BIG BUSINESS

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WEDDINGS ARE BIG BUSINESS
It is a multi-billion-dollar industry and its players and shooters are composed of all types of people; Some with integrity and some without; Some with the latest and greatest new gear and some with old gear; Some with experience and a following; Some with one name or notch on the belt and that was a relative; 

Many have plans for the long run and building a solid business, and some with the weekend extra cash in mind and/or survival.  A good portion have increased their knowledge and proficiency base through training seminars and apprenticeship and a few just made it through Popular Photography devoting much of their time to reading the equipment ads, it takes all kinds.


ADVICE IS FREE HERE
I will generously share all that knowledge I have gained through the years with you in a few hundred thousand words and hopefully you will have it all absorbed by tomorrow night when you go out on your own.  This is all about me and you. I have made the mistakes.   I am retiring, and not your competition, and I will help you to avoid those same mistakes I made. That’s what teaching is all about. I aim to toughen you.

I will guide you through the Wedding Process.  The latest cool word in our lexicon is PROCESS.  As a wedding photographer, you are part of a process. The word processional comes from the word process. The processional for the Bride is the grand entrance of all the participants in the ceremony.  Sometimes it is the parade of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

It’s generally when the mother of the Brides heart is the second loudest in the church. The loudest will be yours. Fear does that. The mothers fear is losing a daughter who now has a new advisor, her husband and the mother in law.  Your fear is from all the things that can change as soon as the music starts and missing the big moment because their nerves have fell into a zone of oblivion. 

HAVE THEY EVOLVED
I once answered a blog post that someone had asked “Heavens! What on earth did those poor wedding couples do for thousands of years before the invention of all these rules, customs, traditions, electronic music and photography?  I replied, it was far simpler in the old days. 

“They enjoyed themselves… roasted a pig or a cow, swapped a few head of cattle, fed everybody, and stayed married for the rest of their lives till death did them part (they didn't live as long) and in some cultures never re-married.  

Then it became a business. Photographers, musicians, hall owners, dress designers, witch doctors, planners, consultants, advisors, relatives, and the clergy put their two cents in one at a time… total of $1.68 and ruined things... 

In the first scenario, the loser was the pig or the cow.  In the second scenario, the loser is the bride and groom, everybody else makes out.  Hmmm, we’ll look at it from the Photography standpoint, the other parts of the WEDDING are complex enough to warrant their own website and we call it part two.   The most important part of the equation is not what you think, it’s what you know.  Let us see what a Wedding really is...  

 

PSYCHOLOGY OF A WEDDING
Weddings are truly special events. They are literally the changing of one’s relationships. The new structure is cemented by vows and promises of love and devotion. This not only involves the participants, known as the Bridal Party, but all the members of the two families are now bonded (sometimes only temporarily and with cheap glue) by matrimonial conduct and a little love, lots of sex, quick kids and a divorce when something new comes along.

If you have been asked to shoot a wedding...consider first a few steps to ascertain you know what you are doing.  Figure out how you got there.  Something that usually starts with the Brides side. She asks you.

No one in their right mind offers such responsibility or accepts such responsibility with no gain unless they are nuts. And it is usually accepted by someone who hopes to gain experience or the thrill of being very important, or thinks very highly of their own skills. 

Ask yourself. “Why Me”, What divine providence placed you in the center of the universe for this couple taking the vows? Was it your relationship with the newlyweds to be, or did they approach you because of your photographic prowess or knowledge? Is it a case of economics?  “Why me” is always a good question. You might be asking yourself that later.

Thank them for thinking of you in their hour of need, it’s not your hour of need. This should be a clue and bells should be going off.  If you didn’t understand this paragraph, please look up the expression “you have been had”.  

We must understand where you stand in this equation. Dry land or up to your ears in water…hot water.  If you go ahead with shooting a Wedding, read and consider the following. It is an overview of a situation you are about to participate in and explains some of the consequence. I have seen beginners simply doing a friend a favor and creating a situation they should have easily avoided.

Since I teach this game, I bring it from occurrences, heart pounding, stressful, make that a lot of situations.  I have seen some that should have been avoided. It wasn’t that the photographer wasn’t talented and could with the program mode today get some kind of images, but he wasn’t up to the situation and was easily overwhelmed.  

Being a good movie buff  (and a pilot for thirty plus years)  I know you have to be knowledgeable enough to fly the movie only plane when the pilot keels over.  In one movie a Cessna student pilot to lands a Boeing 757-767-777, Airbus series liner, incredible.  But this only happens in the movies.  He does however get the stewardess in the end.  The last plane I landed on fire, I did not get the stewardess, I got a bill from the airport authority for the use of their foam equipment.  This is not a movie.

 

WEDDINGS ARE FUN… As a Guest
Weddings are fun occasions to attend and participate in as a guest.  As a guest, I said, all that food, drink, the friendly people, the fun, music, games and plenty of love is in the air.  The beautiful people dressed to the nines, high heels and cleavage for the boys benefit and half-drunk guys for the gals.  Sounds like fun. You were thrilled to accept the offer to Photograph a Wedding.

Then the alarm goes off and you wake up. “Today I have to shoot a Wedding”.  And shooting a wedding can be quite a challenge to the new photographer and very intimidating if you haven’t had training in this area. Add to that, it can be financially self-destructive if you don’t get it right.

