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Thread: Wedding Decision

  1. #1
    SGerke's Avatar
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    Wedding Decision

    I know many, if not all, of you will not be happy about this, and honestly I'm still settling into this decision, but I'm going to do the photography of my friend's of friends wedding in April.

    I met with them on Saturday and did engagement pictures (will post tonight or tomorrow for C&C). On Saturday I told them I would be much more comfortable if a friend of mine with more experience in photography and with her DSLR came and shot as a "backup". I said it's a possibility that my battery or, God forbid, my camera malfunctions at a pivotal moment and I miss something. My "backup" said she required $50/hour, which totaled to $600 when the couple included what they intended to pay me (I never asked for money, was doing it for practice/as a favor). They said it was fine. Then yesterday I received a message from the bride saying they loved the engagement pictures, were incredibly impressed with me and had the utmost confidence in my ability to do the wedding. It really sounded like she was trying to get me to do it alone without being direct, but I wasn't sure if that was because of the money or because everyone involved in the wedding (cake maker, caterer, officiant, etc) is someone they know and they were uncomfortable with an "outsider" participating.

    I immediately called them and spoke with the groom. I told him if it was a matter of money they should tell me because I wasn't expecting anything. He continued to say how impressed they were with the engagement photos and that I shouldn't feel like I'm not capable because they certainly feel that I am. I told him directly it's possible my equipment malfunctions and I miss something. He said they will be having someone videotape it so that wouldn't be a big deal to them. He said they were really just looking for some pictures, nothing professional and that this would be something for my portfolio to say I did alone. I should mention at this time, they are a VERY laid back couple and don't take anything too seriously including, it seems to me, their wedding. I made it perfectly clear I'm not a professional and lack the resources and experience to produce professional results and they said they understood. I even said, not that I think they would, but photographers have been sued for producing less than the couple's expectations. They said they just want a casual reference of their wedding.

    I will be taking a fundamentals class in January to learn my DSLR which I receive at Christmas and in February I'll be taking a Wedding Photography class.

    I know if I don't do it they won't hire a professional or anyone else for that matter. They're not worried about me missing an important moment or producing bad photos...so should I?

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by SGerke View Post
    They're not worried about me missing an important moment or producing bad photos...so should I?
    I'm afraid my answer is 'YES'.

    But, at the end of the day. You have nothing to apologise to us about. It's your decision. What you got was advice, not direction.

    I'm interested in the fact that your proposed backup was talking about $50/hour or $600 total. I have to tell you that I'm going to be at a wedding next year for which the couple asked my advice about a photographer (they knew not to ask me). The fee for the day is 1,700. That must be getting on for close to $3,000. That's a professional fee.

  3. #3
    Clactonian's Avatar
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    I have refused several invitations to take wedding photographs for friends and for the very reasons that you outlined.
    If you decide to do it, and alone, then I would certainly consider either borrowing or hiring a back-up camera and some spare batteries, memory cards etc.

  4. #4
    SGerke's Avatar
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Donald, I'm still going to "worry" about capturing those moments and I'm sure I'll feel bad if I don't, but I'm going to do my best not to rip my hair out in the process. The $600 was for both of us...is that a professional rate? I told the couple I wasn't asking for money.

    Mike, I have a friend who's going to loan me his Nikon D40(my DSLR will be a Canon) and he's letting me borrow it before to get familiar with it so I'll have that on backup. Researching extra batteries and memory cards too, which I know I'd purchase anyway.

  5. #5

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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Yes Sarah, I sometimes get stuck with 'It's either you or a total novice with a basic point & shoot or camera phone' like this shoot My first Fashion Show Shoot and some questions and my pleas of 'I don't have the necessary equipment/experience' just fall upon deaf ears.

    If you do go ahead with this, my advice would be to do a lot of practice shots beforehand and to check out the location for potential problems, including the nightmare scenario of a darkhaired bride with white dress standing beside a stained glass window, etc.

    And do take a second backup photographer/assistant, even if it is only a novice with one of the better quality point and shoot cameras. That way, they will still have something if you do make a fundamental error; which can, according to 'Murphy's Law, happen all too easily when working under pressure.

    And one more tip based on my experience; shoot Raw which will give you something of a 'second chance' during editing. But due to the size of Raw files, take a spare memory card.

  6. #6
    Clactonian's Avatar
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by SGerke View Post
    Mike, I have a friend who's going to loan me his Nikon D40(my DSLR will be a Canon) and he's letting me borrow it before to get familiar with it so I'll have that on backup. Researching extra batteries and memory cards too, which I know I'd purchase anyway.
    You sure like to do things the hard way Sarah! Two different makes of camera are not going to make your task any easier, but at least you'll have back-up. Geoff's suggestion regarding an assistant is sound too.

