Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding

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WIMorrison
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Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
11 months ago

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

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primeshooter
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

Hi Iain, you seem like a competent photographer! Looking at your gear the 60mm f/2 will be useful as will the 180 and your 17-35. Assuming you can shoot with fast primes or want to use a flash after the ceremony I'm sure you'll do well, I prefer to not use flash at weddings most of the time. You might want to check out one of the best http://www.jeffascough.com/

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Rservello
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

Looking at your site you have some amazing photos!  I wouldn't really worry too much.

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DonSantos
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

1.  You may want to rent a 24-70 2.8 for the wedding.

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Tommot1965
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

if you're competent with a camera..all you need to bring is a engaging personality and people skills..also be the boss when it comes to getting groups together or setting up a scene, if there's anyone in the bridal party or at the wedding that can help with people management enlist their help ..make sure you have a shot list and discuss that with the couple prior to the wedding.make sure you have good images of the set shots. ( shot list ) ...keep referring to the shot list to make sure you have them captured ...

do home work on the venue .. and talk to the the person doing the service and make sure they are onboard with what you will be up too when the service takes place .

take the bull by the horns so to speak and you will be fine

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msjhaffey
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

1. Check the wedding and reception venues for angles. Check if flash is allowed at the wedding. I had one vicar who would NOT allow a single photograph during the ceremony, other than the B&G kissing and as they left the altar.

2. Get the bride and groom to give you a list of all the formal photographs they want. Have them nominate someone pushy who knows everyone and will round them up for the formal photos.

3. Have a plan for outdoors and indoors photos if the weather doesn't permit outdoors.

4. Charge all batteries the day before. Do you have spares?

5. If possible, go to the wedding rehearsal.

6. Do you have insurance (e.g. if someone trips over your kit and hurts themselves)? Who will look after the spare bits of kit?

7. Do you know exactly what the B&G are expecting you to cover? This could start with B&G preparations and finish with them departing the reception. Agree a list with them.

8. Do you have plenty of memory cards?

9. Be at least an hour earlier than the earliest time you need to be there.

10. Don't eat or drink anything that might upset your stomach for 36 hours before. Take care of your health in other respects (I remember running a mile to avoid getting rained on the day before, as the least bit of moisture within 50 miles gives me a 3 month man-cold.)

11. Brief the chauffeur to let down the bride's window as she arrives so you can get a shot of her in the car as it pulls up at the wedding venue.

Good luck!

PS I love your photography!

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Sean

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golf4food
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

Hum.  I am sure you know this but here goes:

1.  Shoot Raw!

2.  Keep it simple on the Family shots!  One light over the camera with an umbrella will make sure that the family shots are great.  Do not try to over think the family shots!

3. You will find that at the reception, you will use more wide angle lenses.  The couple wants to see the room in addition to the guests!

4.  Shoots lots of closeups of the decorations and details!  Closeups of the flowers, guest book, bride's jewelry and shoes, groom's ring, bride's ring, center pieces at the reception, the cakes.   Details are VERY important to get.

5.  Lots of faces of the guests at the reception.  The couple want to see the people.

6.  Shoot your creative candids at the reception, not the ceremony as much.  The ceremony moments can be quick, try to miss as little as possible because of your equipment.  On camera flash is ok!  I use a Gary Fong LightSphere and LOVE it for on camera flash at weddings.

7.  Get a good shot of the couple leaving!

8.  DO NOT forget to shoot images of the bride and groom together without anyone else!  It is best to do this before the ceremony if you can get them together.  Make sure that they are wearing their rings!

That is my quick list!  Make sure that your batteries are charged!

Good Luck!  Hope this helps some...

Kevin

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Stevequad
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

I am in exactly the same position. The wedding is not until July, so I have a little time to bone up on things. I shot some weddings about 25+ years ago, and realized then that it was not for me. But I will do this one and do the best I can. I have to drive from Los Angeles to Seattle to do it. (I don't want to fly, we will make a family vacation of it and travel up the coast.)

I hope all goes well for your shoot.

Steve

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Alan Brown
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How demanding are the prospective couple?
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

-- hide signature --

Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

Your skill is probably not going to be the weak link.. from what others have determined.

If the B&G are particularly demanding it can put pressure on even seasoned wedding photographers.

If they are easy going (not meaning 'don't care') then you can relax enough to do your job and even enjoy it. If you can get the minimum the formals  (these are essential) most of the day will be lost on them and they will accept what you  give them in the way of informals.

If they are very demanding then that usually means the wedding is secondary to them. It's what they want others (work colleagues at work or best friends) to imagine the day went like from the album.

Yes I have had clients who spent their wedding day like a photo shoot.. That's ok if they can act to the camera.. some on the day realised they couldn't and ended up with  'typical' wedding cover.

