Re: [OM] 4-up display, was: Sagelight

Subject: Re: [OM] 4-up display, was: Sagelight
From: Ken Norton <ken@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2012 11:01:45 -0600
> Most of us probably know this trick already, but when taking a group
photo, have everyone close their eyes.  "On the count of three, open your
eyes and smile!"  One-two-three-click.  Works every time - no closed eyes
in the group.

Usually. But then you get other issues. With most groups when you say that,
there will be a couple of people who lower their heads. The open their eyes
but their chins are pointing to the floor. I've concluded that group
photography is of the devil. The only thing that will drive a photographer
to drink in excess more than group photography is pet, baby and mall santa

Fortunately, the bulk of my group photography would be considered to be
corporate event photography. As such, you tend to get a certain demographic
(no children, no toothless geezers) which helps a lot. But wedding
photography is where the group shots can really break a photographer.
NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING terrorizes most wedding photographers like the
group shots do. Everything else is just unmanaged chaos, but I've seen the
formals turn the best and the most experience photographers into puddles of
unset jello. I'm no exception. All photographers, if they were honest with
you, would tell you that no less than 10% of their wedding group photos are
"crash and burn". It's probably closer to 25%. Most wedding photographers
are lucky to get one portfolio grade group shot a year when you factor in
the general attractiveness of the individuals. We just shrug our shoulders,
do the best we can and hope the next one goes better.

I was doing wedding photography for a company that had some pretty
reasonably priced packages. Well, pretty reasonable, but the packages were
based on number of rolls shot. There were three, four and five roll (36
exposure) packages. More often than not, they bought the three roll
package. That's 108 exposures. Unfortunately, those who bought this package
were of the "my three dads" demographic. There were four or five sets (or
more) of parents. Even if you shot ONLY ONE photograph of each pose, that
ate up most of those 108 exposures. We had about 30-40 pictures for the
story telling (no dupes, one shot only) and all the formals had to fit in
what remained. If there were three or more sets of parents, it was
impossible to do it on three rolls. We always had to add a roll or two.
Group shot after group shot after group shot... And then the bride with her
parents, groom with his, bride and groom with all sets of parents one at a
time... Of course, you had to do each one individually with each parent
because the chance the marriage lasting long enough for the proof book to
be printed was slim. Then there were the sibiling shots. There were the
whole family shots as well as the no half brothers/sisters shots. It just
goes on and on and on... I even had two Maids of Honor one time--neither
were to be photographed with the other--yes that doubled all the group

After a while of this, I couldn't handle it anymore and went back to
booking my own weddings. Unfortunately, I'm a big softy and won't charge
the stupid expensive rates that others do, so I end up with a similar
demographic again. I started jacking the prices up to filter them out but
then I'm into a different demographic where we have the teenie-bop
fairy-tale weddings with bridezillas. There just is no winning. I kinda
found a niche with the second-marriage crowd and this works pretty well,
but they don't spend much. Those are easier weddings to shoot since
everybody is laid back. You won't get any portfolio grade images from
these, but the formals are easier too. You sell them an album (low cost
soft-cover) and a handful of prints. These days, we get zero reprint income
from weddings so we have to make 100% of our money up front in the package.

I haven't done many weddings recently because of our various moves (I
didn't book anything ahead of time for 2011 and 2012 because our jobs were
moving us elsewhere). I need to get back at it again. One per month is my
limit, though. Two tops. My work schedule is so intense I really don't have
time for more. I'm dreaming of an X-Pro1...It has that optical viewfinder
that doesn't blink.

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