Wedding Photographer Resources - Please Contribute!

ivarivar I'd be happy with a cookiePosts: 8,395Registered Users Major grins
edited May 6, 2015 in Weddings
Even the best wedding-photographers can use a little bit of help every now and then. Need some tips? In need of inspiration? You may find it here!
Do you have something you think could help others? please post it in this thread. Thanks!



Tips & Tricks

Comments

  • AgnieszkaAgnieszka Photoshopping ... Between Denver and BostonPosts: 3,262Registered Users, Retired Mod
    edited March 7, 2010
    Resources for all wedding photography newbies / please contribute
    I would love it, if everybody could help me out here. I am hoping to have a thread for all the wedding photography newbies on here, so I can sticky it, and we won't end up having the same questions over and over again.

    I would like to ask you (experienced wedding photographers) to contribute your thoughts & experience:

    * * *
    • What was your photography background before you started shooting weddings?
    • How did you get into wedding photography (did you second shoot for an other photographer first?)
    • If you started off 2nd shooting for photographers, how did you connect with them? / What was your experience?
    • Who was your very first wedding for / how did you book the job, and how did you feel about it?
    • What was in your camera bag? What do you think are the 5 most important things to have in your camera bag?
    • How much did you charge your first couple / how many weddings have you shot before you asked for getting paid for your services?
    • Do you offer any off-season discount?
    • How many weddings did you shoot in your first year? / How many are you shooting now?
    • Are / were you a full time shooter, or was / is it just a side job for you?
    • What was included in your packages / how many packages did you offer & how did you come up with them?
    • What about digital files? Do you include them, or not?
    • What was the biggest mistake you did?
    • Which wedding photography resources (links / books) did you find helpful?
    • Are you part of any other wedding photography forums / clubs?
    • Where did you use to advertise, where do you advertise now, and how much money do you spend per year on advertisement?
    • Any other advice for a wedding photography newbie?

    > Need help with contract wording? Check out this thread
    > Interested in reading more about wedding albums? Check out this thread
    > And check out this link for any other tips & tricks.

    * * *

    Let's keep it classy, we were all newbies at some point. Thanks everybody thumb.gif iloveyou.gif

    * P.s. Yes, I know some of the questions are repetitive / have been asked here before rolleyes1.gif . I just think it would be nice to have them all in one thread ... So .... thanks for answering them *again*
  • smurfysmurfy Major grins Posts: 343Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 9, 2010
    "• Which wedding photography resources (links / books) did you find helpful?"

    General principles, composition, etc: "The Joy of Photography" by Parks and Haas.

    Posing and flattering the human form: "Professional Posing Techniques for wedding and Portrait Photographers" by Norman Phillips

    The most helpful of book on wedding photography I've found was "Digital Wedding Photography- Capturing Beautiful Memories" by Glen Johnson. I've bought books by Bambi, Marcus Bell, and others, but didn't get nearly as much out of them as this one.

    Links I like:

    for inspiration-

    http://www.yervant.com/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy_o9bu1jk0
    https://www.theicesociety.com/


    educational:

    lightroom tutoritals
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lightroom+2+tutorial&search_type=&aq=f

    Photoshop album design tutorials:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StB3xJdAV0o

    being seen by Google:

    http://rising.blackstar.com/eight-ways-to-help-google-see-your-images.html#more-6843

    equipment:

    Reviews:

    http://www.dpreview.com/

    to purchase:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/
    http://www.adorama.com/catalog.tpl?Sterm=camera


    "Any other advice for a wedding photography newbie?"

    Work on your lighting and posing skills with willing friend(s) before jumping into weddings. And use fill flash outdoors when in doubt.

    I know I'm only answering two questions, but others with more than my four years of experience will no doubt have much more sage advice.
  • liflanderliflander wag more. bark less. Posts: 339Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 22, 2010
    This thread is a great idea! As as newbie wedding photographer, I'd love to hear from the experienced wedding photographers out there. I hope to read more responses.
    Thanks,
    Mark
  • Art ScottArt Scott Have PASSPORT will TRAVEL WICHITA, KS USAPosts: 8,959Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 22, 2010
    Agnieszka wrote: »
    I would love it, if everybody could help me out here. I am hoping to have a thread for all the wedding photography newbies on here, so I can sticky it, and we won't end up having the same questions over and over again.

    I would like to ask you (experienced wedding photographers) to contribute your thoughts & experience:

    * * *
    • What was your photography background before you started shooting weddings?

    I was into shooting concerts.......but the area I live in was not producing many concerts...even at the music clubs..........after about a couple of years I had shot all the entertainers that was coming thru here......it was amazing at how closed minded all the "music show producers" were........I even took out of town job offerings when I could.....my 40 hr a week boss was very understanding........my wife at the time was not.......
    • How did you get into wedding photography (did you second shoot for an other photographer first?)

    there was no chance to second shoot, I contacted every well know photog here and asked to apprentice with them and was turned down flat.......... no explanation at all..........JUSt NO........so I hit the library....looking for books on wedding photography and i read everything I could get my hands on..........however everything was written in the late 30's to mid 1940's.....but I figured the lists of shots were viable..........but they were not.......much help.....all were whole day shooting scenarios......get shot of bride sleeping (be at brides house around 4:30 am to get ready for wake up shot)......this was 1979 or 80 and that did not fly at all.....get shot of bride in shower wraped in shower curtain......that did not fly........OOOps got off track.....so no apprenticeships......one local photog Mr. Azim was nice enuff to explain the problem........no one trusted anyone else......all were totally afraid to share knowledge with anyone because that person would take the knowledge and be a competitor.......my rebuttal was when these great photogs leave the business then who carries on their traditions.............as I have seen no one......a well know photog dies and his studio name gets sold and then it disappears.......they have trained no one to carry one, not even their children........This is why I freely try to help others when I can.........

