oh so you're a photographer

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does anyone else find it kind of lol having to deal with weird expectations/perceptions from friends and acquaintances who've seen your photos or have heard from people who have seen your work?

ive been doing a website and a zine and posting my stuff all over facebook and even doing a few gallery shows for almost three years now, and i guess my goal is for as many people as possible who might appreciate what i do to be able to see it and maybe give me some money to offset how much i spend on my hobby.

but i get asked sometimes to do commercial stuff and i have to be like "i'm not really your guy" (ive had to do this with DJing a few times too).

does anyone else struggle w/ balancing expectations and accepting new challenges?

also maybe we can discuss the weight that the label of ~*PHOTOGRAPHER*~ carries

♆ (gr8080), Wednesday, 2 May 2012 19:15 (twelve years ago) link

-I have a wedding coming up, I heard you're a photographer?

dayo, Wednesday, 2 May 2012 19:16 (twelve years ago) link


i did have one couple ask me if i could be their 2nd photographer after they had already hired a pro. it ended up not panning out, but it would have been fun if it had.

♆ (gr8080), Wednesday, 2 May 2012 19:29 (twelve years ago) link

I carry around a camera to pretty much everywhere and I think it's annoying when people say "oh look you should take a picture of that"

dayo, Wednesday, 2 May 2012 19:30 (twelve years ago) link

I did a friend's wedding and didn't hate it but will not do that ever again.
I spent a summer shooting gallery photos (install shots, plus the work etc.) very carefully, doing post-processing, delivering in a timely manner etc. I hated it, but I would do it again if asked, because maybe it could lead to a job? Plus I got a vacation out of it.
If anyone asks if I'm a photographer I always say "nope."

lou reed scott walker monks niagra (chinavision!), Wednesday, 2 May 2012 19:47 (twelve years ago) link

i'd taken some nice shots of a friend's band that they liked, and they wanted me to do their album cover, and i had to pass (i had an excuse anyway) because i was like 'uh i wouldn't even know where to start with that'

catbus otm (gbx), Wednesday, 2 May 2012 20:00 (twelve years ago) link

had a real-estate developer I know through my day job ask me if I was interested in doing his daughter's destination wedding (Bahamas, I think) in exchange for airfare and maybe a new camera (he clearly doesn't know what cameras cost these days)

1) wouldn't know where to begin shooting a real wedding
2) if I'm following around your horrible daughter and her friends for three days, it's not even a bonus vacation for me
3) I know what a dickbag you are on commercial jobs, no way am I getting involved in this when it could influence my real life
4) you're paying for a tens of thousands of dollars destination wedding for 200 people, pay $5k and get a real wedding pro

Kiarostami bag (milo z), Wednesday, 2 May 2012 20:29 (twelve years ago) link

yeah but dude surf and turf, think about it

catbus otm (gbx), Thursday, 3 May 2012 00:05 (twelve years ago) link

i think 'sure i'll do that' can always just get messy, i guess because people expect certain things from a photographer. i photographed my friends' wedding sorta recreationally, as an aside from the pro guys they had doing it, & it was really fun & easy, but the idea of being responsible for a wedding & then fucking up is too much. hey you know when i mentioned how my camera sometimes eats film?.

basically i am saying that expectations are going to impinge on the joy of photography, and it's way better to have a kind of professionalism that rotates around you being able to do your thing than you doing a thing.

blossom smulch (schlump), Thursday, 3 May 2012 10:39 (twelve years ago) link

Yes, there is this leap from doing something as a hobby, maybe a creative outlet, maybe a form of domestic/personal documentary, to suddenly being called upon to employ those skills (which are spotty, unrefined, self-taught, full of bad habits) at someone's else behest in a semi-formal way (but as a cut-price option, because, y'know, you're a pal, right?).

I've had maybe ten "commissions" over the years, some paid, most unpaid, and I enjoy the discipline of having to organise a shoot and maybe hire some additional toys and all the processing afterwards, but I have difficulty stepping up and Being The Pro. Mostly I can't boss people around and, if there's someone else there covering the same event, I tend to shrink back into the periphery (yeah, you shove yr Speedlite in that person's face, I'll take a photo of these...tiles). Also, while I'm pretty quick at thinking on my feet re: settings/light, I'm really poor at suggesting locations or arrangements or pre-visualising stuff. Once a scene is in the viewfinder I know what's wrong with it but, y'know, by then the whole band have come down the fire escape and aren't keen to go back up or smthg.

