Wedding Photographer's Setup

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by stephen_f, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. I own an Elan 7 with a 28-80mm lens, and an Ultrasonic 100-300mm
    lens. I know for portraits and weddings it is recommended to get a
    70-200mm. Also recently I bought a FTDD 5600 flash for weddings and
    such. My questions are, how do I go about advertising wedding
    photography, portraits, event photography, etc. I have a talent and
    I'm ready to make money off of it, but don't know where to begin.
    I've had 3 pictures published so far, but that doesn't pay the
    bills. Is there any other equiptment I should invest in, and granted
    I have enough for now, how do I start to get customers. My brother
    is a web page designer, so I thought maybe a web page would be good,
    but maybe not good enough. I could use all the advice I can get.
    Thanks for your help.
  2. About advertising, web page is not very effective unless yours is designed professionally. I found friends' referal and local news ad are the most effective.

    I've shot some weddings and many live events before. My set up is: Rebel+50/1.8+420EX+bracket on my neck, Rebel+85/1.8+300EZ+bracket on my shoulder, 28mm/2.8 and a light meter in my pockets, some filters, batteries and lots of NPH, NPS, NPZ in my backpack, tripods and white, gold and silver reflectors in my car. I have no assistance so I prefer lighter set up. About the equipment, I think you need faster lens (one or two, zoom or prime), another body, another flash.
  3. Stephen...this is a slower time of the year for weddings so keep that in mind.<p>Now if I was interested in shooting weddings (LORD FORBID!) I'd contact some of the established shooters around where I lived. I'd attempt to assist them for half a dozen shoots. This would help me assemble a portfolio as I establish myself...I'd learn both the hows of shooting eg: what combination of shots are essential plus ways I could can market myself.<p>Good luck (you poor misguided soul).
  4. Weddings are a fine way to make a living, if your temperment is suited to the task, and you have the ability to market yourself. As for equipment, what you really need to have is backup equipment for everything you must have to complete the job. There are no second chances, you can't re-schedule.<p> Definately offer your services as a second photographer to experienced wedding photographers, before you begin to book weddings. There's a lot to know about the traditions and expectations concerning the photography of weddings, and that's the best way to learn. You may want to read a few books beffore even talking to a wedding photographer, you can seem more of an asset if you come with at least some book learnin', rather than an inexperienced novice with three published photos that you're proud of... t
  5. Hi Stephen

    do a couple of general business/marketing courses. These will be of equal or more value to you than any specific equipment or photographic training, and give you all the information you need to know about attracting customers, defining your desired market, and keeping your business viable long-term. I am doing a business degree and I consider that the best investment I have ever made in my (fledgling) photography business.

    Word of mouth is a powerful 'advertising' tool. All of my jobs have come so far from relatives or friends talking to their friends and those friends talking to others. Get out there and do as much work as you can for people you know to start the ball rolling. Worked for me anyway.

  6. Hi Stephen. Depending where you are located, there are some
    wedding studios who are often looking for assistants. It is a
    quick way to really understand all that is involved. And to see if it
    really is your cup of tea.

    When you hire out to shoot a wedding you are entering into a
    business contract with the B&G. It is important to set down all
    the information in a legal document that gets signed by all
    parties involved. I suggest a non-refundable deposit be collected
    at the time they contract with you...I collect 1/3 of the total then.
    This protects you from last minute cancellations when it's to late
    to book another wedding (most people select their photographer
    well in advance).

    Web sites have their advantages, as it allows people who are
    inquiring about your services to see if you are what they are
    looking for. It saves a huge amount of time meeting with people
    who actually want something different than the way you shoot.