    • If you started off 2nd shooting for photographers, how did you connect with them? / What was your experience?


    no second shooting as stated above.......back in the 70's and 80's our newspaper printed out all the engagements and included the wedding date, time and church......so you won't teach me......I'll sniper shoot your wedding.......camera in hand suit on and no flash or tripod....go sit in back row and look like any other guest.........until the formals and shoot until some asks "who the hell are you""..........a student of photography"....but there are no photog schools here....yes I know I do correspondence courses.......by then the real photog is worried....as i have shot nearly every pose he set up........the B/G ask can we see your photos.......not for a couple of months as I have to send the film off to the school to be graded.....it may take 3 or 4 months then it is returned with proof prints....I'll call you when they are back......that gave the real photog time to upsell and make me less of a threat........I did this every single saturday and sunday (7th day adventisit and others that have saturday as their Sabbath) un til I had a decent port to show....I did call the B/G's and show them 2nd grade shots if they had not purchased their wedding enlargements because they were waiting on me to show mine.......if they had their enlargements that I got to see.....then we compared mine to paid pro's shots........then I dove in head over heals........with a printed shot list.....that is absolutley no good to do......
    • Who was your very first wedding for / how did you book the job, and how did you feel about it?

    1st wedding was a friend of a co-worker of my now ex-wife......small country wedding.........but it taught me the lesson of NO shooting lists......then I was contacted by a wedding company and forced to shoot with a list....that lasted 2 weddings and I took a hike.....it was taking so long to shoot the formals that people would be leaving the reception before the B/G arrived.........so I ditched the wedding shot list..........sort of......it became a mental list......one that I could amend on the fly if need be............

    • What was in your camera bag?

    in the beginning my bag consisted of a Miranda 35mm + 50mm lens (that I hated)......when it was stolen I replaced with a fujica AX3 + 28-135 I believe and a Vivatar Series 1 70-210 2.8-4 (it was a Sigma made lens, so began my love of Sigma lenses) then I moved to medium format twin lens.....yashica mat 124G....and carried the studios Mamiya C330 as a back up......that was the beginning of using a flash bracket also as the TLR's mounted the flash on the side in portrait position and there were gawd awful shadows........so I got a handle with shoe and things were better..........

    What do you think are the 5 most important things to have in your camera bag?

    2- camera bodies, 2 lenses and pleanty of back up batteries, flash (2).......we are now at 7 things sorry........needles and thread and first aid things.......gerber multi tool......and my cell phone
    • How much did you charge your first couple / how many weddings have you shot before you asked for getting paid for your services?

    1st wedding was cost of film and processing and cost of album......1st contract wedding was a mere $20......then went up sharply to $50 for 1 yr by then I was charging an outrageous $250/ per wedding.....I was by now buying film from LA's Freestyle Photography for a mere 50 cents a roll for Fuji 100 24 exp rolls of 35mm and $1 for fuji 220 medium format.......waaaaaaaay less than any local camera shop would sell ...... they would also sell me Tap albums at real cheap prices..........processing was local as I had lost a test roll sent to Nat'l lab..........
    my film came in no box or plastic can....the 220 film was not even in the foil wrapper......Freestyle was getting directly from Fuji this way so it saved everyone money........I even started buying off the wall film from Russia and Germany for artsy stuff........then fuji 50 hit and i was in love.....slide and print film both 50asa.....Huuge enlargements no need for medium format any longer........

    • Do you offer any off-season discount?

    Wedding season is like rabbit season here.......it is always wedding season for me......I have monthly specials at times......get a % discount if you book you Nov Dec weddings now.......but never ever discount the retainer...........
    • How many weddings did you shoot in your first year? / How many are you shooting now?

    Including the snipeing....maybe 35 or so......without the sniping 10......but the second year I was shooting 1 on friday, 2-3 every saturday and 1 on sunday at times..............I was a shootin'g fool......I signed 1 no compete document my 2nd year and then quickly left the employment of that studio......as I found that was illegal in a right to work state.......I did agree to not reopen my own business for a year.....but I shot for 3 other wedding companies in the mean time.......I made a lot of money for other people in my first 20 yrs of photography and got ripped off by a few at the same time (I lost 3 trays of slides that I sent to an entertainer ....each tray held over 100 slides......vowed no one ever got my originals again......)
    • Are / were you a full time shooter, or was / is it just a side job for you?

    for over 20 yrs I shot as a partime pro and had to leave the local Ametuer Camera club.....it was in their by laws.......now I am a full time shooter .....doing weddings, portraits and assignments for a book publisher......


    • What was included in your packages / how many packages did you offer & how did you come up with them?

    I copied the packages of 4 successful studios in my area..........then I quit as it seemed no one was interested in the package deals....about my 3 rd year in business I went to a build your own package deal and gave discounts for prints 8x10 and above.....5x7, 4x5 and wallets did not count toward discounts.....I had 2 wallet offerings 8 (equaled 1 8x10 sheet) or 75 and it was so cheap on the 75......that was the only wallets ordered...........that included the clients name, if a senior and my hot stamped logo.............
    I still run with a build it yourself package concept.....


    • What about digital files? Do you include them, or not?

    No original size files.......a disk of 72 DPI 4x6's yes.......that is I resize in PS to 4x6 (approx 450 dpi) then save for the web to a different folder, that way if someone has a bit of PS knowledge and thinks they can get better resolution by upping the DPI in PS it only gets waaaaaay smaller......I gave full resolution proofs to one client (senior portrait) and then had to send nasty gram to the lab she got all her enlargements from.......I had an exact duplicate disk with copyright statement on the front and my business name on their also........

    I walked in as for reprints and was never questioned....I immediately ask to see the manager or owner and it was the owner that was taking my order.....I handed him the nasty gram right then......he nearly peed his pants and started stammering an apology......it was quite comical to me........it has since sold and the new owners as for proof of copyright ownership or a letter giving printing rights to client.....

    • What was the biggest mistake you did?

    Going to a wedding with brand new camera and no back up.........that was such a fuupah that I nearly quite shooting right then and there.......


    • Which wedding photography resources (links / books) did you find helpful?

    I don't have any fav links actually or books............I really try to get people to read the books written from the past.....1930's to 1980's......all predigital......but all very viable.......do not use the crap programs in your camera until you learn real photography first.......shoot manual or pick one of the semi auto settings - aperture priority or shutter priority......that is all one needs to produce fantastic great photos.......maybe a fun or special effect filter here or there and the digital ones have not compared to the real ones yet....as far as I have seen with the exception of the star filter I saw mentioned here on dgrin

    • Are you part of any other wedding photography forums / clubs?

    no just here and nikon cafe

    • Where did you use to advertise, where do you advertise now, and how much money do you spend per year on advertisement?

