The Working Pro - issue 237
I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by AIPP Grand Master Peter Eastway resulting in this article on my journey learning wedding photography.
The Best Way To Learn Weddings
When I started photography, I was a backyarder, working on weekends. However, I also worked at Teds and Camera House stores where students from RMIT would come in to buy their materials. They'd ask me technical stuff about things I thought they should know, but while I knew lots about the technology, they were learning about composition and lighting.
I also knew all about weddings because I have an Italian heritage. I can recall as a toddler dancing on the floor with a bride. Weddings often had 300 guests, seven-tier cakes and were the highlight of my upbringing. So it made sense that I wanted to be a professional wedding photographer.
I took a job as an assistant with Lynne Smith and worked for three years, learning the profession. And Lynne had learnt her profession the same way. I shot over 120 weddings before I went out on my own and that has been a great background for me. But these days, it doesn't seem to work like that. It's hard to get a job assisting and many photographers just pick up a camera and start shooting weddings.
I think the AIPP mentor program is really important because it means you can learn from experienced professionals. To be a professional, you need to learn the business. It's not just about taking pictures, there's a lot more to it, such as making the bride feel good on the day. This is how I approach weddings. Anything the bride wants on her day, she gets. If you can make her feel important and special on the wedding day, and take some good images along the way, then that's a win.
As a wedding photographer, you know you will get hot and sweaty. You know you won't drink enough water. But you also know that if your clients are happy and relaxed, you'll get some great shots. Knowing how I feel half way through a wedding, I started taking along a $3 bag of lollies and sharing it with the bridal party. I know how full-on the day has been and how close everyone is to hitting the wall, so a little sugar is greatly appreciated. And while I'm thinking of the bride, often it's the groomsmen who are first in line for the lollies.
Asked about the cheaper wedding photographers, Paul doesn't give them a second thought. At $500 or $1000, they are not making money. And if they are shooting a lot of weddings, then they're not charging enough to even replace their cameras and will soon be out of business. Recently I looked at my Canon E0S-1D X which is only 18 months old and it already has 250,000 cycles (shutter releases) on it, but it's a professional body. Many wedding photographers use cameras that are built for fewer than 100,000 cycles and that's not many weddings.
However, there are all types of clients and with around 100,000 weddings each year in Australia, there will be a lot of clients who don't really value photography that highly. They are not my clients. In fact, I'm rather pleased with the way the wedding photography profession is heading right now. Brides are beginning to understand what to look for in a photographer and the bridal magazines are doing a good job educating them about choosing a photographer based on style, not price. That's a good thing.
The most important photographs for me are the shots that make the bride look amazing. I get excited by placing a bride within a landscape. It's perhaps the simplest and easiest way to get a great shot, but you still need to ensure the bride trusts you and is having a good time. If she feels comfortable with you, she'll take direction and give you the looks and poses that make her look great. Sue Bryce said that a bride has every right to be the most beautiful person in the world on her wedding day. I want the bride to look drop-dead gorgeous, but I also know that there are many other photographs that are incredibly important.
Probably the most important photographs are of the family. Some photographers say they can be a headache to take, but I really enjoy the challenge. mind you, I remember a wedding planner at her own wedding gave me a list of 72 family photographs she wanted me to take! "Paul, you're going to hate me for this", she laughed. It took us a couple of hours, but we did it because those were the important photographs for her.
Paul Cincotta is a Master of Photography and lives on Hamilton Island, Queensland.
After this article was written I have since relocated to Queensland's Gold Coast but continue to service clients within the Whitsunday and Tropical North Regions of Queensland and indeed clients nationwide.