It can be enjoyable, though hectic in spit and spurts... you have to be ready for quick action. In your place I would forget the primes and stick to a good fast 24-70 zoom.

Don't practice with 'good ideas' on the day unless you really do have the time!

If you play with your gear on the day the magical moments will be gone forever.. so do yourself a favour and keep the distractions to a minimum.

my 2 cents

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arrr
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Hire a Seasoned 2nd shooter or Pro with a free day?
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

Pay them a flat rate for the day and you process all the images. You work as the Primary.

The going flat rate in my part of the US is $200 for 8 hours. I doubt you need the help but IMO hiring a 2nd shooter is like getting a 2nd chance at capturing the day. Just be sure their portfolio meets your expectations.

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PenPix
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to msjhaffey, 11 months ago

5. If possible, go to the wedding rehearsal.

This is VERY important!

You will want to talk to the minister or whomever is conducting the service to see what he/she will allow or tolerate.  Most of the priests are appreciative that you are respectful of their place of worship (even if it's a hall, it's a temporary place of worship) and often allow you to take pictures wherever you want.  On occasion, I have been given instructions about places I am not allowed to stand.  Don't be one of those guys who ends up on America's Funniest Home Videos!

On the technical side, you can scout out where you want to take pictures and where you want your assistant to take pictures (if you can convince someone to help you  )

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Nikonicon
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Re: Hire a Seasoned 2nd shooter or Pro with a free day?
In reply to arrr, 11 months ago

Welcome,

The family shooter,did one recently,great experience but,

Plan to get a shot of the bride and her mother.....I forgot....I did give them 500 edited photos.

The next family one I will do as long as someone as a gift to the bride and groom pays me for the best prints from the day.

I cropped and edited all to 3:4 ratio ,now have to do 100 to 2:3

Its fine to shoot for the family ,they don't see the 2 days editing.

Didnt let alcohol get in the way of the shoot for 7 hours,enough.Not fun.

Me,single at 60,staying that way too.

Regards

Roger.

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jkjond
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

Judging by the quality of the shots on your site, I can't see you'll have any probs. Take a look through your own library and think about where you'd place people in your present compositions.

The heat of the moment and the pressure of getting the shot can mount on the day, but take your time. How many good shots do people want from a wedding? Check focus on the brides eyes, and get a good mix of people studies, context, moments, details and portraits of individuals, couples and guests.

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lancespring
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Everything that you need to know about Wedding photography
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

Is documented in the book below. It is by far the most comprehensive and helpful book on Wedding Photography that I have ever read. Only £13.39. It will be the best investment that you ever make.

Digital Wedding Photography: Capturing Beautiful Memories

Most wedding photographers use advanced flash photography techniques. That is an advanced skill that takes time to learn.  But if you want to become a lot better at taking flash photos, this is by far the book to get:

On-Camera Flash Techniques for Wedding and Portrait Photography

.

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wasserball
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

Let me understand. You established yourself as a competent wedding photographer, than you go on to say that you are nervous about the whole idea "making a complete idiot of myself", "end up with average photos which is not what they expect". Now, which is it? Are you competent or not? How may weddings have you done? Let see your competency. Thank you.

Regardless of what your family think. Do not convey your lack of skill to them. Rather, plan things out. List the formals shots you want to take, which depends on who is coming. Be authoritative and direct them what to do.  Have fun.

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WIMorrison
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

Thank you to all for some very nice compliments about my existing photographic skills. You will have seen that what I have been 'volunteered' to undertake is far from my normal style - hence my nervousness

The tips that you suggest are all very sensible - the only challenge will be getting to any rehearsal as it is 500 miles away (nothing to some people, but a long way in UK :)) and I currently cant afford the time off work

The book looks very useful, as does the one on flash photography, again not a strong point of mine, and I have a few weeks to read them.

I think I will also take the advice and rent a 24-70 f2.8 for the weekend as this covers the range I don't really have - certainly not in a zoom. Would the 24-120 f4.0 work - I know it is a stop slower but it will giver extra reach which might be useful?

again, many thanks for excellent advice.

