Shooting first wedding.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Spartan_aG1, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. Spartan_aG1 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Ok so my cousin asked me to shoot her wedding. I'm not charging her a lot because she is family and also because I've never shot and been paid. I've been shooting for a year or two now.

    I currently have a Nikon D3000 and the kit lens.
    I need to know what I should get for the wedding and a few tips would be nice as well.

    I've searched for threads on this but I didn't get enough info.
  2. Matthew Yohe macrumors 68020

    Oct 12, 2006
    Uh, way more than a kit lens. For the portraits, you need something like a prime 50mm for taking portraits from about 10-15 meters away. For a walk around, you would need to get a decent f/2.8 lens that can range from around 20-80mm. Possibly something fun like a wide lens.

    You're going to need a decent flash, possibly some way to remote fire it (Pocket Wizards?) so you can hold it in your hand rather than just bounce.

    My advice? Go to a local camera dealer/shop and talk to them. See if they rent equipment, and if they do, do that. They will steer you in the right direction.
  3. Spartan_aG1 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Yeah I've been thinking about it an I'll most likely rent the equipment. I've planned on renting a flash and two lenses. I'd be great if someone could tell me the specific lenses that would work best.

    Any tips are welcome.
  4. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    Let me get this straight. You have never shot a wedding and now your going to charge a family member for doing it? Wow, good luck with all that. My guess is that halfway though it all you're going to wish you were on the other side of the camera.
  5. Matthew Yohe macrumors 68020

    Oct 12, 2006

  6. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    Been shooting for a year? And never for money? I'd offer to shoot candid/informal pix - for no fee - in addition to having the wedding covered by a pro. "Not charging a lot" suggests you're not 100% confident about your ability to do the job, and a wedding is a very demanding assignment.
  7. Spartan_aG1 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2009
    I'm sure I can do it I just need help on the equipment I need.

    And I didn't say I wanted to get paid. My cousin offered to pay me.
  8. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    If you don't already know what equipment you'll need, then your certainty may be misplaced. Shooting a wedding requires a wide range of skills...

    Either way. This is her big day. No matter what she's saying to you, she'll want an album of beautiful pictures. Can you promise her that?
  9. al256 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2001
    Oh boy...

    I just shot my first wedding with the help of my friend (she's done two others) and let me say; I don't think I would ever do one again. I let her use my Canon 40D & 430EX II flash and I bought a new G11 just for this wedding and a 270EX flash. She managed all her shots with the 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 lens though I have a 50mm f1.4 prime and the 70-300mm telephoto.

    What did I learn?

    Even with the best point-and-shoot camera I can get from Canon, it made me long for my SLR.

    Weddings move fast and you have to be faster.

    Try to figure out your lighting, white balance is important.

    I wish I had my 40D with a 70-200mm f2.8 IS and the 24-70mm f2.8 lenses.

    I would never charge money for a wedding until, well, never probably. No matter how accepting my friends might be, I would rather criticize a bad photo someone else took than put my work on the line. BUT I might be inclined to use money that was given to me for the wedding, to rent equipment. Even my friend with her prior experience shooting weddings still does not charge. Heck, her degree is in photography but I digress.

    Have plenty of batteries for your flash.
    Have plenty of energy to get all your shots.
    Have all your important shots memorized or at least typed out somewhere on hand.
    Have all your research on wedding photography done before their special day.

    Good luck
  10. Kebabselector macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2007
    Birmingham, UK
    Lenses, when I shoot wedding/social events I have a mixed bag ranging from 17 to 200mm (Full Frame) Though at 17mm people will look a little distorted. For me the main lens is my 24-105, though as this broke prior to my last event I had to use my 17-40.

    Some may recommend a lens that's good for low light, but if you're not shooting indoors (a fair amount of church's don't like photography) then you probably won't need one.

    Remember to budget for a 2nd body and a decent flash, the pop up flash is useful for fill in flash, but if you need more then it's not going to cut it.

