How to handle an enquiry

divamumdivamum Major grinsPosts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
edited October 19, 2014 in Weddings
Just been approached by somebody (friend of a bride I shot last year) for a small synagogue ceremony. I've asked her the usual questions, but having never personally been to a Jewish wedding, am not sure if this is something my inexperienced self should even consider (with a mere two weddings under my belt). She says it's small/short service, but I'm hesitant to commit until I know more.

Photographic pitfalls/limitations/things I should know about Synagogue weddings? Specific questions I should ask? Thanks in advance....!!

Comments

  • SeefutlungSeefutlung Unsharp at any Speed Posts: 2,781Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 30, 2014
    Small makes it easy ... short makes it tough.
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  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 30, 2014
    Seefutlung wrote: »
    Small makes it easy ... short makes it tough.

    Care to elaborate? Since I"ve never been to or participated in a synagogue service, I have no idea what to expect other than what I've seen in the movies (canopy, glass-breaking etc), and would hate to presume.... lol At this point I don't even know what questions to ask her, really, so trying to information gather :)
  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 30, 2014
    And.... some further information (wow - fast reply - I only answered her first note a few minutes ago!). Oy - I don't even know what she's referring to I'm so clueless....

    "Ketubah signing is before the ceremony, and I'd like that in pictures. Ceremony will be relatively short, probably about 20-30 minutes if that. That will be worked out more when we actually sit down with our Rabbi after the Chagim. Very small reception afterward in the same building...like an hors d'oeuvres hour sort of thing. We won't have a wedding party per se. Two official witnesses. Then a guest list of between 30-50 depending on who can make it. So the Ketubah signing and ceremony, definitely shot, and maybe the beginning of the reception, but as it's very low key."
  • SeefutlungSeefutlung Unsharp at any Speed Posts: 2,781Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 30, 2014
    I am not Jewish and I've never been to a Jewish ceremony either. I was just pointing out the obvious. As a former news photog, I relish the challenge of a new experience. That is what we do. But, you're working for the client ... it is your charge to make the client look good, to meet and exceed the expectations of the client. As such, I completely understand your reluctance to accept the offer. Doesn't sound all that different than a Christian wedding. If you and the clients were happy with the previous weddings then, go for it. The main thing I would ask, in particular, would be Jewish protocol stuff so you don't offend.

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  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 30, 2014
    Gonna have to agree to disagree on this - from the ones I've seen in action (my greatest strength as a wedding primary is hiring crazy good seconds lol) I think one of the things that makes good wedding photographers GREAT is knowing exactly where to be when.... before "when" happens. Much easier if you know the order of service!! :D

    PS Protocol stuff taken on board for sure if I do the gig but before that... gotta figure out what the gig IS!
  • ARKreationsARKreations Who needs a title? Posts: 265Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 1, 2014
    Why not ask the client and Rabbi to see if there is another ceremony that you could attend as an observer in the shadows to see first hand what it is like? Nothing like first hand experience to improve your understanding...
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  • michaelglennmichaelglenn Major grins Posts: 442Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 1, 2014
    I'm Jewish, and I've been to traditional and non traditional jewish weddings. Treat it the same as a standard wedding. Talk to the Rabbi before hand and ask if there are any restrictions on where you should photograph. Heck, I do this with all weddings..just so I'm on the same page with everyone involved.
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  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited October 1, 2014
    Yeah depending on how traditional they are, there are going to be a few various processions and procedures, surrounding things like the Ketubah signing, that need to be covered. Sometimes the groom comes in with a great ruckus from his boys, and sometimes they just walk up and sign the Ketubah. Other than that, a jewish ceremony itself is much like any other, actually, just always have your camera near your eye and ready to shoot and you'll be fine!

