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01/21/2011 04:53:55 PM · #1
So i was offered a wedding gig and I dont know much about that type of photography.

It will be my first wedding if everything goes well and it'll be held in Port Angeles WA and I hear that its a very pretty erea.

So here are a couple questions that i have.

Since it is my first wedding and i dont know if they are going to be paying me or not (the grume is a very close friend of mine) how much should i charge?
What should i bring besides making sure i have enough memory and battery power?
What are some of the things that i should focus on capturing?

Any tips or tricks would be wonderful!

Thanks so much!

~Sofia

Message edited by author 2011-01-21 16:54:25.
01/21/2011 05:38:01 PM · #2
bump
01/21/2011 05:48:54 PM · #3
I have never shot a wedding personally but I have looked into it quite a bit and have been told some important tips, so i can tell you what I know at least. First of all make sure you go to the rehearsal and try many different to get exposures to see what works because most of the time the lighting in churches Isn't ideal and you don't want to be guessing during the actual wedding. Make sure that you have a flash and pack extra batteries and/or memory cards as well. I can't help you with pricing but I read a wedding tutorial here on the site that was very informative about what you should focus on, i don't know if you have already read it or not. link.

Thats really all that I know, wedding photography isn't really my thing haha. Good luck
01/21/2011 05:58:44 PM · #4
I did a wedding last october and asked the same questions -- here are the responses I received:

what not to forget

Is yours indoors or outdoors?

As far as charging -- don't ask me. I significantly undercharged because this was my husband's grad student. I've probably spend about 65 hours on it, so far.

Make sure you make a list of shots to get. You will NOT remember them all, so have a check sheet. It might look unprofessional (I don't remember my wedding photographer having one), but it's better than missing a shot. (I forgot the "rings" shot. luckily, that was one I could do later.

Message edited by author 2011-01-21 18:03:54.
01/21/2011 06:00:52 PM · #5
There is a lot to think about when doing a wedding, there are some good checklists for shots that can be found on the web to go over with the couple so you all agree on the shots they want. If possible go to the chapel and get some test shots with your camera to test your set ups and remember a back up camera is good insurance in case yours decides to crap out at the wrong time. Also if you can find a local photographer that would be willing to let you tag along on a wedding shoot to either just help carry gear or even better as a second shooter that would be helpful.

Just make sure you agree before the wedding on what the couple expects after the shoot is completed and get it in writing even if they are friends, a good contract will help define what is expected and who pays for what when, try to define exactly what will be included and what and when things will be provided.

Good luck, you will find you will have a lot of questions after the first few are answered.
01/21/2011 06:23:58 PM · #6
Originally posted by PapaBob:

There is a lot to think about when doing a wedding, there are some good checklists for shots that can be found on the web to go over with the couple so you all agree on the shots they want. If possible go to the chapel and get some test shots with your camera to test your set ups and remember a back up camera is good insurance in case yours decides to crap out at the wrong time. Also if you can find a local photographer that would be willing to let you tag along on a wedding shoot to either just help carry gear or even better as a second shooter that would be helpful.

Just make sure you agree before the wedding on what the couple expects after the shoot is completed and get it in writing even if they are friends, a good contract will help define what is expected and who pays for what when, try to define exactly what will be included and what and when things will be provided.

Good luck, you will find you will have a lot of questions after the first few are answered.


Definitely have the costs spelled out and written out ahead of time. Neither you nor they want any surprises!

Two camera bodies were extremely helpful. But then again, mine was an outdoor wedding, so I was back behind the guests.

I don't know if regular wedding photographers do this, but I had my bride and groom list the family groupings ahead of time. I imagined that if it was left to that day, we'd be getting a lot of "what about Uncle Bob? Let's get a photo with Uncle Bob!" Or worse yet, we'd forget someone.
01/21/2011 06:28:20 PM · #7
I hope it's a daytime outdoor wedding, if not, you're gonna be struggling with the lenses you have listed on your profile.
01/21/2011 06:44:56 PM · #8
Thanks so far, i'm about to rush out the door, but thought i'd quickly reply. I havent talked one on one with the bride and groom yet... but i will hopefully sunday. I have more lenses available to me (via 21.gif smardaz) and i was hoping that he would be my assistant. (he kinda owes it to me.) anyways, i'm unsure about a lot of the details at the moment, so, like i said, i'll be talking with them on sunday.