    Advertising has always been most word of mouth and business cards placed on bulletin boards in grocery stores and book stores and health food stores......then an now......

    • Any other advice for a wedding photography newbie?

    Learn your gear...its limitations and yours.....learn your primary shot list the sellers if you will then always improvise and play with a few shots in camera.... get it in camera so that all you need to do is just convert from raw to jpg for printing......do not rely on post for being creative........if you will take the time to learn to shoot as if you are shooting high dollar film that will make you a better shooter in the future.....I still meter wit ha handheld........just like I did with film.....I also meter my flash......and that makes me second guess the purchase of the 2 Nikon SB900's I have.....

    Way too many digital photogs never shot film and really scream if they take a class and the instructor says....You gotta shoot film and you're only allowed 1 - 12 exposure roll that I will provide......what!!!!! I can just shoot the crap and chimp for a good shoot......the art of the shot is in the minds eye......I can see it but I cannot draw it therefore I shoot it.........but you must learn to see it.....dream it......feel it.............a lot of times I will have dreams of my upcoming wedding and make my self remember the shots I did in the dream....these tend to be shots not on my mental list of over 30+ yrs.........be happy at all shootings......it just makes people more at ease.....and for better pictures..........


    Good Luck!!
    "Genuine Fractals was, is and will always be the best solution for enlarging digital photos." ....Vincent Versace ... ... COPYRIGHT YOUR WORK ONLINE ... ... My Website

  • liflanderliflander wag more. bark less. Posts: 339Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 24, 2010
    Thanks Art! That was informative. Can you talk a little more about how you light weddings, especially candid shots? Do you use any off-camera flash for candids, like light-on-a-tripod or on a stick with an assistant type of thing?
    Regards,
    Mark
  • DarrylDSmithDarrylDSmith Big grins Posts: 15Registered Users Big grins
    edited June 8, 2010
    Good post Art. Now if only I could get a backup camera before my new 50D goes kaput. I've already put quite a workload on it already Laughing.gif
  • mmmattmmmatt Big Grimace Posts: 1,347Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 9, 2010
    • What was your photography background before you started shooting weddings?

    Hobiest.

    • How did you get into wedding photography (did you second shoot for an other photographer first?)

    I started when a friend who had seen some of my family/friend and concert photography was putting together a low budget wedding for her daughter and asked me to photograph it for her. it was my intention to 2nd shoot one before that wedding but around that time my mother got very ill and I was traveling back and fourth to Florida quite a bit and wasn't able to do it. Big mistake, for the record, but it was enough to make them happy and enough to make me want to do it more. I then moved to a town where there was a technical college that offered photography degrees, started school, and then found opportunities to 2nd shoot.

    • If you started off 2nd shooting for photographers, how did you connect with them? / What was your experience?

    While in school I was bartending and met a regular who was a photographer. He and I got to be friends and he eventually asked me to assist on a magazine shoot. This was a shoot of a modified Buell motorcycle that had recently broken the land speed record for its class. After that he allowed me to 2nd shoot a couple with him for free, and on the 2nd one he paid me to do the raw processing for him. Third one he paid me to 2nd shoot, and we rocked the house. I always refer to him as my mentor. He mostly does "corporate reports" but still does the occasional wedding. He has shot a couple hundred, and just didn't like the long days and the stress. As things go, I needed a 2nd shooter for the wedding I shoot this weekend and hired him. I am super anxious to shoot with him again. Right out of the box, with no direction from him, we both had very similar eye's and styles. Mine has grown since but I'm sure we will be awesome together. One very important note about him is that he allowed me to use all the images I shot in my portfolio... that is a big one when you are starting out. The people I 2nd shot for after that wouldn't let me use my own images and that sucks. I show them to people at sitdowns, but I can't put them on my site.

    • Who was your very first wedding for / how did you book the job, and how did you feel about it?

    See above


    • What was in your camera bag? What do you think are the 5 most important things to have in your camera bag?

    I shot my first one with a rebel xt, kit glass, a 24mm f2,8 (that ultimately had focus issues and was the cause of most of my grief from the day), a 50 1.8, a sigma flash, and a stroboframe bracket.

    5 most important would be a camera body, a backup body, lenses, cards, and a flash. Other than the obvious, I am all about having a leatherman... just trust me when I say if you have it on your belt you will find lots of uses for it, little things like pony holders, towel/bandanna to wipe your sweaty face, safety pins, wig tape (works great to hold up bridesmaids dresses that keep slipping), extra batteries, extra cards...

    • How much did you charge your first couple / how many weddings have you shot before you asked for getting paid for your services?

    My first one, for my friends daughter, I was charging $750 including about $200 in prints with $350 down. I wasn't pleased with what I delivered, even though they were not bent, and I both doubled their prints and refused the 2nd payment. End result was $50 either way of breaking even. Then 2 2nd shoots w/o pay and one for $250. then I 2nd shot some more for $0-300. From there it was a friends wedding that I did for $500 with $100 of that going to my 2nd shooter. With that all in my portfolio I was getting $1250, then bumped it up a couple hundred every now and again until I was where I am now at a starting point of $1850.

    • Do you offer any off-season discount?

    I do a friday/sunday discount of 20%


    • How many weddings did you shoot in your first year? / How many are you shooting now?

    My first year I shot 8 or 9 including my 2nd shooter gigs. This year I have only 6 booked but also have a number of b'nai mitzvah, and other smaller events booked. Weddings are obviously my passion, but it is a competitive market and it takes time for the word of mouth to circulate. This is only my 2nd year as a full time shooter and I will say it is tough. I can't get 2nd shooter gigs anymore and I can't get people to subcontract with me. I'm not sure if that means my site/portfolio is too good or not good enough. ahh well I guess I'm non my own, nbd.

    • Are / were you a full time shooter, or was / is it just a side job for you?

    I consider myself a fulltime shooter but I do still bartend 1 or 2 nights a week for extra cash. that and I eat a LOT of ramen!

    • What was included in your packages / how many packages did you offer & how did you come up with them?

    My packages when I started out are about the same as now. I only book full-day and all my packages include a DVD of full res with personal use copyright, some enlargements, and contact sheet prints. At first I included 4x6 proofs but that is a big expense so I went to the contact sheets. I offer otions ala carte' and if a client pays me a 50% retainer I throw in a free engagement session. My middle package is the same as the basic except adding a 2nd shooter, and the third ads an album. I'm thinking about revising those though...


