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View Full Version : Asked to do a wedding. Amateur, needs pointers.


Ken Nielsen
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 13:09
I'll be using a 7D with a 28-135 lens. I know enough to be able to look for best angles, watch for cluttered backgrounds and carry a spare battery. What I notice about 'today's' wedding shoots over what I grew up with (very conservative 1950's style) is that there is more 'horseplay' allowed and more fun and impromptu moments allowed in modern wedding styles.

I'd appreciate your input as I go in to shoot this outdoor wedding on May 28th.

Thanks All,

Ken

Red Tie Photography
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 13:13
Look to get some more lenses, and at least a backup camera.

What other gear do you have? Have you visited the location? More details will get better responses.

Ken Nielsen
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 15:17
It will be in a back yard at a home. I've been there and know the area. I have no other gear other than a 18-55 lens, a tripod and a remote shutter cable. I have a 100-400 zoom but didn't think that would be useful for a wedding shoot. I have a small Canon point and shoot for a backup. This is a freebie for the family, low budget, no budget. There will be no fill lights or reflectors. The conditions this time of year will be bright sunlight, most likely, or bright overcast (would be better) but can't predict the weather and will have to work with what it is. Also have an 8g and 4g flash card which should be plenty. I wasn't thinking of shooting more than 100 shots in all.

erinshel
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 15:20
check out borrowlenses.com or another rental place. I Have used BL several times and their CS is amazing. I would pick up another body--I really love FF (so 5D or 5DmkII) a 24-70L or the 16-35L and the 70-200 IS. Maybe even throw in a 100mm Macro for those great ring shots if you can swing it.

Red Tie Photography
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 16:16
Then just look at some other pictures, see what you like and try to remember it. Make sure you get exposure, and try to catch emotion.

DocMike
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 17:56
I'll be using a 7D with a 28-135 lens....
I'd appreciate your input as I go in to shoot this outdoor wedding on May 28th.


Being an amateur myself, I think that the best advice I could give you can be summed up in a few pointers:

1. Be sure your friends understand that you're not a pro, and that they're going to get what they pay for. As such, They can't expect the results of a $2500 photo package. I know that these are friends of yours, and it probably goes without saying, but better to just have it said...that way, the expectations are appropriate.

2. With the above in mind, however, what you DO come up with will probably exceed their expectations (as long as those expectations are properly framed.) You're probably your own toughest critic - the untrained eye will probably be wowed by your pictures if they're even just sharp and in focus, and have that lovely narrow depth of field.

3. If you can discuss this with the family, make sure that you have some degree of control. This includes an hour or so of time at YOUR disposal. This includes the ability for you to set up shots, pose the bride and groom, the wedding parties, and family members. Though it is their day, this is your hour. Every one that they want in "formal" pictures needs to be present for this; also, there should be NO other photographers present at this time, family or otherwise. There should be no one standing next to you with a point-and-shoot that will cause the family to look at them instead of you, and likewise there should be no one "copying" the shot that you took time to set up.

4. As a corollary to #3, make sure you get EVERYONE that the couple has deemed important. No one wants to forget Aunt Martha. While it's true that couples like stunning images, they also want to make sure that everyone is accounted for.

5. Take some time to take detail pics: Cake, place settings, floral arrangements, etc. They will help the couple remember the day, and these will also probably be your best opportunity to exercise control and your artistic flair.


I think that this is the best advice that I can give to you - you might have been looking for a different sort of thing, like more technical elements, better posing, or what have you. But I think that if you follow the above, the couple will be MORE than pleased at the results. Also, sorry if I come off sounding like a jerk, with respect to setting some boundaries and ground rules for you to address with the couple, but I think that will save everyone a lot of headaches, and help you generate some images that you'll all be happy with.

Happy shooting!

Ken Nielsen
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 19:20
the best advice I could give you...
Happy shooting!

I will do all of the above DocMike, And I thank you for that solid advice. I've already told them I'm an amateur and the pictures might not even come out at all, but I would do my best.

I also will, and I like the idea, have them set aside the hour for photographs for me and not for point and shoot parasites.

All of your comments are well taken and appreciated.

Thank You,

Ken

Ken Nielsen
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 19:21
Then just look at some other pictures, see what you like and try to remember it. Make sure you get exposure, and try to catch emotion.

I've asked them to look online and email me with links to images that they like. That way I can see what their tastes are.

