Getting into Wedding Photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by John Ortt, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    Hi All,

    After taking some amateur photographs for friends weddings I have produced
    some very pleasing results which has encouraged me to develop my skills to
    become a professional wedding photographer.

    I am already highly proficient in Photoshop and PSP thanks to a design
    degree but I only started taking an interest in photography a couple of
    years ago.

    I have enrolled in a diploma course run over one year starting in September
    which I hope will improve my shots but I am keen on anyone elses advice on
    what to do and what equipment to start building up.

    I am currently using a 300D with the EF-S 17-85 lens as I feel it gives a
    good zoom range for wedding situations. The wide angle is useful for group
    shots and the zoom is good enough to get up-close and personnal candid shots
    of people some distance away. A prime lens would probrably be best suited
    to the staged shots but I don't have one yet.

    My complete list of equipment at present is:
    EOS 300D
    EF-S 17-85 1:4.5-5.5 IS
    Kit Lens (EF-S 18-55 1:3.5-5.5)
    EF 35-80 (This lens in conjunction with the one above act as a backup for
    the 17-85 lens)
    4 x CF cards (1GB, 128mb, 64mb, 32mb)
    1 x Microdrive 2.2GB
    1 x std battery
    Basic Tripod
    Old (1970's) Flash (Which I can't get to work with the 300D very well
    Laptop & card reader

    I think the essential additionnal items of equipment I would require prior
    to taking on a wedding are:

    Another body (Incase of equipment failure), pref 20D or 350D for the extra
    functionality and Res
    Additionnal (charged) batteries &/or a pro battery pack
    A Cannon EX flash (any suggestions)

    In the long run and as my skills develop I would like a full frame DSLR but
    I think a 300/350D is adequate for the time being, provided they don't want
    prints any bigger than A4.

    Any thoughts or ideas would be gratefully recieved.


    John Ortt, Aug 19, 2005
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  2. John Ortt

    Canongirly Guest

    Get a job with a working pro wedding photographer as an assistant (proberbly
    unpaid...but what they'll teach you will earn you $$$$$$ in the future).

    Gears fine, but talent and biz sense are what makes for a career bud.

    Canongirly, Aug 19, 2005
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  3. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    Ok, Joseph and Canongirly have both slapped my wrist for not having a proper
    flash on my 300D :)

    Does anyone have any suggestions please?

    Should I go for a Canon or should I try a respected (but cheaper)
    alternative such as Sigma?
    Do I buy new or should I try Used equipment?
    I have heard a lot of talk about the 300D being very fussy wrt flash
    photography....what does this entail?

    Another thing mentioned was to "get the flash off the camera". By this I
    assume they mean to use a flash on an arm so that the light doesn't bounce
    straight back into the lens. What is the best way of doing this?
    On older cameras I have seen ruberised cords which connect to the shoe and
    allow the flash to be up to approx 1m away but newer setups are using the
    remote controlled flashes which I assume work on radio control and as such
    should be able to work much farther away.

    In short what are my options, how much will each one cost and what will each
    allow me to do?

    Thanks in advance,

    John Ortt, Aug 19, 2005
  4. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    I did considder this Joseph but I didn't think anybody would be interested
    as they would potentially be giving away all their trade secrets and maybe
    one day creating a competitor!

    I suppose I might well get taken on pro-gratis as Canongirly suggested which
    would suit me fine.
    I might also be able to give something back as I'm pretty swish on Photoshop
    if I do say so myself and I could potentially do page layouts and or web
    content for them.......

    Hmmmm....think I'll be picking up the phone tomorrow :)
    John Ortt, Aug 19, 2005
  5. John Ortt

    pixby Guest

    As usual Randall has posted a clearly invaluable reply!
    He is of course absolutely right. Why buy a camera when you have so many
    other fine tools available to make Wedding pictures? Did Rembrandt use a

    I'm not sure what sort of light he uses to make his photos with.
    Probably the light from his bright ideas. It would match his thumbnail
    dipped in tar approach to answering your question.
    pixby, Aug 19, 2005
  6. John Ortt

    Skip M Guest

    It's a good thing you're sitting down already, because the cost of equipment
    might knock you off of your feet. We have found, for the best, most
    consistent results, that the Canon flashes don't do the job, nor do Sigma,
    Sunpak, etc. E-TTL II is the culprit, not only with your 300D, but with our
    20Ds. The best flashes we've found for the job are Quantum T4d, with Turbo
    battery packs. The combination runs just a tick under $1000. Each. And
    you need at least 2 battery packs for each flash, at $500 more, per. The
    bright spot in this is, if you live in a metropolitan area, these things are
    often available for rent, for about $25 a day.
    And, when Canongirly said, "Oh and yes GET THE DAMN FLASH OFF THE
    CAMERA..jeez." she meant you need to buy a flash bracket to lift the flash
    off of the camera's hot shoe. The best one we've found, at least for the
    price, is the Stroboframe Pro-T, which will pivot the flash to keep it over
    the lens when you switch from horizontal to vertical orientation. About
    $100. This one is the least expensive one that doesn't put the controls in
    an awkward position when the camera is held vertically, unlike the
    FlipFrame, which will put the shutter button at the bottom, or cover the
    controls on the grip, if you have one.
    Also, f2.8 lenses are a necessity, something we've learned by experience.
    We didn't think so, at first, but we found out. We've also found that zooms
    are better than fixed focal length lenses in practical use, counter to what
    many have said.
    Our equipment list for a wedding is as follows:
    Canon 20D (2)
    Canon D30 (1) backup
    Oly E-10 (1) backup
    Canon 1n (1) in case we feel a need for film
    Canon 16-35 f2.8 L (1)
    Sigma 17-35 f2.8-4 (1) backup
    Canon 24-70 f2.8 L (2)
    Tokina 28-70 f2.6-2.8 (1) backup
    Canon 28-135 IS (2) 'cause ya never know, and for backup cameras.
    50mm f1.8 (1) (soon to be replaced by an f1.4) need for speed
    Quantum T4d flash (2)
    Quantum Turbo battery (4)
    Canon 420EX (1) backup
    BP 511 batteries (4) spares
    Ladder (works great for group shots.)
    Assorted screwdrivers, pliers, electrical cords, etc.

