Monday, October 5, 2009

Wedding photography can be difficult, but only at first.


I have been writing lengthy replies about wedding photography over on today. I figured I would share a few ideas about shooting weddings that may (or may not) help you get over common issues that arise. At the end of this post I would love to hear common issues you may be having at your weddings and maybe myself or someone else can chime in with some positive thoughts on how to overcome the issue. Here we go:

1. What do I charge for my wedding photography?
This really depends on what sort of weddings you want to be shooting. If you are just starting out (first 5-8 weddings) then you will want to keep your prices fairly low. This has little to do with what your images (prints) are worth or the quality of your images, it's only a simple fact that if you say you charge $500 then you will get to shoot low-grade weddings that will only pay such a price. You are in control of the weddings you are shooting based on the prices that you charge. If you charge $5,000 then I'm betting that the wedding will be in a really nice church. with nice decorations, and an expensive wedding dress. If you do not feel ready to shoot something so extravagant, don't charge that price yet.

2. I was shooting a wedding and several other people had cameras next to me shooting. It's in the contract that this isn't supposed to happen. What do I do?
Yell at everyone and tell them to put their stupid toy cameras away for you can do your job. (Don't forget to mean mug them too!) Of course this isn't what to do. It may feel okay to ask those people to put their cameras down. But, they don't know you and will feel like you are "telling them what to do." People don't enjoy feeling this way. So, what does one do?

Well, we do know that if the bride or groom says something that they will immediately put their toy cameras down. So, take the opportunity to put into the mind of the bride and groom what is happening for they will take care of this issue for you. Chances are they want them to put their cameras down as well because they paid you to shoot the images and they have no idea where to look and when. But, how do we tell them this without bringing up "it's in the contract" as if you are now a lawyer instead of a photographer or sounding like you are demanding them to take care of something that they think you should be taking care of?

Simple. Use proper wording to allow them to understand what is going on and to make it sound as if you are not being demanding even though you are. You don't have to sound or look demanding to get your way.

So, what can be said? A few things have worked for me. One is "when other peoples flashes go off, my flash also goes off which mean I will get a dark picture every time." The first time I used this I was only being honest, but they jumped quickly and everyone else's cameras were now in their pockets.

Another thing that may be said is "I shot this group shot 7 times and in each image different people are looking in different directions because of so many cameras in the room..." Then shut your mouth. Silence is incredibly effective in allowing the other party to respond. You shouldn't need to say anything more.

3. Children are running all around and distracting me from taking images. The run into my frame!
I don't know what to tell you, that totally sucks. I'm kidding of course. Kid's are like creatures from another planet. They see the world from only a few feet off the ground and contract agreements don't mean anything to them. But, what does matter to a kid? Toys. Imagination. Having fun, and being disruptive.

If someone else isn't controlling the kids, you may in a gentle manner. I never think about a parent being angry for me doing this because I treat the kids with the utmost respect. If they run into my frame, I use that opportunity to allow the kid (this works with DOGS as well!) to do something totally stupid while in my frame and snap a shot while everyone is looking at the kid and laughing. It usually turns out to be a great conversation starter in a person wedding album. "Remember when little Adam hid behind everyone then stuck his head between uncle James legs! Look, here is a picture of it!" Little Adam will never forget THAT image!

See, that is the photographers job at the wedding; it's to CAPTURE the happenings of that special day. This is why weddings are considered Event Photography. It's an event, and it's our job to capture it not only as-it-is, but even better that it actually is.

Back to the annoying kid in our frames. After you shoot the silly image, say something like "OH WOW now THAT was funny! What a fun kid! Okay, let's get back to this group shot..." Since everyone is in a good mood and you just alerted to everyone that you are cool with what is happening and are having a good time at the wedding, SOMEONE will take care of the kid for you. This all can take place in 30 seconds. Compared the story I just painted to being upset and telling someone to remove the child and making yourself look like you are not enjoying your job at their wedding, which I'm sure would take longer than 30 seconds and would kill moral. Plus, the kid probably won't be screaming and kicking for the next half hour because they were forced to do something.

So, if you don't know what to do, remember to not FORCE kids to do things. It simply doesn't work.

Okay, so those were 3 question with 3 long winded answers. What things do you run into at your weddings?

I shot the above image last Saturday in downtown Chicago.
Canon 40D - Canon 24-70 f/2.8 (shot at 26mm)
HDR + Post Processing
Base Exposure: 1/6th - f/7.1 - ISO200