We do live in a sewer, that’s spelled SUE-ER society. And I guarantee to you, little of this with being able to take pictures. Most of the automated cameras today can take pictures. But when your weddings look like snapshots, ultimately you have failed the test.  

The attitude of “Winging it” can be very self-destructive because St. Murphy-Lawes, the patron Saint of Photographers is generally not on your side.  But “No fear” and “Winging it” are all too common these days with the advent of digital. Since

Photography is about the study of light, not the mantras of the photo equipment manufacturers.  Failures are because of a lack of preparation, training and a sheer lack of effort and study. Flash manufacturers, know this and they have automated their flash units to death, they call it integration. You get something of an image, and then I hear, just shoot it in raw and we'll correct it in Photoshop.

Are those who study the extreme use of sharpness, raw over/under exposure and bloated saturation which is the motivation behind an enormous cash flow in the general direction of ADOBE PHOTOSHOP products. I know I paid for the same upgrade bills you did but now I lease. POSTOGRAPHERS and PHOTOGRAPHERS are two different strokes.  One creates a mode that never existed and the other steals a precious moment of time.

But there are  killers and lots of turnover in this business.  The number one killer is the lack of preparation and training. Combined with bravado and a lack of experience in the myriad of pitfalls, the unprepared will easily be slaughtered.

THE LEARNING 
EXPERIENCE IS A GREAT TEACHER

Putting your hand in fire if you didn’t know what fire was, would be very common occurrence.  But as soon as a few of those Neanderthals got a few burned hands, a lesson was learned, and the caveman had it down pat.  That’s why he made the women do the cooking. No more burnt hands for the men.

The Women being smarter, invented the shish-ska-bob and the stick.  Cave-men then went on to invent the club and challenge Saber-tooth tigers and Mastodons. More learning lessons were accrued, and a few Saber-tooth’s bones showed human bones inside. They ate well…from the survivors we have learned two things.  

1)  That men do like ribs done over charcoal fires except when they are theirs!


2)  Saber-tooth's like their meat rare very rare and they think Cave-men taste like chicken. 

Let me be clear as a bell, no fear.  I’m not putting down newcomers to the game, I’m going to make you think so you will recognize potential problems and avoid them.   We all started somewhere and these are the tips for the newcomer to survive.   This site is to help you but done in a very callous way.  

It’s a big undertaking and you might as well know what you are getting into.  It’s also for Brides and Grooms who also might be less knowledgeable on how to select a photographer. 

If it’s just a honky dory Justice of the piece back yard barbecue gathering with family and friends, have at it, good luck, party and have a good time. Best wishes to the Bride and Groom.  This site is for the structured Wedding professional when it puts the food on your table and failure is not an option.


THE PROBLEMATIC THING ABOUT SHOOTING WEDDINGS IS NOT
WHAT YOU DO KNOW, IT’S WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW AND 
WHEN THAT PROBLEM WILL SURFACE


UNPREPARED FOR PROBLEMS -  
No one is that smart that you can predict what will happen at a wedding.  It’s Impossible and I make it very clear about landmines, they don’t care what shoes you wear.  There are folks at a wedding that will get in your way, get drunk and stupid, vendors that fall flat, personnel invectiveness, family problems and jealousies including on one occasion that last sexual fling with an old flame in back seat of his car in her wedding dress just before the reception  . I have seen most of it, but not all. So, I compare that to a hike through an unknown jungle.

When our unit went to Costa Rica, our unit we were taught jungle survival training. A prime example of the training involved identifying dangerous small animals and Reptiles like the Fer-de-lance, a venomous snake found from southern Mexico to central America.  

In Costa Rica, which has no army for self defense we did some training with the local Police groups, medics, first responders, not soldiers after the Che Gueverra from Castro days left.   I saw my first Fer-De-Lance, six feet of death.  Thats a snake with swagger, he’ll be swaggering and hours or minutes later you could be dead. Their camouflage is incredible, ambush hunters, and if you startle one, you will get hit, a huge amount of venom, and a lot depends if they can get you help under a half hour. In Costa Rica, we add Coral snakes and two kinds of Vipers, one a beautiful yellow Eyelash Viper, and the nasty Brazilian Tarantula.  Scorpions are common there, bites or stings are common but rarely cause death.  We have the Bark Tarantula in the US which is the nastiest we have.  Considered dangerous for kids and weak adults, mainly Arizona.

My point, you have to know the entire game and it’s the things you don’t know that will bite, sting you or improve your health.  Watch the TV show Naked and Afraid on Discovery.  It is not a porn show, get real, more like torture, and you’ll see the most insignificant insects and flies can be the worst.   Buttocks (everything else is blocked out) on the show are fair game, we all have our asses flapping in the breeze at times, and nothing really offensive as to what they do.  Really find out whats hidden in the woods.  And on that subject... few know about overseas medical services some advocates brag about.  (Those advocates being booking, travel, and sales agents for the DR’s down there.) 

A study carried out by the University of Costa Rica, found that in the period from January 2006 through December 2017, a total of 13 patients died during a cosmetic surgery in the country, out of these, the majority was getting a liposuction, the second esthetic procedure that presented more deaths was buttock augmentation.

The study was carried out by Dr. Marcela Balmaceda under the supervision of Dr. Maikel Vargas.  The cause of death in the majority of the cases involve pulmonary embolism (9 cases), a blockage of an artery in the lungs by a substance that has moved from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream; the second most common cause listed is septic shock, a severe infection that develops after the surgery.