Sunday, October 15, 2006

Things to remember about photography

In case I somehow forget (ha!) I wanted to write down a few things to remember so that next time I volunteer to help a friend by taking photos of an event I am fully prepared for the experience. This little "5 hour job" took it all out of me for two days, and this third day is being spent in recovery. I'm clearly not work ready--not even for fun.

For instance: a five hour retirement ceremony does not equal five hours of work.

First, there is the hour of preparation just to look good for the job and to make sure all the equipment is clean and properly functioning and batteries are charged.

Then, there is the transportation time and parking.

Of course, I want to get to the location early so I can scope it out, so for an event that starts at 5, I would really want to be there at 4 or at least 4:30. In fact, it's probably better to tell myself 4, because lately that means I will get there by 5.

Then there is the 5 hour event, which just might become 6 if I schmooze for too long or if the revelers are not good at stopping when time is up. (I suppose I should just keep close track of my time and leave at 5 hours, but what if the great shot were to appear later... like a bunch of grown & gowned women piling into an SUV like uncountable clowns in a car?)

And here's the painful part about digital photography. At a 5 hour event I am apt to take nearly 1000, yes, one thousand, photographs. If the ceremony is too fast moving I don't always have time to edit in-camera, so then I have to go through and weed out the crappy photos (eyes closed, ugly face, blur). This gets me down to about 900 photos. After that I can spend 20-30 hours further editing the pile so that I only give the friend about 500 photos. I suppose this is an optional step--I mean, there's the paring down of numerous photos of similar poses--figure out which one is the best group photo with the most open eyes and non-ugly faces, and then there's the making sure that the quality of the photo (light, color, etc.) is the best possible. The paring takes about 10 hours for someone as attentive as me. The perfecting at least another 20 hours. And then there's the CD burning--30 minutes per 200 photos on one CD, and the printing, and for a wedding the proofs book or the uploading to the web and the wedding album. Oy vey.

Justin says it's not mania that carries me through these horrible spurts of work, it's a little obsessive compulsive maybe. A little perfectionism. Way too much work ethic. Unrealistic and unrelenting high expectations for myself. It's not mania because I AM EXHAUSTED and miserable when I have to work this hard. If it were manic, apparently I would not feel the need to get more sleep and I'd be super fast about doing it all. Plus maybe I'd shop a lot. I always hate shopping, so it can't be that.

So, I have to remember that 5 hours really equals at least 16 hours, but for a really high quality job more like 30-50 hours.

And now we know why professional photographers charge so much per hour. It's not only to pay for their expensive equipment (a $400 flash, for instance), it's also to pay for their time behind the scenes.

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions or recollections of how much they paid their wedding photographers or family photographers or would be willing to pay for such services?

Don't be shy answering--I won't even post your replies if you request that I don't.

The thing is, I LOVE taking the photos. I love working the crowd, I love capturing images and details others might not see until they look at my photographs. But Lord, do I need to figure out how to speed up the rest of the process.

1 comment:

OakMonster said...

Can't help you there on the pricing because ours were free as a wedding gift. We paid for film and developing costs. :)