My First Photography Gig

I had my first paid photographic gig over the weekend.  It was a relative’s father’s retirement party.  It’s a good way to start: Lower pressure, small party, lots of people ready to pose.

Yet, it’s still nerve-wracking and gave me an entirely new appreciation for what wedding and event photographers have to go through.

And I want to do it again.  I’ve got the bug now.

Random thoughts on the event:

  • I only had an hour and a half to be there.  Unfortunately, that time included the buffet dinner.  People do not want to see pictures of themselves eating food, so I lost some time.  I tried to make up for it by taking pics of people as they were in the line for food.

  • I told everyone my rule: You stand in pairs, you get your picture taken.  It worked both as an ice breaker and as a way to keep moving.

  • I didn’t butt in enough.  Granted, I knew a few people at the soiree, but not all of them.  So I had to play the confident outgoing photographer type to get people to stop what they’re doing for a moment to take a picture. I needed to do it more.  When you’re the photographer, don’t fear being “pushy.”  It’s expected, and necessary.

  • Lens choice is an issue.  I went with my three lenses: 50mm f/1.8, 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6, and the wide angle Tamron 17- 35mm f/3.5 – 5.6.  The room wasn’t that large, so it’s not like I had much room to stand way back and take pictures.  I did use the longest lens to try to get some candid pics from across the room, but the lighting made it troublesome.  I had to use my flash, which is tough to nail just right from across the room.  With the 50mm, I got the best pics, but could only ever fit two people (head and shoulders) into a shot at a time.  The wide angle lens worked best for groups, but it’s not like I was getting any bokeh with it.

The pictures came out good, don’t get me wrong.  But I was changing lenses far too often.  My next lens will now definitely be the Tamron 28 – 70mm f/2.8 throughout.  It’s bright, fast, and has more latitude than the 50mm.  I might not get the pics from across the room, but that’s OK.  I can get them from halfway across the room, or crop as needed afterwards.  It looks like a terrific lens for this kind of event.

  • I shot in manual mode.  I didn’t realize the enormity of that until afterwards, so let me mention it again: I shot the entire thing in manual mode, controlling the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as I went along. Nothing was automated.  I even adjusted the brightness of my flash.  I took an awful lot of test shots, and often needed to take two of given shots to get it right, but it was worth it.  Still — MANUAL. I’m nuts.

  • I let the auto-focus work its magic, though.  I’m not a masochist.

  • Always check your ISO.  Often.  Don’t forget that you changed it to ISO 800 to shoot the moving objects across the room, just before you’re setting up to take a big group shot with three dozen people in it standing still at decently close range.  A little noise removal smoothed that out, but I should have still gotten it at ISO 200, or ISO 400, at worst.  Drat and bother!

  • I should really plunk down the dough for Noise Ninja one of these days.  If it integrated seamlessly into Lightroom, I bet I would have already spent the money. Maybe Lightroom 3 will allow such integration.

  • I brought plenty of extra batteries for both the camera and the flash, but never needed them.

  • I won’t be doing weddings or bar mitvahs anytime soon, but I’ll do your kid’s birthday party or parents’ anniversary shindig, if you want.  My rates are low!  ;-)

  • I ordered business cards, just in case.  They didn’t arrive on time.  UGH.

  • I didn’t have a back-up camera body, just my one handy Canon XTi. I’m a daredevil.

  • When getting paid for your pictures, you’ll find yourself doing a lot more careful editing in Lightroom.  I’ve never used localiszed adjustments before this.

2 thoughts on “My First Photography Gig

  1. I would highly recommend trying Program. I did the same thing u did when I got the camera and used Manual then switched to Aperture then settled on Program after going through photoclass and found Program is perfect since the camera handles almost everything for ya.

    Ordered a 40d, went with the std lens, held off on the Tamron u mentioned a few posts back, looks like a 2.8 lens. :)

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