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m43 professional portrait/wedding photographers, client perception and small camera syndrome.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by kponds, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. kponds

    kponds Mu-43 Regular

    93
    Mar 18, 2013
    Tennessee
    So, I have been doing portrait shoots for friends for a while and it has gotten to the point where I am now doing friends of friends of friends. I am getting to where I want to be compensated for my work and I'm very interested in taking my entrepreneurship seriously (formal business plan, LLC, business/E&O insurance, taxes, etc) from the get-go. I don't really care for the shady under the table thing.

    My business plan involves only portrait work initially, and work for other wedding photographers as a "second shooter" until I have done at least a half dozen, if not a dozen weddings as second shooter.

    I am looking to make one single investment from my personal accounts and assets (existing m43 gear) into the business in order to seed it. So I must make a decision on whether to bring my m43 gear into the business (and expand it with backup gear), or seed with cash and start anew with DSLR gear (probably would be a pair of 6Ds + 50mm, 135mm).

    I have absolutely no doubts that m43 can produce images that any of my client (I am targeting the middle class type, not super high end or anything) will be thrilled with. But, my concern is what the client (or primary wedding photographer) thinks when they see the camera.

    In this day and age, many people have DSLRs and may have the perception that all professional photographers use DSLRs.

    Clearly "the results should speak for themselves", but we know that the client's perception of us as a photographer while shooting will effect how they perceive the results.

    Have you had any issues with client perception? How do you handle it? When a client says "I have a 6D, why aren't you on full frame yet?" what do you say?
     
  2. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Even if you're shooting a 6D, somebody's uncle Bob always has a 5DIII, or if you're on the 5D series, they have a 1DX :wink:

    There are reasons I would shoot DSLR gear for clients, but client perception isn't really one of them. I'll be up front and say I'm not a pro, but I do shoot events for our church photo team regularly, occasionally assist on photo shoots, and so forth. I've shot m4/3, Fuji, and Nikon FF gear and my biggest concern is simply whether my gear will get the job done. No one really asks about what I shoot and I've had my files from m4/3 and Fuji displayed on everything from giant display screens to Facebook and print, right alongside Canon/Nikon APS-C or FF images.

    People hire you for you work, and very few of them are going to be concerned with what gear you shoot with as long as you are confident, professional, and competent.

    I'd say shoot with what you have and are comfortable with until/unless you find a need or compelling reason to switch :thumbup:
     
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  3. Reflector

    Reflector Mu-43 Veteran

    406
    Aug 31, 2013
    Photography isn't my profession (My profession involves working with six-figures equipment and working with computers to operate said equipment), but if my clients think they can do my job better by being all talk while coming to me to do it, I would start billing them for the minutes they use for talking instead of me completing their work. This is after a fair warning too.

    If your client owns a 6D and is hiring you to take photos, last time I checked they hired you to take photos. They're not here to go "oh ho ho, you use a D2H, you're an idiot for not using a D800E and I'm not going to pay you and break my end of the contract." If they genuinely think they're better and they still hired you, I would question what they're hiring you for and if they are capable of taking said photos when they supposedly have enough skill to say judgmental phrases like "why aren't you on FF yet."
     
  4. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    One of the photographers I interviewed for my wedding was annoyed at my gear questions!! She uses a D4, which is the DSLR I'd get, if I were to have one. I ended up hiring the lady with a 5D3. Although it wasn't the choice of cameras that I used to determine whom to pick on this instance.

    I'd have been very concerned if someone was showing up with a Rebel and a 18-55 kit lens. So perception is important in my opinion. You and I may know that a couple of EM5's with a 12-35 and 35-100 can do the job. But what the client thinks supersedes what you and I believe. And it's the client who's got the dough!
     
  5. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    705
    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    Daros
    It shouldn't matter, but it does. You would hope that clients hire you for your work and not the gear your work was made with - but that's in an ideal World, and almost none of us live there.
     
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  6. Kilauea

    Kilauea Mu-43 Regular

    110
    Jun 9, 2012
    Canada
    Nicolas
    While I mostly tend to agree with you. Actually if I were to hire a photograph, it wouldn't be based on the gear he uses, but on the results he gets with said gear. If the person can create something amazing to my eyes with a Rebel and an 18-55 kit lens and the other person has a 5D3 with a 24-70 f2.8 and a 70-200 f2.8 but produces trash, then the decision is quite clear.

    But based on the fact those persons are hiring you because they like your work, specially work that was done with your current camera, then they should not be worried one bit about your gear. If they wanted gear, they could always buy some or rent some. What they need is actually a service which you can provide with your gear. Luckily, they were able to see what each photograph they considered was able to do and they found what you did was matching their liking. I think the whole argument stops there.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Here's my question - you hire a wedding photographer based on their portfolio and/or recommendations and word of mouth, right? So why would it actually matter what they show up with, if you can trust they'll get the results you want?

