5 Ways to Deal with Bad Wedding Photos

It’s another one of those photographers’ nightmares that everyone has to deal with, sooner or later in their career. It usually tends to happen to beginner wedding photographers: you shoot the wedding, spend tons of time editing the pictures, then, one day, you get the dreaded call. The client hates your work. They are disappointed with it. They may even ask for their money back. What do you do? How do you deal with bad wedding photos? Here are 5 tips from actual wedding photographers, with enough experience in their portfolios to be speaking with the best of intentions.

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1. Don’t dwell

This is the most important step in learning how to deal with bad wedding photos, unless you want to end up too scared to ever pick up a camera again. The past is in the past and you can’t reshoot a wedding. You can analyze what went wrong, enlist the aid of a very skilled photo editor and try to do as much damage control as possible. However, at the end of the day, all you can do is learn from your mistakes (as everyone does) and move forward.

2. Analyze & acknowledge

Perhaps the conditions in which you shot the wedding were harsh. Perhaps you lack the experience to handle the weather, the light, the temper tantrums thrown by the wedding party, or anything else. Maybe your compositions are bad. Try to pinpoint the causes, in order to deal with bad wedding photos. Understand what went wrong, but make sure to be as objective and detached as possible. It’s actually a good idea to sit down with said ruined set and a trusted fellow photographer and ask for their opinion. A second call could be what you need, in order to prevent you from doubting your professional abilities altogether.

3. Pay up… or not

Sometimes, when you are forced to deal with bad wedding photos, you must simply understand that some clients are out to get their money back. Nothing you say or do will feel like compensation enough for them, before you pay up. You can comply to any other request they make, edit and re-edit the photos until you turn blue in the face – they want their money back and that’s final. At this point, your options are those listed in the contract you signed with them. If the client has just cause to ask for their money back, both legally and ethically, there is little you can do but pay up. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be bullied away from your money.

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4. Get a second shooter, be a second shooter

The best way to learn wedding photography is by being a second shooter. Wedding photography pros recommend second shooting weddings for at least a year, before you attempt to go it on your own, as the main wedding photographer. Similarly, if you’re starting out as a main wedding photographer, it’s almost mandatory to enlist the aid of a second shooter you can trust. At the end of the day, they can make a world of difference, in terms of client satisfaction.

5. Trust your instinct

Lastly, the main takeaway, when you have to deal with bad wedding photos, is that you should always trust your gut when it comes to taking on a gig. If you feel you lack the experience and/or are worried the responsibility is too much for you to handle, find a gracious way to say no. You should never let a client pressure you into a booking, because chances are at the end of the day no one’s going to walk away happy – not you, nor the client.

4 Wedding Photography Tips for Second Shooters

tips-for-second-shootersWhat’s a second shooter, you ask? Then you clearly haven’t taken on any truly grand affairs. You probably haven’t been following our blog for long, since we’ve featured real-life second shooter advice before. But, to clear things up, here’s the lowdown. Big weddings usually require more than a single photographer, which is when the secondary one, also referred to as ‘the second shooter’ steps in. Today’s post brings a list of tips for second shooters, which we believe  to be relevant, since this position is usually filled by a beginner. It can be complicated to work in wedding photography as part of a two-person outfit. Photography is usually a solitary line of work. However, with the right mind frame about communication, a dash of chemistry, and our advice, we believe second shooters can truly shine and make the whole experience profitable and enjoyable for everyone involved.

Tip #1 Don’t work with a main who doesn’t trust you.

Our list of tips for second shooters starts even before the actual wedding takes place. Typically, you’ll be able to spot a main photographer who doesn’t trust you (or other photographers in general) right from the get-go. They tend to be generally self-centered, second guess you, or leave you no room to express your own views and always feel the need to micromanage… everything, you included. Suffice it to say, such a working experience will not work. The main photographer’s sole task is to manage the coverage of the wedding. If they’re too busy to snap gorgeous pictures because they’re bossing you around, everyone’s likely to end up feeling miserable and exhausted by the end of your first wedding photographed together.

Tip #2 Do your research.

