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Must have equipment for wedding photographers...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by stayathomedad, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. stayathomedad


    Mar 11, 2008
    I've shot 6 weddings so far, and I'm considering doing it as a side job come this fall...

    I believe there is a market for basic wedding photography for those clients who cannot afford hiring a serious PRO wedding photographer...

    And so I'm wondering what I need to add to my equipment list if I decide to give it a go this fall...

    The main thing on my list is a 17-55... that's for sure...

    And perhaps a D80 to replace my D50...

    Besides what I have listed below in my sig, I have access to a 35-70 and a 70-200...
  2. I think to be even half-way serious about it, you would want to keep the D50 as a back-up body, and get one more flash as a back-up flash. And make sure you have good editing tools at your disposal. And a good sense of business in place before beginning.
  3. stayathomedad


    Mar 11, 2008
    I have a total of 3 sb600s at my disposal....

    What are some of the editing tools you would consider as "good"?
  4. But are they your SB-600's? :smile: "Good" would be anything you can use effectively, but I think the big two would be one of either NX or CS3, although for weddings, many would say Lightroom is plenty! Also, a must is a good/decent monitor calibration system. Oh, and access to a good printing lab was another that came to mind... but why am I giving you advice? I've only done 2 weddings to your 6!!! :tongue:
  5. LDB415


    Apr 26, 2008
    I've always heard the mandatory equipment is a bride and a groom. :biggrin:
  6. kiwi


    Jan 1, 2008
    Auckland, NZ
    2 bodies
    2 flashes
    70-200 2.8 or similar
    28-75 2.8 or similar
    lots of CF cards

    minimum kit I'd say
  7. JoJo2Fast


    Nov 20, 2007
    Auburn, WA
    I would totally agree. Probably extra batteries and grips on both bodies.
  8. I love my Nikon 28-70 f/2.8 - Awesome for low light situations.

    And yeah, the high ISO performance of a D50 isn't all that great, if you are doing lots of low light stuff you may want to consider a body upgrade soon.
  9. stayathomedad


    Mar 11, 2008
    I have five 4GB cards and one 8GB card... for a total of 28GB...
  10. artona


    Jul 9, 2008

    I have covered weddings for the last 30 years. At my peak my business shot 150 a year. I used to turnup with a Hasselblad ELM, a spare CM, a 50mm, a 80mm and a 150mm, 3 Metz flashguns and 10 rolls of film. I then went onto Nikon F4s and carried a similar battery of equipment.

    I now take a canon 5d and a 28-200mm zoom. An emergency film camera is back up. That is it unless I am doing the evening and then flash kit.

    For what you are suggesting I am not even sure you need editing equipment although that is fun. But remember if you are thinking about earning money then time is money. If you are trying to emulate the .........serious PRO wedding photographer........ then you need to charge their rates but you should not fall into the trap of trying to emulate what they are doing but charging less. In other words give the customer the level they are paying for. I spoke to some brides recently and in the UK these brides wanted to pay £500 for their wedding. If you do a business financial breakdown for a photographer doing 30 weddings per year which is not short of a full time job he would end up earning about £10k, less than he would get claiming social.

    30 would be fulltime if the photographer spent time selling/marketting at wedding fayres, then pre visiting B&G, then spending all day at the wedding, then spending 2 days editing, then spending half a day with the B&G planning the album, then another ahlf day finishing the album, then another session on the final planning with the B&G and then delivery.
    On the other hand £500 for sticking an advert in the local paper, booking over the phone, shooting the wedding and then handing over a disc, end of story take your £500 then that is now looking good.

  11. I shot a wedding a few weeks ago, and I used the following equipment:

    D300 (had my D50 as a backup);
    Bogen 3021;
    2 SB-800s;
    2 13' light stands;
    2 4G Sandisk Extreme III cards;
    Hyperdrive HD80.

    I thought I had all my bases covered, but something was missing: an L-bracket. It's invaluable for the posed shots for consistency. I won't shoot another wedding without one.
  12. It's better than a D200 iso performance , a very capable camera and worth keeping as backup .
  13. With what you have listed. And as long as "access to" means "with you" then you should be set for budget wedding crowd. You have the 17-55 on your list but being budget I'd look to the Tamron 17-50. And the only reason I'd bother with either is that budget often means smaller, parties and locations. And 35mm as the widest 2.8 lens is not wide at all on DX body.

    Also, I agree with Stew on his rates versus time, very well put.

