Advice for Wedding Digital Photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by highjumppudding, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. highjumppudding macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008
    I am getting into digital photography for weddings. I currently own a Canon Rebel XTi (10MP). For editing I have Aperture 2 and Photoshop.

    Please fill me in on any suggestions, recommendations, equipment, etc for Wedding Photography. My first few jobs are quoted on the low end. Any information would be great!

  2. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    Bay Area
    You must have a backup body. If you can't afford one, you can't shoot weddings. That's a simple fact. Rent if you must.
    Fast glass is also essential. You can use a flash in some situations, but nobody wants to see bulbs popping off during the vows.
    Have a second shooter - if you mess up, your 2nd shooter is your failsafe.

    Remember, these people are counting on you to immortalize your wedding. If you mess up, they're going to be pissed.

    What lenses do you have now? That will assist in recommendations. A favorite is the 17-55mm IS.

    edit - I found this on your site:
    NO, NO, NO. They do not want RAW files. Most computers cannot even view RAW files, let alone open them. You should be giving the b&g post processed high quality JPG files that can be actually handled by their computer.

    Seriously, I can't stress this enough. Never ever give RAW files to anyone except another advanced or professional photographer, because they're huge files, don't look good unprocessed (you are expected to sharpen and process RAW files, and you can't save the processing as a raw file...) and are useless on 99% of computers.

    More from your site:
    Picture yourself holding a gun. Point it at your foot. Pull trigger. That's what you've just done - you are basically killing any chance at work. 30 miles is nothing and you're geographically cutting yourself off from most of your potential clients.
  3. w_parietti22 macrumors 68020

    Apr 16, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    1) Pray for an outdoor wedding with good sunlight or a well lit indoor space. It will make your life so much easier.

    2) Make sure you have a good flash with a good diffuser. Make sure to bounce your flash. In no circumstance use the internal flash. Rent an external if you have to.

    3) Try to stay out of the way as much as possible. Yes, they want good photos that will last forever but you don't want to be the guy that everyone (especially the happy couple) remembers for ruining the wedding or being in the way.

    4) (kinda tags onto #3) get the majority of your shots before and after the actual ceremony. The couple is expecting you to take posed shots but make sure to take lots of candids or at least posed shots that look more candid. They always turn out a million times better.

    5) I don't know what lenses you have but the XTi kit lens probably won't (not probably, it won't) be great for indoor weddings so save up and buy yourself a better lens (if you have the kit len)... I'm a Nikon guy so I can't really give you any recommendations on choosing a good one.

    I've only shot a couple of weddings. Luckily for me there was a Pro to back me up for both weddings so I didn't have to worry about getting perfect shots. My advice isn't the most reliable but there are plenty of people on here that can add onto this and have much more experience.

    Good luck! :)
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I second the suggestion never to send out RAW files: RAW files haven't been edited (at least in my Aperture-based workflow, you never touch the original), most people won't be able to read them and even if they can, all they see are unedited shots.

    You've left out what glass you have, this is important. You need lenses with large apertures. A 55-200 consumer zoom or the 18-55 kit lens won't cut it, forget about them. You need a 2.8/50-135 or a 2.8/70-200 zoom for darker indoor environments. At least the nifty fifty 1.4 or 1.8/50 mm) should be in your camera bag. What's in your camera bag?

    Also, you'll need a flash and a diffuser. And a backup body. And a battery grip would be good, too, for two reasons: (i) battery power and having a second shutter release (doh!) and (ii) it `makes you look more professional'. I know that (ii) doesn't make you a better/worse photographer, but some people tend to look at gear and extrapolate what kind of photographer you are (of course, this is non-sensical, but that's the way it is).

    You're a professional and people won't give you any leniency, because you're not a friend of the family taking pictures for them. $750 seems rather cheap for a wedding photographer, but that won't help you one bit with the expectations of the couple. Wedding photography is among the most difficult, because people demand perfection and they are stressed. You cannot repeat things for the camera, if you screw up one of the money shots, that's that.
  5. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Find a real wedding photographer and apprentice with them.
  6. RainForRent macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2006
    Greenville, SC
    Apprenticeship is the most underrated way to learn a trade. For some reason people think school is a better way to go nowadays, I don't quite understand. This is the best piece of advice so far, IMO.
  7. highjumppudding thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008
    All the info is great so far

    A few quick responses...

