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Author Topic: Sucked into shooting a wedding  (Read 7294 times)
soboyle
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« on: April 24, 2011, 06:02:26 PM »
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I said yes, against my better judgment.
So now I'm stuck shooting my Niece's wedding.
I'm looking for suggestions on how to bone up on wedding shooting techniques, a good website that covers this. How to be in the best place. What shots are mandatory. What if I eff up. Should I be using fill flash, or cranking the iso.
I suppose I will have to break out my ancient canon speedlight.
Any suggestions? Shooting with a 5D M2
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2011, 06:34:29 PM »
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I got conned into doing a wedding for a friend about fifty years ago. Never again!

My recommendation would be to get yourself hospitalized immediately with some rare tropical disease (or bungee-jumping or...) and tell your niece to get another photographer real quick!

My sympathy!

Eric
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k bennett
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2011, 08:38:11 PM »
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Do you have experience shooting candid people photos? Sports, news, anything? If you can do those things, then you have some of the skill set required for shooting a wedding. I'm a news/magazine photographer, and end up saying "yes" to this sort of thing about once every five years. The results are usually decent, though afterwards I swear I will never shoot another wedding.... They are very, very hard work, and six or eight hours of humping heavy gear in a hurry with the added pressure that you can't really miss any of the photos, well, that's why good wedding photography costs a lot of money.

I shot my most recent wedding in December. Dark church, of course, with mixed fluorescent and incandescent lights. But the minister gave me free rein during the ceremony, as long as I could shoot without a flash, and I took advantage of it. High ISO with your 5D2 is very good -- don't be afraid to use it. If you want to add some fill flash, make sure you gel the flash to match the color of the ambient light (this is easy if it's an outdoor wedding during the day.) Talk with the bride and her mother well before the wedding to make sure you know every shot they want, and also to make sure that they understand your particular photography style. For example, if you are a fine art landscape photographer who shoots everything at f/64 on a 4x5 camera, that might have an effect on how you cover their wedding Smiley. Look at good wedding photo sites (start here. Page down for some great wedding photos.)

Just btw, depending on how ancient your Speedlight is, it might not work with the 5D2.

Good luck. The bungee jumping accident might start looking pretty good at some point....
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2011, 11:58:51 PM »
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I'm with Eric... I shot a wedding, once.

I appreciate those who do it regularly, but it's not for me.  However, if you INSIST on doing it, I'd troll through the websites of wedding photographers and see what their work looks like, find a style that you like and figure out how it was done.  You're going to need to learn how to use flash setups if you don't already.  I'd also suggest that you learn (if necessary) to be assertive, even bossy if needs be.  Tell people (nicely at first), where to stand, what to do, etc.  Many weddings are being shot with more casual, less posed look these days, but it depends a lot on the wedding party - find out from them what they want; it's their day.

Mike.

P.S.  Go here: https://public.me.com/george_jardine and scroll down to the 20071017 Podcast - 6 Women Wedding Photographers folder, then download and listen to the .mp3 file.
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stamper
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2011, 03:14:56 AM »
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What you won't find is advice on how to control your stress levels. A wedding photographer told me recently it was 80% stress and 20% a mixture of the rest. Best thing to do is find a wedding that you can tag along with the photographer and try and learn what he does, assuming that he knows what he is doing. Smiley
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Les Sparks
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2011, 10:35:31 AM »
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Check out the Wedding forum at Digital Grin Photography. http://www.dgrin.com/forumdisplay.php?f=49.
You'll have to hunt around the forum but you'll find some good information. Try search terms like "first wedding", "suggestions for wedding photos",
"must do shots", and so on.
Also look at some of the posts that provide photos and critiques.
Have fun and enjoy the experience.
Les
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2011, 11:45:38 AM »
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Visit your local public library if you have one.  They probably will have a few good books on the subject, or they can transfer them from another library.  This will assist you on you posing ideas etc.  As far as the internet, google wedding photographer and look at the galleries of wedding photographers.  You can learn a lot by looking.  Study the poses etc until it is ingrained in your brain so you are able to recall the pose completely in your mind in your sleep.

Stress management is a huge part of wedding photography.  Managing the stress of yourself as well as the wedding party members.  Once stress takes over, you have already lost the game.

