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Gear Talk => EOS Bodies - For Stills => Topic started by: ktabes on January 26, 2013, 10:48:52 AM

Title: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: ktabes on January 26, 2013, 10:48:52 AM
So, long story short, a friend of mine is moving his wedding to a week from now (it was suppose to be 6 months away).  And he knows that I do some photography as a hobby and said he'd want me to photograph it.

I am in no way a professional photographer.

my gear: Just upgraded to the 6d, canon 17-40, Tamron 28-75 2.8, 40mm 2.8, 50mm 1.8, and a nifty lowelpro bag, so i don't mind carrying all my lenses. I also have a rode mic and a led light that I use for video sometimes, but i didn't plan on any video. So I don't exactly have professional gear. I mostly just do some landscapes, or some walkaround stuff when I travel. I'm a casual photographer, as I like to put it.

He says relax, have fun, take some candid photos. But I don't want to disappoint. Should I spring for an 85mm? or a speelight? I don't know when else I would use it, so I don't want to buy it for one day. Should I rent one?  Anything else i should keep in mind? Or specific photos I should remember to get? Not sure how I should approach this.

Thanks!
Anything helps!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: EOBeav on January 26, 2013, 11:26:58 AM
Nothing like an emergency wedding shoot to get you started down that road.

Your 6D should be fine, and I would think you'd make quite a bit of use of that 28-75mm. It's good you've got some glass with some wider apertures, too. If you can rent something like a 70-200 f/2.8, that would probably help you improve your longer range shots. You might just have to shoot wider and crop as necessary, though. 

I don't know the venue you're shooting at, but only bring strobes if you know what you're doing with them. You'll have no time to fiddle with settings and experiment while you're there. Make the most of what you've got. Check out where you'll be shooting and get a sense of whether or not your setup can even handle it. If it's fairly dark, and you don't have lights, you're going to be looking at some ugly ISO settings.

Aside from that, hopefully you've sat down with the bride and groom and have talked about expectations. Many people today are foregoing the high-cost formal wedding for something more casual and low-key, and that may be what's going on here. They might just want a photographic record of the event, and not all of the posed group and individual shots. But get all of those expectations out in the open first.

I'm sure others will have some additional advice, but that's what I've got for now.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: AprilForever on January 26, 2013, 11:54:52 AM
Get a backup camera, either a 7D or a 5D mk ii.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: RMC33 on January 26, 2013, 12:23:08 PM
A second body goes a LONG way. 70-200 2.8 as other posters have pointed out is great too. Do you have a flash unit or two? Great for fill light and getting shots inside. You will have recycle time issues with out an external battery but the 430 EXII is a great light. I would say 1 off camera flash at minimum and read a bit on http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html) to get familiar if you are not already.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 26, 2013, 12:44:04 PM
Are you being paid? I'd forget about the lens unless you have disposable income to play with. It is a very nice lens but you currently have decent coverage. The 85 will be a sharper and faster than your 28-75 but how much difference will it make based on your friends expectations. Your 50 1.4 is fast enough to cover low light situations.

Where is everything happening? Standard Wedding  - church, formals at some other location, reception at some hall?

I know there are natural light photographers which is great if it is available. You will probably wind up in a dark venue and unless your camera can shoot very high ISO you will need a flash. Even with with the 50 1.4 you will need some fill.       

Now the flash. This opens a whole new world. One week is not a lot of time to prepare to really understand how the flash and camera work together. What I mean by that is how to control them separately. Even though the flash is attached to your camera they have two separate jobs. In fact your camera does not care about what your flash is doing and the flash does not care what your camera is doing.

Your camera exposes for ambient or available light using the cameras light meter. When you put your flash on the camera the light meter has nothing to do with flash. It can't because the flash has not fired yet and your system cannot predict flash output.

So as I said your camera has a job and the flash has a job. The camera exposes for ambient and the flash exposes for your subject/s. It is often referred to - two exposures in one.

Watch this video. It is a Pocket Wizard ad but has great animations. At minute 2:30 you will see the shutter open and expose the ambient light or first exposure. It may not be much of an exposure but it is an exposure. Then the flash fires to illuminate the subject - the second part of the exposure. Note: You don't need PW because that is for off camera high speed sync. Also you don't need to know anything about HSS now but it is interesting to see how your shutter and flash work together.

http://www.pocketwizard.com/inspirations/tutorials/pocketwizard_controltl_optimiz/ (http://www.pocketwizard.com/inspirations/tutorials/pocketwizard_controltl_optimiz/)

I'm not sure what your camera is but if you get a flash I would suggest you keep things simple and put the camera P mode and set your flash to ETTL. ETTL fires a pre flash to determine correct exposure of your subject. It is a good tool and gets you close but is not an exact science. The next step is learn how to adjust the Flash Exposure Compensation or FEC. After each shot check the histogram, adjust the FEC as required and shoot again. My guess is there will be enough white to work with. That is all you need.

Here is a link on how to interpret the histogram. If you get whites right the rest of the exposure falls into place. Again remember this is for your subject, not the ambient or surrounding light.  Scroll down to the gent holding the white towel.

http://super.nova.org/DPR/Histogram/ (http://super.nova.org/DPR/Histogram/)

So when using the flash we have the camera on P mode and flash on ETTL and we adjust FEC as required for subject exposure. Now the best way to use flash is put the camera on manual when using flash. In P mode you don't have a lot of control over depth of field. Actually there is little difference between P and M modes. In P the camera controls shutter and DOF and in M you do. This gets a little complex and I can get into that if you wish but like I said one week is not very long for this learning curve.

Next when using flash I would suggest shooting with the highest ISO you are comfortable with. 1600 - 3200 even better. This brings in more ambient light so the flash does not have to work as hard, there is better balance between flash and ambient thus the images look more natural, not like your subject/s have been nuked.

So far. Camera on P, flash on ETTL, learn how to use FCE and use a higher ISO.

If you are going to use a flash I would get it yesterday and start practising. If you do later I will explain why the flash head rotates (bouncing the light) and how that gets better, more even/pleasing flash exposures.

Here is a list that may help you.

http://digital-photography-school.com/wedding-photography-21-tips-for-for-amateur-wedding-photographers (http://digital-photography-school.com/wedding-photography-21-tips-for-for-amateur-wedding-photographers)
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: TrumpetPower! on January 26, 2013, 12:44:44 PM
These sorts of things rarely end well. Sometimes they do, of course, but almost never. If it's not too late to back out, do so now. Indeed, my suggestion would be, rather than to spend any money on new gear for yourself, instead offer to buy a whole case of throw-away cameras for the guests and to make an album from them. That is, turn the whole audience into a photography corps, with the hope that at least some of them snapping away like mad will cover everything that should be covered. Or, offer a wedding present of a portrait session on some other day than the actual wedding. Do anything you can to get out of being anything other than a regular guest at the wedding.

You don't necessarily need a lot of gear to shoot a wedding...what you need is a metric fuckton of knowledge and skill that's only tangentially related to photography. You need to know what shots to take, where to be at what time to take them and how to make sure that you actually get said shot, and what to do to ensure that said shot actually happens at that time and place. You need to be a good portrait photographer, which is much less about equipment and much more about lighting and posing and staging. You need to be a good event photographer, which is again much less about equipment and much more about discretely being everywhere in such a way that you're always in the middle of everything but nobody realizes you're there. You need to be good at managing your client's expectations, you need to have a post-production workflow that produces quality results in a reasonable amount of time, and more.

If you really must be the official photographer, you'll need at least two bodies. It's nice to be able to switch lenses by switching bodies, but what you really need is a backup body in case the primary one goes tits-up. Similarly, you'll need three times as many batteries and memory cards as you think you'll need.

I'd recommend a standard (but fast) zoom on your second body and a holy trinity of primes (either 35/50/85 or 24/50/100 depending on your personal preference) for your primary body. You should know ahead of time what you're shooting, which is why you can use the primes on your primary body; the zoom on the secondary is in case something unexpected happens. And the primes and zooms serve as backups for each other. You could lose the zoom plus either the wide or normal prime and still limp through the rest of the wedding. And if you can't comfortably cover the wedding venue with that range of focal lengths, you certainly don't have the skill to shoot the wedding -- you're now into the very dangerous territory of shooting in a venue not suited to wedding photography, something that only an experience professional is capable of dealing with.

Unless you're already knowledgable in and experienced at and comfortable with flash photography, I'd use available light, even if it means cranking the ISO. High ISO shots with available light beat deer-in-headlights flash photography any day of the week, even though the best results are generally achieved with flash. It's just that flash is so easy to screw up, especially if you don't have a lot of experience, and most especially if you don't also have the book learning foundation you need.

If you need much more advice than what I've just given...the only advice that matters is this: run away. Now.

And if you want to get into the wedding photography business, find the best working wedding photographer in the area who'll take you on as an assistant. This is one business where the last thing you want to do is start out on your own without any clue. Word travels fast, and it doesn't take too many fuckups for you to get blackballed. But with a good mentor, you'll not only quickly learn the ropes but have a perfect introduction to all the most important connections.

