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Author Topic: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.  (Read 5111 times)

Zv

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2013, 07:51:04 AM »
I have photographed hundreds of weddings over the years and have enjoyed growing as a businessman and an artist. If this is going to be a one time thing, I agree with the post suggesting P Mode and ETTL for the flash.
If you want to do a superior job  or are thinking about a new career, purchase "Captured by the Light" by David Ziser and follow his advice. This is quite simply the best and most complete book on the subject of wedding photography. His "Digital Pro Talk" website is also an invaluable asset.
Good Luck!

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2013, 07:51:04 AM »

Don Haines

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2013, 09:43:23 AM »
Thanks so far for the informative replies - I am reading the entire "Emergency wedding, of sorts" right now as suggested above. And yes I do agree that this is a high degree of responsibility but truthfully, the couple had never really budgeted for a photographer since having "quality" shots of their wedding just were not that high on the list of them. I was volunteered and they are very happy but as a back-up they are handing out a few dozen disposable cameras for guests to have fun with.

I am just trying to help out here and figure if I take 500-1000 shots they should be able to pull a few dozen really nice ones out. And since I have never formally shot a wedding before I am just looking for the basic suggestions more-or-less to confirm what I have read elsewhere. An example would be shooting in Av at 5.6 or 8.0 as that reinforces others suggestions.

And I really do appreciate the help folks, the more info the better.

On a far more important note..... GOOD FOR YOU! You learn by stepping outside your comfort zone and you are being a nice person and doing a nice thing. GOOD FOR YOU!
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SPL

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2013, 10:04:16 AM »
Hey cszy67,
I was in your same shoes as I did this a year ago.  And, I’m doing it again in a month.  In both of my situations, the couples are very much of the understanding that I am not a wedding photographer and simply are asking for a favor.  These are very small weddings/small gatherings, and simply do not have the funds for a wedding photographer.  If I’m not there, then nobody will be there type situation.  The next one I am doing will be shooting with a relative, and I think we will be just fine.  I think it is very important that the bride and groom understand your background/abilities upfront.  Many times, nice looking camera equipment is thought to equate to nice looking photos.  As we all know,..it does not,…it takes skill and experience.  I absolutely make sure they clearly understand that.  I would take home all the good advice on this forum,…..great stuff and advice.  More importantly though, have fun!

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2013, 04:22:59 PM »
Hey cszy67,

When my wife and I got married a few years ago, we too were on a very restricted budget, however, we had a friend with a 40D and 70-200 2.8 ii. We also "hired" my wife's cousin who had a point and shoot. To be brief, I know what your friend is facing, and I doubt that they have any super high expectations. I would proceed with caution since you are fairly limited on your gear, but if they are truly on a "cut-all-corners" type of budget then I think it is nice of you to help them out with some pictures.

My wife and I do wedding photography professionally now, in the Tulsa area, and have learned just how wonderful professional gear can be. We also rent for the events that we are doing such as the 50 1.2 and 24-70 ii we are renting for a wedding this Thursday. If you just want to rent something, then it can be fun, but this is a huge task at hand.

For settings, I would tend toward expanding your iso to a max of 3200 and opening your lens to 2.8, work with the center focal point while shooting in Av, and just have a good time. I know that a lot of folks here are going to agree or disagree with my advice, but I've been on both sides of this situation and think that you're doing a great thing if you are up to it.

Good luck and God bless,
-Tabor
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bycostello

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2013, 04:26:48 AM »


I am just trying to help out here and figure if I take 500-1000 shots they should be able to pull a few dozen really nice ones out.

less is more.. concentrate on getting a few good ones ratehr than machine gunning, you'll get more quality shots...

Forceflow

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2013, 05:26:15 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
(If you are a deviantArt member comments are highly welcome) For all those not being part of deviantArt here is the journal. It's not so much a technical description but more of a bunch of overall tings to keep in mind. Might still be of use for you.


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)
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cszy67

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2013, 11:39:57 AM »
Thank you all so much for all the valuable information - it has really been helpful to check in, read replies to this post, and search for additional information. Here are my initial plans and please feel free to comment or suggest alternatives:

  • Mode: Av
  • Aperture: f/4.0-5.6
  • Auto ISO: 1600 or 3200 Max
  • White balance: Auto
  • Metering: Evaluative or Center Weighted Average
  • Flash: off

It looks to me like shooting in Av and Auto ISO will keep things simple for me and I can concentrate on shutter speed. Additional concentration will be holding the camera steady while shooting. I was playing with a DOF calculator and I am guessing most shots will be fine at f/5.6 and maybe even dipping down into f/4.0 on occasion.