If there is a wedding reception, attend it and shoot a lot.  This will let you know where to be, what iso etc.  Also, it will allow you to learn the people a bit, if you dont already know all of them.  Find out who is directing the wedding, if there is someone.  This person can be your assistant in gathering people together for your group shots.  Shoot as much before the wedding as possible.  Encourage the bride and groom to have their together shots done before.  I know that some couples do not want to see each other before hand, but doing so will make your life a lot more relaxed.

Try to have two of everything possible.  it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.  Batteries, flash cards, backup body and flash also...but, this depends on how brave you are....and remember, there is a very fine line between bravery and stupidity.
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soboyle
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 12:07:58 PM »
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Thanks for the good suggestions here - I can see that stress level will be the biggest enemy for this type of event.
Will have to sit down with my niece and give her a talk about what to expect, so the expectations aren't off the scale.
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louoates
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2011, 06:10:42 PM »
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My deepest sympathies. If it were me I'd find the nearest biker bar and kick over a few hogs parked outside.

Okay, then make sure you do this:

1. Get as many images as you can. This means all the images other guests are taking as well. Their cameras will generally be decent point and shoots with IS features. Get those memory chips from them, without fail, before they leave the reception or when they pass out, whichever comes first.

2. Make sure you have plenty of your own memory chips. Keep some of them on you, in your pocket, at all times.

3. Recharge your camera's batteries the night before. Bring spares. And bring lots of batteries for your flash unit. They will drain very quickly if you are shooting the massive number of shots you must.

4. Take as many shots on all automatic modes and focus as you can. Get artistic after you've got enough keepers you know are decently exposed and in focus.

5. Take the brides and the brides mothers mandatory shots first if at all possible.

6. Recruit at least one other guest to help you carry equipment, replace batteries, keep the mandatory list, etc.

7. Try to get to the caterers location to shoot the cake, place settings, etc. as early as possible (even the day before) so you're not rushing people shots later.

8. You have GOT to have a backup camera. A decent point and shoot will do in a pinch if you must.

9. Be as assertive as you must with posing folks and keeping other folks out of the way. Your assistant could help in this.

10. Do what you can to get permission for flash in the church. Hi speed ISO or not -- a decent flash will always look better.

11. Decide now how much you will do for free. Lots of folks will be asking for prints and/or the digital files.

12. Eat early--well before the wedding. You will not be eating at the reception. You will not be drinking either.

13. Swear to God and all the saints in heaven: You will never do this again.

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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2011, 10:29:56 PM »
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Louoates,

I wish I'd had this list of rules fifty years ago at the only wedding I ever attempted to photograph.
The only rule I followed correctly was #13.  Sad

Eric
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michaelnotar
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2011, 12:45:18 AM »
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CONTRACT CONTRACT CONTRACT CONTRACT CONTRACT!

never do any business without even a simple contract/agreement of what you both expect, WEDDINGS ESPECIALLY. many have fallen victim to shooting a family wedding and having it gone way out hand esp others expectations of you. CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. i have seem many cases involving myself or others in weddings, and other jobs where there was no contract. it was all nice at the start but not so much 6 months or a year later.

honestly shooting a wedding is simple, just plan it out, its just event photography with some posed shots.

go in prepared but expect to have fun. i have only had anti-bridezillas, really changed my outlook.
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stamper
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2011, 03:06:22 AM »
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Quote

4. Take as many shots on all automatic modes and focus as you can. Get artistic after you've got enough keepers you know are decently exposed and in focus.

Unquote

If the bride is wearing white and the groom is wearing black how do you properly expose for the two extremes if shooting in automatic? Cock up this exposure and your life will be s**t. Wink
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2011, 12:30:59 PM »
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Its not really that difficult IF you are happy photographing a crowd of people having a good time.  I had a quick look at your website and your style does not shout out "people photographer".  If you love photographing people it can be a lot of fun.

Remember it is their day and not about the photography.  Find out what is happening, when it is happening, and just try to tell the story.  It is not necessary to shout and boss people around - try to keep any group pictures down to a minimum and concentrate on telling the story.  Be unobtrusive (using flash in church is not unobtrusive and not necessary if you use iso 3200 on a 5d) and remember that the wedding and the enjoyment of it by the couple and their guests is the most important thing.  They will not be happy if the day is marred by a photographer bellowing and getting stressed even if the pictures are good.  Just rattling off thousands of pictures is not only unnecessary, but really annoying to the couple.