    =Matt=
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  • bmoreshooterbmoreshooter Major grins Posts: 210Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 1, 2014
    Are the doing any type of rehearsal.
  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 1, 2014
    So, what I'm gathering is... it won't be that big a deal IF I know exactly what's going to be happening when and where rolleyes1.gif I just wish I'd been to a synagogue ceremony before so I had some idea of the order of service and traditions firsthand - feel pretty st00pid having missed out on that!
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited October 2, 2014
    divamum wrote: »
    So, what I'm gathering is... it won't be that big a deal IF I know exactly what's going to be happening when and where rolleyes1.gif I just wish I'd been to a synagogue ceremony before so I had some idea of the order of service and traditions firsthand - feel pretty st00pid having missed out on that!

    Usually you're not actually going INTO the synagogue itself, at least not the worship area like you'd expect from a christian ceremony. Most Jewish ceremonies I see take place outside, or in a different type of sanctuary.

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
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  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 2, 2014
    Usually you're not actually going INTO the synagogue itself, at least not the worship area like you'd expect from a christian ceremony. Most Jewish ceremonies I see take place outside, or in a different type of sanctuary.

    =Matt=

    See? I rest my case. This is why I need to know more than I do rolleyes1.gif
  • jonh68jonh68 Major grins Posts: 2,711Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    Ask the bride what the important parts are. An event is an event. It is still about taking pictures of what happens. I have gone over and over in my head how I was going to shoot certain events, worrying myself sick. By the time it actually starts, all the planning and worry didn't matter because I had to make it up as a I went.
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    Glort wrote: »
    Meh, it's just another wedding. Be they Greek, asyrian, Korean, Chinese, muslim, hindu, buddist or anything else, they are still basicaly the same. What you don't know about you ASK the couple... What is this exactly, when does it happen, what can and can't I do, stand etc? Every church has their own rules so hardly an out of place question.

    I have to admit though, one Jewish wedding I did freaked me right out!

    It was at the Synagouge in the city. No parking about 50 meters either side in front of the joint. Security cameras everywhere and some very significant, non decorative gates out the front that would not been out of place at the entrance to the Mint.
    What really had my head spinning was the 3 security gaurds in flack Jackets carrying .40cal Glocks. These guys were wired and were not your typical donut eating poster boys for obesity that you see outside the bank with a 50 yo Snub nose .38 6 shooter that they couldn't hit anything more than 2 feet in front of them with. These dudes were VERY on the ball.
    We got in the front, gates slammed shut and locked behind us. Quick look through my camera bag and that was it. At the end of the service we were ALL very quickly, politely and efficently hearded out the front door and the gates again slammed shut.

    At the time I was giving firearms/ security training at a range I worked at and knew the threat level that must have been percieved for these guys to licenced to be carrying what they were and kitted out similarly. The fact that this was a place of worship but there was far tighter security than anywhere else I had been before including Police HQ and their gun range just around the corner a couple of weeks before just totaly threw me. I guess it didn't bother anyone else because they didn't understand what they were looking at but it sure rattled me! I like guns and I'm not religious but geez, Time and place! Not where I think these 2 elements should meet.
    Sad to think its deemed nessacary.

    The rest of the wedding was pretty unremarkable, great reception though. I did another one a few months later for a family member and a few days after that wedding, the place ( a different one) got burned down in an arson attack. Not good.

    As for knowing whats going to happen, there was recently a discussion on another forum where a whole bunch of shooters argued the need to be taking 5000 pics and more at a wedding because they didn't know when a " Moment" was going to occour ( or some such thing) and thereforehad to take thousands of pics to know they had the " Peak action" . They throw up to 80% of these pics away and only give the clients what they deem fit.
    You could do the same thing to make sure you have what you need. It's EXACTLY what many do as a matter of course and argue passionately about. In this case I'd say it is a justified practice given the circumstances.

    That said, it's really no big deal. The B&G can tell you what you need to get before hand and if you aren't sure, shoot it anyway. You'll pretty much know from experience what's happening even if you don't understand what's being said.