    It's not too late to back out and advise they get a pro to shoot.
  11. stagi macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2006
    What have you been shooting for a year? Weddings are very unique events and having been shooting them for 11 years there is much more to equipment to shooting a wedding well. But you seem confident and set on doing it so I am not going to even get into that chat :)

    I would suggest having 2 bodies definitely. So would rent another D300 so you have 2 of the same bodies. 2 flash units are needed at a minimum (most things you should have 2 of for backup). Lens selection it really depends on your style of shooting. Nobody can really answer that for you, I bet there are guys out there than can rock a wedding with only a 50mm. I would suggest spending some time thinking about the types of shots you want to get and walking through the process in your mind. See what type of lens you would need to capture that.
  12. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    People people, excellent advices and all but lets stick to the OP question shall we.

    First of all, eventhough the D3000 is a entry level body, but with a good glass. He should be able to go through a wedding. I don't necessarily agree with the D300 cuz when I first held it, wow that thing was enormous with all its controls overwhelmed me. And a second body isn't that necessary since this will be his first wedding. He just needs at least 8GB of memory with him (well that's more then enough for me)

    Alright, as for lenses, 50mm is good, if you get the f/1.4 version even better but remember to practice about DoF and to be familiarize with the MFD of a 50mm, its wayyy different then a kit lens. And as for your lens, if you don't feel like renting a flash, get a 18-50 f/2.8 lens (Tamron, Sigma or Nikon equivalent) it will serve u wonders and possibly save you during those night shot.

    Frankly speaking, f/2.8 is not actually fast enough if its too dark, so having a flashgun in the bag is actually better, but having a flash gun, then you will need to practice at least a week before hand cuz it will require familiarization.

    So here are my choices:
    Kit lens (used at the sharpest aperture)
    50mm f/1.4
    Flash gun


    18-50 f/2.8 (Nikon/Sigma/Tamron, having some sort of image stabilization will be better)
    50 f/1.4


    18-50 f/2.8
    50 f/1.4
    Flash gun

    Well option 3 for me will be the best, but it will be the most expensive.
  13. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Just so you know what you're dealing with, and maybe you can get some ideas from looking at these sites. The first one is just an article, but it can give you an idea of equipment this guy uses. The other link is to a collaborative blog by several different wedding photogs who all have different examples of their style to check out.

    article talks about what it takes to be a wedding photographer, not too long...
    you can probably skip down to step 8 and maybe 9 here... but at least you can see what the pros are using equipment-wise...

    Portland, OR wedding photographers' site
    you can get some ideas of types of pictures that you might want to look for, or think about... at least know what you're up against vs. a paid pro.
  14. PimpDaddy macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2007
    OK but what if the OP's camera dies halfway through the wedding? I highly doubt anyone getting married would like to go trough staging another wedding just because they skimped on the photographer.

    2.8 glass is fast enough if you have a body with good high ISO performance. Thereby not saying that it can entirely substitute a couple of 1.4 primes and a flashgun.

    To the OP: I would think again about doing this wedding and maybe speak to the couple again.

    If the pictures doesn't matter to them and they just want some nice snapshots then maybe, maybe it would be the right thing to do. But if they expect you to produce breathtaking wedding pictures then I would say they are best off using a more experienced photographer.

    But again. You might be a fantastic photographer although you've only been taking pictures for a year or two. But, no offence, your questions make me think otherwise :)
  15. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    I completely disagree about the second body. He is THE photographer, what if his camera fails, what if he has a 50 mounted on one body and sees a shot that needs a different focal length? Once someone has shot for a long time they will have an idea what equipment they need ready. This photog needs everything ready at all times as they dont' yet have that experience.

    And bring craploads of cards. It is easy to shoot 20 gigs at a wedding (especially if you are learning and just shooting everything and sorting it out later). If you think this will be a one time thing, buy a few cards from your local big box store and just leave them in their packages in your bag. If you need them, they can be opened, if not, return them.

    Personally shooting crop, I would have one body with a 24-70/24-105/17-55 mounted to catch most shots, the other would have a 50/70-200/10-22 depending on the current situation. Obviously these are canon lenses, but nikon will have something similar. For some shots recently I have been using strobes with a remote trigger on each body, but they definitely have a distinct look to them and you lose a lot of the ambiance (but can catch shots that are impossible any other way (ie group dance shots)). I would recommend at the very least a 580 (equivalent Nikon SB900?) with an omnibounce or lightsphere on each body (omnibounce prefered, lightsphere will likely get knocked off if you are shooting two bodies). Off camera with pocket wizards can be better, but you will already be so overwhelmed with everything that you will likely have more luck with just two self contained bodies.

