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shnelson

need help! (wedding)

17 posts in this topic

Before I introduce you to my problem, let me first give you some background on myself -

I consider myself an amateur-hobbyist photographer at best, with a very generalized passion towards taking pictures of a wide variety of things. The thoughts echoing in my mind that drive every shutter click have the intent of only me enjoying the finished product, with very minimal consideration that somebody else might take a liking to it. I guess you could consider me a selfish photographer, but that's only because I don't have the expectation for other people to enjoy my work.

The only subjects I have experience with shooting at this point are landscapes and very minimal wildlife. Throw a few domesticated pets in there and some candid family portraits and you've got my entire portfolio summed up. I'm familiar with the fundamentals of photography, but I don't have the ability to instinctively apply them yet. My equipment consists of a canon 30d w/kit lens and a tamron 55-200mm. No snazzy flash/remotes/tripods etc. My camera bag consists of a modified & gutted out camelback backpack (water bladder taken out of course!).

Now don't get me wrong here, deep down inside I have a slight desire to become the professional hobbyist that isn't afraid to show his prints, but I feel like i'm a couple hundred thousand clicks away from considering what that title entails (and probably some hefty investment in equipment!). I'm just not there yet, and expected to take a laid back approach to furthering my expertise (and by that I mean hours and hours of browsing these forums and gaining powerful insight from the very talented individuals that are generous enough to share it). This approach has been accelerated somewhat, as a friend of mine has asked me to photograph their wedding based on the photos of mine that they have seen.

Of course I was flattered at first, but then the fear set in. I've now got the expectation to produce professional results, as this is by far the most important day in anybody's life. I have refused the request multiple times, but I'm now learning that their original photographer bailed and they can't afford to pay for professional services (this works even better for them because I would refuse payment for my services). The end negotiation was for a hotel room, and that they have no expectations for the outcome. Sounds good on paper, but I'm still afraid they're investing too much confidence in my ability...

So there's my situation in a nutshell, sorry for the long read and thanks to anyone that made it through! I'm in desperate need of help in how a wedding photoshoot should be approached. I'm assuming I may need to get a hold of a better flash and probably lens (my next purchase was going to be a nifty-fifty, is this applicable to this type of shoot?). If anyone has a quick guide or helpful advice in this area it would be greatly appreciated!

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I've never shot a wedding, but one piece of advice I see given a lot is to make a list of the shots that you need to do. this should be a list devised by both you and the wedding couple. Bring that list to the wedding(actually multiple copies) and give one to the best man or usher so that they can help you organize people for each photo. As you go along, check off each photo. This way you don't forget to get the photo of the groom and his grandparents or whatever.

A different flash will most likely be a necessity. Flashes have a large learning curve, however, so beware of that.

The nifty fifty should be a good lens if you have room to zoom with your feet in case it's to loose or too tight.

One piece of advice that I have been trying to follow with portraits is to shoot loose to allow for cropping into different sizes.

Hope this helps,although I'm sure others with far more experience will chime in, possibly with completely different ideas. smile

Good Luck

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I'm on the road right now and don't have time to reply substantively until I get back tomorrow night, but if you let us know when the wedding is we'll know whether you need emergency advice or if there's time to digest it all. smilesmile

Also, which parts of the wedding are indoors or outdoors?

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There are a lot of books available specifically on Wedding Photography. You would do yourself and your clients a big favor by reading a couple beforehand (The sooner the better). They will cover the equipment needs, do's and don'ts, provide checklists, etc.

The best advice would be to shoot in RAW and become proficient in Photoshop and/or Lightroom. That way you'll have some latitude to make adjustments and be creative.

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The advice given so far my seem pretty minimal, but it's already helped me tremendously so I thank you for your responses!

The wedding will be completely outdoors sometime this summer (July?? the date slipped my mind for the moment) so I've got some time to get my research and practice in. There may be an indoor rehearsal/dinner that I'd try to get some shots in at as well.

I'm hitting the bookstore this weekend to see what literature I can dig up, I'm hoping to get a hold of one that can hold my attention =].

Please keep them coming, I look forward to any and all responses. Also, if anyone has a recommendation for some shooting exercises I should consider, I am open for suggestion here as well.

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Some of my favorite books are by Scott Kelby. He's an excellent photographer and writer. I'm not sure if he has any "wedding" books but he writes in a way to keep it light and humorous yet very educational.

