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Posted: 1/22/2011 8:43:41 AM EDT
I am a novice photographer, having done nothing "good" in my opinion with the exception of my son's 6-month pictures. I was shooting outside in perfect lighting conditions, so I was lucky.

My brother-in-law is getting married in 1 year from now, and has asked me to do the photos for his wedding. I need some input.

I have:
Nikon d50
SB-600 flash w/ Fong Lightsphere
Nikkor 50mm f1.8
Nikkor 35-135mm

I will be shooting indoors since it is a winter wedding. I haven't been to the location yet, and won't see the conditions until late spring or summer, so I don't know about room size or ceiling height.

Are there any tips or gear I should start looking into getting now to get some practice under my belt? I try to use a low ISO (around 400) and generally let the camera select the f-stop and shutter speed for me. I have only played around with f-stops on still life style shots. I've debated on getting a flash bracket to get the external flash off the camera body, but am wondering if this will be enough.

Any input on how to help this turn out the best will by greatly appreciated.
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 9:36:32 AM EDT
[#1]
Suggestions? Ummm, bend over and grab your knees?



Have you ever shot a wedding before? Do you know what your brother-in-law is expecting (is he paying you for this gig or are you just doing it and giving him a disc of images?)? What style of wedding photography does your brother-in-law want - portraiture, PJ, etc?



If you haven't shot a wedding before and you are dead set on doing this, I'd start with looking at different photog websites to see what kind of poses/compositions look good to you (and fit the style that the bride and groom want) and make a note of those. Are you going to be shooting at multiple venues? Go scout those out and have in mind what shots you want and where you want them. Depending on the size of the bridal party, you may spend the bulk of your time "herding cats".



Get some of your friends together and run through a mock wedding ceremony to see where you need to position yourself to get the shots you want.



I'd shoot with higher ISO - you can always apply noise reduction later, but there isn't anything you can do about a blurry image later on. Also figure out your min DOF that you need in order to take group shots and make sure that everybody comes out in focus.





... or just tell your brother-in-law to hire a pro because you want to enjoy this special day with them.
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 9:47:00 AM EDT
[#2]
Quoted:
Suggestions? Ummm, bend over and grab your knees?

Have you ever shot a wedding before? Do you know what your brother-in-law is expecting (is he paying you for this gig or are you just doing it and giving him a disc of images?)? What style of wedding photography does your brother-in-law want - portraiture, PJ, etc?

If you haven't shot a wedding before and you are dead set on doing this, I'd start with looking at different photog websites to see what kind of poses/compositions look good to you (and fit the style that the bride and groom want) and make a note of those. Are you going to be shooting at multiple venues? Go scout those out and have in mind what shots you want and where you want them. Depending on the size of the bridal party, you may spend the bulk of your time "herding cats".

Get some of your friends together and run through a mock wedding ceremony to see where you need to position yourself to get the shots you want.

I'd shoot with higher ISO - you can always apply noise reduction later, but there isn't anything you can do about a blurry image later on. Also figure out your min DOF that you need in order to take group shots and make sure that everybody comes out in focus.


... or just tell your brother-in-law to hire a pro because you want to enjoy this special day with them.


He isn't paying me. He offered to, or to purchase any additional equipment that I may need to pull it off.

No, I've never shot a wedding before. I have taken shots at a reception for a cousin, which she claims turned out better than their paid photographer, but that isn't actually saying much for my abilities.

The wedding party will be 8 people total from what I am being told (including the bride & groom), but there will be family shots afterward with the parents and siblings, so obviously my failsafe portrait 50mm lens isn't going to cut it. Buying a new lens will most likely be out of the question due to costs, which leaves me with the 35-135mm.

From what I'm reading in your post, I need to start working on using my f-stops at distance. What is the best method to get decent lighting at greater ranges, just dial up the settings on the SB-600?

He asked me to shoot the wedding because he is very family oriented, and wants to keep things as simple and inexpensive as possible. He has seen many of my photos, and asked me, I was definitely not volunteering for this one, but I don't want to disappoint him.
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 9:54:31 AM EDT
[#3]
Read Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography", he has a whole chapter on shooting weddings.


From the book:

If you're living your life and you think to yourself, "Ya know, I've got it pretty easy", then it's time to shoot a wedding.

and

..."Can you shoot our wedding photos?" Of course you're a nice person and you say, "Why sure."  Big Mistake. You're going to work your butt off, miss all the food, drinks and fun and you'll experience stress at a level only NORAD radar operators monitoring North Korea ever achieve. A wedding ceremony happens once in real time. There are no second takes, no room for mess-ups, no excuses. Don't make Earl's bride really mad - Read this chapter first.


Link Posted: 1/22/2011 1:33:01 PM EDT
[#4]
You might want to look into renting gear.  You can get a D3s for a week for ~$380, and then you will have no problem shooting at high ISO assuming you get your exposure right.  

I would also look into a 70-200 f/2.8, seems to be standard fare for wedding work.  Even for free work, you should walk in with at a minimum of 2 cameras, 2 good ones plus one backup is probably a better idea.  You dont want to be switching lenses during any of the ceremony, so get a wide zoom on one and the 70-200 on the other and just keep them there.