    Best of luck...
  7. I called all my local photographers. Unfortunatly, I live in a smaller area, and all the people I reached are on their own, or do not want to hire. Besides that, not to sound stuck up, their photos are crappy. There are a few photographers around here that are really GOOD, but for the most part 3/4 ones here really stink. Anyways, the ones that do a great job want like $3000 dollars for weddings. Thats too much, people don't want to pay that, at least not in the area I live in. When I got married a year ago, my photographer charged us like $400, and she did a marvelous job. Thats what I want to do, give people quality shots for less, but not rob myself. I've been thinking about making some brochures even and putting them in local businesses. Anyhow, all your comments really help out. :)
  8. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Stephen. I would run away, and most people would, from any "photographer" that only charges $400 for my special day. What would i get for $400? One camera, one flash and two slow lens's? Come on Stephen. Weddings are perhaps the second most important day for the bride and groom, get experienced, absorb the advice above. I've often heard so many complaints about wedding photographers, it's perhaps the easiest way for an ameteur to make abit of money on weekends. Recomondation? Learn and study fashion photography. Even practice it. Learn to expose and compose and direct people. Learn your films. you got a great head start with the fuji advice above, plus add kodak t400cn. A big part of wedding photgrpahy is being the director. and if you suck at this, then it shows in every single face in every single photo. and eventualy yes, make a web page, it's the best brochure going, but don't post half a dozen different genre's. go shoot, make it four...
  9. I can agree with you Eric to an extent about running away when you call someone and they say Ok we charge 4, 500 bucks. Yet, you don't judge a book by its cover. Why do you think people shop at Wal-mart?? To save money. Why pay more, when you can get it for less. Yes I did have a few people that showed me their work, and charged a few hundred bucks, and their pictures were yellow and half of them were out of focus. You're right about being careful. But, being 19 at the time and not having alot of dough, and no rich parents, you got to look around before you just pay 3000 bucks. It's absurd. In any case my photographer had a professional setup, and used professional film, and came out making a profit as well. That's what I'm trying to do. All comments set aside, I think somebody wants a creative shot that will last, opposed to having a fast lens and super camera. I know somebody that has shot a few weddings for free with a APS camera using black and white and stuff. Of course, I wouldn't reccomend using that kind of equip, it worked, because this person had an eye for capturing the moment, and got lucky her camera didn't break or something. Also, if anyone has some advice about another lens to look into or any filters, it would be helpful. I thought of getting a 50mm lens, and maybe a warming filter, but don't want to waste money if it's not needed. Thanks everyone.

  10. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    warming filters are really neccessary for slide film. print film can be printed warmer. and now we have photoshop. fast zoom lens (f2.8) are the way to go for wedding photog. a dark church with your 100-300 (f5.6?) will demand your fullest flash power, and slow your recycling times. seeing how you don't have much invested in gear, i'd recomending switching to nikon while you can. thier ttl is superior, besides, almost all nikon lens still go onto todays bodies. and if you ever jump to digital, well, your lens will fit with the three major forces (fuji, kodak, nikon)
  11. Stephen,

    You are, of course, right when you say it is the creativity of the photographer that is paramount, rather than the quality of the equipment when it comes to making great photographs. However, when it comes to professional photography, and weddings certainly fit into that category, having the best equipment will save your ass (or keep it from getting into trouble in the first place) on many occasions.

    I'll use this past Saturday as an example. I was engaged to shoot a wedding as a subcontractor (I get paid by the studio, but I don't get the details of my assignment until the last minute. Turns out the church I was shooting in had severe restrictions on photography and I was forced to shoot the entire ceremony, minus the processional, from the balcony. Fotrunately, I had my 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens AND my 2X Teleconverter (which I very nearly took out of my bag that very morning). Since I had the fast zoom, I was able to keep the ISO setting on the 10D to 800, givng me relatively noise-free photos while allowing me to keep shutter speeds above 1/30 sec in the rather dim church and get tight enough to get good shots where you could actually see the B&G's faces.

    If I had kept my 70-200 f/4 zoom or had gone for an even cheaper, slower zoom, I'd have had to make some serious compromises in image quality or miss shots altogether. Either option is unacceptable when someone's paying you for a job.

    The bottom line is: don't underestimate the importance of good equipment. Also, don't even THINK about shooting a wedding until you get a second camera body and TWO flash units, preferably Canon 550EX's. ETTL is a wonderful invention, and the speedlites will generally outperform any third-party flashes on your EOS body. You need backups for everything. If something important breaks and you don't have a backup for it, it's going to cost you a lot more in lost business and bad word-of-mouth than it would have cost to equip yourself properly in the first place.

