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Tips for wedding photos
Hi all..

I've been roped into doing the photography (for free!!)for my friends daughters wedding at the last minute - due to the original photographer dropping out unexpectedly!!.

I've got a list of who will be there from both sides of the family & have a very rough idea of who needs to be photographed when and with who etc etc, & I have also had a look round the registry office + grounds to get some ideas for general composition of shots after the ceremony..

I haven't owned a DSLR for long & 99.9% of my photos have been indoor shots of our son & baby daughter, our pets & a handful of wildlife shots whilst out walking the dog, so this task is a bit daunting at the moment!!!! The camera is a D40. I have the 18-55mm kit lens & a 55-200mm vr as well..

I would really appreciate some advice on setting my camera up for the outdoor shots to give me the best results possible & a fighting chance of capturing some good images + some tips on composing typical wedding photos if possible..

Many thanks in advance,.

Mick...

Comments (8)

How long until the wedding?.

At a minimum, I would suggest and extra body even if you have to borrow it, as well as a helper (your wife, a friend?)..

You're doing it for free so you can't be expected to purchase much equipment, I suppose, but you will need a decent strobe for fill flash and when the light dims. Minimum would be the SB600 or other brand. I'd get a good diffuser for the candids, like a Gary Fong light Sphere. Cost about $40..

I'd get a single light stand, a single silver umbrella and grip with a pc cable to connect. It doesn't have to be fancy. I'd set that up for the formal shots. Cost about $80. You might be able to get by just with the Gary Fong, but I doubt it..

Carry lots of memory and set the camera to burst. Take a lot of images. This is your first so you can delete the bad ones..

I suppose you own a good tripod..

Normally, I'd suggest a good wedding lens, but they're expensive, so you'll just have to do with what you have. Most of your shots will be with the 18-55..

Visit some wedding photographer's sites and check out the most common "must have" poses. Write them down in a notepad so you can check them off. You might also go to the site and do some trial shots with some friends at the time of day that the wedding will be so you can consider light. It's awful to get there and find out that you're going to have the sun right in your face from your possition facing the wedding couple. Ministers like to have their back to the sun in outdoor wedding..

I really don't like weddings, so never do them unless I'm roped into it. One of my step-daughters has been roped into one in Denver, almost 2000 miles from me this July. She's only got a Canon XT and two kits like you. I just shipped her a diffuser and a good flash, but guess who will probably end up flying out with all his equipment and some lightweight studio lighting? Daddy to the rescue as assistant photographer, but not liking it at all. I'll carry a D300, D200, SB800 strobe, SB600 strobe, 3 pocket wizards and two 9' stands with shoot through and silver bounce umbrellas. Also a laptop for storage and review in the hotel after.

A compact will be in my pocket, and I'm a total amatuer. Weddings are tough. I'm scared to death of them..

Just my opinion. I've only been roped into around 10 weddings in my 45 years of amatuer photography. Good luck...

Comment #1

Wrote the following for another person who was talking about shooting a wedding.i realize there are many pros who are wedding phtographers, so ignore this..

Many yrs ago I shot 2 weddings; one for a friend and one for my brother in law. afterwards I made myself a promise that I have kept: NEVER AGAIN.if you must-.

-do your research. there are plenty of web sites available. find out what scenes EXACTLY to shoot and what to shoot it with. make yourself a list of expected shots and take it with you. make it in order of the shots..

-for the bride and groom, especially the bride, this is their day. the once in a lifetime event. you cannot look at this as just another day for to take pictures and have fun with a hobby. weddings are extremely serious business and the pressure is on the photographer to DELIVER. there are no excuses for poor or not gotten shots at a wedding for the photographer..

-check out the church and check out the reception hall. this means go to them. can you use flash in the church? ASK the minister without fail before the ceremony starts, preferably when you check out the church. are you supposed to be at the brides home BEFORE everything on wedding day for pictures? which pictures,of who, are they going to be there,who tells them to be there? I was for one of my weddings. my day started at 5:00am and I didn't leave the reception till past 2:00am. it was almost 24hrs on my feet.

At wedding and reception, pop or water only. you will be the soberest one there. your job is to produce pictures nothing else. what shots are needed at every place? of who are the shots at everyplace needed? where are these people? you are going to tell/ask anyone that you need after the ceremony to remain? if you do not ask them, who is?.

-get a external flash, as big as you can buy. also brackets,cables, more batteries(if flash takes extra), any other needed accesories. you do have more than one camera battery, right? and charger? do you need a12volt charger as well???-again. read. research so you know everything about taking wedding pics.-after reading. do you need any more lenses? what kind, what size, what fstop?.

- memory cards. do you have enough gb? if no, buy major brands only. do not take a chance on any great deals on memory cards. if you have el chepo cards do not use them, replace them. in all respects this is when you go with the best and most dependable equipment you can find.- consider a backup dslr. if you do not have one-buy, rent, borrow..