Read up on strobist stuff if you are going to be shooting the reception.  Also there is a guy with the screenname Tim on photography-on-the.net that does lots of wedding work and he does his reception photos with two strobes on stands with pocketwizards.  You might want to read up over there in the "talk about wedding" section.



The sb-600 and fong-dong will probably work for portrait stuff.  Probably need to go manual vs ETTL or whatever Nikon's equivalent is.



Since there is such a long time before the wedding, see if you can make friends with any other shooters and see if you can second-shoot or just shadow them when they do a wedding.  Sounds like if you have some good work you have done you might be able to impress one enough to take you under their wing.



If you are using the fong, I dont think that a flash bracket is necessary.  As I mentioned above, look into the strobes staged at the reception hall with pocket wizards.  Probably more versatile than a flash bracket as long as the ceiling is not something weird.



Oh, and sync all the camera clocks on your computer BEFORE you shoot.  That way when you are changing back and forth between cameras you will still have all your pictures in proper sequence when you download the memory cards.
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 3:13:00 PM EDT
[#5]
Lots f good info so far, I really appreciate the help.
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 4:06:07 PM EDT
[#6]
I would tell him to hire a photographer. No offense to you and don't take it personal, but people only get married once, photo's can't be redone. I would rather have someone else take the fall.



I'm a total amature, I've shot Nikon DSLR's for the past 2 years, and taken 28hrs worth of photography classes. No way I would do it. :) Maybe I'm a p*ssy though.
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 4:17:31 PM EDT
[#7]
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 5:05:37 PM EDT
[#8]
There’s nothing tough about wedding photography…..all you need to be able to do, is manage a group of completely stressed out individuals taking part in a one time event, that you and you alone are responsible for covering, all the while knowing if you screw it up there are going to be some really pissed off individuals who also happen to be family.  You do like risk right?    

Personally, from a professional point of view, I think wedding photography is probably about the most difficult type of photography there is and that’s shooting other people’s families, I do this for a living and I don’t even like shooting family events.

Shooting a wedding without some serious redundancy in equipment is insane.   Murphy is always a guest at a wedding; furthermore he’s usually there early and stays late.  I carry at least 2 usually 3 camera bodies; my lenses are duplicated and run from 18mm to 300mm, mostly 2.8.  Flash units crap out so I always carry two on-camera units and two mono lights plus light stands.  I could go on and on but you get the idea.

Additionally, you need to be adept at handling stress and stressed out people.  You need to have a plan but also you need to recognize your plan will have to be modified, adapted, changed and at times thrown away, and you’ll need to do this while reassuring the bride that everything is going just they way it should be.  If you can’t do this, then you maybe need to take a pass on this.  Good luck.
Link Posted: 1/22/2011 7:44:34 PM EDT
[#9]
Don't.



Wedding photography isn't just about the pictures. There's a hell of alot of people management involved, at a time when the emotions (of at least the bride) are running high. Fuck it up and you've ruined their special day (in their eyes at least –– personally, I haven't looked at my pics in 10 years).



My dad used to do weddings. He finally gave it up –– not because he was bad at it, but because it is a GIANT pain in the ass. He went back to doing what he loves, landscapes. They don't get pissed at you when things aren't exactly as expected.
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 6:05:37 AM EDT
[#10]
Ok good news/bad news. Someone wants you to shoot a wedding. That's the bad news. :)  now the good news is you have a year to prep. Accept the fact that you will be hustling the entire time from 2 hrs before the actual ceremony until after the reception is over.

There are some things that you MUST know asap. Where is the event being held? If indoors will they allow you to use flash during the ceremony? (FYI most churches don't allow flash so you will require fast glass and high iso's to get the shots. I've shot a grand total of two weddings but I had a partner to help cover the action and serve as a live 'backup' for equipment.

As a solo you'll have to hustle to get the crucial 'dressing room' shots. So start planning your shots. Check out every photo site wedding forum and get some ideas for your planned shots.

If you have a friend who takes pics see if you can get them to help out. Your taking on a bigger job than I think you realize but when it's over you will have a vastly better understanding for the second wedding you shoot. :))
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 7:00:12 AM EDT
[#11]
Not counting the engagement photos (assuming you're asked to shoot this), you've got the portraits (bridal party, groomsmen party, bride/groom, family, entire party photos, single bride photos, single groom photos, etc), pre-wedding photos (bridal prep, groom prep), ceremony, post-ceremony, wedding reception (first dance, cake cutting, toasts, etc). Then after all this, you still have the post-processing/post-production work and then all of the deliverables (digital and/or prints). All this said, there's a unique skill of planning/timing/scheduling when it comes to getting all of these shots.

I've been asked to shoot a couple weddings for family/friends. I've declined every time. I will not shoot a wedding because I have zero experience shooting one. I'm a fairly decent photographer, but weddings are a very special/unique genre of photography. Technical skills are one thing, but in weddings, you have to know *how* to work the entire event.

Sooner or later I'll shoot a wedding, but as a second (or third) shooter, just so I can get some idea of how to cover a wedding. And when I second shoot, it'll have to be for a good wedding photographer. No point in learning from a less than stellar wedding photographer.

If you want to see some solid wedding work, a friend of mine from high school does wedding photography for a living and has a photo blog at: http://feliciphoto.com/

I'll reiterate everyone else's advice: Don't do this. Tell your brother-in-law to hire an experienced wedding photographer. Yes, they can get expensive ($3000+ for good ones), but there's a reason why they charge that much.