I have another wedding coming up in a few weeks and I'm fairly anxious about that.

Michael Jones, Thursday, 3 May 2012 11:07 (twelve years ago) link

I will only do a wedding if it's a noise wedding

dayo, Thursday, 3 May 2012 11:12 (twelve years ago) link

What I think I'm good at, and what impresses ppl enough to say "oh, I need XXX doing, are you available?", is getting surprisingly decent results in sub-optimal conditions. So, y'know, a few choice shots in the noise and chaos of a kids' party. But formal portraits? Stock-quality product shots? Landscape/architectural stuff? I'm just another guy with a prosumer DSLR and some software. Plus aforementioned confidence issues ordering about/getting in the face of adult strangers. I'm good with kids!

Michael Jones, Thursday, 3 May 2012 11:35 (twelve years ago) link

I DJ weddings, fuck it, I'll even play "I've Got A Feeling" if they're paying me.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Thursday, 3 May 2012 11:43 (twelve years ago) link

Did I ever mention that I shot a friend's wedding with my shutter speed set wrong for the flash? For multiple rolls?
So glad I had a last minute volunteer to shoot additional coverage (thanks dad).

lou reed scott walker monks niagra (chinavision!), Thursday, 3 May 2012 15:17 (twelve years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Right, this is a good place to beat myself up about technical FAILS at the recent wedding I did...

Shooting group shots outside in the hotel grounds at f/4 rather than f/8. Idiot. They're soft zoomed in.
Shooting with the borrowed 5D2 in sRAW1 in some misguided attempt to (i) spare my aging laptop the pain of trying to process 28MB full-RAW images, (ii) approximately match the image size of the 40D I was also shooting with. sRAW exhibits some downsampling artefacts (that probably disappear when rendered out as JPEG), which I already knew about. What I didn't realise is that hot/dead pixels (and every sensor has some, I guess), which routinely disappear when the RAW engine converts the image, *remain* in sRAW images. So that's a lot of spot-fixing to do.
Way too much fill-flash; I was totally in love with the 580EX + bounce card and I was shooting against bright backgrounds/in heavy shadow a lot of the time, but I should really have had more faith in the 5D2's evaluative metering. They're among the best flash results I've ever gotten, but the no-flash shots look much better.

Having said all that, they're going to be OK, I think. I got myself in the right place at the right time, mostly. I just could've made life easier for myself on the processing front.

Something else I've discovered: using the lens correction profiles in Lightroom can be a bad idea when there are people in the frame. Yes, you'd want to eliminate barrel distortion and flatten a horizon in a 24mm full-frame landscape shot; but if it's a large group of people at a wedding, the folks at the extremes will suddenly gain 40lbs. So I'm applying the profiles and then dialling down the distortion correction.

Michael Jones, Friday, 1 June 2012 09:06 (twelve years ago) link

For group shots in daylight, 24-35mm, f/8-f/11, depending on whether or not they're in direct sunlight. Aperture priority setting. For portraits, f/5.6-f/8, optimally about 50-85mm. I love my 70-210mm zoom, because right at about 85mm, it has no distortion at all. Such a fine piece of glass. (And weighs almost 3 pounds, but fuck you, get some triceps.)

cue "White Rabbit" (kenan), Friday, 1 June 2012 21:36 (twelve years ago) link

Here's Gina.


f/4.5, 70mm, +1.3 exposure bias, 1/50 shutter.

cue "White Rabbit" (kenan), Friday, 1 June 2012 21:39 (twelve years ago) link

And wind.

cue "White Rabbit" (kenan), Friday, 1 June 2012 21:42 (twelve years ago) link

For portraits, f/5.6-f/8, optimally about 50-85mm.

f/8 for portraits? I would never do that. Headshots, f/2.8-f/4.0, wider if the lens allows it or the light demands it. Or, put another way, if the lens demands it (e.g. 85L - it's sharp at f/1.2, so why not).