    • What about digital files? Do you include them, or not?

    Yup, everything I shoot unless a person wants to get down and dirty on price then they can pay me per print, but for weddings I don't ever budge unless it is a close friend or a Friday/Sunday wedding.

    • What was the biggest mistake you did?

    I really should have found a 2nd shooting gig before I shot my first wedding... that is a major regret.

    • Which wedding photography resources (links / books) did you find helpful?

    Wow... I started out with a book called "The the business and art of wedding photography". It had some good information about basic posing and photographer positioning but otherwise useless. Real old-school concepts like sell the prints, digital is a fad, and use manual flash. Don't waste your time!

    The best resource was school. Even though they didn't really teach wedding photography, and only touched on digital, I learned a lot about photography. A true understanding of how your camera captures light is invaluable. I learned about basic studio lighting, basic photoshop, and how to predict needed adjustments in exposure. For a newbie starting out, THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO is to take at least a photo 101 course. the school I went to wasn't real firm on me graduating and I didn't. I took some academic classes at first and then just took only photo courses. A degree is a nice life accomplishment but it wont get you weddings... a wedding portfolio gets you weddings. I have yet to have anyone ask if I have a photography degree!

    other than that there is a ton of info that is specific to weddings on the net. dgrin is obviously my poison of choice but there are other forums and google will answer almost any question you have about photography.



    • Are you part of any other wedding photography forums / clubs?

    Nope, but I do socialize with other local photographers and we talk about photography and clients more than anything. usually it is 1 on 1 but sometimes 2 or 3 of us will all get together.

    • Where did you use to advertise, where do you advertise now, and how much money do you spend per year on advertisement?

    I'm always on the lookout for free advertising. I've never placed an ad in a magazine. I have been trying to get into the big local winter bridal show around here but they are backed up with photographers trying to get in and the best I've gotten was "If you place an ad in the magazine then maybe we can move you up on the list but no promises" the cost of the show is $1500 plus whatever I spend on my booth, and the cost of the ad in their magazine is about $4K... I just don't have it to spend on a "maybe we can move you up on the list". I have used wedplan.net but never got anything from it. Not even an inquiry. Most people traditionally found me through Google but now I am now getting more referral business. It takes longer than you would think to get referral business going and if you were prostituting yourself early on to get work, I wouldn't bank on those clients giving you quality referrals since they will tell the person the price they paid, even if they say they wont.

    • Any other advice for a wedding photography newbie?

    Find a way to shoot. it doesn't have to be weddings! your friend is having a party? Bring your camera and try some new techniques! Take your kids or your friends out to a park in crappy noonday sun and work on balancing your flash with the ambient, work on off camera lighting techniques, or complicated setups that you are afraid to try on wedding day. Contact local High Schools and see if you can shoot their proms. I have learned more from shooting proms than you can imagine. you may have to go through their school photography company to get the gig, and either way you won't make diddly, but it is experience.

    somebody once told me, as an assignment, to shoot at least 1 good image every day. try it for a month! Raining, snowing, too sunny, to cloudy, middle of the night... do it all and challenge yourself to keep up with it for 1 month, then look at your first few images and your last few images and see where you have improved. I can all but guarantee you will see a huge difference and want to keep doing it. If you want to be a good photographer you need to make it a part of your daily life! Live it breath it and live it. If it is your passion it should be easy but if it isn't then you probably shouldn't be shooting weddings.

    My .o2

    Matt
    My Smugmug site

    Bodies: Canon 5d mkII, 5d, 40d
    Lenses: 24-70 f2.8L, 70-200 f4.0L, 135 f2L, 85 f1.8, 50 1.8, 100 f2.8 macro, Tamron 28-105 f2.8
    Flash: 2x 580 exII, Canon ST-E2, 2x Pocket Wizard flexTT5, and some lower end studio strobes
  • SummerRaineSummerRaine Beginner grinner Posts: 4Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited October 7, 2010
    This was all very interesting to read. Thanks so much for taking the time to share
  • AgnieszkaAgnieszka Photoshopping ... Between Denver and BostonPosts: 3,262Registered Users, Retired Mod
    edited October 12, 2010
    Just listened to a podcast and thought I'd ad it to the list:
    Look on itunes for "For Wedding Photographers" and listen to the episode called "First Wedding - Don't be nervous"

    Or go here:
    http://louistorres.com/itunesreroute
    (http://www.forweddingphotographers.com)
  • ccraftccraft Christina Craft Photograp Posts: 68Registered Users Big grins
    edited January 27, 2011
    • What was your photography background before you started shooting weddings?
    I primarily photographed animals, wildlife and nature. I was afraid to photograph people until our fashion photography course in photography school (I got so hooked on photography that I quit a good-paying marketing/pr job when I was 35 and went back to school full-time). I attended the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, BC.

    • How did you get into wedding photography (did you second shoot for an other photographer first?)
    I shot the first two weddings alone - a mistake. After that I traded hours with a friend (i was her backup adn she was mine). I highly recommend this until you are very experienced.

    • Who was your very first wedding for / how did you book the job, and how did you feel about it?

    My first wedding was a disaster. They wanted family portraits only and only posed look at the camera and smile photos. They found me via a Craigslist ad and paid $200 for one hour. I brought along studio lights, but I was inexperienced with them and there were weird color casts in the images (and I didn't know how to fix them at the time). If I were to go back and do it over again, I'd find a friend to team up on the first job... then I'd offer an all-day package (including prep and some reception)... I would market us as photojournalists/creative photographers... and that way we could get away from the look at the camera and smile photos and do something more creative and fun... I'd also charge more.

    • What was in your camera bag? What do you think are the 5 most important things to have in your camera bag?
    A flash. A pocket wizard (a must for me now... but I like to experiement and I'm very comfortable doing gonzo lighting), a D700 (good for dark since the grain/noise at high ISOs isn't a problem), a 70-200mm 2.8 VR lens (a MUST MUST MUST) and my favorite tool, and a standard 24-70mm 2.8 lens. I also have a wider angle lens for some creative stuff and I only pull it out once in a while. I used to shoot a lot with my 50mm 1.8 but that was when I had the D200 and grain was a problem in the dark.

