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Thread: First "Professional" Job!

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    SGerke's Avatar
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    First "Professional" Job!

    A couple friends of friends just got engaged and they immediately asked me to do their engagement and wedding photos! We're heading out this weekend for the engagement photos, but the only downside is my mom REFUSES to give up my first dslr which she bought me for Christmas, so I'll be doing it with my point and shoot, Canon SD1100 IS. Don't get me wrong, it's a great point and shoot, but I really wish I could use my dslr.

    I've been researching engagement photos on the web a lot and it seems DOF is really important and really makes an impact on the photos. Any pointers on how to decrease my DOF on my point and shoot? I've looked through my manual and can't seem to find any pointers in there.

    Thanks for any and all advice!

  2. #2
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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Hi Sarah,

    If thisis the manual of your camera, I'm afraid it's not possible on your camera to set the aperture yourself. What you can do is use a build in program of your camera. I believe that the portrait program sets the camera to a larger aperture (lower f-stop), if that's what you after, though I'm not sure.

    But Sarah, maybe it's not what you would like to hear, but I recommend you to take some advice. I don't know the exact situation you're talking about but what I can say about it is the following. Marriage and engagement are quite emotional and very important happenings in one's life and most of the time a once in a lifetime experience. Therefore proper photographs are very important to the married couple. So if you ever are planning to do a wedding shoot, keep in mind that you can make the couple very happy with beautiful photographs but you can also disappoint them very much when you didn't manage to come up with (beautiful) photographs.

    The reason why I'm saying this is that a wedding requires a good photographer with decent equipment and a lot of knowledge and experience. A church is a difficult place to shoot since there's a lot less light available than you would think and you might not be able to stand in the places you want to. Dealing with these problems might ask for a good zoom range a good use of flash light. Besides that, your friends might not know about the difficulties you might stumble on to.

    I understand why you are excited to do the wedding, and why your friends would love to have you doing their wedding but determine carefully for yourself if you think you are really capable of doing these wedding shots.

    One last note: If you feel insulted in whatever way by these comment, please don't. There might have been a miscommunication due to my typing in English, which isn't my native language, and I'm not that familiar with you as a photographer. Besides I haven't done a single wedding photography myself since I don't think I would be up for the job. So for info at specific points in wedding photography you might want to ask other members.

  3. #3

    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    but the only downside is my mom REFUSES to give up my first dslr which she bought me for Christmas
    I think maybe you need to explain why it is so important to you (and the happy couple) to have the camera early. I have just given my daughter a lens that was meant for Christmas. She is doing projects for her A level photography. I can see her passion so how could I not reward it?

    My advice would be to consider very carefully using a point and shoot. In fact I would think very carefully about using a DSLR that you are not thoroughly familiar with. If you feel you really must you can use focus blur selectively in PP. Tasteful (but rather outdated) vignettes will also work. I used a P&S at my Mother in Laws wedding...not as the official tog mind you and I am so glad they were not relying on my efforts I did my brothers wedding as first tog with a DSLR. I took mostly documentary and candid shots and just about scrapped through. Everybody loved the pics and I was inundated with requests to do weddings. I have declined all. I felt very vulnerable with my lack of pro glass. You can work round it but its makes way too much work and you need a lot more experience than I had at the time. So unless you are getting a 70-200 f/2.8 with that DSLR you need to really plan everything for contingency lighting wise.

    If you do decide to do it (and most keen togs do) I wish you the very best of luck. I think I speak for others on this forum when I say we will give you as much advice as you need and not just keep advising you not to do it or insisting you spend 10s thousands of dollars on glass and lighting set ups.

  4. #4

    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Sarah

    I'm offering some (hopefully) constructive and realistic advice. I have no interest in this and have nothing to gain. If I were you I'd suggest to your friends that they employ a professional photographer to do the shots. You could offer to do a set of informal shots with your P&S while the professional does the standard stuff (but you would need to explain that and get the agreement from the pro first). I don't know much about you as you have only recently joined, but on what I know I would say, don't do it.

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    Sunray's Avatar
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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Hello Sarah,

    we had a similar thread in this forum some time ago. Maybe you would also like to read it.

    Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Bye
    Robert
    Last edited by Sunray; 11th November 2010 at 09:32 PM. Reason: typos

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    And most of all you have overlooked the obvious, which you should share with the couple, what if.....?

