First wedding shoot

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by danny_spry, Jun 9, 2003.

  1. I swore I'd never do it but guess what- I'm shooting a wedding. What
    a way to come back from a 2 year diversion from my true passion.

    Anyway, the Client, a friend, is strapped for cash and is cutting
    every corner possible. My film type and number of rolls is limited
    yet her request are not. Day of coverage, Portraits and worst of all
    the wedding is at 8:30pm! I plan on using B&W film most of the day
    and want to use the Portra 400BW. With the wedding being at night and
    outdoors I'm a bit apprehensive.

    Here's the question: Can Portra 400BW handle shooting outdoors at
    night using an only my 550EX on a bracket and 85mm F1.8.? Do I push
    the film or just adjust my meter and process normal?

    Just incase I plan on bringing some 3200B&W.

  2. I don't shoot weddings, but something that came to mind for these conditions would
    be dragging the shutter.

    If you're using the 550ex for your exposures, Portra400 should be fine. 3200
    wouldn't hurt to have for shots w/o the flash... I'd think bringing a 2nd body w/ 1600
    or 3200 loaded & a fast 28/35/50mm would be good; you'll likely want a different
    length than 85mm for some things anyway.

    just a few thoughts... I'm sure someone else w/ more experience will have better

  3. I'd just shoot the 400 and forget about anything faster. Flash-on-camera will be fine, especially considering the situation. It will also make your shooting easier.
  4. I wouldnt shoot only in BW.Id get some Portra 400NC & Portra 800 color and use flash on a bracket.Portra BW is ok for some things,but like most chromogenic BW films it is considered very "flat" and contrastless.If its your 1st wedding,I suggest you test a roll of each film stock you plan to use with your flash etc.This is the only way for a begginer to predict their results.I assume you have the shutter speed,aperture,exposure 101 stuff down pat,or Id suggest you tell them you cant do the job!Also except for candids or shooting unobtrusive at the ceremony I think an 85MM is NG for most of this.Better to use a plain Jane 50MM for everything except groups of 3 or more,for this I suggest a 35MM.Any wider,you will get distortion in group shots.Lastily,find a competant lab that does professional work.Use a lab that processes film for pros,not a drugstore or wallymart.Finally,go to and check out the free lessons there.They have much 411 for would be wedding shooters.Best of luck with this,but please if you arent up to the job ,cancell!Dont ruin your friends wedding pix and your friendship!
  5. I sometimes do weddings for close friends on tight budgets, though I am not a pro. I prefer to use a zoom lens (in my case a Canon 28-80 L lens). This way I can do group shots and individual portraits without changing lenses and thus I am always ready for the next shot. The motorzoomhead of the flash automatically covers the angle of the lens. I would recommend you get a (good) zoomlens for the shoot.

    Do you plan to print those Portra B&W shots yourself? If so and since I presume you have never used the film before, you are in for a surprise. This is in my opinion the most horrible film to print yourself. Just like all color negative film this B&W C41 film has dark orange negatives. Focusing your enlarger (I use a grain loupe to focus) becomes very hard and because of the dark orange negative, printing times are very long as well.

    I used this film to shoot some portraits of the baby of friends (on 6x6 medium format). For a 30 x 30 picture, I had to print for 36 seconds. I photographed a friends wedding a week later using Ilford XP2 Super, also a C41 B&W film. For the same size prints I now had to print for only 12 seconds (same grade) and focusing was just as easy as any other B&W film. On this film, the negative is coloured very light purple, giving no problems however regarding printing times or focussing. The picture itself has deep blacks, nice whites and exceptional detail. I would therefore recommend this film (I think it is even cheaper then Kodak Portra B&W).
  6. The film's speed for flash photography affects the guide number--how far your flash will carry. It also determines how much power the 550EX must use to expose properly, which affects recycle time and battery usage. This is to say that 400 speed film will be fine, and you won't gain much by pushing or shooting 3200 speed film. Carry plenty of extra batteries anyway, and use the expensive versions of duracell or energizer or whatever. They do last a little longer than their lesser counterparts in the 550EX.

    Your only problem in shooting outdoors at night is that fair-skinned people in black clothing may look like disembodied moony faces in the prints (if there's not enough ambient light to give them any sort of background). I would try to place your set-up shots somewhere where there is ambient light or something visible in the background.

    Good luck.
  7. Thanks guys. I'm competent enough for the job but was more curioius about the film and how it handles. I've tested the Portra 400NC and some 400Tmax. I like the 400NC, which I am using at the wedding, as well as the Tmax. I'm probably not going to use the Portra B&W since it's only available in Pro Packs- making it too expensive to test one roll and have to buy 10 just to get the 5 I need.

