Advice for shooting a wedding/live streaming photos from camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by catfish743, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. catfish743 macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2007
    It's been a while since I've posted on the Macrumor's Photography forums but I am seeking some advice.

    My cousin railroaded erhm I meant requested that I shoot her wedding. I've done plenty of photography work for friends in the past, low key headshot photo shoots and I've even worked at Keeneland Horseracing Track in Kentucky (I specified because not everyone knows what Keeneland is) going on three meets now as an assistant to the Track Photographer, taking scenic shots and photographing one angle at the finish line. I also studied Studio Art and photography in college and have had my own show in the Lexington, Ky's Mayor's office during Gallery Hop revolving around a grant project I did at Transy. However, this is the first time I'm actually going to shoot a prolonged event, by myself (or possibly with another friend of mine, hopefully), in a high stress environment. I have a 1D mark iv, a 24-70 f2.8, 50 f1.4, monopod and tripod, and will be borrowing from my boss or renting a 70-200 and a flash. It's pretty bare bones as photography isn't how I make any of my income right now so I can't really afford to buy tons of new glass. I already splurged on the upgrade that i did make for myself. I'm pretty confident in my abilities and my cousin is really focusing more on saving money than having top of the line professional photos of her wedding, but I still want to do a good job for her.

    So, basically, I'm posting all this to ask advice of you all what you have learned from shooting events in general or weddings in particular that could help me out.

    And as an addendum to the above request for advice, has anyone used their laptop at an event to stream photos from the camera to the laptop so guests can see the shots during the reception or as I take them? I thought that would be a cool way for the guests to see the photos and, as the bride is asking that everyone puts their phones and personal cameras away so that I can work in peace, I also thought that it would be a way for them to requests photos for themselves if, say for instance, I take a group photo of a family dancing at the wedding or something.

    tl,dr; Wedding photograph advice please?!
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    I've never shot a wedding, but it seems to me that your streaming idea is just one more thing that can go wrong. As such, I wouldn't do it. I'd just focus on making the best photos possible and not worrying about streaming/equipment, etc.
  3. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I'd hate people seeing my pictures streamed before I'd had a chance to cull and edit them. Maybe that's just me though!
  4. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    I agree with this BUT I would say the one compromise I would make would be to hire a person whose entire job is to gather the photos, curate them, and only post the winners with some quick corrections here and there. (This also addresses fa8362's concern. I agree there as well. Taking wedding photos requires 100% attention.)

    Whether the bride wants to pay for such a person is dubious, but it's what I'd require for something like that.

    (If you do end up doing this, OP, the eye-fi card might be a worthwhile investment.)
  5. catfish743 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2007
    Valid points! I think I might nix that idea for now, because I honestly don't have any friends that I would trust to do that job (even though I have quite a few photographer friends). Besides, I'd rather have my second shooter focus on getting the shots I'm not getting because I'm shooting something else. I have thought about getting an eye-fi card, but that's for later on in the future.

    Keep the advice coming!
  6. bankshot macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2003
    Southern California
    I am not a pro photographer, but it seems like this podcast episode has some pretty good advice: [iTunes link]

    I also have a book called Stunning Digital Photography which is pretty good in general and includes a chapter on weddings. Again, I can't speak to the quality of advice in that chapter since I'm not a pro, but presumably it's as good as the rest of the book. :) [iTunes] [Amazon Paperback] [Kindle]

    Hope those help. I'm sure there are many similar resources available online.
  7. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Want to know one of they key things a pro does that an amateur doesn't? The pro never lets anyone see the bad shots.

    My advice is this: don't do it. Your cousin is focused on saving money today, but what about a year from now? I'm not intending to malign your abilities, I'm sure you're quite talented, but with no experience with weddings there's a signficant chance of trouble.

    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten" -- Benjamin Franklin.

    Some other thoughts:

    You mention one camera body and one flash... What's your plan if (when) one of those fails partway through the wedding? How will you handle getting both wide and tele shots of scenes like vows, The Kiss, etc? Do you know for sure you have enough battery and storage?

    How many weddings have you attended in the last couple of years? i.e. how familiar are you with the flow of events, typical angles/problems/challenges you'll face? How well do you know the "usual shots" every bride expects even if she forgets to put them on a list of required shots?

    Are you thoroughly practiced with capturing low light high contrast scenes with flash and mixing in ambient? White dress, black tux, dim lighting, and direct flash is a complex mix to do on the fly if you're not well rehearsed.

    What's your skill level in herding cats and controlling crowds while keeping everyone happy? A significant part of a wedding photog's job is creating the group shots while ensuring everyone is looking at YOUR camera and not Aunt Betty's -- all while keeping the pace going fast enough that groomsmen don't go searching for drinks and Grandma Gerty doesn't need a chair.
  8. catfish743 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2007
    I'll be sure to check out that podcast. I've been listening to a ton of science podcasts recently and want to switch up the subject matter. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

    You pose a lot of great and thoughtful questions, many of which I have answers to, and which will, I suppose, flesh out my background.

    First off, I can understand why philosophically and economically one wouldn't let people see the "bad shots", which is why, with the consideration of the added voices of the previous posters, I'm nixing the live preview idea. Too many resources to gather with too little manpower to manage it. However, it's just a personal philosophy of mine to do what most would call an "overshare" and offer originals to my subjects, in the off chance that a few of the photos I don't find as subjectively pleasing to be more subjectively pleasing to them. Of course I edit in Aperture to work on the photos that I really like, but I like to give my subjects choices.

