1st Wedding - help please!!

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by brooke_renee, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    So I am helping a family friend out as she could not afford a wedding photographer so I thought it would be great experience and would
    add alot to my portfolio if I offered to photograph her wedding! The forecast is raining but she is having an outside wedding in a garden
    just afew questions
    1. How do you keep your camera gear dry if it starts raining mid ceremony and do you still stay out and photograph the wedding - any tips
    would be much appreciated
    2. How many approx memory cards would you use per wedding and how many photos do you think I should stick to taking ( I'm not
    getting paid so I don't want to take thousands than be stuck for days sorting through them)
    3. What settings would you generally use in an outdoor cloudy day for weddings? I currently have a d7000 I also have my sister helping
    me with the same camera, I am using a 17-55mm tamron 2.8 and a 50mm 1.4 Nikon my sister will have the 55-200mm Nikon to take
    shots from the back of the ceremony. Apeture, s/s and iso?

    I know these questions may seem silly but I want to do the best job possible and would appreciate all the advice I can get

    Thanks :)
  2. Go to the learning tab, there should be a lot of info there
  3. 1. Get clear plastic bags. Fit one to the camera, cutting a hole for the lens and possibly another one for the viewfinder (you fit the bag closely around the rubber part). Use rubber bands to secure. Be sure to cover the external flash too. As a paid, pro photographer, yes, I would stay out and photograph the wedding if the couple and officiator remain because I am prepared to cover up my gear. Nicer would be to have an assistant hold an umbrella over you and your gear.
    2. Memory cards depends on whether you are shooting RAW or JPEG. It is always good to have extra, though. Have maybe twice the space you intend to shoot, and then maybe more. Nobody can tell you how many pictures to shoot--it depends on too many other variables. You gotta figure this out for yourself, based on what you know is going to happen.
    3. Me--I'd use manual camera mode for outdoor cloudy days, after metering the light. Unless the sun comes in and out, etc., it should be fairly constant unless you are also going to deal with later afternoon/dusk or it getting really dark and then raining. If you use an automated mode, be sure your shutter speeds are fast enough to stop motion. I'd almost go shutter priority, and adjust the ISO so the apertures you get are within the range you want for DOF. Cloudy bright conditions can be almost as contrasty as bright sun so don't put away your external flash.
    3. Nobody can tell you what aperture, shutter speed and ISO to use from the back of the ceremony since nobody can predict what the light level will be. Again, I'd be sure the shutter speeds are either/and, fast enough to stop motion and fast enough to prevent hand shake. With dim conditions and the 55-200mm, you might need to push up the ISO quite a bit, unless your sister uses a tripod to help.
  4. Brooke,
    Nadine as usual has given a perfect answer, but I'll just expand a little on the subject of how many pictures you should expect — and the problem of storage cards.
    At the weddings I've shot, I've always come home with somewhere between 500 and 900 photos. My goal is to lower that number. I aim to deliver something like 125-150 photos to the bride (most of them of mainly documentary value), and taking more photos than that just means more work for me. If I could go and take 150 photos knowing that every one would be a keeper, that's what I'd do. If you take more photos than you need, all you do is make work for yourself. And in my opinion, anyway, if you deliver more than about 150 photos, you devalue your own work. No matter what I'm shooting these days — wedding, family portrait, news event — my goal is fewer shots, better photos. I wish I'd starting thinking this way earlier.
    Weddings can move very quickly. Last year I almost missed the bride and groom's first dance in the reception hall next to the church because I was packing up my gear in the church after the ceremony and didn't realize that the dancing was going to start IMMEDIATELY. So you have to be nimble. On the other hand, it's great if you can stay calm and try — as hard as you can — to work in an unhurried manner. This is the meaning of the old saying festina lente, "make haste slowly." It's very difficult for a beginner to work this way, at least, I wasn't up to it personally. The more experience you have, the more you are able to make important decisions without conscious thought. Still, it's something to think about even for a beginner. Relax, breathe while you're working. Think before you click the shutter. Try to KNOW that the picture you're about to take is worth taking.
    I almost always work with two cameras. For me this is necessary because I shoot with fixed-focal length lenses and having two cameras means I have two focal lengths to work with. I shoot raw. My cameras are 16+MP. My Sony cameras let me load two cards: an 8GB SD and a 4GB memory stick. So I go to work with 24GB of storage. Working this way I haven't needed to change a card in a good while, which is a big relief, because a few years ago, I did run out of storage a couple times and it was almost always at an inopportune moment.