    I am considering using the 85mm 1.8 during the wedding to help with the focusing and to throw out the background in some portraits but I might end up using a 70-200 2.8L so I don't have to be right in the middle of things. I already have the 28-135 3.5-5.6 IS lens to use during the day time and indoors. I know it's not the greatest lens in the worl but it gets the job done. I am bringing my trusted A1 with it's 135mm f=2 (love that lens!)

    As for my experience; I was an assistant for three years before I took a detour down a promised path of fortune, opps! I assisted fashion, editorial, advertising, and product photographers. My main interest is in photohournalism and documentary shooting. Along with landscape and outdoor sports.I never went to school for photography and learned everything by O.J.T. (on the job training) Now I'm back where I should be but this time I'm focusing on shooting more than assisting. I was assisting so much, in the past,that I never shot anything. A big mistake that I think a lot of assistants make when they first get started.

    I'll report back on the results of the wedding and post a few images for your review next week.


    This entire thread just raises a huge red flag for me. Have you discussed exactly what photos are going to be done at this wedding, who will be there, etc., with the bride and groom? This is a (hopefully) once in a lifetime event for these people, and you should have a complete understanding with them - in advance - of specific photos you plan to take and when. You may like B&W, but do your friends want B&W wedding photos? Weddings are unpredictable, chaotic, and frequently completely irrational events, and these people will have specific expectations of what they'll want to see in their album when you're done. If you bring them wonderfully artistic work when it's all over but they didn't get a picture they wanted of the bride with the groom's stepmother's aunt from Cleveland, it's not going to be a success regardless of your talent. NOTE: You will probably be asked to shoot stupid wedding cliche photos. You'll think they are idiotic, the bride will say "oh that's sooooo sweet, can we do this?" You'll hate it, but you'll have to do it and tell her how wonderful and beautiful she's going to look in the picture. It's her day and I recommend that you don't argue artistic taste with her but rather just humor her and go on with your life. Shoot whatever artistic stuff you want, so long as you make sure you shoot what SHE wants. The groom may also have lame requests. Do those too and don't give him a hassle about it - most guys already have a hard enough time looking overly romantic in the company of their drinking buddies.

    Assuming you work all of that out, be prepared with plenty of film and no less than two of any piece of equipment you might possibly have a need for, including camera bodies, lenses, flashes, etc. Double that for cables of any kind and for batteries. Things get dropped, lost, bent, and broken, and the happy couple isn't going to have any sympathy for YOU if your prized and expensive camera is dropped and they don't get THEIR pictures.

    You will need to know, in advance of the big event, every possible photo setup you intend to use and plenty of them that you won't. You can't make this stuff up on the fly on the wedding day because the wedding party isn't going to give you time for it. If you get an hour to shoot 60 photos, praise your good luck.

    You will need to be prepared to do all sorts of stuff that has nothing much to do with photography, including soothing the frayed nerves of the bride, telling groomsmen how to dress themselves, telling bridesmaids how to stand so that they don't look like they just got off a horse, keeping track of wandering ushers and relatives, making minor repairs to dresses, shirts, and floral boquets, and a long laundry list of other things you have probably never considered. If one of the groomsmen puts his flower on the wrong lapel, the bride will notice it in the photos, she probably won't like it, and it will be YOUR FAULT that it's wrong. Don't count on friendship to save you when things go wrong, especially if your friend is the groom. Few men have any concept at all how overwhelming and consuming an event a wedding is for a bride. Additionally, it's more difficult to do this work for people you know than for people you don't know. Even if you're competent, they'll treat you like a friend and ignore half of what you ask of them, rather than treating you like a person with a job to do.

    Just to illustrate how strange things can get, here's a little story. I shot a wedding where the groom wore a white tux (and shoes) and the rest of the men wore black tuxes (and shoes). To amuse the bride, someone jokingly told her that her groom was going to wear one white shoe and one black shoe for the service. This light-hearted tension breaking one-liner sent the bride right straight over the edge. She went absolutely ballistic and had a ten minute temper tantrum. Once she calmed down enough to realize it was all a badly timed joke, she went into a ten minute crying fit. Once that was all over, another ten or fifteen minutes were required to repair the damage done to her makeup during the crying fit. In all, over a half hour of prime photo taking time was lost due to a stupid gag. I once saw a bride enter a five minute giggle fit in the middle of the service. I saw a videographer trip over a flower pedastal and send himself sprawling through the neatly posed wedding party during the vows. I've seen groomsmen pass out and I've seen a bridesmaid throw up during the service. I saw a moron with a camera and a big Metz flash on a bracket stand three rows back from the front of the church in the center of the aisle and fire that big flash off, blocking my view the entire time, until the minister calmly reminded everyone that no flash pictures were allowed during the service. Strange stuff can and will happen, so be prepared to deal with it.

