Oh why did I say yes to shooting a baby shower! Advice?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by RDM, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    I am starting to get a little nervous about something i probably should never had agreed to.
    I was asked by my sister in-law to take the photos for her upcoming baby-shower in June, she felt since I would not be a guest I could focus on the task at hand.
    I am not an event photographer but I have shot some events before when I was asked. Usually they were not a big deal because I was never the sole photographer so I could relax a little.
    Now I am the one that my family always asks to take photographs for them when they need but they are usually the family photos or Holiday cards, or a family event to which I was also invited to so I never feel bad for not getting all the moments at the event since I am a guest as well.

    Closest thing I can think of, to an event like this might be a wedding (I don't know), but I never shot one of those alone, there's usually one or two other armature photographers there, but i do all the Post processing typically [which I hate doing, but I have to because the others I meet never really do any PP or more than use JPEG out of the camera, with cropping in PS elements; plus they always seem to get scared when I ask them to set their cameras to shoot RAW, one time I was asked if it will affect or hurt the camera if they never used that setting before (that was from a woman who makes her living full time at a J.C. Penny portrait studio). ] .
    I am alone when I get called to come over to take the Pre-Prom Photos but those gigs are like an hour or so and i do mostly the Posed shots ( I bring gear for that). At the few weddings (less than 4) that I have done, I am usually the guy the does all the posed shots and the group shots (probably because I am the one with the portable backdrop gear and lighting setup), I like taking my time to adjust my equipment and shoot a bracket of shots for each pose.
    I never really do these things for much money; just enough to cover expenses and barely more than minim wage for all the time I spend total, especially the PP time since its something I do not enjoy. I do these things for the love of photography and mostly to help out friends and family. Anything I might

    SO this assignment is going to be very different for me .. I have even started panicking, thinking that maybe I should sell my camera body and upgrade to something newer.

    SO basically I want someone to give me advice on how to get out of this ...or if necessary how I should approach this.
  2. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Real Name:
    Hi RDM.

    Honesty frequently surprises people - if you really don't want to do it, or don't feel that you have the required skill set to accomplish the task, simply tell the sister-in-law that, after due consideration, you were hasty to agree to do the event and would recommend that she retain someone else's services, that you're having doubts that you can give her the results the event deserves.

    However if you're just having a case of the Yips then discuss the expectations of your sister-in-law; she may just want some decent snapshots; as a non-participating guest you'd have the (huge) advantage of not trying to eat/drink/talk and make photographs simultaneously. If she's looking for pro level work and you don't want to sweat out that level of work then bow out gracefully.

    Saying "No" is always an option. Better to have someone irritated with you for not doing a "favor" than it is to have them irritated with you every time they look at the photos...for the next ten years :biggrin:.

    I have, regretfully, turned friends and family down in some situations where I felt that I was getting in over my head - or simply didn't want to do the shoot. I have also, even more regretfully, agreed to do such events and then had to sweat bullets in order to pull them off and was not satisfied with the results.

    The last wedding I shot is just that - the last wedding I'll ever shoot. I've also stopped doing any type of special events photography - I used to shoot for a couple of non-profit organizations but when I retired I sold off the Nikon gear and I use that as an excuse (although mostly my excuse is "I don't do that type of shooting anymore" and let it go at that).

    A radio disk jockey in Detroit in the 1960's (Mickey Shorr) retired from the radio business and had new business cards printed up - on the back was his mantra:

    "If it ain't fun, I don't do it!"

    I've pretty much adopted Mr. Shorr's mantra for my photography.

    As for the gear required - is it in a private home, or a public venue such as a restaurant or church? Can you get access pre-event to check out the lighting at the same time of day as when the event will be held?

    You'll, of necessity, have to keep gear to a minimum, I should think. Folks are there for a celebration, not for a photo shoot, so umbrellas, stands, lights, etc. are probably off of the table.

    I'm sure better photographers than I can chime in with gear recommendations if you can give specifics about the venue, size of crowd, your existing kit, etc.

    Good luck!

  3. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Hi RDM, I'm going to be in a similar situation in a few weeks.
    If you really want to get out of this you could help your sister in-law to find a replacement.