As others have said, look at a few photographers websites and see if you can look at complete sets of pictures to get an idea.

Good luck!

Jim
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kikashi
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2011, 01:01:03 PM »
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remember that the wedding and the enjoyment of it by the couple and their guests is the most important thing.  They will not be happy if the day is marred by a photographer bellowing and getting stressed even if the pictures are good. 
Very, very true! I've been to several weddings at which I gained the impression that the photographer was the most important person there and all should revolve around him. I've seen one get into a stand-up row with the groom's uncle because he had the temerity to take a photograph himself. Your results are important but you aren't: it's a contradiction but it's true nevertheless.

I do like louoates's #13.

Jeremy
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2011, 11:21:42 PM »
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I'd just hire a wedding photographer.
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scrinch
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« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2011, 06:43:10 AM »
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I'd just hire a wedding photographer.

The perfect solution !   This is the suggestion that I always make when asked to shoot weddings for friends  and relatives.  Then you can just sit back, eat cake and drink champagne.
 
Good luck.
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Bryan Conner
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« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2011, 09:34:01 AM »
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I'd just hire a wedding photographer.

I have a better idea:  Get one of your photographer friends to feel sorry for you and then ask him to help you shoot the wedding and sneakily turn the "help me shoot the wedding" into you watching him shoot the wedding....for free of course.   Grin
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feppe
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2011, 03:59:05 PM »
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I get sucked into shooting friend's weddings, have done 1 fully by myself, but other three have been as a supplementary photographer. By this I mean that there was a pro at the site, or I was one of many amateurs. I get to party, no pressure, and have always received very good feedback on my photos.

Just today I got the "your camera must be good" -treatment from last weekend's wedding - the bride wanted to know what camera I used since the pictures were so good Tongue I shot with E-PL1, while there was a whole army of DSLR shooters.

I would strongly encourage Wayne's approach: let them hire a wedding photographer, and bring your own camera if you feel like it.

Below a shot from another wedding in Nicaragua.
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louoates
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2011, 06:03:46 PM »
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Quote

4. Take as many shots on all automatic modes and focus as you can. Get artistic after you've got enough keepers you know are decently exposed and in focus.

Unquote

If the bride is wearing white and the groom is wearing black how do you properly expose for the two extremes if shooting in automatic? Cock up this exposure and your life will be s**t. Wink

Great question to which I have no answer except when choosing whom to please there isn't much of a decision. I've never officially* shot a wedding but I'd still go with the auto exposure setting when dealing with moving folks. For posed shots I'd use a hand held meter measuring the light falling onto the couple and use manual settings.

* warning: horror wedding story:
My niece was married in Hawaii and my wife and I attended. Someone hired a local photographer and a local videographer. Turns out the photographer sold himself as an "arty" photographer specializing in (here's where it gets ugly) unusual and artistic interpretations.
The good news is that the videographer failed to capture any sound, including the wedding vows, reception speeches, or music. So the "luxury" of video was pretty much destroyed. At least there were stills, right?
The bad news is that the photographer took unusual and artistic interpretations. That meant closeups of the temporary pews set up on the hotel's balcony facing the Pacific Ocean which was, of course, out of focus. That meant that the vows photography neglected to show any faces. Yes it is possible if you really arty and really try. That also meant that there were no shots of the wedding party. You know, the trite shots of the bride and groom with their parents. Bridesmaids pictures? Nope. Not arty they. I'm not sure if there is any shots surviving of the bride and groom themselves because by the time the bride saw enough of the proofs to faint the groom through the photographer out on his ear.
Next day the bride was on the phone to all who attended begging them to send her any shots they took. I had taken quite a few of the point and shoot variety, not thinking that anyone but my wife and myself would ever see them. The upshot of it all was she did get enough shots to at least to prove she was indeed married in Hawaii. Unfortunately the marriage ended after six months so the photography debacle meant little in the long run except to serve as an example of how wrong weddings can go.
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2011, 03:31:38 PM »
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CONTRACT CONTRACT CONTRACT CONTRACT CONTRACT!

This is for family. Demanding a contract seems incredibly ill-advised especially as, I am sure, the OP's parents played a large part in getting the OP to actually agree.

Many of us have been in the same boat. Family pressure can be a very powerful force. Learn from this experience and, the next time you're asked, you'll be better prepared for polite but forceful refusal.
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