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Old 16-11-2006, 15:20   #1 (permalink)
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Wedding Photography - advice sought

I've been asked by a mate if I'd mind photographing his wedding in a couple of weeks time. Being a relative newcomer to photography I'm unsure of the best way of capturing the happy couples special day. It is going to be a registry wedding.

I have been to a few weddings where the photograher usually comes armed with at least two camera's, each used independently, depending on the type of shot being taken. I don't have two camera's but I do have a Nikon D80 and 3 decent lenses in my arsenal. They are -
Nikon 18-70mm AF Lens
Nikon 55-200mm AF Lens
Nikon 24-120mm AF VR Lens
What I'd like to do is use the D80 and just one lens rather than keep swapping them around. I think I'd probably be ok with the 24-120mm lens for usual wedding type poses but this is where I hope somebody will either agree or disagree with me.

Would I be right in thinking that I'll need to use a flash for most of the pictures? I do have a Nikon SB-28 Speedlight with diffuser which I suppose I should use. Does a diffuser make any difference to the pictures or should I not bother with it?

Would a tripod be recommended for the group type photos?

I'm not too worried about the printing out of the pictures as I have a decent A4 photo printer and am pretty confident with that side of things.

Apologies if this subject matter has been broached before but as a newcomer I want to make sure I get it right on the day. There won't be any second chances.

Any help will be really appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Les
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Old 16-11-2006, 15:33   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

Hi Les,

The lens you have chosen is probably the one you would want out of your three if you don't want to be changing lenses a lot during the day though you might find the 18-70mm better for wide group shots. The 24mm is only a 36mm with the 1.5x factor built in, not much of a wide angle lens and you may well need that.

My feeling is that you will probably need the wider end more than you will need the telephoto end but a lot depends on the venue, how close you can get to the couple, whether they want close-up shots of the exchanging of rings and so forth.

In regards the lighting, you are almost certain to need the flashgun for inside the church and I would DEFINITELY recommend the diffuser, it can make a huge difference to avoiding bunrt out hotspots on faces, especially if the bride or groom is a bit nervous and is sweating a bit (male) or glowing a bit (female!).

Tripod is an absolute must. Yes, on a bright day you will be able to hand hold a lot of shots BUT you are wanting pin sharp photos here, no room for soft focusing except deliberately to get romantic shots of the couple. With group shots you need sharpness from front to back so will be looking for f11 or thereabouts to get the depth of field necessary. That will mean slower shots. I know this might sound funny but I promise it is true: if you are hand-holding, the people tend to move more than if you are solidly still using a tripod. It is a psychological thing that if you waiver slightly, your subject is apt to do the same. A tripod also looks a lot more professional.

I must say, I think I would have your telephoto lens on hand, even if it is just in your car, just in case you need it. Better to have it and not use it than to leave it at home and need it! Being able to back-off a bit and get candid shots of guests at the reception is very valuable.

Ok, I think I have answered the questions you asked. Other people might have different ideas too but I hope these have been helfpul.

Cheers and all the best with the wedding.

Rob
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Old 16-11-2006, 16:44   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

First off, you're mad. Weddings are the hardest gig in photography. You basically have no control of either the light or the subjects, yet are expected to produce studio quality work. People, naturally, take the whole thing very seriously and can get quite upset if something isn't as they planned. I would make sure the couple aren't expecting too much from you. A nice camera is not enough. Proper wedding photographers charge a lot, yet aren't over-paid.

I'd be a little surprised if you can use the flash in the church. I get the impression this is fairly uncommon, though it's up the individual church/vicar, so have a work before hand.

A tip would be to go along to the church on another day at about the same time and check everything out. Ideally bring someone along to act as a model and basically reherse the whole thing, where you'll stand, etc etc. Take pictures during all of this to get a much better idea of what works and what doesn't.

Write down all the formal shots you want to take, and exactly who is to be in every shot to make sure you don't miss anyone. Ideally, have someone else there to round people up.

Make sure the couple aren't expecting too much from you. I can't stress that enough.
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Old 16-11-2006, 17:14   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

[QUOTE=Liam O'Neill;91818]



A tip would be to go along to the church on another day at about the same time and check everything out. Ideally bring someone along to act as a model and basically reherse the whole thing, where you'll stand, etc etc. Take pictures during all of this to get a much better idea of what works and what doesn't.

QUOTE]

Seems like an excellent idea.

If I were in your position I'd certainly have a chat with the couple if poss to try and get some idea of what sort of shots they were thinking of.

Jeff
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Old 16-11-2006, 18:04   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

I hate to be the scare monger but what happens if your camera develops a fault during the wedding shoot?

Please have a backup ready or at least get something agreed with the bride/groom that if it happens their is no comeback on yourself.
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Old 18-11-2006, 13:19   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

I agree with ecery word that Liam said. What you have not said is if you are supplementry to the official photographer, or are the official photographer. If you are, are you charging for your service? It will be worth taking out insurance to cover the event of total loss of the photos (and the loss of the happy couples' memories of the day) for any reason.

You also may have to use the flash for the outside shots if the light lets you down, so is your flash up to the job of lighting the group shots?

I'd make up a list of the 'standard' wedding shots that are pretty much expected, as well as any specifially requested by the couple.

If you are going to do informal shots at the reception and/or evening, make sure you balance up the relatives from both sides and don't end up with favourite Aunt Ethel not being featured somewhere.

Take an assistant who can hold the umberella for you.
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Old 18-11-2006, 15:42   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

Possibly look into hiring a D70 for the day with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. That way you have a 2nd body as backup, plus can shoot in low light (eg. possibl;y indoors) due to the speed of the lens.