    Make sure you get a good tripod.

    This will be expensive for you to rent all of this stuff, but required if you want a chance at professional level shots. The last wedding I shot with a friend, the rental was ~250 for lighting only (PW's, Metz, light stands), we already had all the glass,bodies,small flash guns,strobes we needed. For that wedding we used (note, not all of this is required, but we had it and used it and got keepers from everything).

    20D,50D,Xsi(primarily used for time-lapse shots/backup body)

    24-105, 70-200 2.8 IS, 100 macro, 30 1.4, 50 1.4x2, 85 1.8, 10-22, EF 2x

    AB800, AB1600, 580II, 430, Metz CL4 most with light modifiers (omnibounce, lightsphere, soft box, umbrella) and stands are required.

    055Pro Carbon, 190CLB aluminum

    2x8gb,4x4gb,2x2gb,2x1gb,100gb Hyperdrive (all cards were copied to hyperdrive as a backup)

    3 batteries/camera (only 2 used), 3 sets of eneloops/flash (changed once part way through to keep flash speed up)

    Stroboframe ProRL, L358 lightmeter, 4xPWII, 3xAB RR1, 2xOC-E2, EU2000i, Reflectors (Large and small), Camera bags, Background stands and paper (weather turned bad needed to do wedding portraits in an ugly hall), sandbags

    Like I said, you can shoot with less, but some things I personally consider necessary when it is your job to shoot the wedding (ie multiple bodies, multiple batteries, multiple flashes, tons of storage space).

    When shooting weddings for fun (ie. not THE photographer) I normally drop to one body with a 580II (w modifier), bag of lenses and sometimes the stroboframe (although that gets a lot of looks and comments so I don't generally pull it out, it does help take some great pictures though).

    Good luck.
  16. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Wow, well I dont question your methods, I know many wedding photogs who started out with a single body and they only get a 2nd body much later. Also, beside memory card, the other thing I forgot is for him to get a 2nd battery. Also if he decided to get a flash gun, he needs at least 2 sets of batteries, safer to have 3.

    Honestly, judging from the question the OP gives, it seems he is still not that familiar with the wide range of photography equipments and although some of you guys suggestions is the real deal for people who are serious about wedding photography (cause I agree with what you guys said), honestly I have a feeling the op will just be overwhelmed by the equipments rather then focusing on stuffs that matters such as composition, exposure and getting the right moment.

    Oh and I forgot to add, although many photogs (even me) recommended a 50mm, I also highly recommend you to get a 35mm if the op wants to have a 50mm FoV.
  17. PimpDaddy macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2007
    Could it be that we are simply just trying to tell the OP that he should consider it twice before taking the responsibility of covering a once-in-a-lifetime-can't-shoot-it-again-ever event?

    All other gear aside it's impossible to continue shooting anything if his one and only body fails during the ceremony. It probably won't happen. But what if?

    This again leads me to the 'question' I asked the OP: "If the pictures doesn't matter to them and they just want some nice snapshots then maybe, maybe it would be the right thing to do. But if they expect you to produce breathtaking wedding pictures then I would say they are best off using a more experienced photographer."

    If I were the OP I would try and get in touch with either a photographer/other friends or family about to get married, and ask if he could be second shooter at a couple or more weddings before considering doing it solo.

    But if the couple are totally relaxed about it and know what to expect, by all means use this as a valuable experience(although I think more experience is to be gained by tagging along with a more experienced wedding 'tog).
  18. Gold89 macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2008
  19. rouxeny macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2008
    Oh, I think you should rethink.

    I've been the 2nd shooter a few times with a friend who has done maybe 10 small weddings.

    We bring everything we own including
    5d x 2
    580 EXII x 3
    70-200 2.8 IS x 2
    15 mm fish x 1
    17-40 mm x 1
    16-35 mm x 1
    24-100 mm x 1
    50 1.4 x 1
    Tripod x 3
    80 GB CF cards

    I enjoy being the 2nd shooter, although it's still stressful. I'm very glad I'm not the primary, it's a lot of work and clearly the buck stops with you.