Cheers,

b&
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Boyer U. Klum-Cey on January 26, 2013, 12:52:37 PM
Some very good advice above, eh?  All I can add is to try and visit the venues to be used before you have to go live to determine lighting and sound quirks, angles, shooting positions, et al.  "Emergency weddings" are why I restrict myself to elopements where run & gun is my 1st and only General Order.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Vivid Color on January 26, 2013, 01:02:42 PM
More than gear, clear expectations setting is key to this effort, if you go through with it. Find out whether the couple is comfortable with the skills and the gear you have. And, make no promises other than that you'll show up and take photos for X number of hours. I recently went to a workshop in DC that was led by one of the city's most expensive wedding photographers and that is the only promise he makes in his contract. Unless you want to buy more gear for your own general purposes, you should not feel you need to buy new gear just for this wedding--that is like giving a very expensive wedding present. As several posters have suggested, renting may provide a low cost option if you decide you need something extra. But, you could also take some very nice photos of this couple's wedding with the gear you have. Not the same type as what a professional photograph might deliver, but again, that is part of the expectations setting. Do that well, and you'll all remain friends.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 26, 2013, 01:03:13 PM
This is my flash guru. I explained high ISO shooting and just mentioned the word bouncing the light off the flash. If I have to shoot direct flash I put my flash on a bracket. Getting the flash even a little higher off the camera makes a big difference. It eliminates red eye and that is usually how we see light every day - coming from above, not directly at us.

My point here is this exceptional wedding photographer and teacher stopped using brackets because of modern high ISO capable cameras. Like I said before the flash does not have to work as hard so the while image looks more natural. I am moving away from brackets.

This site may be too much to absorb in one week but if you plan to continue then get into it. This is the only site you may need.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/flash-brackets/ (http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/flash-brackets/)           
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 26, 2013, 01:10:52 PM
Some very good advice above, eh?  All I can add is to try and visit the venues to be used before you have to go live to determine lighting and sound quirks, angles, shooting positions, et al.  "Emergency weddings" are why I restrict myself to elopements where run & gun is my 1st and only General Order.

And people wonder why pros charge so much especially in the world of digital where anyone can pick up a DSLR. You are not paying for the wedding - you are paying for the years of training and experience.  I have read and heard many times "why should I pay big money for a guy who just presses a button. $200 should be the max for any wedding".       

There is a huge difference between a snapshot and a photograph.   

All the info we posted should melt the OP's brain for a few days ;D. To the OP - that is normal, take the time to read and process. 
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: TrumpetPower! on January 26, 2013, 01:15:35 PM
This site may be too much to absorb in one week but if you plan to continue then get into it. This is the only site you may need.       

There's no maybe about it. No matter how smart you are, outside of an intense 40-hour workshop, nobody is going to learn how to use flash well enough in one week to shoot a wedding.

That's why I strongly recommend cranking the ISO unless you already know what you're doing with flash.

The best results come from somebody who knows what to do with flash.

If you just crank the ISO, you'll probably get "good enough" pictures.

If you don't know how to use flash but use it anyway, you'll get bad pictures. You won't get the right exposure, you won't get the right shape or ratios of light, you'll generally mess everything up and make it much worse than if you had left off the flash and cranked the ISO.

A wedding is a performance. Only amateurs experiment in performances. A professional goes into a performance already knowing exactly how everything is going to go down. Even when professionals do experiment in performances, they do so with the bounds of the skills that they already know they have and know how to recover from failures they might experience. For example, a wedding photographer might want to experiment with a shallow DOF HDR panorama for the ring exchange, but she'll only do so if she has an assistant she trusts to get the standard shot from some other angle. And she won't tell the couple about the experiment until after the fact, and then only if it turns out well.

Cheers,

b&
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: tolusina on January 26, 2013, 01:19:57 PM
The 28-75 should do you most everything as long as you are quick on your feet. If the 40 is significantly sharper than the zoom, you might want to use that for the special, posed portraits.
I sure suggest a flash, but I haven't yet experienced the reported high ISO excellence of the 6D, maybe the 1.8 and high ISO will do for the reception.
At least one spare battery, two if you are a heavy live view user.

Obligatory shots include each of the wedding party coming up the aisle, a few at the altar, especially as they are saying the I dos and putting the rings on, of course that magic kiss.
Later, be sure to get a posed shot of the rings on the hands, only pose the rings off the hands if they suggest it, never ever ask for the rings to be removed.
Shoot the table settings, invitations, a few place cards, menu, food.
Do your best to shoot EVERY guest.
Bouquet and garter tosses for sure.
Kids can be counted on to do some cute stuff.
Don't be shy about telling subjects where and how to sit and stand for any posed shots, most all wedding guests are most co-operative in this. Act like you are in charge, be in charge.

If you do the photography well, you won't be much of a guest/celebrant/participant, you'll be more of an observer/chronicler.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: ktabes on January 26, 2013, 01:31:59 PM
Thanks for all the advice everybody, a lot to think over. The wedding is at a church, then reception, pretty simple, not huge.

After reading your comments I've now been considering is talking to him into hiring a photographer, and then I'll just bring my 6d, and pancake lens just for some candid photos to give to them.

If he insists on me, I'll then tell him to at least hire someone for the ceremony and I'll shoot the reception.

If he really insists on not hiring a pro, then screw it, I'll just take my stuff and he'll get what he gets!

I'd much rather see them with quality photos than meh photos, from their friend who just does it as a hobby.

But whatever happens, I think I may invest in a nice 85mm. Maybe a new 50mm if they release a new one.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: cpsico on January 26, 2013, 01:39:00 PM
If you have one camera springing for a prime at a wedding is not your best option when you dont have a speedlite. Get a speedlite 580 or better, extra batterys, at least a 32 gig card,extra battery and two stofen diffuser.One whiten and one amber for natural/warm reception shots that have tungsten lighting. Shoot raw, ISO 400 for posed shots(Stay away from strong lights that can throw off white balance), 1600 for reception/ceremony candids(good place to use amber diffuser), Maybe 3200 if you are good at exposure. Outdoor shots should be shot in shade with flash where possible, your diffuser wont help much here so direct flash is better here. The reason I say dont buy the prime is flexibility is your greatest asset here. Shoot f 5.6 for any shot that includes more than one person, It will be sharper and both people will be in focus. Good luck, have fun, Practice on a few people ahead of time!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 26, 2013, 01:39:12 PM
This site may be too much to absorb in one week but if you plan to continue then get into it. This is the only site you may need.       

There's no maybe about it. No matter how smart you are, outside of an intense 40-hour workshop, nobody is going to learn how to use flash well enough in one week to shoot a wedding.

That's why I strongly recommend cranking the ISO unless you already know what you're doing with flash.

The best results come from somebody who knows what to do with flash.

If you just crank the ISO, you'll probably get "good enough" pictures.

If you don't know how to use flash but use it anyway, you'll get bad pictures. You won't get the right exposure, you won't get the right shape or ratios of light, you'll generally mess everything up and make it much worse than if you had left off the flash and cranked the ISO.

A wedding is a performance. Only amateurs experiment in performances. A professional goes into a performance already knowing exactly how everything is going to go down. Even when professionals do experiment in performances, they do so with the bounds of the skills that they already know they have and know how to recover from failures they might experience. For example, a wedding photographer might want to experiment with a shallow DOF HDR panorama for the ring exchange, but she'll only do so if she has an assistant she trusts to get the standard shot from some other angle. And she won't tell the couple about the experiment until after the fact, and then only if it turns out well.

Cheers,

b&

Excellent points and yes that is too short a time period. I prepared for 6 months and it consumed me. I took lighting lessons and even when the day came I felt far from being ready. It went well although I wish I had a little more experience lighting the reception.

The only reason I got into this is it appears the expectations are not that high. You get what you pay for which is not to belittle the OP. It is just fact.

When I took a lighting course there was a woman freaking out because she was doing a friends low key wedding the upcoming weekend. I asked how much was she being paid besides the free dinner. Answer - $100. Question - what are the brides expectations. Answer - just don't cut any heads off.  I asked - so what are you worried about?

No matter what the OP chooses to do as long as there understanding of the skill and expectations between both parties.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 26, 2013, 01:55:53 PM
Thanks for all the advice everybody, a lot to think over. The wedding is at a church, then reception, pretty simple, not huge.

After reading your comments I've now been considering is talking to him into hiring a photographer, and then I'll just bring my 6d, and pancake lens just for some candid photos to give to them.

If he insists on me, I'll then tell him to at least hire someone for the ceremony and I'll shoot the reception.

If he really insists on not hiring a pro, then screw it, I'll just take my stuff and he'll get what he gets!

I'd much rather see them with quality photos than meh photos, from their friend who just does it as a hobby.

But whatever happens, I think I may invest in a nice 85mm. Maybe a new 50mm if they release a new one.

This is very wise of you. They may not be meh photos. I have seen this situation more than once and images produced were from awful to exceptional.

There was one post at DPrview. A person posted some images reception images that a natural light wedding photog took. They were absolutely awful. The worst I have ever seen. All terribly underexposed. I could have never charged anyone for that mess. I would have paid for their honeymoon out of guilt alone.

Natural light photography is wonderful but a professional, even though it may be preferred a pro must be able to go into any situation, analyze it and use all available tools as the scene dictates. I doubt any professionally trained and accredited pros did not receive training in flash photography. 

No insult to natural light photographers out there but there are some that claim to be because they have not taken the time to learn how to use flash correctly. I have also seen excellent work without flash. Tougher in dark venues.   
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: RMC33 on January 26, 2013, 02:02:39 PM
Of all the advice here.. Honestly getting out is your best bet. I get asked all the time to shoot weddings by friends/family and I tell them a clear and simple: No. I will bring a camera and take pictures.. and I ALWAYS make a book for the bride/groom as one of my gifts. It makes a much better impression and it keeps the friendship from deteriorating due to one party not being happy.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 26, 2013, 02:07:43 PM
Forgot to add I was asked to shoot my wife's sisters wedding about 25 years ago because I had nice gear. They had a 3 month old son and were low on cash. Besides they were not into the big show anyway. I was mess because those were the film days and you could not check the LCD. I could not relax until I got the negs and prints back.