    Ironically, the few times I've gotten comments on my "impressive camera" - it's been an m4/3 body every time. G3 or G5 with a 14-140 or 100-300 and more recently it was the GH3 with 35-100 mounted the last couple of times it's happened. Bring out the Nikon D800 with a 70-200, not a peep... go figure. hahaha.
     
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  8. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hi.. I am not a wedding photog but few things are very important in every profession
    1) Make a stunning portfolio to show it ur clients and let ur work speak . No ones in general public knows about photography jargon .It depends on how u present and conduct urself
    2) Appear confident and make them believe that u are the right person this job . It doesn't matter if u turn up with 50K worth gear without a portfolio and confidence to match .
    3) If u know ur job and have right lenses then MFT is a perfect tool for wedding photography as well .
    4) One last thing ... Believe in urself first and people will believe in u mate .
    just do it ... Good luck
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    I initially made my interview choices based on the quality of their work as seen in their portfolio and website. Because that was the only thing I had to go by. BUT, if she had shown up at the wedding with a Rebel and kit lens, I would have been concerned. I don't care how good a photographer is if the conditions aren't ideal for the equipment used. If she had told me that she uses a Rebel at the interview, I would have grilled her on her lighting equipment, because of the lighting conditions at the church.

    We all know that the person behind the camera is the most important factor. But that doesn't mean that the camera doesn't matter. That's why so many of us chase that elusive extra 1% of sharpness. Or the clean ISO 6400. Or the fictitious (according to some) "Leica" look. And to a layman who knows less about photography than most forum members here, perception (even when not based in reality) is even more important. And to many, the bigger the camera, the more "pro" it looks.

    Lastly, it doesn't matter what I think anyway! I'm not the one hiring a photographer, likely ever again! But just sharing my thoughts having been on the customer end. And having had a few conversations with other folks in the customer end.

    Actually, we did hire one more photographer to shoot our upcoming one year anniversary. And yes, I did ask him what camera he uses! He uses that old piece of junk 5D2. ;)

     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    Vin
    I don't shoot full time, but when I get hired on for a shoot, they hire me based on my portfolio. Not once has anyone asked anything about my equipment. If you are feeling insecure, it will show through when you work with your clients. Your own confidence carries more weight than any type of camera you carry.
     
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  11. Reflector

    Reflector Mu-43 Veteran

    406
    Aug 31, 2013
    If my very good fellow photographer friend showed up with his XTi and his 18-55, I would drop bricks in my pants because I know he is going to shatter some photo forumites by taking a 18-55 and blowing away people with pro level photography. Inversely, if Ren Kockwell (Don't look up who this is, you are better not knowing about his BS if you don't know who I am referring to) showed up with a 18-55 and a D200, I would pray that for some reason, a flaming 18 wheeler loaded with explosive fertilizer were to strike him down with a fist of an angry pantheon of furious, enraged gods.*

    *This would not even remotely sufficient for his misdeeds in the photography world but it's a starting list of things that should happen to him. While I generally don't wish for 18 wheelers to catch fire while carrying fertilizer, I reserve a special form of deep hatred for the BS he has spread to photography. Apologies to the 18 wheeler, driver and fertilizer and anything else involved. No apologizes and pure anti-apologies are however, directed to KR.
     
  12. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think a pair of gripped E-M1 bodies and fast M43 primes and pro zooms could get the job done. I wouldn't aim for anything less. This is your bread and butter, get the best.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    I am a full time wedding/portrait and commercial photographer. The biggest camera I use at weddings is the EM5 with a grip. My 35mm cameras are actually slightly smaller than my m4/3 gear. Client perception has not been a problem, even with the gear head clients. A few thoughts.

    1. Clients can only be shocked if you haven't qualified them first. If you choose m4/3 make sure you explain how using your smaller cameras will benefit them BEFORE the wedding day. And have a kick ass portfolio to back it up. The prime problem is that some think small camera small print. I carry a 20x16 that shows what can actually be done from a m4/3 file.

    2. Put a grip on an EM1 and add an FL50R and you look plenty "professional". Nothing says "I know what I'm doing", like a hotshot flash, even if you don't turn it on. Back in the *good old days* I knew of a photographer that set up a Mamyia RB on a tripod, but who only shot using a Leica.

    3. The biggest obstacle will be those you second shoot for. They may have real prejudices. Or they may have the legitimate need for you to use the same brand as them for workflow reasons. Most consumer clients couldn't care less. And if they do you should be able to answer those questions anyway. What ever you choose you'll hav an occasional issue. Then you can rent.