    Editing tools? Lightroom. And something that you can swap heads with in at least a JPeg, you'll have to do that in formals every now and then.

    Of course none of this matter if you just find this work fun and the reason you are doing it is to be able to pay for better "toys". If that is the case then be honest with yourself, have fun, and put the D700, 14-24, 24-70, and 200m f2 on your list.
  14. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    A solid business plan, watertight contracts and legal coverage?
  15. stayathomedad


    Mar 11, 2008
    I plan on working one up...

    This I will need...

    I want a very simple contract... nothing fancy, just nice and tight...

    Are there any templates online that I can work with?

    Can someone share and example of their contract so I can see what I should be aiming for?

    I have business insurance...
  16. Fome another board.....I have permission to post.

    Wedding Photography these things are required:

    Main & Backup Camera
    Main & Backup Flashes
    Main & Backup Lenses
    ** NOTE ** Your backup equipment needs to be of the same calibur as your main equipment. A client expecting digital images is NOT going to be thrilled when you shoot their wedding with your old FILM camera you're using as a backup.
    2 Sets of Extra Camera Batteries
    Flash Batteries (6-8 sets per flash per wedding)
    at least 30 gigs of Compact Flash Memory
    Good Camera Bag that you can haul around for 6-16 hours without hurting yourself
    Photoshop CS2 or CS3
    External Hard Drive
    A solution for Offsite file Storage

    A way to proof the images.(Online, in person, proof book, DVD slideshow, etc...)

    Credit Card or Savings account with at least enough money to cover the following things:
    Complete set of gear (in case of theft or loss)
    Rental Car (in case of wreck or breakdown)

    Liability Insurance
    Equipment Insurance
    Business License
    Sales Tax ID
    Either an Attorney or a PPA Membership (to review your contract and help with any legal issues that may arise)
    A good, solid, lawyer-approved Wedding Contract.

    also highly recommended:

    Portable car camera battery charger
    A good, solid, lawyer-approved Album Design Acceptance Contract.
    Sample Albums
    Album Design Software
    Sample Prints/Canvas, etc...
    Client Information Packets

    Recommended Lenses:

    use a 70-200L 2.8 IS for most of the ceremony
    have a 24-70 2.8L on backup camera in case to get people coming down the aisle. If it's an exceptionally dark venue then use 85 1.2 instead of the 24-70 on second camera body.

    24-70L 2.8 or the 16-55L 2.8 for group formals and wider shots of the venue and crowd (like the dance floor).

    typically use the 85L 1.2 for portraits of the couple - just because that lens rocks. far enough away from the couple to get natural interaction and delivers amazing results.

    a 100mm 2.8 Macro for ring shots and details.

    a 15mm Fisheye - use it occasionally on the dance floor at party-people type receptions because it really helps capture that "party crowd" kind of mood.
    (Another good reason to second shoot - discovering your shooting style before investing thousands of dollars in equipment is nice).

    Required Skills:

    Remember - this is a once in a lifetime event - if you're not 100% confident in your photography skills, just don't do it. Learn more before taking on wedding photography.

    You absolutely must be able to do the following:

    Photograph in dark churches with no flash.
    Change camera settings in a fraction of a second.
    Understand and be proficient at bouncing flash.
    Understand metering modes and how to meter for someone in a black tux and a white dress standing next to each other.
    Know how to use your flash in manual mode.
    Have the ability to pose large groups.
    Have the ability to light large groups in a dark church.
    Have the assertiveness to control large groups while posing and photographing them.
    Be able to take control of the situation when needed.
    Be able to sit back and realize that it's THEIR day, not yours.

    I recommend that you also know/learn how to do these things:

    Be able to shoot in the dark outside at night with nothing to bounce off of without using on camera direct flash.
    Use your histogram.
    Learn off camera lighting (not necessary - but very helpful in many situations).
    Understand the flow of a wedding day and that it can change at any given moment.

    Getting Started:

    I completely and totally recommend second shooting, assisting, or interning for another photographer for at least a FULL YEAR before booking weddings on your own. There are so many different types of weddings, types of brides, types of churches, reception venues, lighting, ceremony types, wedding sizes, wedding party sizes, that there's just no way to walk in to it 100% prepared. It is also common curtersy to say no to a wedding client and refer them to another photographer in your area who is well-skilled at weddings until your skills have been established. There are so many situations that can arise, little details you never knew were important to know, and things that people would never even think to mention. The experience you would get from second shooting/interning/assisting would be invaluable. Some photographers pay you - others don't - but the knowledge you will gain from working under a good, established wedding photographer is invaluable.