If you're dead set on doing this for your brother-in-law, then my only advice is to go work for another wedding photographer at another wedding to get experience under your belt. Maybe shoot 2-3 weddings as a second shooter or simply as an assistant (e.g. setting up lights, handling grip and modifiers, etc).
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 7:43:52 AM EDT
[#12]
It's a very tough job. But if you really want to do it.....

Read this, and Google up a checklist like this.

Study and practice Neil's techniques for flash photography.  When using a flash, learning to shoot  with the camera in the manual mode is a must, IMO.

Rent the D3s for a week now.  Learn how to use it,  and start practicing low light photography techniques, because, as someone mentioned, many churches do not allow the use of a  flash during the service. Reserve one (and any lenses you may need) waaaay in advance for the wedding.

I've been taking pictures for about 40 years.  I started with an all manual 35mm camera.  We (my father and I) had a darkroom when I was a kid, and developed our own B&W film and prints. I've never shot a wedding, and I wouldn't even think about doing it as the primary photographer.  I would want to do it as a second shooter a few times, first.

Good luck.

Link Posted: 1/23/2011 11:13:29 AM EDT
[#13]
I shot my first (and possibly last) wedding last summer. It was a last minute deal - an older couple who planned on having just video, but changed their mind at the last minute. A friend was asked to shoot it (the videographer knew them) and they asked me to help/shoot it. I had two weeks of prep time and it was held in an elementary school gym. Luckily it was small and fairly informal, but it was still a ton of work. And yes, it was as bad as it sounded - an elementary school gym with no natural light, some stage light and no ambient light to speak of. We did have free reign on flash and locations, but it was pretty terrible. It got done though.

If I were to do it again this is what I would do/think about/improve:

1. More flashes. I was using on camera bounced, but it was certainly not the best. In fact, it sucked a lot. I would probably set up some slaves for the ceremony on the left and right of the stage and use those off camera. Different facilitates would vary the lighting though.

2. I would remote the bride and groom from above. There was a hallway/soundbooth above that I would probably leave a camera up there remoted just so there was an extra angle. It would have also fixed their terrible background.

3. One non-photographing assistant. We had two photogs and were busy herding the people around along with taking pictures. I wouldn't do another without two photogs and an assistant that can deal with people and tracking pictures.

4. Have all of the wanted pictures planned out ahead. Make a list with everyone that should be in them and check it off. Also plan wedding party locations for rain, sun, clouds, snow, whatever. We had rain and the couple didn't want to travel five minutes to a park to do wedding part shots. It sucked.

5. Plan. Plan. Plan. I didn't have the luxury to plan and it made it much harder. Pre-plan your shots too so you can reserve seats if needed, leave different lenses or cameras. Take gaffers tape if possible and set the spots. Even put your metered settings if you can't make quick adjustments while working. It'll make it a lot easier.

6. Shooting events is fun in itself, but you don't really get to watch the event. That's the toughest thing to learn with sports, weddings, anything - you have to be able to always be thinking of pictures and you're going to be focused on making good frames as opposed to watching them in the ceremony. I couldn't have began to tell you what their special notes to each other (or whatever they're called ) were right after they happened. I didn't care. I wanted a good picture and then to move to another angle if needed.

It sucks. A lot. Just know what you're getting into. You're probably going to need a wider lens for group shots.
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 11:16:57 AM EDT
[#14]
Don't do it, there's a very high risk of it turning out badly and someone will hate you. Hiring a professional is the best way to go and it doesn't have to be too crazy expensive. I think we paid about $2000 and got fantastic photos. Also, the photographer was fun to work with, this made a huge positive difference. And when it was all said and done, with great pictures of everyone, my mother-in-law still doesn't care for them much, even when she didn't pay for them...partly because we didn't go with her friend the amateur photographer for free.
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 11:32:53 AM EDT
[#15]
Politely refuse.





Wedding photography is NOT the time to learn how to shoot.





Offer instead to do an engagement shoot or them and let them know that you are not comfortable shooting such an important event.
I can give you tons of times when a relative screwed up the wedding pics (camera on sJPG, formatted the card, lost the pics, left camera on manual focus, used highest ISO and crappy glass, etc.).





ETA: I second shot a wedding last Saturday (I've second shot a number, and was primary on 1)  I put in about 7 hours of shooting with about a 10 minute break in there somewhere.  Over 700 pics, all shot in RAW.  Then it took me about 15 hours of post processing time to be satisfied with my final product.  It's hard, hard work.  And there is alot of things to forget.  When the night was over there were many things I wanted to do but just forgot to get around to.  That's with 2+ years of wedding experience and a lot of photography time under my belt.  

Link Posted: 1/23/2011 2:12:41 PM EDT
[#16]
^bingo, i was asked by a friend to shoot her wedding, i told her i was not a photographer but i would bring my camera.
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 5:20:23 PM EDT
[#17]
A couple more points:

I’ve had a photography business for quite awhile, I’ve shot lots of different jobs but nothing has compared stress wise to shooting a wedding.  

I’m a professional, I belong to a national association and the number one reason I fork over the $300+ per year for dues is for indemnification insurance.   That coupled with a good liability insurance policy are as much a part of my wedding business as my cameras and lenses.  I mention this only to highlight the point that people get really pissed if you mess up wedding pictures, and while its never happened to me, if it does, I don't want to be paying for a reshoot out of my pocket.  

