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Thread: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    I need some advice here, please. A nephew has asked it I can do his up coming wedding shoot at the end of September (early spring for us). I know next to nothing about shooting weddings, so help and suggestions from anyone who has done so before, especially if you do it for a living, would be valued. I have explained to him that he would be better off getting a pro to do it for them, but they are as poor as the proverbial mice and he is out of work, just to make it even more of a stretch for them financially. So it almost feels like an obligation.

    I have a Nikon D80, an SB600 flash (which I have yet to use, let alone master) the range of likely-to-be-useful lenses includes Nik 35mm f/1.8, Tamron 28-85 f/2.8, a Nik 70-300VR, and the kit 18-135mm that came with the camera. I also have a tripod, but imagine that would only be good for the "managed" shots, not for the ceremony itself. 1 battery - my main concern and an 8Gb card.

    I feel out of my depth....#needs sinking smilie#

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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Kit

    There's a lot been written on here about doing wedding photography - mostly along the lines of 'don't touch it' unless you really know what you're doing. Do a search on 'wedding'. This one contains most of the main points being made.

    Your nephew has asked you. Has your nephew's bride-to-be? You're really getting wrapped up into something that could prove disastrous. The emotional tug and feeling of obligation is huge. But ...

    And ... these posts will help you explain to them why you shouldn't do it .... unless, of course, you really feel confident about doing so.

    One post, by Colin, in another thread, captures much of what needs to be said:
    I like to think that Wedding Photography & Space Flight have one thing in common: "Failure is NOT an option" ... with that in mind I'd suggest that any couple heading down the aisle hires the services of a professional - AND - checks them out thoroughly. Unfortunately too many brides and grooms to be think that wedding photography is easy (because modern cameras "do it all for you") - and often serious rifts develop because the "uncle Joe" that they asked on the cheap doesn't know how difficult it's going to be either, and there ands up being disappointment all round.

    You've got the advantage of being aware of what the challenges might be.
    Last edited by Donald; 26th May 2010 at 08:04 AM.

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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    I agree with Donald and tend to consider wedding photography to be one step beyond prostitution!

    However, lets try to look on the positive side here. If their only other option is a total novice with a basic point and shoot, or worse still a mobile phone camera, then you are definitely the best bet.

    My limited advice here, so far I have only ever agreed to photograph the reception, is to do some advanced experimentation. Get some friends to do a 'mock wedding' and see how you cope.

    How experienced are you with flash photography? That is certainly my weakspot. And if it includes a white dress plus a groom in a dark suit you are really in trouble. In these conditions I would prefer to slightly under expose and recover the exposure with software. A 'blown' wedding dress is spoilt forever!

    My only other suggestion is, can you enroll an assistant with another camera? Even one of the better point and shoot models will give you a second chance in case you get it wrong. Or your camera dies at the critical moment - that has even happened to professionals.

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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Hi Kit,

    Geoff's idea of a "mock wedding" sounds good. If you decide to shoot pictures on that wedding, then visit the locations there it will start a few days earlier, ask officals about estimated procedure and take some pictures. Check different lenses and flash settings while you are there. You will get a far better feeling for the situation. Hopefully that will reduce your nervousness so you can concentrate for "the right moment".

    take care
    Robert

  5. #5

    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Don't do it. I'm serious.

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    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    I haven't shot a wedding,but did a portrait shoot for a friend in my house with no pressure(all the time needed to get it right) and I was still a wreck.
    If you feel you have to do this for your nephew and expect to produce good images my suggestion is do some research on equipment.
    If it was me,I would definitely buy a flip flash bracket,it allows you to shoot landscape or portrait keeping the flash above the lens.I'd also look at a flash diffuser(in case you can't bounce flash),another battery,off camera flash cord and another memory card(I would want to shoot RAW)
    Even if you can buy this stuff used you're still going to lay out $150-$200.
    You could probably get away with your flash,a diffuser and a second battery,but having the other equipment would make things a bit easier IMO.
    Start reading and practice,practice......
    All this being said i have to add another "don't do it".

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Kit

    I've been trying to find another thread that's on here (without success) to perhaps show you what those who know what they're talking about on this subject (which I don't), think about the issue. You've listed above what equipment you've got. The thread I'm thinking about would show you that you will need to lay out a lot of capital to have even a chance of getting it right (extra bodies, lights, batteries etc etc).

    If anyone else can reference the thread, it would help Kit realise why we're saying ' Be polite, but say NO'. It wasn't that long ago.