I had a Minolta X-700 and a Minolta flash. My friend helped me pick out a high end film. I just put it P mode and shot away. They weren't exceptional but were miles ahead of that mess posted at DPrview. At at least the exposures were good. Mind back then the labs corrected for exposure and colour but hey it worked out. Even shot a bunch of B&W which I developed myself.

   
         
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: distant.star on January 26, 2013, 02:35:15 PM
.

If you can sidestep the obligation, do. If you really can't, don't panic. It's a grand challenge, and you can have fun if you allow yourself to.

Beav talked about expectations -- very important. Make sure they know they have no reason to have great expectations. That said, I expect they've seen some pictures you've taken, and you should be flattered they asked you. But again, make sure they know event photography is a specialized occupation and getting a nice landscape shot is not the same as a wedding.

A few thoughts:

1. Keep it simple. Go with the equipment you have. It's what you know. Trying to learn a flash, even just for fill, will get in the way. Forget a second body. The chances that your body will malfunction is about the same as them changing the date back to six months from now. A second body, with a different lens, can be helpful, but you're disadvantaged. First, you're shooting a wedding, and you know nothing about how to do that properly so all your attention needs to be on getting that right. Second, it's too confusing in this situation to remember a second body and what settings are on which body (it's more than just another lens). Keep it simple. Go with the equipment you've got.

2. Work on getting one memorable shot. You can give them 50 mediocre pictures, and one great one -- all they'll see is the great one. That's the one they will come back to in future years, and they'll remember you gave it to them. Try to plan something in advance if possible. If not, keep looking for that one moment when everything comes together perfectly -- and don't hesitate! Shoot the damn thing NOW. And tell them you're best hope is that you can give them one, single memorable picture.

3. Don't be afraid of the high ISO capability your camera has. Use what you need to get the right aperture/shutter speed to make the shot.

4. If you're going to be the "official" photographer, be it. Don't let people get in front of you or block you. Direct people into shots you need. You're in charge of this production. Don't be a passive photojournalist just shooting what happens. MAKE it happen. And as I've said here before, the best piece of advice I ever got when I started doing weddings so many, many years ago -- Do NOT be afraid to do it over. If you screw up a shot, stop everything and have them do it again. Now that may not be possible on the altar (but it may be if you've got the chutzpah) but have them restage it a few minutes later if need be. Always better to be embarrassed (which everyone will forget) than hand them a bad picture (which they will NEVER forget).

People have mentioned visiting the venues where you'll be working, good advice. And finally, I'd suggest looking at some wedding photographer sites -- look at the standard shots they all get, and plan to get those at least.

And have fun. The worst that can happen is you take some lousy pictures. At least I haven't heard any mention of a shotgun!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Boyer U. Klum-Cey on January 26, 2013, 03:00:30 PM





"At least I haven't heard any mention of a shotgun!"


In elopement photography and videography, barrel distortion can be a good thing!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: sanfranchristo on January 26, 2013, 03:28:06 PM
Thanks for all the advice everybody, a lot to think over. The wedding is at a church, then reception, pretty simple, not huge.

After reading your comments I've now been considering is talking to him into hiring a photographer, and then I'll just bring my 6d, and pancake lens just for some candid photos to give to them.

If he insists on me, I'll then tell him to at least hire someone for the ceremony and I'll shoot the reception.

If he really insists on not hiring a pro, then screw it, I'll just take my stuff and he'll get what he gets!

I'd much rather see them with quality photos than meh photos, from their friend who just does it as a hobby.

But whatever happens, I think I may invest in a nice 85mm. Maybe a new 50mm if they release a new one.

Wise choice to discuss further. I was in a similar situation and as long as the expectations are very clear, I think you could pull it off. One other thing to consider is whether you want to be part of the wedding or not. I offered to shoot a close friend's location wedding but he rightly said he wanted me to be "part of it" and not worried about shooting. There will be a trade-off. I was subsequently asked by another, more casual friend, whose wedding I may or may not have attended otherwise and it was a much easier decision to do it as it will be a very informal, outdoor event. If your friend knows what you are capable of (walk through some of your relevant shots) and they know what you can and can't deliver (based on location and equipment) then don't be afraid if they aren't expecting more than you can deliver. If you go ahead, I would just add this...

You have a high-ISO beast and some decent options for the wide and normal ranges. If you can, rent or borrow a 70-200 2.8 IS (ask them to cover it). It'd be worth it - that can get you very good results and cover just about every need, including portraits and the ceremony.  I would be concerned about the lack of a lens longer than 50mm for portraits (the 85 1.8 is a quality, affordable option to consider adding in general). Do you know anyone that can lend you a second Canon body (or do you have your old one)? Even a lesser-caliber one than your 6D will come in handy to have with a prime attached. Obviously, extra batteries and cards to be safe (or know what the charging options will be). I echo another commentor in cautioning about flash - yes, you "need it" for weddings, but if you aren't experienced with it, you may more do more harm than good, and more importantly, you will spend time trying to manage it and miss shots. Just be clear about where and when you expect to be able to shoot and forgo the flash (if you have one, maybe bring it to have on-camera for nighttime "party" candids, but don't rely on it for portraits - get those done early or outside). A good photographer is ultimately a good photographer - it is about the subjects and moments. Perhaps most importantly, to go to the location in advance (if possible) and establish a clear shot list with times for yourself so you have people when and where you need them, and don't miss anything.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: sanfranchristo on January 26, 2013, 03:31:49 PM
.

If you can sidestep the obligation, do. If you really can't, don't panic. It's a grand challenge, and you can have fun if you allow yourself to.

Beav talked about expectations -- very important. Make sure they know they have no reason to have great expectations. That said, I expect they've seen some pictures you've taken, and you should be flattered they asked you. But again, make sure they know event photography is a specialized occupation and getting a nice landscape shot is not the same as a wedding.

A few thoughts:

1. Keep it simple. Go with the equipment you have. It's what you know. Trying to learn a flash, even just for fill, will get in the way. Forget a second body. The chances that your body will malfunction is about the same as them changing the date back to six months from now. A second body, with a different lens, can be helpful, but you're disadvantaged. First, you're shooting a wedding, and you know nothing about how to do that properly so all your attention needs to be on getting that right. Second, it's too confusing in this situation to remember a second body and what settings are on which body (it's more than just another lens). Keep it simple. Go with the equipment you've got.

2. Work on getting one memorable shot. You can give them 50 mediocre pictures, and one great one -- all they'll see is the great one. That's the one they will come back to in future years, and they'll remember you gave it to them. Try to plan something in advance if possible. If not, keep looking for that one moment when everything comes together perfectly -- and don't hesitate! Shoot the damn thing NOW. And tell them you're best hope is that you can give them one, single memorable picture.

3. Don't be afraid of the high ISO capability your camera has. Use what you need to get the right aperture/shutter speed to make the shot.

4. If you're going to be the "official" photographer, be it. Don't let people get in front of you or block you. Direct people into shots you need. You're in charge of this production. Don't be a passive photojournalist just shooting what happens. MAKE it happen. And as I've said here before, the best piece of advice I ever got when I started doing weddings so many, many years ago -- Do NOT be afraid to do it over. If you screw up a shot, stop everything and have them do it again. Now that may not be possible on the altar (but it may be if you've got the chutzpah) but have them restage it a few minutes later if need be. Always better to be embarrassed (which everyone will forget) than hand them a bad picture (which they will NEVER forget).

People have mentioned visiting the venues where you'll be working, good advice. And finally, I'd suggest looking at some wedding photographer sites -- look at the standard shots they all get, and plan to get those at least.

And have fun. The worst that can happen is you take some lousy pictures. At least I haven't heard any mention of a shotgun!

+1 for all points, especially those in #4 which most non-professionals (including myself) are either too polite or embarrassed to embrace in the moment.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Orangutan on January 26, 2013, 04:06:48 PM

After reading your comments I've now been considering is talking to him into hiring a photographer, and then I'll just bring my 6d, and pancake lens just for some candid photos to give to them.

If he insists on me, I'll then tell him to at least hire someone for the ceremony and I'll shoot the reception.

If he really insists on not hiring a pro, then screw it, I'll just take my stuff and he'll get what he gets!

I'd much rather see them with quality photos than meh photos, from their friend who just does it as a hobby.


Sounds like you're thinking clearly about it.  I'll add a few more items in case you end up shooting.  I'm an amateur who's done a few wedding gigs as a second shooter , so this is from someone closer to your level. (apologies if others have covered this ground, I haven't carefully read the entire thread)

* Talk to the bride, in person, and make sure she understands the expectations.  The fact that your friend says it's OK is not good enough.  Her needs/wants/expectations may be different from his.

* Weddings move fast, so simplify as much as you can.  Don't expect to have lots of time to change gear.

* Better to know a few items of gear well, than take a lot of stuff and lose track.  Take one good low/medium zoom, and one long zoom.  No other lenses are needed.

* using bounce flash in the reception (or at the ceremony, with the agreement of the couple and officiant) is not that hard.  You can spend 30 minutes with a couple friends in a dimly lit room to figure out the settings you need.  (hint: use manual with flash)  Don't get creative with flash until you know what you're doing.