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OK, that gives us some time, so no prob there. smilesmile

First, wedding days can be stressful days, so even if you feel a little stress, be low key, happy, friendly and supportive. A photographer who is sincere, friendly and upbeat, and who removes stress from a stressful situation, is a welcome wedding companion.

As already mentioned a "shot list" is a very good idea so you feel comfortable and confident you've got everything they're going to want.

It'll help that they are friends and you don't need to get to know them in a hurry.

I do the posed work either before the ceremony or after, and sometimes both. Just depends on how the time looks. If it's a traditional wedding in which the bride/groom don't see each other before the bride walks down the aisle, I like to do the posed work with the groom and his groomsmen before the ceremony, then scoot them away and do the same with the bride's party, then shooting the rest of the posed work between the ceremony and reception. But it depends on the couple. Some couples are so nervous and tense that posed work before the ceremony can look stiff and unnatural no matter how good you are at putting people at ease, and in those cases I like to do it all after the ceremony, when the tension has been released and the fun begins. The flipside is that, particularly with the women, the tears of the ceremony can wreak havoc on makeup. It's six of one, half dozen of the other. You find out which you think will work best by meeting with the couple and planning the day.

It's nice you are doing the wedding outdoors, because you don't have to worry about high iso settings and fast enough lenses for indoor candid photos during the ceremony, and your lenses will work just fine for the outdoor setting. The telephoto zoom should be plenty long for you to get some nice candid images of the bride/groom, the party and the spectators without having to stand too close, and that's a big plus in candid photo situations. If you're out of someone's personal space, pretty soon they'll forget you are there and will start acting natural again, and that's when you want to take your candid pictures.

I'd strongly suggest you have enough batteries and memory cards for backup, even if that means spending a bit of money. Same thing with a spare body. Even though they have no expectations, these photographs will last the couple and their families/friends their whole lives, so it's best to maximize your likelihood of success. See if you can find a friend with another Canon body (if your lone body fails at the wrong time, you are done). You can keep the wide zoom on one and the telephoto on the other and have both ready at all times. Barring that, rental of a body for a day or a weekend isn't very expensive around the Twin Cities. And even though the couple can't afford a pro wedding photog, they might very happily pay a bit more than the hotel room for your expenses.

I'd also suggest searching for and looking at other wedding photographers' Web sites. The more variety you see, the more you'll have to draw from when it comes to the wedding day.

And don't be afraid to go to a park and practice taking photographs of people moving around and being themselves. If you're not comfortable doing that with strangers, bring a few friends and have them do normal park-type stuff and photograph them doing it. That's the best kind of practice for candid wedding day photographs. And, lastly, put yourself in the bride's/groom's shoes and ask how you'd like your own wedding photographs to look.

Any more questions, just ask. smilesmile

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If you are invited to any other wedddings prior to this one, get there early and take notes on the photographers movements and organizational patterns.

If you're not invited to any prior weddings...become a WEDDING CRASHER. I've always wanted to do that. Who are you? OH, I'm the son of your great uncle Eddy...they tell me the last time we saw each other was when we were four. (In my case, I would have to be great uncle Eddy.) Or tell them you're the photographer's assistant...

You need to be prepared but have fun!

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I was asked to shoot my neices wedding back in February, and I was honored as you said when she asked, then terrified!! but it went off without a problem and they were thrilled with the images I captured,, I read lots, bought an external flash,, and practiced, practiced, practiced!!

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Digging up an old topic here, but I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that responded again. Steve, your short article was especially helpful for me!

The shoot was back in September, but it still feels like yesterday. For me, the day was very stressful and nerve racking - I was told to show up and just take pictures, but when I arrived I realized they were looking for a lot of coordination to get assorted family poses in before the wedding started. Top that hefty request off with some unforgiving rain and irritated relatives you can get an idea of how I felt smile. If it wasn't for the groom's step mom and sister, I would have been up a creek and not very happy!

The photos turned out OK, when I went back through to edit them I was very embarrassed of some of the simplest mistakes I made. First oops was not shooting in raw, I did not spring for an aftermarket flash rental as I didn't feel comfortable trying to learn it on the fly so I stuck with what I knew. Raw definitely would have helped with some exposure correction!

I did get a lot of compliments on the finished photos, the bride was also happy (irritated at the same time) to tell me that the rep @ the local photo shop would not allow her to reprint her 'professional' photos due to copyright - it was a nice confidence boost!

Here's a couple of my favorite shots, I don't have a photo release otherwise i'd be posting some with actual people in them. They aren't much, but c&c are greatly appreciated. Again, I'd like to thank all of you for your valuable input and helping me get through this day!

