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What are your thoughts?

JennGJennG Member
edited August 2014 in wedding photography
I recently shot a wedding for a friend who was getting married again. They were having a small wedding in a church and had a Best man and a Bridesmaid. After the church there was a dinner/reception in the basement. No dance. 85 people. Then, all were invited out to a lovely house on the lake for a party. It was for close friends and family. I was the only photographer.

I found this experience to be very enjoyable, nerve-wracking, fulfilling, fun, fast-paced and freaking stressful! I loved it but now I wonder....can I do this? This is my second wedding. I recently shot a third for another friend who was having a "casual" outdoor ceremony at her brother's farm. There is nothing causal about the efforts of a photographer at a wedding!!

I took a dive into Neil's videos to see how he worked with his clients and it looked so effortless. I read books that helped me understand flash. I took a few lessons from a photographer who does this for a living. This was my second wedding and I know I improved so much, but...

At what point do you know when this is something you should work on or when to walk away? How can I tell if there is something worth improving? What can I do to really look at my own work and KNOW...yeah, this is good or I have potential. I didn't get that "feeling" where I wowed myself....

I wanted to add some photos here for review. I would be so very grateful for comments. No pats on the head but just your raw thoughts. I never thought to BE a wedding photographer ....... I just took the 3 opportunities that came about. I just love photography. Now I need to learn to edit better....on to the tutorials!

http://screencast.com/t/JyRbJtW3dN this is SOOC, I have not edited this one yet.
http://screencast.com/t/VioSXb8CXo - SOOC. need to remove cord, crop, straighten etc..
http://screencast.com/t/m6CfyBTfuX6 this is also SOOC.



  • Thought I'd write some kind of comment on this, to start it off. I'm afraid I can't give much advice etc, only doing my third wedding myself on Saturday (of which the second one was my own wedding). Regarding my own future in the wedding photography business, there'll be none after Saturday, since I've decided that to be my last.

    I think your pictures are quite good with an even overall exposure etc. Next time I'm sure you'll notice the cord before taking the photo so you won't have to remove it in post.

    Anyway, I'm sure the other members of this forum can give you a lot better advice. Keep up the good work! :)
  • Thank you for the comment. I am not sure it's a question that is right to post here maybe? Even if it goes without more comments, it's completely fine. I was just curious as to what others thought from the tiny selection of photos, edited and unedited that I submitted. I was not looking for a raving review :D and yes to the cord! I learn something every time I shoot! I am a landscape photographer trying to widen the spectrum and have put aside landscapes to focus on learning about people and flash :)
  • Great photos Jenn. Can you do this? Yes, you can. When? When you believe you are ready. And you know enough to know when you are ready. Not before. Keep studying. Keep accepting friends' weddings. The only reason to walk away is if you decide you do not want to do weddings. You obviously have ability to do them -- in that you have the discipline and interest in learning. I don't know if you are ready to hold yourself out there as a wedding photographer and accept bookings but you do. And when you are confident you can deliver top quality wedding pix in any situation, in any weather in any venue then go for it. It doesn't mean you have wait until you are 'perfect' or as good as NVN but just good enough that you know you can deliver and make the client happy. What's great is that you are looking at your pix critically and asking yourself if they are any good. If you are not wowed by them, as you say, then there is definitely room for improvement. Reading between the lines it sounds like you are trying to decide if you have talent for this or not. I don't think talent has anything to do with it. Maybe some people have better eyes than others or more creativity. But I agree with the quote about talent being 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. So as long as you keep studying, especially the math, your talent will develop and blossom.
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Echoing both Jerry and Skip's thoughts Jenn. :)

    I do love the 'feet/flowers' shot though, very nice idea, and beautifully executed.
  • The feet/flowers shot was my favourite too, I found the groom's choice of socks quite refreshing as well ;)
  • Again, thank you for the time to look and comment. It is nice to hear different thoughts. I am not sure what I want to know or ask, it seems! :D I really think that when you shoot for friends they just like what you do because they like you - or they are just satisfied with anything you give them? No clue-- so I posted here because I really like hearing what is wrong with what I did, as well as what is right. I will just keep practicing and studying.
  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited August 2014
    I once went out with a clothing designer. One day we were out on a weekend and we went into a store. I asked what we were doing and she told me "just getting ideas". Everyone in the clothing industry copies each other...plagiarism so to speak. Plagiarism is bad and offensive to the original author, but all is fair in the business world. If you can make money by copying what works than go for it. Look at the Samsung Galaxy...its a copy of the Iphone in a lot of ways.