* Get the "script" of the wedding in advance.  You'll need to anticipate the action to be in position.

* For the reception, couple pictures, and other photos for which you have time, don't be afraid to take a little time to set up a shot, or do a little directing of the action.  Yes, it's their wedding, but they'll be happy to let you guide them to a better shot, for example to get a better background, nicer lighting, etc.

* If it's a big "family and friends" wedding, try to get photos of everyone, especially older relatives and close friends.  No one knows how much time great-Aunt Helen has left, and they will appreciate photos of her dressed well and with a big smile.

* Take a few cute photos of kids.

* If the wedding is on Sunday, see if there's a local wedding on Saturday, then offer the pro photographer to be his/her free assistant for that gig.  Seeing behind the scenes just once can make  a difference.

* Take your time with the group photos.  Use a tripod, live view and check your depth-of-field charts (in advance) to make sure you do your best.  Don't use flash here unless you can bounce off a high ceiling or back wall.  Be willing to turn the flash off and make do if needed.

When in doubt, turn off the flash, set to P, and go for composition rather than technique.  Your 6D will do well in low light compare to all the P&S in the crowd.

Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Chris Burch on January 26, 2013, 05:20:12 PM
As long as the bride and groom have a VERY clear understanding of your experience and have the appropriate expectations, then just go for it.  I shot my first wedding in 1999 with really mediocre gear (film back then, too) and I managed to pull it off with expectedly mediocre results, but it wasn't a disaster.  You have to start somewhere.  Ideally you would have some work as an assistant under your belt, but that obviously isn't going to happen in a week. 

You REALLY REALLY REALLY need to pick up a flash.  I've never been to a reception yet that was suitable for only natural light.  Rent one if you don't want to buy it.  Get a 430ex or better -- check Craigslist first to see if you can  pick up a used one.  You can easily set the camera on program and use eTTL flash, but if you want to step it up a notch or 2, use manual low-light settings that are a few stops underexposed and let the flash fill in the correct exposure.  For the 6D, try these settings for the reception (assuming it's in a dimly room)...1/100s, f/5.6, 1600ISO.  If it's very dark you can bump the ISO up to 3200.  High ISO settings will keep the output of your flash lower so your recycle times will be a lot faster.  Practice a lot at home.  If you have time and access to a bar or club, get permission to go there one evening and shoot some photos -- just offer to give them to the owner/management.  This will give you some practice with the gear and with interacting with a crowd. 

Try to shoot the wedding ceremony with natural light if possible.  The 70-200 f/2.8 is ideal for this because you don't want to be standing in middle of everything to get the shots.  For ambient shots, keep the shutter speed at 1/80 or above.  That will cut out most motion blur from slow moving subjects.  This is probably a the perfect opportunity to use auto ISO.  Set your shutter to something like 1/100s with f/4.

Get to the venues early and figure out the best settings.  Save those as the custom presets (C1-C3).  For instance, C3 is your setting with flash...C2 is your setting for ambient.  You can even disable the flash through the camera for your C2 setting so you have one less thing to worry about when switching between ambient and flash settings and will minimize mistakes.

You'll need to make yourself interact with your subjects -- this is a skill all of its own.  Get some purely candid shots, but don't be afraid to ask people to pose for a quick shot.   This may even include you talking to the B&G ahead of time to have them pause for some shots.  For instance, they can stop when they frist get to the aisle before walking down so you have time to take one shot.  Using AISERVO for motion shots like that is ideal, but I wouldn't bother trying to be that ambitious.  The Keep It Simple mentality is definitely the only way to go for you. 
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: davidson on January 26, 2013, 05:34:56 PM
i'll add my two cents because i was in this position last year. bride and groom were both my friends and they insisted that i do the wedding, i kept refusing because i believed that my skill level and my gear werent good enough but they wouldnt take no for an answer. so i told that not to expect much i am no pro, had never done a wedding before.
i managed to get a EF 24-70 to add to my EF 50 1.4 and i also 19-35 f/ 3.5-4.5. i own an rebel XT and i borrowed my friends 1100d (the second body did come in handy because one of my bodies froze mid shoot and needed to be reset).

if you want to back out i understand because wedding are MAJOR and the pressure is intense, but if you cant then determine that you will give it your best, no room for lack of confidence once you are committed.

make sure to visit the sites of the weeding and the reception and wherever the pre reception shoot will be. visit at the time of day and take someone with you wearing white so you can approximate what your exposures will be, where the shadows will be etc. i did this, came up with my ideas for the shots i wanted and the settings i would need based on the light available (it was an evening wedding)

attend the rehearsals so you know where to be and when and what is coming next, get a program as well so you can refer to it.

make a shot list of the shots you want and also discuss with the couple what shots they want and what they need. also get them to make a list of the shots they want with family members and what combinations so that on the day you dont have to be scrambling (my couple didnt do this even tho i asked and it was confusion on the day)

i didnt do this but i will in future, shoot in burst mode to avoid people blinking.

decided what style (or combination of styles) you plan to shoot in (or what the couple prefers). nothing wrong with the photojournalistic style, i personally prefer it. TO ME its recording the occassion as it happened so you can hand the couple images of what actually occurred. i;ve seen BEAUTIFUL shots of the bridal party lining up and racing, but in my mind i was thinking that i KNOW that didnt actuallt happen in the day, just a photographers idea, which is fine, if thats what the couple wants. but at the end of the day its what you are comfortable doing.

i'm sure i am forgetting more steps that i took so that i didnt mess up but jut plan for as much as you can, run through the whole thing in your head and make sure you cover everything, clear your mem cards, charge the batteries.

oh yes....wear an undershirt or two....i hate to see a sweaty photographer.

relax and have fun.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Don Haines on January 26, 2013, 07:05:24 PM
Many many years ago, friends getting married and not a lot of money, and instead of hiring a photographer they gave everyone a disposable camera to use. They got lots of interesting shots but not a single nice picture from about thirty rolls of film.

Moral of the story.... If you want great pictures, hire an experienced pro. Anything else is a gamble heavily stacked in favour of mediocracy.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: ktabes on January 26, 2013, 08:44:35 PM
Many many years ago, friends getting married and not a lot of money, and instead of hiring a photographer they gave everyone a disposable camera to use. They got lots of interesting shots but not a single nice picture from about thirty rolls of film.

Moral of the story.... If you want great pictures, hire an experienced pro. Anything else is a gamble heavily stacked in favour of mediocracy.

True, and I agree with that all together, but still when my parents were married they didn't have any money and just asked everyone coming to bring a camera or disposable camera and give them an extra set of prints. And they could not have been happier with the results. There's an honest quality to non-profesional candid 35mm prints. But I guess it depends on what happens.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: RLPhoto on January 26, 2013, 11:12:13 PM
Scout your locations. It's more important than any gear your going to rent.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: bdunbar79 on January 26, 2013, 11:40:06 PM
At all costs, if you can, I would decline this request.  I've done it before myself and I definitely don't regret it.  People have no idea how much time, effort, and stress these things are when you are committed to excellence within your hobby.  In the long run I don't think it will be worth it if you are not ready.  Your stress level will be through the roof and it won't be worth it. 
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: agierke on January 27, 2013, 01:00:29 AM
promise nothing.

shooting weddings well is just about the most difficult photo scenario i have experienced and that includes architecture, commercial, fashion, environmental portraits, sports, and aerial photography.

you have to be prepared to think quick on your feet and turn downright unfavorable conditions into great photo opportunities. i used to dread weddings because i didn't really know how to use my gear (and i was severely undergeared) but now i really relish the challenge they provide. you gotta know your gear really well, and you should understand lighting very well too.

unless the bride and groom AND their parents just don't care that much about the photos. then just go have some fun.

otherwise....there are sooo many potential pitfalls that can be very uncomfortable. i can't tell you how many couples i meet with horror stories and regrets they have about not investing more in their photography from their wedding day.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Old Shooter on January 27, 2013, 04:25:02 AM
...what you need is a metric fuckton of knowledge

Coffee shot out my nose when I read that... ;D
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: christianronnel on January 27, 2013, 04:25:59 AM
I've done a couple of weddings in the past few months.  The first one was nerve racking so I know how you feel.  I was more relaxed for the 2nd one.  So my first advice is to relax and be confident.

You're good with the lenses that you have.  Since you only have one camera body use the 28-75 during the ceremony and during the 1st dance (or till after the father-daughter dance if applicable).  Switch to the 17-40 to get wider shots during the reception.  You wouldn't have time to switch out your lens so don't bother bring too much.  It would be best if you can get a flash unit.  One 480EXII should be enough.  ETTL is your friend.  No need to get a diffuser they are useless outdoors and not necessary indoors.  Figure out how to do flash compensation with your camera body.  Learn about the angle of the light and bounce, bounce, bounce the flash

That's it for the equipment.  Now, you have to relax.  You'll do fine.  Chances are that they would also ask other friends to shoot for them. Be assertive and don't let other people distract your subjects. Take control of the scene and tell them "there's no other camera in the room but your camera."  When you're done with the subject, you can then tell the other photographers that it's their turn.  Relax some more.  Get close to the subject.  Get really close or get really wide.

Most churches will not allow flash during the ceremony.  Assume that you can't use flash inside the church so practice how to quickly change your ISO.  You are allowed to stand and walk around inside the church during the ceremony.  Put your 6D in silence mode and turn the beep off so you can get a lot of candid shots.  Don't be afraid to walk around but wear quiet pair of shoes.  Turn your cell phone off.  Get really close.  You can stand behind them if you have to.

