Digital Wedding Photography: Art, Business & Style
After a while of shooting weddings, you will accumulate a boatload of flash units and flash accessories and throughout this chapter I keep harping on having backups (or multiple backups) for all your equipment. But, although I’m not a nag by nature, I can’t help but tell you how dumb you’ll feel if you find yourself at a wedding without a critical piece of equipment! More importantly, you run the risk of ruining a bride’s wedding pictures and finding yourself with a tarnished reputation. Both are something you should want to avoid at all costs! Here are some ideas for developing an organizational plan to keep track of all the equipment and stuff you’ll be carrying.
Develop A Packing Plan
Shortly after starting to shoot weddings, you’ll realize that you don’t need to bring every lens you own to every wedding you shoot. But, after finding out which items you absolutely must have with you on every assignment (including backups), why not get into the habit of always packing your camera bag the exact same way each time? Some photographers I know just stuff their bags and cases with equipment in a willy-nilly way, but I find that this non-system has huge disadvantages. Where did you put that spare camera battery? Did you leave your battery charger plugged into the catering hall wall? Where’s that spare sync cord or radio slave you just know you packed? Every one of my bags and cases is packed exactly the same way each time I pack it. This means that before I close it up (either before I leave my house to go to the wedding or as I pack up to leave the wedding) I can glance at the open case and see if anything is missing.
Numbering And Dating Systems
On every assignment, I carry two Nikon flash units, two Lumedyne flash packs along with two Lumedyne flash heads, and three Dynalite 1000 packs along with four Dynalite flash heads. Every flash unit, every flash pack, and every flash head is numbered. If the unit is black, I put a small square of grey (or white) gaffer tape on it with the item’s number written on the tape with a Sharpie pen; and if the item is a lighter color, I just use the Sharpie to write its number right on the item. That way, when something breaks (and something is always breaking!), I don’t have to go nuts trying to figure out which of the five packs (or the six heads) has to be sent in for repair. On assignment, when a pack or a head stops working, I just note the pack’s (or the head’s) number in my trusty little brain and pull out a spare. Doing this saves time and sanity!
Another numbering idea is to number your camera batteries. Currently, I carry two batteries for each of my cameras and when I pack up at the end of the wedding I change the batteries in each of my two cameras. That way, when I get home and it’s time to charge my batteries, I only have to charge the spent ones.
To take this a step further, all my CF cards are numbered, too. I use my initials followed by a number, then a dash, then the card’s capacity (written in another color ink). I use my cards in consecutive, numbered order because, that way, when I download them, I can do so in the order in which I used them. Since I shoot about 100,000 images per year, doing this really helps me to stay organized.
Here are a few more specific tips about the way I use and organize my memory cards:
1. I’ve settled on 4 GB cards so each card fits onto a DVD with no hassles.
2. I no longer bother to carry cards smaller than 2 GB.
3. For Nikon shooters, Nikon DSLRs allow you to change the file prefix from the predetermined “DCS” to letters of your own choosing. I use SS1 and SS2 for my two different camera bodies. That way, if there are any imaging issues, I can easily trace the image file back to the specific camera that is the culprit.
Steve Sint has spent his professional life seeing the world through a camera lens. Over a 35-year career, he has photographed over one million portraits, numerous national ads and catalogs, over 1000 executive portraits, and more than 4000 weddings. His photographs have appeared in many national magazines and websites, including the covers of Life and Omni. Sint has authored numerous articles for major photographic magazines and four other books on photography. Currently, he shoots over 100 assignments a year and is a professional photography instructor for the Maine Media Workshops.
Where To Buy
Digital Wedding Photography: Art, Business & Style (ISBN 13: 978-1-600595-65-3, 272 pages, $29.95, pixiq, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co.) is available at Barnes & Noble and wherever fine photographic books are sold and at www.amazon.com and other online retailers.