    The first wedding is over 1 month away. I currently own the Canon XTi with the standard lens.

    My website I will edit, but I was planning on giving the couple the HQ JPEG photos. Not RAW.

    For the first few weddings that are booked are quoted on the very low-end. I will plan to have a backup camera and a second photographer for backup.


    I will be re-reading the responses more thorough. The feedback so far has been great. I'll see if I can apprentice with an experienced photographer. Any other recommendations regarding photographing weddings in general, gear, etc would be appreciative. Like I said, I have a stock Canon XTi.

    Thank you all!
  8. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination

    NO! Going to school helps as well as having an apprenticeship. Most people don't apprentice with anyone worth listening to anyhow.

    To the OP. Go to school and get an apprenticeship. Shoot the wedding on the cheap for practice.
  9. ocbaud macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Midwest City, Oklahoma
    i just shot my first wedding about 3 weeks ago....
    not something i thoroughly enjoy, i'm mostly into doing journalistic type photos.

    my tips:

    -have some fast glass. f/2.8 at the very least. they do get pricey though.
    -extra batteries.
    -double the amount of storage cards you are thinking about using, i thought i would be okay with two 4gb cf cards and i filled both up almost during a 6 hour period.
    -KNOW your equipment. get some time using it in the settings you'll be shooting in. scout out the place so you know what to expect.
    -backup body for sure. i used and old D50 i sold to my friends before. didn't have to actually use it for anything, but if my d300 crapped out on me, i didn't want to be useless.

    i shot it using a D300, 17-70 f/3.5, 70-200 f/2.8, and 50 f/1.8 with a lowend sb600 flash.

    for the ceremony i used the 70-200mm the most.
    portraits and family pictures the 50mm
    and the reception i used the 17-70mm

    being this was my first wedding, it was kind of stressful.
    the biggest problems i ran into was lighting for the group photos. with the on camera flash only i didn't get as good of shots as i wanted.

    you can check out some of the pics on my flickr

    that way you may be able to get some ideas.

    oh, and the raw thing. don't give them the raw photos. they won't care and they won't need them. when me and my wife got married i had the guy give me the raw photos included with the jpegs(cost an extra $200) but since i do photography myself, it would give me the chance to edit the photos how i see fit.
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    You only have the kit lens?!!?
    I think you need to make some major investments before you can shoot your first wedding (or at least rent the equipment you need).

    What experience do you have?
  11. highjumppudding thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008

    Clarification here...

    I am NOT the photographer! I am the videographer for my company, I have a photographer that I have been friends with from college. I have a degree in Film/Video Production. My Photographer has a degree also in Film/Video Production and minors in Photography (many years of photo experience).

    The RAW issue has been cleared up, I never planned to give RAW to the client. I am giving them HQ JPEG.

    I am looking for suggestions regarding setup, equipment, tips for shooting weddings. My photographer has a Canon XTi. And the first weddings booked are quoted on the low end because we have not photographed wedding before. It is no like we are charing thousands of dollars here. I am looking for any advice or tips to help prepare for shooting weddings. My photographer has experience and a degree in photography, just has not shot a wedding.

    Thank you, the responses so far have been great!
  12. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    My advice remains the same- a degree in photography does not prepare someone to shoot weddings, apprentice to an actual wedding photographer.

    Somone's big day is not the time to learn that you missed something important.

    Also, being the cheap shooter is a hole you can rarely dig yourself out of. Shoot at least half a dozen weddings- though ten seems to be a good starting point if you know what you're doing- acting as a second shooter with someone who knows what they're doing and will get it right being the primary. It's more about the client handling than the technology. Also, make sure you have a real lawyer do the contracts and that you've got lots of insurance coverage. If something goes wrong and you get to court, your first posting in this thread isn't going to help you.