-you mentioned setting up your tripod and taking many pics with it. do you absolutely have permission of the priest/vicar to use a tripod at that location. do not assume. also the same question about flash in the church..

-find some way to talk the couple into using a wedding pro. this couple may not be your friends AFTER the wedding.try this web site-.

[URL is in our block list, either at the request of the site or due to spam]...ing-photo-tips-for-amateurs.htmlalso try this. it is a pdf file, 79 pages.http://www.aljacobs.com/NEW%20WEDDING.pdf.

You should read the following web site. very interesting.http://tips.romanzolin.com/articles/article006.php.

Where do wedding photographers learn their trade???.

By being an assistant to a PRO wedding photographer. do it without fee if you have to but get the experience.- and very lastly. THE VERY VERY BEST OF LUCK. you will need it..

Gary.

Another reply-.

At the wedding I was referring to I was in the house with the brides and all the bridesmaids at 7:40am, having arrived 10min earlier. at the reception I was shooting till about 2am when the bride/groom finally left. that ended up at just under 18hrs shooting. when I did this it was with film, not digital..

Though I have been asked, the one thing I learned was never again. the 2 weddings were done gratis, no fee, that was the wedding present..

If you want to do more weddings I suggest glen johnson's book "digital wedding photography". not cheap, but well worth it. I have read it, and my conclusion is anybody who reads the book will never do a wedding. he simply tells what you have to do to photograph a wedding...

Comment #2

Hi. Thankyou for the replies..

The wedding is this Friday (said it was short notice!!!!)..

I've got 8gb of memory, a good tripod, a laptop with camera control pro, capture nx & CS3 installed on it and I can borrow my friends rebel+lenses as a backup (just in case of a disaster with the D40). I've also ordered a couple of spare batteries today. I already have an sb600 flash unit but haven't played with at all so it might be better to leave it in it's case or I'll probably screw every shot up with it!!! I can't warrant purchasing light stands, umbrellas & cables etc at the moment as I haven't got spare cash to hand. If I was getting payed for this daunting task then I might have considered it!!.

I plan to do any indoor candid shots using the built in flash if needed as it has always produced acceptable results around the house in poor light etc. Any shots of the ceremony will be pretty much the same. It isn't a fancy church affair but a registry office, & if I remember rightly (I got married at the same place!!) then the room uses a mixture of tungsten & fluorescent lighting so I don't think the results are going to be brilliant regardless of equipment used. For the formal "after wedding ceremony" shots I intend to use the camera on the tripod & have it connected to the laptop so I can view results "on the fly" & hopefully prevent a disaster before it occurs. Providing the weather is reasonable then the light shouldn't be a problem. I went there this morning and took some random shots of the garden area where the formals will be done and they all turned out well..

I have a couple of questions that are still playing on my mind!! Will I benefit from shooting everything in RAW or should I just stick to high qual. jpegs? I'm reasonably fluent in working with RAW files in CS3 & think that any poor shots will stand a better chance of being rescued from the recycle bin in this format as opposed to jpegs. Also, what settings would I be best to use for the formal shots? (i.e. fastest possible shutter speeds or largest possible aperture). The camera spends most of it's time left in aperture priority mode with auto white balance, matrix metering, automatic AF and ISO200. Can you reccommend any specific setups or will this "do the job"?.

Thanking you again in advance,.

Mick...

Comment #3

At least get the SB600 out and put a diffuser on it. Aim it straight up most of the time...

Comment #4

"I have a couple of questions that are still playing on my mind!! Will I benefit from shooting everything in RAW or should I just stick to high qual. jpegs? I'm reasonably fluent in working with RAW files in CS3 & think that any poor shots will stand a better chance of being rescued from the recycle bin in this format as opposed to jpegs. Also, what settings would I be best to use for the formal shots? (i.e. fastest possible shutter speeds or largest possible aperture). The camera spends most of it's time left in aperture priority mode with auto white balance, matrix metering, automatic AF and ISO200. Can you reccommend any specific setups or will this "do the job"?".

Comments-.

You do not have much time, so I will be blunt. try to practice with your flash, you will need it. there are toom many candids at the wedding reception that require more light. and they are not posed shots. but if cannot get it to work, do not use it. it is better to go with what you know, than totally miss a shot..

The one pose you should try for is the bride and dad walking down the isle. it is very hard to get though. since it has to be done on the fly, with no retakes..

On raw vs jpeg. it depends on you. what is your % of good well exposed shot that do not need ant further pp work except for sharpening? mine is at least 95% in all cases.so I can get away with shooting jpeg. my shots are coming in from the field in good shape. but if yours are not and you good % if nothing like mine, and you normally have a much lower success rate with the your field work. then you have to go raw, this is because the raw workpflow gives you a far better chance later to adjust anything in the pc..

For weddings there are no retakes, YOU HAVE TO GET IT RIGHT AS YOU SHOOT, or have a 100% chance of fixing the image to right in pp. raw gives you this chance. try to set your camera settings so that get a good pic in the as shot mode. this means that when you open in nx the as shot hopefully will look good..