Thanks for all of your input here Red Tie Photography,

Ken

Ken Nielsen
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 19:25
check out borrowlenses.com or another rental place. I Have used BL several times and their CS is amazing. I would pick up another body--I really love FF (so 5D or 5DmkII) a 24-70L or the 16-35L and the 70-200 IS. Maybe even throw in a 100mm Macro for those great ring shots if you can swing it.

Ah, a man after my own heart, I do want all of these lenses plus the 300mm 2.8 in case some birds go flying overhead. The sad part is, I'm not making a penny on this shoot, and am determined not to spend a penny either. If I had the money though, I would have all of those lenses at my disposal. I absolutely love the 70-200.

I've never owned a FF but that would throw me into a different club, class, echelon, or whatever you call it, or Tax Bracket!!! that's the ticket!;- )

_aravena
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 19:35
You're fine...stop listening to the naysayers and those that say you need more. They really have no clue what it's like. It's like when VP's started as cart pushers but forgot what it was like to be one.

Never the less, go for it, study the wedding area for ideas, and have fun. As long as they don't expect the best but something, just worry on exposure. Also, use the 100-400! My 70-200 is glued to my camera doing the ceremony cause it allows for you to be out of the way in the back. Trust me, it's an awesome lens to use for events you wouldn't think it'd work. I use one at concerts.

Aside from that, a backyard wedding was my second wedding and I'd say have a look but she only wanted me to do portraits and I barely covered the short ceremony and I had a stalker so it was kinda annoying. That whole event was but at least you're with friends.

Any how, good luck!

erinshel
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 19:56
You're fine...stop listening to the naysayers and those that say you need more. They really have no clue what it's like. It's like when VP's started as cart pushers but forgot what it was like to be one.


First of all, and not to be disrespectful, but I do not think that by encouraging the shooter to rent better/more equipment is a bad thing. If they want to take this wedding seriously they need to be prepared. Things can happen to bodies, memory cards, lenses etc during a shoot/wedding. Its always better to be prepared than not. Even though you are JSO (just starting out) its always better to aim high, than be happy/relieved that you didn't suck. I shot my first official wedding last summer and used the equipment I listed above along with a 40D. I spent more money on renting equipment than I made on the shoot---did it suck to spend money? Sure! BUT I gained experience and knowledge. It takes time, effort, and yes---sometimes a bit of money to rent gear until you can afford to buy it.

I do agree with other posters that making sure your friends realize you are JSO/amateur is something that needs to be spelled out. Don't downgrade your ability, but do let them know that you are still learning. Write up a basic contract outlining what services you are providing them, how much (even if its free) and that they understand you are working to build your portfolio.

_aravena
3rd of May 2010 (Mon), 20:14
It's one thing to say they should rent something, it's another to rent FF bodies and L lenses for a job they're not even getting paid for and what sounds like a job that the OP was simply ask to cover but if he didn't then they'd rely on everyone with their own cameras ans use their photos. No offense, but common sense is what should be in play, and the suggestions lack it.

Ken Nielsen
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 11:51
I could take the 100-400, but that lens attracts attention in itself and I don't want to start 'overtaking' the small get-together by being 'over-equipped' for the simple situation. I will take the lens on your recommendation, but will leave it in the car so I can assess the situation and see if it would be permissible and useful under the circumstances. I would think that there will be two-dozen people there and not much more if at all. So far, I think the best advice is to let them know in advance that I am not a professional and can't guarantee the outcome, but I do need a one-hour time slot strictly for photographs and no point and shoots allowed.

I'm not ignoring everyone else, and I do think the 70-200 would be a perfect lens to take, but all of that is secondary to the above considerations, I do think.

Ken Nielsen
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 11:56
The wedding is still a few weeks away, so maybe I will reconsider the idea of renting glass, possibly the 24-70, to go for more of those 'romantic' shots with narrow depth of field. My camera store/rental place tells me that the 24-70 is the 'ticket' for wedding shoots and that I may never take it off of the camera.

suecassidy
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 12:10
in a wedding where there are only two dozen people attending at best, you will not likely get a full hour alone with the couple, nor should you, so I wouldn't hold on to THAT expectation too tightly. Just do the best you can with the time and equipment allotted. I am guessing that if you only took 20-30 minutes MAX and got them photos together with well planned out, uncluttered backgrounds etc., they will be thrilled. The rest can be spontaneous, photojournalistic type shots, which to MY mind, would be more appropriate given the scope of this wedding gathering. Of course, it isn't MY mind that matters, but I'm just throwing in my two cents worth. It is nice of you to do this for them. have fun with it.

