Trials of a wedding photographer…

Today i stumbled across an open letter to all aspiring wedding photographers.

It was written by Rick Kent

Here is an excerpt:

Most common mistakes when hiring a wedding photographer.

• Using a friend or family member because they have a “good camera”.

• Going on craigslist to locate a wedding photographer.

• Hiring a photographer based solely on price.

• Letting someone else make the decision for the photographer.

There are very few companies that offer a decent final product without paying a nominal minimal fee of at least $2500 and even then I don’t see them staying in business long-term unless there is a lot more in their business than shooting the weddings. Paying for the assistant(s) plus misc. costs on a stellar wedding book and a charming website can exceed what some photographers charge. The premium photographers will avoid weddings if the revenue stream isn’t good enough. Why bother for such low money? Doing weddings takes a lot of time setting up the logistics, going to meetings, lot’s and Lot’s of phone calls, reconnaissance of the venues, the actual photography(!), and hours and days of post-production on RAW image files.

He also covers the valid point about these burn and churn photographers that can shoot and process an entire wedding in under a week.

Generally speaking the client hasn’t a clue of what goes on post-production. What is done post also requires a special set of skills and a lot of patience to stay on task. If workflow is slow the final product will take months to get to the client and since a great professional wedding photographer will do at least 30 jobs a year it wouldn’t be possible if post-production went anything beyond a week.One more important thing. Go easy on your photographers. One reason that a lot of talented photographers avoid weddings is the clients you deal with always seem to bring out the worst in themselves on wedding day… typically the mother of the bride.

Lastly he offers some advice for those people out there that still suggest they cant afford a professional photographer.

**For those who can’t afford a great photographer**. Go buy 20 disposable cameras at the drugstore. Hand them out to people throughout the various phases of the wedding including rehearsal dinner, etc. Make sure and tell your “photographers” to use up every frame. Have a drop box at the reception to make sure and get them back and DO get them back. Take them to get developed when you get back from your honeymoon. The quality won’t be that good but it’ll be about the same as below average photographers that charge super low rates like $1,000 (or even less!)

I understand fully where Rick is coming from, this is an industry that is hard to get a foot hold in. If you miss that one opportunity then it could take months to recover.
At the same time we are also inundated with a lot of talentless hacks that look good with a camera around their necks but don’t know the difference between an ND filter and a UV one
(hint: one is to allow the photographer greater flexibility to change the apertureexposure timeand/or motion blur of subject in different situations and atmospheric conditions, the other is a UV filter).

You can blame people having fancy camera phones now that can shoot 1080p video and 8MP+ cameras but at the end of the day its not just about slapping an Instagram filter on your work, its about the framing, angles and use of the light.

Time will never stand still and those moments that bring us such joy become memories in an instant. To capture such a moment and record itforever is truly monumental. This is why I love photography” – Joshua Atticks

Thursday Quick Tip

Heres a quick tip for anyone who has ever gotten a circular filter stuck on their lens and had trouble removing it.

Do you have any of those rubber arm bands laying around?
You know the old “Livestrong” style bands. 
Well  instead of throwing them away in disgust, chuck them into your camera kit bag.
Simply place around the stuck filter and then turn like usual. The extra grip will help get that little bit of extra force that is needed to make it budge, without damaging the filter or your lens.

Give it a try.
(They are also handy to stop lend creep on super telephoto lenses too)

Do you REALLY need that 4K camera?

With the start of NAB and the release of new cameras from BMCC and SONY, the internet forums are on fire with fanboy infighting and name calling.

All too often i hear this from people…

“A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures!”

This is what the industry calls “TOTAL BULLSHIT”.
But its something that Nikon actually posted on their Facebook page back in 2011.

While it may be true that going from [for example] a Canon 60D to a Canon 5D2 will allow the photographer a different perspective on what they are taking (mainly due to the difference in sensor sizes) it will NOT suddenly mean that your photos will suddenly become masterpieces.

No, the above statement is similar to people telling a chef that he or she is only as good as the spatula they use. Leaving out the years of experience and knowledge and perfecting of their skills. With over 60 years of improvements in cameras, lens sharpness, resolution and dynamic range, no one has been able to equal what Ansel Adams did back in the 1940s.

The question then is WHY?

Unfortunately today we have people that NEED the newest and flashiest thing to show their status symbol. To allow them to look down their nose at others and be warmed by the inner sense of smugness, but whats the point in purchasing a 4K video camera if you cant frame for shit?, or your storytelling ability is that of a 3 year old? or you have no concept of the basic techniques?

In the industry today too many people know brands and names.
They hear the buzz and hyperbole.

If person A is going for a job and rocks up to the interview with a shitty point and shoot camera and person B is also going for the same job rocks up with a top of the line Nikon D800 and a case full of really expensive lenses, who do you think will get the job?

Logically you will ask to see examples of their work because as far as you know person A may hire his equipment based on the job at hand, his P&S camera is there for reference pictures only.
But nowadays it seems that the quality of their work comes second to the expense and quality of their equipment.

People that think this way really need to watch the series of videos from DigiRev on Youtube called “Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera”.

These videos go to prove that its not the equipment that you are using but the person using it.
My favourite example is the Chase Jarvis episode below

Showing that even with a LEGO camera he can still take some great pics.
He proves that if the photographer/cameraman can overcome the limitations of their equipment then they can achieve great things.

At the end of the day its a real shame when this happens in the industry and i hope that the people that are hiring others to do these jobs, whether its photography or videography or even editing, i hope that they look at their examples of their work before they look at their equipment.

Otherwise they could be missing out on someone great.