    4. Don't buy anything because it'll let you grow. Only buy because you're being held back without it.

    5. Client perceptions are changing. So are the preconceived ideas of many working shooters. The EM1 will push that further.

    6. If you go the 6D route don't kid yourself you're going to shoot with a couple of bodies, a 50 and a 135. You'll need a wide and some TTL lighting at a minimum. Plus enough batteries and accessories to get through a double weekend. Probably a zoom thingy as well. Sure, there are people who shoot with just a 35 1.4. But they've developed a style over years of experimenting and experience. You need some time and flexibility to find out where you fit into that.

    7. At this time, if I could build a kit from scratch, I'd still have some m4/3 in it. If Fuji ever make a body that can focus in low light or Sony actually make some lenses for the A7 (unlikely based on their history) then things might be different.

    8. Which choice will be the most profitable?

    9. How much will your camera choice influence how YOU feel as a photographer? Maybe your personality won't let you dominate a room unless you have the biggest camera in the place.

    Gordon
     
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  14. kponds

    kponds Mu-43 Regular

    93
    Mar 18, 2013
    Tennessee
    Thanks everyone ... a lot to read through. Hopefully I will be able to reply to everyone after the two events I am shooting today.

    Well I have used zoom setups and many different prime setups before, and my favorite combo ever is the tag team 25mm (for classic photojournalism) + 75mm (for stunning portraits) on m43. I feel like if I only wanted to do portrait/event, this is all that I would ever need. I do understand that some people like ultrawide shots of the dancing crowd or something though, so I will need to have something from that.

    So I see the 50 + 135 as a full frame analogue of the 25 + 75 that I love so much. However, I honestly feel that the E-M5 setup is more effective. On Canon, every 50mm lens in the system seems to have baggage that comes with it. And at 135mm ... IBIS really helps.

    Maybe 35 + 85 is a better choice on FF due to the extra latitude with cropping. It would be more versatile. It will have to be evaluated, but I am fine (prefer) to shoot with two or three primes.

    Of course redundant TTL gear is neccessary for any event shooting and I would not even attempt it without. As is the same with back up sd card, battery, etc.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    733
    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Robert
    Personally I would be more concerned about building a portfolio than the gear. But, spend a long time evaluating whether your gear will perform under the conditions that you will use it under. Whatever you do, do not rely on discussion from an online forum. You will get horrible advice that will only frustrate you.
     
  16. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    941
    Oct 20, 2011
    Point 8 from flash... should be point 1. that goes for lighting, computers, camera. You don't need a 1dx or D4, with the latest Apple, and Profoto's. You will go broke quick.

    As for canon 50's... get a good sigma 50
     
  17. Talanis

    Talanis Mu-43 Top Veteran

    509
    Oct 15, 2012
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    Eric Cote
    In 6 years as a professional photographer, I got questions about my gear only once in an interview for a wedding.



    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Mu-43 mobile app
     
    • Like Like x 2
  18. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    There are two legitimate factors to consider:
    - DOF. If you require very shallow DOF, m43 won't work. If, however, you want deep DOF in low light, m43 can have a good shutter speed advantage.
    - flash control. Let's face it, while Oly is better than Panny in this regard, neither have the control and options of "pro" level Canikon bodies.
     
  19. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    While you can use the Voigtlanders and get very shallow DOF, I agree that in general it's easier with 35mm. With m43 you'll be using primes to give you the DOF of 35mm zooms, but you get the advantage of higer shutter speeds and IBIS.

    In use there's little difference between Olympus' off camera TTL system and Nikon. Canon has radio control but you'll be buying at least two 600RT guns to shoot that. The Olympus system is better than Canon's older RF system and is very close to Nikons system. 3 chanels and you can mix TTL and manual control plus independant control of the hotshoe flash as well. If it had radio it'd be perfect. I use the Olympus system regularly and it's very good. Its a solid reliable system. The only negative is that the FL50r is a slave only. You'll need a 600r in the bag for use as a master.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I agree, the m4/3 flash system I believe is very similar in featureset to the Nikon CLS and Wireless flash system IMO. The only thing I will say is there are more third party offerings and options for Nikon and Canon (e.g. I use a Yongnuo TTL-enabled flash on Nikon).

    The Canon RT flash system is also very, very, cool and I think (hope) that we'll see something like that coming for Nikon and eventually smaller systems like Panasonic/Olympus too. In the meantime, there's plenty of radio triggers and flashes that work with m4/3 for manual flash, so about the only big loss in going m4/3 is I'm not aware of any TTL-compatible radio triggers for the system at this time.
     
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