First Wedding - Amateur, I'm nervous, PLEASE HELP!

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by ~*mm*~, Jul 9, 2002.

  1. I am an amateur (actually, super-newbie)shooting my first wedding for
    a friend. There will be a professional there, but only for the
    formals, but I'd like to try to do some formals as well. I won't be
    getting paid for this, but I would like to do a bang-up job!

    The ceremony will be outdoors near a lagoon & the reception will be
    indoors at the recreational center. I will be using a Canon 7e with
    550EX, lumiquest, 24-85mm f3.5-4.5, 70-210mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8. No
    tripod. Backup will be a Rebel G body.

    I want to do the best I can, but I need some honest advice. Could
    someone please give me advice on the following? I APPRECIATE ANY/ALL

    Type of film: I've seen threads saying that Fuji NPH 400 rated at
    320 and Kodak T400CN will be appropriate.

    Should I stick with manual or auto focus? If auto, which priority?

    Shutter: any info please!

    Flash: indoor & outdoor? Sync at?

    I appreciate all your responses and will let you know how they go. I
    will be doing a test run the next couple of days and see how they
    come out and will post my results. Thanks in advance!
  2. first of all good luck and try and relax. i was in your situation a couple years ago, and shot almost everything with a 50mm set at f8 and manually focused with flash for all the indoor photos. the time of day will govern your lens selection and the use of fill flash. you might consider putting your zoom on your backup body and leaving it at 85mm for quick head and shoulder shots. i did something similar to this and i was able to quickly shift from one camera to the other. carrying your two cameras should not be much trouble. your selection of kodak t400cn is a good choice. it went over well for me.
  3. ok.. lets see... you seem to have the gear for it.. I will assume you have atleast a basic knowledge of the cameras and lenses, so from there....

    I would shoot in Av mode... so that you can control the Depth of Field. In doors, you will need the hightest shutterspeeds possible, so try shooting wide open, maximum aperture... HOWEVER.. for the group shots, you will want to use around f8 or so, to get enoght DoF for all the people..

    um.. focus... indoors, manual will prolly be best.. Autofocus can get confused if it doesnt have enough brightness and contrast to lock on to.. you end up missing shots waiting for it to grap focus, Manual is jsut quicker in those instances...

    Flash..... indoors you will prolly need it with the color film... for the black and white, i prefer to take available light when ever possible, so i would try with out.... you may need fill flash if the areas outside are very contrasty.. ie , bright sunlight, or lots of shadow and sun mixed in....

    um.... im forgetting things.. i know.. and im not a wedding photographer, so if any of them want to contradict me, by all means, they are prolly more experienced in these situations than i am!
  4. "There will be a professional there, but only for the formals, but I'd like to try to do some formals as well."

    How are you going to do this and not get in the way of the hired professional photographer?
  5. Word to the wise:

    If you do not have a flash bracket and the cord to connect one,
    leave your flash at home (or just use it for horizontal shots.)
    Else the shadows will kill you indoors...on a vertically-framed shot.

    You might consider using Fuji Superia 800 and available light.
  6. Ok, I was in your shoes about 15 years ago, except I knew even less than you do about photography. It all went fine, the pictures weren't the best but I was cheap so they could not complain to much.

    So, first of all its ok to be nervous, that is normal, I now photograph weddings on my own and before I worked 5 years as wedding photographer for a local where I photographed about 20 a year and I still get a bit nervous when I do a wedding. In allot of ways it keeps me on my toes.

    It sounds like you have the equipment pretty well covered, and from the sounds of it your primarly there to photograph the reception, dance, and candids. I can understand your need and wanting to do some formals and that’s great. For the most part I would "trust" my equipment and photograph at F8 and let the camera handle the exposure, just watch your shutter speed and make sure that it doesn't get to slow. Use a flash when necessary as recommended above. The reason I would "trust" your camera's is that you have enough other things to think about then when to have the auto focus on or off. I would work as much as possible under the "K.I.S.S." principal, that way you'll have a better chance of doing a "bang up Job".

    There is a site here on the net where the best teacher ever, as far as wedding portraiture posts articles. Namely Monte Zucker. The site is I've been going there for ideas and to learn new techniques and review things I've for gotten for a couple of years now. This I think will be the best help in the area of formals. It will give you some ideas of how to compose your portraits, and give you some good composition.

    Also, please keep in mind that there will be a professional there, try to stay out of the way, and don't photograph every shot they do. Wait until they are done with taking there photograph of each pose and then get a few for you. I wouldn't do too much of this though. It might also help to introduce yourself to the photographer and tell them what your intentions are, namely to take some candids and maybe some formals. Most of the time they will be friendly, and who knows they might even give you some tips. Of course they might be kind of a jerk too, you never know. Just be friendly and open and they should be ok with it.