What can go wrong?  Anything, everything, and part of doing the job of photographing a wedding is how well you can deal with those situations.  

So as I said before, my first advice to you would be to say, thanks but no thanks, but if you’re determined to undertake this then read though what’s been said here and it will break down something like this:

•Shoot lots of flash photography during the next 11 months, you most likely will be photographing a guy in a black tux and a woman in a white dress, to get detail in both…….is a challenge to say the least
•Have backup equipment
•Have a plan
•Scout the venue
•Put together a timeline for photography so everyone knows when and where they need to be
•If photography is going to be taking place during the lunch hour suggest that food items be made available for the wedding party…fail to do this and they… the guys especially.. will revert to their hunter gathering role and leave in search of food just when you need them
•A list of shots
•A list of locations
•Know what decorations are going to be where so you can visualize what and where you need to be
•A list of pose ideas for groups, couples, individuals
•Draft people to help you
•A good personal attendant for the bride’s needs
•One individual from each family to help get people put together
•Find occasions to go and photograph, dances, community events, just go, shoot, practice your technique until you can do it without thinking about it
•Oh and did I mention……….back up equipment…….and plenty of extra batteries

When its all done you’ll have a pretty good idea of why wedding photographers charge what they do.
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 5:41:13 PM EDT
[#18]
I would advise you NOT to be their wedding photographer.

Whatever happens, if there's anything they don't like, it's your fault.

That being said, I've looked at my wedding pictures exactly ONE time.
Link Posted: 1/23/2011 6:30:49 PM EDT
[#19]
Quoted:
Read Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography", he has a whole chapter on shooting weddings.


From the book:

If you're living your life and you think to yourself, "Ya know, I've got it pretty easy", then it's time to shoot a wedding.

and

..."Can you shoot our wedding photos?" Of course you're a nice person and you say, "Why sure."  Big Mistake. You're going to work your butt off, miss all the food, drinks and fun and you'll experience stress at a level only NORAD radar operators monitoring North Korea ever achieve. A wedding ceremony happens once in real time. There are no second takes, no room for mess-ups, no excuses. Don't make Earl's bride really mad - Read this chapter first.




+1 on the Kelby's book, there is some really good stuff in there.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 2:31:06 AM EDT
[#20]
The stress of saying "No" now is nothing compared to the stress of learning/preparing/shooting/post-editing/etc.



Unless you feel comfortable doing it, I'd thank him for the compliment and politely decline.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 2:52:37 AM EDT
[#21]
Weddings is one thing I shy away from unless its outdoors for the most part or pays big bucks  .... church lighting sucks to say the least . even though I have tons of lighting and strobes , never enough room to set them up and move around and most dont like you to use them ... and you have to contend with all the point and shoot flashes going off also .
Politely Decline till you got several miles under you belt , just my two cents ..
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 3:45:35 AM EDT
[#22]
I hate it when family members ask you to come WORK at their function while all the rest of the family enjoys it. Gee thanks, bud, would you like me to wait tables and take out the garbage while I'm at it? These people have no clue what it takes to shoot a wedding. The level of attention and stress is unreal. You have to be ON every second.

I was a photographer for about 25 years (newspaper photographer, then shot photos for an association and statewide magazine). I've shot all sorts of events, big and small, and am accustomed to making pictures under stressful, one-chance-only type situations. I won a bunch of national awards for documentary-style photojournalism but I was not a wedding photographer. I sucked at setting up photos, shooting groups and anything where I couldn't just be a fly on the wall and observe. Still, I ended up shooting a half dozen weddings in my life. In every case it was some close friend or family member who would not accept NO for an answer. I always did everything I could to refuse the assignments (and that's what it is, no matter what they say). In a few cases it came down to truly offended the people, ruining a relationship or bucking up and doing it. So, yeah, I've done about six weddings.

In every case, I worked my ass off. While everyone else was socializing and having a good time I'm humping from place to place and basically serving as part of the hired help. The whole time I'm sweating the results more than I ever did on a magazine or newspaper shoot. There are no reshoots on a wedding. Also, you're not worried about some client or editor being happy, you're trying to satisfy your mother in law or your cousin or your best friend's mom. It sucks.

My advice to any photographer who's asked to shoot a wedding: If you don't shoot weddings, DON'T SHOOT WEDDINGS! There's too many people to keep happy. There's too many things that can go wrong. There's too much drama and emotion tied into them. They're too much damn work.

No matter how much they say "Oh, I don't care, about professional results, just shoot a few pictures . . . " They don't mean it. Yeah, sometimes you won't be able to talk your way out of it –– especially if you really are a photographer. In those cases, think of it as a very special gift to someone you love, and do the best you can. But if you're essentially a beginner and have no experience covering events, I would do everything possible to beg off.

Don't do it!
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 3:52:37 AM EDT
[#23]
Quoted:


From what I'm reading in your post, I need to start working on using my f-stops at distance. What is the best method to get decent lighting at greater ranges, just dial up the settings on the SB-600?. . . .