    Long term (recurring) expenses that need to be considered:

    The cost of your business license.
    Income tax (federal and state) - that takes about 40% of your profit.
    Gas to & from the event.
    Batteries -look at spending $30-40 on disposable batteries for an average wedding).
    Meals, snacks, etc... you have to purchase that day.
    Liability Insurance cost.
    Equipment Insurance Cost.
    Paper goods (contracts, forms, marketing materials, business cards, etc..)
    Office supplies (pens, staples, paperclips, paper, printer ink, etc...)
    Equipment itself (camera, lenses, bads, memory cards, computer, hard drives, software, etc..)
    The product you're providing.
    Attorneys fees or PPA membership.
    CPA & Bookkeeping
    Adding additional hard drive space
    Blog Hosting

    Gear Purchasing/Rental/Repair -
    Keep in mind - 9with wedding photography especially) replace your main camera body every 18 months to 2 years, they just don't have that great of a lifespan. (Considering when shooting over 100,000 frames in a given year - you're still looking at replacing a camera body every 2.5 to 3 years with heavy use - and that's if nothing breaks sooner than that). Lenses will last you a lifetime - but ideally all your gear needs to be sent in for calibration and cleaning every 1-2 years. I don't know about Nikon - but with Canon that runs about $175-200 per item you send in. The more equipment you buy the higher that insurance policy goes up. CF cards need to be replaced over time.

    Pricing wedding Photography:

    According to much market research it was determined that the average professional photographer HAS to charge $2200 in order to BREAK EVEN on wedding photography. Obviously you're LOSING money if you charge less than that.

    Charge for your TIME (the average SMALL wedding takes more than 20 hours from start to finish, MEDIUM sized weddings take 40-60 hours, LARGE weddings take 80-120 hours and that's with having lots of experience).

    When pricing your packages you should first determine how much it will cost you to photograph the wedding (see above for a reminder of all the things that will cost you money). Then determine how much you need to make hourly (if you're going to be in business you do need to set yourself an hourly rate - an figure you're comfortable with, keeping in mind you will lose 40% of that to income tax). Determine how many hours you will spend on this wedding. Consider emails, phone calls, photographing the actual wedding, downloading cards, backing up images, editing, album design, album changes, printing, etc... in the amount of time it will take you. Take your hourly wage and multiply it by the number of hours you will spend on the wedding. Add the included COGS marked up at least 3.5 times. That's your minimum that you can charge.

    Offering Product:

    Things to consider when offering albums...
    Do you have the ability to design them?
    Do you have software to design them with?
    What type of albums will you offer?
    What companies will you use for albums?
    Have you seen the product and worked with the company you plan to offer the albums through?
    Do you know it's a good product?
    Do you have a sample to show your clients?
    How is the customer service?
    How long is the turn around?
    How long is the turnaround for a reprint if they mess it up?
    How long is the turnaround for a reprint if YOU mess it up?

    When pricing albums you should be paying yourself for the design and marking the product up at least 3.5 times (at LEAST) in order to make a small profit. You should pay yourself enough for the design that you could use that fee to pay a design company to do it if you become unable, for any reason, to design it yourself.

    Will you sell digital files?
    Loaded question - has it's benefits, has it's drawbacks, nobody can determine that but you. If you do sell them - keep in mind it's not likely that you'll sell them prints or album upgrades and price it accordingly.
  17. Thanks Sonya, that's good advice! Which board did that come from?
  18. LDB415


    Apr 26, 2008
    A 350% markup only makes a small profit? In most circles Keystone is considered a major markup and this is 3.5 times Keystone.
  19. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    Depends on what you're measuring against. Mind you, you're not selling an empty wedding album. The 350% markup is for the fact that it is filled with (good?) images. :smile:

    I don't think that labor for post processing, printing and design, and putting the album physically together is included in the 350% - when you add all those up, the margin might be a lot lower.
  20. LDB415


    Apr 26, 2008
    So are you saying you go to albums r us and buy a frilly fancy album for $50 and mark it up 350% and that also pays for the 40 prints included in it? It sounds like it's saying buy the album for $50 and charge $225 (350% plus the original $50) and then charge whatever the going rate is for the 40 prints. Presumably the prints are priced at a level that covers paper, ink, editing, printing etc. plus a reasonable profit. In that case it makes the 350% on the album seem awfully high. If the 350% album is all inclusive then it seems low.
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