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
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Shaun_Nyc
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

I could probably type for an hour giving tips but you need a plan for the day's moments before talking gear. Even having a shot list from the couple wont cover everything that should be covered. Bride groom get ready, many combinations of family shots, make sure multiple shots for the eye blinkers during families etc. Determine if you/they want a first meet scenario. Empty reception room shots, table details etc etc , ring exchange, first kiss. first dance, find time for some romantic couple shots, watch your backgrounds !..etc etc etc bla bla bla You could really use a 2nd who has done this.. I don't recommend this at all especially if the couples expectations are high and you haven't shot a single wedding

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RomanJohnston
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A few notes from my experience.
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

WIMorrison wrote:

I have have been volunteered by my wife and daughter to photograph a family wedding and whilst I am a competent photographer weddings - in fact people photography is not my sceene as you can see from my website.

does anyone have some good suggestions - other than pay someone to do it for me - that might help me along the way and stop me making a complete idiot of myself ending up with average photos which is not what they expect.

many thanks for any hints and tops you send my way

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Iain Morrison LRPS CPAGB
wimorrison.co.uk

1. Set expectations. I don't care who volunteered me as a photographer, I would tell them that I am not nor will I ever be a wedding photographer. Such things take YEARS of apprenticeship to get good at. With that said...you are a competent photographer so you will do things like get the exposure correct....etc. If they don't like what they hear...then maybe they will go find a wedding photographer. This is time to have a backbone if your not used to standing up for yourself.

2. If they still want you to do it (probably because you are free) then they will get what they pay for. I would go to Kelby Training online and signup for $24.00 @ month...(you can stop it any time..so one month will do) and they have some pretty good wedding and event photographers teaching people photography there. You will get some very good info there and should help quite a bit.

3. Rent faster glass than you have listed in your signature. I would say a 24-70 and a 70-200 VR lens would do you quite well. Keep the 24-70 on your D7000 and the 70-200 on your D800. Some may recommend a prime here in the forums...and if you were an experienced people photographer I would agree...but these fast zooms will give you options....and you will need that latitude. Have both armed and ready. Buy some extra batteries...(couldn't hurt to have them after the shoot either). Get a few memory cards. More if you don't have a storage medium or laptop....less if you do. Just bring a fast memory card reader...have one of your family members who so graciously volunteered you help you.

4. On that note...tell your wife that you cant do this alone and you will need her help getting people lined up for the family shoot portion.....swapping out memory cards. I say share the pain so she does not get these wonderful ideas any more. This is the ONLY way she is going to appreciate what you just took on and accepted even though you never offered.

5. Get a list of pictures the bride and groom absolutely cannot do without including a list of pictures of family members they want. Give this to your wife and make her the wrangler of people..(my wife did this when I got "volunteered" like you did....she now doesn't volunteer me without checking with me first...she knows its gonna cost her too now...lol.)

6.Oh...did I say Set expectations? (Yes...its that important) This will stop bridzillas in their tracks.

Now...with that all said....if you have NORMAL human beings your doing this for....they will probably like what you do for them much more than YOU will. Looked at your web page and you do have photographic skills. If your anything like me, you will be more critical of your impromptu wedding shoot then they every will.

7....o forgot. Tell them it might be 6-8 weeks of processing to get things done...TRUST me on this. Your first wedding is THE WORST. You will need time as your files will be all over the place....if you do it a second time...it will be easier...you will remember the things that made your first one a challange.

Your mission (should you choose to accept) is not an easy one...but I think you will do well

This message will self destruct in 10 seconds..

Roman

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larrywilson
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

The best thing to do is to attend the pre marriage rehearsal to get an idea of what they want, where to shoot, lighting and to discuss with the minister what he feels comfortable with in relationship to shooting positions.  The rehearsal would give you an idea of the focal length of lenses you need also.

A lot of ministers and even the bride and groom prefer to have no flash, very important to know before the wedding.

I've done several weddings, but I am not a wedding photographer and if I didn't have a chance to attend the pre marriage rehearsal I would probably not agree to do the wedding, but that is just me.

Good luck.

Larry

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I a n
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Re: Help - volunteered to photograph a wedding
In reply to WIMorrison, 11 months ago

You have lots of good advice, learning what you can, managing expectations, managing people etc.  A long time ago I was in the same spot and managed to never get a picture of the bride and groom.  I still regret that to this day but my bother and sister in law don't hate - at least they don't seem to:-)

They got what they paid for as they say.  You have the knowledge and the gear so you know the basics.  Trust your instincts and go with it.  There are a few things to do for your own piece of mind:

  1. Have some back up gear - looks like you already have it
  2. Start with fresh batteries and have others on hand (I had a battery die when shooting the whole wedding party and I floundered figuring out what was "wrong" - makes you look bad when that happens)
  3. Create a shot list - I will never forget the bride and groom again...
  4. Protect the images when you are done.  Once you are done and put the camera away make sure the card is out of the camera and in a safe place.  My motto is the gear can be replaced but the pictures cannot so once you put the camera down for the evening (at some point candid shots of late night fun really don't add to the wedding coverage) separate the precious pictures from the very steal-able camera.  Just make sure you and someone else know where that safe place is:-)  When you get home download and back up those pictures.

Good luck.

PS.  I really like the idea of getting your Wife to help - make sure she works hard:-)

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