    That said take a look at the photos which are working:



  • Thanks for the links! They are very inspiring photos and deserving of the titles as "best wedding photos".
  • One thing you want to do is create a list of shots that you want to achieve before you go into any job. If you are not familiar with a venue than go in the day before or a few hours before the actual job. Someone like Neil will already have that list of shots in his head and is already intimately familiar with the different venues. You will eventually get to the point where you can just go into a venue without too much preparation, but for now you should do some prep work.

    So...Create a written plan to include a list of shots for each job. Basically a timeline. For example, a wedding. Break the wedding down into its different parts and make a list of shots you want to achieve during each part. Attend the rehearsals for the event, go a day early or a few hours early, etc. Until you are very familiar with the different venues you should do as much prep work as possible. You should never just go into any venue blind.

    Take a carefully choreographed and planned approach to any job.

  • JennGJennG Member
    edited August 2014
    Hi Michael, thanks for those points! I did just that. This was my first time shooting in a church so I made sure to attend the rehearsal and looked at the church before the rehearsal even. I shot at the rehearsal and I liked the outcome of my lighting, but the bride during the ceremony, did not want any lightstands around, so I had that only for the 15 min we had in the church, and ofc for outside. They literally wanted OUT of the church because it was so hot and the ladies in there were dismantling everything. The bride was upset with that but..... we smiled!

    I had a written list of shots and we got most of them. I also brought my tablet with samples of poses on there in case I needed to come up with something fast and was unable to. I used it once outside to get some ideas with them in the garden. Fantastic reminder for me!!!

    At the rehearsal I also went over some poses with the bride and how to stand in some shots,hold her flowers and tips I learned from Neils video :) That helped them to help me.

    My biggest concerns are still --am I fast enough to get the right lighting I want with the off-camera flash and ofc how to pose (that in itself is another world!). Also, wrangling up people for group shots is "fun"! I read books and watched Neils vids on craftsy.com and had great communication with the bride/groom.

    Since it was my second wedding but my first wedding using my flash off-camera, I had some nervousness about that. I am getting better since then even and have learned so much.....just....ofc not where I would like to be, as my impatient self wants it perfect right away.

    I took this very serious, even when they were like: No, just take some shots, dont worry about it...etc...

    I met with them last night and they loved their photos, preferred the candid shots but they still wanted some of the posed shots, so I am happy about that :D Well, I am at the beginning of learning something other than what I normally do... landscapes! So I am soaking up all the tips! Thank you!

  • In regards to the lighting stands. From the many posts I have read I take it Neil enjoys bouncing the flash during the ceremony and sometimes to very high ceilings/walls. That is an option.

    Another option I have seen is putting the lighting stands up on the balcony or way out to the sides and directing the flashes down. If you are using the Nikon SB or Canon Speedlight type flashes they are only so powerful. They would increase the light levels. I utilize the Quantum X5D-Rs and T5D-Rs in manual mode which certainly produce a lot of light and they are very durable.

    Yet another option is to get some flash clamps or velcro and eliminate the lighting stands all together. Clamps, however, make permanent marks on some surfaces and the venue may not be too keen on that. You may also need a ladder to get the flashes back down and they could fall during the ceremony.

    When you cant use stands, clamps or velcro, you can also use a human lighting stand. An assistant carries the flash around on a monopod and acts as the lighting stand. The disadvantage is sometimes the assistant does not know what you want and so doesnt position themselves correctly. You have to develop hand signals and coordinate when using this method. One variation on this is where the assistant raises the flash high on the pole acting as the "main light" and the photographer has a flash on their camera acting as the "fill". A few ways to do this.
  • Great tips for sure! I will save these for when I grow into some of that gear you mention hehe
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