  7. #7
    SGerke's Avatar
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    I know the assistant is a good route to go, but since they vetoed my second photography idea I have a feeling they won't like me having "an assistant" either (I'm thinking this is more about the personal touch of someone they know). Worse comes to worse, I will have my Canon point and shoot.

    Good news though, no alcohol at the reception so I won't have to deal with drunk and disorderly relatives.

    Should I write up a contract? Or is that overkill?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by SGerke View Post
    Should I write up a contract? Or is that overkill?
    Anything in writing can be used against you as well as to your advantage. You seem determined to go ahead. That being so, I suggest it's better to do it on the basis of being a friend who's going to take a few photos at their wedding. Keep it very, very informal. That way you've got more 'back-out' room.

    I realise I'm sounding very negative and that's not fair of me. I just don't want to hear about you realising what you've got into when it's too late to get out.

  9. #9
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Sarah,

    It's good to hear that everybody is happy for you to do it. I still think that you probably are not going to use your DSLR, but it is what it is. If you're sure you want to do this I would suggest you be as prepared as you can. I had a look at your albums on cic and I think you'll be fine in terms of creating good photographs regarding to composition and interaction of the persons you're shooting. What you might want to do as preparation is practise a lot. Find out how your camera works in different circumstances and be sure you can operate you camera quickly without having to search for buttons and functions.
    I don't know if it's possible but it might be a good idea to do some test shots at the wedding locations, so you're already familiar with the surrounding and the available light.
    My last point is that it's more important to know your camera very well than having a better camera that's is rather new to you. So only use your DSLR (if that's possible after all) if you know the camera and you had enough practising time with it. Also a backup camera/battery/memory card would be a good idea.

    It sounds like doing this wedding could be a great experience if everything goes well. So make sure it does, and have a lot of fun and make your friends happy with beautiful photographs .

    Jeroen

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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I'm afraid my answer is 'YES'.

    But, at the end of the day. You have nothing to apologise to us about. It's your decision. What you got was advice, not direction.

    I'm interested in the fact that your proposed backup was talking about $50/hour or $600 total. I have to tell you that I'm going to be at a wedding next year for which the couple asked my advice about a photographer (they knew not to ask me). The fee for the day is 1,700. That must be getting on for close to $3,000. That's a professional fee.
    Perhaps it was the low price from the backup that made them question the quality of the work. Any photographer should display their work before submitting a price. That being said, since they have seen Sarah's work and are happy with it, perhaps she should forego any fee or provide the service as a gift.

    Sarah,

    You will eventually get your experience, provide the couple with quality work, and learn what really goes on at weddings. And don't overlook that your backup/friend might see this as a bump of her services.

  11. #11
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by SGerke View Post
    Donald, I'm still going to "worry" about capturing those moments and I'm sure I'll feel bad if I don't, but I'm going to do my best not to rip my hair out in the process. The $600 was for both of us...is that a professional rate? I told the couple I wasn't asking for money.

    Mike, I have a friend who's going to loan me his Nikon D40(my DSLR will be a Canon) and he's letting me borrow it before to get familiar with it so I'll have that on backup. Researching extra batteries and memory cards too, which I know I'd purchase anyway.
    Sarah,

    The bride may be okay with your work/equipment but also look out for the parents reaction.

  12. #12

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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Hi Sarah,

    As you made your decision, for sure everybody here is wishing you good luck!
    So, how can we help? . Here are my thoughts:

    Photography projects are quite new to me (photography..in general ), but other projects not at all, and I'm tempted to "advise you" from this point of view.

    Each project have 5 bigger phases, initiating/planning/execution/monitoring&control/closing. I dont want to make it very complicated, but 90% OF FAILED PROJECTS failed in PLANNING phase. Only 30% of overall projects are successfull , and this is statistic afterall.

    You are now in "planning phase", as long as you made your decision, initiating phase is closed .
    You have time to plan carefully, (wedding is in april), but you have to start planning by now.

    Make first plan, check it (general one, major things), and attend to a different wedding to compare it. Complete the plan (more detaild, now you have version 2). Re-check. Attend to a second wedding ( if possible). Recheck the second plan, and complete it (very detailed, ver 3. note the duration of each momment/activity, and number of pictures taken ). Discuss with the couple the activities from the wedding day(s). Revise the plan and complete it. Keep each version as a different document, to keep trace.

    You will have a list of activities, and now you will be able to ESTIMATE each activity for your friends wedding (like how long it will take, how many pictures (how many cards)), and to see the major risks. Make the estimation from 2 points of view, one optimistic and one pessimistic. Try to have backup for all major risks identified (if you cannot eliminate/avoid them).

