Drafted to be the Wedding Photographer (help!)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by -hh, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    Hi all,

    My apologies for not being more active, but its been an incredibly busy year. Between 4 family funerals in the past 18 months, including an extended illness that resulted in a dozen weekend trips so far in 2007, plus 8 business trips to Europe within the past 10 months...it has all resulted in being home on average for only 1 weekend at home per month.

    I have this weekend "off" (2nd? one since mid-June), which really means a ton of yardword and housecleaning to get caught up on.

    Be that as it may, next weekend is some happy news for a change: my God Daughter is getting married ... it was decided just this past Sunday! ... and my brother is scrambling to do all of the 'Wedding Planner' arrangements.

    As such, I've been asked to be the Wedding Photographer.

    There's three basic areas that I'm looking for advice for.

    The first is ... which pieces of my gear should I take? I have a list (#1)below.

    The second is ... I expect this event to be chaos; what important (big) factors have I missed? I've never done any wedding photography, but do recall the need for standard compositions of various group shots. See List #2 below.

    The third is ... what factors have I already overlooked?

    List #1 - Available Gear

    P&S camera
    SLR body - 35mm Canon Elan IIe (has built-in flash)
    SLR body - 35mm Canon EOS 3 (no flash)
    dSLR body - Canon 20D (has built-in flash)

    Canon xxx Strobe - works on the Elan, probably also the EOS 3
    Canon 420ex? Strobe - works on the 20D

    Lens - 19-25mm f/3.5? zoom (Tokina)
    Lens - 50mm f/1.8? prime (Canon)
    Lens - 28-135mm IS f/4.x - 5.6? (Canon)
    Lens - 75-300 IS f/4.5 - 5.6 (Canon)
    1.4x Converter; only fits below
    Lens - 70-200mm f/2.8 IS (Canon)

    Other - two cheap, very lightweight tripods; one good Bogen monopod.

    To be able to move fast, my general thoughts are to load up all three bodies and equip them as follows:

    20D + (28-135) (effective 45-210mm) w/strobe
    EOS3 + (70-200) w/strobe
    ElanIIe + (17-35) [w/internal strobe]

    The general rationale is that the 20D would be the workhorse rig, so it should get whichever lens I expect to use the most (28-135?). The 35mm's would then be relegated to cameo's and for extreme WA for larger group shots. Is this a fair approach, or are there better suggestions? For example, my initial thoughts were to put the 19-35 on the 20D (w/strobe), where it would serve as an effective 30-55mm which should also work reasonably well for group shots. Before commenting please NOTE the working conditions comment below.


    Location #1: Ceremony site:

    Will be held at approximately High Noon next Saturday (8/18), out on the sandy beach (weather permitting) in front of my parent's house (very approx 38.92N 75.31W).

    Good news: the tide is going to be rising High @ 1:22 PM), which will conceal the mud flats that are visible at low tide. The sand/beach waterline runs NNW to SSE, so at 'noon', I shouldn't have too many problems with sun angles if I want to use the water as a background...I hope.

    Bad news: I'm afraid that the location out on the sand is going to be an obstacle to several older, less physically mobile, familymembers. Ditto if it is sunny and hot. My brother is thinking about getting some sort of 50ft wooden "matt" that makes for easier walking, but my main point in mentioning this is that I realistically have to expect that some folks simply won't be willing or able to walk out to the wedding site, so I'll have to manage having a split group, or to find someplace else to do the family group photos.

    Other bad news: the beach very commony has biting greenhead flies, and DEET-type repellants simply do not work to repel them. Stronger winds can minimize them, but then there's wind to deal with.

    Location #2: Reception site:

    Standard indoor restaurant room. I won't see it before I get there. I'm assuming I'll need strobe for all photos. I will be able to reconfigure my lens/bodies combinations, subject to there being a need for change.

    That's the basics, as best as I know them as of today. I expect to shoot print film in the cameras, as I can have it digitized at the same time as developing (can't do this for slides? will have to check for E6 to see if I might be able to use Velvia); not sure what particular film to use...will have to look in my fridge and then call the local shop.



