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10-17-2010, 07:16 AM   #1
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Strange ending to an Interesting season.

Well yesterday was my last wedding for this year. I have a nice backlog of editing to do but no more shooting.

It was one of the more challenging years for sure. 37 weddings completed. An additional 4 cancelled mostly because of a 3rd party involved (boy those are messy). 3 of the 4 were replaced with other bookings.

A couple of classic bridal meltdowns. The best being yesterday. Since this is a public forum, I won't go into any detail on that but lets just say my normal 90 minute formal session lasted all of 10 minutes. It was weather induced. Honestly it's understandable.

Weddings for a bride are years of anticipation. Guys just don't understand that she's been thinking about this since she was 5. When the ring is finally on the finger, things are in overdrive for 12-24 months. Then the "prefect day" is thrown off the rails by a windy, cold, rain.

2 major camera failures and both right in the middle of weddings (thank goodness for having 2 backup cameras). Both K20D's with different issues. These followed a 3rd K20D with a similar issue that was replaced last year. Replacing a DA*16-50mm for the 3rd time. Lousy Pentax service that finally promted a partial move to Nikon and a D700/D300 system. I still have a K20D and a K-x with a couple lenses.

2 major computer failures. One a blue screen of death on a fairly new Dell and the second a hard drive failure with several unedited weddings on it that took over a month to be resolved.

Decreasing prices on weddings with so many hobby shooters, working as "pros". This is resulting in a lowered preception in the real value of good work. I've seen a lot of this weekend warrior work and it's terrible but it's cheap. One example was a bride who had more than $20,000 budgeted for the wedding and wanted a full day coverage of "really nice work like yours" for $500.00. This happens all the time now.

2 studios in my market (small with a population of 140,000) closed this year as the shooters just can't sustain them at these prices. Portrait sessions here are going as $39.00 (including editing and no sitting fees) at one studio. That's not even worth doing unless you get some serious print orders.

2 final notes. The D700 is a great camera that gave me a heart attack on the second shoot. The battery died and when I replaced it with a fresh one the display showed ERR. Reset everything quickly which didn't get things fixed. I didn't know that all I had to do was hit the shutter button to reset and get shooting again. Again thank goodness for having the 300 as a backup.

Second, I got a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 and it's a wonderful lens. Sharp and very good rendering with very fast AF. Made me realize how truly terrible the DA*16-50mm is. In fact I have nothing good to say about that lens and would never recommend it now to anyone. It should be dropped from the line and replaced. Slow focus, SDM issues, excessive barrel distortion, soft corners (does not render flat across the frame) etc etc. Honestly this is a disgrace to the top tier series. The Tamron at half the price is superior in every respect.

Overall a challenging season but a good one in many ways. Met some great people, shot some fun weddings and enjoyed the season overall. I hope things stabalize though.

For those of you doing the same things, how was your year?

10-17-2010, 08:17 AM   #2
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I should add that everything I've seen from the new K-5 looks very good. I think this will be on the shopping list for next season.
10-17-2010, 08:48 AM   #3
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Hi Peter,

Thanks for the updates - that's a long season and lots of obstacles along the way! Obviously I am not shooting weddings, but your comments ring true. There is a definitive movement for customers to budget less funds for capturing the memories of their wedding, precipitated by the hobby shooters.

BTW Peter, please tell me you don't like to go shopping... Just buy the K-5...

Cheers,
Marc
10-17-2010, 05:45 PM   #4
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Sounds almost exactly like my season - except I have 2 more weddings to go. A few weekends ago I had 2 full day weddings booked plus a maternity session, studio session and engagement photos (Friday, Sat, Sun, Mon). On Thursday my main computer would not even turn on!!!. Since then I shot 2 more weddings and a bunch of other stuff so i've been struggling to keep the cards cleared off and the data backed up - let alone process the images and get them out to clients.

Currently my 2010 photo directory on my system has 551GB and 50,854 images. Thank god hard drives keep getting bigger every year. There is a 3TB drive coming out very soon that I need to get.

I am also fully 2 systems deep now. Canon 1DmkIII, 5DmkII, Pentax K20D, Pentax k-7 with 4 lenses and 2 flashes for each system. K-5 looks great but with the Canon bodies I am in no big rush to upgrade the Pentax. I suspect by this time next year I'll replace the k-7. Nobody will ever take my k20 from me

I had 2 cancelled weddings - one because they found someone who would do the job "for free" and another because of a death in the family.

But I've actually noticed an upswing in work recently. More weddings are being booked out close to a year in advance and more albums are being purchased.

But this year I did not see any melt-downs.

And I added one new product late in the year - video slideshows with music. I purchased a big load of royalty free music to go into the slideshows and they have been a real hit. And I'm getting better at putting them together.

10-17-2010, 07:04 PM   #5
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BTW - regarding hard drive failures. Everyone has their own strategy but mine is pretty cheap and easy while being extremely robust so I thought I'd share it with you.

When I get home from a job (no matter how late) I immediately copy and paste the raw files to both an internal HD (2TB) and a NAS drive (2TB Buffalo Linkstation). I then import the images to lightroom and begin to publish them immediately to a backup smugmug gallery (the new lightroom 3.2 has direct integration with smugmug which is pretty cool. By the time i wake up in the morning I have 4 copies of every picture including the offsite jpg backups.

Ideally I will move to a DROBO system next year. If you've never heard of the DROBO drives they are worth checking out - "beyond RAID" technology, mixed storage capacity drives, double redundancy, hot-swappable. They are probably the closest thing you can find to "full proof" at a reasonable budget. If you go with a network drive you will want to make sure you have a gigabit switch or router which is an extra little expense.
10-21-2010, 09:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Decreasing prices on weddings with so many hobby shooters, working as "pros". This is resulting in a lowered preception in the real value of good work. I've seen a lot of this weekend warrior work and it's terrible but it's cheap. One example was a bride who had more than $20,000 budgeted for the wedding and wanted a full day coverage of "really nice work like yours" for $500.00. This happens all the time now.
I'm just starting out and there is no way in hell I'm going to tackle anyone's wedding. In no way am I ready for that kind of pressure! haha! But you are so right because I know one person in particular that is doing this weekend $500 garbage and the photos I've seen are crapola to be blunt. I just keep asking myself, why on earth are people satisfied with such complete junk photos; Are they really that ignorant about it? I'd be embarrassed to put my name on some of the horrible pics I've seen by the "WW" shall we call them? lol

Regardless...I'm not going down that wedding trail ANYTIME soon. No bleepin' thank you! So you see, not all of us that are still wet behind the ears are out to produce medicore/cheap stuff! ;-)
10-21-2010, 10:36 AM   #7
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I imagine every season is an adventure, Peter, but this one sounds like it was especially interesting--glad to know you survived. So now you get to spend the winter at the beach?

It's a bit distressing to hear about your problems with the K20Ds, btw.
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