    If I can give you any advice, I'd say that you should either 1) Look at a LOT of websites to get some picture ideas or 2) Follow around a wedding photographer for a shoot or two to pick up tips and that you should consider 3) Not charging your family member.

    A final tip, I'm not sure how many weddings you've been to, but think for a bit about the flow of a wedding and figure out what parts of the ceremony you HAVE to catch.

    Good luck.
  20. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    Wow... this one's a doozy...

    First of all, yes, you need backup equipment. Twice as many cards as you think you'll need, at least 2 camera bodies, and at least two high quality lenses that cover the wide to standard range and one high quality tele lens. The people here telling you that wedding photographers don't have a backup camera don't know what they're talking about. All of the legit pros I know have multiple backups.

    I would not accept any money if it's your first wedding. I would also make it EXCEEDINGLY clear to her that you are not a professional and not to expect anything close to professional results.

    Weddings move very fast and unless you have a lot of practice, it's very easy to miss key shots that cannot be re-enacted.

    I dont' think anyone here has really hit on perhaps the most important point. Wedding photography is more about your ability to manage time and groups of people than it is about photography, which says a lot. Your ability to interact with lots of people in a high-stress situation and make them feel comfortable and at ease, while not wasting time is a skill that only comes with experience.

    The number one thing all aspiring wedding photographers must remember:
    No part of a wedding can be re-enacted for the purposes of a reshoot, so you must get 100% of the shots 100% of the time.
  21. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Did they also advertise their services exclusively on Craigslist? :p Anyone who doesn't care enough about the event to cover an obvious single point of failure isn't a wedding photographer, they're a hack with a camera. I've seen friends and families stop talking to one another over bad wedding photographs, I can't imagine how it'd go over no wedding photographs.


    Seriously evaluate the family's ability to handle it if the work isn't up to their standards- not just the couple, but both sets of parents and any relatives who have serious family influence and may not be quite as photogenic as they'd like. These things can ripple for years, especially if you take money for it. I'd say if you can't rent the equipment as your gift, you should decline. Taking money changes things, both in terms of expectations, and liability (if an unscrupulous guest trips because "your flash was in their eyes" you're not likely to have insurance coverage to deal with it, but you're taking money...) You should also make sure that the bride, groom and both sets of parents fully understand (that is you've clearly communicated to them in no uncertain terms) that a skilled wedding photographer is something completely different than a guy with a camera, and set their expectations low. If you produce great shots- then they'll be thrilled after all of that, and if you don't, then at least they go into it aware they may not get the family heirloom shots they expect- because lots of people looking to save money only regret the difference after they can't do it over again.

    If you're shooting flash, you should know how to shoot flash, what power levels to use at what distances with which lenses, how to drag the shutter, how to avoid reflections in glasses, etc. If you don't have those skills, you're more likely to end up with poor snapshots than not. No matter how long you have until the event, you should be practicing those skills pretty-much daily.

    You need a shot list. The standard group shots, ring shots, cake shots, etc. A list of people who "must" be in the album, etc.

    You need to know how to pose groups of people. There are books with plenty of advice for that, I'd suggest at least one, perhaps two for differing viewpoints.

    You will need an assistant if the wedding is of any size other than 15-20 people. The best assistant has another camera, and can cover other angles and hopefully get shots you miss. The minimal assistant is someone who knows who everyone is and has the authority to round them up when necessary for the group shots. They can also help enforce the "don't flash with your P&S until the official photograph is taken" rule.

    You'll need to speak to the officiant to see if you're allowed to take flash pictures during the event, and plan for the requisite equipment if it's not allowed. You'll need to scout the venue and see what sort of lighting there is, figure out what settings are going to work at which focal lengths and where you'll need lighting and what lighting you'll need. Take lots of notes, take lots of test shots and make sure you can match them both. If it's a challenging venue, then it's going to be extremely difficult without experience, if it's a relatively bright venue without flash restrictions then it's just going to be difficult.

    If it's a traditional black tux, white dress wedding, then you should be sure you can nail exposures with the two side-by-side- get some cloth and practice shooting and evaluate the shots. When in doubt, detail in the dress wins over detail in the tux if the dynamic range of the scene is too large.

