Equipment failure during ceremony??? I need some advice

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by michelle_n, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. Hello I am new to this site, I shot a wedding this past weekend and knew that the sun was setting though lighting was good when I was waitiing for the wedding party to arrive to begin.
    Sun light fell VERY quickly and they began to wak, I was shooting with a tamron 70-200mm f 2.8 lens with speedlight and I could not get the lens to focus clearly on any subject! I had a back up 18-135 nikon f 4.5 but had no external flash with this camera, and it was not quick enough for the very low lighting situation I found myself in.
    I am just sick, what do I tell the couple??? I shot all the photos in raw so I can salvalge about 5 but this is just horrible... On the good side I got great reception photos the rest of the night but the wedding ceremony was way out in the middle of a golf course with zero lighting only the natural sun settiing behind the moutain.
    I did have external 1000w lighting available with me though they said it would not be dark, and lighting was originally fine. At the time the started which seem to take forever, the minister talked for about 10 minutes and by this time light was gone..... I could of USED my light if I would of known.
    Is this my fault should I have had my light ready??? but would it not of been very distracting to turnout 1000w or even 500 w lighting in the midde of the ceremony?
    I just need some help on how to have this never happen again, and how to deal with the couple about this situation? Oh I thank anyone for a response with this!
    Has this every happened to anyone else????
  2. Coulda', woulda', shoulda' need a backup for your backup. You need to have three speedlites available. Ceremony delays happen often and you need to have contingency plans in place. No, I've never been caught without backup equipment at a paid wedding.
  3. For now: see what you can salvage and tell the couple the truth. Offer a refund, throw in a wedding album - whatever it takes since you clearly botched it. Sorry to sound so harsh but this is why you don't skimp on equipment or back-up.
    It's a wedding and nothing is ever on time so you should have taken the falling light into consideration. It's not the minister's fault. Don't rely on anybody telling you "It will be fine". You're responsible for checking the lighting situation and planning ahead i.e. look at the sunset time for the day of shooting at the location. The 18-135 f4.5 is too slow for those conditions and the 2nd camera should have had a flash. In short: plan for the worst case scenario and bring appropriate gear.
  4. One more criticism: Please, for the love of English, the word is "have," not "of". As in "could have used", "would have known", and "would it not have been". I'm really not a grammatical nit-picker, but this is so distracting, it's as bad as misspelling every other word. This is basic English. Regarding the lighting situation: Yeah, you probably should have been prepared for the changing lighting conditions. If the sun's going down, and you're outside, it's a good bet that it's going to be dark soon. Also, in a pinch, don't be afraid to throw your camera into ISO overdrive. Use ISO 1600 without hesitation, and go to 3200 and 6400 if your camera can do it. It's better to get a clear shot with some grain, rather than a blurry shot, underexposed, with deep grainless blacks.
  5. See my response in your next thread. In addition, with the new details...
    1. You must have contingency plans in place for gear failure and changing conditions (covered in your next thread).
    2. If you've shot weddings before, you know they never start on time and the likelihood of things changing is high. Sunset ceremonies almost never start in time for the desired effect to take place (sun setting while exchanging vows). Ministers talking longer than they are supposed to is a common thing. Sunsets 'falling quickly' is a common thing. Even in the face of these common things, see #1. I never shoot a processional where I don't also have another camera on my shoulder, and my shoulder bag (with my lenses) on my shoulder. I've had a lens shutter fail just as the bride walked down the aisle. If I'm not using flash, I still have them on the camera.
    3. What is wrong with your images? Are they grossly underexposed, or blurry, or both? I never had problems re-creating highlights if I had to, including asking people to walk down the aisle again. At least, you will have something decent.
    4. Tell the couple the truth. And make concessions. Offer them reasonable compensation.
    5. I would have had the lights ready. I probably would not have turned them on in the middle of the ceremony. But I don't think I would have been in the position to need to turn them on in the middle of the ceremony. I also would have used flash, unless it was prohibited. Flash is, in a way, less distracting in a totally dark situation.
  6. Experience comes with a price. You can pay it the easy way by learning your equipment, knowing what you need, being prepared and so on. Or you can pay it another way, by not doing these things. Either way, you must pay the price. Not my rules! You will get plenty of advice on what you should have done and what you should do.... my concern is this statement:
    I just need some help on how to have this never happen again​
    Seriously? You don't know what you should have done?
  7. Michelle --
    I'm going to be blunt, but that's the way I am. Take this as a lesson...possibly an expensive one...and learn from it. You've taken the first step by asking for help, so here's my advise:
    Be honest, take full responsibility, and own what you have done.
    You need to do this in a controlled environment, preferably during your post-wedding consultation (if you don't normally do one, I'd make the exception for this one).
    Show the couple what you have and offer them something if they are not satisfied with your results.
    If they are outraged, offer whatever you can, up to a full refund and copies of the "keepers." Whatever you decide to do, keep the couple happy. In today's day and age, word of mouth spreads fast and you don't want your reputation smeared.
    This is a situation that you can remedy. You may lose money to do it, but it needs to be done.
    Now that you have my advise on how to handle the couple, here's what you need to take from this.
    This is a situation that could have been avoided with proper planning.
    Equipment failure is not an excuse. Three things separate the professional from the "Uncle Bobs" and "Craigslist Shooters". Equipment is not one of these things. Preparation, execution, and delivery are what separate pros from everyone else that has a camera
    Part of your preparation is being ready for anything...this includes equipment failure. You need to have a backup plan...and you have to have a backup for your backup. This means, at a minimum, you should have 2 bodies, 2 lenses, 2 flashes, 2 batteries per body, and 2 sets of batteries for each flash. Plan for EVERYTHING and you will never be unprepared.
    Any time I am shooting on-location I take a trip out a few days before at the time of day the shoot is supposed to happen, even if I have done a shoot at the location before. I get a feel for the lighting and shoot several test shots so I know what settings I should be using on the day of the shoot. This goes for weddings, portraits, engagements, and anything else I'm getting paid to do.
    You should have a "wedding kit" checklist...everything you know you will need for a wedding, things you think you'll need, and things you probably won't need, but would be handy if the need arises. Go over your checklist the day before the wedding and make sure you have everything. Assemble your wedding kit and make sure you know where you put everything in your bag(s).
    Present yourself as a professional. Shoot the wedding to get the results your client expects.'re getting paid for every shot, not just the ones you present at the end of the day.
    I can't tell you how to shoot professionally...everyone shoots differently. Everyone has their own style, and everyone interacts with their clients in their own way.
