Amateur Wedding Photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Barb, May 13, 2008.

  1. Barb

    Barb Guest

    I am writing this message for my sister, who has volunteered to
    photograph our niece's wedding. She is a marvelous amateur
    photographer, uses a Canon Digital Rebel and gets amazing shots. The
    niece is paying for the wedding herself and is on a tight budget, so
    my sister was glad to offer her services free of charge. She feels
    confident she can photograph all the outdoor shots, reception, etc.,
    but is a little nervous about the actual church photography, largely
    because the wedding will be at 6PM and so the church lighting has her
    a little concerned. She is open to renting or borrowing or purchasing
    any lighting equipment she may need. I guess she could use any
    helpful words of advice from seasoned photographers. I am writing
    this message in earnest, and surely would appreciate sincere
    responses, as I have no wish to start any flame wars, etc. Thanks in
    advance for any 'light' you can shed.
     
    Barb, May 13, 2008
    #1
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  2. Barb

    peter Guest

    >I am writing this message for my sister, who has volunteered to
    > photograph our niece's wedding. She is a marvelous amateur
    > photographer, uses a Canon Digital Rebel and gets amazing shots. The
    > niece is paying for the wedding herself and is on a tight budget, so
    > my sister was glad to offer her services free of charge. She feels
    > confident she can photograph all the outdoor shots, reception, etc.,
    > but is a little nervous about the actual church photography, largely
    > because the wedding will be at 6PM and so the church lighting has her
    > a little concerned. She is open to renting or borrowing or purchasing
    > any lighting equipment she may need. I guess she could use any
    > helpful words of advice from seasoned photographers. I am writing
    > this message in earnest, and surely would appreciate sincere
    > responses, as I have no wish to start any flame wars, etc. Thanks in
    > advance for any 'light' you can shed.


    You can use google to find many guides to wedding photography tips and
    tricks. But one cannot expect to absorb all the tips and tricks just by
    reading them. It takes practices.

    Whenever I'm asked to shoot a wedding, I always tell the couple I'm not a
    pro and they *need* to get at least one other photographer, amateur or pro.
    The last thing I want is to ruin a friendship because I screw up, got sick,
    or my equipment fail on the day.

    If there is a wedding rehearsal at about the same time of day, it would be a
    good practice opportunity.

    The photographer needs to know her equipment very well because there is no
    time to think when shooting a wedding. If she rents studio strobes, she may
    not even have time to set them up. She needs to have on-camera flash ready
    at all times (probably need a flash bracket and an external battery pack).
    An assistant to carry stuff, set up lighting, locate missing relatives, tear
    down lighting, watch her gear, ... is very very useful.

    Do the couple want posed group shots or posed couple shots? Posing people in
    a pleasing manner is a whole new topic and something most amateur
    photographers have trouble with. Some photographers skirt the issue by
    declaring themselves photojournalist-style wedding photographers :)
     
    peter, May 13, 2008
    #2
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  3. "Joseph Meehan" <> wrote:
    > In all due respect, no one is really prepared to do this the first time,
    >unless they have been trained by a professional at real weddings.
    >
    > There are so many things that can and do go wrong. The last person you
    >really want to have this happen to would be a close friend or family member.


    With all due respect, but doesn't that also depend upon how much value
    the bride/groom attaches to the formalities? What is more important: the
    love between the two newlyweds or the 4-tier wedding cake, the gown, the
    tuxedo, and the perfect pictures? The last wedding I attended as best
    man I had to choose one of my older sport jackets to not outdress the
    groom. Yes, those weddings exist, too, and we don't know which style
    wedding this one is.
    If someone does place so much emphasis on the outward formalities, then
    yes, by all means, hire a professional photographer. And for the
    amateur: stay away as far as possible because you will be blamed for
    every shot you took and every shot you missed.

    However if the choice is between photos taken with cell phone cameras
    and an amateur photographer with a somewhat decend camera, then I hope
    the amateur photographer will win hands down.
    It should just be _very_ clear to everyone upfront what the individual
    expectations are. And if there is any mismatch then don't do it.

