By Antony Hands
So you are an amateur photographer who has been shooting for a while, and everyone in the family has seen you running around with your digital SLR for some time now, and have generally acknowledged that you are the family photographer. You took the pictures of Uncle Charlie’s 50th birthday, and he was pleased with the results, and your sister has asked you to take photos of her kids which turned out good.
Word gets around and your cousin decides that it would save her a lot of money if you would take the photos of her wedding. She says that she has seen your shots and thinks that you would be a great photographer for her big day. You would like to do it, because after all, you just love taking photos, and you feel that while you haven’t shot a wedding before, it can’t be that different or hard. You are very tempted to take her up on her offer and shoot the wedding.
Featured Comment by Craig Norris, Hong Kong: "It's a good article, and it prompts me to tell my own related story. Among other things, I shoot weddings, and I got my start some years ago shooting the wedding of a friend who didn't have a budget to hire a "real" photographer. I'd bought my second hand Minolta X700 only a week before the wedding, and just as I was getting into a good flow during the wedding ceremony, the camera died. The little LR44 batteries for the meter had gone flat. I hadn't replaced them before the wedding—they were the batteries that came with the camera, so who knows how old they were. Luckily, the Olympus XA I was carrying as a backup camera used the same batteries, so after shooting a few frames with the XA, I took the opportunity of a pause in proceedings to swap the batteries from the XA to the Minolta and then the SLR was back in business. Boy, was I sweating when those batteries in the SLR went dead. And was I kicking myself for not having put fresh batteries in the camera before the wedding. And was I thankful that I had the spare camera, and was I really damn lucky that the spare camera used the same batteries as the main. The lesson I learned was the fact that the dictionary definition of the word 'professional' is wrong. The dictionaries all say that 'professional' means 'does something for pay.' But in reality, my direct experience taught me that 'professional' really means 'can be trusted to get it right.' I will never forget the stress of that first wedding when the batteries went dead. And that memory is what keeps me on my toes, and prevents me from becoming complacent. There's no better teacher than direct experience."