    If instead you choose to stay, this is what helped me not to panic:

    1. Nobody is going to die if I do something wrong. Or get hurt.
    2. I suck, but not that much. I mean, they could find worst options. (I'm talking about myself only, no offense here)
    3. I'm not a pro and they know it. Ok, maybe this doesn't apply to you, but you could make clear that it's not your speciality, like asking a heart doctor advice for an eye problem. But again you are not making a brain surgery here.

    Now something more useful:

    4. Look for sites about this specific events to see example photos, portfolios, etc. Maybe there is a first moment when people arrive, than they eat, open presents, something like that. And you need maybe 20 good shots for each phase, plus a few details (cake, presents, etc.) plus a few "full room" shots plus one where each guest is present and some fillers. I knew nothing about baby-showers up to 10 minutes ago, but I think it's possible to break down the event in this way. After I did this "survey" I found the event less big and scary. Talk with your client for details.
    How many people are we talking about? 30? 100? Is this a big fancy/expensive event or something "in the family" where what matters most is not the perfect framing or the smooth skin tones but what happened that day, who was there, how was he dressed, who fell in the pool, etc. "Normal people" see pictures in a different way from..."us".

    5. Find a little time to exercise about the thing you are less confident with. Is taking candids? Working with available light? Flash? Shooting kids?
    6. If the event is really big try to find a second shooter for free, maybe through this forum (am I dreaming?). Just to learn, to have fun. Maybe another guest or guest friend? Or, if reasonable, offer yourself as a second shooter to a similar event.
    7. To me it looks like you have a lot of experience of this stuff (4 weddings? Pre-Proms?).

    About the gears. I do know know what you own now, but maybe a fast zoom or a medium tele could give you more options than a different body.

    I know there is a lot of naivety in this post, but maybe it could put things in a different perspective.
  4. Jacquesass

    Jacquesass Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 17, 2014
    If your sister-in-law isn't paying you, then I wouldn't be too anxious; if she is paying you, just remind her that this isn't your normal gig and give her the easy "out" to find another photographer. If you are still in, here are my 2c:

    You mentioned in your other thread that you've been shooting the GH2 with adapted legacy lenses, but that you were contemplating a move to a different body; you also seem to be leaning GX7. I would recommend that you get the GX7 before the event a) to become familiar with the camera and b) so that you have two bodies to shoot without having to swap lenses. I would then pick two lenses to work with (perhaps renting if you don't already own): a fast wide zoom lens (e.g., P12-35) on the GH2 and a portrait lens (e.g., O75 or perhaps one of your favorite legacy lenses) on the GX7. You'll then have an OIS stabilized zoom on the GH2 and an IBIS stabilized portrait lens on the GX7 (with focus peaking and silent shutter). After the shower, you can then follow up on your plan to maybe sell the GH2.

    Get there early and turn on every reasonable light. Figure out where you'll have the best unobstructed view of the future mom. Get pics of the decorations (before guests), presents (before opening) and the food (before eating). Alternate bodies to get plenty of group shots as well as isolation shots of the mother-to-be (especially when she is opening presents) and candids of individual guests. After the guests leave, get some individual pics of her "favorite" gifts. Finally, enjoy the scene - a baby shower is a very happy event (and unlike most other events)!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Real Name:
    as a pro you learn quickly never shoot family events !!!!!

    as a non pro ? as long as they know that but even then ? what if something happens ? will they or other family members hold it against you ? IMHO being a non pro not as big a deal do it or not but if you ever turn pro never work for family :)
    • Like Like x 1
  6. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro


    Well I casually explored the possibility of backing out, during in a recent conversation that I had with her sister and mother (who are putting on the shower) and it appears that it may seriously upset them, but I am not 100% sure; tho I did get that impression of displeasure when I was told "one way or another you better make sure there is a photographer there, whether it's you or someone else you are gonna hire, cuz we are already dumping a ton of money to come up there and do this thing" (her family moved to Florida some years back). Spoke to my brother today when we were all together for mothers day, to see if he could afford to hire someone, but due to recent flooding in the New Jersey area where my brother lives, they are a little strapped for cash at the moment; especially since he and his wife are teachers.

