    On this last point I add that I shoot fewer Events per year now than I did three years ago; and three years ago fewer than three years before that: mainly this is a business strategy to move from this mainstream trend.
  15. 1500-2000 photos? Sheesh I must be
    doing something wrong because I
    didn't come anywhere near that
    number. I have a question though. I
    have read from some event
    photographers on message boards that
    if you don't have at least 500 edited
    pictures to give to a customer then the
    photographer didn't do their job. Now
    for a big wedding I can understand that
    number, for a sweet 16 or a small
    wedding (small wedding party and like
    40 guests) wouldn't it be
    understandable to have like 350-400
    pics? How many of the hundreds of
    pictures actually get used by the
    customer? I know I'm new and perhaps
    I have a lot to learn, I'm just trying to
    understand the pic count in the 1000s.
  16. Its all about QUALITY not quantity. We all have a job to do and that is to tell the story through our creative vision. We also have to meet the needs of the client and be ready for requested pictures at any moment. Real candid good pictures don't come easy. You have to patrol the area and watch with keen eyes and be ready to capture that "Kodak moment" I have stayed on my feet for hours without sitting down. I was not constantly clicking the camera but I was choosing my pictures. I agree too many pictures doesn't do anyone any good. Missing moments, action shots and ceremonial shots there is no excuse.
  17. I photographed the wedding tonight
    and I really have to give all you
    wedding photographers A LOT of
    credit. It definitely isn't easy. 8 hours of
    standing, all the pressure, it's a tough
    job. I'm not sure if this is something I'm
    going to pursue at all, I'm a shy and
    quiet person and I realize you have to
    be more outgoing to do this type of
    work. I'm less shy during portrait
  18. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

  19. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I have read from some event photographers on message boards that if you don't have at least 500 edited pictures to give to a customer then the photographer didn't do their job. Now for a big wedding I can understand that number, for a sweet 16 or a small wedding (small wedding party and like 40 guests) wouldn't it be understandable to have like 350-400 pics?
    The closest example I can give to a “Sweet Sixteen” is a Girl’s Debut, that I covered a couple of years ago.
    The Clients received a total of about 60 Photographs, some in print and all as files, on a disc.
    The images comprised: the Girl’s preparation in situ; the Family Portraits at her home; the casual shots of Family and Friends at the Event location and a Picture Story Montage, which I was commissioned to make.
    The working day was from about 1000 to 2200, excluding travel time.
    The photograph count included three framed enlargements, i.e. wall hanging.
    As previously mentioned: “The variance of the number of pictures that any one Photographer will take may be great and seems mainly dependent upon the type of business that each is in and then also the expectation of their Clients and perhaps, which drives what.”

    So in this regard, my answer to your question is: ‘no, it is not understandable to have 350 to 400 pictures, from such an event as a "Sweet 16" – that seems way too many.’
    But clearly, it is very important to understand exactly what business it is that you are in: or if you wish to pursue and branch into Wedding Photography, to understand what the business exactly is, that you wish to build.
    How many pictures do you present to a Client for their consideration after a 1 hour Family Portrait Sitting?
  20. For a portrait session, I mean it would really depend on how many people i'm photographing (just 1 kid vs. multiple children or a whole family), but for 1 kid I would say 10-15 pictures.
    I just keep reading on message boards that the standard for a sweet 16 or wedding, 500 pictures I like the bare minimum you should give a client. Im trying to understand it. I feel like if that's what most photographers are giving their clients and clients expect a photographer to give 500 pictures and I tell a client sorry I only give x amount of pictures then the client will be disappointed, which I do not want. To me 500 seems like some arbitrary number. When a client asks you how many pictures they will receive what do you tell them?

    I got married 6 years ago and I do not even remember the amount of pictures my photographer gave me (i just remember i received like 4 cds full of pics). Personally, all I wanted were the posed pictures of me and my husband, the wedding party, and immediate family (maybe a few of the ceremony). How many pictures would that come out to? At the most 100? I could have cared less about getting pictures of distant relatives and friends. Let me tell you, most of the friends at my wedding I barely see or talk to. Maybe i was just a different kind of bride.
  21. I've run along the thread and caught up many learning's in here. Its not easy to build up names specially competitive skills you faced along with others. But if your heart desires in this work no one can change that we'll excel in time.

Share This Page