There's usually an hour before the reception.  This is a lot of time for posed shots.  Use a tripod if you have one.  emember to bounce the flash up the ceiling or wall, or manually zoom it to 24mm if you can't bounce.  The altar shoot should not take more than 15 minutes.  Start with the bride and groom in front of the altar.  Add the best man and the brides maid.  Bring in the brides parents.  Add any siblings.  Bring in the grooms parents. Add any siblings.  Ask the bride and groom for any other relatives or friends to be on the shot.  Proceed with the outdoor shoot with the bride and groom.  Hopefully you've scouted the area beforehand.  Treat this like you would a landscape.  Slow down and compose your shots.  Remember to check your focus.  If you go outside remember to check your ISO.  Don't be afraid to overexposed a little.  After the formal shots you can breathe much easier because the hard part is over.  Have fun, have a glass of wine.  The reception is not such a big deal.  it's just like taking pictures at a club. Shoot something unique to the wedding such as name place, table settings, cake toppers, etc..

Good luck and remember to relax.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Quasimodo on January 27, 2013, 05:26:09 AM
Like you've mentioned and like most people here say, try to be just a guest with a camera, and let someone else work :) However, I was in your shooes a year ago. A good friend of mine asked the same question (they hired a professional for the ceremony) and wanted to have me take the rest. I do paid jobs (portraits and stuff), but if I do something wrong (or the pictures turn out not as good as I want them, I always have the option of taking them again. Not so with a wedding...

Forget everything your friend says about you being a guest and that you should enjoy yourself. You will be so consumed in doing a good job for him that you will not hear a word in the speeches :)

I was so scared that I would not get this right, that when I gave them the pictures they received 1400 high resolution jpg's (all was shot in RAW), and I told them that they could pick 10 pictures that I would work on in lightroom and photoshop. The good thing is that according to them, my pictures were much better then the professional  (BTW. if they do get a professional after all, stay away from their working path...).

If you do this, the best advice I can offer is to follow the bride! She is your real constituent :) In addition to the required shots mentioned by others I would try make some context shots, like the food, flowers, the cake and such. People tend cherish these details.

Different countries have different customs. In Norway it is not uncommen for the bride and groom to hold a speech for each other. Some of my best shots that evening was them looking at each other (and the following laughter, crying ect) when they spoke to each other.

As for lighting I agree with the previous comments. Stay away from it, but there is one instance where you cannot avoid it - the waltz. I if I were you would make sure that the flash is in ETTL mode, and switch to the green button to let the camera do the whole job for you. That is a picture you will not feel comfortable screwing up, lol.

Good luck :)

Enclosing a shot I took of the food that night.

PS. I bought a 85 after that wedding as I saw that my 135 was too long (to many people who move between you and the subject) for many of the guest shots.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Rat on January 27, 2013, 06:45:21 AM
...what you need is a metric fuckton of knowledge
So it seems :o Friend of mine asked me to be second photographer at his wedding, which I've never done before, but I'm getting lots of excellent advice here. Thanks and keep it coming, please :)
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: docholliday on January 27, 2013, 08:49:58 AM

...If you do this, the best advice I can offer is to follow the bride! She is your real constituent :)


Wrong, wrong, wrong...done too many weddings and this will get you in trouble. Quickly. Follow whoever is PAYING for the wedding / who is asking you to do it / who is paying for anything involving you (even if they just give you gas money). I don't care if it's the second-cousin's grandfather's sister - if they pay, they are who I listen to. If the B&G want something, they need to clear it with the "sponsor". If the paying person says to do what the B&G says, then that's fine.

Next, get it in writing. Even for friends who I give them the gift of my services, there's still a agreement. In your case, I'd be sure to get it in writing that you aren't a pro, but will do so as a gift to them or whatever. Any expectations, any specifics, etc. should be in that. No sense in losing a friend because they assume you said something (and trust me, there's a lot of things that are said and forgotten during a wedding). It's not worth the headache to end up in a life long fight over something stupid that should have been a fun experience for you and a great experience for them.

I shot my first with a C330 and ONE lens, as well as a Metz 45 that was loaned to me. Had a friend who was an old veteran (over 30 years of shooting and retired) tag along to shoot/give me tips. That was a long time ago. Never would have realized how fast things go. It was nice to have somebody say "now, quickly, go over there and get ready for the xxxxx shot". One of the first things he taught me was that "an agreement is only as good as the paper it's written on" (never call it a contract - it's an agreement in the marketing world).

Nowadays, I don't shoot people - I prefer product, macro and other commercial work. Less headaches, contracts always, and much more relaxing to do! Well, maybe one or two weddings a year just for the rush again.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 27, 2013, 10:31:40 AM

After reading your comments I've now been considering is talking to him into hiring a photographer, and then I'll just bring my 6d, and pancake lens just for some candid photos to give to them.

If he insists on me, I'll then tell him to at least hire someone for the ceremony and I'll shoot the reception.

If he really insists on not hiring a pro, then screw it, I'll just take my stuff and he'll get what he gets!

I'd much rather see them with quality photos than meh photos, from their friend who just does it as a hobby.


Sounds like you're thinking clearly about it.  I'll add a few more items in case you end up shooting.  I'm an amateur who's done a few wedding gigs as a second shooter , so this is from someone closer to your level. (apologies if others have covered this ground, I haven't carefully read the entire thread)

* Talk to the bride, in person, and make sure she understands the expectations.  The fact that your friend says it's OK is not good enough.  Her needs/wants/expectations may be different from his.

* Weddings move fast, so simplify as much as you can.  Don't expect to have lots of time to change gear.

* Better to know a few items of gear well, than take a lot of stuff and lose track.  Take one good low/medium zoom, and one long zoom.  No other lenses are needed.

* using bounce flash in the reception (or at the ceremony, with the agreement of the couple and officiant) is not that hard.  You can spend 30 minutes with a couple friends in a dimly lit room to figure out the settings you need.  (hint: use manual with flash)  Don't get creative with flash until you know what you're doing.

* Get the "script" of the wedding in advance.  You'll need to anticipate the action to be in position.

* For the reception, couple pictures, and other photos for which you have time, don't be afraid to take a little time to set up a shot, or do a little directing of the action.  Yes, it's their wedding, but they'll be happy to let you guide them to a better shot, for example to get a better background, nicer lighting, etc.

* If it's a big "family and friends" wedding, try to get photos of everyone, especially older relatives and close friends.  No one knows how much time great-Aunt Helen has left, and they will appreciate photos of her dressed well and with a big smile.

* Take a few cute photos of kids.

* If the wedding is on Sunday, see if there's a local wedding on Saturday, then offer the pro photographer to be his/her free assistant for that gig.  Seeing behind the scenes just once can make  a difference.

* Take your time with the group photos.  Use a tripod, live view and check your depth-of-field charts (in advance) to make sure you do your best.  Don't use flash here unless you can bounce off a high ceiling or back wall.  Be willing to turn the flash off and make do if needed.

When in doubt, turn off the flash, set to P, and go for composition rather than technique.  Your 6D will do well in low light compare to all the P&S in the crowd.

Good points particularly the one about weddings moving fast. Often you have zero time to think and you don't get a second chance. Also knowing your gear. That was reason I suggested to pass on the 85. It is only a lens but you have not worked with it and is different. If you do this and get a flash you will have enough on your plate.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: michi on January 27, 2013, 12:44:49 PM
I have taken two weddings for friends.  I'm no pro.  I am pretty decent technically, I can usually get a well exposed and properly focused shot in most situations.  And that's how my pictures were, good quality, but nothing spectacular.  I can't imagine doing a wedding without a flash.  The bride and groom walking down the aisle in a dark church in the winter, good luck getting that without motion blur with no flash.  Dancing at the reception if it's inside and poorly lit, that will be tough too, unless you're just looking for artistic blur.
I survived those two weddings somehow, and probably wouldn't do it again unless the couple was so poor that they couldn't afford a photographer at all.
And like others have mentioned, you need to make it perfectly clear that they will not get amazing pictures like we all have seen from some pro's.  Maybe even print out an amazing picture, and then a average one, and show it to them to make it clear where your level of expertise lies.  Believe me, the couple will expect more than you can offer.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on January 27, 2013, 12:52:17 PM
You know what I find the hardest part? Directing people for poses during group shots. Even tougher the informal's before and. People are looking at you for guidance and you need to look like you know what you are doing.  You can look at hundreds of wedding shots and sites that suggest poses but when your are on the spot trying to remember them.     
That comes with time and shooting often.

Fortunately they asked the OP just to take some candids.     
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: docholliday on January 27, 2013, 01:13:46 PM
You know what I find the hardest part? Directing people for poses during group shots. Even tougher the informal's before and. People are looking at you for guidance and you need to look like you know what you are doing.  You can look at hundreds of wedding shots and sites that suggest poses but when your are on the spot trying to remember them.     
That comes with time and shooting often.

Fortunately they asked the OP just to take some candidas.   

Directing people isn't actually that hard...you just have to be very clear, and concise. Don't beat around the bush - it's not "could you give me a pouty lip", rather it's "ok, bring your chin up and head to the left just a bit. Good. right there. Now I want you to push those lips out. Good. Stop right there. Look right here (point at lens)."