    As for not doing it, that's not really an option at this point. I know I have no specific experience in wedding photography, but I do have experience in event and journalistic photography, among other areas. Will there probably be trouble? Yeah, just as there was trouble every single day at the racetrack with at least one of the races, anywhere from shooting to production to sales to event management. But they don't contract with over 20 racetracks for nothing and I've learned a lot working for them.

    As for the other questions: whether or not I have a second shooter, I'm going to be borrowing the second shooter's body. Canon as well, and all the lenses fit and what not. Not as familiar with the layout but I will manage should my camera decided to completely fail. I've been in the situation for instance where I've gone out to the track and left my card in the card reader in the office. That only happened once, and I've since learned to not make that mistake again. I've had a lens crap out too, and dealt with sudden weather events that were less than pleasant. I've got two batteries and will be buying a third for the wedding, so I think I should be good on that front, and I also have three 16GB CF cards that I'll cycle through. I'll have my laptop there as well to upload should 48GB not cut it. I've also had practice rapid switching between glass for different types of shots at Keeneland, so that's not much of an issue.

    Over the past 5 years, I've been in 3 weddings and then attended at least 5 more, of all different shapes and sizes. I was actually in my second shooter's wedding and heavily studied what her guy did during the event. The flow isn't much of an issue either, and I'm familiar and comfortable with all the behind the scenes stuff and the getting ready won't be difficult. It won't be like I'm shooting someone I barely know and have to build rapport fast, which will be both a blessing and a curse. And as I prefer to be unseen, I'm used to the problems of having to be further away during the ceremony, but know where the boundary is on how far I can go to get the shot that I know I need and that I know the bride wants. I've also been building a checklist of "usual shots" to have on my phone with me at all times that I can check off, and the bride has made suggestions on what she wants.

    The low light thing is a pertinent issue that I need to practice more on before the actual day. I'm not used to using a flash and do my best to avoid it, but again I had to use one at Keeneland at events and learned the ins and outs of it pretty quickly. Fortunately there won't be many tuxes at the wedding and we will be taking a lot of the shots before the wedding actually takes place. It's at 7:30 in early July in Kentucky, so it'll sort of start getting dark but the sun will still be up. But we'll be doing photos earlier than that and so the sunlight won't be harsh like at noon or something like that.

    I'm actually quite good at herding cats and controlling crowds, as that was part of my job at Keeneland. Trying to get millionaire owners and jockeys and grooms that barely make minimum wage and speak spanish all in one photo can be difficult, especially when you're on a time limit, but I made it work. Plus early in the mornings I had to photograph kids hyped up on sugar and carbs.

    As for Aunt Betty's Camera, it will be outlawed. The Bride's been pretty strict about that from the get go and that won't be an issue hopefully, but if it is, my voice carries, and I can be rather direct. And, quite sadly, she only has one grandparent, who is actually more active at 85 than the almost all of her 9 children, so I'm not worried about her stamina. Feelings getting hurt and stubbornheadedness I am a bit worried about, but it's nothing that our family hasn't been through before.

    sorry for the long reply, I was mostly just writing it all out moreso for myself than anything. All great points! Everything you raise is a valid concern and something that I've worried about at some point or another over the past 2 years. My biggest worry is lighting and low light contrast differences. Fortunately outside at 7:30 in July is pretty beautiful, if not a little hot. And yes, we do have a back up plan for weather as well.
  9. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Sounds like you're well ahead of many of the enthusiasts who get corralled into shooting a family member's wedding. The fact that you've already considered many of the questions is an encouraging sign. :)

    A couple other thoughts:

    When culling shots remember that emotional content trumps technical perfection. A slightly out of focus that tugs at a mother's heart strings beats a technically perfect yet sterile image.

    Do all group shots with older relatives as early in the sequence as possible, they often don't have nearly as much endurance as the younger folks. At the same time think through the planned poses so you can add/subtract as few people between poses as possible; minimizing the transition will make it go much faster..

    Have the bride designate a Chief Cat Herder for the group shots, a friend or relative who knows all the people important to the bride. You don't have time to be quizzing people to find out where Elusive Ed is hiding. Since you're family this will be easier, but still better to have someone else to do the chasing and ensuring everyone is there.

    Don't get so caught up in the group shots that you forget to step back from yourself a moment and look at all the details in the scene. Hair, dress arrangement, ties straight, all groomsmen have their jackets, your ability to see everyone, who's peeking through the window in the background, etc.

    Actively coach the bride on some of the key shots. Tell her (and the groom) to take their time on the First Kiss - not so much as to be awkward, but nerves and excitement will turn that into an easy-to-miss split-second peck if left to themselves.

    The DJ is your best friend during the reception. Work with him or her to ensure you're in the right place and ready before any of the usual events.

    For the bouquet toss consider suggesting a "wind up" / warm up where she swings her arm at medium speed through the toss but doesn't let go the first time. Kind of a "ready, set, toss!" -- meanwhile you're shooting her during the windup, then turning around to shoot the single ladies for the actual toss / catch.

    Get your shots of the cake as early as you can. First the lighting may be better earlier, second is I've seen cake toppers hit the floor before anyone had a chance to cut it.

    Details - never forget the detail shots. Dress needlework, shoe bows, boutonnieres, flowers, decorations, food layouts before anyone gets into them, etc. All the secondary memories of the day that also make great backgrounds or filler images if you should later build an album.

    Best of luck!

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