    If you do expect to change cards during the event here are two tips. First, don't wait until a card is full before changing. Keep your eye on the "shots remaining" count and change cards well in advance of running out of space — whenever a good moment arises for the change (say a slow moment in the church service or the reception). The second tip is, make sure you have some way of storing the used cards. It's okay to lose your cameras or your tripods or flash units, but it's NOT okay to lose the cards with the wedding photos on them. I wear a cloth money wallet around my neck under my suit. I haven't had to get to it in a while, but last time I had to, I was able to whip out the wallet, place the used card in it and it up tight, and then tuck the wallet back inside my shirt. I wouldn't trust the cards to a pants pocket or coat pocket and I wouldn't want to let the cards out of my control.
    Good luck!
  5. Hello!
    Nadine gave You very good advice, sometimies when I shoot in rainy day I use duck tape to protect upper buttons in camera but plastic bag is grat sollution. I remember that one NG photographer Tomaszewski when shooting coal mine used normal kitchen plastic foil (this one you use to preserve food freshness) and it worked wery well to protect equipment.
    If You shoot wedding first time you really should have second camera. Sister as assistant is ok, but I would prefer to have camera with tele than assistant . When shooting I usually use manual mode especialy in dark churches, because it gives control on shutter time and aperture but Program mode is save, if it dont use slow times.
    What ISO? As low as possible but now days cameras give usefull ISO1000.
    Shooting RAW is best sollution because you dont have to worry about white balance. If you dont have enough memory card, better buy more. Remember to have spare battery for camera, flash etc.
    When using flash it is the best to have off-camera flash (eg. metz 45) or diffusor or bouncer.
    As William wrote wedding`s can move very quickly so allways arrange meeting before and talk with bride and groom and ask how they plan wedding, ask them about every detail. Sometimes they say: "Oh, I forget to tell you, we plan group photos for all 300 guest in front of Church OK? You got this special ladder, don`t you?" or "Did you made shot of my shoes (Flowers, best friend, beloved grandma) it was so important for me?" Of course I`m joking but better ask them about everything.
    Be calm, don`t worry, everybody shoot first wedding someday.
    After wedding remmember do backup of your photos, dont erase photos from card until You have at least 2 backups in 2 different places (DVD, hard disk etd).
    Good luck :)
  6. Get as much information as you can before the wedding day.
    Ask the Bride for an itinerary for the day with specific times
    ... and exactly what photos of groups and family images she expects. This will be the road-map for the photography. It will also tell you how much time you have between the wedding ceremony and reception to shoot group shots. Sometimes clients are very ambitious about what can be shot in the time given, and you can control those expectations ahead of time rather than disappoint them after the wedding is over. Conversely, don't over-promise just to please everyone.
    Go to the rehearsal which is usually the day before. This will be a dry run of the wedding ceremony so you will be aware of, and more comfortable with, what will happen and when. You can also ask the Priest/Rabbi/Pastor or whoever is doing the ceremony what their "rules" are ... some are more strict, and some don't care where you are ... just be respectful of the guest's view and disrupting the ceremony to much.
    As soon as you get to the reception, ask the DJ or who ever is controlling the reception timings, exactly what is happening and when ... sometimes a client's itinerary gets changed by the DJ or whoever. Ask them to give you a heads-up before doing something that needs to photographed. Make sure one of you are in the Hall at all times ready to shoot. You don't want to miss the first dance while you are in the bathroom : -)
    Shoot RAW files. You can always convert straight to jpg after, but RAW will give you the most lee-way should the exposures or white balance be incorrect.
    Do NOT be afraid to select P on your camera if you get flustered, confused or lose your confidence in all the rush. Today's cameras are quite amazing ... in fact, I tell my assistants that P stands for Panic ... and while I've shot thousands of pressure cooker assignments, I've resorted to Program mode myself at times.
    If it rains, I doubt the couple will just stand there in the pouring rain and get soaked. If they are getting married outside on a rainy day without a tent, getting the camera wet will be the least of the tragedy unfolding. The Nikon D7000 gets high marks for being weather sealed and can be used in extreme weather according to all reviews ... so bags and tape are not necessary. Just use a filter on the lens, carry a soft towel & micro-cloth to wipe it off, and have an umbrella for yourself and assistant. I'd suggest the client's be prepared with umbrellas also.
  7. Brooke, I am concerned because I didnt see 2 external flashes listed amongst your gear. You absolutely need at least
    one, and having the backup is clutch as gear fails. If you have the 7000 you obviously like photography, so you should
    own an external speedlite. I believe Nikon has a decently powered one for about $300. Most flashes produced by third
    parties are under powered and just plain don't function as well as a Nikon to nikon or canon to canon connection. Even
    though it is an out door wedding you likely will need fill flash to make sure people dont get big dark shadows under eyes
    and noses.