    • How much did you charge your first couple / how many weddings have you shot before you asked for getting paid for your services?
    I started off at around $200 an hour. This was a mistake and people considered me "cheap" instead of "creative. You never want to be the one they hire based on price. I now know about the NPPA cost of doing business calculator. I teach a business photography course (as well as a wedding course) and I tell everyone to fill tis in. It tells you how much you need to make in order to be profitable. I now charge $4000+ for weddings, making an average of $5,350 per wedding.

    • Do you offer any off-season discount?
    Not any more. I try to limit the number of weddings I do a year to under 20. I'd rather make more and work less. Once you start to get word of mouth clients (again... better to have word of mouth clients from people who paid more) and SEo marketing/advertising or whatnot... weddingswill be easier and easier to book. I did 8 weddings the year I graduated... 30 the following year ($1500 average profit... not great!), 40 the following year, and now I'm back to 20... at $4000 starting.

    • How many weddings did you shoot in your first year? / How many are you shooting now?

    • Are / were you a full time shooter, or was / is it just a side job for you?
    full-time.

    • What was included in your packages / how many packages did you offer & how did you come up with them?
    You should figure out your shooting fee... then the cost of building the other components of your package. I now hire someone to help with photoshop... so a disc costs $600 - I charge $950 extra for the disc... and an album costs $200+ with 10+ hours of work... I start at $950 for albums and go up to $2450. My base rate for shooting an all day wedding is $4,350 and most people buy the disc and some buy the album.

    • What about digital files? Do you include them, or not?
    I no longer include them. They need to purchase them separately.

    • What was the biggest mistake you did?
    Charing too little!

    • Which wedding photography resources (links / books) did you find helpful?
    I LOVE the digital wedding forum. WPPI was also inspiring!

    • Are you part of any other wedding photography forums / clubs?
    FWforum.com

    • Where did you use to advertise, where do you advertise now, and how much money do you spend per year on advertisement?
    I'm good with SEO (I used to do online marketing/commuciations) and SEO is the #1 source of new requests (not word of mouth). I have 125 requests for price lists a month (or more in January when people have just gotten engaged). This is primarily from SEO marketing. Of course, it helps to have a portfolio that stands out compared to the competition. I highly recommend investing in good SEO! Facebook marketing/advertising works too. Advertise to "engaged" couples in a target market... adn pay per click... it'll be worth the effort (if they like your work). Do not advertise to photographers unless you are marketing an actual product for hotographers... market only to "engaged" couples. Those who have their status as engaged are proud and more likely to hire a photogrpher. If you advertise t people who "like photography" you'll get a lot of photogrpahers clicking on the ad and it will cost you money.

    • Any other advice for a wedding photography newbie?
    Buy a wedding dress from a used store (I pay about $40 a dress at the Salvation army). Hire a model from a local agency (cost will be about $50 an hour). Build up a portfolio of stuff that you want to represent *you* - do your experimenting with a model... create your portfolio this way... and the RIGHT clients will find you!! If you work with clients... they will dictate how they want you to shoot. It was hard at frst to be creative with clients because they didn't trust me. I had to do a lot of convincing to begin doing creative stuff... however, it's now the creative stuff that attracts new clients.

    If there is a photography workshop in your area it may be worth prticipating. I have one coming up this march (with six models a day...) here in Victoria BC http://www.funkytownphotography.com/photographyworkshops/ - no pressure sales though.... but feel free to browse if you're curious about what one looks like and the average cost. There are workshops like this in a lot of major urban areas.

    Good luck to those just getting started!
    Christina
    http://www.funkytownphotography.com
    Costa Rica Wedding Photography
  • allofusallofus Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited March 27, 2011
    New to the forums after lurking for a while. I am ashamed to admit this is my first actual post. rolleyes1.gif

    1. I started shooting weddings by backing into one sideways. I know, really sounds odd, right? I had done portrait photography for a while, and got started in photography by shooting my children's sporting events, upgrading equipment, and then opened a studio. A friend who was getting married asked if we would consider shooting their wedding. A VERY informal shindig. The rest is history.

    2. Covered in #1. I was nervous as heck! I didn't go with a 'list', as another poster already stated, I just went from my own head, and what I would want from my wedding photographs. I tend to look at it more from a photojournalistic standpoint, and my ideal wedding is a lot of the 'informal' stuff. We do offer the 'standard' poses, but even try to mix those up a bit, too. I try to think outside the box, and give people what they want, but from a different perspective. The nice part about our studio is, my daughter and myself co-own, so we instantly have a built-in 2 shooter wedding. What I don't get, she does. I don't know that I could or would want to do solo weddings. We work very well together, and have been told that our easy rapport sets our clients at ease, too.

    3. Camera bag, ummm a lot of stuff. I have an awesome Canon backpack bag, and we also have a secondary bag for the 2nd shooter, so we have a lot. Two bodies, 7 lens options, hoods, filters, batteries, back up batteries, about 6 memory cards, 2 hot shoe flashes, lens cleaner, beauty dish attachments for the hot shoe flashes (which I LOVE) and another bag for weddings of silly little things. Sewing kits, tampons, band aids, tape, electrical tape, duct tape, etc. Cuz you just never know.

    4. We charged right out of the gate. 1000.00 for our first, and after we received calls and inquiries after, we upped it. We are in a smallish community in the midwest, but it's a fine line to walk. I researched other photographers prices in the area, what they offered, and went from there. I like to do weddings, but not so much that I want to price myself so low as to not make a profit. We are right about where the others in the area are, 2900.00 for our top package with all the bells and whistles, but I also created a niche that no other photographer offers in this area. We do NOT print or offer prints, or force clients to order prints. We edit all images (usable) and place them on a flash drive along with a copyright release. The 2900.00 covers us for the day (that's all day booking, start of getting prepared until end of reception) and we don't have to mess around with ordering prints. I use SMugMug for viewing, and they do their own printing. Clients love it.

    5. NO discounts. It doesn't really do anything for us, than gouge our own pockets, and while I do like to do weddings, I don't do more than 2 a month. The editing time kills us, and I like to take my time to get through a wedding to give the clients something meaningful. I get a much higher profit margin from shooting senior sessions, which seems to coincide with the busiest wedding season, so to offer a discount, to me at least, seems counterproductive.