    Again, this step is very personal and should reflect you and your style. You can "churn and burn" if that's what your clients expect. You can have a post-shoot consultation to sell albums, prints, and digital files if that's your business model. I can't tell you how to do this, I can only tell you to make it memorable and only present what you would pay for.
    I may have gotten a little off track as to what constitutes a professional and what to do to prevent this from happening again. Remember, you're the control what you're responsible for setting client expectations and delivering on them.
    I hope this helps and I hope I wasn't too blunt
  8. So why did you not switch to manual focus? The problem appears to be with the cameras autofocusing mechanism in low light and not the lens. In my opinion the equipment did not fail but you failed to understand your equipment. I put the focus on manual, focused on a specific spot and when they arrive at the spot the image is taken. When the bride makes her march I follow using manual focus. Autofocus is not always the best solution.
    And on a side note I have yet to photograph a wedding where the processional shots were considered that critical. Yeh, they were nice to have. But the situation for the processional is not very controllable. You only get when you can get. Aunt Minnie stepping in the isle and all other manner of distractions.
  9. Unless the ceremony was delayed by two hours or so, I think you were cutting it a little too close by not being ready for lower lighting. Besides the lower lighting, I think the problem is more fundamental: You weren't ready for a lot of things.
    Next time you find yourself in a similar situation:
    1. Focus the lens manually.
    2. Have a tripod available. You can get many shots where the subjects aren't moving much.
    3. Always have your bag beside you (though in this case I doubt a 50 f/1.8 would have helped at "night time").
    4. Are you using cameras from two different manufacturers? Why couldn't you have used the speedlight on your backup camera? You would still have had to focus manually.
    Oh, and are your 1000ws strobes battery-powered? If not, how would you use them in the middle of a golf course? But even if you had used your strobes, you still have had to focus manually.
  10. What else can one say here that hasn't been said already. Except that, as was discussed here before (but which is no help to you now), the Tamron 70-200 is a piece of junk. I'd say it can be used in controlled situations where you control the subject and the light but that's about it. I would not trust it in any other circumstances. Even in broad daylight it can hunt, and hunt, and hunt for focus. That noisy focusing mechanism trying to lock on for what seems like hours is the worst sound in the world when you need to get the shot. So if you decide to stick with shooting weddings job one should be investing in quality glass.
  11. Mitch--it could be that Michelle was using it in AI Servo in dim light, which would tax even a top of the line 70-200mm f2.8 Canon or Nikon.
  12. Be that as it may I would caution anyone thinking about getting this lens to at least rent it first. My copy had trouble locking focus in bright daylight let alone low light. Never had the same problem when I switched to the Canon 70-200 2.8.
  13. Sure, Mitch, not saying the Tamron isn't bad with focusing. Just that the 'answer' isn't getting a better 70-200mm lens. The answer is knowing your gear, what you can and can't do with your gear and being prepared.
  14. Sun light fell VERY quickly and they began to wak, I was shooting with a tamron 70-200mm f 2.8 lens with speedlight and I could not get the lens to focus clearly on any subject! ""
    OK, the failure was camera would not focus ? Did you try to manually focus the camera ? If you were shooting w/o a flash, you could have bracketed the manual focus. I carry a flashlight if the wedding is going to run into night time to shine so I can manually focus.
    1000 watt lights, you really did not want to flip on 1000 watt lights on a outdoor wedding that was supposed to be in a sunset environment.
    What to tell couple:
    The truth, tell them they did not turn out like they should, offer free 11x14 framed, or parents album for mom, if you do not offer proof book, offer to take 1/4 or 1/3 off printing all the images. No need to give them a free wedding over bad ceremony photos.
    Before next wedding:
    practice manually focusing camera in various dark situations, happens all the time at weddings.
    practice shooting camera on all manual settings. You will never know when anything auto will give false readings. Know how to use your flash on manual also.
    Know how to use your ISO settings.
    Make sure of back-up equipment. You really did not have much of a failure, but it happened at a bad time. I had a $3400.00 camera quit in the middle of the wedding photos.. The next day I whipped out credit card spent another $2400.00+ for another one because I had 2 weddings the next weekend.
    We live in a "auto" world, but weddings will test you. So be ready for anything.
  15. I agree, Nadine. But if this is a focal range Michelle relies on then getting a better 70-200 is definitely part of the answer. In my humble opinion of course.
  16. To Greory C
    Thank you fro the kind response. I will make this right with them, I did not lose all the ceremony photos alot of them yes but I have some. I will do whatever it takes. No the camera/lense would not focus manually ..... The store is overnighting me a new lense to comsensate for the lemon. But I thank you for the actually advice and not just insults like so many others. THANK YOU!
    I will think twice aboout posting to this website in the future =(
  17. Some people just seem mean it's done. If this goes to court usually you will be responsible financially for getting everyone their tuxes rented again and reasonable travel & site expenses for a reshoot depending on just how few or any you were able to get. Avoid going to court, you will have nothing you can say or argue and the judge may incur pain & suffering.
    Show them what you were able to recover, say there was an equipment malfunction you were unaware of during the actual wedding (do not tell them you were aware at the time), and offer the rental of tuxes for a reshoot and if they will be okay with taking them somewhere else (like a park) and all pictures and your services are free. Tell them to think about it, and think how this makes you feel you're human, you're trying your best to make it right. Then, see where it goes from there. Good luck.
    *EDIT* I like the person who said "They did not come out like I had expected" instead of saying equipment malfunction like I had posted. You may be able to get away with all free services and the like, but if this does go to court you will likely be responsible for a reshoot and tux rental again (and hopefully not have to rent the golf course nor pain & suffering).
  18. I apologize if it seems like I am insulting. To criticize a person's approach is not necessarily an insult; sometimes it merely is an observation that something is lacking. If you happen to be at fault, I'm sure most of us can see why that could be taken as offensive, or at least hard to swallow. Sorry, but if you're going to come into a forum and present a problem, you have to be at least a little prepared to take peoples' honest assessment of the situation as they understand it. Alot of the people here politely asked "Could you not have focused manually?" The truth is, we all really know that you can ALWAYS focus manually. That's why it's called manual focus. It relies on the power of your hands to accomplish. Your hand turns the ring, and the lens focuses. We were just being polite to phrase it as a question, as if there were some option, and you didn't have to take it personally. Unless there is a cam broken inside, this always works. There are really only two things that can finally spell the doom of a lens: 1) broken focusing cam mechanism, 2) stuck or broken diaphragm or linkage. But hunting autofocus due to low light levels is simply the fault of the photographer. Now, if the lens truly has broken parts on the inside which prevent the focusing ring from interfacing physically with the lens elements, then obviously this is just a case of a photographer without a proper backup lens and/or lights.