    1.) To say that all weddings are "essentially" the same is a gross, in fact dangerous understatement. Hindu weddings in particular, lol, can be absurdly complex and require incredible amounts of explanation, direction, and hopefully, experience.

    2.) Like Israeli airline security, Jewish folks don't mess around. Heightened security is a permanent thing for certain areas, especially the most devout / orthodox. I've had my car searched before, and was almost turned away because I once had an empty gas can in my trunk. I don't mind, I understand that they gotta do what they feel is necessary so that any enemies of that religion don't get any ideas.
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
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  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    Glort wrote: »
    Oh come on!
    What the hell is so difficult about knowing when to press the button when they are the same damn thing like every other ceremony of it's type? A Hindu wedding is a Hindu wedding. You learn them the same as any other denomination.
    I think you are getting dangerously melodramatic here.

    I may only have shot two weddings, but I've sung more than a few. All weddings are NOT the same. No freaking way. Some of those differences can be dealt with via communication before the fact, but not all of them. You simply have to KNOW what's coming ... and, as a photographer, position yourself accordingly. Even within the Christian tradition there can be pretty big differences between orders of service, as I'm sure there is between any other denominations.

    I like to do my homework. I feel if I am taking a good sized chunk of money from somebody to do a job - be that singing, taking headshots, or shooting what is THEIR important life-event - I have to be sure *I* am prepared. Which includes reaching out to people who may have done the job and can at least guide me towards what questions to ask to get the information I need. Isn't it just due diligence? Given the squillions of "why do so many clueless people shoot weddings? Why don't people prepare? Why does every Uncle Bob think he can do the job?" threads that are all over the internet, it's highly amusing that anybody would jump down my throat for trying to ensure I'm NOT one of the Idiot Factor because I didn't bother to learn what was needed.

    Back to my client: she is still a bit vague herself on what she wants, but I"ve suggested we meet and talk it through over coffee so I can figure out what the heck is needed. At which point I can give her a quote (I gave her a "starting from" number, although having started with "Just a couple of hours coverage" she's now talking "artistic bridal portraits as well" so it's definitely NOT going to be the bottom end once that's involved). And once she has talked to her Rabbi and confirmed the details with him as well, I can make plans accordingly. If she wants to use me, then I'll do the best job I can... which includes learning what I need to know BEFORE the even itself. thumb.gif
  • SamSam San Jose CA Posts: 7,418Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    divamum wrote: »
    I may only have shot two weddings, but I've sung more than a few. All weddings are NOT the same. No freaking way. Some of those differences can be dealt with via communication before the fact, but not all of them. You simply have to KNOW what's coming ... and, as a photographer, position yourself accordingly. Even within the Christian tradition their can be pretty big differences between orders of service, as I'm sure there is between any other denominations.

    I like to do my homework. I feel if I am taking a good sized chunk of money from somebody to do a job - be that singing, taking headshots, or shooting what is THEIR important life-event - I have to be sure *I* am prepared. Which includes reaching out to people who may have done the job and can at least guide me towards what questions to ask to get the information I need. Isn't it just due diligence? Given the squillions of "why do so many clueless people shoot weddings? Why don't people prepare? Why does every Uncle Bob think he can do the job?" threads that are all over the internet, it's highly amusing that anybody would jump down my throat for trying to ensure I'm NOT one of the Idiot Factor because I didn't bother to learn what was needed.

    Back to my client: she is still a bit vague herself on what she wants, but I"ve suggested we meet and talk it through over coffee so I can figure out what the heck is needed. At which point I can give her a quote (I gave her a "starting from" number, although having started with "Just a couple of hours coverage" she's now talking "artistic bridal portraits as well" so it's definitely NOT going to be the bottom end once that's involved). And once she has talked to her Rabbi and confirmed the details with him as well, I can make plans accordingly. If she wants to use me, then I'll do the best job I can... which includes learning what I need to know BEFORE the even itself. thumb.gif

    Just keep doing your due diligence and caring about your clients. It's a good thing.