    6. I am a full time photographer, and my daughter is part-time. We shoot about 10-15 weddings on average a year. Just the amount I want. I will not do more than 2 a month. Just my own preference.

    7. We have 2 packages, one bare bones, one top-of-the-line. Then we give the clients the option of picking and choosing what they would like, what they don't want at all, and go from there. Then they know 'hey, this is the least and most you will pay'. I am pretty good at Adobe, and offer things like books, albums, poster-style prints, etc., and also design personalized thank yous, save the date cards, programs, guest books, etc. I have found this to be much more client-friendly that setting a bunch of packages which most people don't want.

    8. Give them. Our clients love that. We give them the option of using our processing lab, but they pay the labs prices. We don't inflate. They will generally order some from us, but the majority they order on their own.

    9. Biggest mistake was low-balling the price to start. Once you set prices, it's hard to justifiably raise them, unless you are offering something tangible.

    10. Resources I have found to be most helpful is stalking other photographers websites. I get a lot of ideas, a lot more what not to do's, and get a very good idea of what is current and coming down the pike. This is the only forum I am on with photography, and am amazed at everything it offers. For some reason, photographers tend to be an odd little bunch. I really pride myself on helping those just getting started, and if they ask for ideas or help, I am glad to oblige however I can, but some of my counterparts are not so helpful. I don't know why, I guess it's because of the competition aspect, but honestly, I can't do it all, nor do I want to.

    11. Advertising is kind of a waste of money, IMHO. As someone else already said, word of mouth is your best advertising. I have networked with a few businesses, and we have bartered services, which has gotten me a little business, but I advertised once, and didn't get anything out of it other than a hefty ad billing a month later. I offer donations to local organizations that I support when they have events such as live auctions which helped get us business in the door, and I NEVER leave the house without a business card, but truthfully, my best advertising that didn't cost a dime was Face Book. I provide direct links to photographs through SmugMug, keep an up to date blog, and keep statuses current, direct, and to the point. When you can tag, say a high school senior in a photograph, and their friends see them and oohh and aaahhh about your portraits, it leads to a few calls. But don't get carried away. It is tempting to want to post updates and information all the time, but if you 'blow up' news feeds on a constant basis, people will quickly block you from their news feeds. I post what I call 'sneak peek' albums on facebook, then after I edit all the images, I direct link to the SmugMug album. Best free advertising you will ever find.

    Lastly, advice. Do your research, get to know your clients on a personal level, and put them at ease. After all, you and the videographer are the only people truly documenting this one day in their lives that is one of the most important they could ever have. Don't go in half-ass. Know your equipment better than anyone, know your clients, and go out of your way to get to know the important people in their lives. Even the random shots might mean the world to them. Be at ease, and be willing to get past small issues. As my mother used to tell me, don't sweat the small stuff. Things will go wrong, they always do, but move past it, and go forward. One of things we offer is rehearsal coverage. We don't go to the dinner, just to the ceremony rehearsal. It takes a minimum of time, and you get to meet everyone important to the day before the stress and chaos sets in. You get to know the facility, lighting, officiant, and it makes the day following much easier.

    Hope this helps.
  • photo10photo10 HGreen Photography Posts: 5Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited July 26, 2011
    STAY AWAY FROM www.moreweddings4u.com and Priceless Moments Marketing.... BEWARE!!
  • AgnieszkaAgnieszka Photoshopping ... Between Denver and BostonPosts: 3,262Registered Users, Retired Mod
    edited July 26, 2011
    photo10 wrote: »
    STAY AWAY FROM www.moreweddings4u.com and Priceless Moments Marketing.... BEWARE!!

    Appreciate the heads-up ... but I think you'll need to explain your warning?
  • sphyngesphynge black magic Mountain View, CAPosts: 172Registered Users, Retired Mod
    edited August 31, 2011
    Sphynge Photography - here's how I got started
    Ok, so diving right in!

    • What was your photography background before you started shooting weddings?
    I have a pretty unusual story. I had been a painter for a long time, but when I got to college, I needed 4 jobs to pay for it all, so oil was a luxury I just couldn't afford. Out of college, I bought a camera, and started taking pics.
    In December of that year, I went back home to France and took photos during a trip to Paris with my mother. Came back to the US and decided to print some photos for my living room at Walmart. I go to pick them up, when the clerk goes "Did you take those pictures?". I said yes. He told me I was way too talented to just have them sit in my living room. (And there I'm thinking to myself "Riiiiiiight").
    Norman (that was his name) had worked for George Lucas for years before they shut down all the print shops (as they were moving to digital), and that's how he was working at the Walmart photo department; he said he had connections and I should really show some people my work. I went to see a print shop in South San Francisco - the owner, Sai, told me he hadn't dealt with individual photographer in years and did only commercial work, but he was intrigued and open to seeing my portfolio. I showed him the Walmart printed photos, blushingly, and he too said that was insane, and I should do something with my photos. He printed them for free and got me a gallery opening. He then told me to buy the most expensive camera I could afford, because I'd never know when I would take the shot that would make me famous. I followed his advice :giggle

    There was my first fine arts show. I started with landscapes, then I kept giving myself assignments (macro, animals, etc). Then I took courses at Stanford.

    • How did you get into wedding photography (did you second shoot for an other photographer first?)

    I started with film right out of college, with friends' weddings. I wasn't the main shooter, but I took the family/friend candids (since I was part of the parties as a guest). I was second shooter for the main photographer at a few more friends' weddings.


    • If you started off 2nd shooting for photographers, how did you connect with them? / What was your experience?

    I was the 2nd shooter for friends' weddings. I wouldn't recommend it. The main photographer is scared to death you'll compete with them most of the time. Some are chiller than others (the more established ones usually). I hate to say it, but friends do abuse you. They ask you to come at the wee hours of the morning, to help with everything, to stay late - and sometimes they don't say thank you (which is very heartbreaking), no matter how many compliments they get on their photos.


    • Who was your very first wedding for / how did you book the job, and how did you feel about it?
    The very first paid gig was a friend of a friend. By then I had a portfolio, something to show. I had a good sense of routine - the different moments of the day. I had a shoot list (for myself, I didn't share it). I had included an engagement session that ended up lasting 9h - but it got me to understand the couple very well, and make sure I could make the groom laugh :D On the day of I was a little nervous (turns out, I always am!), but confident I could do it. I had a great time and was really tired by the end but it turned out fun thumb.gif

    • What was in your camera bag? What do you think are the 5 most important things to have in your camera bag?