    As to how to market yourself, you will need samples of your work. If you are going buy a table at a bridal show, then you shaould have the photos arranged in a nice wedding album. Don't be afraid to spend money on a good one. You want to show potential clients that you are a class operation. Make sure you have professionally printed business cards (Avery inkjet business cards that you bought at Staples and printed yourself at home are not a good idea). You should also have a brochure detailing the packages and services you offer and the prices.

    If you are going to have a website, you should get it professionally designed unless you really know what you're doing. However, just having a web page won't mean anything unless people actually see it so you'll need to do some marketing for your web page, either by paying a search engine to list you or by traditional advertising.

    Yes, all of this is going to cost a lot of money before you make your first dollar shooting a wedding for a paying client. Welcome to the world of small business. I put up about $13,000 when I first started, and I think I got away pretty cheap. Look at the bright side: if you're good, you'll make it back fairly quickly.
  12. Stephen, it is commendable that you wish to give away your weddings for $400.
    There are those who just can't afford a lot more ( I couldn't back when I was 19 years
    old and getting married). And it is true that a lot of folks shop at Wall Mart. So Knock
    yourself out doing inexpensive weddings. Someone has to do it, and
    considering the amount of work and risk, better you than me. Plus, if you really
    believe that shooting considerably better work than the hacks you condem will
    delight those clients paying $400, then all the better.

    However, be aware that people also shop at Saks and Bloomingdales. Some people
    drive Caddy's and BMWs, while others drive used Ford pick-ups. It's just the way of
    the world. If you are really a good photographer, then there are those who are quite
    willing to pay $3,500 or more for photography of the most important day of their

    In short, to each his own. Best of luck to you.
  13. I'm quite impressed at what kind of prices people on suggest for a wedding shoot. In Finland, I see prices from 150 to 1200 €, the latter for a luxury full-day service (the highest price I could find on the net). Maybe I'm missing something - what do you people deliver for $3000? And what makes your costs so high, I mean do you shoot so much film or do you spend a month preparing for it?

    I'm not trying to be condemning, I'm just curious about it.
  14. Those people that drive BMW's and Caddy's shop at Wal-Mart and Dollar General and other discount places too. Just cause you got a nice car, doesn't mean that your going to spend 3500 bucks. People love to save money. That's why they collect coupons to get 3 cents off a can of green beans at the grocery store. You ever see old people get rain checks for dish soap at the store? Well, they drive Caddy's and new BMW's too, but they, like anyone else want to save money. As with weddings, I would want to charge more than 400, just not over $1000 bucks. I've done a few weddings for family and friends in the past and was really cheap to be nice, but now I want to make some profit. I appriciate the advice I get, but don't feel that some of it is helping. 13,000 is getting away cheap huh??? What did you just buy a whole studio setup at once? You can get cameras and stuff used on Ebay. My setup cost little over $1000, I didn't buy all at once though. Times 2, thats little over $2000. There's two cameras. As for brochures, I'm gonna have mine made at a professional printery around here for a little over a dollar a piece. Believe me, better quality, and alot cheaper than STAPLES, or some other place like that, I checked. The trick is, to do your layout first, saves money if they don't help you. My brother makes web pages for all the big companies around here, like our airport and some places that make commercials and stuff, so he is gonna hook me up. But if I did pay, it would be less than $200 bucks, for my page, for what he would do for me. So, I guess I'm confused on how you spent 13,000 bucks and feel you got away cheap. Thanks for everyones comments.
  15. Apparently, different geographical locations command different pricing. Also, a
    photographer is free to charge what his or her market will bear. If the consuming
    public thinks it is to high, the photographer won't get the work. Simple economics.

    Fact is, some wedding clients ARE willing to pay a higher fee, whether they coupon
    shop at WallMart or pay full retail at Saks. To them it is a priority to select an
    experienced, talented, and consistantly creative wedding photographer. In most
    markets, there is a wide range of pricing...which means the consumer has a if everyone wanted to save money as a first priority, the photographers
    charging more would no longer be in business rather than doing as well as there are.