    If you want to-do some formals try to take a few of the bride, groom, wedding party and better yet the guests at the reception. That way you won't offend the photographer.

    Well, I hope this helps, good luck, and let us know how it goes. Sorry about being long winded.
  7. First, go up to the corner of the screen, type "wedding photography" into the search box, and hit return (or GO). This may be the most frequently and thoroughly discussed topic in all of You'll will have hours worth of very helpful reading ahead of you.

    Second, forget about doing formal shots. I can guarantee that if you follow this advice, "Wait until they are done with taking there photograph of each pose and then get a few for you," you will be pissing off the pro, distracting the wedding party, and slowing things down just so you can get some suboptimal shots from an awkward angle. If the pro is good, he (or she) won't make a fuss, but you'll still be interfering with his job and pissing him off.

    Third, relax and enjoy your friend's wedding. Because you know some of the people there, you will be in a position to get the kinds of shots a pro probably wouldn't get. Don't taint the fun mood by stressing over your photos--just try to have fun taking them.
  8. I'm a professional wedding photographer specializing in candids. I still get nervous. It just means you care. Lots of advice here, and as Mike said there are tons in the archives to study. Here's a few hard earned tips ( I'll keep it brief): When in doubt shoot the bride. You can't have enough of the "Star". A/F or manual, focus on the main subjects' eyes. Take your time, but shoot a lot. The more you shoot the luckier you get. Forget the formals, concentrate on the candids. In the darker reception hall, your main asset is your 50/1.8. You need little else. When there, shoot on manual. 1/50th at f/1.8 to f/4. That way your pictures will pick up some of the ambient background rather than featuring "cut out subjects against a wall of black". (I use a 50/1.4 at 1/15th for 80% of my candids). The duration of the 550 EX output is a hell of a lot faster than your cameras' fastest sync speed. Try it when doing your test runs, you'll be amazed. Did I mention shoot a lot. And edit a lot afterwards. Throw out all bad images of the Bride. NEVER let her see them. In conclusion...shoot a lot!!!!!!! Good Luck,
  9. I enjoyed reading Marc's reply. Although I have never done a wedding, here's a few tips:

    Use a good (semi-pro/pro?) lab, one that handles your film carefully and who can make good prints from the films you choose. Don't hand in all the film at the same time in case of any problems at the lab. Mix the rolls that you hand in so that not all films from the reception are in the same batch.

    Practice with the films first so that you know how they behave if you have not already shot with them. Depending on the time of day and amount of light during the outdooors ceremony, Fuji Reala 100 rated at 80 could also be appropriate instead of NPH.

    Keep track of the film you shoot - put it in the cannister when you're done, give it a sequential number and if possible make a short note of whats on the film. Don't hand your film to anyone else (I read a story here on PN about a guy who handed some rolls of film to someone else for them to guard it until the next day - they were lost.)

    Bring extra batteries, put new in from the start also in the flash.

    And have fun - thats what I would do.. :) I'm sure your friend will appreciate the pictures.
  10. Here's what I would do.

    Stick to the mostly to the 50mm.

    Stick to one film. I would probably use NPH rated at 320. Estimate how much film you'll need and take double that. Buy the film well in advance of the event. Also test one of these films with the lab that you will use for processing after the event. Use a good lab!

    Change the batteries of everything before the event. Take spare batteries. If using the flash alot keep an eye on the underexposure light on the flash.

    Change the film in a quiet moment. Don't worry if you've still got a few frames left. Get those small round stickers and labell them (1, 2, 3, etc) put them on the outside of the canisters before the event.
    When you load the film into the camera take the label off the canister and put it on the back of the camera. When you unload the film put the sticker onto the film cassette. This way at the end of the event you'll have a bunch of film with stickers on it with 1, 2, 3 etc and you'll know you have lost any and what film is for which part of the event.

    Be careful of harsh shadows with flash. Try and get some of the ambient light and use the suggestion of only using the flash in landscape mode.

    Stick to the candids and shoot alot.

    Basically take extras of everything change batteries and film in advance. Shoot candids and keep it simple.

    Oh yeah use a good lab.
  11. All the advices mentioned have been important and valuable to us. I am going to shoot a wedding also this weekend!

    One more thing you may need to consider is to find a pro lab that will offer numbered proofprints that matches your negatives. Since you are shooting with 35mm that should not be too tricky (I shoot with 645 and numbered proofprints can be difficult at times...). Believe or not, matching proofprints with negative can be a pain in the butt especially you have several shoots in the same pose.
  12. I have only "done" one wedding. It was for a sister-in-law who could not afford to get married, much less hire a photog. I used my trusty Nikon FE-2, 85/1.8; and a borrowed plasticy Nikon (don't remember the number) loaded with black and white film.