Whenever you decide to work with someone else on a second shooter position, research the photographer’s approach and study their style. Before heading out to a wedding with them, ask to see a full wedding they’ve shot. Check out their portfolio and make note of details you see recurring in the photos. Study all the images they’ve produced and are available to you. Ask questions, if something strikes you as particularly unusual. It’s important to have a good grasp and strong intuition about a particular main photographer’s style, because your own work is going to have to merge with theirs without any major style breaches.

Tip #3 Ask more questions.

Remember how we advised you to ask questions above? Well, after you’re done doing that, make sure to ask even more questions – and make them as specific as possible. One of our main tips for second shooters is to know what’s expected of you. Some like to grant their second shooters a lot of autonomy, while others really expect them to act as gear-carrying assistants, only shooting every so often. Ask them what you should be focusing on: macros, close-ups and details, or, on the contrary, wide shots? Candid portraits? How open is the main photographer to your own artistic input, vision and ideas?

Tip #4 Help out

That’s what you were hired for, right? Get down to the specifics beforehand. Know where the main photographer expects you to be stationed during the ceremony. Make sure you understand their gear organization system and respect it. Take care of their bags and equipment. Make it a point to know where every lens, grip, lens cap or hot-shoe is during the actual wedding. Lend a hand during group portrait sessions, because this tends to get real hectic real fast and is one of the most complex moments of any wedding photographer’s job. Be in position and take the shots you’re expected to take during the ceremony – never forget that these are unique moments you’re there to capture and you don’t get a do-over. And relax: it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Second Shooter Tips From JD Delatorre & Jasmine Star

Guest Post by Topher Kelly

All Photos Courtesy of JD Delatorre & Jasmine Star

Becoming a profitable professional photographer is a long uphill climb. Those who are JD+JasmineHeadshotserious about bringing their dream job to life will do most anything they can to get started in a world that is already saturated with quality professionals. For most people, this often means starting as a second shooter for established photographers at weddings and other events.

A second shooter can be more than an opportunity to learn and gain experience. It can be profitable, too. However, there isn’t a ton of advice out there for people looking to perfect the art of the second shooter. That’s why I sat down with one of the most prosperous second shooters in America, JD Delatorre, to ask him for some of the tips he wish he knew when he first started. JD is Jasmine Star’s husband, and the quieter half of the successful wedding photography duo that has taken wedding photography by storm over the last several years. Once we got past the basics such as appropriate attire, offering to carry the main shooter’s bag, and checking your ego at the door, 3 really helpful tips that stood out:

1. Take Care of Vendors

During a wedding day, I usually don’t have time to cultivate friendships, but I always make sure to include every vendor throughout the day. If they need anything, I offer assistance. If the vendor dinner is served, I try to make sure everyone knows. It’s small things that ensure everyone feels like we’re on the same team… and there’s a high probability we’ll work together again in the future, so make sure to have everyone’s back.

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2. NEVER PASS OUT YOUR BUSINESS CARD

One of the first weddings Jasmine and I photographed together we had another photographer tag along with us. The night was flowing nicely until I overheard the third shooter pass his/her business card to a wedding guest… and passed his/her studio name along. I can’t explain how rude this is. On a wedding day, a second and third photographer is just that… an accompanying photographer to the main photographer’s studio. If a guest asks for a business card from a second shooter (which happens often!), the second shooter should always pass along the main photographer’s business card. Period. The end. If you want to gain respect from the main photographer, you can’t act like that at a wedding. Play your part in the event and if someone really took notice of your work, they’ll get a hold of you through the main photographer.

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3. Find New Angles

Don’t shoot over the main photographer’s shoulder! When I first started shooting with Jasmine, I shot behind her and captured ­­basically ­­the same photo as she did. Okay, just not as cool. She finally explained that she didn’t need another version of her photo…she needs an entirely different photo of the same moment. I’ll admit this is harder than it seems, but I know she appreciates creativity and a different photo from the exact same moment.

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If you are a second shooter looking to hone the art, take JD’s words seriously. For someone who rarely acts as a main shooter, his success has brought him to the front pages of magazines throughout the world that most main shooter’s could only dream of touching. He’s even teaching a free workshop on creativeLIVE August 6-7 with Jasmine. Who said a second shooter just stands in the shadows?

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