Wedding Photography - Getting Your Feet Wet or Drowning
Wedding photography is not to be undertaken lightly. It's stressful, physically difficult and involves many hours of work both on the day and, for many, on the computer afterwards.
It’s important to understand that, despite how the bride and groom sell the idea to you, you’re not being asked to shoot the wedding because you’re a great friend or a beloved family member. In fact, whether they know it or not, they’re playing on that very relationship to save themselves a truckload of money.
To be sure there is no honor being bestowed upon you. Likewise, while the bride and groom may invite you to the wedding, you’re no guest. It’s not possible to enjoy yourself on what could well be the hardest working and most stressful day of your life.
If they had any concept of how hard the job is there’s no way they’d ask you to do it for free. If you’re a RAW shooter you could easily spend a week (by which I mean at least 40 hours labor) to shoot and process the job.
Let’s say the groom is a builder. Try asking him to spend a week building you a garage - for free!
And be prepared for the line “Oh, we’re happy to reimburse your costs.” That one never added up and, now that many weddings are provided as digital files, where’s the cost? A DVD. Oh, p-l-e-a-s-e.
Now I certainly would recommend that you photograph anyone’s wedding without gaining experience. And, other than carrying another photographers bag and, maybe, being given the opportunity to make a few pics on the day, photographing weddings for friends and family is a legitimate way to enter the industry.
But if you don’t want to be a wedding photographer, beware. It’s murder and, regardless of all the goodwill and hard work you invest, if you mess it up you’ll likely never been forgiven.
Working for free only lessens your chances of success. It’s likely that you won’t be valued or given the respect required to get the job done. Conversely, if the couple have invested a reasonable amount of money in your product/service, they’re far more likely to trust your judgment and act on your advice. By charging a reasonable fee you’re far more likely to be able to make the kind of images that will satisfy all concerned.
Beware that, by saying yes, a dangerous precedent may have been set. For those of you with large families and extended groups of friends, you have my most sincere condolences. And, of course, you’ll now become the manager of significant moments in your family’s ongoing history. As your parents age and, eventually pass away, the responsibility of the family photo album will likely pass to you. This is both an important, difficult and long-term responsibility. And it’s yours because you said yes.
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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru