Wedding Photography - Advice Please

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Scott Mordecai, Jul 6, 2004.

  1. Hi there,

    I am not a professional photographer by any means, just an amateur who does
    nothing more than holiday snaps, familay occasions, etc. but I always try my
    best to compose my pictures, get good framing, lighting, etc. I usually use
    my camera in apature-priority mode and let the camera sort out the shutter
    speed for me.

    I have agreed to take the photos at a friends' wedding this Friday. I have
    never taken "proper" wedding photos before so I would be extremely grateful
    for any hints, tips, tricks, etc. that anyone could give me.

    FWIW, my camera is a Canon EOS500N, with a small Canon Speedlite 160E flash.
    I plan on using ASA400 film (there will be indoor and outdoor photos, and
    possibly the weather will be bad - this is England after all - so I thought
    200ASA would be too slow for the variety that I may need).

    Thanks in advance,
    Scott Mordecai, Jul 6, 2004
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  2. Scott Mordecai

    YoYo Guest

    What lens do you have for the wedding??
    YoYo, Jul 6, 2004
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  3. Scott Mordecai

    Rob Novak Guest

    Are you doing candids, posed shots, or formal portraits? Or a mix of
    all three? What is your friend expecting of you, and can you
    realistically provide it? The last thing you want to do is have
    friction in the friendship because the new bride doesn't like the
    results of the only photographic record of her wedding day.
    You need more flash. The 160e doesn't allow for bounce flash or a
    diffuser. It has a low guide number. It's a snap-shot fill flash at
    most. If you need to bounce light off of a high church ceiling for
    formal shots, or really light up an indoor scene, you're going to have

    Shoot ISO400 film for candids only. For posed portraits or formals,
    use ISO100 at the most. They're more likely to be enlarged, and the
    slower film will exhibit less grain in the enlargement.

    For formal pictures, use a film that's rated highly for skin tones.
    You don't want the blushing bride to look pink and puffy, nor do you
    want a yellow, sallow, skin cast. Look for films that are
    specifically geared for portraiture.

    Lenses: 28-200 zoom for reception candids, if you can get it. If not,
    look for a 28-105/135mm to at least get moderate telephoto.
    Tack-sharpness isn't priority one here, but being able to quickly zoom
    in, frame, and compose before the action moves away IS. For posed and
    formal portraits, use a fixed focal length telephoto (Canon
    85mm/f1:1.8 or 100mm/f1:2.0 are good choices) for sharpness,
    brightness (with slower portrait film), and flattering portrait

    For posed photos, really consider renting an off-camera slave flash
    and umbrella diffuser for the day. There's little worse than posed
    pictures with direct flash glaring off of every shiny face, every
    glasses frame, and throwing harsh shadows. Nothing sparks animosity
    between friends like unflattering wedding pics.
    Rob Novak, Jul 6, 2004
  4. Scott Mordecai

    DJ Guest

    Somewhat similar to my situation. My pics are at

    In chronological order these ar "Manon", "Rhonda" and "Sonia". For the 1st 2 I
    was unofficial. The latter I was asked to do officially for close friends. I
    have since been signed to do a paid gig in October and I've already started
    scouting indoor public places in case it rains.

    I use a digital (Canon 300D) so I have the advantage of instant feedback.
    However, given reasonable equipment and given you know how to use it, my advise
    is TAKE LOTS! I mean 400-500 shots.

    For each formal group take 4-5 shots. One thing I discovered with "Sonia" was
    that I was taking the shots without a "Watch the camera - 1- 2- 3". I was after
    a relaxed look. The problem is, it is then statistically almost impossible that
    way to get 6 people all looking normal, with no squints or grimaces. Next time I
    will insure myself with 1-2-3-snap pictures as well.

    For the bridal couple shots I has an assistant hold a large white board as a
    reflector. Very handy in bright sunlight.

    I suggest NOT renting equipment like an umbrella flash unless you are already
    familiar with it. Nothing worse that mucking around with stuff you don't know.

    Again, especially as you have no time to practice, your best bet is to take a
    very large number of shots. Many will fail technically (focus, exposure). Many
    wil have closed eyes and weird expressions. Pemutate your technique - bounce
    flahs indoors, flash fill outdoors, high camera angle, low camera angle. Oh, and
    remember as official photographer you have a right and a duty to direct people.
    Be polite but don't be shy. And for goodness sake make sure you get all the
    permutatiuons of rellos. Don't forget Aunt Martha, she'll never forgive you. Sit
    with the bride and groom beforehand and write out a check list.

    Good luck!
    DJ, Jul 6, 2004
  5. What lens do you have for the wedding??

    Oops, yes I realised I'd forgotten that after I'd sent my message.... I have
    two lenses available to me. One is the original that came with the camera
    (35-80 I think it is), but I plan on using my Sigma 28-300. For such a wide
    range it is a cracking lens. I figure that the good zoom it has (I have a
    tripod and monopod to keep things steady) I can take candid shots without
    having to stand in people's faces and have them tense up.

    To answer another point that was made in a follow-up flash, re. taking lots
    of pictures... yes indeed! I figured I would use an trick that I had heard
    before. That is, gather the group, take one picture without warning them.
    Get them to pose, take another shop, then another immediately afterwards.
    I'm prepared for the fact this will use up lots of film but it's a one-off
    day isn't it so want to do what I can.

    I wouldn't feel comfortable renting an umbrella flash or similar gear. Never
    used it before, don't want to take any chances and mes it up - but thanks
    for the suggestion!