    Just called my local photo shop. Phone#'s been disconnected.

    A quick google...they closed business on July 28th.

    I knew that things weren't going so well, with all the change to digital, but hadn't been expecting them to close shop...or missing it despite having been so busy. This marks the second "LANDMARK" small photo store that's gone under in our county within the past decade, both of them within the past 3 months.

    I'll have to check my film today and get a rush order in with B&H tonight.

  2. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    First off, sorry to hear about and the sad times, and am glad a happy time is around the corner for you.

    Second off, it sounds like you have thought this out very well and I wouldn't change your setups at all for your sites.

    Some overall hints and tips.

    At the ceremony I would principally take telephoto pictures. The wedding is about your God Daughter and her Fiancée so try to stay in the background as much as possible and away from the front of the ceremony.

    If they don't have a problem with seeing each other before the wedding, I would try to get wedding party photos, family photos, and individual photos done before the ceremony (it helps out of the entire flow of the wedding for them).

    As far as the digital camera goes, it helps to have a computer on site so that you can upload images as needed and to also have backups just in case.

    I hope those ideas help some. I'm sure you'll do a great job and enjoy the wedding as well.
  3. glennp macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2006
    Washington, DC
    Read the New Wedding Photographers Handbook

    Al Jacobson has posted an excellent handbook on his website that should help you out, but mainly, have talk with the bride to find out what kind of pictures she expects, make a plan and stick to it.

    http://www.aljacobs.com/NEW WEDDING.pdf
  4. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    Hey Buddy,

    You have been missed. I figured you were just busy.

    Anyway, I would forget the film cameras except for backup in case the Digital goes belly up during the event. Spend the Film money on a new memory card.

    As for the film, stick with negative/print. E-6 will require to delicate of an exposer to worry about on a beach at HighNoon. Besides, the Bride and Mom's are going to want Prints or one of those new Apple books. (that's the new going thing these days.

    I would use a fill flash even at Noon. High over head light causes lots of shadows under the eyes. And some of the guest may be wearing hats.

    Use the long lenes for the ceremony and the wider stuff for the group shots.

    Use a tripod for groups if you can. The biggest problem with a group shot is getting everyones attention at the same time and keeping everyone from blinking. I learned a trick from another local shooter... he would talk very loud to get the groups attention and then just before he would push the button he would say "BEAUTIFULLLLLLLLLL" real loud and real long.

    Like you said on your web page, shoot too much and edit later.

    Get lots of long lens hace shots and lots of shots of kids.


    I had a nephew whom I had be mentoring shoot my wedding. He didn't know anyone in my wife's family, so he just didn't take any pictures of them. The only shots we have of her family are in the group shots.

    Anyway, good luck.

    PM Me if you want to talk on the phone. I'll be glad to give you any help or advice that I can.

    It's next week right? The 18th?

  5. -hh thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    Thanks. I'll quickly mention that if anyone is expecting to be "the responsible one" in the family for an impending death and estate, to track me down for some words of advice and encouragement...we've been learning a lot about the business of estate planning, and the real simple bottom line is that the more that gets settled before, the better.

    I already have 10GB worth of cards, which is 700+ photos worth of JPEG+RAW...should be plenty.

    Yes, I very much expect to be publishing an iPhoto book.

    Agreed; I figured as much.

    Good tips; thanks.

    Ah, so that's why they do that :)

    I am hestitant to use a tripod because the ones I have are very lightweight. Being on a sand surface won't help much either (sink!). I'll have to see if I could sandbag one to improve stability in wind (please Lord let there be wind! Its better than having biting flies).

    Yes, next week. The couple has been together for awhile, but this all just came up suddenly because a project that they've been working on has reportedly finally been successful and a deadline...ie, if all goes well, there will hopefully be another photo op next April. ;)

    I'll better start charging batteries & wiping cards this weekend, so that I don't forget and leave it to the last minute.

  6. JMD123 macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2007
    I think your shoot already happened... the only thing I was goint to add if it has not is if the bride and groom do not want to see each other there are still shots you can get out of the way before the wedding... Like the bride and the bridesmaids... same for the groom and best man.... Bride with her parents... same for groom and on and on... also do you have a younger family memeber that can run behind you and carry your stuff...