    1. What if your camera runs out of battery power in the middle of the shoot or you drop it in the punch bowl?
    2. What if you have no control over the lighting?
    3. What if the photos look good in the viewfinder but when you download they look terrible?
    4. What if the photos look fine as 4"x6" prints but look pixelated when enlarged?

    Those are just a few to begin with.

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Look at it this way, Sarah: A professional who knows what to do in bad situations, has shot many weddings and receptions and has years of experience would refuse to shoot if limited to a P&S. There are just so many things which can (and will) go wrong that there is no reason to add a minimal camera to the mix.

    That said, you have a rapport with these people, so you can be of assistance to them in getting the right photographer to do the job, helping the photographer (with his permission) in relating to your friends' interests and such and getting the candid shots which the pro will miss and your firends will cherish. All of those services are valuable and needed. Get involved from the side of the photography and enjoy the occassion.

    Pops

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Hi Sarah,

    Please make a point of reading through the entirety of the thead that Robert kindly pointed to (and any threads referred to in that thread).

    Please please please don't take offence at this (and as much as we always try to be positive / enthusiastic / encouraging around here) this is one occasion where "failure isn't an option".

    I'm trying to think of a good example, and this is the best I could come up with ...

    "If you needed to have open heart surgery, which would you go for:

    (a) An experienced cardio-thoracic surgeon in a fully equiped operating theater (complete with qualified staff), or

    (b) A first year medical student with a steak knife & home sewing kit, with no backup"

    Unfortunately, many brides and grooms assume that modern cameras make wedding photography easy, and in a "sink or swim" environment, the vast majority sink.

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    SGerke's Avatar
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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Wow. I'm certainly not offended, but I am surprised at the responses.

    Maybe I should clarify. I wouldn't be shooting their wedding with my p and s. Their wedding is next year and I will have my dslr. Also, in January I'm taking a fundamentals class to learn about my dslr and following that class I'll be taking a wedding photog class. Only their engagement photos will be with my p and s.

    With this info, would you still encourage me to decline?

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Your braver than me Sarah.

    I think a wedding photographer is more than a wedding photographer, it is the only experienced person that is turned to when things go wrong, and then turned on if the train is derailed.

    I hate weddings; but wouldn't mind being a second camera, just to see a well organised car crash.

    But you have to ensure the professional is properly qualified; some don't even know what the numbers on the side of a lens mean and use basic camera's.

    I should think a long and fast lens is a must, as well as backups.

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Quote Originally Posted by SGerke View Post
    Maybe I should clarify. I wouldn't be shooting their wedding with my p and s.
    Sarah

    I think what people are doing is drawing comparisons between the demands of wedding photography and with what you've being asked to do and are trying to persuade you you approach this very carefully.

    Now, of course, the engagement party is probably going to be a lot less formal and people probably aren't expecting an album at the end of it. But you need to check that out. If it's just a party and people want really informal, fun, snapshot photos to remember the party, then okay. But if the couple have expectations that you're going to produce professional quality material similar to the sort of expectations they might have for a wedding, then you do need to discuss that with them. The worst-case scenario is that after the event you produce what you've done and the couple are totally devastated because they wanted top-end, professional level pictures.

    As far as the wedding photography thing is concerned, if you do a search on here you'll find a few threads (like the one referred to above) where the vast majority of us say, "Don't touch it unless you're a specialist professional wedding photographer". The problem is that because everyone has a camera, everyone thinks it must be easy just to take photos at wedding. It's probably one of the most challenging assignments there can possibly be.
    Last edited by Donald; 12th November 2010 at 01:22 PM.

  12. #12

    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Quote Originally Posted by SGerke View Post
    Wow. I'm certainly not offended, but I am surprised at the responses.

    Maybe I should clarify. I wouldn't be shooting their wedding with my p and s. Their wedding is next year and I will have my dslr. Also, in January I'm taking a fundamentals class to learn about my dslr and following that class I'll be taking a wedding photog class. Only their engagement photos will be with my p and s.

    With this info, would you still encourage me to decline?
    It depends. If you had some fast-track learning and experience then mayben you could just about do it. But I think wedding photography is not just about camera gear and experience (although that's very important) It's also about you. I would rate myself as 7.5 out of 10 as a general photographer, compared to everyone else. But there is no way that I would do a wedding, even with some specific training beforehand. You need to an interactive, touchy-feely, get-on-well-with-everyone, kind of person, who likes other people and people situations. And I'm definitely not. Maybe you are, and would do well in this type of situation? I don't know.