    The D3000 hasn't been out long, if you don't have whatever you shot with before as a backup, then you should rent something and make sure you're familiar enough with it to do all the shots if you must.

    Good luck.

  22. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    I think the others have given some excellent points to consider. I'll just add an anecdote.

    Two friends of mine got married about 2 years ago. They got a semi-pro photographer from the groom's work to photograph the wedding. He had a Nikon-based setup consisting of a D40X and a D70, and various lenses (I'm a Canon shooter, so I'm not sure exactly what they were, but I believe he had at least a fast 70-200 and a couple of primes). He had a decent off-camera flash setup at the reception.

    All in all, not a bad setup. The bodies were a bit cheap based on what a full time wedding photographer would have, but he wasn't strapped for gear.

    The pictures turned out terrible.

    Bad lighting, bad compositions, really bad post-production. The pictures were basically glorified snapshots; not horrible for a guest at the wedding, but not acceptable for someone who was paid money to get the shot. The clients were not at all happy.

    The moral of the story: wedding photography is very, very difficult. You don't get a second chance. In event photography, you also don't get a second chance, but you don't also need to be super artistic and make the shots exquisitely just need to get the shot of the speaker and move on. Not so in wedding photography. You have to nail the shot AND make it beautiful. There's a reason that people are second-shooters for years before breaking out on their own.

    It's not about whether you are a good photographer or not. You have to know your gear inside and out; you have to know how different light will affect the shot. You have to manage people effectively. You have to manage time effectively. And you absolutely cannot make a mistake.

    This is not to scare you, just to tell you that if your cousin REALLY wants you to be the only photographer, you need to let her know exactly what to expect. A big part of professional photography is managing expectations.
  23. stagi macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2006
    @Edge100 totally agree with you. Wedding photographers do have to have a very multi faceted skill set, you are shooting under very quick conditions normally with terrible lighting and since its one of the biggest days of there lives have to get amazing shots. It isn't easy and since it is such a big and important day (even if the client doesn't think so now, they will in the future) very important to get great work. Also anyone starting out with one body is crazy, I would never ever take on a wedding with one body.
  24. pprior macrumors 65816

    Aug 1, 2007
    Just say no.

    You've got only 1 body. no backup if something goes wrong
    You've got a kit lens which will suck in low light.
    You don't even mention ownership of a flash.
    Given you make no statement of understanding manual flash adjustments, manual mode, white balance, avoiding blowing highlights, or any other topic relevent to shooting a wedding, having "a year or two" of experience means diddly squat on a couple's most important day.

    I think taking on a wedding without proper equipment which means low light glass and backups of everything needed (at least 2 bodies and 2 lenses and 2 flashes) and without some experience previously is photographic malpractice. You really have no excuse if something goes wrong.

    People love to ask others to shoot their weddings if they think you know something about photography and have a DSLR. What they don't know (usually) is that taking good wedding images is NOT as easy as it looks. If something goes wrong, you don't have a 2nd chance, and family reunions will be hell for years to come.

    That's my advice. I've got 20 years SLR shooting experience, and some 2nd shooting wedding experience, and own boatload of gear, but still routinely turn people down when they ask about weddings.
  25. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    One of my good friends wants me to shoot her wedding in September. She asked me last summer if I wanted to do it, and i told her no. She convinced me to do it. I told her don't expect the best results, but I know (as does she) that the results will indeed be stellar. I've been shooting as a hobbyist now for 10 years, but 95% is nature/waterfalls/landscapes, etc.

    I don't know what advice to give you. I don't know what you are used to shooting, etc. I don't know that I would do it for free. I would at least charge her for the cost of the lens/body rental. I mean no offense, but she chose you to probably save on the cost of getting a pro, which can run anywhere from $1000 to $5000 (or more).

    I am charging my friend, but probably ONLY for the cost of the rentals, the gas to drive there and maybe enough for a hotel. The wedding is in Florence, Oregon and I live in downtown Portland, so to rent a car and such, adds up.

    The lenses I am going to be renting (might purchase one before the date) are..
    70-200mm 2.8, either 85 or 100mm prime, 24-70 2.8 and might rent one other lens. I will rent a 5DII. I will no doubt have 2 bodies. One, incase of an emergency, and two, makes it so much more efficient and time saving from switching lenses.

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