My advice: KISS! This is no time to experiment. The TTL metering of the camera/flash will handle the exposure better than you can. Forget trying to get pleasing results by trying to soften your flash or using bounce flash unless you have a very low ceiling. We're talking punch flash here. Mount that flash on the camera and aim it straight forward. Yeah, you'll have shadows, but you'll also have photos. That's the main thing. It's "F8 and BE THERE!" time buddy.

Two rules:
1.) GET THE PICTURE
2.) When in doubt, refer to rule No. 1

For the obligatory posed shots of bride and groom, in-laws, wedding party, etc., try to find a pleasing outdoor setting and pray for clouds. The last wedding I did (for my nephew) I shot the posed stuff inside the church but I brought along studio lights and soft boxes. If  you don't have good lighting gear, try to shoot outside if possible.

ETA: I disagree with the people who suggest you rent equipment. You don't want to rely on anything you're not absolutely familiar with. THis is NOT the time to learn a new piece of gear. You're an amateur photographer with amateur equipment. Anyone who "hires" you to do their wedding pictures is going to get amateur pictures. Renting a piece of equipment is not going to change that. As long as everyone has the same expectations then you'll be OK. If you try to raise the bar in any way, that's when you'll get in trouble. Make sure your buddy/family member understands that they have, essentially, made a decision to not have a wedding a photographer. All they've done is ask someone to "shoot a few photos."

Link Posted: 1/24/2011 4:08:10 AM EDT
[#24]
Maybe you should send your BIL a link to this thread.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 4:44:53 AM EDT
[#25]
practice in equivalent lighting ahead of time.  Get 3 or 4 people to go with you, half in bright white, and half in black.  



Low f-stop glass, to reduce the need for flash as often as possible.  Keep in mind the lighting effects as you switch from flash to incandescent, or fluorescent.



Spare everything!  LOTS OF BATTERIES.  Flash, Camera, other peoples cameras as well, because they are going to ask you. extra memory cards, lens cleaning kit, etc.



Practice, practice practice.



I shoot highest quality/size JPEGs.  No RAW for me.  Any picture I sell or hand out, gets some retouching.  I don't have to worry so much about cropping, and making things level.  In the heat of battle, having those precious extra seconds to think about everything else works for me.



I also always shoot in pairs.  A wedding has so much interaction going on, that one photog is probably not enough.  Even someone without much experience can be helpful here.  You should the main stuff, and the help shoots the side stuff.



typically, I'm shooting between 1500, and 3000 shots over a wedding and reception.



I am totally not in the profession anymore, and only dabbled in it for awhile.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 5:26:39 AM EDT
[#26]
Go ahead and do it. They will never ask another favor of you again for the rest of your life.
 Lots of good info from posters here.
If you do take on the job, think f/5.6 or smaller apature.  If you get at a slight angle taking bride/groom photos, and focus on the brides eyes, the groom can be out of focus with a shallow DOF.  There a lots of books on lighting, posing and techniques.  But as mentioned in another post, to be a good wedding photog, you HAVE to be a great people person and be able to DIRECT the wedding if they have not hired a wedding "director" or "planner"  And if they are asking you  to take photos to save a buck, I can guarantee they have not hired a director. So that task is going to be on your shoulders.
A wedding photog MUST have a commanding personality that is on the verge of being a control freak over people. It is up to you to stop the wedding party after the wedding to take posed photos and to run everyone else off to the reception so YOU CAN WORK WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE OR COMPETETION!  There is nothing worse than trying to post people and they are constantly snapping photos with their piont and shoots screwing up your work.  I've had to get a little nasty with wedding guests in the past that felt like they had the right to be there shooting along side me. You wind up with subjects that don't know which camera to look at and you never get all eyes on you. I've had to keep telling subjects to  "look at the big camera, not your mother"
 I shot about enough weddings to NEVER do it again.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 6:43:59 AM EDT
[#27]
only the top of page 2, and I'm already regretting this....couple of you guys are right on with some of your guesses about saving money, and only wanting candid type shooting because they know that I'm not a professional and don't care to get professional results. I was also just told about a venue change, which is supposedly some sort of half-ballroom sort of thing.

I do have both Photoshop and Lightroom that I use, though I only manage to get a basic tune-up of my pictures accomplished. Again, those of you who have been there and done that, sharing your experience and advise, I really appreciate it. I will talk to my BIL soon and confirm that he knows what results he will be getting, so that if they change their mind, they will have enough time to hire a pro.

still lots of reading to do in this thread, I've only been able to skim over it
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 6:45:17 AM EDT
[#28]
Pffft....You can do it....what could go wrong....a man gotta know his limitations.


Seriously lots of good advice here, quite a few here that have BTDT got the scars to prove it.
I've been in the pro shooting biz for 30+ years.  Hire a pro & enjoy the wedding is what I can offer.

Good luck,

7mm
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 7:27:54 AM EDT
[#29]
BTW, no amount of practicing is going to help when the couple is walking down the aisle and  your flash suddenly won't fire. Don't do it. Its one thing for the family to curse that dumbass wedding photographer for years to come. It's something else when  you're that guy and are at the family reunion when they're doing the cursing.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 7:42:43 AM EDT
[#30]
Have spare batteries.

Have a spare camera.

Keep in mind that you also need to take photos of the bridesmaids helping the bride get dressed.  

I have done a couple weddings.  Take at least twice as many photos as you think you need, and back them up as soon as possible.