    In this context I can't find anything wrong with asking for additional
    advice from experienced photographers.

    jue
     
    Jürgen Exner, May 13, 2008
    #3
  4. Barb

    Barb Guest

    It's me again, the original poster. Everyone has given some wonderful
    suggestions, and I appreciate them. I think my sister has things
    nailed as far as the composition goes, an "eye" for a great shot, and
    probably a lot of the innate qualities that make a photographer great.
    She has an amazing knack for capturing the moment. What is making her
    shake is the actual wedding ceremony itself, and just making sure she
    gets some decent shots of some of the special moments, in lighting
    that may not be as favorable as what she is used to. As for the bride
    and groom - they are totally non-fussy, even tho the reception will be
    at a Country Club, and my sister and her family are laid back as
    well.

    I had a fiasco at my own wedding a hundred years ago with a
    'professional' photographer that took 47 photos of a good friend of
    mine who looked like Farah Faucett (who btw used to be pretty good
    looking!) and exactly one of my grandmother. So the amateur status of
    my sis doesn't bother me much, either, and I think if she had
    equipment failure or any other catastrophe, no one would be too upset
    except her. That said, any helpful hints that have worked for any of
    you would surely be taken to heart. Thanks again in advance for your
    time and interest! Barb

    On May 13, 4:54 pm, Jürgen Exner <> wrote:
    > "Joseph Meehan" <> wrote:
    > >    In all due respect, no one is really prepared to do this the first time,
    > >unless they have been trained by a professional at real weddings.

    >
    > >    There are so many things that can and do go wrong. The last person you
    > >really want to have this happen to would be a close friend or family member.

    >
    > With all due respect, but doesn't that also depend upon how much value
    > the bride/groom attaches to the formalities? What is more important: the
    > love between the two newlyweds or the 4-tier wedding cake, the gown, the
    > tuxedo, and the perfect pictures? The last wedding I attended as best
    > man I had to choose one of my older sport jackets to not outdress the
    > groom. Yes, those weddings exist, too, and we don't know which style
    > wedding this one is.
    > If someone does place so much emphasis on the outward formalities, then
    > yes, by all means, hire a professional photographer. And for the
    > amateur: stay away as far as possible because you will be blamed for
    > every shot you took and every shot you missed.
    >
    > However if the choice is between photos taken with cell phone cameras
    > and an amateur photographer with a somewhat decend camera, then I hope
    > the amateur photographer will win hands down.
    > It should just be _very_ clear to everyone upfront what the individual
    > expectations are. And if there is any mismatch then don't do it.
    >
    > In this context I can't find anything wrong with asking for additional
    > advice from experienced photographers.
    >
    > jue
     
    Barb, May 13, 2008
    #4
  5. "Barb" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    It's me again, the original poster. Everyone has given some wonderful
    suggestions, and I appreciate them. I think my sister has things
    nailed as far as the composition goes, an "eye" for a great shot, and
    probably a lot of the innate qualities that make a photographer great.
    She has an amazing knack for capturing the moment. What is making her
    shake is the actual wedding ceremony itself, and just making sure she
    gets some decent shots of some of the special moments, in lighting
    that may not be as favorable as what she is used to. As for the bride
    and groom - they are totally non-fussy, even tho the reception will be
    at a Country Club, and my sister and her family are laid back as
    well.

    I had a fiasco at my own wedding a hundred years ago with a
    'professional' photographer that took 47 photos of a good friend of
    mine who looked like Farah Faucett (who btw used to be pretty good
    looking!) and exactly one of my grandmother. So the amateur status of
    my sis doesn't bother me much, either, and I think if she had
    equipment failure or any other catastrophe, no one would be too upset
    except her. That said, any helpful hints that have worked for any of
    you would surely be taken to heart. Thanks again in advance for your
    time and interest! Barb

    On May 13, 4:54 pm, Jürgen Exner <> wrote:
    > "Joseph Meehan" <> wrote:
    > > In all due respect, no one is really prepared to do this the first time,
    > >unless they have been trained by a professional at real weddings.