    For execution plan, I can't help you here. But, I'll be tempted to tell you to take the P&S camera and to make some pictures with it "like in the old times, for sentimental reasons", but not all of them .

    Monnitoring&Control, is a "paralel plan" which start from planning moment to closure. Check list and reviews are allways good ways to keep everything on tracks.

    For Closing, well, we hope to see the pictures in a new album after all.
    I've try it to keep it as short as possible, and you you have some questions, please don't hesitate to ask. (It's a photography thread, not project management )

    Good luck in your endeavour!

    Leo

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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by Clactonian View Post
    If you decide to do it, and alone, then I would certainly consider either borrowing or hiring a back-up camera and some spare batteries, memory cards etc.
    I totally agree with Clactonian. Attempting to shoot a wedding without backup equipment immediately available is irresponsible.

  14. #14
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    I think the rest of the world, like the UK, has probably been swamped by the news that wee Willie Windsor (aka HRH Prince William) is getting himself married.

    And, of course, he met and fell in love with the fragrant Kate whilst they were both at St Andrews University. Now ..... St Andrews is just along the road from where I live (about 45 minutes).

    Students of St Andrews are allowed to get married in the university church/chapel. So, with all the hullabaloo going on about where they should be getting married, what better that in St Andrews.

    And, of course, they'll be needing a tog.

    Mmm, maybe I could be persuaded to change my mind about never doing weddings.

    Then I could really justify buying the 24-70L
    Last edited by Donald; 18th November 2010 at 02:44 PM.

  15. #15

    Re: Wedding Decision

    I have added a tag of 'wedding' to most of the main wedding threads, including these two recent ones from Sarah. If anyone know of any others please let me know. You can search for them on the advanced search page.

  16. #16
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    I think the rest of the world, like the UK, has probably been swamped by the news that wee Willie Windsor (aka HRH Prince William) is getting himself married.
    I saw a royal once sitting right in front of me; I went to a lecture in London and although he was snoring I was told I wasn't allowed to prod him, nor even look in his general direction.

    At least I think he was royal since I was told he was and they frequently use meeting rooms of royal society's to meet their friends.

    When I was asked at what point I became confused by the president, I said when he started snoring. At which point somebody else walks in gives him a prod and they walk off happy ever after.

    I think the commoner that lives in a house the size of a castle (this is what the reporter described her as) and HRH could get married in Disney land USA, thus saving a packet of money.

    No, I shouldn't be nasty, I'm a royalist really.

  17. #17

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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Hi Sarah,

    Veteran of 400+ weddings Al Jacobs has written a gide for wedding photographers, which you might find handy ...

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3

    Some parts will be more relevant than others to you, but you should find a lot of value there all the same.

  18. #18
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    Re: Wedding Decision

    congrats on your first wedding gig. Should you worry about getting those shots? I wouldn't if the couples doesn't care for it. Sounds like the couple understands the risk but I would still get it in writing.

    But since you will beat yourself up for not getting the shot that you want, may I ask a few questions?
    Is it an outdoor wedding? or is it in a dark church? would the offician allow flash? If its indoor, what's the fastest lens you got? if flash is allowed, how big is the hall/church? Most likely you'll learn about all that in the wedding class but now seems like the best time to get those new toys (fast lenses, off camera flash, bounce flash, monopod, tripod etc) and practice. Family get together during Christmas, is an excellent time to ptractice available light and flash photography.
    Looking forward to see your work.
    Cheers

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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Quote Originally Posted by SGerke View Post
    Mike, I have a friend who's going to loan me his Nikon D40(my DSLR will be a Canon) and he's letting me borrow it before to get familiar with it so I'll have that on backup. Researching extra batteries and memory cards too, which I know I'd purchase anyway.
    That sounds like a bad idea to me. Having to learn both Nikon and Canon at the same time will cause extra stress. For me, when under stress (ie taking wedding pics) I find the reversal of dials, and zoom causes even more stress. Not to mention post production two type of RAW files and trying to keep the style consistent. I would rather risk just have one DSLR and one point and shoot. or just buy a cheap film SLR. I believe those things still work .

  20. #20

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    Re: Wedding Decision

    Sarah, Why not arrange with the couple for your friend to do the formal 'studio' photos and you do the casual ones - outside the church, reception etc. That way you can rely on getting good formal shots and you can have fun with your camera. Put it on Program and just shoot.! I'm not a wedding photographer but I have done two weddings this way. It's very unlikely that your camera will fail. Just make sure you have plenty of cards, a fully charged battery and a spare, and spare batteries for your flash.
    Barry

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