Don't forget to get some good zooms on the tits and ass.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 9:08:16 AM EDT
[#31]
Last August an acquaintance/friend of mine asked me to shoot his wedding this coming September. I blew him off by saying... "oh you don't want me, you want a professional" and figured that was the end of it.  Well a month ago he sent me an email asking me if I'd do it. I said everything short of "NO WAY!"  I sent him links to several wedding pros in the area, explained that shooting posed people just isn't my thing, etc.  They wouldn't take no for an answer. He and his finance have plenty of money so I know that is not the issue, they said they want someone who knows them and knows the ranch (venue).  I still pushed them away, but they kept coming until I caved.  The wedding is on a ranch I worked on for 12 years... I've since moved so I'll be happy to go back for an extended weekend, travel paid plus some nice coin on top.  We aren't close enough that they would have invited me, so I look at it as an opportunity to be there for their wedding, enjoy a place that I truly love and add experience under my belt.





Am I worried about the results? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't... but I think one must look at challenges as opportunities to excel instead of chances to fail.





There is a lot of good advice and info in this thread and I appreciate the time many of you have taken to share it.



 
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 12:23:47 PM EDT
[#32]
Quoted:
Last August an acquaintance/friend of mine asked me to shoot his wedding this coming September. I blew him off by saying... "oh you don't want me, you want a professional" and figured that was the end of it.  Well a month ago he sent me an email asking me if I'd do it. I said everything short of "NO WAY!"  I sent him links to several wedding pros in the area, explained that shooting posed people just isn't my thing, etc.  They wouldn't take no for an answer. He and his finance have plenty of money so I know that is not the issue, they said they want someone who knows them and knows the ranch (venue).  I still pushed them away, but they kept coming until I caved.  The wedding is on a ranch I worked on for 12 years... I've since moved so I'll be happy to go back for an extended weekend, travel paid plus some nice coin on top.  We aren't close enough that they would have invited me, so I look at it as an opportunity to be there for their wedding, enjoy a place that I truly love and add experience under my belt.

Am I worried about the results? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't... but I think one must look at challenges as opportunities to excel instead of chances to fail.

There is a lot of good advice and info in this thread and I appreciate the time many of you have taken to share it.
 


Make sure up front they know they are going to have to pay, and they know the full price. A lot of times these types of invites come with a freebee from the owner of the camera. Leave nothing assumed.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 2:37:13 PM EDT
[#33]
Ill just throw another idea out there.  When we planned our wedding I had a rule.  We will not do business with family or friends.  You will get taken advantage of, treated with an excessively casual attitude, and will regret not paying the money for a pro.  When you pay someone, you know what you are getting in exchange for a set price.  You can negotiate deals, and put it in writing.  If someone then screws up the deal you strike, you can sue them.  Can you sue a family member who screws up your wedding?  How can you get a 'do-over' on that?





Its great and all to do a family member a favor, but even a free shoot needs a contract.  That way if you get in trouble, sued, pics come out bad, cameras die, your are somewhat protected.  And even though you are working for free, you should still own or negotiate transfer of copyrights.  Are you willing to approach a family member with a contract?  Do you think they will back out if asked to sign a contract?  Might be a way out of the deal if you demand a contract.
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 3:23:40 PM EDT
[#34]



Quoted:



Quoted:

Last August an acquaintance/friend of mine asked me to shoot his wedding this coming September. I blew him off by saying... "oh you don't want me, you want a professional" and figured that was the end of it.  Well a month ago he sent me an email asking me if I'd do it. I said everything short of "NO WAY!"  I sent him links to several wedding pros in the area, explained that shooting posed people just isn't my thing, etc.  They wouldn't take no for an answer. He and his finance have plenty of money so I know that is not the issue, they said they want someone who knows them and knows the ranch (venue).  I still pushed them away, but they kept coming until I caved.  The wedding is on a ranch I worked on for 12 years... I've since moved so I'll be happy to go back for an extended weekend, travel paid plus some nice coin on top.  We aren't close enough that they would have invited me, so I look at it as an opportunity to be there for their wedding, enjoy a place that I truly love and add experience under my belt.



Am I worried about the results? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't... but I think one must look at challenges as opportunities to excel instead of chances to fail.



There is a lot of good advice and info in this thread and I appreciate the time many of you have taken to share it.

 




Make sure up front they know they are going to have to pay, and they know the full price. A lot of times these types of invites come with a freebee from the owner of the camera. Leave nothing assumed.
He sent me a check for the ticket last week.  Payment comes at the wedding.





 
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 3:34:57 PM EDT
[#35]
1) How much does a pro cost?
2) How much were you willing to spend on their gift, OP?
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 3:49:49 PM EDT
[#36]
Personally i would say... don't do it..unless you want to take any and all responsibility for him not being happy with the photos or video.  
    I recently got married, and we hired a " professional" to do our photos.... cost about 400 for him and his wife to take photos and video of the wedding.. but here are some points that i would suggest your brother look into no matter who he hires... What kinda camera is the photographer going to use? and what about the video camera ?  
     I didn't find out until after we had made the deal, our photographer  still uses a reg film camera... which  i guess is OK since some like those photos better then digital photos... The camera man didn't have anything except an old VHS video recorder... so we let him use my brothers digital video camera that transfers directly to a DVD, sadly i never got to see the video of my wedding because some one lost the DVD some where and it was never found.  so all i really got was about 50-75 ok photos of our wedding and no video.  

