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Author Topic: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)  (Read 10984 times)

libertyranger

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New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« on: December 15, 2011, 12:33:23 PM »
Hello CR,

I've been following CR for a couple months now since I bought my T3i and have delved into the world of photography.  I've done some wildlife photography recently and some portraits and have discovered I really enjoy portraits and events.

I recently shot my brother's (with my wife's help) engagement photos with my new camera and a 50 1.8 lens I borrowed from a friend. They came out pretty good (Well at least he thought they did) and asked if I would shoot his wedding.  While I have no experience shooting weddings (and clearly told him so:), I said I would.  So...

What lenses do you suggest I use.  I know I can borrow the 50 1.8 from a friend and she'll let me borrow her 28-70 2.8L lens.  I'll probably borrow her 60D and shot with my wife (She'll use the T3i).

Also, any other suggestions for a budding wedding photographer.  Thanks in advance.

Mike

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New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« on: December 15, 2011, 12:33:23 PM »

branden

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 01:04:00 PM »
I don't know any of the details, but since you say it's your brother's wedding, let me give you a bit of advice before anything else: you can either participate and experience the wedding, or you can photograph the wedding and have no memories of the event afterwards. When covering the ceremony, the photographer is literally lost in the moment, concentrating on getting the photo, and I remember no details from the ceremony. As his brother, you may not be comfortable missing out on that.

In any case, weddings basically require a flash, and renting a Canon Speedlite is unavoidable (in my opinion). No matter how fast your glass is, it's never enough light. Even outdoors, you'll want the flash as a fill light for shadows and balancing against the sun.

In regards to the other equipment you list, the only think you're missing is a wide angle lens, such as the EF-S 10-22mm, which you'll probably want for group photos.

Everyone's method for shooting weddings is different, so you're likely to find as many different answers as people answering, but any more information about what the ceremony and reception will be like will help us guide your answers. Weddings happen in all forms, times of day, and places, and all of that plays into what equipment to bring and what photo styles you can use.

neuroanatomist

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 01:43:00 PM »
Not to put a damper on things, but I'd recommend reading this first:

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2010/07/fwigtew-and-other-first-wedding-acronyms

Also, just to be very clear, your post reads like your brother is the one who liked the engagement pictures and asked you to shoot the wedding.  Weddings are (almost) all about the bride - so, in the interst of maintaining some family harmony, what was your brother's fiancée's input to the request?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 01:45:55 PM by neuroanatomist »
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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 01:51:51 PM »
Unless this is a very casual, back-yard type affair with less than 20 people, you should politely say you've reconsidered, and don't think it would work.   For a full-size, formal wedding, I agree with the previous post: you can either be the photographer, or be involved; not both.

I've only shot a few weddings, but I can tell you it requires a lot of thinking ahead to get yourself in the right position at the right time for the right shot.

If you want to get a taste of weddings, I suggest you find a local wedding photographer and offer to be a volunteer second-shooter.


chriswatters

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 02:13:26 PM »
As has been noted in earlier responses:

- If you are going as a photographer you are not going as a guest. It would be the same if your brother asked you to be the caterer. You will be so busy doing the job that you will not be able to enjoy the event.

- The wedding is about the bride. Make sure that she is happy with you being the photographer, and that her expectations are in line with your abilities.

Regardless of the advice you are given here, you will need to make the final decision. Remember that you understand the people and situation much better than any of us. Expectations regarding wedding photos can vary substantially. Some people expect their photographs to appear in magazines, while others are happy with snapshots.

For our wedding, we paid a friend $500 to take some pictures at the ceremony and family dinner. The reception was just snapshots taken by family. For most people, I expect that the results would have been disappointing. However, we were happy with the results because we kept our expectations inline with our investment. Neither of us wanted a fancy wedding, so we did not pay for a fancy wedding. I estimate that we spent less than $2000 for everything.

I expect that my experience was very unusual. Most people spend a lot more on the wedding and reception. I would also expect them to spend a lot more on a photographer. If your brother's fiancé wants professional pictures, then she should hire a professional photograph. Make sure that expectations are reasonable.