    Sam
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited October 6, 2014
    Glort wrote: »
    Oh come on!
    What the hell is so difficult about knowing when to press the button when they are the same damn thing like every other ceremony of it's type? A Hindu wedding is a Hindu wedding. You learn them the same as any other denomination.
    I think you are getting dangerously melodramatic here.
    How much pre/post wedding events / rituals have you photographed, for the Hindu genre in particular?

    I agree, on one level it's all still shutter speeds, flash power, good timing, and such.

    However it's still really important to know when to be where, otherwise you WILL miss stuff. Is it a Garba, a Sangeet, a Mehndi? A Pooja, a Baraat, a Vidai...

    And why did EVERYBODY just start bawling their eyes out, lol?

    Uh oh don't change lenses now, or you'll get rice inside your camera...

    Admittedly, at some events they sit in the same place for 90 minutes, however for other rituals they move all over the place, going outdoors to bury something in the yard even while other proceedings carry on with or without you.

    Much of the time, on-the-go rituals involve everyone cramming extremely close together, sometimes things even get quite rowdy.

    Bottom line, it's very smart to invest a fair amount of time to talk with the couple and/or their parents about what is going to happen where and when, otherwise you'll wind up looking like an idiot on the day-of if you continually ask people to wait for you to get into position, or re-do something that you missed. Or depending on how devout the couple is, (or their parents!) you can repeatedly make an ass of yourself by asking the coupe to do things they're forbidden from doing on this day or that! Even then, with all that prep, the first few events will be terrifying and hectic.

    Sorry for the rambling reply, I just happen to work for a studio that does a LOT of high-end Hindu weddings, and they're definitely some of the most intense conditions I've ever photographed in. Call me dangerously dramatic, but I just want photographers to avoid getting blindsided by something they weren't expecting, and brides to avoid getting the wrong photographer for their level of expectation.

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
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  • naknak Big grins Posts: 79Registered Users Big grins
    edited October 7, 2014
    What worked for me was to arrange access to the venue a week before at the same time of day. The bride wore a white dress and got to stand at all the right places (groom wasn't present). I got to chat with the official for a few minutes about where I could set up and shoot from. We went over blocking (who goes where when) and sequence of events. I took notes and even had the luxury of asking her to stay put whilst I checked out various places to shoot from.

    Preparation is what enables you to recognize opportunity as it happens.
  • sara505sara505 Major grins Posts: 1,667Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 7, 2014
    Be aware that some Jewish denominations don't allow photography on Shabbat (Saturday), but it doesn't sound like this is that brand.
  • r3t1awr3ydr3t1awr3yd Lifetime Noob! Posts: 1,000Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 8, 2014
    A few folks alluded to it but I didn't see anyone explicitly say it... ask for an itinerary.

    I have a checklist I run through for every wedding I book and a HUGE check for me is the itinerary. I've photographed one Jewish wedding and I did it having never been to a Jewish wedding and with no rehearsal (I always try to attend rehearsals). If there's no rehearsal, I required an itinerary ahead of time without a question. That way, when I have questions, I can ask them.

    Do what I did for my Jewish wedding. Go online and look up all of their typical traditions and then when you have the itinerary, you can go over it with the couple and know what you're talking about. They get to hear you fumble through traditions you've only read about but will appreciate your effort to understand their special day. At least mine did. :)

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  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 9, 2014
    r3t1awr3yd wrote: »
    A few folks alluded to it but I didn't see anyone explicitly say it... ask for an itinerary.

    I have a checklist I run through for every wedding I book and a HUGE check for me is the itinerary. I've photographed one Jewish wedding and I did it having never been to a Jewish wedding and with no rehearsal (I always try to attend rehearsals). If there's no rehearsal, I required an itinerary ahead of time without a question. That way, when I have questions, I can ask them.

