Friday, August 25, 2006

Let a Pro do it....Please.

I read about it all the time on line. I get asked about it often enough. My honest answer is....Let a pro do it.

"My friend has a wedding this weekend and he asked me to do the photos because their budget is very low. What should I do?" Honestly, tell them no. Please. Weddings, in my opinion, are the hardest thing in photography to do. A photographer goes out on a feature shoot and only needs 2 maybe 3 shots for the newspaper out of 20 to 100 taken. Fashion photographers will shoot hundreds of shots to get just a handful. Sports photographers will take hundreds, even thousands of photos just to get 10-20 great shots. Wedding photographers are expected to take 100-200 shots and have 100-200 great shots. And unlike many things shot photographically (I missed that dunk! No worries, there is 20 minutes left in the game) this is a once in a lifetime event.

"Oh, but I have a Digital Rebel and 2 lenses, and I got a 420ex flash. I have the gear, I just need to know what to look for." Did you know that wedding photographers like to be booked anywhere from a month to a year in advance? They will have meeting after meeting with the wedding party to go over details. Everything from standard group shots to special shots. They will have specific packages, and all the forms and check lists a bride and groom will need. They will make arrangements with the place the wedding will be held to come by and look things over. Talk to the people in charge to find out any photographic rules. Did you know that some churches will not allow flash in the sanctuary at any time? Some churches will not allow a photographer good access during the wedding. Some may not even allow photographs during the service. Preparation leading up to the wedding is big. Most wedding photographers will have 2 to 3 cameras, plus back ups. 2 to 4 light strobe set ups for group photos and 2 or 3 on camera flashes for candids. All the lenses they will need from low light wonders to short and long zooms. And the knowledge. Instead of reading a book on wedding photography a week before the wedding, they will have a number of weddings under their belts already, be well schooled in the art, understand what a bride wants, and most importantly be prepared for any situation. What happens if the place the wedding is being held will not let you use flash? Are your lenses fast enough? What if your camera fails the day of the wedding, or worse yet, during the wedding. Do you have a back up? Anything that could ever go wrong, will go wrong at a wedding, so it is best to know and understand this and make sure the wedding party understands it.

What about the photos? Wedding photos are processed differently than any other photos. A lot of post processing work will go into them to make the bride look perfect and correct any possible flaws in them from exposure, whiteballance, adding special wedding looks to them, and so much more. Many wedding photographers will spend 40 to 50 hours just working on the files alone after the wedding. Then set up proof books for the bride and groom to pick from. The final wedding albums can cost hundreds of dollars and should be perfect, as the books for the parents of the couple should be.

If you are approached to photograph a friends wedding, and you are not a wedding photographer or a pro, urge the couple to find a pro. Help them if you have to. If it is very close to the wedding, they may be out of luck, but if they discuss with various pro's their budget, they may be able to work something out. You could also help them by contacting a local photo club, and see if there are any pro's or semi pro's that could be of assistance. Even check with the local colleges. Students in advanced programs may jump at the chance to shoot a wedding for a lot less than a pro would charge.

Finally, if you absolutely have to shoot the wedding, take as much stress off of yourself as you can. Buy a bunch of disposable cameras and put them out at the reception. Let the guests take a majority of those photos. Go through the internet and find a check list that will cover all the shots you need to get. Bride & Groom, Bride with Bridesmaids, etc. Keep that check list with you and get every shot. Get at least three or four shots. Bracket if you have to. Go to the rehearsal. Go to the place the service is going to be held. Rent the gear you may need, like a back up camera and a couple fast lenses. Look at wedding photographers websites and get ideas from their images on how you should approach specific shots.

As many know, I am a media and sports photographer. But I will do weddings. I do them differently than most, but depending on the size of the wedding, my fees can range from $2000 to $10000. I do not like doing weddings because, while they are only a hour or two long, I will put close to two weeks of work into them. People see a price of $2000 for a two hour wedding and think, Wow...$1000 an hour. I should be a wedding photographer. Well that $2000 breaks down to $25 and that is before I subtract for the wedding album proofs and final prints.

So again, I say....Let a pro do it.

Dual Flash set up

Shot my second game of the season for the Eagle River Wolves Varsity team. Less than ideal shooting situation, but I got to try out a dual flash wireless set up. The first, and probably the last time I use this set up. I mounted a 550ex and 430ex about a foot below the camera on my monopod and triggered them wirelessly. Worked ok, but very cumbersome. I have my second camera back from Canon this week, so if I need flash (which it looks like I will with the rain we are having combined with a 7:00pm start time), I will go back to direct mounting the flashes to the cameras. But this is an example of 2 wireless flashes with football....
Oh...Eagle River dropped this game 0-58. Ouch...come on Wolves...lets get it into gear....

Thursday, August 17, 2006

2006 High School Football

The High School Football Season is here. The Palmer Moose hosted the West Eagles Friday night (yes, 6 days ago!) at Palmer High's football field. West trailed the host by 1 at half time, answering every Palmer TD with a TD of their own, including a 85 yard kick return for a touchdown. But in the second half, Palmer, who went 10 and 2 last season, showed West why they are one of the states best teams holding West scoreless while tacking on another 19 points to win 40-20. Not the first game in the state, with North Pole hosting East Anchorage one hour earlier, but a very good game. For all the highlights of the first games of the High School Football season, and game action photos like above from the West/Palmer game, visit MaxPreps at

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Setting up Youth Galleries Part II

I just wanted to share something with all of you. It looks like I will be able to invite you to Printroom for 50% off the Pro price for your first year. Printroom is an awesome place to sell your youth sports photos and this would make your first year only $49 instead of $99. Not only that, but after you sign up, if you make over a certain amount in sales (I think it is $3000) you get your next year free!

I will let you know how to join Printroom at 50% off soon, but if you are interested, please feel free to contact me and I will email you the info.

More stuff on the horizon.

At the time of writing this, I stare outside watching what looked to be a beautiful week turn into a gray, wet irritation. Why is it an irritation? Well, Alaska High School Football kicks off tomorrow, and I have been contracted to cover the game for MaxPreps with most likely a photo appearing on the USAToday website and hopefully in the printed paper too. What absolutely bites is that the game starts at 7pm, the sun is usually still bright enough to shoot without flash until around 9pm, but with the gray skies, it looks like I will be shooting by the light of my 550ex for the first game of the year.

But, on a good note, I am shooting as the booster photographer for Eagle River High School football and will be posting the Varsity images on As Alaska's only MaxPreps photographer, it is something new for the state to see, and I hope that I am the first of many MaxPreps photographers in the state. The biggest thing this state is missing is quality high school sports photos...I mean, I can only shoot one school a night, and since I am tied to Eagle River High, that leaves numerous schools out of the loop.

If you are a Alaska Sports Photographer and you want to know more about MaxPreps, contact me. I will put you in contact with the guys who will make it happen for you.

I hope to have a few shots from the West - Palmer game up here Saturday, so check back!