    And we sometimes carry two battery powered, portable 300w/s studio strobes
    and portable backdrop stand with a couple of cloth backdrops, depending on
    the venue and the job.

    Canongirly's suggestion that you get a job as an assistant to a wedding
    photographer was a good one, and it is a very common way to get started in
    the business.
    Skip M, Aug 19, 2005
  7. John Ortt

    Skip M Guest

    We get a deposit on the contract signing, balance due at the rehearsal.
    Alleviates getting money on the wedding day. And, if we don't get paid, we
    don't have to show up and work...
    My wife's cousin required final payment on delivery of images, but he has
    about 5 jobs from nearly two years ago, and more, pending because they never
    got their proofs. So he never got paid in full.
    My dad once said, "The best way to lose a friend is to shoot his wedding."
    Words to live by...
    Skip M, Aug 19, 2005
  8. John Ortt

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    Skip, you forgot the necessary extra bit of equipment - The artic to carry
    all the gear round.
    Neil Ellwood, Aug 20, 2005
  9. John Ortt

    Skip M Guest

    It all fits neatly in the back of our Dodge Durango, which otherwise, given
    the price of gas, would have been traded for something a little more, ahem,
    economical. And we occasionally have an assistant to run this stuff back
    and forth between vehicle and location, believe me!
    Skip M, Aug 20, 2005
  10. John Ortt

    Skip M Guest

    The only time I've had something flat out fail was a Quantum flash module,
    something one doesn't usually carry a spare of.
    That excludes photographer failures, however. And, sometimes, I have a
    spare one of those... <G>
    Skip M, Aug 20, 2005
  11. John Ortt

    Neil Ellwood Guest

    I should think that he is run off his feet and the bones in your fingers
    are showing through:)
    Neil Ellwood, Aug 21, 2005
  12. John Ortt

    Don Stauffer Guest

    Boy, we wish we had your guys' luck. We've had lots fail. We do video
    now, and even more stuff to fail, like when power fails in church, and
    we are plugged in so we try to avoid battery failure :) Plenty of
    skylight, so ceremony continued. Fortunately wife had battery close by,
    so she didn't miss much.

    And then there is the still photographers, who, even after being warned
    where our unmanned cameras and tripods were, proceded to stand right
    smack in front of them :-(
    Don Stauffer, Aug 21, 2005
  13. John Ortt

    Colin D Guest

    Can you give us a good reason why a video camera or cameras on a tripod
    should commandeer key viewpoints to the exclusion of stills photogs who
    are being paid to cover the function? On the odd occasion that I ran
    into these devices, I ignored them and just got on with my job. A real
    pain was when the damned vidcam was in the field of view for my shots.
    A stills man takes his shots and moves. He doesn't tie up a viewpoint
    and leave his gear in prominent view for the entire function to the
    exclusion of all others.

    I had a similar problem with sound recording types - microphones in
    front of the bridal couple, or on a flimsy tripod, or even dangling from
    the ceiling, often with cord and wires cluttering the floors, and
    complaints from the operators that they could hear my shutter in the
    recordings. I got to the stage where I was just about prepared to ask
    the bride if she was having vid and sound recording as well, and then
    giving her the choice - them or me.

    Co-operation would have been nice, but it was usually every man for
    himself, and damn the others.

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Aug 22, 2005
  14. John Ortt

    Mike Warren Guest

    I did wedding videos a while back and we always placed the unmaned
    camera in an unobtursive and usually high spot.
    We always got on friendly terms with the stills photographer and would
    co-operate with each other.

    As for microhones. A lapel radio mic on the groom plus on camera
    was all we would use.

    Mike Warren, Aug 22, 2005
  15. John Ortt

    John Ortt Guest

    We are going to have to disagree here.

    I have seen loads of videos and liked some, but disliked the vast majority.
    Furthermore if I go round to someones house and they offer to get the
    wedding video out there is usually an almost inaudible groan from everybody
    but the couple themselves.
    Although the photo album may get the same response you can go through it as
    quickly or as slowly as you want. It's your choice....

    I think sometimes wedding videos can be too clinical as they record every
    sound and imperfection with the ceremony, your sisters baby crying all the
    way through, the brides grimace as the groom shoves the ring onto her
    finger, etc.
    Photography can capture a series of almost perfect moments which help the
    couple to focus on the truly special aspects of the day....and possibly
    forget some of the less wonderful moments which there are bound to be in any

    I think it would be easier to get into videography but not as satisfying

    Thanks for the suggestion anyway.
    John Ortt, Aug 22, 2005
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