  19. I will think twice aboout posting to this website in the future =(​
    Think twice about posting to this website... and not think twice about properly preparing for a wedding?
  20. One option for next time which I haven't seen mentioned yet is the wonderful world of the 50mm 1.4.
    In no way will this compensate for what has happened, but for the $300-400 this lens will work beautifully in most lighting and it doesn't cost a bundle.
    Backup equipment obviously has been beaten into you by now I'm sure, but I understand it's not always an option to buy 2 when you are just starting out. You can rent backups, they are not that expensive and you can build them into your pricing.
    But yes, I would immediately go out and purchase a fast prime lens just to keep in your pocket incase this ever happens. Seriously, I keep a 50 1.4 in my pocket during every wedding.
    You don't need the 50, get whatever your most common focal length is. If you shoot long get a 135. If you shoot short get a 35. But they are priceless when you need them.
  21. les


    Michelle - if some people appear harsh or mean, this does not necessarily make them so. In fact, this may be just the gut reaction to the unthinkable that happened - and should not have happened.
    My first reaction when reading your post was "Oh, no, don't tell me that - how was this possible ?!"
    And the reality is - you were not prepared. What do you expect people to say ? I am not a wedding photographer - but I can't imagine putting myself in a situation like this. You went to a shot w/o backup lens and w/o speedlight - what did you expect ?
    You said "I just need some help on how to have this never happen again, and how to deal with the couple about this situation?"
    It seems to me that you are just looking for compassion and sympathy (quite understandable, but maybe a slap on the backside would also be in order).
    How to deal with the couple - whatever it takes to make them less unhappy and somewhat forgiving, and enough on that has been said above.
    How to have this never happen again ? Simple, and had been explained about a million times by people way more experienced than me, here on this site and elsewhere: have a backup camera: have a backup lens (fast prime would not ruin your budget): have a speedlight (with backup), have spare batteries. And - CARRY THIS STUFF WITH YOU when shooting. Big camera bags have been invented some time ago - specifically for the purpose of CARRYING STUFF AROUND.
    And - mastering the dark art of turning the manual focus ring may come handy.
    Good luck - and hope that you learnt from the experience.
  22. Folks, to be fair, it seems that Michelle had back up gear, and had a flash on her main camera--the one with the 70-200mm. The problem, as I see it, isn't having back up gear or a flash, it was having the gear immediately available, as part of a contingency plan for unforeseen situations, such as lens failure, and for changing circumstances and lighting. Now we know (from her other thread) that the 70-200mm failed to focus--in both autofocus and manual modes.
    In other words, Michelle was ready, with her main camera, flash on a bracket, and 70-200mm. She had a back up camera and kit (slower) lens but no flash on that camera. Her bag with the 50mm f1.8 (from the other thread) was somewhere not quickly accessible. Circumstances did not go as planned, resulting in having to shoot the ceremony in what is essentially darkness with a failed lens and no suitable options.
    Her questions in this thread are:
    1.) What to tell the couple?
    2.) Should she have had the lights ready to go?
    3.) How to prevent this from happening again?
    4.) Has this happened to anyone else?
    Here are my answers, given the new information.
    1.) I always tell the couple the truth. I would not deviate from that in your situation. I would tell them your lens failed at a crucial time. These are the images I could salvage. Depending upon how bad the images are, what they are of, and how important they are to the client, I would offer what I felt was reasonable compensation. Album upgrade, extra prints, even a re-shoot of just the missing parts. I would have options ready to discuss at a face to face meeting with the client.
    I would be calm, speak calmly, make the offer, and negotiate, but not offer them the world with a cherry on top. I don't know what specific images are 'missing' or how bad the ones you got are, but since we are talking a small percentage of the total number of images, the compensation should be commensurate with the proportion, given that some images have more weight than others--such as the processional image of the bride with her dad. I would document everything that is said. Hopefully a resolution can be reached.
    2.) I would have had the lights ready to go. Actually, I would have had off camera flashes ready to go. As I said above, in my experience, sunset weddings never go as planned. And also, 'just in case'. I would not turn them on in the middle of the ceremony though. I would have taken the failed lens off the main camera, put the kit lens on, turned the flash on, and shot that way. A 'flashy' image is better than a noisy, blurry one.