Thanks again for the information so far.

~Sofia
01/21/2011 06:54:29 PM · #9
Do you have external flash? I have done 2 weddings and a flash was really helpful. If a church wedding, some officials do not allow flash during parts of the ceremony, so have the B&G verify. Neither of mine was in a church, so my kit lens and 70-300 tele were fine.

As mentioned, get a list of shots the B&G want. Check out the photo site prior to the wedding at the same time to check out available light. Take a second camera, even if it is a P&S in case of catastrophic failure. I had a card failure during the B&G's first dance, and my backup cam saved the day.

My 2 weddings were completely different. One couple knew every shot they wanted and where they wanted them taken, and were very pleased with the album they received. The other couple refused to give any ideas of shots, just saying to "document" the day. I gave them over 200 edited images and they just kept complaining afterward that they didn't see this or I didn't shoot that... this beside the fact the bride was drinking heavily at the reception and could hardly stay standing. Certainly memorable! Good luck with your wedding, Sofia.
01/21/2011 06:55:55 PM · #10
Can't really help you out but well done on getting the job. Hope you get some great pics.
01/21/2011 08:08:46 PM · #11
You have to pretend your NOT FREAKING OUT on the wedding day, even if you are. If something goes wrong, let no one know but yourself,(maybe your assistant). The less stress you portray (even if you are about to pass out) the more it helps the bride and groom enjoy the day, and makes you look like more of a professional. The meeting with the Bride/Groom is pretty key, ask lots of questions, tell them to ask alot of questions. Write down everything. Get times, dates, names, places, directions, ect.

Lots of batteries, lots of cards. But pack your equipment lean and mean. Take too much and you'll be fumbling around with it instead of focusing on the day.

Get formal shots, but don't forget your "artsy" shots as well. I usually shoot plenty of both, and ask the couple what they're really aiming for as far as the final product.

Hope this helps somewhat, if you have any questions you can pm me anytime
01/21/2011 08:55:06 PM · #12
Originally posted by vawendy:



I don't know if regular wedding photographers do this, but I had my bride and groom list the family groupings ahead of time. I imagined that if it was left to that day, we'd be getting a lot of "what about Uncle Bob? Let's get a photo with Uncle Bob!" Or worse yet, we'd forget someone.


I used a list I found to get a list of shots, sent it to the Bride and groom then went trough it and made adds and subtractions and list who will be in each shot which worked great. Another thing I heard really helps is having one person from each family assigned to get the groups together since they know who everyone is in the family, that can be a real time saver. The wedding I did was family so not a problem but when working with total strangers it can be hard to keep them all rounded up or chasing people down while trying to get the shots.
01/22/2011 10:20:28 AM · #13
Originally posted by PapaBob:

Originally posted by vawendy:



I don't know if regular wedding photographers do this, but I had my bride and groom list the family groupings ahead of time. I imagined that if it was left to that day, we'd be getting a lot of "what about Uncle Bob? Let's get a photo with Uncle Bob!" Or worse yet, we'd forget someone.


I used a list I found to get a list of shots, sent it to the Bride and groom then went trough it and made adds and subtractions and list who will be in each shot which worked great. Another thing I heard really helps is having one person from each family assigned to get the groups together since they know who everyone is in the family, that can be a real time saver. The wedding I did was family so not a problem but when working with total strangers it can be hard to keep them all rounded up or chasing people down while trying to get the shots.


Yup. There was a groomsman who was outgoing and very nice. I deputized him and he was extremely useful for errands, getting people, etc. And seemed genuinely happy to help. I had my husband as my main go to person, but it's really nice having someone on the inside who knows what's going on a little more.
01/22/2011 10:28:16 AM · #14
I was starting to worry about your gig until I saw this post. You would surely want to have help on a Wedding Gig ! I've never done one and would never do one without a lot of "practice" with a pro ! However, that's probably why I work in a dreary office all day !