Ken Nielsen
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 12:50
have fun with it.

Your 2 cents is appreciated.

:- )

photogs_spouse
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 14:00
Details- table settings if they are done, shoes, dress, cake(s), rings, flowers, wedding favors, invitation held by a member of wedding party is always a nice touch.

kiss, placing rings on fingers, bouquet and garter toss, cake cutting, any first dances are considered required shots by couple or older family. Assorted formal group photos may be as well.

Posing people at a formal event is always interesting.

For your own purposes, track your time and all expenses involving this gift. The couple need never know.

Be clear with the recipients when they will receive the images and what format. (same day, week, month; disc, prints, album)

Pay attention to backgrounds, and be careful of horizons.

JDubya
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 14:43
Try to tell the story with your photos. In addition to what photogs_spouse said, get there early so you can capture the bride and groom/wedding party getting ready (makeup, hair, shoes, dress fixing, etc).

For the formals, mixing up the location helps make the album less monotonous. If you don't have much posing experience, have some ideas ahead of time as to how you want to pose everyone.

Just try to capture all the heartfelt moments (expressions, crying, hugging...). Be quick and get the shots before they notice--when people look at the camera it tends to kill the mood.

Good luck and have fun!

Bkolowski111
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 19:57
It's already kind of been said but.....under-promise over-deliver.

Ken Nielsen
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 23:16
Details- table settings if they are done, shoes, dress, cake(s), rings, flowers, wedding favors, invitation held by a member of wedding party is always a nice touch.

kiss, placing rings on fingers, bouquet and garter toss, cake cutting, any first dances are considered required shots by couple or older family. Assorted formal group photos may be as well.

Posing people at a formal event is always interesting.

For your own purposes, track your time and all expenses involving this gift. The couple need never know.

Be clear with the recipients when they will receive the images and what format. (same day, week, month; disc, prints, album)

Pay attention to backgrounds, and be careful of horizons.

All important advice and things to remember. Thank You photogs_spouse;- )

Ken Nielsen
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 23:18
Try to tell the story with your photos. In addition to what photogs_spouse said, get there early so you can capture the bride and groom/wedding party getting ready (makeup, hair, shoes, dress fixing, etc).

For the formals, mixing up the location helps make the album less monotonous. If you don't have much posing experience, have some ideas ahead of time as to how you want to pose everyone.

Just try to capture all the heartfelt moments (expressions, crying, hugging...). Be quick and get the shots before they notice--when people look at the camera it tends to kill the mood.

Good luck and have fun!

You sound like an expert at this, and I appreciate that expert advice. I will try my best, because what you are suggesting here will bring the story to life and that is probably the greatest thing you could do with wedding photos.

Thanks jDubya,

Ken

Ken Nielsen
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 23:19
It's already kind of been said but.....under-promise over-deliver.

More excellent input I welcome and thank you,

Ken

JDubya
4th of May 2010 (Tue), 23:36
You sound like an expert at this, and I appreciate that expert advice. I will try my best, because what you are suggesting here will bring the story to life and that is probably the greatest thing you could do with wedding photos.

Thanks jDubya,

Ken
haha thanks for the kind words. I'm still learning too though. I actually shot my first wedding just two days ago! But I did do a lot of research prior to it, and learned some things on the job.

Let us know how it goes :D

photogs_spouse
5th of May 2010 (Wed), 11:14
The story idea is good. If they or you put together an album, the whole assembly is much easier.

If you must choose between underexposure and over exposure, choose under. Can save more photos later in pp-ing. Spouse learned the hard way in worst light and clothing combination possible.

If there are small children, watch them too. They can be truly adorable when no one else is watching.

Make sure you have extra reserves of patience and a poker face. Weddings bring out the worst in strong emotions and snide comments with some aimed at you. Folks can and will "push your buttons".

Do visit the homeowner and learn the times decorators will be done, various wedding party members show up, etc before the day itself. There is only one of you, and you can only be in one spot at a given time.
ex: if cake arrives very early before bride and groom arrive and prep, get cake shots as soon as the baker adds the final touches.