    But anyway, I don't think there is any pressure being put on me.
  7. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I'll be shooting two baby showers in the next few weeks. No pressure, no pro photos required, just for close friends. Most photos are for Facebook anyway. I figured the most important is content (incl. framing, angle, etc.), then exposure. I'll have two bodies: E-M10 with PL 25mm and E-PM2 with P14. I'll have a Rok fisheye also for that one fun indoor group shot. FL-300R works just fine for me if needed. I anticipate to use PL25 for 90% of the shots. It always gives me most keepers.
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    I hate to ask, but is the same sister that "left" your battery and charger on the interstate? Is so, then is that any indication of how she may react if you bring her some less than happy news? Some things to consider before you might possibly get your head handed back to you on a platter.

    Good luck,

  9. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    How serious is this event? The limited baby showers I've been to, have been pretty casual events. If they are spending a lot of money and having lots of people, maybe they should think about hiring someone professional. If it's a relatively casual affair, where they just want some nice photos to capture the day, you should be alright!
  10. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    If you happen to be a photographer, family and relatives are possibly the most ungrateful and demanding bunch of people in existence, as they think you're happy to do any request because it's not real work (as far as they're concerned). They wouldn't think of doing the same with another relative that might be a plumber or electrician. Anyway, I thought baby showers were all about a bunch of women getting together and giving the rug rat presents that it'll grow out of in six months (based on what I've gathered from my wife). Just settle on taking individual and group photos of everyone while they're holding the bundle of joy and you can't go wrong. To be honest, there'll be more shots taken with P&S cameras and selfies than what you can do and your photos will probably end up being forgotten, while everyone praises the crappy shots posted on Facebook.
  11. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    Shooting family events sucks for pros because it is not their family. You have to be passionate about what you are shooting to get great pictures. You know your family's quirks, inside jokes and all the characters. This puts you in a unique position to do a great job.
  12. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Well, it works exactly the same if you work in "anything related to computers"... :)
    • Like Like x 5
  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Real Name:
    Richard Elliott
    Remember, there will be cake. :D

    Also when I have been asked to shoot family events I usually oblige but remind them (repeatedly) I am not a professional. Set those expectations low.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    At the end of the day, all you need is a half dozen good shots and everyone will be happy. You can already plan for three or four of those shots:

    - group shot of everyone smiling
    - shot of the sister in law with the silly ribbon hat
    - shot of sister and family members that came up from Florida
    - shot of sister in law and brother when he arrives at the end

    It sounds like you have experience with posed shots, so these should be easy. Get those shots down and the rest of the day will feel less stressful.

    Fill out the day with some nice shots of the pile of gifts, some wide shots of the group in action, some macros of the food, drink, etc...

    When you break it down like this, it seems less intimidating.

    Good luck!
    • Like Like x 3
  16. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    Very true. I'm the go to guy for any computer related issues and it's much the same.
  17. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    Well tomorrow is the day and I will be without some Key pieces of equipment. It was this past Monday that I discovered can't find my flip bracket or Bounce card attachment for my flash (I haven't used them in a few years, but thought i knew where they were). I ordered inexpensive replacements from online but they have not yet arrived.
    I have a crappy little soft box that I might have to use (came with the flash), if I can figure out a way to keep it from flopping down. Its not that stiff and got one of those elastic collars; I might end up doing something made of wire. Least I have a off camera flash extension cable. I have this ancient L-bracket that came with some of my classic camera gear that I purchased; it's better than Holding it. I just gotta get the diffuser situation sorted.
    I kinda just don't care anymore. I'm just of the mind set, it is what it is, and how ever they turn out, they turn out.
    Stinks living so far away from the metropolitan areas so you cant get things last minute, even worse when your vehicle needs to be repaired and you have to bum rides for two weeks.
  18. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    You'll be fine! Just have fun and be creative about it. Heck if they have drinks, swig a shot or two! Just go with the flow!
    • Like Like x 1
  19. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    Thanks for the reassurance Jonathan. :smile: I appreciate it.
  20. Dan Lopez

    Dan Lopez Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2011
    Get shots of the cake, candy, cupcakes etc (thin dof on these) do these asap. Do it first since its quick and easy.
    Next grab the couple and take a few portraits of them together do this asap to allow them the rest of the time to mingle with guests. (good time to add the close family ie their parents, brother/sister etc. too). Afterwards stick to candid shots and if you happen to notice the mom/dad to be talking to a particular guest you may want to capture that or ask to take there picture etc. Lastly be sure to take a group shot, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

    Also, there will be games.. capture these games!