    3.) Be prepared with contingency plans. Re-create the highlights after the ceremony, if you know you didn't get the required and expected shots.
    4.) I've had shutter failure when the bride and dad walked down the aisle. I've had all kinds of gear go down. You have to be able to reach over to your back up whatever (on you or near you), and keep shooting.
    To be fair, Michelle, I don't think anyone above insulted you.
  23. Too late now, but a 50mm f1.8D or a 50mm 1.4D or a 50mm F1.4G lens in your camera bag would have been the one thing that may have been a good item for you to use in the low-level light you had to shoot in.
    There are many, many comments in the 'starting to shoot weddings' area on Photo Net.
  24. Hi Michelle.....
    I would recommend that you request that these threads be deleted. Other than that, try to salvage what you can and do whatever it takes to make them happy. And get this thread removed!
  25. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I will think twice aboout posting to this website in the future =("
    Well, that will be your loss IMO.

  26. DISCLAIMER: I'm a wuss who's never had the guts to shoot weddings. But I've shot lots of other events - sports, etc.
    I agree with Craig - ISO overdrive would seem to be the solution here - albeit a compromise. You would have had a higher hit rate, and I believe noise reduction in post can make most images usable...
  27. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "Hi Michelle... I would recommend that you request that these threads be deleted. Other than that, try to salvage what you can and do whatever it takes to make them happy. And get this thread removed!"
    I draw your attention to Photo net Community Guidelines
    Specifiaclly #15, viz:
    "15. Please think carefully before you post in a forum. Once past the self-edit time period anything you post will remain in the forum unless it violates the Terms of Use. If you say something that you later wish you hadn't there is no mechanism to remove it.'s policy is not to remove any user contributed material unless it violates the site's Terms of Use"

  28. Hi Nadine
    I thought I was the only one who had a shutter fail as the bride came down the aisle. That was over 20 years ago but boy did I learn my lesson. Good wedding photographers should think of every possible scenario and have back up equipment / plans. Situations can go go from perfect to nightmare in seconds so be prepared. The best motto is " Do not rely on others " especially with weddings " the best laid plans ........ well ........ "
  29. Peter--you too! About the only thing that compares with that sick feeling in your stomach, which is at your feet, is finding out your gear was stolen.
  30. I don't want to misquote him, but I think it was the great photojournalist Bill Pierce who said in an interview a statement that has stayed in my head for many years. "There is no-one so conservative as the professional photographer". He was referring to selecting and using only the most simple and tested out equipment to do the job so that there is the lowest chance of failure, and also being inately familiar with that equipment. I have only been working with DSLRs for a bit over a year, but it only takes a few days to figure out that they do wierd stuff and that you need to be ready for quirks. What was different with the Hasselblad? Nothing, it would decide to lock up at the most inopportune times. It would work perfectly for numerous dance and fun shots, and then decide to clam up right at the cake cutting. So that's why, no matter what I'm shooting, one body has my old Tamron 28-80 SP manual lens and is set to Manual Mode 125th at 5.6 with an auto thyristor shoe flash at 5.6 and ISO 125 at 5600K. Just like the old days, I will still get a good picture. So regardless of what I do with my other camera, thatg one is always ready to "work". My suggestion to you Kelly is to handle your dilema as you see fit and re-do your equipment so as to have something simple and dependable ready to go in a moment.
  31. I looked through most of the responses, and didn't see anyone point out what seems very likely... that it was too dim for Michelle's autofocus to work properly... Being able to focus manually, among many other things, should be prerequisite to taking people's money to shoot their wedding...
  32. Of course the option is there to manual focus, why would anyone want to autofocus at a wedding? It's not a football
    match. Go back to basics, with hand metering, manual focus, and don't worry about all the useless features on your
    camera that can, and often do get in the way.
  33. Not to derail the thread, but given the similarity of the stories being told, I think we need a separate, semi-humorous thread titled, "What's the longest delay you've experienced as a pro wedding photographer?" That will teach the young'uns not to think they have the the lighting situation in hand. ;-)
    Tom M
    PS: For me, it was a little more than 3 hours.
  34. gr