    >
    > > There are so many things that can and do go wrong. The last person you
    > >really want to have this happen to would be a close friend or family
    > >member.

    >
    > With all due respect, but doesn't that also depend upon how much value
    > the bride/groom attaches to the formalities? What is more important: the
    > love between the two newlyweds or the 4-tier wedding cake, the gown, the
    > tuxedo, and the perfect pictures? The last wedding I attended as best
    > man I had to choose one of my older sport jackets to not outdress the
    > groom. Yes, those weddings exist, too, and we don't know which style
    > wedding this one is.
    > If someone does place so much emphasis on the outward formalities, then
    > yes, by all means, hire a professional photographer. And for the
    > amateur: stay away as far as possible because you will be blamed for
    > every shot you took and every shot you missed.
    >
    > However if the choice is between photos taken with cell phone cameras
    > and an amateur photographer with a somewhat decend camera, then I hope
    > the amateur photographer will win hands down.
    > It should just be _very_ clear to everyone upfront what the individual
    > expectations are. And if there is any mismatch then don't do it.
    >
    > In this context I can't find anything wrong with asking for additional
    > advice from experienced photographers.
    >
    > jue


    To digest a couple of the suggestions made here, get someone to help the
    photographer, especially in the church, someone who knows everyone involved
    is probably best, they will act as a runner and to herd the wedding party
    for the formal shots, finding uncle Herb out the back etc as well as also
    carry a bag of spare gear.

    On the spare gear front, borrow or rent a second camera complete with
    lenses, one the same as the photographer already has, so it will already be
    familiar to use, don't go changing lenses all the time, change cameras and
    have a different lens on each, also if one of the cameras fails, there is a
    backup. spare batteries are a must as well as spare memory cards, the more
    the better (this is why you need an assistant, someone has to carry all the
    gear while the photographer is taking shots.) Get a decent tripod for the
    Church shots, as has already been said, most Churches don't allow flash or
    extra lighting so the tripod will assist when long exposures are called for
    (avoid high ISO shots if possible as even from the best Professional class
    cameras, they can be noisy)

    It might also help the photographer to practice posing groups of people for
    shots, (use friends and family) that way you can get an idea of what does
    and doesn't work. go the wedding rehearsal and look for places to take good
    shots, create a list of expected shots and then make sure they get ticked
    off, things like Bride and Groom signing the wedding register, first kiss at
    the alter, exchanging rings etc. etc. Talk to the priest, he has seen a lot
    of weddings and may be able to assist with good locations, and by asking,
    you will get the priest on side and having the person actually running the
    ceremony as a friend can only be good :)

    While I may not be an experienced wedding photographer per se, I was married
    to one for a while and acted as the gopher at most of the ones she shot ;-)
    hopefully some more tips may be forthcoming
    good luck :)
    --
    "Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color."
    Don Hirschberg
     
    Atheist Chaplain, May 14, 2008
    #5
  6. Barb

    DD Guest

    I have taken wedding photographs for friends who did not have the means
    to hire a professional and in each situation I got no criticism and a
    lot of praise! I must say that this was in the 60's and they were all
    film cameras then. I did not have a very good camera, a Japanese
    "Echoflex" which was a Rollei copy but it produced some really good
    photographs.
    My main issues were:

    1) I did not always know how to set up the group photographs because it
    was rare that I knew everyone in the wedding group. I would suggest that
    the groups and the relative positions of the various family members is
    agreed before the day.

    2) Another problem I encountered was that when I had a group composed
    and I was about to take a photograph, I was hindered by people among the
    guests who would wait until I was ready and start taking their own
    photographs. This was eventually overcome by the simple act of leaving
    an old wooden tripod in front of the group until the last minute. Nobody
    wants a tripod in their photograph! After taking all the photographs you
    want, it is a good idea to invite the guests to take their own
    photographs. Once they get the idea it is sometimes possible to forget
    about the tripod.

    3) I always took at least four photographs of groups because there is
    always someone making a funny face, looking the wrong way or with their
    eyes closed! I always used to warn the group that I was going to take a
    lot of photographs and sometimes I faked the first few to get attention
    and natural expressions.