    Either way, you will still need the other stuff mentioned by others such as backup gear etc. I'd think very carefully about it if I were you, however tempting it is to do it.

  13. #13
    SGerke's Avatar
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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Thank you, all, very much for your honesty on this subject. I'm still reading through the thread and the threads mentioned within as well.

    Right now I'm leaning towards doing the engagement pictures as it will be a more casual environment and possibly not doing the wedding. I know the wedding will be very small and intimate, but I also know that, as you all have mentioned, wedding photography is a lot more than aiming and clicking. I would definitely need to purchase more equipment.

    Thank you all again for you honesty and advice. I will let you know the final decision and post the engagement pictures afterward.

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Hi Sarah,

    maybe a tip,

    Invite the fresh couple for some "test" shoots. The three of you will get more used to each other and together you can experiment different locations, poses ect.
    Also make them clear that for you it's the first shoot. But in the end it should not be an excuse when it didn't work out well.
    It will also a help for you on the BIG day. You know more about the location and what the couple expects.

    I did more then 100 weddings and still it's not a routine job. Every couple is different as are their family/friends and expectations.
    I really like to do this kind of jobs and of course some years ago I had my first wedding shot too.
    It's hard working but it gives me lots of pleasure every time.

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Everyone has to start somewhere! However, a wedding is not really a good venue in which to start your career as a photographer. Let me tell you where I am coming from by stating these two hypothetical posibilities:

    A. You shoot the engagement photos and for some reason such as camera failure, photographer error or just that the gods of photography were not smiling at you that day, the photos do not turn out! No big problem! You have egg on your face but, you can normally repeat engagement shots at some other time. No one will consider this as an unforgiveable blunder. You have not missed the coverage of a once in a lifetime event...

    and/or

    B. You shoot the wedding photos and for some reason such as camera failure, photographer error or just that the gods of photography were not smiling at you that day, the photos do not turn out! Now you have big problems! It is not just a bit of egg on your face. Brides are quite sensitive about missing out on wedding coverage, even if it is an informal wedding. Being that they are your friends, you will probably not be sued but, this might strain the bonds of friendship.

    I strongly urge you to only shoot a wedding if you:

    1. Are certain of your photographic skills. Wedding coverage is not an arena in which a person should learn to use his or her equipment. It is difficult enough to get proper coverage when your equipment operation is second nature to you. It is pretty darn near impossible to effectively cover a wedding if you are unsure about the technical details of your equipment.

    2. If you have proper equipment - cameras and lenses that will allow you to do quality 8x10 (approximately A-4 size) inch prints at a minimum. Also you MUST have back-up equipment immediately available. Redundancy is the name of the game. Shooting with one copy of any equipment (such as camera, proper lens, proper flash) is inviting Mr. Murphy to bite you in the "you know where spot".

    3. If you have enough flash cards, batteries, etc.

    4. You have attended enough weddings to be fully aware of the general flow of a wedding ceremony. All weddings are different but, all are the same in many respects. Most weddings are open to the public. It would be beneficial to have attended enough receptions to have the same grasp of the general sequence of events. However this is more difficult to do than attending weddings. Most church/synagogue weddings are open to the public; this is not true regarding receptions.

    5. If you have studied wedding images online and in books and magazines; and have predetermined how you want to shoot the essential shots.

    6. If you are willing to put the time into shooting the ceremony and not to be a guest or to interact during the ceremony/reception.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 12th November 2010 at 06:05 PM.

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    I would rate myself as 7.5 out of 10 as a general photographer, compared to everyone else. But there is no way that I would do a wedding
    Hi Sarah,

    Just to give you a bit of a "positioning statement" I'm in much the same boat as Rob. Technically I'm pretty darn confident on how to configure my equipment to get the best out of a wide variety of situations - I have a truckload of professional-grade equipment (and I know how to use it) - and I consult to professional wedding photographers and other photographers who have literally made millions from photography. And I wouldn't touch a wedding photography assignment with a barge pole.

    The time pressures can be immense (as things run behind time it's ALWAYS the photo opportunities that they try to cut short) - you have the joys of dealing with people who don't want to pose, and may already be under the influence of alcohol - whilst at the same time you may well have the distraction of other guests popping off flashes from P&S cameras (and guests not knowing where to look). You'll go from the problems of low & mixed lighting to harsh outdoor lighting, so you need to be an expert in exposure compensation, off-camera flash, crowd control etc.