Originally posted by ScooterMcNutty:

Thanks so far, i'm about to rush out the door, but thought i'd quickly reply. I havent talked one on one with the bride and groom yet... but i will hopefully sunday. I have more lenses available to me (via 21.gif smardaz) and i was hoping that he would be my assistant. (he kinda owes it to me.) anyways, i'm unsure about a lot of the details at the moment, so, like i said, i'll be talking with them on sunday.

Thanks again for the information so far.

~Sofia
01/22/2011 10:45:06 AM · #15
Regarding the family/posed/formal shots -- It can be "sensitive" but be sure to ask about relationships between members of the bridal party, especially concerning step-moms/dads, etc.. At one of my first weddings, I just lined people up and put mom/dad together, and stepmom/dad together. Big oooops. They didn't fight, but I got enough dirty looks to figure out something wasn't right and switched it.

Just ask, "Is there anyone in the wedding party I should not put together or near eachother? Or are there any strained relationships I should be aware of."

Again, it *is* sensitive, but better to tread there today than to make a faux pas on the big day.

Oh, and wear comfortable underwear.

(disclaimer -- i do NOT consider myself a wedding photog, but i've done a few)

01/22/2011 12:10:49 PM · #16
Originally posted by karmat:

oh, and wear comfortable underwear.


XD LOL!! why do you say that?.... or do i want to know...
01/22/2011 12:29:29 PM · #17
Originally posted by ScooterMcNutty:

Originally posted by karmat:

oh, and wear comfortable underwear.


XD LOL!! why do you say that?.... or do i want to know...


cause i shot one with a pair of "creepers" and there is NO WAY to fix it. :P

21_F.gif judi had a rememdy though. she advised me just to not wear any.
01/22/2011 12:48:50 PM · #18
I found this checklist somewhere...seems like it might work.
01/23/2011 10:49:29 AM · #19
I am not going to say don't do it and give you a whole host of reasons as to why you shouldn't.

I am going to ask you to think this through so that you can justify why you should.

Clarify the Situation

Not all weddings are equal. Simply put, some people have money, and some people don't. It's not a matter of someone (the bride's mother, the B&G, whoever) trying to hold tight on expenses and pleading poor: the money is either there, or it's not. Sometimes they might put all their money into one thing and skimp on everything else (and if they're not putting the money into photography, then oh, well, that's just the way it is). However, if they're going full-tilt on everything but the photography then you might want to raise your eyebrows and ask why.

The bottom line: Do they have the money to pay for photography? If they do, then why are they asking you? It's either because 1) they truly believe you can do a better job than any of the professionals (or other amateurs) that they've talked to, or 2) they think they can save some money and that you are worth the risk, or 3) quite possibly, they haven't really thought through this whole thing themselves.

Managing Expectations

The key to successfully delivering on the event is managing expectations: that is, making sure the client understands exactly what you will be delivering, when you will be delivering it, how much they will be paying, and when they will be paying it. When things are spelled out in advance, there is less room for dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the end - as long as you meet your end of the deal. Professionals will use a contract to keep everyone on the same page; these contracts will also cover nearly all contingencies that can arise so that when the unexpected there's-no-way-that-can-happen happens, you won't find yourself sliding into a deep hole of litigation.

The bottom line: Even if you aren't a professional, you owe it to yourself and your client to act like one - and this means using a contract to specify the details of just what you are going to do. This also means that even if you are not yet set up in the business of being a wedding photographer, you need to be aware of the things that those professionals do to protect themselves and their clients. Not only do they use contracts, but they also have insurance to cover their equipment, should it be damaged, and they have insurance to cover people, should they get hurt.

A Shot List

The most important thing you do before the wedding is planning. You cannot expect to show up and just start shooting on the fly, winging it. Make a shot list, as thorough as possible, including everything that someone might appreciate seeing and remembering five, ten, twenty years from now.

Here's a trick: Make TWO lists! First, make an absolute, over-the-top, be-all-end-all list that includes every little detail you would like to find and shoot. Then make a second list from the first list, including only the obvious things that the bride and groom would expect. When you sit down with them prior to the wedding, you'll go through the second list with them and get them to add, change, and delete items. If there are family groupings for portraits, they must be spelled out explicitly (and you will need them to designate a field general to help you line people up). This second, modified list is what they expect; use it to update your first list, and that will be what you deliver. Yes, you will over-deliver, and they will be blown away!