The hardest part of any portrait type shoot is being the director. I loved my infrared Hasselblad remote. I could hold the puck in my hand, stand next to the camera, duck down to the sitter's level - making eye contact, and drag them to where I wanted. Then, I'd just talk to them until I got the right look and hit the remote shutter button without every blinking.

Almost every wedding I've shot has involved the B/G telling me to grab them when it was time and tell them where to stand, what to do, etc. Remember that you are technically the only person who is spending the WHOLE day with them. And, as a pro, they would expect you to know what to do (since you would've done tons of weddings). In your case, I would get with them and run through the schedule of events. Then, be the person to step up and keep everything on time and flowing along - the B/G and family have too many other things to think about on that day!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: RustyTheGeek on January 27, 2013, 03:00:13 PM
...what you need is a metric fuckton of knowledge

Coffee shot out my nose when I read that... ;D

Meeee toooo!!!   ;D
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: RustyTheGeek on January 27, 2013, 05:01:30 PM
Well, I'm sure the OP's head is spinning by now.  If he's still with us, I'm not going to attempt to add more advice on top of all the stellar if not somewhat conflicting advice that's already been offered.  Of course, then I still end up writing way more than I intended below.  Well, anyway, read on if you like...

A situation just like this is what got me back into serious amateur photography.  Good friend, casual home wedding and just a borrowed 30D, one zoom lens, flash on a bracket and my own Digital Rebel.  Me and my wife took a bunch of pictures and I was hooked again.  (That was almost 4 years ago and I'm not sure I want to look at those pictures now.  Guess I should though just to see how I did compared to my current knowledge level since then.)

My point is that all the advice so far falls into two camps, run away or do your best along with details to support both.  Only you can decide what is best based on your relationship with your friends and your comfort/courage/knowledge level.  Sounds like you made a wise decision.

My vote would be to go for it as you outlined and learn from it, enjoy it and see what you can do.  I also own a 6D and from what you listed, you have a great collection of gear for your needs.  If you don't want to buy a big flash, don't.  However, you might consider a small SunPak RD2000 tilted up with a StoFen diffuser to use as fill.  Turn it off or on depending on what you think at the time.  Let ETTL do its magic and use the Flash Compensation setting to dial it down.  (I set Flash Compensation as the SET Button function for easy access on the 6D.)  Maybe set the Flash Function in Av Mode to Auto so the ambient light will balance with the flash more evenly (but with a much slower shutter speed).  Keep it simple.  Don't take every lens.  Put the 17-40 or 28-75 on your camera and get all the pictures you can.  Move around a lot.  Encourage people to get together, smile and wish the couple the best.  Shoot what's comfortable.  Push your limits but don't get a migraine doing it.  You can fix a lot with Lightroom.  Use available light if you are comfortable with that.

Bottom Line, don't try to be a "Pro Wedding Photographer" because you aren't.  Neither am I.  But you can perhaps be an amateur journalistic photographer with some practice and prep.  Be that.  Before the wedding, try to surf the web and look at all the images you can of wedding receptions, party events, etc.  Get posing ideas.  Get composition ideas.  Practice in the days leading up to the big day to help put yourself at ease.  My advice is to take what you can from BOTH camps of advice in this forum thread.  Just be you and prepare however you think works for you.  There's a ton of advice here, use what you can and let us know how it goes, maybe even post a few pics!

Good Luck and May The Force be with you!!   ;)
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: LewisShermer on January 27, 2013, 08:08:07 PM
I'm kind of in your shoes but 10 weddings down the line and my next one is on saturday.

The best advice I can give you is to stay focussed on the task at hand. Get all your timings written down and know exactly where you want to be and why.

Get a bunch of books, pick out all your favourite shots and make a moodboard for each scenario that you're going to be in. break it down into mini shoots and know exactly what you want from each shoot.

the hardest part is the groups. get the bride and groom to write down the groups they want. you will have to think about organising lots of people that are generally bored of waiting around, keeping them entertained as well as the creative side of things.

I used to use a 7D with a 17-85mm and a 60D with a 28mm. a second body goes a long way. I'm shitting it a little as I've just got hold of a 5Diii & 5Dii and getting used to the full frame game. 24-105mm on the 5Diii for the high iso and a 50mm 1.4 on the 5Dii I'm guessing at. I'm going to take all my lenses though just in case.

as for flash... I'm very much expose for the ambient and use the flash for the "pop". you can get creative with this out doors if you get to a point where you're confident with balancing the 2. that's all it is. balance. ettl is your friend for the most part but get an ettl chord and don't be afraid to hold it at arms length with some pluses or minuses to get your ratios correct.

The day will absolutely fly by. it's crazy how fast they go when you're shooting compared to being a kid and totally bored out of your brains all day.

like the dude above says, practice practice practice. you've got a few days. practice balancing flash and ambient and getting the flash off the camera.

have fun :)
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Forceflow on January 28, 2013, 03:17:50 AM
Well, I've done a couple of wedding shoots as an unpaid amateur and so far I am still friends with all the couples. so it can be done, but never the less it WILL be stressful.

I've written a small journal about doing wedding photography as a non-pro:
http://christophmaier.deviantart.com/journal/Wedding-Photography-243847778 (http://christophmaier.deviantart.com/journal/Wedding-Photography-243847778)
(If you are a deviantArt member comments are highly welcome) For all those not being part of deviantArt here is the journal:


