Looking for wedding photography on a budget? Email me or don’t.

Palm Treo Photos

I am growing tired of receiving emails that ask me, a professor of photojournalism, for referral to a student for wedding photography. I am not afraid to give a referral, I have many great students who would love the opportunity. What bugs me is the approach. Most inquiries go more or less like this:

Hello Professor Rolinson,

My name is Bride-To-Be. I am getting married in just a few months. My fiance and I are on a tight budget, but photography is really important to me. I love the photojournalism style….catching the little things. I am wondering if you could recommend a few talented students with wedding photography experience.



My problems begin with the fact that you love photography, but you aren’t interested in paying what it really costs to make it happen. Photojournalism is a highly developed photographic skill…catching the little things. It is demanding and the equipment is expensive. You want it cheap (without saying it) and you want the opportunity to cherry-pick the best talent and experience to go with it rather than pay market prices for wedding photography. If you valued it so much you should consider making concessions somewhere else in the budget.

I get inquiries like this almost weekly. What do these emailers think that I am teaching my students? In my Business of Photography course I am certainly teaching them realistic methods to determine what it actually costs to produce quality images. The numbers often floor the students. I am not interested in producing the caliber of student who wants to see how cheaply they can work. That is ridiculous and unsustainable both for them and for me.

Student (soon to be professional) work has enormous value. The price must start out in a realistic place to be sustainable long term. The price has to be ON PAR from the beginning with the other professionals working in the current market.

Inquiries like this also reflect on what people really think about photography in the first place. It isn’t easy or cheap when it is done well, even by students. I wonder if accounting professors receive the same types of emails inquiring if there is an accounting student available to keep their books and file taxes on the cheap….I seriously doubt it.

What is in a name?

Wolf Creek Narrows
I am often asked why we chose StartPoint Media as a name for our photography company. The answer lies in the fact that StartPoint Media wasn’t created to be just a photography company.

In 2000 when the company was founded we had three prongs to our business: editorial photography, graphics design and P/R events. I provided the photography and Cara handled public relations. We took a a team approach towards graphics design. The editorial photography took off and was a rousing success. This kept us busy and quickly refined our focus. Since the business was becoming established we chose to keep the name. By doing this we weren’t limiting ourselves when opportunities arose to expand.

In 2000 the internet was nothing like it is now, no Twitter, no Facebook and no Flickr. The power to market was still primarily very traditional and very print. As the decade moved on Internet marketing took off. We embraced the power of social media networks to get our name out there. We can now be identified on many of the popular social networking sites. Educating ourselves about our own social media networks provided us with an additional skill set and another opportunity to provide services, social media coordination.

For more information please visit StartPointMedia.com

Info for New Photo Students

HS Media Workshop 2009

Welcome to school.
I am always asked what gear and software students will need in the Point Park University Photojournalism B.A and Photography B.F.A. program. I’m also often asked about what a student can expect in the program.

I’ll break down your anticipated needs and expectations by class level.

35mm film SLR cammera
Yes, that is correct, film. Your first two semesters, and possibly more if you choose, will be film based. We use the traditional wet process to give you a solid foundation in the basics and historical relevance of traditional photography. Understanding the darkroom process will give you the vocabulary and skills you need to be a better digital photographer.

The university does have a few to loan out on a first come first serve basis. This is handy if you aren’t sure you want to stay in photography as a major.

I’d also stick to using the schools computers until you are sure of your preferences (MAC or PC)

By now you should be committed to one of the photography majors. Your education will begin to shift into the digital world quite rapidly. It would be my advice to spend your money on an lower end camera body kit and use the schools loaner lenses. We have Nikon glass. You will have the opportunity to try out a few thing before making a big commitment to quality lenses for yourself. You may also want to consider a computer that has the ability to be upgraded over the next year or two to keep pace. Bear this in mind that no matter the computer you buy now it will be obsolete before you know it. Consider a student version of the latest Photoshop Suite. You should be shooting for the student media and be looking for opportunities to lead and move up.

You are a serious student now. Your function now shifts from ‘learning’ photography basics to experimenting on your own with new techniques and bouncing the results off of your classmates and teachers. refining your skills and learing all that you can from others. You should be building your professional network and begin looking for an internship. You should be an active member or a leader in the student media and belong to an outside professional organization like NPPA or ASMP.
You should be investing in good glass for your camera, f2.8 or faster. Your first lens should cover a good range like 28-105mm. A second lens should be an 80-200. If you can swing a third, consider a super-wide lens for tight situations.
You will need the ability to process images on your own computer to meet class deadlines. It is also quite likely that you could land your first freelance assignment, you’ll need the flexibility of your own gear to complete the assignment. You’ll be learning multimedia and will need video editing software like Final Cut Express or Adobe Premiere.

Within a year you will graduate. You must enter into the business 100% and support yourself soon. Networking and portfolio building will be your mantra for the year. Knowing the right people will get you places, also you should be ritualistically checking the NPPA job data bank and others for opportunities. Shooting for the student media and the Point Park News Service should be a big part of your routine. Generating multimedia and shooting video should be things you are willing and able to do. Resistance is futile, this is the future. Position yourself to take advantage of it. Creating your own opportunities will be imperative to your success in the future. Ask members of the local chapters of NPPA and ASMP how they got their start and adapt that information to your own unique set of skills. Upgrading to to a more powerful camera allows you more freedom to create. You must have your own gear to completely take advantage of opportunities that come your way. You should also take the Business of Photography course and become interested in the ins and outs of conducting business properly if you choose to freelance. Being skilled, creative and meeting a deadline is mandatory.

Good luck to you. I look forward to helping your reach your goals.