    Next concern..."how many photos...I don't want to be stuck for days sorting through them"
    You offered to photograph her wedding because you thought it would be good experience for you. Going through images
    after is part of the experience. It is what we as professional photographers do. When you took on the responsibility of
    being her wedding photographer you took on the responsibility of going through the images, culling them to the best, and
    editing them. You can't skimp out on stuff now just because it will take lots of time in post. You can explain to the bride that it will take time since this isnt your full time job. Also, are you planning on
    shooting in RAW, JPG, or RAW+jpg? For a wedding, frankly you should always shoot in RAW OR RAW+jpg, especially if
    you aren't even sure what settings to use. You didn't mention how you are going through all the shots. Do you have a
    program like Lightroom? It makes the amount of time it takes to review and edit shots amazingly faster. If you don't, I
    would suggest after the wedding you use the free trial to review and edit all the images.iphoto does work with raw imges
    but the work low is just so much better in lightroom. again, you may say, but I am not getting paid or this, I am doing
    them a favor. It doesn't matter. You offered to be their photographer and this is what you need to do now.

    To keep the number of shots down I suggest you follow this basic rule before pressing down the shutter. Ask yourself,
    would anyone ever print this as a photo or put it in an album. If the answer is no, then don't take the shot.

    For the rain, better to have your sister hold a big umbrella over your head so you aren't having trouble with your camera
    being in a less than optimal state and do bring one of those mini towels as suggested for the front of the lens.

    Settings, it sounds like you should stick with shutter priority. If people are walking like during the processional you need
    to have it above 1/125th to freeze the motion. Dancing 1/160th. If they are standing still up there during the ceremony,
    on your shorter lenses you can get away with 1/60. I tend to keep it on at least 1/125 for the ceremony though unless in
    very low light so if anything interesting or funny happens ( like best man drops rings) I have a fast enough shutter speed
    to get an acceptable shot). Your sister if hand holding the lens should stick to 1/200. Set the ISO to auto on both units,
    particularly your sister's. Later when taking group formals switch to aperture priority or manual mode and set to about 5.6
    to get enough depth of field. Make sure your shutter speed is being set fast enough, I tend to like 1/100 as a minimum.

    Lastly, avoid posing these group shots in direct sunlight. Bring them to a shady spot if possible, not dappled sunlight.
    Full on shade.

    Good luck and pray for no rain. Let us know how it goes.
  8. Generally if it's raining your gear should be fine. The bride and everyone else will not stand in the rain taking pics. Therefore your cameras shouldn't get wet.
  9. Brooke,
    I thinks it has already been mentioned but the biggest thing you can to do to make your day better is to stay relaxed. It can be a nerve racking experience so give yourself plenty of time in advance of all the big moments.
    The schedule is key as well as a shot list for the groups. It gives a nice bit of structure which is plainly written down in black and white. Of course it might change a bit but a good starting point none the less.
    If at any point you feel you're getting confused / flustered / overwhelmed switch to one camera with the 50mm. Incidentally - have you thought about lights at all - I don't think you mentioned them in your original post ?
  10. Well over the years I've shot two weddings where the couple and officiant kept going, even if the guests and everyone else was drenched. In one case, the couple was under a covered porch while everyone else was in the open. In the other case, everyone was in the open. In both cases, some guests left for shelter, particularly older folks.
    I was drenched enough (also my gear) to be worried about the gear, even if the gear was weather sealed. I always have a thin, plastic bag on me in case I am caught unprepared. Otherwise, specifically made camera covers are in my car.
  11. Wow!! Thanks so much for all the responses and suggestions, I have made plastic bag covers just incase fingers crossed the weather
    plays nice. I have about 12 memory cards (4g each) and have purchased alot of spare batteries. I think I'll have my sister stick to P mode
    and I'll stay on Shutter priority I am not confident enough to go fully manual yet! Thanks again for all your feedback it was a huge help!!
  12. How long ago did you know you might be doing this wedding for her : , I suggest you use a camera phone to do it :
    How long have you been using a camera, the people that say OH yea I can do it and then run like heck to nearest computer and start asking question on how to do it : Because I spent a year being a helper on weddings before I did my own and my first two I had a back up so the bride and groom got what they wanted :
  13. Brooke, better to have your sister on shutter priority than program. Your camera won't factor in that it has a long lens that
    is more prone to camera shake and will likely give you WAY too slow a shutter speed for any crisp hand held shots. Also
    don't underestimate the great potential of telephoto lenses from much closer up. Some of my fav shots are very tight crops taken on
    telephotos. Great advice I recently got.. When you think you are clse enough go closer. Also if you go tight to begin with
    and not super wide you will likely have to do less cropping in post, saving you some time.