    Let's do some simple math shall we (assuming a typical wedding working alone):

    15 rolls of in-date, good film including 1/3rd of them higher ISO= $75. Processing
    15 rolls with 4X6 proofs @ $12. ea = $180. 10"X10" archival wedding album with mat
    insert pages= $195. 40, 8"X10" enlargements @ $2.50ea = $100. Gas to get to the
    wedding = $5., general business expenses $7. Business insurance = $10. Camera
    gear replacement and maintainence = $15. (not even counting advertising at all).

    Total Expenses = $787.oo but lets say you can get it for even less = $700.

    Say you contract for a wedding for under $1,000. = $950.

    $950 less $700. = $250.

    The average wedding requires at least 6 hours of shooting (more like 8 with packing
    and travel) and 18-20 hours of post work: multiple meetings with clients, figuring
    the days agenda, getting film and proofs done, sorting and editing, dealing with print
    orders, assembling albums, delivery = 25 hours minimum.

    That's roughly $10. per hour ( probably more like $8. per hour in reality ).

    Despite shooting a wedding for a Lawyer who commands $100 per hour, for your
    modest hourly wage you will put your reputation on the line with every wedding
    (usually on a Saturday). You will NOT miss one single important shot. You will get
    there whether you are on death's doorstep or not. You will smile when a drunk guest
    dumps a Rum and Coke on your Elan 7. You will remain calm when the Groom's
    mother comes for the proof review and shuffles through your precious artistic efforts
    and complains loudly about how awful she looks (no matter how good you made her
    look). And that is just for starters.

    Like I said, for under a $1,000 better you than me. Knock yourself out.
  16. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric


    He's only 19 and let him learn
  17. Yes, let him learn about shooting weddings with $1,000 worth of equipment from eBay. Let him learn about explaining how he missed the walk down the aisle or the couple's first kiss because his second-hand camera jammed up or his cheap lens wasn't fast enough to get a sufficient shutter speed in dim light.
    Just FYI: (this is by no means a complete list, but it should give you the idea)
    • EOS 10D Camera body: $1.500
    • EOS 3 Camera Body: $800
    • EF 28-70 f/2.8 lens: $950
    • EF 70-200 f/2.8 lens: $1700
    • EF 17-40 f/4 lens: $800
    • EF 2xII Teleconverter: $275
    • 550EX Speedlite: $350
    • 420EX Speedlite: $175
    • EOS Off-camera shoe cord: $50
    • Stroboframe Camera flip bracket plus anti-twist plate: $80
    • Bogen tripod and head: $140
    • 3 White Lightning X-series Monolights, stands, umbrellas, softbox: $1400
    • Sekonic L-508 light meter: $450
    • Assorted 77mm filters: $200
    • Four 1GB Compact flash cards @225: $900
    • Dell Inspiron 8200 Laptop: $1700
    • External firewire hard drive: $200
    • Adobe Photoshop 7.0: $600
    • CaptureOne DSLR LE: $100
    • Film Stock for first shoot: $200
    • Equipment insurance: $275/year
    • $2,000,000 liability policy: $300/year
    • Worker's comp insurance policy: $500/year
    • Grand total: $13,645
    Knowing I have all the right tools for the job and backups in case things break: Priceless.
    If you want to go ahead and shoot the most important day of someone's life (at least that's the way the brides and their mothers think about it) with some piece of junk you bought off eBay and no backup for it, then more power to you. But don't be surprised if you end up with an extra orifice somewhere down the line.
  18. Eric, letting Stephen learn the hard way is okay when shooting a
    family gathering. But to screw up a Bride's wedding images out
    of youthful arrogance seems a shame. He may bristle and
    complain, but maybe, just maybe, some of the suggestions
    made here by experienced folks will stick. One can only hope.
  19. Hey everyone, I took some advice, and glad I did. I just got a job to be a wedding photographer. I'll start out paid training as an assiastant, and then will get to do it on my own by this spring, if not sooner getting paid flat rate 25.00 hour. So, for now I can borrow back up equip, but I need to invest in another camera. I was thinking of Nikon. I know it's a completely different kind of camera than I use, but I like to try new things. Any recommendations on which one to get. I don't wanna spend 13,000. This place I'm gonna work for doesn't require that I get tons of stuff, they said the camera I have is fine. They been in business 25 years, and are one of the best studios around my area. So, any recommendations would be nice. Thanks everyone.
  20. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Great Stephen! Glad to hear you have a postion that provides learning and advancement, such a diffficult thing to aquire these days!