The Scope of the Event

You also need a handle on the scope of the event. Is it a large or small wedding? Is the wedding party large or small? Is the wedding and reception at the same place, or is there possibly significant distance between the two venues? Will it be short and sweet, or is it going to be an all-day affair? Will you have to travel? Will you have to stay overnight? Will you have to go a day early? (Do you have reliable transportation?) Is it indoors, outdoors, or both? Will it be traditional, or will it be free-flowing and eclectic? Are there and special requests or considerations that could have an impact on your ability to get the job done?

The bottom line: Is it something that one person can reasonably cover, or is it something that really needs multiple shooters?

Deliverables

So...just what does the bride and groom want from you...and when do they want it?

Even if you've settled on the shots, there are two more things you and your client have to be one the same page about: what those images are going to look like and what format are you going to deliver them in. It doesn't matter if they tell you they only want unprocessed images on a disk or twenty 8x10's or a coffee table book or whatever; if your images do not come close to what they are expecting, you are dead meat.

You have got to get them (especially the bride and the bride's mother) to go through the magazines and websites with you, showing you what they have in mind. And you've got to get them to be realistic about their expectations; for example, there's no way you can photographically make a small church social hall look like a posh country club.

They also need to understand that photography is not automatic and that someone is going to have to process the images, that they are not going to come out of the camera ready-to-print. You, also, may need to ramp up your workflow skills. It's one thing to go out and about and shoot a hundred images and get to them whenever, however you want. It's altogether different when you have 500-1000 images to go through in a matter of days (or hours). Delivering wedding images is not a leisure activity or a hobby.

If you are going to be handling the post-processing and any type of production, start honing your skills now! There is a huge difference between processing images for the web and processing them for prints or for inclusion in a book or calendar or for gift items. Start getting ready by making test prints through a professional lab. Find out just what it takes to go from camera to spectacular large prints (at least 11x14). Once you are comfortable with what's involved in the whole mechanical process, you will be able to approach shooting with even more confidence that you will be able to deliver what's expected of you.

If you don't want this to be a burden, you will need to develop a workflow that will get the job done. Ideally, you want to be done before the couple gets back from their honeymoon.

The bottom line: Even if they tell you otherwise, these people are counting on you to deliver the same goods that they could get from a professional wedding photographer; they might cut you some slack, but not much.

What to Charge?

That's the ay-yi-yi question, isn't it?! There are so many factors involved. Who are you and what is your relationship to the client? What is your skill level? What is your experience? Do you normally charge anything for your photography? What are they expecting you to deliver? And, as mentioned above, is there money available to pay for photography?

Keep it simple. There are two main factors to consider: just what is it going to cost you (gas, possibly more cards and batteries, possible equipment rentals/purchases, possible software purchases, possible website fees, possible insurance premiums, possible legal fees) and how much time are you going to have to put into the whole thing (meetings, scouting, preparation, travel, shooting, downloading, archiving, basic processing, preparation for delivery, actual production, actual delivery)? If you are going to charge, it should be a number somewhere between what it will costs you to do the job and what they could expect to pay an average professional to do the same job. If they have come to you because there is no money, they should at the very least cover your expenses.

The bottom line: Once you start considering all these things, you start to realize why the professionals have to charge what they do - and you start to realize that if you are going to do this as a gift, it really is a significant gift, probably one of the most expensive and valuable gifts the couple will receive!

Preparation

There are two parts to preparing for the big event. First, you will need to physically go to both the wedding and reception venues and scout them out. You need to get a good feel for the lighting conditions and for how things are going to be set up. Depending on the type of wedding, you will probably need to speak to the person in charge of the ceremony to find out just what type of photography is allowed. Some churches allow no photography during the ceremony, some allow photography that doesn't interfere or distract from the ceremony, some will let anything go. It is your job to know, in advance, what you can and can't do, and if there is something the bride and groom is expecting that is not going to be allowed, it is up to you to find out how to get it done, or to make sure the bride and groom know that it can't be done.

For example, if they want/expect certain shots from the ceremony and the church doesn't allow it, then those shots will need to be "recreated" after the ceremony or they won't happen at all. This might also be true if the venue is dark and there is a no-flash rule.