1) Expectations of the couple:
Does the couple want professional pictures without paying the price? There is a reason why pro wedding photographers are expensive. You don't get any do-overs, no 'smile-agains' and certainly no 'lets-say-our-vows-agains'. If you miss a special event it's gone, period. Being a non-pro will most likely mean you'll miss on some things, or wont be able to capture some perfectly, that's why you do it for free (or at least much less than any pro would). If they know this and you feel that they truly understand this you are good to proceed. Now a lot of folks will tell you differently, but I have done 6 weddings now and all of them were satisfied with my work even though it was far from professional. They all knew what they were getting into when choosing me and I believed them when they said so. (Note, there are some weddings that I would not do because I know those folks just have different standards) Also, make sure you get a list from them of all the must-have events and people. Carry that list with you and cross things off as you go.
2) Equipment:
Make sure you have plenty of backup. Two bodies are an absolute must. You do not want to show up on a wedding and have your gear fail halfway through the show. Plus it's always good to have two bodies with different lenses available. The less you change lenses the more pictures you'll be able to take. (And the less danger of breaking something while juggling two lenses and a body without any place to put anything down) also, multiple memory cards are a must and it goes without saying that each body should have at least one spare battery. (And all of them should be charged the night before) You should also have at least one flash with plenty of batteries as well. I would also recommend to have a tripod ready and to make use of a second flash. Depending on the location and shooting you want to do you might want to consider a spare set of clothes as well. Sometimes you'll have to work in a field, kneel or lay down in order to get a good shot. Always good to have something else to change into then.
3) Location:
Check it out beforehand. Where is it exactly, where can you park your car and how far do you have to carry around your gear. Will there be lot's of indoor or more outdoor shooting. Where would be a good place for a group shot (make sure you know how many guests are expected) Where are some good spots for family photos (bride and groom plus parents, plus brides maids, only parents, only brides maids, etc) And where are some good locations to have some special photos taken of just the couple. (Made a lovely shot with a couple walking away from me through a wine-field and then running towards me for example) If possible try to find at least some time where you and the couple is alone. (Either before the ceremony or maybe between the ceremony and the reception)
4) Guest list:
Get a guest list beforehand and make sure you know who are the important people besides the couple. (Family, extended family, special guests) Try to get at least one shot of every guest. (See 'Guest book' for some advice on that) Have a long lens to make 'sneaky' pictures of people. The best portraits on events like that are done when people do not see you taking the picture.
5) Special Events:
Contact the best man and maid of honor to see if and what special events are planned. (Fireworks, surprise band, letting go balloons, etc) The couple will not necessarily know all the events that will need to be photographed and you might need to do some special preparations as well.
6) Guest book:
This is something I've done a couple of times and that has been very well received. It also helps immensely with keeping track of who has already been photographed as well. Get a small picture printer (Canon Selphy is my choice) and set it up somewhere on the main location. Get an empty picture frame and photograph everybody while they hold the frame. (Do try to do small groups like couples, work colleagues, families etc) Print out the photo and hand it to them together with the guest book. Idea is that they stick the photo into the book and write their wishes to the couple. Have the guest list ready and make sure people mark it when they've done it. Be aware though that you can't do this alone! You'll be busy photographing everything else, but since those pics don't need to be of the best quality it can be handed down to someone else. A good bet would be some close friends of the couple or maybe some relatives. (Cousins are a good choice as well) Do make sure that they know how to use a camera though. (Ask around in advance, but there's a good bet you'll find plenty of people glad to help and there's no need that only one person does it) This is a wonderful present to give the couple right after the wedding to take to the honeymoon.
7) Work:
Don't take the job lightly. Photographing a wedding is a lot of work. Not only is it stressful but it's also physically demanding. You will carry around a lot of gear throughout the day and you will do a lot or running around as well. Once I did a shoot outside for several hours in 38°C (100.4 ºF) Since I had to take pictures of all the folks standing in the shade I ended up standing in the sun a lot. (Luckily I had a hotel room there so I was able to change and shower during the day) So be prepared for that. Also make sure you get some food before everything start because chances are that you will not have a lot of time to eat during the event. And last but not least there will be the post-processing. Simply sifting through your images to see what is good and what is bad might take a while and then editing whatever picture you want to use will take an even longer time. Make sure you either have some free days right after the event or prepare the couple that they might need to wait a while until they see the final product. (Once I shot a wedding in both RAW and JPG and transferred all JPGs to the grooms laptop after the wedding to give them an idea of what to expect once I was done) If you regularly do a lot of pictures you might also look into something like Adobe Lightroom (or Aperture if you are a Mac user). It will let you mass edit and process photos very easily. I don't personally use it, but then I don't shoot weddings that often. It can be a real time saver though!
8) Church wedding
Should there be a religious ceremony involved make sure you know how much is allowed inside the church or wherever it is being performed. In one of my wedding shoots the priest forbid all photography during the actual ceremony. (The couple wasn't too happy about it but his house, his rules.) Also, not all couples want pictures of this moment because it can be distracting. (In order to get a good view you would have to either set up a remote camera or run around in plain view. Often also in areas that are 'off-limits' to regular folks) Talk to them about this a couple of days before the wedding so that they also have time to ask the priest what is acceptable and what is not. If you are allowed to take pictures but cannot use a flash make sure you have some fast glass available. Canon's 50mm 1.8 is a cheap but good lens to do that. Everything else will cost you a lot of money, so consider renting equipment for shoots like this. Canon's 50mm 1.4 or Sigma's 85mm 1.4 would come to mind. Else there's an amazing 50mm 1.2 from Canon, but be sure to rent them beforehand so you can actually work with them first. Shooting with such wide apertures will result in a very slim depth-of-field and it's not as easy to use! (Especially when all you normally use is an aperture of 2.8 or smaller)
9) Be the photographer
Should you be the main photographer you should have the couple announce this and set some ground rules. A lot of folks tend to be there doing photos themselves but everybody should know that you come first when it comes to the important shots. Also helps for group shots when everybody knows who to look at and who to listen to. (Had that problem recently where I was nearly drowned in other 'photographers' and everybody was looking at a different camera) The couple might also want to limit some events to be photographed just by you and ask everybody else to refrain from taking pictures. (Especially during any ceremonies things can get very distracting and noisy if a lot of people try to get some pictures) Also, especially when doing group shots do not be afraid to yell. Lot's of people make lot's of noise and the bigger the group the farther away you'll end up as well. Tell the people what you want. If some huge wrestler stands in front of the brides maids it's not going to be a good picture. Tell him to get behind the people where he can still be seen. Speaking of being seen, tell the people the simple rule, they can't see you? Then they wont be in the picture! (Amazing how many people appear to not grasp that concept)
10) Don't take one, take two!
... or more pictures. Things mess up, people look stupid and lighting might not be the best. Last wedding I did a lot of shooting with my flash, but I tried to do two shots of each photograph in quick succession so that the second shot was without the flash. (Sometimes had to do three for that) Some photos look better with flash, some without and I for once can never tell in advance what it will be. If I do portraits I very often do two shots in quick succession as well, a small change of expression sometimes makes all the difference between an average and wonderful shot. Does certainly add a whole lot of work to it though. (See point 7 ;) ) And do check your work often, you don't want to realize the day after that you had a bad setting on your camera. (Once did a whole shoot with ISO 1600 without noticing, thankfully it was just some outdoor work I did for myself, pretty much threw all of those out...)
11) Contract and model release form
Now, while this is mostly geared towards the non-pro who does it for free this should still be mentioned. A contract is never a bad thing, and as soon as money starts changing hands it's an absolute must. As the laws differ from country to country (and then even from state to state) I wont go into detail here, but only state a few points. See if there is a photography club somewhere in your are and ask them for advice on contracts. What is needed by law, what should and should not be included. Either way be sure to have a very clear description of what is expected of you. Things like pre-wedding shoots, engagement shoots, additional portraits, etc should all be written into the contract if you are expected to do them. It should also be clear if you provide full-res digital pictures or if you will provide the prints for a fee. (Something that is very often done by wedding photographers) Also the question how much editing is expected from you and if there are any must-have moments that need to be photographed in order to be paid. (And I would certainly rule out any penalty payments should something not work out) If you wish to publish the photographs you did during the wedding be sure to also get a model release form from the couple. Again, laws differ extremely so be sure to ask someone who knows the rules and regulations when it comes to release forms. In Germany for example it would not be enough to simply get the couples agreement but you would absolutely need a model release form from everybody who's picture will be published. (Minus group shots, but the definition is somewhat unclear in Germany) As a rule of thumb I simply do not publish photographs from weddings.
12) Assist in a wedding shoot (Okay, obviously not happening in this case)
Now again, as a non-pro who plans to do only a single shoot this might not be suitable. But if you plan on doing this as a pro you should absolutely try and find a pro wedding photographer who will let you tag along on a few weddings. This will certainly be the best preparation possible and depending on the deal you make with the photographer might even make you some cash.


I hope that helps. Be very, very sure about the expectations from the couple however! There are some friends of mine where I would never be the photographer because I know they would expect the full pro package. (And I know I am nowhere near good enough for that) But if their expectations match up with your skill I see no reason not to do it. (Other than the fact that it will be a lot of work and you'll pretty much miss the wedding even though you are there all the time)
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: wickidwombat on January 28, 2013, 07:14:50 PM
So, long story short, a friend of mine is moving his wedding to a week from now (it was suppose to be 6 months away).  And he knows that I do some photography as a hobby and said he'd want me to photograph it.

I am in no way a professional photographer.

my gear: Just upgraded to the 6d, canon 17-40, Tamron 28-75 2.8, 40mm 2.8, 50mm 1.8, and a nifty lowelpro bag, so i don't mind carrying all my lenses. I also have a rode mic and a led light that I use for video sometimes, but i didn't plan on any video. So I don't exactly have professional gear. I mostly just do some landscapes, or some walkaround stuff when I travel. I'm a casual photographer, as I like to put it.

He says relax, have fun, take some candid photos. But I don't want to disappoint. Should I spring for an 85mm? or a speelight? I don't know when else I would use it, so I don't want to buy it for one day. Should I rent one?  Anything else i should keep in mind? Or specific photos I should remember to get? Not sure how I should approach this.

Thanks!
Anything helps!

Definately get an 85 the canon f1.8 is a great price, in your situation i would shoot mostly the 40mm the 84mm and the 17-40 for those wider shots (the old tamron wont come close to the IQ from the shorty forty at f2.8)

also definately get a flash even a cheap yongnuo one, make sure whatever you get has ETTL and preferably High speed sync,
get a cheap umbrella and stand and even a cheap radio trigger for some off camera flash for the posed shots
i've used the cheap ebay triggers and they are ok, you get a few miss fires but they work well enough and with the posed shots if the flash miss fires its not a big deal, for the run and gun stuff you will have the flash on camera anyway

good luck!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: LewisShermer on February 02, 2013, 04:03:04 PM
Was this wedding today????? how did it go????!!!?!?!?!?!!!!???!!!!!!!one111!!!!
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Quasimodo on February 03, 2013, 02:03:24 AM
Was this wedding today????? how did it go????!!!?!?!?!?!!!!???!!!!!!!one111!!!!

+ 1

I am also waiting for a blow by blow account :)

How did it go? Was your friends happy, and you?

Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: LewisShermer on February 06, 2013, 08:00:31 AM
do you think that it went so bad that the dude got killed???
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Old Shooter on February 06, 2013, 09:04:06 AM
do you think that it went so bad that the dude got killed???

 ;D
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Studio1930 on February 06, 2013, 09:17:05 AM
For future amateurs who are asked to shoot a wedding for a friend and to just have fun, you only need to rent one thing...

a professional photographer!

Some people have given some great advice, but advice is not experience.  Be a second shooter before you decide to accept the job of being the only shooter. If you are lucky then you might get away with shooting your first wedding by yourself but most people will not be that lucky and more crappy $150 wedding albums will be created.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: ktabes on February 06, 2013, 10:22:02 AM
Was this wedding today????? how did it go????!!!?!?!?!?!!!!???!!!!!!!one111!!!!

No, it was now moved to the first weekend in march. But the reason why it was moved up was because a close family member is terminally ill, but now things have gotten pretty complicated with the whole family, and I don't know whats going on.

I've kinda been afraid to tell him I don't want to be the main photographer at the wedding, because the photographer is the last thing on their mind.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: ktabes on February 06, 2013, 10:24:31 AM
do you think that it went so bad that the dude got killed???

 ;D

Hahahahahaha, "sorry, old friend.... these photos won't do"  BANG
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: digital paradise on February 06, 2013, 10:25:05 AM
For future amateurs who are asked to shoot a wedding for a friend and to just have fun, you only need to rent one thing...

a professional photographer!

Some people have given some great advice, but advice is not experience.  Be a second shooter before you decide to accept the job of being the only shooter. If you are lucky then you might get away with shooting your first wedding by yourself but most people will not be that lucky and more crappy $150 wedding albums will be created.

Yep. You are not paying a accredited professional photographer for the actual event. You are paying for the training and experience which a lot of people who are not into photography just don't understand.

I have read threads where potential customers have stated a photographer should only get paid $200 for a wedding because all they do is press a button all day. Right  ;D
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: Studio1930 on February 06, 2013, 10:26:02 AM
do you think that it went so bad that the dude got killed???