    I'm a Nikon guy, and recomend an F100 with a SB26 and an underdog battery system that provides almost instant recycle times. Some might recomend the quantum battery system for your flash, but they are a finicky (?) nicad battery. Zooms. No matter how painful, buy only f2.8 constant zooms.e
  21. Thanks Eric! I will look into that for sure. Also, what about using a N90, the quality won't be any different. you can email me
  22. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    It's more or less options, depending what you can afford i guess. The F100 is a great camera, bang on metering and ttl flash. especailly with the 'd' lens. I have no advice about cannon. And when i had to make the choice years ago, i only had to look around at the other media and publicity photographers and notice all the nikons. And when it comes to digital, well, there are two key players besides nikon them selves that also use nikon lens, fuji and kodak. I'm not in any digital "loop" so to speak, but i am glad i have nine nikon primes and three zooms. peace. e
  23. nikon made cameras especially for photojournalists. when i choose between canon or nikon, i guess i felt at the time canon was easier to use, less hassle, and it is. yet, nikon you can use older lens with new camera bodys, but i heard that they won't work in af modes which isn't good. also, when i'm shooting weddings, do i need to worry about bouncing light, or should i just shoot with the flash straight ahead. comments please
  24. You should experiment with techniques for diffusing the flash light, otherwise faces will look horrible. Bounce can be "okay" but it's better to use a large diffuser on the flash in my opinion.
  25. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Yeah, avoid the dead on flash. A stroboframe that allows the camera and flash to be seperated by a few inches avoids all red eye and shadows. and your flash will be able to tilt and swivel. there is a really cool little plastic kind of cup that fits over your flash, it's translucent and softens it up beautifully. this set up works well for on-the-go paparazzi stuff. when you have time to make photos and set things up, chimera makes a little soft box that has a bracket for your flash, and with a hotshoe conection cord, it's great for getting the flash high and off to an angle. hell, you can even put warming gels ina ny of the two above gizmos. have fun, experiment, deviate.e
  26. I suggest you still use film and have a mechanical Nikon FM2n2 as a backup. GO TO BRIDAL SHOWS, visit florists, look for engagement ananouncements in your smaller papers. Put cards on college bulletin boards. Visit consultants. Timber Borcherding timberborcherding
  27. Hey all, I appriciate all advice. I went on my first wedding last week and took a few shots, and the studio is using them. Anyway, they are showing me how to use the Nikon N90 for a backup camera until I get my own. I was thinking to save money, get a Rebel Ti, then use money I could of spent on the top of the line body and get some really good L-Series lens. Any advice, anyone used the Ti??
  28. After reading everything in this forum (my husband says I'm obsessed) I think I'm going to barf. I would love to do weddings, but haven't really advertised because I've never actually done a whole wedding myself (just a couple for friends before I knew ANYTHING). I thought I was getting close to being a pretty good (almost), and consistent photographer, but now I'm not so sure. I really thought my Fuji nps would get me through anything and now I need to practice with 3200 and all that kind of stuff. I'm not sure why I'm writing all this in here, but I really appreciate all of you who have taken time to give honest, really good advice to dumb people like me. I can only hope to be as good as Marc Williams and Mary Ball (LOVE her pictures). Maybe someday. I'm going to keep practicing.
  29. Stephen, you may wish to consider a good low use pro level camera instead. The Rebel line
    isn't usually up to the kind of heavy use a wedding requires. The shutters in those cameras
    tend to fail much sooner than the pro versions. There are reports that the shutter in the
    digital rebel is already starting to fail on those who use it heavily.

    A Canon EOS 1n body is rugged as can be and can be had quite inexpensively these days
    due to the switch to digital. Find some weekend shooter who's selling one, it'll hardly be
    broken in ; -)
  30. Thanks Colleen -- Being obsessed is not a bad thing. It means you have a passion. I find if you love can be good at it and the bonus is - you'll love what you do!

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