    Also have a plan in advance for where you want your sister to stand and what shots you want her to take. Talk this out with her.
  14. Lauren - were you once a beginner?? I think so.. Your in a beginner forum! Switch to advance if you don't want to add
    anything constructive.
  15. Thankyou everyone else this forum needs people who won't judge and will share there experiances with new comers, my
    questions may seem easy to everyone but I have to ask to ask to get better. Thanks again for the wise words and tips!!
  16. A note: Shooting with full aperture can be tempting but note that it is all too easy to get parts of the shot out-of-focus that way. At f/1.8 the focus plane is razor sharp. I often set my lens at f/5.6 as the base f-stop and only change that after serious consideration. Do not misunderstand me, f/2.8 can give fantastic results but in the hectic environment of a wedding I seldom get the time to compose the shot for f/2.8 (and then almost only faces with a 200 mm prime). With f/5.6 I seldom miss a shot.
  17. I hate doing weddings and I avoid them like the plague but I somehow keep getting sucked into them by friends and other photographers needing help.
    Besides the technical advice here you should also make a list of things to photograph. Some of them could be:
    Rings (looks good standing up between the pages of a bible, or whatever they are using, with a shallow DOF)
    Their shoes
    The flowers
    Google a list and get some other ideas.
    I always photograph what the woman wants since guys don't seem to buy many photos anyway.
    Just my $0.02
    Have fun.
  18. Brooke, the forum itself isn't a beginner only forum. You just categorized your question as first timer. Both the newbie
    and expert questions show up on the same page so sometimes people on the forum get frustrated with those going out
    unprepared. Good luck tomorrow with the wedding. Hopefully you can post a few shots after here for us to critique to
    help the learning experience.
  19. Brooke Renee , Nov 25, 2011; 12:10 a.m.
    Lauren - were you once a beginner?? I think so.. Your in a beginner forum! Switch to advance if you don't want to add anything constructive.
    And for a Beginner its the best advise I can give because its the truth, There is to darn much to leave to chance making people happy and keeping friend's is a lot for a wedding job: Sorry if what I said made you feel like I flamed you:
  20. Please, please do a Google search for a simple contract idea. Then have one printed up for the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be to sign. Put your limitations on the contract, so if for some reason the rain does damage to your equipment and you have almost nothing to show the couple: you will not be responsible for "Acts of God" or "Acts of Mother Nature - Rain" after the wedding. It happens some of the time that a budget-limited wedding can go south. If you have good luck -- that's great! If, for any reason that is beyond your abilities...the contract will be a good idea.
    Good luck!
  21. Brooke, I personally don't trust the seals on the new lenses more than the bodies, so if I'm in the rain, I either use one of my trusty manual lenses or use some simple form of plastic drape cut out f a zip-lock freezer bag and a simple piece of industrial gaff tape or paper tape which comes off easily later, but stays surprizingly well.
    On a side note Jerry Litynski, after the big beginner thread blow up last week I searched my old posts for a reality check. When I signed on in 1999, I was already shooting for fifteen years at that point, and in perhaps the first year and a half of wedding threads I participated in, including such beginner threads, you were the only other one active then and today still providing such info patiently (in those threads), and many of the questions were the same. So, take a bow.
  22. Marc Williams[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Nov 24, 2011; 05:37 a.m.
    Do NOT be afraid to select P on your camera if you get flustered, confused or lose your confidence in all the rush. Today's cameras are quite amazing ... in fact, I tell my assistants that P stands for Panic ... and while I've shot thousands of pressure cooker assignments, I've resorted to Program mode myself at times.​
    I tell assistants that the P Mode is the "Professional Mode."
  23. I have already made a contract and she has signed it :) it covers me for any act of god situations and the copyright of all
    images- and the use of the images for marketing purposes- thanks Jerry! I have a book of poses/ shots I want to get on
    the day which I'm taking with me so if I get flustered I'll have it handy. I'll post some images in the next weeks! Thanks for
    everyones help
  24. Why do you have a contract if you're shooting for free?
  25. "...and the use of the images for marketing purposes-" That may be a good idea and it may not.
    The bride can sign off on images of her (and the groom,) but anyone else in the wedding party may not be "fair game" for marketing purposes. You just need to be aware that "everyone" is not always happy to see their mug shots promoting your future photography business.
  26. Ed te Pas wrote:
    Why do you have a contract if you're shooting for free?​
    You do this 1) because shooting for free does not necessarily limit your liability to $0, and 2) to help ensure that the clients clearly understand your limitations as a novice wedding shooter. The simple act of putting terms and limitations in writing and discussing that document provides an anchor should the client experience any consternation later.