    I had a D700, a 24-70 2.8, a 50mm, a 35mm, and an SB-900.
    The secret sauce: take out the 35mm, keep a shooting guide instead.
    The 5 most important things you need are: your experience, your camera, a zoom lens, a prime lens, and a flash. Do not underestimate the priority -your experience is the one thing you can't replace.

    • How much did you charge your first couple / how many weddings have you shot before you asked for getting paid for your services?
    I shot about 10 as a 2nd without pay (warning: do NOT do this), and my first wedding was $1,000.

    • Do you offer any off-season discount?
    Nope. If there is one thing about discount clients, is that they get you more discount clients. And you can't just randomly generate more time of yours, so you'll have to really value it as you go along, and find customers who understand that value and the unique expertise you bring; people who understand that awesome things take time - and that includes awesome photography.

    • How many weddings did you shoot in your first year? / How many are you shooting now?

    In my first year, I shot four. Now I'm at about 11-12, which is the maximum I give myself - i know how much time I like to spend, so I only take on couples who understand and value that time (I'm fortunate enough to find them).

    • Are / were you a full time shooter, or was / is it just a side job for you?
    I have two loves in life: marketing, and photography. So this is my second job, but it could be self standing - I just don't want it to.

    • What was included in your packages / how many packages did you offer & how did you come up with them?
    At that time I had 3 packages: a bare bones one for the lower budget bride, a middle package which had an album, and a high end package (the "i don't want to worry about anything" package). That's still the case today, but over the years I've found more products I love and offer those.

    • What about digital files? Do you include them, or not?
    Yes I do. This is a philosophy question - as a bride I didn't see why I should pay a photographer and get nothing at the end of the day. The way I see it, it's not a service like a stand up comedian, where standing and making jokes *is* the service. The photos are the services. So if you don't deliver that, you got paid to make shutter sounds all day. Many will disagree with that approach. Many say it's a missed opportunity. But that's my philosophy, and my couples rarely choose the lowest package. I explain why the products I offer are part of my craft, why I add value there, and my couples understand the craftsmanship behind an album, or a unique product, and they usually elect to purchase that craftsmanship as well.

    • What was the biggest mistake you did?
    Shooting for free. I didn't believe it at first, that free only begets free. But it's true. If you don't value your work, no one else will. Sad truth.

    • Which wedding photography resources (links / books) did you find helpful?
    Oh goodness - where do I start? I took classes at Stanford which really opened my perspectives (I took photojournalism classes for example). I read every single book my local library had to offer on photography (only 6 or 7 shelves). I researched the top photographers in each field (fashion, sports, product, landscape, etc) and tried to train my eye into seeing how they were different. I studied history of photography to see its evolution, trends. I looked through thousands of photographers' sites. I researched award winning shots for the main associations (WPPI, PPA, etc). I went to Barnes & Nobles and borders and looked through magazines for all kinds of photos, and took notes.
    Today, i have maybe 100 or so wedding websites I keep current on. I look at weddinggawker.com a lot, and I stay in tune with what's going on on Pinterest. I take more classes. And I'm on Dgrin :D

    • Are you part of any other wedding photography forums / clubs?
    PPA

    • Where did you use to advertise, where do you advertise now, and how much money do you spend per year on advertisement?
    At first, I didn't advertise. Referrals ARE the best, but that assumes your brides know many engaged couples, and that they have your card handy, or that the other bride-to-be remembers to check your website. So alone, it's not enough at first. I didn't advertise on Adwords because the SF Bay Area is completely saturated, so it would be way too expensive. Same on SEO - for the area, impossible to achieve right from the get go. I advertised on Facebook, and the targeting helped. Although I have to say, i no longer do it, because it's gotten crazy expensive and something's happened to the targeting - I monitor it on google analytics and the clicks aren't from the geographical region that was targeted it seems. Today, I have enough SEO and referrals to keep going, and I've been published quite a few times, so couples look for me that way.

    • Any other advice for a wedding photography newbie?
    You are going to guide this photography relationship with the couple. That is the most important piece of advice I can give you: the bride has no time, and it's most likely her first time, so she doesn't know where to start. You need to help the couple understand what you need to deliver the best possible photos - time, schedule, etc. It's on you. Not the bride. Once you've planned it out, it's also your job to get the word out. I use Two Bright Lights to get published, and it's been great for our business. Then I use wisestamp to put the link to our published work at the bottom of our email. Think of all the emails you send out all the time - that's your best publicity :ivar
  • Art ScottArt Scott Have PASSPORT will TRAVEL WICHITA, KS USAPosts: 8,959Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 1, 2011
    liflander wrote: »
    Thanks Art! That was informative. Can you talk a little more about how you light weddings, especially candid shots? Do you use any off-camera flash for candids, like light-on-a-tripod or on a stick with an assistant type of thing?
    Regards,
    Mark

    My assistants were mainly just there to fluff the dress, grab people for up coming shots and 99% of my lighting was simple diffused lighting from the flash on my flash bracket or 2 White lightning 5000's on stands in the middle church aisle this gave me the light coverage I needed for large groups....then for the intimate formals I was back to my flash on the bracket....I was shooting 99.9999% manual and still do today....I still meter with a hand held incident flash meter (sekonic L558) and yes I do now do off camera flash using radio triggers (ebay triggers that were about $20 for a set of 2 receivers and 1 transmitter....I have a total of 7 receivers and 3 transmitter all 16 channel) and a giottos P-pod for light stand or I use my light weight Lowell light stand.........

    I will allow an assistant to shoot over my shoulder so to speak to build a portfolio as long as I get credit for the poses.......teaches them to give credit where credit is due......

    EDIT: ........... still have 5 of the White Lighting 5000's but now carry the smaller and much more powerful Alien Bee 800's and brolley boxes instead of standard shoot thru umbrealls I was carrying for so many years........
    "Genuine Fractals was, is and will always be the best solution for enlarging digital photos." ....Vincent Versace ... ... COPYRIGHT YOUR WORK ONLINE ... ... My Website

  • r3t1awr3ydr3t1awr3yd Lifetime Noob! Posts: 1,000Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 4, 2012

    I agree ESPECIALLY with the "don't take a shot list to the wedding". Use shot lists for your portrait/senior/headshot/studio stuff. Practice with it there till it's in your repertoire and then use it as needed in weddings.