IMG_3039_web.jpg

IMG_3006_web.jpg

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Digging up an old topic here, but I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that responded again. Steve, your short article was especially helpful for me!

The shoot was back in September, but it still feels like yesterday. For me, the day was very stressful and nerve racking - I was told to show up and just take pictures, but when I arrived I realized they were looking for a lot of coordination to get assorted family poses in before the wedding started. Top that hefty request off with some unforgiving rain and irritated relatives you can get an idea of how I felt smile. If it wasn't for the groom's step mom and sister, I would have been up a creek and not very happy!

The photos turned out OK, when I went back through to edit them I was very embarrassed of some of the simplest mistakes I made. First oops was not shooting in raw, I did not spring for an aftermarket flash rental as I didn't feel comfortable trying to learn it on the fly so I stuck with what I knew. Raw definitely would have helped with some exposure correction!

I did get a lot of compliments on the finished photos, the bride was also happy (irritated at the same time) to tell me that the rep @ the local photo shop would not allow her to reprint her 'professional' photos due to copyright - it was a nice confidence boost!

Here's a couple of my favorite shots, I don't have a photo release otherwise i'd be posting some with actual people in them. They aren't much, but c&c are greatly appreciated. Again, I'd like to thank all of you for your valuable input and helping me get through this day!

IMG_3039_web.jpg

IMG_3006_web.jpg

Glad you got some good advice, and glad it worked out for you.

If you use Photoshop CS3 or later, you can shoot Jpeg and still use the raw preview screen to alter jpegs in the same way you could only alter raw with CS2 or previous versions.

As for the clients not being able to make prints from the CD/DVD at a big box or photo store . . . well . . . that's a VERY simple matter. All my clients get a signed legal release allowing them to make as many prints or copies of the CD/DVD as they want to and to distribute them at their discretion, as long as it is not a for-profit venture.

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I like those two detail shots. Looks like you're off to a promising start.

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Sorry I did not catch this request earlier, but I'm just going to offer a little professional critique.

The shoe shot is a really great composition, with some natural light, however the ring is turned the wrong direction. The white balance is off and should be adjusted to bring out the white a little more. You have to overexpose your shots when there is all white. I also would have cropped the bottom off just a little to keep with the rule of thirds.

Ok in the second photo I would have turned the camera to remove the window glares, but still keeping the hallway in the frame. Then instead of turning your aperture down all the way I would have actually turned it up a little to give the focus on the Red arrangement but the focus would have extended the back of it instead of the front. This is mainly because it brings meaning to the rest of the photo instead of only the first 1/3 of it. Really the rest of the frame is useless and meaningless in that frame.

Now I will say you have a great eye for captureing compositions. This is a major plus and with a little more practice you will think about just the minor details that i've mentioned to make for a really exceptional shot. If you really want to do this more often I would suggest taking a photography class so that you can get critiqued by other photographers, because it really helps you think outside your own self. I hope you don't take this all the wrong way, I just am trying to help you improve. Overall for being nervous and your first wedding I would say they got a great deal and good job!

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Twistersock - thank you for the quick writeup. The little bit you mentioned makes a lot of sense to me, and I can see what you are describing in the pictures. The second photo is actually a bridge that the couple got married on, what looks like window glare is actually lake superior.

I forgot to mention in my other post, wedding photography is probably something I will not pursue. I had my taste of it, and it is definitely not my cup of tea! I did gain a great level of respect for you photographers that do it as a career, and will be even more thankful for the results my photographer gives us when we get married in august!

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however the ring is turned the wrong direction

Please explain this. I didn't realize there was a right or wrong direction. I would have thought the diamond facing away would be the "wrong" direction.

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Ok after looking closer it is the correct way, just gives the optical illusion of facing away inside the mans wedding band. To eliminate that you can lay them in an eternity style, or tie lace or some other fabric onto the diamond ring itself. Its really not recommended to place the rings inside another unless the diamond size can overcome it.

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Your welcome! I think you did a great job for your first time and I know how much pressure it is. Its not exactly like if it doesn't work to be able to repeat the day over again. So congrats on getting through it! Wish we could see more of the shots. I would encourage you to do more of them if you love photography, just cause its one of my favorite moments to photograph, because of the colors and candid moments. It gets boring sometimes having too much control over a scene, such as model shots, or nature. Weddings really make you think and act on areas that you usually wouldn't encounter on purpose.

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