Also, your camera should have been already setup to shoot qulity jpegs. if you never did this, then definately go raw. it took me 2 1/2 hrs to setup my dslr to shoot good jpegs. it not some thing you do on the day of the shoot..

As for settings for your shots, it is going to depend on your lighting conditions. figure on a bottom shutter speed of 1/60 and a fstop of 5.6 or smaller(for DOF)..

If needed do not hesatate to up the iso to 800 for better settings. if noisy you can always use a noise reduction program later, like noise ninja..

BUT AT A WEDDING, THE BIG BIG RULE IS TO GET THE SHOT. THERE ARE NO RETAKES...

Comment #5

I have a couple of questions that are still playing on my mind!! WillI benefit from shooting everything in RAW or should I just stick tohigh qual. jpegs? I'm reasonably fluent in working with RAW files inCS3 & think that any poor shots will stand a better chance of beingrescued from the recycle bin in this format as opposed to jpegs.Also, what settings would I be best to use for the formal shots?(i.e. fastest possible shutter speeds or largest possible aperture).The camera spends most of it's time left in aperture priority modewith auto white balance, matrix metering, automatic AF and ISO200.Can you reccommend any specific setups or will this "do the job"?.

As Gary points out above, if you are careful with exposure you can get good out of the camera jpegs which require minimalpost-processing. BUT, and it's a big but, this is a once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully!) event and RAW gives you much more scope to rescue pictures if you don't get it quite right. Yes, it's a crutch, but if you need it, you need it....

Exposure is *particularly* an issue with wedding photos because of the preponderance of white dresses and black suits... If you set your camera to auto, zoom in on the bride with her white dress, and take a pic... it will of course be badly underexposed because the meter is fooled by the large expanse of whiteness, and you lose shadow detail. Conversely a group of men in tuxedos (mostly black) will fool the camera into overexposing and you will burn out the highlights. if you are very confident with manual exposure, or using different amounts of exposure compensation from experience to take account of this issue, it's not a problem... otherwise shoot RAW so you can adjust those little sliders afterwards and get the detail in the white dress and the tuxedos just right.



So shoot RAW!.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #6

Most important by far: Use the SB-600. Practice with it. Get 2 sets of NIMH batteries and 2 sets of alkalines as backup..

Learn how to read the histogram when reviewing your shots. Learn how to zoom in on the LCD to confirm focus when reviewing. Forget the laptop..

Shoot RAW for formals, highest quality jpg for candids (faster)..

Skip the tripod. Review your shots on the LCD, using the histogram..

Don't be afraid to jack up ISO to 800 when needed. If you don't want to change it as you go, leave it on 320..

Set the focus to AF-S. Pay attention to the focus-confirmation light..

Designate a sober, responsible person to help you corral your subjects so you can concentrate on the photography..

Mick_gtir wrote:.

Hi. Thankyou for the replies..

The wedding is this Friday (said it was short notice!!!!)..

I've got 8gb of memory, a good tripod, a laptop with camera controlpro, capture nx & CS3 installed on it and I can borrow my friendsrebel+lenses as a backup (just in case of a disaster with the D40).I've also ordered a couple of spare batteries today. I already havean sb600 flash unit but haven't played with at all so it might bebetter to leave it in it's case or I'll probably screw every shot upwith it!!! I can't warrant purchasing light stands, umbrellas &cables etc at the moment as I haven't got spare cash to hand. If Iwas getting payed for this daunting task then I might have consideredit!!.

I plan to do any indoor candid shots using the built in flash ifneeded as it has always produced acceptable results around the housein poor light etc. Any shots of the ceremony will be pretty much thesame. It isn't a fancy church affair but a registry office, & if Iremember rightly (I got married at the same place!!) then the roomuses a mixture of tungsten & fluorescent lighting so I don't thinkthe results are going to be brilliant regardless of equipment used.For the formal "after wedding ceremony" shots I intend to use thecamera on the tripod & have it connected to the laptop so I can viewresults "on the fly" & hopefully prevent a disaster before it occurs.Providing the weather is reasonable then the light shouldn't be aproblem. I went there this morning and took some random shots of thegarden area where the formals will be done and they all turned outwell..

I have a couple of questions that are still playing on my mind!! WillI benefit from shooting everything in RAW or should I just stick tohigh qual. jpegs? I'm reasonably fluent in working with RAW files inCS3 & think that any poor shots will stand a better chance of beingrescued from the recycle bin in this format as opposed to jpegs.Also, what settings would I be best to use for the formal shots?(i.e. fastest possible shutter speeds or largest possible aperture).The camera spends most of it's time left in aperture priority modewith auto white balance, matrix metering, automatic AF and ISO200.Can you reccommend any specific setups or will this "do the job"?.

Thanking you again in advance,.

Mick...

Comment #7

Oops, meant to say set focus on AF-C. That tracks focus on moving subjects and doesn't lock the shutter waiting for it...

Comment #8

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