I think your idea of lens to use on single body is correct as the VR will help in low light. An alternative to worrying about tripod, is to discuss with the bride & groom a more relaxes shooting on the day (eg "reportage" style) . Do a search for example offerings & share the concept with them....it could take a lot of pressure off you on the day
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Old 18-11-2006, 16:21   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

VR won't help with taking picture of people though, as they move, and VR does nothing for subject movement, only camera shake.
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Old 18-11-2006, 16:32   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

If you are committed to do this? my advice is get at least one more photographic type person to help.
If it goes wrong, it will really go wrong.
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Old 18-11-2006, 17:45   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam O'Neill View Post
VR won't help with taking picture of people though, as they move, and VR does nothing for subject movement, only camera shake.
Quite correct, although you would hope with group shots they would stay relatively still. Still beneficial over lens without VR though, if not using tripod
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Old 19-11-2006, 15:31   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

One of the great beauties about digital is the option to use a bit of a picture in another so when taking group shots, take at least two (I always do three) of every group. That pretty much guaranttes if someone blinks, yawns, speaks, etc. you can easily cut out their face from another pic and paste it in. It's very impressive when you turn up with pictures of 30 people in a shot and everyone of them is smiling :o)

BTW, if you are going to take out insurance against a bad shoot, remember a couple of things: Add it to the bill or you'll eat away a lot of your profits. To get insurance, you will usually have to cost the shoot so work out how much you are charging. There are two types of signed indemnity you can use for weddings that will avoid the extortionate cost of insurance: the first is an indemnity that cannot pay out more than the amount paid, the other is an indemnity all together if this is for a family member or close friend. No matter how close you are before the wedding, get them to sign it or you won't be close friends afterwards if it all goes pear-shaped!

If working digitally, you have protection if you follow a couple of simple rules: always have a form of instant back-up. I have an Epson P2000 which i can copy a memory card across to and view pictures on at a decent size. I also have a laptop which I can make a second copy to if I am feeling particularly paranoid. Review your pictures for sharpness and idiots sticking two fingers up or doing 'bunny ears' over the bride's head. You won't notice at the time but they can be a sod to remove later!

If you have either or both of these, you won't need to worry so much about expensive insurance. You will also have more confidence AND some pictues to show the bride and groom at the reception. Why would you do that? Simple... there is nothing worse than the poor couple going off on honeymoon and not knowing until they get back whether the photos have come out ok. This is the day they have been planning and looking forward to for ages and want to treasure for the rest of their lives and the photos are always a worry so put their minds at rest by letting them see just a couple of the best ones.

And one BIG hint: NEVER, EVER, EVER say 'Say cheese!' or any other word for that matter. There is no word that looks like a smile all the way through it and people don't always hold the 'eeeee' bit. It is far better to simply say to everyone 'Now, you're going to be part of a treasured memory for this lovely couple so.... look this way please and smile!'

Before starting the group photos I always tell the friends and relatives how I work which is: 'Ladies and gentlemen, I know that you want lovely photos to take away yourself so what I shall do is this: I will get the groups looking just right, I'll ask for their full attention so I can take two or three good shots, then I shall step out of the way and you can all take pictures if you want to before I move on.' That is far less hassle than constantly having to wait because the people in the group keep on looking in different directions because their friend is holding your camera and trying to get a shot of them. The worst thing in a picture is when the subjects are all looking in different directions.

Encourage the subjects to please not talk because 'I've never yet taken a lovely smiling picture of people talking and the results are usually dead embarrassing for you!'

Other useful things to say are:
'If you can't see the camera, then the camera can't see you so please make sure we can see your whole face.'
'Madam, your hat is covering those lovely eyes. Could you just lift it a touch? Thanks!'

A couple of things perhaps not appropriate at the time even if you think them:
'Madam, your arse looks huge in that, I suggest you stand behind the bride and groom to cover it up!'
'Now then sonny, do that again and you'll be in the wedding photos with two black eyes and a nose-bleed!'
'Sir, if you must grin like a Cheshire cat, may I recommend removing the spinach between your two front teeth?'
'Bride's Uncle Harry, I know you FEEL merry after polishing off 8 lagers before and during the service but trust me, you don't look merry, you look a prat!' - especially if said Harry is bigger than you!

There you go, some useful hints and tips that will maybe not help the entire shoot go perfectly but will hopefully prevent you getting sued at the end of it

Have fun, enjoy the day and make sure you charge a realistic but not too cheap price. It is HARD work and takes a LOT of extra hours after the wedding to sort through them all and get them ready for final proofing and printing.

Every wedding pro I know can give you a thousand hints but common sense handles most of them. PLAN your shoot and you will be fine. I do recommend a person who can assist, even if just to be two extra hands for holding, carrying, etc.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 20-11-2006, 09:44   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

I'd like to thank everybody who has contributed to this thread. I now know loads more and feel confident enough to do this shoot using the hints and tips you all have been kind enough to share.
The happy couple are not expecting miracles as they are friends of mine.
They are just happy to have a small momento of their wedding day here in the UK.
This part of their wedding will be in registry office more a blessing really (that's were I do my bit). Their 'proper' wedding will be on a white sandy beach somewhere in Mauritius a couple of days later. I've not been invited to shoot that one.

I'll post some examples of the registry photo's, once their married, for critique.

Once again, thanks to all those who imparted some of their wisdom regarding wedding photography.

I do love this forum, so many unknown people willing to help others with the same passion for photography.

Cheers

Les
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Old 20-11-2006, 10:30   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

Good luck, Les.
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Old 22-11-2006, 07:48   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Wedding Photography - advice sought

Good luck from me too.

I'll look forward to seeing a few of the shots

I think if it were me I would perhaps push/hint that they require you for the Mauritius part of the wedding too (all expenses paid off course)
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