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A rehearsal. Photo by Sandy Ramirez
Weddings and Receptions. Once a mainstay of the professional photographic community. The sort of “bread and butter” that many of us relied on to either get us through the lean times, or to make a living at all together. Then came the digital revolution and that all changed. Digital has made shooting a wedding a bit easier, but it has also flooded the market with “photographers” who have driven prices so far down that many of the best Wedding/Event photographers have simply gone out of business. The end client usually has no idea what really constitutes “good” or “bad” photography to be honest. What they want is something to remember their special day by.
That is not to say the end client isn't demanding. Most brides want the following in my experience, bridal portraits as if Richard Avedon shot them, ceremony photos as if Eugene Smith or Henri Cartier Bresson had shot them and of course the reception as if Patrick McMullan were there dancing the horah with you.
Reaching for the Sky. Photo by Hans Splinter
How does one then shine through the cacophony of photographers and image makers to land that client willing to pay a fair price for your services? Let's be frank, there will always be (and unfortunately this group is growing) those Brides that will never understand why paying a Photographer an average of $2500 to shoot their wedding. These will always be the ones that looking for that $500 dollar or less photographer on Craigslist and usually the most demanding and deluded ones around. Avoid those types and find those clients that can be educated to see the difference and the value of getting an actual professional to capture that special day.
The Bride wore Carolina Herrera. Photo by Sandy Ramirez
The first step is to have something really good to show the potential client. While having a website is a must, nothing really impresses like an album much like the one they will order from you. In this situation I highly recommend using the premium services at AdoramaPix to create said marketing materials. Put together your best images from all aspects of the Wedding Day – Prelude, Ceremony, Portraits, Reception and Finale. Hire if at all possible a good editor to go through these images to create a cohesive and easy to follow story that will provide added impact to the story told. This will add value to your images, creating a “feel” and “flow” that will definitely get a potential client to notice. Great photos are cool, but great photos set up to tell a story are far better.
Heading out to the future. Photo by David Clow
Develop an identifiable “style” in your work. Someone should be able to look at your work and immediately identify that it is unique and “you”. This could be of course anything, from a specific compositional thing you do (using mirrors), to perhaps a signature look to something you shoot (say like shooting all the bridal portraits with a Digital Medium Format camera to get that very shallow DOF) that will make people notice and identify you and your style.
Seeing the past through tomorrow. Photo by Sabrina Asch
As far as equipment goes, there are many options. The most basic approach is a great “Jack Of All Trades” camera. Remember that most prints will be no larger than 16 x 20. The vast majority of DSLRs on the market, from entry level to professional models are quite capable of creating files that will provide the quality needed. The idea here is to get something durable that can take the punishment of shooting anywhere from 8000-12000 images day in and day out. While a camera like a Canon Rebel T5i will give you the quality needed (if say you are using optics like the Canon 70-200/2.8 L IS II) you will be much better served using some like a Canon 1Dx with perhaps a Canon 6D as a backup for example. To be honest it is quite difficult to get a “bad” camera these days. While I noted Canon, excellent cameras are available from Nikon, Sony and Pentax/Ricoh. What is important is that you have a backup to every piece that you use regularly, be it an identical model or a less expensive model that uses the same sensor and mount.
Flowers in the sun. Photo by Fiona
The same goes for lenses and flashes. Every manufacturer has a "trinty" of zooms that should cover nearly every need. Having a backup to these is important. If your camera or lens fails with no backup, word of mouth of that “photographer who didn't have his gear squared away” will kill you. Specialist lenses are an added luxury that while helpful to have a backup, you should be able to get away with not having one.
Getting to the church on time. Photo by Seralyn Keen
Lighting and its control is paramount. Invest in a good quality flash that can be powered from a battery pack like the new Flashpoint Blast Pack. Consider for the bridal portraits, be they indoor or outside, investing in a good quality portable battery powered studio lighting kit. This will give your work a more polished and professional look and help create a signature look that will make your work stand out to potential clients. Feel free to ask any questions below.