No two weddings are ever identical, and something always goes wrong. Weather, decorations, timing, etc. Be prepared, smile and be calm.

Ken Nielsen
5th of May 2010 (Wed), 15:12
Folks can and will "push your buttons"...

Be prepared, smile and be calm.

Ha ha, this is going to be fun.

I imagine I can use my 'Lightroom' to publish the whole thing online for everyone to look at.

This is going to be a blast, I'm on the way out the door right now to spend money, trade in old inadequate lenses on a 17-55 f/2.8 nice glass that will probably take care of it all. I rented that and a 24-70 f/2.8 but for my 7D, this lens (17-55) should be 'just right' for a small wedding like this.

Thanks To All,

Ken

jmurph
5th of May 2010 (Wed), 15:54
That is some great advice DocMike

Red Tie Photography
5th of May 2010 (Wed), 17:06
This is probably the most helpful thread I have seen of this nature in a long time. Its nice when you have the OP that is willing to listen to suggestions and appreciates the help.

Ken Nielsen
6th of May 2010 (Thu), 11:10
This is probably the most helpful thread I have seen of this nature in a long time. Its nice when you have the OP that is willing to listen to suggestions and appreciates the help.

It always puzzles me that someone would ask for advice and then not listen or try to argue when offered the advice from experienced that he/she asked for. I will try not to be that stupid.

The comments given here are solid foundation responses that I need and will help make this session a success. That means, everyone at the wedding, along with me, owe everyone here a huge hug and thank you, just like you are participating in this special day for a wonderful young couple.

DocMike
6th of May 2010 (Thu), 12:39
That means, everyone at the wedding, along with me, owe everyone here a huge hug and thank you

Actually, all the thanks that we're looking for is to see the marvelous pictures that you're going to produce thanks to your effort put into this. So no keeping it to yourself! ;)

photogs_spouse
6th of May 2010 (Thu), 13:03
The comments given here are solid foundation responses that I need and will help make this session a success. That means, everyone at the wedding, along with me, owe everyone here a huge hug and thank you, just like you are participating in this special day for a wonderful young couple.
(smile) Post your photos afterward and share what you learned and perhaps a bit of your tracked costs. Unless you've gifted photos before, you never believe the true value until AFTER you've delivered the gift. You'll leave some knowledge and experience here for the next family member shooting a wedding as a gift. I can guarantee it will be the most expensive wedding gift the couple receives, whether they know it or not.

DocMike
6th of May 2010 (Thu), 13:16
Oh, one more thing for the thread in general-
I recently did a large engagement party (larger than most weddings I've been to) for a couple of friends of mine, free of charge, because I don't think I've developed enough skill to charge, just yet, and these are friends, after all. The work that I did, I considered amateur and not even up to my own standard level of shooting, given the conditions.

In the end, the couple and their families LOVED it. I put up a website / slideshow so that they could send the link to family members, and I gave the couple a CD of the final, processed, JPG images (again, all free of charge.) The moral of the story is, despite how much I tried to do a good job and how much the images weren't up to my own standards, they still loved them, and your friends will probably love yours, as well, given the painstaking effort that you're putting into it.

Ken Nielsen
6th of May 2010 (Thu), 13:26
I hear that $2,500.00 is a good starting point for a standard wedding with no frills. I will post images here - the date has been set for May 26th so the clock is winding down, and I am ready for it.

;- )

culturejam
8th of May 2010 (Sat), 21:20
I was in a similar situation about 18 months ago.

One of my best buds was getting married, and he asked me to be a groomsman. The wedding was set to be in his mom's back yard, and they re-landscaped the whole thing to make it very nice looking.

The day before I got on the plane to fly down for the wedding, he calls me. "Hey man, uh, are you like, still into photography and all that?" I knew right away I was on the hook as the wedding photographer. :)


Unfortunately, I had just sold all my good gear in order to fund some other purchases, so all I had left to shoot with was my 2003 DRebel and the original 18-55 kit lens. Oh, and it rained on the wedding day. :lol:

Still turned out great. The bride and groom were thrilled with the photos, and they loved getting all the files right away. I think I shot around 600 frames. I downloaded them all on to their laptop just before heading back to the airport. I told them I would do some editing on their favorite photos, but they said they liked them just as they are. *shrug*

So don't worry. You'll do fine. And the bride/groom will certainly enjoy their photos.