shooting wedding photos Nikon D80

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by chewbaccacabra, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. chewbaccacabra macrumors regular


    Mar 20, 2008
    I am taking my dad's rig. SB-600, 50mm 1.8 and the 12-24mm. It's not in a church, but a hotel. I am the primary photographer. Any tips? I haven't even seen the hotel yet.

    Basically they want pics of the brief ceremony and then walking around and posing with about 30 guests, 15 couples. Nothing hardcore. second wedding for them, etc etc.

    I have never done this, I mainly take pictures for my friends Shakespeare theater company with varying degrees of success. Basically never use the flash at the theatre.

    Any tips much appreciated.
  2. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    Good luck. I worry a little for you with no prior experience with weddings. You don't want to mess up photos of someone's very special day. Sorry, I just ordered my D40, so I am new and have no tips for you.
  3. chewbaccacabra thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 20, 2008
    That's what I said! But they seem to think I would be good enough. It's a small ceremony with them spending more money on the honeymoon. I am fairly certain they don't expect to have anything worth hanging over a mantlepiece portrait size and formal. They just aren't the type. :eek:
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I've shot a wedding with a D80 + SB-400 and two lenses (18-70 kit lens and 2.8/80-200 zoom). If you are the only photographer, you will definitely need a 2.8/70/80-200 zoom or something similar. Otherwise you'll be in the couple's face! And a tripod helps a lot, too. I didn't have one and it shows on some photos (it was pitch black outside, low ambient light, I had to push to ISO3200 and still got times of only 1/60 s or so at aperture 2.8).

    Take enough memory cards and batteries. You can never have enough of either. I went through three sets of batteries for the flash.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You will need a longer lens. For $40 or $50 you can rent a nice f/2.8 tele. maybe a 70-200 See if the couple can spring for it. A 50mm lens will put you a little bit to close durring the wedding. OK after.

    so this is your Dad's rig? Do a trail run. Shoot some stand-ins. and get used to the camera. Don't ry to learn how to use it durring the shoot.

    Work out the lighting. do not aim the SB600 directly at the couple. bounce it or defuse it or something. use anything except direct flash. Test this before the shoot so you know who far the defused flash can "reach"

    carful not to blow highlights, check you histogram an "blinky" display frequently.
  6. chewbaccacabra thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 20, 2008
    Yeah I have been practicing bouncing the flash. My walls are white though. He has the kit lense which I believe is an 18-135 and also a 70-300. I can take both of those if I need to. I really didn't think I'd take the big guy, but figured I'd throw the kit in there.
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Neither one of them is good enough for your purposes, you need a zoom with an aperture of 2.8, unless you're shooting outside during the day ;)
  8. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Actually you have the best tip of all put in the form of worry.
    He should be worried since this is his first time, primary "photographer", and not even his own rig.

    No they aren't the type, yet. Rest assured my arm has been twisted more than enough times to speak from great experience. No matter what these people say to you now the moment after the wedding when they find out that their photos are trash or not even worthy of hanging over the mantle they'll regret it and most likely let you know it somehow. I'm not saying you're going to mess up but I can tell you that personally, I didn't screw anything up and I heard a few things such as "why didn't you get this shot?"

    Don't discount what you're doing especially when it comes to a wedding, be it the second, third, etc. etc.
    Fairly sound advice. Your lens choices are bleak. You'll definitely need a zoom in there somewhere. Considering the sub-standard glass you're using buy a good tripod.

    Good luck to you on this one. I think it'd be best to start reading up on DOF, this'll save you a bit of frustration otherwise the shots may look more like snapshots.
  9. CBA macrumors newbie

    Apr 30, 2008
    I totally agree with the worry part and Jessica's post nails several concerns. I was asked once to do this and really didn't know what I had gotten into and this was is the film days. If you mess it up they won't have much to show.

    I would urge them to consider hiring a pro and you can take extra shots if you like. If they still won't then study whatever portfolios you can find online to get ideas and rent some good zooms that allows you to work the less available light, shallow DOF, quick AF etc.

    You might find more help on forums like Fredmiranda or dpreview.
    Fredmiranda has a wedding specific topic, here is an example

    Good luck
  10. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    I've shot exactly three weddings in my life. All three were before I got much, much better at saying "no" to friends. All three were "We can't afford a real photographer" weddings- two of them second marriages. Shots I thought turned out poorly one bride loved. Shots I thought were great, one bride didn't like. Add in parents of the bride, parents of the groom, grandparents and there are a lot of people who aren't your friends who can be disappointed in a poor job.

    When my friend and business partner got married last year, there was no official wedding photographer because I flat out refused to be put in that position again. I didn't even bring a camera with me to the wedding- I'd rather have an upset friend feel cheated for a short time than have two families worth of upset for years and years.

    I hope you're right about your friends, and I hope they're not ignoring their families. Worst-case, I hope they'll be happy with whatever the results are because they made the choice to not go with someone with experience.

    Getting the flash off the lens axis, learning to balance the flash with ambient light so you don't get the same snapshot look as Uncle George, shooting in portrait orientation more than in landscape and knowing how to nail the shot no matter what the venue does to you in terms of ceilings, color, window placement, etc. is a good thing. Have an assistant to corral people for the standard shots, even if it's Aunt Flo. Previewing the venue can help with some of that, especially if you take someone along to shoot and get some practice. A good bounce card or diffuser will help if the ceilings suck.

    Good luck, hopefully your batteries will be good and no equipment will fail.
  11. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    12-24 will be pretty much useless except for a few wide angle shots such as overall crowd, hotel

    50 f1.8 is not bad. I use a 50 f1.4 and it's great.

    24-70 mm F2.8 will be ideal to rent.
    One place is Calumet. Or there are some mail order rental places if you are not near a major photographic city.

    You want to google and start reading, if you want to keep doing this (or if you want to do a great job). Wedding photography can be profitable if you know what you are doing and can deal with the stress (and long day for higher price weddings).

    ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP, battery, memory cards, another camera. I used to carry 1 flash, until it failed in the middle of a wedding (while the whole group of people are lined up for a group photo, ouch!). Of course, after that I carry 2 flashes.

    That is why professionals charge a good amount for their services. The price includes backup equipment, equipment testing, assistant, and most importantly, experience to deal with any unexpected situation.

    Here is my old payload (I haven't shot for awhile now):

    2 cameras
    20-35 f2.8
    35-70 f2.8
    50 f1.4
    60 micro
    80-200 f2.8
    2 flashes
    multiple sets of batteries
    lens cleaner
    cable release
    gray card
    spot meter
    flash meter (for studio flash)
    flash bracket for on-camera flash

    Studio flash
    Studio flash stands, umbrellas, softbox
    radio control for studio flash
    Gaffers Tape
    Extension cords
    MBP if doing digital (was iBook, then PowerBook, now MBP)

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