  27. Why do you have a contract if you're shooting for free?​
    If you're shooting for free (getting nothing in return) then there cannot be a contract. There can be an agreement though.
  28. "You do this 1) because shooting for free does not necessarily limit your liability to $0, "
    Ian, if we limit the activities to a free shoot and a photographer giving images to a recipient, in what way can the photographer be liable, even if she fails to deliver the images?
  29. Michael, if the photographer leads to any injuries of anyone from gear falling over, tripping on it, etc, he or she could be
  30. Vail, my question to Ian refers to the need for a contract. I don't think having a contract will protect a photographer from liability for causing injury.
  31. Ian, if we limit the activities to a free shoot and a photographer giving images to a recipient, in what way can the photographer be liable, even if she fails to deliver the images? ...
    ... my question to Ian refers to the need for a contract. I don't think having a contract will protect a photographer from liability for causing injury.​
    Well, it may theoretically help limit liability for injury to some extent (e.g., injury to one of the signatories), depending on the content of the contract and the state in which the contract is executed. But no, that's not the primary issue, mainly because (as you seem to know) it is difficult to limit your liability for negligent personal or property injury to others in a contract between you and one or two people.
    Regarding your main question, Michael, you phrase it in such a way that I believe I understand your reasoning ("if we limit the activities to a free shoot"). You're limiting the fee, not the "activities." Calling a wedding "a free shoot" just confuses the elements of this exchange.
    Please correct me if I get this wrong, but if I understand you correctly, your premise, in asking how you could be liable if you don't charge a fee for your photography, is either:
    1. that your liability for failure to perform cannot exceed the value of your fee; or else
    2. that a no-fee arrangement by definition means you do not guarantee any results.
    Neither of these is a good assumption.
    1) Many photographers' contracts state that the photographer's liability for failure to deliver according to the agreement is limited to the full fee. This clause is useful precisely because in most cases liability is not otherwise so limited, and may extend, for example, to covering the cost of restaging of the event or of having someone more skilled edit/salvage poor-quality images. There are many possible consequences of failing to deliver according to expectations that might have measurable value in excess of whatever fee is charged.
    2) If you agree to photograph a wedding, then the client has certain expectations about what you have agreed to deliver. To over-simplify, the client probably will make some decisions in reliance on your promise to photograph the wedding. If you fail to deliver according to expectations, then the client's decisions -- to rely on you, not to hire a professional, not perhaps to take advantage of any opportunity to have back-up coverage -- will have been to her detriment. It may be that your failure to perform according to the expectations you create by promising to photograph the wedding has a high cost -- a cost that an angry client might be inclined to ask the court to try to measure.
    The OP offered to shoot the wedding in order to obtain something of value, namely, an opportunity (presumably exclusive) to gain experience as a primary and build her portfolio:
    so I thought it would be great experience and would add alot [sic] to my portfolio if I offered to photograph her wedding!
    The access that a primary shooter enjoys on a wedding day (not to mention the trust) is not trivial consideration -- especially to one starting out, hoping to charge for her work one day, and in need of some evidence of capability and experience. Therefore this arguably is not a situation in which the OP is receiving nothing of value. The OP's first sentence is a statement to the contrary.
    So, then, the value of a written and signed contract in this instance is the same as it is in any for-pay situation: to establish agreement about what each party expects the other to deliver (and here, the contract would benefit a lot from including language clearly articulating the photographer's inexperience, and the likely consequences of that inexperience), and to set reasonable limitations on the photographer's liability in the event of a partial or total failure to deliver even what the agreement says is minimally acceptable.
    Ninety percent of the value of a contract is in managing expectations ahead of time, and the other 10% is is providing the back-end protection against crazy.
  32. Does uncle Bob has a contract too? He too is shooting for himself and maybe the couple. If I should shoot for free (which I never do), there will be no contract, I am uncle Bob on that particular moment. Only when handing over the CD the couple has to sign something :)
  33. Thank you everyone for your responses - I did really well if I do say so myself - thanks for everyone's help in this question and in the past
    questions I have asked - I will upload a photo or two soon :)
  34. Yay! Can't wait to see them Brooke!
  35. I have uploaded photos in my portfolio of the wedding, anyone with constructive criticism go for gold!

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