    Don't overlook one of the most annoying aspects of doing this, and that's that while everyone else will be enjoying themselves at your friend's wedding, you will be WORKING.

    I'm not trying to scare you off from this job, but you really should know what you're getting into. For a couple of hours, you're going to be ringmaster in the biggest circus ever to happen in the lives of a couple of people.

    Good luck!
  9. I've seen many "first wedding" questions here, and they made me curious. But after Joe's post, I am convinced I never EVER want to photograph a wedding. Heck, I may stay single just to keep away from the whole mess!
  10. Danny, I'm curious....If the bride is strapped for cash, why are you shooting in black and white? Even donating my time, I couldn't print b/w for a cost even close to the local color processor.

    I think most of us have been in situations like this. Maybe we should just consider the photos our wedding gifts.
  11. Kenn, If Danny uses Kodak Portra 400BW his cost will be the same as color: C-41 processing.
  12. Um, looks like people lost sight of what my question was. Thanks for all the inputs. I'm confident I will pull this off quite well and will be well prepared for what ever will happen. The wedding is this Saturday and I'm all set. I'll have stuff posted next week for your critique.

  13. I shot my sister and then my brother wedding with Kodakcolar ASA 200 film and a Flash with a Guide No. of 120 and the results were just fine. In my camera (Nikon FA for my sister's wedding and an N80 for my Brother's wedding) there is an indication light that shows that the flash power was adequete and for most shot I was fine. The under exposed shots were all fixable in printing. Most shots were taken outside at night.

    I however used a 35mm lens for group shots which helped a lot. You may need to get hold of a wider lens if you intend to do groups.

    If you use 3200 film expose it at 1600ASA or there may be too much grain.

    Good luck.
  14. It poured the bride and groom were two hours late and the wedding had to be moved from the backyard to a small church. Time was so pressing that the groom left early to get ready at the church. Eliminating the possibility of spending any time with him or his father. The bride, who was great, shared a room with her mother and mother in law to be, who would not let me in to finish shooter her getting ready. She too, ended up putting the final touches on at the church.

    During the wedding I got blocked by the musicians and was stuck on the Brides side (which I think is the wrong side)for longer than I would have liked. While there trying to make the best of it some relative with a camcorder plants himself right in the middle of the only shots I can get. All the head nods and other such gestures would not get him to move! Finaly I slinked my way across the aisle and stood right in front of the guy.

    I had to shot the only portraits of the event at the church with no strobes. I brought them but there was no time to pre set the lighting let alone no place to store the lights during the wedding. I endedup using my 80/20 with a silver insert and the 70-200 2.8L lens.

    Giving way to optimism I had rented a basic dynalite 1000w 2 light kit with umbrellas. Plus an extra light just incase and another pack (500w) Iused these along with the canon polaroid backed camera I rented to try and find a descent location for some full length portraits. No luck. I was stuck inside a house with low cellings that was being set up for the reception. But hey, it had been awhile since I had rented, tested(I test out everything I rent before I sign anything!) loaded up, unloaded, setup, broke down, repacked, reloaded, unloaded when I got home and reloaded once again to return to the rental store. Where I unload one last time. Notice "shoot with" was not in that list.

    So now it's off to the lab to see what I actually got on film. Oh, the anxiety!

    All in all it was a good experience and I'd do another wedding again. Especially now that Iknow what a zoo the whole thing will be and can prepae for that.
  15. Sounded like a fun 1st wedding! How did your photos turn out?
  16. They turned out well. I took the images to the new couple before I had a chanc to scan them in and they were very happy. I made a few mistakes and missed a shotn here and there but overall I'm pretty happy with it. More importantly they were happy also.
  17. I know it's been a while since this first posted, but I can completely identify with your experience. I shot my first wedding for a close friend who was on a tight budget. I used Portra 400 VC (Portra is by far my favorite - and I've had nothing but good results with this film - unless of course it was my own stupidity in miscalcuating the light), as it was an Indian (think India)/American wedding, and bright colors were par for the course. Although it was a bright sunny day the church was dimmly lit, and as such all but one (with a 1 sec shutter speed) were all under-exposed. (I was able to do some correction with PhotoShop.) I learned a lot that day, and I'm better prepared next time. Everything else, including the formal portraits in the church turned out great.

    The one thing that I was very happy with, was I went out and bought a LumniSoft? bounce and diffuse for my flash. Apparently my friend (the bride) has never (I mean never) had a picture taken of her without red eye. Oh, sweet success, her blue eyes were truly blue that day! There was absolutly no red eye.

    Best of luck in your future endeavors!


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