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Learn Wedding Photography - Preparation Basics


By: Tom Jackson

Marriage If you have been used to taking photos with a traditional camera and film, you may be surprised at how easy it can be to lose a whole memory card full of pictures, because of seemingly simple errors. With a film camera, it does not matter if the battery gives out right at the time you take a photo. The only problem that might occur, is that you lose that one shot. You just rewind the film, and you are good to go. As great as digital is, there are pitfalls that can really bite you if you do not prepare for them.

You need to make time to plan ahead whenever you are about to take important photos for any event, be it a wedding, graduation or even a family day out sightseeing in a new city. And the reason for the time? Lets take a deeper look. Each of the points I cover here carry the same weight as the other. In other words, do all of the following to make sure that you have a successful day, taking wonderful photos for you and the subjects.

1. Make sure that all your batteries are fully charged. If your camera uses a proprietary battery, then you need to make sure that it is fully charged before you start the days event. Depending on how many photos you may take on the day, (see, more planning), you may need to buy an extra battery and have it fully charged as well. A lot of the smaller compact cameras, and even the larger DSLRs, often take special built batteries. They can be quite expensive, but if you think you might be taking a large number of photos, then it will be to your benefit to purchase an extra battery. It will always come in handy in the future, so it will never be a waste of your money.

2. Make sure that you have enough memory cards to hold all of the photos you will be taking on the day. Many of the smaller compact cameras can only take smaller capacity memory cards. So, if you are planning on taking photos for a special days event, then it would be wise to make sure that you have one or two spare memory cards. Also, be aware, that if your camera can take the larger capacity memory cards, and you think you can take all the photos on just one large card, then you also need to consider that if you have problems with that card, you will lose all the images from the day. Thatís why I often suggest having two or three cards available, so that if anything were to happen to one of your cards, you would still have images on the other cards. Some of the larger capacity cards available these days, can store hundreds and even thousands of images before you need to change to a new card. I can only imagine the pain of losing a card with hundreds of irreplaceable images.

3. Before you start the days event, make sure that you format the memory cards and get them prepared for the days event. Be sure to format the card in the camera you will be using for the days event. Industry experts all agree that the best way to format and prepare a memory card, is to do it in the camera you will be using. Do not format the card using your computer. By using the cameras, it ensures that you have maximum compatibility. Also, if there is going to be a problem with the card, this is most often the time where the problem will show up. If the card does not format properly in the camera, then do not use that card during the event, but try and rectify the problem when you return home. Never try and use a card that shows any sign of a problem. It is just not worth the effort. You can try all kinds of things once you get home and have the time to spend and diagnose the problem.

4. Never use a memory card in more than one kind of camera without formatting the card. You run the risk of causing problems if you take a card out of one camera and use it in another camera that is not the same make and model. Most cameras will write the file a little differently, and so if you use the card in a different camera, you again run the risk of losing images. If you intend to use a card in a different camera, that make sure that you copy all the files onto your computer, and then format the card in the other camera before use.

5. Part of the reason for item 1 above (fully charged batteries), is not just to make sure you have enough power to take photos during the days event, but also to ensure that the camera will not power off during writing a file to the memory card. If the camera battery fails while writing a file, you will not only lose that image, but the rest of the images on the card may be lost forever. A memory card is just like a computer hard drive. It has a directory and file structure so that the camera and your computer know where the files are, how many files are on the card, and how big the files are. If the camera fails during writing a file to the card, it can corrupt the card, just like a hard drive crash. Also, never take a card out of the camera while the file is still being written to the card. Always make sure that if you need to remove the card after taking a photo, wait a few seconds to make sure the file has been written to the card to avoid problems.

6. When it comes time to move your photos onto your computerís hard drive, I suggest that you use a memory card reader and not the camera. Again, it is always possible that the cameraís battery could fail during the process to copy the photos over to your hard drive. This will not usually be a problem, but it could cause the card to become corrupt and therefore potentially lose your images. Also, it is usually much faster to use a memory card reader to transfer your images. Card readers are very inexpensive, and you have a choice of using a multi format reader or one designed just for the card type your camera uses. They are so cheap, that I always carry one with me so that if I need to, I can either copy files to a computer that happens to be at the location I am shooting, or to display some of the images onto the computer monitor for the client or subjects to see right away.

So, if you would really like to lose all those treasured photos, if you really want to have the hassle of explaining to your client, family or friends that you have lost all of the images you took, then just ignore these tips. You will lose some money, some friends and have to endure the wrath of some potentially very angry people. And you will lose the word of mouth advertising that can end up making you a lot of money over the years. There are wedding photographers who consistently make well into the 6 figure income. And in the US alone, the wedding photography market is in excess of five billion dollars a year. Not a bad market to be in.

So, if you follow these simple steps, you will ensure that your images will be saved, and everyone will live happily ever after. OK, well, maybe we do not need to be that melodramatic, but I am sure you get the picture (pun intended). Your clients will be happy, you will be happy, and your wallet will be happy. Plus, you get the benefit and the pride of knowing that you did a good job and that a small part of you will live on and be enjoyed by generations of people looking at your photos. Just like an artist has people viewing their paintings. It just does not get better than that. Enjoy.

Like many professionals, Tom Jackson began his career by shooting weddings. You can make a substantial income shooting weddings with very little overhead. You can get more info on wedding photography, cameras and computer image editing, and see examples of his work, or get more info on how to start your own business http://www.howtoshootweddings.net or for free hints and tips visit the blog http://learnweddingphotography.blogspot.com
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