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:20 (twelve years ago) link

I dunno. f/8 at 85mm gets you a nice DOF. Depends on the glass, I suppose.

cue "White Rabbit" (kenan), Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:30 (twelve years ago) link

Not for a moment suggesting f/5.6-f/8 is "wrong" - most lenses are in their sharpness sweet-spot there - but I'm all about pulling the subject out of the background and I usually use 28 and 50 primes, so 5.6 isn't going to do me any favours. f/4 for group shots was just a brain fail on my part.

DoF for a Nikon crop sensor at 85mm, f/8, subject three metres away = 39cm. Less than I thought actually. Good for duos or trios if the background isn't too distracting. Shoot something like the 85/1.4 wide open and it's 7cm. That's what I like!

(Don't usually like posting pics of friends on here, so I might break the link later, but this is 85mm f/1.2):


Michael Jones, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:39 (twelve years ago) link

(EXIF data tells me she was 1.44m away, so that's a DoF of 2cm. Hurrah!)

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:41 (twelve years ago) link

That's a good one.

If I've got enough DOF for eyes and face to be sharp, depending on distance and focal length, I try to open up as wide as possible. Bokeh's nice so long as you aren't melting your subject's ears.

Millsner, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 16:44 (twelve years ago) link

Don't ever do a wedding, even your best friend's. Only do it if you are a wedding photographer and are being paid, and preferably don't know the couple too well.
Say no if your friends ask you to be the official photographer. You won't enjoy the wedding at all, as there will be too much pressure to be out snapping. If the pics turn out badly, and they often do, they'll be a simmering source of resentment for decades.
Take your camera, enjoy the wine and get some great shots but leave the pressure of doing it right, to someone else.
Well that's my two cents.

Proger, Sunday, 10 June 2012 16:33 (twelve years ago) link

Proger - having never done a wedding, my outlook is the same as yours. Took a few informal shots I was happy with at my Mum's, but wouldn't want to have done any more. A couple of friends were going to ask, then got me to DJ at the reception instead - still stressful, but much more fun.

michaellambert, Sunday, 10 June 2012 18:46 (twelve years ago) link

Oh, I got paid (and it's the third one I've done for which there was payment or payment-in-kind) and they've all turned out OK. The couple were ultimately delighted with the 230 shots I whittled the day down to. I've got a (small) bottle of rum from their Mauritius honeymoon on my desk as extra thanks!

Yes, there's definitely an argument for leaving it to the pros (and I've said as much to three couples in the last two years who made enquiries regarding my services); this time around the couple very sweetly said that they'd "only be asking the pro to get photos that look like (mine)", so they hired me.

I do occupy that grey area at the moment where I'm good enough to charge but not top pro rates. I look at the work of a colleague who runs a wedding photography business with his wife and I think I'm some way short of that. The greater leap is not in terms of quality of work but in terms of attitude and selling yourself and dealing with several dozen strangers on the biggest day of their lives. It's only been friends/colleagues so far.

Michael Jones, Monday, 11 June 2012 11:50 (twelve years ago) link

(And I've just been offered another one. Erk...)

Michael Jones, Tuesday, 12 June 2012 09:48 (twelve years ago) link

being paid can help nudge it a bit more into "good idea" territory. just be sure to check and re-check every conceivable setting on your camera! and bring an extra camera! and have a friend help out too! these are things I've learned.
my friends paid me to do their wedding. basically enough to be able to fly out and attend, plus some spending money. since it was on the other side of the country, their offer was my only chance at getting out there anyway, so it was kind of a no-brainer (I never really have enough money for travel).

lou reed scott walker monks niagra (chinavision!), Tuesday, 12 June 2012 12:37 (twelve years ago) link

This just happened to me.

A coworker's due to be married in a month, and she just asked if I'd like to shoot it. Gave a tentative yes, but I'm still not sure how I'd feel about charging for what may turn out to be crap (nor do I have any clue what a fair rate might be).

OTOH, it'd be a fun day's challenge. I think part of the reason she's even considering me is that most wedding photographers I've seen in Seoul tend to be obnoxiously intrusive.

Millsner, Monday, 25 June 2012 12:12 (twelve years ago) link

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