Any professional recommendations regarding max ISO of 1600 or 3200? Based upon my reading it seems like a fair trade off by pushing my ISO but then again the higher I go the more color sensitivity, dynamic and tonal range I begin to give away. Maybe drop the max ISO to 400 or so for the ceremony outdoors and bump it up to 1600 or 3200 indoors?

The White Balance will be left on auto and I will be shooting large RAW images. I have a 32GB card and two batteries. My intent is to spend time post-processing and make minor adjustments here and there. The Metering is another area where I would like to hear opinions since I will be shooting people one dressed in black and the other in white. I shot mostly in Evaluative but it has been suggested a Center Weighted Average is a better choice for weddings.

All thoughts and opinions are welcome.
7D ~ 16-35mm f/2.8L II ~ 24-70mm f/2.8L ~ 70-200mm f/2.8L

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2013, 11:39:57 AM »

Rat

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2013, 12:19:44 PM »
For a 7D, I'd use iso 1600 tops, and I'd prefer 800. High iso performance of this camera is what made me buy the 5D3. Using 400 for outdoor shooting is obviously even better, but don't forget to switch back or you'll be doing 1/4s shots. Oh, and as you will be shooting portraits all day long: don't forget to focus on the eyes! If those are sharp, half the battle is won ;)

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Inspiron41

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2013, 02:06:27 PM »
Thank you all so much for all the valuable information - it has really been helpful to check in, read replies to this post, and search for additional information. Here are my initial plans and please feel free to comment or suggest alternatives:

  • Mode: Av
  • Aperture: f/4.0-5.6
  • Auto ISO: 1600 or 3200 Max
  • White balance: Auto
  • Metering: Evaluative or Center Weighted Average
  • Flash: off

It looks to me like shooting in Av and Auto ISO will keep things simple for me and I can concentrate on shutter speed. Additional concentration will be holding the camera steady while shooting. I was playing with a DOF calculator and I am guessing most shots will be fine at f/5.6 and maybe even dipping down into f/4.0 on occasion.

Any professional recommendations regarding max ISO of 1600 or 3200? Based upon my reading it seems like a fair trade off by pushing my ISO but then again the higher I go the more color sensitivity, dynamic and tonal range I begin to give away. Maybe drop the max ISO to 400 or so for the ceremony outdoors and bump it up to 1600 or 3200 indoors?

The White Balance will be left on auto and I will be shooting large RAW images. I have a 32GB card and two batteries. My intent is to spend time post-processing and make minor adjustments here and there. The Metering is another area where I would like to hear opinions since I will be shooting people one dressed in black and the other in white. I shot mostly in Evaluative but it has been suggested a Center Weighted Average is a better choice for weddings.

All thoughts and opinions are welcome.

if it's your first time, then RAW would be probably a safe bet. but you are not going to enjoy flipping through 500-1000 raw images. hopefully you'll have the patience to edit them all :).  I shoot primarily in JPEG only because i know my white balances.

you will need flash for indoors. higher ISO will not be enough to save you. you may as well get yourself a diffuser. they're cheap. hopefully you have a external flash unit.

see the difference with a diffuser? less hot spots -


get a tripod too for formal pictures. nobody wants a shaky handle.

Chuck Alaimo

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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2013, 04:22:01 PM »
A big question about how to approach this I'd say is ----- Are you thinking about shooting more weddings after this one?  If the answer is yes, then within reason go for broke on it ---rent a backup body and a 70-200 lens, read, research, watch tutorial videos...if you can, find some other events and get access to them, shoot them, learn from the experience.

If the answer is no, and this is just a one time deal to help a friend - then let them know this is what I have to offer and do your best!  Enjoy the open bar, have fun shooting!

Also, 16-35 vs 24-70 --- each have their own uses....bring them both!!!!...for the ceremony, set your gear bag in an easy to access spot.  That 16-35 will get you great big shots of the overall happenings...and if you can get close to the B&G, some very dramatic shots as well.  That's touch and go though, you don't want to be so close that your an annoyance to guests, B&G or the venue itself.  Regarding switching lenses during the ceremony...depends on the ceremony!  Some are very Quick...10-15 minutes...but some can take up to an hour, and ---for those hour long jobs...there's a lot of nothing going on for long periods of time (readings, prayers and blessings, kneel and be silent while the organ plays...so you have to be ready for the action when it happens...so mange that downtime well!!!! 
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 04:32:52 PM by Chuck Alaimo »
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Re: Wedding expert suggestions desired...first time.
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2013, 04:22:01 PM »