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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    I need some advice here, please. A nephew has asked it I can do his up coming wedding shoot at the end of September (early spring for us). I know next to nothing about shooting weddings, so help and suggestions from anyone who has done so before, especially if you do it for a living, would be valued. I have explained to him that he would be better off getting a pro to do it for them, but they are as poor as the proverbial mice and he is out of work, just to make it even more of a stretch for them financially. So it almost feels like an obligation.

    I have a Nikon D80, an SB600 flash (which I have yet to use, let alone master) the range of likely-to-be-useful lenses includes Nik 35mm f/1.8, Tamron 28-85 f/2.8, a Nik 70-300VR, and the kit 18-135mm that came with the camera. I also have a tripod, but imagine that would only be good for the "managed" shots, not for the ceremony itself. 1 battery - my main concern and an 8Gb card.

    I feel out of my depth....#needs sinking smilie#
    Just take nice photo's, think of the subject and nothing else matters. There is not a lot to it, just doing it is the hard part.

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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    Don't do it. I'm serious.
    Sounds a bit harsh I know, but I agree. Just because they don't have a budget for it doesn't mean that they're not expecting professional results. Don't forget that probably EVERY wedding photo that they're seen to date was probably taken by a professional - and they will probably be under the illusion that wedding photography is easy because "modern cameras do everything for you". So if you shoot the event and produce the same results that a professional would have, then - and only then - will you have just equalled (not surpassed) their (unspoken) expectations; anything less than that and they'll be disappointed. And you'll miss out on enjoying the event yourself.

    My suggestion would be to pass the hat around and raise enough money to have the event shot professionally, as a wedding present.

    Sorry to be so negative - but I suspect it'll be like putting a student pilot in an F-18 and attempting an unassisted landing on a carrier deck at night in a storm; Wedding photography is the pinnacle of pressure - you have to know your equipment and techniques for difficult and changing conditions instinctively (as there's no time to think) - and there's just no substitute for experience.

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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    PS: Are you coming anywhere Nelson on your bus tour?

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    I notice the Location in your profile is “In a bus somewhere in New Zealand”- maybe you should just keep going.
    Seriously though, my brother asked me the same thing a number of years ago and I felt the same. I told him I did landscapes and nature not humans - but he insisted. I explained I would take some photos but not to expect them to be of wedding professional standard OR style – just be very clear upfront.
    I have a similar kit and did some basic photos after the ceremony but spent a lot of time with my 70 – 300m lens and flash taking shots of guests mingling and happy. Most shots were taken at the longer end of the range and at a little distance. With the merriment most didn’t notice my presence and I was able to get some great portrait style shots of guests enjoying themselves (both single portrait and group shots). I did not take any shots to embarrass anyone and generally watched for the person/group for a time to anticipate a timely moment.
    In the end many of the guests asked for prints as they liked the natural images of themselves.
    My brother and his wife were happy because they got the informal representation of their day and saw the happiness of the guests that passed them by as they tried to catch up with everyone on the day itself.
    I now teach photography and sell my prints at local markets. I am often asked if I do weddings and the answer is NO.
    So I agree with most posts here – it is best not to do these things but sometimes you can’t get out of it so explain your style and limitations and just shoot your way, don’t try and be a professional wedding photographer – your not.
    Good Luck.

  13. #13

    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Don't do it. I'm serious.
    I endorse this wholeheartedly. I have done it for my Brother. No other option...no cash...etc. etc. You have some slightly faster glass than I had but if you have never used your flash gun in anger I would really reconsider. Remember there will only be your relative who knows you are a beginner. So if things go wrong. Everyone else will assume you are a pro so bad reaction to your work will be bad reaction unless you watermark your images "Done as a favour for Desperate Relative. If you feel you must do it consider a journalistic approach but you really do need to get to grips with the flash and various means of modifying it's output.

    There is one light though...I look back at my work now and inwardly cringe....however the Bride, Groom, relatives etc all think they are great....I have been asked to do other weddings, birthday parties etc. AND SAID NOOOOO. Joe P is generally not concerned with technical quality and it appears that it is only us togs who indulge in self flagellation with dead cats. We even go onto forums with our dead cat and beg others to beat us with it .

    So unless it is a high society affair or an has an unusually high demographic of Guardian readers you stand some chance of pleasing some of the people some of the time.