    I do own a flash that I can attach a diffuser or angle it to bounce of walls
    and ceilings... but it's broken. Damn. Can't afford to buy a new one, and
    certainly not in two days notice. As for a diffuser - another cheap trick I
    have heard before (for people like me on a budget). Where the speedlight is
    an "in-your-face" flash only, as was suggested to me here it is going to be
    harsh in faces and give reflections off of spectacles, etc. So, the cheap
    trick, is to use a cigarette paper or similar (Rizzlas or whatever) simply
    stuck across the lens of the flash. Should allow a much softer and hopefully
    more flattering flash.

    I take the point that 400 ASA film may be too fast, and enlargements may be
    poor. I actually don't think there will be any, but you never know. I don't
    have however a plethora of cameras to keep separate cameras loaded with
    different speed films though. Maybe a happy medium of using 200ASA would be
    in order?

    Please if there are any further suggestions or comments or responses to the
    above keep 'em coming!

    Thanks everyone,
    Scott Mordecai, Jul 6, 2004
  6. Scott Mordecai

    Mac Tabak Guest

    Hi Scott,
    I'm going to give you some real basic advise, something you can remember on
    the day.

    1)Meter off the bright side of peoples faces or the wedding dress, allow 1
    stop over if metering from dress.
    2)Compose the shot/frame along the lines of "Rule of thirds" apart from
    3)Try not to shoot in direct sunlight, far too many stops in latitude even
    for digital.

    4)Good luck, fingers crossed for you......above all relax, it shows
    otherwise & some smart arse will end up taking over ;))))

    Mac Tabak, Jul 7, 2004
  7. Randall Ainsworth, Jul 7, 2004
  8. That's what the world needs more of...35mm flash-on-the-camera weddings.
    Randall Ainsworth, Jul 7, 2004
  9. Scott Mordecai

    Jason Guest

    Why do some people feel the need to be a jerk? You could either answer his
    questions or ignore him, but why make some flippant comment to make him
    feel stupider than he probably already does?

    Drop the elitist bs.
    Jason, Jul 7, 2004
  10. No elitism here. I've seen enough hacks doing 35mm flash-on-the-camera
    weddings to make me puke. Either do the damned job right or don't do
    Randall Ainsworth, Jul 7, 2004
  11. Scott Mordecai

    Jason Guest

    It smacks entirely of elitism. Who are you to say what's right or what's

    Did it ever occur to you that some people don't have the money necessary to
    invest in doing things the right way? Have you thought maybe this guy was
    simply doing a favor for a friend and wanted to do the best he could with
    the materials at his disposal? Maybe the way he's doing the wedding is
    'right', at least as far as the couple getting married are concerned?

    Why should it make you puke if he's using a flash on the camera? Really,
    what difference does it make in your life how he does it. He came here for
    help, not condescension. Like I said, either help a guy out, or simply
    stay out of it let others do so. I see no need your response to him

    Besides, the truth is, I've seen people with their dreaded '35mm flash-on-
    the-camera' take pictures at weddings and other events that put the
    professional's pictures to shame, period. Great pictures aren't made just
    by having the most expensive equipment.

    I feel bad for arrogant people like you who feel the need to condescend to
    people at every opportunity. Did it really give you that self-affirmation
    you were looking for when you gave him that flippant response? It's people
    like you that make it hard for newcomers to get advice from experienced
    Jason, Jul 7, 2004
  12. Scott Mordecai

    D.R. Guest

    How rude.
    D.R., Jul 7, 2004
  13. Scott Mordecai

    D.R. Guest

    D.R., Jul 7, 2004
  14. Scott Mordecai

    D.R. Guest

    D.R., Jul 7, 2004
  15. Scott Mordecai

    D.R. Guest


    That's what the world needs more of... arrogant 'Comic Book Guy'
    wannabes like Randall Ainsworth.
    D.R., Jul 7, 2004
  16. Scott Mordecai

    Thomas Guest

    I am not a professional photographer by any means, just an amateur who

    Have you thought about leaving the 'Formal' shots to somebody else.
    I was recently in the same situation as you and I refused to do any Formals
    as I could not cope with taking pics under so much pressurre.
    I did however take a long lens with me and some Fuji Press 800 film and just
    picked off candid shots.
    I was very happy with the results.
    Thomas, Jul 7, 2004
  17. Scott Mordecai

    Thomas Guest

    Well said.
    I remember when studying Photography A-Level about 12 years ago, there was
    this one guy with all the expensive gear, I mean everything. Most of just
    had K1000's. But guess who came up with the best pics??
    Thomas, Jul 7, 2004
  18. Scott Mordecai

    Snowman Guest

    Well said - it reminds me a comment you often get - "that's a good picture,
    what camera have you got?" As though it must be a fantastic camera to be
    able to get a good picture.

    Scott's photographic skills must be respected by his friend for him to be
    asked in the first place, so give him the advice he's asked for.

    Snowman, Jul 7, 2004
  19. Scott Mordecai

    Ray Paseur Guest

    Scott, you're going to get a lot of photography advice in response to your
    questions. I would gently suggest that you encourage your friends to hire a
    professional photographer, one with a good reputation and a portfolio of
    successful wedding coverage. If you have never shot a wedding (or assisted
    a photographer at a wedding) you may find yourself in the way of the
    celebrants and unable to cover it to the satisfaction of everyone,
    especially your friends. It's really a once-in-a-lifetime event that
    deserves professional equipment and professional skill sets. Having said
    that, you might still enjoy shooting over the photographer's shoulder, or
    taking candids, and you will probably enjoy the event a lot more with the
    pressure off.

    Just my $0.02
    Ray Paseur, Jul 7, 2004
  20. Add my name to the list of supporters of this response !

    Dennis Bradley, Jul 7, 2004
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