(Before leaving, it would be a good idea to take environmental shots from all corners so that you will have something to refer later.)

After visiting the venue(s), you need to write out your timeline for the event, detailing what you are going to be doing when, what equipment you will need, and where you are going to be. I even go as far as sketching out a map and numbering the locations I will be shooting from in the order I am going to shoot them. You need to specify what equipment you will be using where so that you can make sure you are not caught unprepared.

Next, review your shot list and mark it up in terms of priorities. Some shots are critical, some shots are wanted, some will be nice to have, and some won't matter.

Once you have your shot list, you will want to get serious about your equipment. No, you do not have to have top-end, state-of-the-art, professional gear to shoot a wedding - but (and that's a BIG BUT) - you must have adequate equipment to capture the images expected of you. If it's already in your bag or readily accessible, great; otherwise, you are going to have to rent or buy what's missing. (And if you do have to rent, that is an expense that should be passed on to whoever is paying for your services.)

Lastly, the day BEFORE the event, you want to get packed. Memory cards, batteries, strobes, batteries, lenses, batteries, memory cards, lens cloths - make sure you have enough of everything. Make sure your sensor(s) is as clean as you can possible get it. If you do not have a second body and cannot borrow one, please make arrangements to rent one; this is also true for your strobe. The last thing you want is an equipment failure and not to have a backup. This is easily the single greatest point of failure (other than not showing up) that you can avoid.

The bottom line: If you don't get ready, you won't be ready.

The Big Day, On-site

We've all been to weddings and we all have a basic idea as to what's going to happen. However, there's a huge difference between being a spectator and being part of the production. You really need to, in the words of 21_F.gif DebiTipton (one of my favorite wedding photographers), "understand how wedding/receptions work. It's much like a sporting event where you need to anticipate where and when the action is going to happen so you can physically place yourself in front of the action as it happens. But you also have to be a ninja about it so you don't become a part of the event. See.... but don't be seen!"

Review, re-review, and re-re-review your shot list and your timeline. Be early and be ready. Grab the low-hanging fruit first, shooting the non-people feature shots. Walk through your timeline, visiting each spot you expect to be shooting from, familiarizing yourself with the environment. Grab shots as you go - who knows, they may be useful.

Then, when things start to happen, be ready to shoot through your list, checking off the images as you capture them. This is actually rather thrilling! (I tend to treat events like scavenger hunts: I know what I'm looking for and I'm focused on completing my list before the event ends.) I cannot stress enough, when things start to get going, it's going to be wild! While early-comers might have been trickling in, all of a sudden it's going to be BAM! Action is going to be popping all over the place and you have got to make sure you are in all of the right places at the right times! It can be overwhelming, but, if you've planned appropriately, you can navigate the chaos.

The bottom line: Do your best to get a good night's sleep, and eat a high-energy meal before you get going. Stay hydrated. Shooting a wedding is like running a marathon: you've got to be physically and mentally ready for it.

Managing People

Like it or not, 99% of the people at a wedding expect that the photographer knows what he/she is doing. Unless told otherwise, no one (other than those hiring you) is going to know that this is your first wedding shoot. It is up to you not to give anyone reason to question why you were picked for the event.

If you need someone to do something, politely ask them. Most people like helping out. Whether it's moving, looking, smiling, or going and getting something or someone - don't be afraid to ask. And if someone is out of line, politely ask them to do what you need them to, or find someone who can help straighten someone out.

Be conscious of how you move about, especially if you have a bag or extra gear hanging off your back. Navigate slowly. You would rather people remember you for the wonderful images you capture than for bumping into them and making them spill a drink all over themselves.

And, if anyone ask you to take a photo, do it! Whether or not it's on your list, just take it. The only exception is if you are on your way to a shot that is critical; then simply tell them that you have been summoned by the bride, but you will be right back and that they just need to make sure everyone they want photographed will be there and ready for your return.

Do not volunteer that this is your first wedding. As long as you are getting the job done and carrying yourself professionally, no one needs to know. If you are asked about it (such as, "Do you do a lot of weddings?" Or, "You seem awfully young to be shooting a wedding."), simply navigate the conversation elsewhere. You can simply respond, "I love weddings! I hope to be shooting more and more of them! Do you know anyone getting married?"