    4) If there are children to be photographed in a group, do those groups
    first and if there are individual or groups of children, try to do the
    photographs before the adult groups and preferably away from the guests.

    5) Photographs taken in the church were always taken with flash, a slave
    flash near and to one side adds a bit of shadow and helps to bring out
    the details of the brides dress. I used to calculate my exposures from
    light readings taken from the bride because the first thing that the
    bride will look for is the detail of the dress!

    6) Lastly, it is a good idea to have someone to help get the groups set
    up and give you time to think about the next move. The faster the
    photography is done, the more successful the shoot will be and the
    happier everyone will be.

    Hope this helps, Oh by the way look out for wine glasses, they can
    spoil a photograph, either in the hand of a group member or just sitting
    innocently on a table nearby.

    DD


    Barb wrote:
    > I am writing this message for my sister, who has volunteered to
    > photograph our niece's wedding. She is a marvelous amateur
    > photographer, uses a Canon Digital Rebel and gets amazing shots. The
    > niece is paying for the wedding herself and is on a tight budget, so
    > my sister was glad to offer her services free of charge. She feels
    > confident she can photograph all the outdoor shots, reception, etc.,
    > but is a little nervous about the actual church photography, largely
    > because the wedding will be at 6PM and so the church lighting has her
    > a little concerned. She is open to renting or borrowing or purchasing
    > any lighting equipment she may need. I guess she could use any
    > helpful words of advice from seasoned photographers. I am writing
    > this message in earnest, and surely would appreciate sincere
    > responses, as I have no wish to start any flame wars, etc. Thanks in
    > advance for any 'light' you can shed.
     
    DD, May 14, 2008
    #6
  7. Barb

    peter Guest

    Please post the results/experience of your sister shooting her first
    wedding.
     
    peter, May 14, 2008
    #7
  8. Barb

    Robert Coe Guest

    On Tue, 13 May 2008 15:46:45 -0700 (PDT), Barb <> wrote:
    : It's me again, the original poster. Everyone has given some wonderful
    : suggestions, and I appreciate them. I think my sister has things
    : nailed as far as the composition goes, an "eye" for a great shot, and
    : probably a lot of the innate qualities that make a photographer great.
    : She has an amazing knack for capturing the moment. What is making her
    : shake is the actual wedding ceremony itself, and just making sure she
    : gets some decent shots of some of the special moments, in lighting
    : that may not be as favorable as what she is used to. As for the bride
    : and groom - they are totally non-fussy, even tho the reception will be
    : at a Country Club, and my sister and her family are laid back as
    : well.

    In the overall context of things, failure to capture the ceremony may not be
    all that big a deal. Some churches don't allow photography during the ceremony
    anyway, or place such restrictions on it that good pictures are often hard to
    get, even for an experienced professional. If your sister gets good pictures
    after the ceremony and at the reception, that may be all that's required. (And
    as someone suggested, she should go to the rehearsal if possible. She may get
    some good pictures there, and at least it will be good practice.)

    : I had a fiasco at my own wedding a hundred years ago with a
    : 'professional' photographer that took 47 photos of a good friend of
    : mine who looked like Farah Faucett (who btw used to be pretty good
    : looking!) and exactly one of my grandmother. So the amateur status of
    : my sis doesn't bother me much, either, and I think if she had
    : equipment failure or any other catastrophe, no one would be too upset
    : except her. That said, any helpful hints that have worked for any of
    : you would surely be taken to heart. Thanks again in advance for your
    : time and interest! Barb

    I have an interesting situation coming up in a couple of weeks. Back when I
    was in college, one of my cousins got married. I had recently bought my first
    Nikon, and through some process I don't quite remember, I was designated the
    official photographer of the event. I did the best I could, shooting in B&W
    and making the prints myself. As I recall, they were adequate, although
    nothing to really brag about. The bride and groom liked them well enough, and
    I'm told they still have them.