    The reason seasoned wedding pros do charge thousands isn't because they're gassing up exotic sports cars.
  13. highjumppudding thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008
    Some have me wondering...

    Some of you it seems just don't get it. I am realizing that macrumors may not be the place to receive credible feedback on this topic. Some responses have been helpful, others I question your level of experience and knowledge.
  14. Mr_Brightside_@ macrumors 68030


    Sep 23, 2005
    What, exactly, has been unhelpful? They've suggested not only proper equipment but also steps to take before, during, and after the event to make sure everything runs smoothly. Clearly you've not been reading thoroughly if you think that even one person has been unhelpful.
  15. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    I was going to comment tomorrow with a larger comment but I would now like to say this:

    I have just shot my first wedding 2 weeks and I'm doing a degree in Photography, the only useful thing the course has shown me which was relevant was the lectures on Camera Flash. Getting in the right place and speaking to the people and arranging the shots was 90% common sense, I learnt so much for this wedding and so much more afterwards.

    So I have to agree with what everybody has said so far because I would have found the advice to be pretty simple and straightforward though a bit cost prohibitive. I couldn't afford the backup gear.
  16. highjumppudding thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008
    did i say this?

    I did not say that every single person has not been helpful. I think you should re-read my post.
  17. NintendoChick macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2008

    No but you're saying that SOMEONE hasn't been helpful. Was it the people who told you to not jump right into wedding photography?
  18. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    You could join a forum for professional wedding photographers. I think that they usually have free trial periods.

    However, I think you might find their advice to be similar to most of the posts here.
  19. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Full disclosure: I haven't shot weddings.

    If I were to do so though––and I've given it some consideration--I would be sure to have some serious experience as a 2nd photog before going in as the lead. I shot a 15th bday party once, and when I looked at the photos I didn't have single "awesome" shot; I felt sick.

    Weddings are on a much larger scale; how will you feel if you miss an important moment because you were in the wrong place, had a bad setting, or were fiddling with your strobe?

    Not to mention, a few of the guests at the wedding might have a more serious setup than you will. How's that going to look?
  20. highjumppudding thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 1, 2008
    Thank you for the very generous feedback!!!

    You're all the best!
  21. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
    Excellent advice. And Yup.
  22. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    You have some wedding booked, so it's too late to try and go backup on them. I'm going to offer advice on the kind end. First, be confident. Second, know your camera. I would say outside of experience and professional quality glass, know your camera inside and out. Know how to change every setting you can on the fly. One downside to the XTi is some settings on the 40D etc are buried in the menu's and that can slow you down, but know what things you can work with without going into the menu. For those settings you need to go into the menu for, know where they are.

    Good glass is pricey to buy, but not too bad to rent. I've rented from several times for weddings I've done; it's been a cheap way to use pro glass, and let me tryout different lenses so I would know what to buy. Unless you're just SOL, try and shoot solely with L glass. Canon does have some great high end non L, but there really is no comparison to L. And as mentioned, a fast aperture is the way to go. I've rented the 50mm 1.2L and it was beautiful, I like the 16-35 2.8L or 17-40 4L on the wide, and my favorite on the telephoto side of things is the 135 F2L (I own it, so I've always got it). However, the 70-200 2.8 would be more convenient as it's a zoom, but I'm just partial to the 135.

    Dang, there was something else I wanted to say but forgot. Just be confident and practice, get to know your camera. Get L glass no matter what it takes. Obviously, the best equipment in the world isn't going to make the worst photographer amazing, but I'm just hoping you're not the worst :)
  23. pinktank macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2005
    A flash is very important, if possible get it off camera or bounce it off the ceiling, also buy a diffuser for it)like stofen omnibounce)
  24. HckySo macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2006
    turn around
    PLEASE DO THIS! If you haven't been an assistant for any wedding photographer or videographer at numerous weddings you will never make it when you start shooting weddings on your own and mess up strict formalities. Experience is a million times more important than plain knowledge.

    I'm 16 and I've been a wedding photography assistant for three years now and I'm still not 100% ready to start doing it myself.
  25. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    You've been a photog's asst. since you were 13? Do you work for free or for a parent?

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