Again, you know the situation and expectations. I would recommend against taking on more than you are comfortable with. Weddings are a big deal to most people.

libertyranger

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 02:17:53 PM »
Not to put a damper on things, but I'd recommend reading this first:

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2010/07/fwigtew-and-other-first-wedding-acronyms

Also, just to be very clear, your post reads like your brother is the one who liked the engagement pictures and asked you to shoot the wedding.  Weddings are (almost) all about the bride - so, in the interst of maintaining some family harmony, what was your brother's fiancée's input to the request?

Thanks for the article.  I'm going to read it this evening.

Both my brother and his fiancé loved the engagement photos.  I thought they came out well to.  However, knowing the tI am just getting into photography, I am well aware that others could have done a much better job.

To answer your question.  Both of them wanted me to do the photography.  When asked, I told them that I suggested they hire a professional.  They stated they did not have the money to do so and were very happy with the pictures I took of them.  I have no problem focusing on being the photographer.  I am grateful, however, for the posts pointing out that I will miss out of the moment of the wedding.  Since I am going to be the photographer, I want to study up so I can do a good job.   Will I do as good as a job as a professional?  I don't expect to and know that I will not!!  Both my brother and his fiancé are aware of this as I have told them.  However, they are happy to have me to do it and now I just need to take the time to do the best that I can for them.

libertyranger

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 02:19:54 PM »
As has been noted in earlier responses:

- If you are going as a photographer you are not going as a guest. It would be the same if your brother asked you to be the caterer. You will be so busy doing the job that you will not be able to enjoy the event.

- The wedding is about the bride. Make sure that she is happy with you being the photographer, and that her expectations are in line with your abilities.

Regardless of the advice you are given here, you will need to make the final decision. Remember that you understand the people and situation much better than any of us. Expectations regarding wedding photos can vary substantially. Some people expect their photographs to appear in magazines, while others are happy with snapshots.

For our wedding, we paid a friend $500 to take some pictures at the ceremony and family dinner. The reception was just snapshots taken by family. For most people, I expect that the results would have been disappointing. However, we were happy with the results because we kept our expectations inline with our investment. Neither of us wanted a fancy wedding, so we did not pay for a fancy wedding. I estimate that we spent less than $2000 for everything.

I expect that my experience was very unusual. Most people spend a lot more on the wedding and reception. I would also expect them to spend a lot more on a photographer. If your brother's fiancé wants professional pictures, then she should hire a professional photograph. Make sure that expectations are reasonable.

Again, you know the situation and expectations. I would recommend against taking on more than you are comfortable with. Weddings are a big deal to most people.

Excellent advice!! Thank you!

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 02:19:54 PM »

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2011, 02:22:42 PM »
If you want to get a taste of weddings, I suggest you find a local wedding photographer and offer to be a volunteer second-shooter.

This is a great suggestion!  It's how I learned the business years ago...  It's all about knowing the event and positioning yourself for the next shot.  If you work with a pro you will also get some great tips on posing and lighting...  See if they have a "shoot sheet" they'll let you look at; a list of all the standard wedding shots that every bride expects and no one ever seems to grow tired of...

I shot 35+ weddings a year and almost never took my 28-70L off the camera; but that was full frame (film)...  You can certainly shoot a wedding with a standard lens (50mm) but on a crop body you're talking an 80mm equivalent...  Nice for single portraits or tight twosies but not very good for those groups...  I think the suggestion to rent/borrow a 10-22mm for those crop bodies is sound...

Amen on the strobes!  Natural light is beautiful, but when it goes away a strobe will let you get the shot.  I would rent one for each camera...

Oh, a tip...  Put the lens shade on that 28-70 and leave it on...  Canon engineers have done an amazing job controlling flare and you don't want an otherwise perfect shot ruined by stray light...

Good luck!
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thepancakeman

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 02:29:55 PM »
First, +1 to all the comments about not being able to participate/enjoy the wedding and play photog at the same time--can't be done.

In my limited experience (playing assistant/backup photographer) in 2 weddings, the biggest challenge was almost always lighting.  Many churches do not allow flash photography, and even if they do, it can be very distracting in a wedding.  So know in advance what your acceptable ISO thresholds are regarding noise (take test shots, print them, and run them by the bride) and get the fastest lenses you can buy/beg/borrow/steal...okay maybe stealing's not the best idea... for the focal lengths you'll need. 