    Now a bit of time has passed, and my cousin and his wife are about to
    celebrate their 50th anniversary. My wife and I will be driving from Boston to
    Chicago for the occasion, hauling along our Canons and our collection of
    lenses. I expect the whole weekend to be a grand photo shoot, wherein I'll be
    competing, in a way, with the original wedding photographer, which was me. If
    my pictures of the anniversary parties, taken with modern digital equipment,
    aren't an order of magnitude better than those I took 50 years ago, I'll feel
    like a dope.

    So tell your sister that if she does too good a job, she may just be providing
    retroactive competition for herself in the future!

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, May 17, 2008
    #8
  9. Barb

    Robert Coe Guest

    On Tue, 13 May 2008 21:01:23 -0400, Shawn Hirn <> wrote:
    : In article
    : <>,
    : Barb <> wrote:
    :
    : > I am writing this message for my sister, who has volunteered to
    : > photograph our niece's wedding. She is a marvelous amateur
    : > photographer, uses a Canon Digital Rebel and gets amazing shots. The
    : > niece is paying for the wedding herself and is on a tight budget, so
    : > my sister was glad to offer her services free of charge. She feels
    : > confident she can photograph all the outdoor shots, reception, etc.,
    : > but is a little nervous about the actual church photography, largely
    : > because the wedding will be at 6PM and so the church lighting has her
    : > a little concerned. She is open to renting or borrowing or purchasing
    : > any lighting equipment she may need. I guess she could use any
    : > helpful words of advice from seasoned photographers. I am writing
    : > this message in earnest, and surely would appreciate sincere
    : > responses, as I have no wish to start any flame wars, etc. Thanks in
    : > advance for any 'light' you can shed.
    :
    : My advise. Don't do it! A professional photographer will get much better
    : results. Your sister needs to realize she is offering to undertake a
    : real job with a lot of responsibility and it is a hell of a lot of work.
    : The bulk of the work occurs after the photo shooting is done, when she
    : has to sit down at her computer and post-process the photos she wants to
    : give the newlyweds.
    :
    : I did this for my sister, and all I can say is, never again. Doing
    : wedding photography when you are also attending the wedding as a guest
    : is a real drudge. My sister loved the results, as did my parents and her
    : in-laws, but I spent at least 200 hours AFTER the wedding working on the
    : wedding album. I also didn't get to enjoy the wedding festivities at all
    : because I was working.

    Good lord, man! You didn't "enjoy the wedding festivities"? Unless you were
    trying to pick up one of the bridesmaids, what possible difference does that
    make? Weddings are for the bride and groom (and their parents); the guests are
    merely props. With 200+ hours of work, you pleased your parents and gave your
    sister a fine wedding present. In the fullness of time, you may come to regard
    it as some of the most satisfying work you ever did.

    Anyway, your advice comes too late; Barb's sister is already on the hook.

    : If your sister must do this, she needs the help of at least one other
    : photographer who has a good camera because there is no way one person
    : can get all the shots that a wedding typically involves. Your sister
    : also needs to rent lighting, and she needs to see the wedding venue
    : before the wedding takes place and make a list of the photos the bride
    : and groom want. There are numerous books on wedding photography. Your
    : sister should read at least one of them.

    Excellent advice. But if she doesn't manage to get to any of it, the world
    won't end.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, May 17, 2008
    #9
  10. Barb

    Robert Coe Guest

    On Tue, 13 May 2008 20:44:45 -0500, George Kerby <>
    wrote:
    :
    : On 5/13/08 8:01 PM, in article
    : , "Shawn Hirn"
    : <> wrote:
    :
    : > ...
    : > If your sister must do this, she needs the help of at least one other
    : > photographer who has a good camera because there is no way one person
    : > can get all the shots that a wedding typically involves. Your sister
    : > also needs to rent lighting, and she needs to see the wedding venue
    : > before the wedding takes place and make a list of the photos the bride
    : > and groom want. There are numerous books on wedding photography. Your
    : > sister should read at least one of them.
    :
    :
    : Why am I the ONLY one who gave her real advice? The rest of you have gotten
    : into a mindless dissertation.

    You're joking, right? Shawn made some potentially helpful suggestions. All you
    did was remind her to bring a tripod.

    Bob
     
    Robert Coe, May 17, 2008
    #10
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