    "So that's why, no matter what I'm shooting, one body has my old Tamron 28-80 SP manual lens and is set to Manual Mode 125th at 5.6 with an auto thyristor shoe flash at 5.6 and ISO 125 at 5600K. Just like the old days, I will still get a good picture. So regardless of what I do with my other camera, thatg one is always ready to "work". " - Dave Wilson
    What a great advice. Thanks Dave.
    "Go back to basics, with hand metering, manual focus, and don't worry about all the useless features on your camera that can, and often do get in the way" - Ty Mickan
    Another great advice.
    "f8 and be there" works quite nicely. I have decided that even if I am shooting digitally, in addition to carrying digital backups I will also carry a full manual film camera with prime lens on it. I guess my trusty old Canon A1 would work nicely.
    @Michelle: Don't even think about not posting here. You really got some excellent advice and I thank you for sharing this experience with us.
  35. I am always cautious about going to the client and sayig 'I screwed up. These photos are not good enough. What do you think?' I agree with the sentiment and there are ways to say this so think very carefully about how you open the discussion. If you, as a professional , say 'these photos are poor' then that is what the client will see (admittedly, if you say they are great, and the client does not think so, then that can cause its own problems). Sometimes you can be too close to the action and too critical, and what you think is poor quality others may say 'WOW! Great shot!'. Having worked in supply companies or contract organsiations for more years than I care to remember (in different industries), I have seen this many times. So go easy on yourself and plan your comments carefully.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying 'it isn't up to my standards' and offering a free album (or whatever) irrespective of what they think but if cash is tight, be careful. I would recommend opening the viewing with some of the good shots and have the ceremony photos somewhere in the middle. If their mood changes and you suspect they are not very happy then you can come in with 'I know, they are not my usual standard'.
    Remember two golden rules of issue management - the client is not interested in why they are screwed up, and trying to hard to explain it often sounds like whining and trying to fob it off. Admit it take it from there. By all means mention the lens in passing in the context of it is something you need to sort out (or should have sorted out!). Or if the mood is right, make a light-hearted comment about not using their lenses again (if true).
    Secondly, decide in advance the absolute limit of your 'compensation' is, and start negotiations at a lower level then negotiate (not too hard!!). Some customers sense blood and piece by piece they chip away until you are thinking 'how the hell did I agree to that'. If you are willing to go as far as a total to refund, then fine, but at least go into the meeting knowing that.
  36. Basiccaly you got a problem to be fixed as good as possible.
    my suggestions:
    A) Make the very best of your current reportage, so you can show the couple what you got and what not.
    B) Offer all for free.
    C) Make sure you have acces to the right equipment for low light
    D) Offer to shoot, if possible, partially reenacted reportage/ additional romantic couple reportage(obviously also for free)
  37. " seems that Michelle had back up gear, and had a flash on her main camera--the one with the 70-200mm. The problem, as I see it, isn't having back up gear or a flash, it was having the gear immediately available, ...."

    Apparently there was only one flash so there is an issue about adequate backup. If backup equipment isn't accessible then there's no benefit to having the backup. A spare parachute will not do you any good if it's left in the trunk of your car or on the plane after you've made the jump. Anyone calling themselves a wedding photographer and charging money to shoot someone's wedding owes it to their clients to be prepared and have backup equipment. It's a wedding, no second chances and no excuses.
  38. If I am reading this correctly, IAD (immediate action drill) would have been to transfer the flash from the first camera to the backup. Less than sixty seconds. Or, switch lenses. Was the Tamron tested before the shoot ? Were images checked for sharpness before ceremony? Inquiring minds want to know.My third backup is a film point and shoot.
    You need to tune up your IADs.
  39. Michelle,
    1). You had a second camera and didn't use it.
    2). A D90 can handle ISO 6400 with ease, f 4.5 should not have been a problem
    3). It really was your fault for being unprepared - a professional does not blame equipment, a professional would have re-staged the shots immediately after the ceremony.
    4). I've shot THOUSANDS of weddings over fifty years and not once been in a situation I couldn't handle, spare bodies, lenses, synch cords, batteries and film are cheap commodities compared to your reputation...this public posting has made short work of that. Deleting this thread will not empty the cache of images or words on Google - they remain available for years.
    5). You are obviously out of your league and need to learn or re-learn the basics of running a business, then and only then can you pick up a camera and apprentice yourself to someone who can teach you how to properly expose, use color correction, compose correctly, then edit the results for presentation to paying clients. You may think this a harsh assessment but the 'Business' of photography is more than getting an image.
    Finally Michelle: I do Fine Art photography for a living, feel free to check my credentials and list of galleries and museums that prominently feature my work before you offer a rebuttal.
  40. gr


    It's an open forum where you posted your question, Michelle. It would be unwise to expect mollycoddling from professionals after a MAJOR blunder like this. This was no small goof up.

    However, some responses could have been less harsh, less rude and equally informative. After I went through the posts on this topic a couple of things became very clear:

    1. You were unprepared to handle a contingency. That's why the professional photogs are crticizing you.

    2. Built in redundancy (i.e. back up of back-ups ready to go at a moment's notice) is required of any event photographer.