SO  if you do take the job... proceed with caution..
Link Posted: 1/24/2011 9:09:39 PM EDT
[#37]
Some people here aren't considering that maybe this couples wedding costs less than some of you are suggesting to pay for a photographer.  or that maybe if he doesn't do it they're going to rely on some other family member with a Nikon Coolpix?  If they're just being cheap and can afford a professional tell them to hire one and that you'd be happy to take additional photos and help that photographer out.  If they just really can't afford to hire a professional and you're they're best bet Then I'd say take it as a challenge you've got a lot to learn and try to find someone that knows more than you that's willing to help.  

My Sister recently had a Low budget wedding.  Where I was asked to take photos.  I asked a good friend of mine to help me ( he worked for a newspaper in the film days)  I really could not have done this all on my own it would have been close to a disaster.
I Missed a LOT of shots I had planned because my sister wasn't getting ready where I had planned.  She also never gave me a list of photo's that she wanted because "I'll see what I feel like doing the day of"was all she was willing to say.  Also I had all of an hour ahead of time to scout out the location.   A local park that we sort of just took over for a quick wedding.  The ceremony started at 5:30 Sundown was 6:30 not a lot of time to get all those shots in.  There were a lot of challenges. with the location.  We showed up before anyone else and left after everyone else.  It was a full day's work filled with stress.  We brought two camera's each with plenty of lenses we both bought flashes etc. and worked for free.  I'm still working on post process a month later but she doesn't care.  
My Sister, My brother in law, My mother, Father, almost everyone was impressed/ loved the photo's etc.  None of which were messed with in post.  Some of that was luck but some was that from the time I found out I was doing this to the day of the wedding I immersed myself in wedding photography tips sites etc.   BTW I've seen people pay certain "professionals"  $100-$500 only to have all their data lost or none of the post processing they were promised ever get to them etc. So I'd be careful with the "Cheap" guys.  

My own wedding was with two "Amateurs" One was a Woman my wife was close friends with, and the other was a close friend of mine.  I think they turned out great.  Honestly from what I know now I had no idea the burden we put on them until I was put in the same situation.  And they both did it for free.  But both of them have had years of experience behind a camera though.  And I got kinda lucky not knowing how much there really is to all this at that time.

If you take it seriously and really try to learn a lot about it you may very well do a good job.  And if they can't afford that guy for 3 grand or even $500 Then I'd say do it to the best of your ability.  If They're just trying to save some money because you have a "cool camera" and they really don't know better.  Then as the others have said I'd advise them to hire the pro and offer to bring your camera along just to help out.  But there is a reason wedding photographers charge so much it's VERY hard work, It's takes Knowledge and skill set, and also talent.  And as others have said there isn't a do over.  Time is critical and it's SOOO easy to miss a shot.  And "Winging" it is tough.  

Another thing you can do is offer a local photographer free help for experience, A Quasi internship.  If you want to really see what you're getting yourself into before you get into it.  You've got a year to prepare and if you like adversity and challenges you could get pretty decent in that time.  How much of your own time and money are you willing to put into this?  

Also I agree that I wouldn't rent an unfamiliar camera the day before the wedding.  Maybe a lens or extra batteries or a similar/Familiar Camera.  A good tripod can help.  Renting a flash the day before won't give you much insight on how to actually use the flash.  There is a TON of info to learn about flash.  It's almost an art-form all on it's own.

My .02
Link Posted: 1/25/2011 3:04:26 AM EDT
[#38]
Quoted:
Some people here aren't considering that maybe this couples wedding costs less than some of you are suggesting to pay for a photographer.  or that maybe if he doesn't do it they're going to rely on some other family member with a Nikon Coolpix?  If they're just being cheap and can afford a professional tell them to hire one and that you'd be happy to take additional photos and help that photographer out.  If they just really can't afford to hire a professional and you're they're best bet Then I'd say take it as a challenge you've got a lot to learn and try to find someone that knows more than you that's willing to help . . .


Obviously, if the bride's mother is preparing the reception meal, your sister is baking the cake and the ceremony is taking place in the park, that lowers the bar considerably for the photos. In cases like that you treat it as a gift and do the best you can. That has pretty much been the case in each of the wedding shoots I got roped in to. The last one I did was for my nephew. The wedding was at the church but the grooms father (a deacon at the church) helped officiate, the reception was held in the parents four car garage and the family prepared the meal for the reception. The groom's brother made the beer, btw. I shot the wedding and the couple got a quasi-professional job for free. In cases like this the parents or somebody has always offered to pay me something. My standard reply is that they couldn't pay me enough to get me to do it, but I'd do it for free.

So yeah, if it's truly a $200 wedding and you are the absolute best they can possibly do, that may change the calculations a bit. In that case, don't sweat it, don't rent equipment, just show up and do the best you can. Like I said before, when you try to raise the bar beyond what is realistic, that's when you get into trouble.

Quoted:

My Sister recently had a Low budget wedding . . .  I had all of an hour ahead of time to scout out the location.   A local park that we sort of just took over for a quick wedding.  The ceremony started at 5:30 Sundown was 6:30 not a lot of time to get all those shots in . . .


Seriously? . . . What would you have done if the park had been reserved for a family reunion or something? Did you tell the guests where the wedding was going to be beforehand?