    Do what I did for my Jewish wedding. Go online and look up all of their typical traditions and then when you have the itinerary, you can go over it with the couple and know what you're talking about. They get to hear you fumble through traditions you've only read about but will appreciate your effort to understand their special day. At least mine did. :)


    thumb.gif thumb.gif thumb.gif

    Sarah, she already mentioned the Shabbat restriction, but they're getting married on a Sunday, not a problem :)
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,459Administrators moderator
    edited October 9, 2014
    sara505 wrote: »
    Be aware that some Jewish denominations don't allow photography on Shabbat (Saturday), but it doesn't sound like this is that brand.
    Jewish weddings are never on Shabbat, so that would never be a consideration.

    Diva, don't miss the glass-breaking, it can happen quickly and is easy to miss. Think about where you want to be positioned when it occurs.
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited October 9, 2014
    r3t1awr3yd wrote: »
    A few folks alluded to it but I didn't see anyone explicitly say it... ask for an itinerary.

    I have a checklist I run through for every wedding I book and a HUGE check for me is the itinerary. I've photographed one Jewish wedding and I did it having never been to a Jewish wedding and with no rehearsal (I always try to attend rehearsals). If there's no rehearsal, I required an itinerary ahead of time without a question. That way, when I have questions, I can ask them.

    Do what I did for my Jewish wedding. Go online and look up all of their typical traditions and then when you have the itinerary, you can go over it with the couple and know what you're talking about. They get to hear you fumble through traditions you've only read about but will appreciate your effort to understand their special day. At least mine did. :)

    There is usually never any rehearsal for any of the Hindu ceremonies, just a priest and a couple relatives who know what to do, and guide the couple through the various rituals.

    Thankfully however, there is TONS of info online about the various ceremonies, so if the client says they're doing XYZ, you can easily google it and read up on what is the most important part. Otherwise you risk sitting through a 90+ min ceremony of relatively slow-paced stuff, only to miss the one instant where you absolutely gotta be ready to click. ;-)

    =Matt=
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
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  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 10, 2014
    Matt, just to clarify - I'm talking about aJewish, not Hindu wedding... That just came up in conversation as an example of a complicated and unfamiliar service :)



    Sent from my HTC One_M8 using Tapatalk
  • Matthew SavilleMatthew Saville Wedding Photographer Southern CaliforniaPosts: 3,352Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited October 16, 2014
    divamum wrote: »
    Matt, just to clarify - I'm talking about aJewish, not Hindu wedding... That just came up in conversation as an example of a complicated and unfamiliar service :)



    Sent from my HTC One_M8 using Tapatalk

    Indeed, however depending on the level of their orthodox-ness, (sorry if that's not politically correct) ...you can find yourself in a similar situation as to where to position yourself and what to shoot, and being in situations so crowded that if you don't preemptively get to exactly the right spot, you'll miss the photo altogether...

    Either way, good luck! I'm sure that with just a little bit of talking and preparation, you'll be fine.
    My first thought is always of light.” – Galen Rowell
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  • laurenornotlaurenornot Major grins bknyPosts: 167Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 17, 2014
    One major thing to be aware of is that the couple *may* spend the bulk of the ceremony with a "tallit" draped over their shoulders. Practically speaking this means you can barely see their faces unless you're able to come around the sides or behind the "chuppah" (gazebo-type structure). Example:

    iE8rG48GBRjDU.jpg

    ibljeEaEqrbp4k.jpg
  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,021Registered Users Major grins
    edited October 19, 2014
    Thanks all. I met with the bride in person and it quickly became apparent that one of the reasons here needs weren't clear to me was because she herself isn't entirely sure what's happening yet! Face to face meeting made it much easier for me to ask for the info I needed (and explain WHY I needed it), and I think once she knows more I can do appropriate research to be sure I'm up to speed. This isn't contracted yet anyway, although she seemed keen for me to use her; now I just have to put together and price all the details and see if she bites. thumb.gif
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