    3. When everything else fails go back to the basics and get the photo. If that means shooting a kit lens with on camera flash, so be it. We can fix that to a large extent in Lightroom or Camera Raw. But if the photo is not there, there's nothing to fix.
    Does rude criticism help you salvage this particular situation? Absolutely not. But it helps you to do a better job in the future by being prepared.
    AFAIK, will not remove your posting or the replies. As long as this particular topic is not closed by the mods (and I have never known them to do that) there will be responses; you can't do anything to stop the responses.

    There is no point in getting angry about the posts here. You may not like everything that is being said but you received a lot of good information. I think you should be thankful for that.

    A professional with 50 years of experience makes mistakes too but learns from it. Perhaps we all should do that!
  41. they said it would not be dark,
    You don't need another person to tell you you didn't plan properly. Did you scout out the location prior to the event? At a minimum you could have done the Google Earth scouting, with the sunlight/moonlight functions available there is no excuse for not knowing sunset times, etc.
  42. David--I agree with you. The thing is, we don't know if Michelle had a back up flash or not. The issue isn't whether she brought back up gear, because obviously, some gear other than the main kit was mentioned, but whether the back up gear was readily at hand. As you said, having back up gear that isn't readily available is like having no back up gear at all. I was responding to the people above who said she should bring back up gear.
  43. Wow. Someone's feathers are ruffled.
    Do I dare ask if that 1000w/500w lighting backup was a set of shop lights?
    Also, isn't the 18-135 f 3.5-5.6 (not 4.5 as stated above) the kit lens for a D80?
    I'm just starting out but I'd say that the criticisms provided here may sting, but it's the backlash from a community of professionals who find themselves having to explain to people more often why what they do has worth. More and more people pick up a fancy DSLR and think that they can shoot weddings. The amount of study, preparation, and practice that goes into being able to handle a situation like the one you encountered is mind numbing.
    Our first wedding, (shot pro bono for someone who would have had a friend do it with a point and shoot) was a similar experience. We didn't leave it thinking that the only thing we had to do was salvage some images, we left it with the very firm realization that we had a lot to learn. Between that wedding and the next there has been about a year of weekly practice, gear acquisition, practice, study, practice, and then some more practice. We've shot quinceaneras and baptisms and parties and everything that could be similar to a wedding, often for next to nothing, just so that when we get to the paying gigs we'll be prepared to handle it. And frankly, I'll still be worried.
    But I can now walk outside and look at the light around me and say, "If I'm shooting wide open it looks like it'll be 1/1200 at ISO 100." 7 out of 10 times I'm right or within a third of a stop from being right. If I'm wrong I'm able to look at the lcd and say, "That's about one and a third stops underexposed, need to dial the shutter speed down four clicks." If you're relying on the camera to figure that out for you (and in most cases it can) then you shouldn't be shooting weddings because in that clutch moment when the camera can't figure it out for you, you are the one left on the hook.
    My suggestion, as someone who went through what you did, stop shooting weddings until you're ready. I'm not trying to be mean or insulting, like I said, we did the same thing. But if you continue down this path you are going to run the risk of having more brides out there that tell their friends that their photographer ruined their pictures. In a word of mouth industry, that is a very bad thing.
  44. 1. Give her the full ceremony for free.
    2. Do everything you can in post-production to deliver a quality product of what you were able to capture.
    3. Consider what your potential future points of failure are and buy equipment/skill practice accordingly.
    4. Use a pseudonym in online forums--a pseudonym that's divorced fully from any nicknames you use professionally.
    5. I share your frustration about the "helpful advice" people give on Many are like vultures. They wait for someone to innocently and honestly post about a mistake they made, and then they swoop in with self-righteous mantras about how great they are. In general they offer advice like "you shouldn't have done that" rather than "this is the path you can take to fix the problem this time." Don't let some of the old boys who say "I've never messed up at a wedding in my life" get you down. They have messed up before, and they'll do it again.
    6. My suggestion is that you make some friends locally who have a little more experience in the biz and are willing to give you discreet advice about how to fix mistakes. For your own sanity and happiness, avoid posting mistakes you've made here.
  45. Craig Big , Apr 20, 2010; 12:11 p.m.
    One more criticism: Please, for the love of English, the word is "have," not "of". As in "could have used", "would have known", and "would it not have been". I'm really not a grammatical nit-picker, but this is so distracting, it's as bad as misspelling every other word. This is basic English.​
    Good timing, professor:
    For someone who is not a grammatical nit-picker, you've done a fine imitation of one.
  46. To Juanita:
    Thank you!
  47. There are professional photographers who will cheerfully risk tens of thousands of dollars a day in equipment and models, but will NOT shoot an irreplaceable wedding.
  48. You don't have to be a professor all the time to get irritated by terrific mistakes every once in a while. Owing to Michelle's persistant misuse of the language, I can only gather she is not a native speaker; all the more reason she should be careful with the written language. All the same, I hope no offense was taken. I only wish that she and others would take the time to learn the difference between 'have' and 'of', and make an effort in the future to use them correctly, for the sake of comprehension if nothing else.
    Finally, I sincerely hope that giving away all services for free is not the final solution. Even if you botched one aspect of your performance, you should acknowledge your own worth and demand payment adequately for what you did right, and for the time you spent doing it. My favorite solutions have been to assert that you deserve your full fee, but perhaps offer some freebies to ease the pain, and even then only at the behest of your client. Go far enough to maintain your reputation, but working for free never improved anyone's opinion of bad photography.
  49. Amen to that John! Heck, I photograph crime scenes, drug busts, high-risk search warrants, felony arrests etc and I'd never shoot a wedding. Ever!
  50. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member


    Some grammatical nit picking overdrive, supplied only for a bit of levity:
    A comma is not used before a conjunction.
    The most common conjunction used in the English language is: "and".