Link Posted: 1/25/2011 9:12:01 PM EDT
[#39]
I shot my sisters wedding.. never again.

I have the equipment, and I did a great job.  I also had a second photographer, whom also did a great job....BUT....I did not enjoy that day, I was stressed out, I did not get to visit much with any of my family that was in from all over the country.  My parents apologized afterwords as they did not realize what a wedding photographer goes through... especially a family member trying to do a good job out of their element... I do product photography as a side hobby job... its not the same!!!!
Link Posted: 1/26/2011 3:41:32 PM EDT
[#40]
Quoted:
1) How much does a pro cost?[


The Complete Wedding:
$11,000.00
•24 page Wedding album
•Proof Album (Two sets)
•Online Access
•Image Files/Negatives
•Parent Album
•Bridal Portrait
•100 (5x7) reprints
•Museum Portfolio (ten prints)


This is what you should expect to pay for a professional for their full service.
Link Posted: 1/26/2011 8:44:44 PM EDT
[#41]
Don't know your skill level other than "novice" but I'm with the don't do it crowd....unless it's a backyard BBQ/Judge/picnic type of wedding.

I have done two weddings. The first was a friend of my Wifes and it was a backyard BBQ/Judge ordeal. They were on a tight budget ( hence the venue ) and wanted images of their day. Pretty relaxed environment.
The second was for a friends daughter. Big formal wedding in a church. The stress level you will encounter is more than you can even think. This is their special day and you are there to capture it forever. You will be working the whole time, even at the reception getting candids.

I don't plan on ever doing another wedding.
It's not like shooting sports or races where the car will come around the track again if you miss it. You have one chance at the Bride walking down the aisle, tossing the bouquet, etc etc. You better get the shot.

Not to discourage you but see if any local pro's are willing to let you be a assistant for some weddings. Even if you have to do it for free, you are getting the education.
Link Posted: 1/27/2011 3:24:20 AM EDT
[#42]
Quoted:
Quoted:
1) How much does a pro cost?[


The Complete Wedding:
$11,000.00
•24 page Wedding album
•Proof Album (Two sets)
•Online Access
•Image Files/Negatives
•Parent Album
•Bridal Portrait
•100 (5x7) reprints
•Museum Portfolio (ten prints)


This is what you should expect to pay for a professional for their full service.



FWIW, I would EXPECT to pay about 10 percent of that. If it truly cost $11K, I'd ask my brother in law to do the deal, too . . .  (and he's never picked up a camera).

Link Posted: 1/27/2011 5:45:16 AM EDT
[#43]
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 3:49:15 AM EDT
[#44]
Quoted:
Come on now, get real, this is definitely NOT the "typical" or average cost out there for regular joes!  That is a very high end wedding photography service.


He asked what a pro would charge.  That is the full wedding package from a local pro photographer, although his basic package is $3500-4000.  Regular joes typically don't even have insurance to cover the wedding (or their personal equipment for that matter), and do not have access to professional printing services.

I'm not saying you can't get quality pictures unless you hire a professional, I was just answering his question.
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 4:31:28 AM EDT
[#45]
FWIW . . .

a couple of guys I went to school with are shooting weddings now. If I were hiring a wedding shooter, and money was not an issue, this is how I would want it done:

Chris Wilkins (Dallas)

Gary Allen (Willmington, NC)
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 5:29:00 AM EDT
[#46]
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 5:29:08 AM EDT
[#47]
Not to diverge too badly from the OP's topic but there really IS a reason the top level pros get the big money. That reason is that no matter WHAT comes along, they'll deliver outstanding images of your wedding. Lights go out in the church? They'll pull out the f1.4 glass, crank the ISO,and shoot awesome pics by candlelight. Some kid spills cola on the wedding dress? They'll shoot in such a way that it's not visible and/or Photoshop it out. Their main camera falls apart in their hands? They grab the backup and don't miss a lick. They have the skill and experience to deliver magazine quality shots no matter what.
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 6:46:04 AM EDT
[#48]
I'm glad you guys brought up insurance.

Assuming the wedding the OP is going to shoot is at a paid venue, the venue owners will most likely require the photographer to have liability insurance and provide proof of it.

It's actually not hard to come by and you can get it fairly quickly, but you typically have to pay for a 12 month policy in advance. I have a $2Mil policy which cost $240 for 365 days.
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 10:41:25 AM EDT
[#49]
And while we're getting into dotting I's and crossing T's, don't forget to check to see if the venue you are shooting photos at requires a permit. One of my wife's friends hired an amateur/friend to photograph their wedding and they had planned to take some pictures in a National Park. Unfortunately, the photographer never realized that she had to pull a permit and from what I heard, the park ranger basically told them that if they GTFO ASAP, he wouldn't ticket them. They complied, but that resulted in the session being cut short and created a bad memory in an otherwise happy, joyful day.
Link Posted: 1/28/2011 11:41:43 AM EDT
[#50]
Quoted:
I am a novice photographer, having done nothing "good" in my opinion with the exception of my son's 6-month pictures. I was shooting outside in perfect lighting conditions, so I was lucky.

My brother-in-law is getting married in 1 year from now, and has asked me to do the photos for his wedding. I need some input.

Any input on how to help this turn out the best will by greatly appreciated.


Input??? Run Forrest, run!

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