    I rented a Metz flash and bracket, which was a big, big improvement over my Sunpak. NPH for the color shots, Delta 400 for the black and whites, used a tripod for the (few) formal shots. If you are shooting in the church, ask ahead of time if flash (or photography itself) is permitted during the service.

    Everyone has given lots of excellent advice here. Relax and have fun. I was only frustrated a couple of times when various guests (mostly family members) would order me around, insisting I get this shot or that shot. I, for one, didn't really enjoy the reception. But that is a risk you take when you shoot a family member's wedding for free <grin>.

    I'd upload a pic but my in-laws stole my negatives. That's another thread, though...
  13. I would seriously leave your flash at home. Anyone can buy an auto SLR and a TTL flash and take pictures. It takes talent to capture availabel light images. Practice this now. And for God's sakes DO NOT take any phoots during the formal portrait session. The pro photog will probably not allow this anyway. It is rude and disrespectful for guests to be poping flashes while a hired photographer is trying to take picture that he or she must sell later to earn a living. Don't even go there!
  14. I too am a professional wedding photographer.

    I have to disagree with Jason - "And for God's sakes DO NOT take any phoots during the formal portrait session. The pro photog will probably not allow this anyway. It is rude and disrespectful for guests to be poping flashes while a hired photographer is trying to take picture that he or she must sell later to earn a living. Don't even go there!"

    A true professional does not want to irritate the guests by trying to prevent them from taking pictures ~ after all, they have been invited by the Bride & Groom who want them to have a nice time! The fact is that guests don't get the same (best) angle as me anyway, nor are they likely to get their negatives printed properly. Guests taking pictures simply is not an issue.

    The best advice on this topic has probably been submitted by Marc Williams.

    However may I add the following:

    Try out Kodak 160NC rated at 100ASA or 400NC rated at 320ASA. The latter, although a little more contrasty will help you out with some ambient light. Use a pro lab.

    Take plenty of film.

    Most importantly, be extremely polite, smile and keep smiling until you are well out of sight of any wedding guests. As Jason's response suggests, there are an awful lot of rather snotty people who shoot weddings for a living. Be different - the guests will love you for it!
  15. I shot some candids at my cousin's wedding recently. Since the pro sent out a memo saying that he had the right to ask well-meaning relatives not to take photos during the formals, I limited my efforts during that time to images of other family members.

    1. Film: Kodak Portra 160 and 400, rated at 125 and 320 respectively. Kodak Tri-X400, rated at 320 and Kodak 3200, rated at 1600. The 3200 was fun to use indoors without a flash.

    2. Use a Stroboframe Quick Flip and a Stofen diffuser to lessen the shadows cause by the flash.

    3. I used a 85mm and a 28-200mm zoom. The zoom was nice because I did not have to change lenses very often.

    4. Send the film to a professional lab. Costs more but makes all the difference in the world. You might want to check out the costs before shooting the film.

    Have lots of fun.

    Regards, Stacey Foy
  16. Tips:
    - Since the pro will be concentrating mostly on the formals, why not focus on other areas, e.g. couples parents during the service, page girl/boy playing, wedding preparation (e.g., bride/groom changing), etc.
    - Take heaps of photos, and I mean HEAPS. Film is cheap compared to a missed opportunity which is irreplaceable. 3 to 6 frames of the couple in the same setting in differenct candid poses can look fantastic in the same photo album page or frame.
    - Try Fuji NPZ 800 and Neopan 1600 (Black & White) for the extra stop(s) of light and reduce the need for a tripod further.
    - I don't recommend changing rating of your film as this is your first wedding shoot. Play it safe until you gain more experience.
    - When you need to use your flash, bounce it off a white or cream coloured (other colours will create an unacceptable colour cast) ceiling or wall. The lumiquest you have is a good 2nd option if you don't have a suitable wall.
    - I would stick with leaving the 70-210mm on either camera on at all times. The extra zoom range plus the shorter range on the other camera will keep you out of the way of the pro.
    - Check that the wedding service will allow the use of flash.
    - Carry spare batteries.
    - Scout the venues before the shoot. Ideally do this during the rehearsal so you know sequesnce of events.
    - Setting your flash to rear curtain and lens to a relatively low speed (e.g. 1/60) or less can capture interesting movement, e.g. confetti, couple walking down the aisle, etc. If you have no much experience with using flash, I recommend you experiment first.
    - Wear dark clothing to keep yourself unobtrusive to the wedding proceedings.
    - Drink heaps of fluids as I was totally dehydrated in my last 2 wedding shoots!
    - My preference is to stick to auto (aperture priority) and only use manual when necessary. I take too much time to manually focus and this can cause missed opportunities!

    All the best!

Share This Page