    Oh and once your done post some of your shots please...
  7. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
  8. -hh thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth

    The good news is that I survived and everyone likes the images except for myself :D

    Here's ~90% of the photos, put up online by the Bride/Groom without any editing.

    You can pull up the images above and then follow along with this general narrative.

    Friday: at-home preparations were: "Can I stuff all this stuff into just two bags?" and drove from NJ to DE (drive took 2 hours longer than normal due to traffic). Got in at ~10pm & was up until midnight talking with my Niece/bride & her brother before we all crashed for the night. No photos.

    Saturday: got up at ~5:30am, quietly broke out the digital camera gear to get organized & went down to the beach to shoot sunrise, make sure I'm refamiliarized with the camera controls, etc...and make sure that its working.

    Came back to the house for breakfast and get my two 35mm bodies set up too. Some AM Bride shots (wearing an old borrowed blue T-shirt) at breakfast. With more sun up (bright day), went out with my wife to scout the property to shoot test shots for what would be the best spot for group shots (lighting, backgrounds, etc). Wasn't really satisfied with any of them, but made due.

    10am: more people start to arrive; cameo shots start.

    11am: ceremony on the beach. Sunny, but damn windy. Group shots followed and in some of these you can see blotches where sand was flying.

    11:30: to the 'front' (roadside) yard for the toast by the 11yr old Best Man and other general socializing. An impromptu theme of "everyone wear the veil" kicks off, perhaps because it was too windy for the Bride to wear it on the beach...this will make for a nice montage page in iPhoto. During this time, Ginny (a sister of the Mother of the Bride) becomes infactuated with SLRs and she starts to play with some of my gear. More on this to follow...

    Noon: everyone relocate to a restaurant in town. Ginny borrows my dSLR and shoots portaits of everyone...great results! Roughly 2/3rds of the way through, I realize that I've left on my polarizer filter, which explains why a lot of these shots are so dark. They're pulling up fine in Photoshop.

    Later: most relocate a second time to the Father/Mother of the bride's home, where more socializing occurs, including the typical "kids running around outside, adults sitting around inside" split. Day ends with a sunset over the vehicles in the driveway, which IMO turned out very poorly, but they had already seen my sunrise photos, so this was a "go do" order.

    10PM: got back to the Beach House & downloaded all the images into my G4 laptop. During which, eductated my nephew (who works for Comcast) that OS X does indeed have a Network Control Panel for doing Ethernet setup (his employer 'told him' that he could only use the Terminal???)...if not a future Mac convert, at least there will be one more ISP Tech who has a clue about Macs :)

    ~11:00pm: small huddle around the laptop for those still awake to get a first look. Didn't retouch anything but merely burned a copy of the jpgs onto DVD to give to the Bride in the morning as her first set of "Proofs".

    ~midnight: threw them into a quick movie slide show, told the G4 to render it overnight and burn it to DVD. I went to bed.


    6:30am - hey, slept in! Got up, checked to see how the slide show movie rendering went. It claimed it worked, so burned two more copies over the next hour.

    7:30am - my Mom wakes up & we give the first slide show DVD a test drive in her DVD player...works okay, although a few skips for some reason.

    9:00am - Packed up & starting the drive for home. I leave copies of the slide show DVDs for my Parents & brother, plus the same as well as the JPG 'Proofs' DVD for the Bride/Groom...that's what they've uploaded.

    Then until now....been starting to pick through the 400+ images to cull them down, rebalance what's needed, plus I'm adding in another 100 images that were shot on 35mm that just came back from developing. Free time is limited, so I'm hoping on being done with having an Album together in time for Christmas.

  9. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    Oh, I see I'm a bit late on this. My advice was going to be to take action shots just *before* the action happens. Otherwise you get shots like this one:


    It looks like he's pulling her teeth instead of feeding her. (I've made the same mistake myself.)

    Same thing goes for kissing the bride, tossing the garter, and so on....

    Anyway, it looks like a good time was had by all, and you got plenty of other good pictures.

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