Along these lines, if anything goes wrong on your side, keep it to yourself! Just go with the flow and fix what you can. Regardless of whether you have a body start giving you "Error 99" or you drop your rented lens or even if you accidentally reformat a card that has critical shots, don't advertise it! Especially not to the bride and groom and especially not on their wedding day. If you have planned ahead, you should be able to handle any foreseeable problems and you will be able to quickly and silently shift to your Plan B. Otherwise, you are simply opening yourself up to a whole host of potential problems (i.e., litigation, reimbursement, ill-will, bad reputation).

One more note: If there is another photographer there, especially a professional, who wants to offer you advice or ask questions, you can kindly engage them for a moment before you tell them that you would love to talk to them, but it will have to wait until you get a break. If you are on a break, you will have to tell them that you need to get back to work, but that you would love to catch up with them later.

Handling Stressful Situations

Weddings = Stress. That's about it. Regardless of how many times someone gets married, the wedding day is a day of stress. It's probably more stressful if it's the first one. All the same, no matter how much planning has been done, it's going to be a flat-out stress-fest. Anything can go wrong. Something will go wrong. There are simply too many moving parts that cannot be managed.

The big question: How well-equipped are you to handle it when a stress-ball is thrown at you?

The main thing is to not get caught up in it. Is someone bringing you something that you need to handle, that you have control over, that is your responsibility? Or are you being dragged into someone else's problem/situation? If you can do something about, by all means do so. Otherwise, quickly assess the situation and suggest that, "Yes, this needs to be handled. Let's find the person who can best deal with it." It's not that you want to duck responsibility, but you also do not want to get thrown off your game plan. You will find some flexibility in your timeline, especially at the reception, but it is imperative that you don't miss any of your critical shots.

Before the event, make a list of diffusing phrases that you can employ when someone gets caught up in a moment. (I'll leave it up to you to conjure up different situations and how you would respond to them.)

Field General

If the wedding is of any size, or if there is the potential to be shooting a lot of family groups (my second wedding involved two sets of blended families as both the bride and groom's parents had been divorced and remarried; I shot over thirty family groups!), you will not only need a list of groups that includes all the people in each shot, you will also need someone who can get people together when you need them. You will line them up and compose them, but someone else has got to get them to you. This person needs to be designated in advance and you must make contact with them and review the list before the ceremony gets under way.

If you're lucky: you might only have to shoot a handful of standard poses of the wedding party and the bride and groom's immediate family.

Aunt Edna & Uncle Bob

Here are a couple more items that need to be covered in your contract. 1) You will make every attempt possible to capture the images on your shot list, but you will not be held responsible for things beyond your control. If Aunt Edna will not smile for you, you cannot make her; regardless of how many images she ruins with her sour puss, Aunt Edna is Aunt Edna and there's nothing you can do about it. 2) You are the defacto primary shooter and anyone else at the wedding with a camera will defer to you. You will not be held responsible for any interference caused by other people getting in your way or otherwise preventing you from getting your shots.

The bottom line: Do the best you can, but know that your camera will probably be the only thing you really have any control over.

Once-in-a-lifetime Events

Hopefully, this wedding is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event for the couple. Regardless of the statistics, you need to treat it as such. It doesn't matter how long you have been into photography, what you have been shooting, what you like to shoot, what you are really good at. All that matters is that this couple is getting married and they want you to be their photographer. For whatever reason. It doesn't matter. In reality, there will be no do-overs. There are things that are going to happen and they are expecting you to capture those moments and deliver the goods.

Go back to your shot list and your equipment list. Do you or will you have the equipment necessary to get the job done? Look through some bridal magazines and visit some of the better bridal websites. Do you have the equipment that can come reasonably close to capturing those types of images? Do you have the ability to capture images like those, on the fly, in the midst of all the emotion and stress that swirls chaotically through a wedding?

The bottom line: This is the point where you really need to think this thing through and decide whether or not you feel up to the task.