    A bonus packet of levity:
    "swoop in with self-righteous mantras"
    Colourful, very colourful.
    That scene would look great captured at 700ft with the 1200/5.6L. You'd need good daylight though, because I reckon you'd need to pull the shot at 1/1250s, or faster . . . to get all the detail, without any blur.

  51. gr


    @William W.
    The last comma—the one between the word "and" and the preceding word—is often called the serial comma or the Oxford comma. In newspaper writing, incidentally, you will seldom find a serial comma, but that is not necessarily a sign that it should be omitted in academic prose.
  52. gr


    I may be wrong but wasn't the original post made by someone else? Now, I am seeing someone named Michelle N. made the original post. What gives? Am I dyslexic?
  53. Nope, you're not suffering from a bout of dyslexia or early dementia. Mods can change your username, I think Nadine did it once for me.
  54. G, Kelly took Juanita's advice #4 to heart, didn't want potential clients googling and seeing this thread.
  55. Moderator Note: It is true that recently, a new guideline was put into place concerning the removal of threads. It is item 15 in the Community Guidelines (for
    Please think carefully before you post in a forum. Once past the self-edit time period anything you post will remain in the forum unless it violates the Terms of Use. If you say something that you later wish you hadn't there is no mechanism to remove it.'s policy is not to remove any user contributed material unless it violates the site's Terms of Use.​
    As moderator, I cannot arbitrarily remove a thread unless there is good reason, namely violation of the site's Terms of Use. What this means to you, the member, is that before posting any kind of thread, think how what you reveal about yourself in the thread can affect you.
    If you use your real name, and you are posting about client problems or technical problems you experienced on the job, realize that is very 'searchable'. Anyone, including clients, can find the threads or your posts, if they care to search, or even if they don't--they can stumble upon it just searching with your name. Besides your name, revealing other facts about yourself can also lead to others searching for your website or other online information about you.
    You can open an account on using a pseudonym, but a 'real sounding' one--not a famous person's name or silly or nonsensical name--particularly if you intend to use the forum as a sounding board or to learn about photography (if you also run a photography business). If you opened an account with your real name, you can request a user name change, which is what was done here.
    About posting answers, particularly with new or up and coming photographers' questions: Mary Ball, the moderator of the Wedding Forum on, has made it clear that newcomers are welcome here--in fact, any question, by any member of any level, is to be answered in a civil way. So when you post answers to questions, everyone--please give the benefit of the doubt, and just answer the question(s).
    This is not to say peripheral discussion should not be allowed. Any reasonable and related point(s) can be made. However, points, including criticisms and negative ones, can be made gently, and at times, they are not. Let's all strive to keep discussions positive.
    On the questioner's part, a thick skin is often necessary, because you are asking a question in a public forum, and anyone can reply--including people with a chip on their shoulder and people with insecurities. However, IMHO, it is worth it to deal with posts that may not be so helpful because you will also find many people who will provide the answers you are looking for, and then some. Whether to ask your question is a decision you should make with both eyes open.
  56. The most common conjunction used in the English language is: "and".​
    In american english periods go inside the quotation marks – regardless of the "sense" of the usage.
    (At least I believe that's still considered to be the case.)

  57. Aside from the obvious apology to the B&G, I would do everything to recoup whatever you can from what you have.
    As for kit failure, you should always have a backup body/lens on your person, or within arms reach during a ceremony. I have a second shooter who keeps his eye on me at all times, just in case everything I have fails. I have a flash on cam. regardless of whether or not I expect to need one (use it for fill or to freeze the walk during the pro/recessionals). I also have a belt pouch with an alternate lens, just in case I cannot grab my seconds cameras.
    Hope you fair well, and lesson is learned.
  58. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Well I am glad the grammar rules are now as clear as mud. :)

    > As I was taught, the "Oxford Comma" is when there is a list. In the posts here the "and" was joining two clauses, (in both cases of this gramatical wrong-doing).

    > Dunno 'bout 'merican conventions, Phillip, but for we folk down here, whether or not the "Full Stop", (your "Period"), goes inside or outside the quotation marks (or brackets), is dependent upon use of the word in quotes and meaning of the whole sentence.

    JH should be here - he could give us all a lesson in how to not using any punctuation whatsoever within in all sentences no matter how long they be.

    I think I have just used up my "peripheral discussion" allocation.

  59. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    In light of that allocation being used up and although, IMO, the other two contributions by me were useful to the OP . . . my opinion on how to deal with the problem is:

    "1. Give her the full ceremony for free."

    This is the best suggestion and by a country mile.

    If you are serious about building your business, done properly and followed up correctly, it will be one of the best investments you could ever make.