The f/1.8s are a minimum (you mentioned the 50mm; the 85mm is also a great lens).  If you can get a f/1.4 or f/1.2, even better.  Depending on the layout/logistcs, you very well may need something with reach, so a 70-200 f/2.8 IS is probably in line.

steven63

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 02:33:26 PM »
The 24-70 2.8L is the piece of glass that lives on my 5dmii when I shoot weddings.  It just works well in most situations.  Since you are shooting on a crop sensor, you might want to look into finding a wider lens to use for the group shots.  But...I've shot whole weddings with the 24-70 and a 70-200 with no problems.

Flash is also very imporant, as someone else stated. 

Lastly, I would invest in post-software such as lightroom 3.  It'll help you fix those photos that didn't come out exactly as you hoped and your keeper rate will increase.  Plus, it is a tool that every serious photographer should have, so down the road when you get even more serious you will already have it.

thejoyofsobe

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2011, 02:39:27 PM »
Everyone has already give out great advice. I just didn't want to take for granted that since you've only had your camera for a couple of months that you are already shooting RAW. If you aren't, take the time now to learn as you only get one shot at a wedding and RAW gives you so much leeway to fix some of the things you didn't get exactly correct in camera.

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2011, 02:40:50 PM »
More tips from an amateur who's done a few weddings: since this is a family favor, not pro work, don't just go for the glam / portfolio shots.

  • Try to get at least one decent shot of all of the guests; group shots are fine, need not be (can't be) individual portraits.
  • If there are elderly folks present, try to get several good shots of them having fun: you never know if this is the last time you see them looking their best, and with big smiles on their faces
  • As stated previously, it's all about the bride.  Since you know the bride you can discuss her expectations.  Some want max-glam; others want more community/friends/down-to-earth.   Ask her what she wants.
  • There are books on the topic.  None that I've read is perfect, but look through a few to get some ideas.

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2011, 02:45:22 PM »
Lastly, I would invest in post-software such as lightroom 3.  It'll help you fix those photos that didn't come out exactly as you hoped and your keeper rate will increase.  Plus, it is a tool that every serious photographer should have, so down the road when you get even more serious you will already have it.

+...umm...a lot! 

My wife just did a shoot the other day, and long story short out of the camera there pretty much wasn't a single usable photo.  However, after a few hours in lightroom (and a bit of time in photoshop) we were able to deliver a couple dozen decent photos that the client was very happy with.

On that note, although not necessarily a "best practice", since you're new to it if you have doubts about your ability to frame a shot, take it a little wide and you can always crop.  I'm sure I'll catch a lot of flack for suggesting it, but the truth is you can cut out extra but you can not paste in what isn't there.

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2011, 02:45:22 PM »

libertyranger

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2011, 02:48:33 PM »
The 24-70 2.8L is the piece of glass that lives on my 5dmii when I shoot weddings.  It just works well in most situations.  Since you are shooting on a crop sensor, you might want to look into finding a wider lens to use for the group shots.  But...I've shot whole weddings with the 24-70 and a 70-200 with no problems.

Flash is also very imporant, as someone else stated. 

Lastly, I would invest in post-software such as lightroom 3.  It'll help you fix those photos that didn't come out exactly as you hoped and your keeper rate will increase.  Plus, it is a tool that every serious photographer should have, so down the road when you get even more serious you will already have it.

I'm glad to hear that the 24-70 has been a great lens of you.  I currently own Aperture 3 on my mac.  I've been tinkering with it for quite some time and have learned quite a bit about altering photos.  I'll try a trial of Lightroom to compare it.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 02:54:20 PM by libertyranger »

libertyranger

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2011, 02:50:14 PM »
Everyone has already give out great advice. I just didn't want to take for granted that since you've only had your camera for a couple of months that you are already shooting RAW. If you aren't, take the time now to learn as you only get one shot at a wedding and RAW gives you so much leeway to fix some of the things you didn't get exactly correct in camera.

I've shot with RAW here and there.  I know it's great for editing.  Thank you for letting me know.  I'll make sure we are shooting RAW that day. :)

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Re: New Photographer. Need suggestions :)
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2011, 02:50:14 PM »