What Couples Normally Do

Because of the nature of a wedding, most couples hire a professional photographer that has experience in managing everything related to wedding photography. They hire someone who knows what questions to ask, what to offer, what to charge. They hire someone who can walk them through the whole process, from planning to delivery. They hire someone who can show up and get the job done, managing the tasks of the day. They hire someone who not only has the experience necessary to capture the images, but also the experience to manage the workflow associated with managing, processing, and delivering the images - whether the delivery is digital, prints, books, or a combination of items. Most couples do not willingly risk their wedding photography.

But this couple has asked you.

This is where you need to get serious with yourself and ask why? What is it about you that makes you worth the risk? Is it possible that this couple really has not thought through just what is involved in wedding photography? Regardless, you and the couple (and/or whomever is paying for things), really need to be on the same page about the risks and rewards of what you have to offer.

Where Are You?

One more time, you need to look over this whole wedding photography thing. Look it over in terms of what is expected of you and what you are capable of. Look it over in terms of skills, equipment, and experience. Do you have what it takes?

I'm not asking this to dissuade you. Everyone has to start somewhere. And, as I mentioned above, not everyone can necessarily afford professional wedding photography. All the same, you have to be fair to both yourself and your client to make sure everyone is on the same page, with the same expectations.

The Balance Sheet

Take a moment and work backwards. What are the end results that everyone wants? A happily married couple. A wonderful day to remember. Beautiful images commemorating the event. Images delivered within a reasonable amount of time. A photographer that feels fairly compensated for all their efforts.

Is this possible?

The easiest way to decide whether or not go ahead with this is to use the Ben Franklin Balance Sheet method. When faced with a difficult decision, he would simply pull out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle, labeling one column "Pros" and the other "Cons." Then he would exhaust himself itemizing every possible detail involved as one or the other. Knowing that nothing is perfect, he would typically go with whatever column had the most items. On occasion, he would feel that the potential reward would outweigh the risks and put himself into situations where the likelihood of failure was high; however, he wouldn't do this without having first weighed out all the odds and planning for all contingencies.

The bottom line: as long as you are honest with yourself and really believe you are doing what is best for your client, then, by all means, do it! Otherwise, maybe you should take a pass... (In fact, unless it really makes sense for you to take this on, maybe the best thing to do is to suggest to the couple that they hire a professional so that you can give them the gift of your photography without the worry or stress of letting them down.)

Message edited by author 2011-01-25 07:02:22.
01/23/2011 11:36:34 AM · #20
Originally posted by Skip:

Professionals will use a contract to keep everyone on the same page; these contracts will also cover nearly all contingencies that can arise so that when the unexpected there's-no-way-that-can-happen happens, you won't find yourself sliding into a deep hole of litigation.

The bottom line: Even if you aren't a professional, you owe it to yourself and your client to act like one - and this means using a contract to specify the details of just what you are going to do.


Also keep in mind that at your current listed age of 17 you may not be legally able to sign a contract (depending on your state laws).

Message edited by author 2011-01-23 11:37:08.
01/23/2011 12:28:30 PM · #21
Whoa! Classic post by Skip. That one should be a sticky somewhere.

First wedding? Close friend? Do it for free! I'm serious. If they give you money after anyway, thank them.
01/24/2011 03:51:08 PM · #22
so I'm meeting with them today... Have a check list of questions to ask them! read most of skip's post... i will read the rest after the house is cleaned up more... I talked with the bride-to-be and she said she was excited, but i just have to make sure they know what their getting. I mean, of course i want to give them my best and beautiful shots that will last their life time, but i just dont want to let them down in anyway...

Maybe i have too high of standards for myself?

>.< over thinking things yet again...

~Sofia
01/24/2011 04:25:06 PM · #23
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Whoa! Classic post by Skip. That one should be a sticky somewhere.

First wedding? Close friend? Do it for free! I'm serious. If they give you money after anyway, thank them.

It would be a great wedding gift. You could give them processed, soft files and recommendations on a good printer in your area. That way you don't spend anything other than your time.

Message edited by author 2011-01-24 16:25:27.
01/24/2011 05:08:16 PM · #24
have i mentioned that i'm in the seattle area and the wedding is all the way in port angeles? its a long drive...
01/24/2011 05:48:49 PM · #25
Originally posted by ScooterMcNutty:

have i mentioned that i'm in the seattle area and the wedding is all the way in port angeles? its a long drive...


You would've been going anyway right? :)
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