  60. > Dunno 'bout 'merican conventions, Phillip, but for we folk down here, whether or not the "Full Stop", (your "Period"), goes inside or outside the quotation marks (or brackets), is dependent upon use of the word in quotes and meaning of the whole sentence.​
    Yes, that's much more logical. Alas, our period-quotes placement is a holdover from the old type setting days. It only makes sense in that context.
  61. gr


    Didn't have the foggiest clue that the conjunction and comma usage rule was referring to a particular post(s).
    BTW, I did not know that another name for this comma was "Harvard comma". Will there be a Cambridge full stop next?
  62. I am now speaking not as moderator, but as 'myself'. I use my real name here on, and I never post anything here that I would regret, so I don't worry about anyone, including clients, finding me here. In fact, I have gotten some clients through
    Let me say, Michelle, that I really don't think the people who have responded have insulted you. A few (a very few) have been blunt, but by and large, you have gotten your answers. Let me also say that I made the assumption that you were not a complete beginner and had shot weddings before. This is why I was surprised at some of the things you did or didn't do at this wedding. I also think this is why some of the people responded with bluntness and with "you should have"s. Unlike Juanita, I think saying "you should have" is OK, given the assumption I just described. (Juanita--I also don't think any of the respondants were particularly self righteous, acting like vultures or claimed they never messed up in their lives.)
    One of the most basic and first things a wedding photographer learns is to have a Back Up (in this case, complete kit of camera, lens and flash) available at all times, ready to grab 'in an instant', particularly for important parts of the wedding. This being the case, I am not surprised that people made strong comments about your not having a back up 'kit' ready to go.
    A wedding photographer also learns to handle changing conditions (particularly lighting), client lateness, and scheduling problems with aplomb--both technically and socially. A wedding photographer learns to plan ahead, anticipate and make contingency plans. Now, even if you had not realized how quickly the light would fade, etc., you could always fall back to your contingency plan (Plan B), because having a Plan B is probably the second thing a wedding photographer should learn. Plan B in this case is actually one and the same as the Back Up. If you had a complete second kit ready to go (on your shoulder), you would have grabbed it (or swapped a lens, flash, or camera body) and things would have been fine. There are several solutions and alternatives for your problem situation, but the Back Up would have been the simplest and fastest to implement, and would have produced fine results. You would not be where you are now. Barring that--the Re-creation would have also been completely adequate (Plan C).
    The reason I am repeating much of what has been said is to explain why people responded as they did. I can understand why. If you are not a complete beginner, it is surprising you didn't have the Back Up and the Plan B.
    One final comment. Re the concession to the client. I am not so sure giving them the full ceremony for free is appropriate because we don't know the extent of the problem with the files from the ceremony. It may not be enough. You say you have 5 files you can work on, and calling 5 files 'the ceremony' may be overestimating. If you feel like it, tell us what the problem is with the files and whether you have the following:
    1.) Processional shot of the bride and dad walking down the aisle.
    2.) View of the wedding party and couple at the altar from the 'back'.
    3.) Full length view of the couple turned to each other.
    4.) Any ring exchange shot.
    5.) The kiss at the end.
    6.) The couple recessing.
    IMHO, if you don't have the above, you are missing some major parts of ceremony coverage. I consider items 1 and 2 very important. If you have at least those, you may be in a better position than if you don't.
    There are many photographers skilled with Photoshop on these forums, and if you need help, ask. You don't have to post the images, just describe what is wrong. People have been known to help others with their files, if asked. While Juanita's suggestion to have a local group of associates you can rely upon for information and advice is a good suggestion, let me say that is an international group of photographers. You would be hard pressed to find the breath of knowledge represented here. I recently asked a technical question about moire problems with digital files, and got the best information--information I probably could not find easily in any other way.
  63. Michelle. How long have you been shooting weddings, and how many?
    It can take many years to be completely proficient in this business.
    Take care. Mike.
  64. Actually the Tamron 70-200 is KNOWN to suck at autofocus in low light. It will hunt and hunt. I know because I have one. I read so much about it but still got one and was shock to see how bad it was. So I am not surprised you keep getting out of focus shots.
    Sold it and got a Nikon 80-200 F2.8 and a world of difference.
  65. gr


    This is just a question for the Mods. I understand that once posted in this forum, posts are not deleted unless there are some violations of forum rules.
    Are posts edited by the Mods even if there is no violation of the rules?
    If the forum policy dictates that this is quite normal and acceptable then let us be clear about that. I totally support if posts are being edited or nuked for profane language or violation of published forum policy. However, any editing other than that leads to a slippery slope. Don't you think?
    Thank you.
  66. G.--normally questions about moderation should be directly sent to a moderator, or to administration through the usual channels of communication--there is an e-mail address for this--and not asked in a forum thread.
    However, since I posted the clarification above, I will answer your question here. You noticed I edited your question, no doubt. So firstly, threads are not deleted unless Terms of Use guidelines are violated. Posts may be removed or edited by moderators, certainly for violation of published forum policy, but also at their discretion, with the policies as their guide.
    Certainly you can understand Michelle's concern about revealing so much that her clients can find this thread. It is my opinion that changing names for continuity and removing information that reveals too much about Michelle, her website and business, considering that this thread is about a client problem, is appropriate and does not damage the thread or anyone's right to comment. Hence, I do not believe doing so leads to a slippery slope, in this case.
  67. Folks,
    This topic has reached the end of it's useful life. Michelle is either going to take the good advice she has gotten here or she is not. Either way, I'm closing it.
    -President of Photonetkistan

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