    Remember only you can decide if ou really want this to be your first public showing of your work...with a potentially large audience. You cannot refuse to show your pics if aunt Hilda with her Polaroid has thrashed you hands down...Hopefully that will not happen

    I do wish you all the luck in the world

    PS. Please remember relative or no, you are not a guest wedding togging is a job and a half without trying to be a model guest as well. This could be a difficult part if you are meeting a lot of people for the first time in ages. Sorry I missed the throwing of the bouquet cos aunty Doris was showing me her swollen glands.

    Steve

  14. #14

    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    ... it is only us togs who indulge in self flagellation with dead cats. We even go onto forums with our dead cat and beg others to beat us with it .
    Only Donald does that.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Thanks for your many replies and...one stand-out opinion...

    Don't do it!!!
    Interestingly enough, he asked me just 48 hours ago and the ONLY thing I have thought of during the whole time since is The Wedding. "What if..." and "What if..." and "What if..."
    The "What if's" all revolve around bad things happening.

    Colin: your suggestion
    My suggestion would be to pass the hat around and raise enough money to have the event shot professionally, as a wedding present.
    is just brilliant. They are both older people with homes of their own and have all the usual stuff that newly wed youngsters need, so this is perfect for them.

    Many thanks to you all.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    ...and P.S. to Colin - yes.

  17. #17

    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    OK, Kit. I was out of order using such brevity in my original reply. And as this is turning into a thread of why no amateur should do weddings, I will develop my argument a bit further.

    I wouldn't contemplate doing a wedding. Why?

    1. Stress.I should imagine (and others have claimed) it is extremely stressful. A wedding is for some people the most important day of their lives. Everything has to go right, and be perfect. They know that, and you know that. The stress must pile up before you even wake up on the day. Things can and do go wrong, as Colin said you have to be ready and prepared for the unexpected.

    2. Equipment - The biggest reason not to do it. You should have a spare camera body, lens, and flash, because if either of these breaks down on the day (and they can) you are in deep trouble. No shots to show the couple. If I were doing a wedding I might also backup my memory cards as I went along (assuming I had the time to do it), so you would need a back-up storage device. Some cameras such as the Nikon D3 have duplicate cards in the camera for that reason. You need a decent tripod. Your flash is a 600, which is the less powerful of the Nikon range, I think. In a large dark area shooting a group it almost certainly won't be sufficient. You said you don't know how to use it.

    3. The wedding process. It's not just about photography, it's also about knowing what to do and when, and what you are allowed to do. It's something that you need experience for.

    4. You only get one go. Imagine you run a studio, and a client came for some head and shoulder shots. After he has gone you realize the memory card was faulty - no shots! You call him, explain, he comes back, You give him the shots for nothing, and he is a happy bunny. You stop buying cheap cards. Problem solved. You know the bit that comes next, don't you, so I don't need to state the obvious.

    The circumstances of the couple that you detailed evoke some sympathy (lack of funds etc) and I'm sure we can all understand the reasons for the couple pressing you (or someone else) to do it. That doesn't make it a good thing to do though. However, given their circumstances, and if I were you, I would do the following.

    1. Agree firmly with the couple that you are an amateur with no wedding experience. Also, get an understand with the parents of the couple, as they are often the ones who pay for the wedding, and may therefore be the ones complaining if things go wrong. IOW, establish the ground rules.

    2. Agree that you will do a few formal set-piece shots - signing the register, and a few group shots only as far as the formal shots are concerned. plus a few shots of the couple, and only that. Enlist the help of someone you trust (don't need to know anything about photography) to help you on the day. They can do the business of getting people into place, and sorting out any problems, leaving you free to do the technical stuff. If you try to do both, like a pro photographer, I fear you will fail.

    3. Agree that all other shots will be 'informal'. That will leave you free to 'mingle and shoot'. Many people now seem to prefer these informal type of wedding shots.Make sure it is known to everyone that you are the official photographer (wear a badge if necessary) as some parents are twitchy about shots of their kids.

    4. Agree beforehand how the shots will be presented.

    I know it sounds harsh, but the couple are putting a pressure onto you, it's only fair that you put some constraints on what you can and will deliver.

    Some professional wedding photographers have been sued recently for not delivering a satisfactory product. I'm just saying.
    Last edited by carregwen; 27th May 2010 at 09:22 AM.

  18. #18

    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    This needs to be sticky.

  19. #19
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Quote Originally Posted by carregwen View Post
    This needs to be sticky.
    I have added a new section within
    Links to Useful & Informative Threads
    to cover Weddings and linked the two most useful threads, this being one of them.

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    Re: Oh, help - wedding photog request.

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    ...and P.S. to Colin - yes.
    Be sure to call in

    Any idea when?

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