 ;D

Hahahahahaha, "sorry, old friend.... these photos won't do"  BANG

 ;D  Great sense of humor.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: ktabes on February 06, 2013, 10:31:13 AM
If that did happen. then I would have to worry about finding a photographer for my funeral.  This whole thing is getting way too complicated.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: bseitz234 on February 06, 2013, 10:59:21 AM
Given that the wedding has been pushed back a few weeks, and you have a little more time- have you gotten any new gear? I know there was some mixed advice on the thread... but given that you have some more time to learn it, I think if you were considering new gear anyway*, now that you have time to play with and learn how to use it, go for it!! For what it's worth, if you don't have a flash, and you now have time to learn how to bounce flash and all of those goodies, canon has refurb 430ex IIs for $239. I bought one a few weeks ago and it's been very worthwhile! (link: http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_10051_204273_-1 (http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_10051_204273_-1) )


*There's also the fundamental "are you buying gear just for this wedding, or is it something you'd want to add to your kit anyway", so make sure you're being honest with yourself about that. I almost bought a 135 f/2 just to get pictures of my sister's indoor track state meet, then realized that was a bit crazy and I should wait till I have a more continuous need for an awesome portraiture lens...

Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: agierke on February 06, 2013, 11:52:19 AM
if the friend is going to be unhappy with the results after asking this HUGE favor of you then i would say it is not that good of a friend. so long as you have thoroughly advised him of your capabilities and offered no guarantees.

if friends stopped asking friends to shoot their weddings i don't think that would curb the enormous amount of bad wedding photographers out there. there are just too many of them....
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: RustyTheGeek on February 06, 2013, 01:12:46 PM
I think there are a lot of poor and somewhat fair photographers out there working as "professional photographers" because they have a website and price list.  The number of skilled, experienced and talented photographers out there is a much smaller percentage.  Notice I didn't include the word professional the second time.  IMHO, the word professional only indicates the fact that the photographer charges for their services and hopefully can pull off the job to the clients' satisfaction.  The word professional in no way vouches for the quality of the work.  Today's great (or not so great) professional is merely yesterday's up and coming amateur.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

It's all about the individual.  For example, there are many "photo moms" out there that are "professionals" because they do photography as a part time side business and it helps pay for their gear.  This is how a lot of professionals start out.  It's only after a lot of time and work has been performed that the photographer gets better in all aspects, be it working with subjects, scheduling, billing, delivery of images, whatever.  Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get.  And you only improve at what you do.  If one never ventures outside their comfort zone, they don't grow much, they just improve in that niche they are in.

Like most things, you get what you pay for and mediocre photographers won't get away with charging what highly respected and reputable photographers with a following can charge.  (For good reason.)  It's up to the buyer to be diligent and look at the past work and references of any provider of services.  I look at the wedding pictures we have from our wedding in '95 and I'm blown away.  And of course they shot with film then.  Mostly medium format.  At this point in my photography experience and with the great gear I currently own, I think I *might* be able to duplicate maybe half the shots if I was really lucky.

There is no replacing skill, talent and experience but it can be earned and the photographer doesn't have to be paid to earn/learn it.  So with that said, IMO the only thing that matters is the work.  Some non-pros will easily shoot circles around some pros and vice versa.  And I think Wedding Photography is perhaps the hardest and most demanding photography out there.  It's essentially journalistic photography in all the hardest situations but with a demand of top studio level excellence and quality.  My hat is off to all good and great wedding photographers.  All others have my sympathy.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: ablearcher on February 06, 2013, 01:30:09 PM
Well said Rusty.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: LewisShermer on February 06, 2013, 06:53:12 PM
For future amateurs who are asked to shoot a wedding for a friend and to just have fun, you only need to rent one thing...

a professional photographer!

Some people have given some great advice, but advice is not experience.  Be a second shooter before you decide to accept the job of being the only shooter. If you are lucky then you might get away with shooting your first wedding by yourself but most people will not be that lucky and more crappy $150 wedding albums will be created.

everyone has to start somewhere, who knows, he may just have what it takes from the off? what better place to jump in than at the deep end?

I remember my first wedding...

Although I had been a commercial photographer for about 10 years before hand,. there's nothing quite like that rush of being plunged in way over you head :)
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: distant.star on February 06, 2013, 07:48:57 PM
.
Great perspective -- and elegantly said!! It's a pleasure to read a coherent and well written post.

Thanks.



I think there are a lot of poor and somewhat fair photographers out there working as "professional photographers" because they have a website and price list.  The number of skilled, experienced and talented photographers out there is a much smaller percentage.  Notice I didn't include the word professional the secont time.  IMHO, the word professional only indicates the fact that the photographer charges for their services and hopefully can pull off the job to the clients' satisfaction.  The word professional in no way vouches for the quality of the work.  Today's great (or not so great) professional is merely yesterday's up and coming amateur.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

It's all about the individual.  For example, there are many "photo moms" out there that are "professionals" because they do photography as a part time side business and it helps pay for their gear.  This is how a lot of professionals start out.  It's only after a lot of time and work has been performed that the photographer gets better in all aspects, be it working with subjects, scheduling, billing, delivery of images, whatever.  Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get.  And you only improve at what you do.  If one never ventures outside their comfort zone, they don't grow much, they just improve in that niche they are in.

Like most things, you get what you pay for and mediocre photographers won't get away with charging what highly respected and reputable photographers with a following can charge.  (For good reason.)  It's up to the buyer to be diligent and look at the past work and references of any provider of services.  I look at the wedding pictures we have from our wedding in '95 and I'm blown away.  And of course they shot with film then.  Mostly medium format.  At this point in my photography experience and with the great gear I currently own, I think I *might* be able to duplicate maybe half the shots if I was really lucky.

There is no replacing skill, talent and experience but it can be earned and the photographer doesn't have to be paid to earn/learn it.  So with that said, IMO the only thing that matters is the work.  Some non-pros will easily shoot circles around some pros and vice versa.  And I think Wedding Photography is perhaps the hardest and most demanding photography out there.  It's essentially journalistic photography in all the hardest situations but with a demand of top studio level excellence and quality.  My hat is off to all good and great wedding photographers.  All others have my sympathy.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: robbymack on February 06, 2013, 08:50:10 PM
I think there are a lot of poor and somewhat fair photographers out there working as "professional photographers" because they have a website and price list.  The number of skilled, experienced and talented photographers out there is a much smaller percentage.  Notice I didn't include the word professional the secont time.  IMHO, the word professional only indicates the fact that the photographer charges for their services and hopefully can pull off the job to the clients' satisfaction.  The word professional in no way vouches for the quality of the work.  Today's great (or not so great) professional is merely yesterday's up and coming amateur.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

It's all about the individual.  For example, there are many "photo moms" out there that are "professionals" because they do photography as a part time side business and it helps pay for their gear.  This is how a lot of professionals start out.  It's only after a lot of time and work has been performed that the photographer gets better in all aspects, be it working with subjects, scheduling, billing, delivery of images, whatever.  Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get.  And you only improve at what you do.  If one never ventures outside their comfort zone, they don't grow much, they just improve in that niche they are in.

Like most things, you get what you pay for and mediocre photographers won't get away with charging what highly respected and reputable photographers with a following can charge.  (For good reason.)  It's up to the buyer to be diligent and look at the past work and references of any provider of services.  I look at the wedding pictures we have from our wedding in '95 and I'm blown away.  And of course they shot with film then.  Mostly medium format.  At this point in my photography experience and with the great gear I currently own, I think I *might* be able to duplicate maybe half the shots if I was really lucky.

There is no replacing skill, talent and experience but it can be earned and the photographer doesn't have to be paid to earn/learn it.  So with that said, IMO the only thing that matters is the work.  Some non-pros will easily shoot circles around some pros and vice versa.  And I think Wedding Photography is perhaps the hardest and most demanding photography out there.  It's essentially journalistic photography in all the hardest situations but with a demand of top studio level excellence and quality.  My hat is off to all good and great wedding photographers.  All others have my sympathy.

truer words have rarely ever been said...especially on an internet forum. 
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: RustyTheGeek on February 06, 2013, 10:10:19 PM
Wow.  Thanks guys.  I appreciate the kind words.  I'm glad I can contribute to many of the other great posts I've read here.  It's my pleasure.

This is likely the longest I've ever kept up posting to an Internet Forum.  In most cases, I would have long ago tired of all the drama and emotional ego driven drivel many other forum threads inevitably sink to.  This forum has fairly consistently kept up a good reputation and the occasional rant or two is just a simple change of pace.

And FWIW, I can't wait to hear how the OP's adventure turns out.  I think it will turn out fine, esp if plenty of practice and planning is done ahead of time.  As another post points out, depending on the individual, jumping in the deep end sometimes generates an epiphany of sorts and we may see some amazing images.  Photography is so subjective and the OP may have untapped natural talent that is capable of overshadowing the lack of experience.

And now that there is more time to prepare, perhaps the OP can assist another exp wedding photographer to get a better idea of what works as a starting point.
Title: Re: Emergency wedding, of sorts.
Post by: robbymack on February 06, 2013, 10:29:40 PM
Youre welcome rusty. I think the op will do fine. I am by no means a pro, but as the guy in the group with the "big" camera I'm put in this situation often whether it is friends, co workers, etc. I'm generally very happy to do it especially since folks who are turning to me are generally looking to spend less than $1000 for a photographer for their big day. Seeing the results of that kind of a budget I know I will no only care more than another photographer and will try my best. do I miss things, yes, but I put the time and effort into it to make it a good day for them. Expectations are set low, i inform them id much rather enjoy the day with them, but i also don't want them hiring a hack who doesn't care.  all I ask of the couple is to cover my backup gear rental fees and a nice bottle of wine.