    Good call on having someone designated to organize the family for formals too. It makes life sooooo much easier.

    clap.gifthumb

    Hi! I'm Wally: website | blog | facebook | IG | scotchNsniff
    Nikon addict. D610, Tok 11-16, Sig 24-35, Nik 24-70/70-200vr
  • sphyngesphynge black magic Mountain View, CAPosts: 172Registered Users, Retired Mod
    edited April 4, 2012
    I find the shoot list to be a good sanity check, and it makes it easier to communicate to 2nd shooters / assistants what they're responsible for, as well as what family members / friends are in charge of gathering the groups.
  • C5FIVEC5FIVE sometimes pro Posts: 2Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited August 8, 2012
    •What was your photography background before you started shooting weddings?

    •How did you get into wedding photography (did you second shoot for an other photographer first?)

    When I was 13, my Dad bought 2 Pentax K1000 bodies and an f1.4 50mm lens from a work friend. I took ownership of the equipment and ran with it. After a short four year break from photography (I was making bucks as a computer tech) I moved to San Francisco to work with a friend who was graduating from Academy of Art with a degree in Music Video Directing. I worked with him on projects and starting shooting wedding videos for a guy named Thomas Hughes. Soon after, I started editing for Hughes and was working 60-80 hours a week on weddings. I shot around 400 wedding videos and edited a few hundred and worked all over California, Hawaii and Mexico. Since then I’ve moved back to LA and work a 40 hr. week job producing, shooting and editing for E! Entertainment. Now I’m getting back into photography with the plan to go full time as soon as possible. Even though I’ve only photographed a dozen happy couples’ big day, I have been working weddings and photography for over a decade and I consider myself a pro. It should be noted that I’m retired from wedding videos now. I have a new website displaying the handful of weddings I’ve photographed. www.chrisvicariphotography.com


    • Who was your very first wedding for / how did you book the job, and how did you feel about it?

    • What was in your camera bag? What do you think are the 5 most important things to have in your camera bag?

    • How much did you charge your first couple / how many weddings have you shot before you asked for getting paid for your services?

    My first wedding was a friend’s sister’s wedding, a big Indian wedding with lots of colors. I turned out ok, I was paid $300 but I paid for film and processing. I have never shot for free, there always needs to be a payment of some sort.

    I travel light and keep pretty much everything on me: two bodies, 24-70, 70-200, flashes, cards, and batteries, the LightSphere works great. I rarely shoot on stix. I still shoot film at every wedding and couples love it! Film keeps me on my toes. I would love to shoot only film for a wedding, but I am conscious of what the client wants.

    What was included in your packages / how many packages did you offer & how did you come up with them?

    “The Wedding Day” $3350
    Unlimited time (but hours are discussed in advance) one or more assistants/2nd shooters depending on wedding size. Private online gallery of color corrected digital files, ready to print. One set of single 4x6 prints of all the finished photos for the B&G. Fine art books start at $1500, magazine style starts at $300.
    That’s it, one package to start from. I show sample books before hand to give the B&G some vision for the end product.

    • What was the biggest mistake you did?

    I have made a few. More than I care to admit.

    To avoid mistakes it’s important to slow down. I take an introspective breath at every opportunity, and then I feel more engaged with my surroundings. Its how I stay centered during a busy wedding shoot. I remind myself where I am and why I’m there and that once this wedding is finished the picture may be around forever.

    Which wedding photography resources (links / books) did you find helpful?

    I scan through blogs like Strobist, Cambridge in Color, photographers’ websites (not just wedding photogs) and I also look at YouTube for industry related videos like LR, PS tutorials. I talk with fellow wedding photographers; see movies on the big screen read books, visit art galleries and museums, and surf.

    Other photographers have taught me the most. As a videographer, I had the chance to become friends with many prominent San Francisco wedding photogs. I got to see them photograph full weddings all the time while I was shooting beside them. I was requested by photographers all the time and almost never heard a complaint. When I transitioned into photography, I asked to shoot with them. Todd Rafalovich , Bambi Cantrell, Alisha and Brook, Silvia Steinenger and Jeff Smith were all very sweet to me. Also, visiting their websites to see the pictures they had made from a day I was working with them has been very helpful.

    What I’d like to add to this is:
    You are representing the B&G in front of the most important people to them in the world. They chose you for what is one of the most significant days in their life. Be respectful. Be especially kind, gracious and most of all graceful.

    When you combine these traits, you will go virtually unnoticed and that will allow you more freedom to photograph with little influence. Let the wedding happen naturally.


    Chris
  • daniel212daniel212 Big grins Posts: 29Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 28, 2013
    I really appreciate your taking the time out of your busy schedule to sharing your knowledge with us. This is great discussion on photography
  • daniel212daniel212 Big grins Posts: 29Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 29, 2013
    All member have nice contribution as you are aspect ting. I like All member Work.
    Thank you for Sharing Your Work.
  • imagecoloristimagecolorist Beginner grinner Posts: 6Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited September 10, 2014
    Great post & Thanks for your nice post. :ivar
  • lightcatcher2014lightcatcher2014 Big grins Posts: 23Registered Users Big grins
    edited May 6, 2015
    Wedding Photography Tips
    Here are few guides which I wrote after 4 years as wedding photographer. These are real-life situations and topics I wish I knew before stumbling on them.

    Hope it would be useful to all the members and all to make their foray into wedding photography easier. If you have feedback or comments, let me know.

    https://trifonanguelov.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/how-to-contract-a-secondary-wedding-photographer/

    https://trifonanguelov.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/wedding-tips-for-brides-from-a-wedding-photographer-point-of-view/

    https://trifonanguelov.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/how-to-deal-with-the-brides-wedding-list-of-images/

    https://trifonanguelov.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/how-to-recover-photos-from-memory-card/

    https://trifonanguelov.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/wedding-tips-for-brides-from-a-wedding-photographer-point-of-view/


    Cheers.
    --
    Trifon Anguelov
    Portrait and Wedding Photographer, Mountain View, CA

    http://www.weddingphotographyblogger.com
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