    If you'd had a few flying lessons, how would you feel landing a 747 with 420 passengers on board, by your self? Or how would you feel removing an appendix if you were a first year medical student?

    We gave Kit the same advice, and this was her comment afterwards:

    I'm still glad I ndidn't do the job, as it would have pressed my stress buttons no end

  17. #17

    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'm in much the same boat as Rob.
    I hate to disabuse you of any pleasurable thoughts you might be harbouring, Colin. But in my experience most people would rather take their chances with the sharks than spend quality time in a boat with me. Story of my life...

  18. #18
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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Hi Sarah
    Another thought to consider aside from the knowledge of one's equipment is to expand on Rob's & other's theme of people skills.
    Which I imagine would be a huge part of this.
    My analogy is my Basketball experience - at the start of the year, I hid in the stands and shot from there at the end of the year after attending 3 or 4 games per week every week, with purpose specific equipment, I was just brave enough to ask a 6ft 6 African American gentleman to move a little to his left when I was asked to shoot the teams lined up with the refs before Grand Final.

    In a wedding, it is not just the couple, you might have what we call here 'blended families' where one of the parents may have remarried and now there are step-siblings...I imagine you would be expected to know all of the possible family grouping permutations that are required to be photographed with the happy couple and have a plan in mind if some of them don't get on too well - how to deal with them in the same group.

    So in a nut shell others far far more qualified than myself have/will advise you on the technical aspects - but I can agree and add to those who have raised the 'working with people', getting them to do what you want aspect of this...it is huge and can return to haunt you in years to come if a certain group was not captured on 'the day'

    I also have had similar experience as to what has been suggested as in attend 'as a back-up extra with the professional's permission' and let that be your first wedding.
    Mine was a school music festival - Can you do it, I was asked.
    No was my answer - but I then asked can I be the second shooter? so I asked for advice here first, then on the day asked the pro could I take some as part of my learning, I also had attended some evening classes.
    He was more than happy, gave me some advice and encouragement.

    The next time a similar gig came up it was the school dance concert.
    This time I said yes but only if I could have a second camera and rent a specific lens as well as my own stuff.
    Even then I was still anxious as the event was at a different auditorium than my 1 previous attempt.
    I can tell you the feeling of you being the only one responsible for the photographic record of any event is a big responsibility, particularly one where you cannot say 'there's always next year like I could with these examples'.

    And as the guys have said, the advice on this is the same to all of us starting out, so please please don't think we want to put you off personally, we just want you to enjoy your love of photography.

  19. #19
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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Sarah, I closed my first studio in 1958. I was mentored by a photographer who was White House Photographer for all of WWII. I tagged along on many professional shoots as a kid. I shot for newspapers, schools, businesses, civic clubs and parades.

    I have shot one wedding in my life, at the (then) age of 45. It was for a very good friend, the wedding was outdoors and group was small. It was a success, and I received a compliment on my work again, just last year. I was a mental mess for 3 days before and 2 weeks after.

    I had 4 SLR cameras, 6 lenses and 20 rolls of slide film. I had flashes for each camera, remote lighting, was given control of the reception tent placement and orientation and full control of calling for attendance for formal shots and posing. The bride gave me access to her dressing room (at certain times) and the groom and his adult son ran errands for me. I never accepted another wedding.

    I have shot polar bear, walrus, grizzley bear, mama moose with young, wolves on the hunt, crimes in progress, soldiers under fire, multi-car wrecks, climbing ropes dangling out of sight on the side of a cliff and an emergency appendectomy in the Arctic. I will never shoot another wedding.

    Now, that said, only you can tell us if you think you are ready to take on such a project. I recommend that you take your classes, shoot the engagement party, hide in the hip pocket of a professional at a wedding, watch several others and talk to your friends. Then make the decision if you want to be prime photographer for this event or act as back-up and gopher for the prime.

    I think what we are advising here is that you not try to swim the English Channel as soon as you have mastered the dog-paddle.

    Now, ask a bunch of questions here as you progress and keep us posted. We are interested and want to help you succeed. You win, than we win, too.

    Pops

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    Re: First "Professional" Job!

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    I hate to disabuse you of any pleasurable thoughts you might be harbouring, Colin. But in my experience most people would rather take their chances with the sharks than spend quality time in a boat with me. Story of my life...
    Sharks usually stay well clear of me; professional courtesy and all that!

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