How do you shoot the processional?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by patty_h., Aug 26, 2009.

  1. So I would like some advice or techniques on how to shoot the processional. Honestly, I always end up either missing one of the bridesmaids walking down the aisle one way or another and this is killing me!! So how do you guys shoot this particular moment? Do you guys run up and down the aisle trying to get as many as possible so you are not relying on one shoot? or do you stay put in one spot to capture the shoot? Your advice will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. It can depend on the physical layout of the church and the church rules but, typically I'm standing half in the isle on the bride's side of the church at the 2nd or 3rd pew and I hold my position throughout the recessional. I'll shoot each bridesmaid once as she comes down the isle, the kids I'll shoot 2 or 3 times (depends on how quick they are and if they make it all the way down the isle). I try to catch the groom's expression when he gets his first good look at his bride. I'll kneel in the isle to get a full shot of the bride/her dad at the end of the isle and at least one closeup of the two as they approach the alter. As they pass my position, I slide out into the isle, back a few steps and get images of the exchange.
     
  3. Do a search. Here is one.
    http://www.photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/00Q8iK
    You may also want to narrow the question--what are your specific concerns? When you say you miss a bridesmaid, what do you mean? Miss her completely, or miss focus?
    Methods will also vary from photographer to photographer, and particularly, on church rules.
     
  4. David's right. Pick your post and stay put. With a zoom lens and AF camera you should be able to get one full-length and then one 2/3 length of each person during the processional. For the recession at the end of the ceremony you need to concentrate on the wedding couple. I've never had a problem asking them to pause half-way up the aisle and smooch a little too.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
     
  5. About 75% of the weddings I get hired to do are either not in a church or the B&G have rented the church for the ceremony. I always check with the presider and abide by their wishes.
    Where I stand during the processional is right in front, enough room for the bridesmaids to get behind me. When the bride & her father walk down the aisle, besides those aisle photos, where I stand I can get a picture of the bride being given away. That is a precious moment and one of the images I believe they will cherish. I started doing this quite a few years ago and, at first, I would ask the officiant, after the ceremony, if they noticed me and never did I hear a negative comment.
    This is something I cover with each client when they meet with me, usually when making the engagement pictures. I inform both parents what I'm going to do for this time and let them know how beautiful this photo will be.
    Once the bride is given away, I follow her father to a pew I've marked with another camera & make the the rest of the ceremony photos from there while my associate photographer is making photographs from other angles.
    You can see one of the photos I have from a wedding I did in July on my web site.
    Hope this helps you.
     
  6. I've never had a problem asking them to pause half-way up the aisle and smooch a little too.​
    Wow. Are you being serious Henry, or is this tongue in cheek? I can think of nothing more likely to get a photographer kicked out of church and chased down the street by a furious wedding party. Well, perhaps a couple more things, but you get my drift.
     
  7. The most important thing here is pre-planning. There is usually someone (wedding coordinator, church lady or a florist) who spaces the girls or couples. If not, I have my assistant do it. They need to have some distance. I park myself in a pew and step out, take my shot and step back. I like being in the center so the background doesn't look skewed.
    If you were ever a film shooter and paid for each frame of film, paid to have it processed and paid to have it printed, your mindset is a bit different here. I want to make sure I can shoot once and get it right -LOL....-Aimee
     
  8. Patty -
    For the processional (coming into the church - I stand on the bride's side and step out into the aisle as the couple walk toward me. If there is a wedding coordinator or someone pacing the couples, I ask for them to pause a bit between the couples and to please don't send them so close together. Most clergy are okay with this practice and expect it. In fact I had one tell me exactly how to do that processional, down to how many steps in the aisle I could take (1) and how many photos of each couple (2).
    The key is to get a full length and a 2/3's of each, plus bride and escort walking in ...plus future hubby's face when he sees her.
    Recessional - depending on church and rules - I try to migrate to the back of the church just as the ceremony is ending. That way I repeat the process on the way out.
    If you're missing couples - suggestion one would be to stand in a stationary spot (front of the church) and two would be to ask the coordinator / assistant to space out the couples a bit.
    Recessional is harder since there isn't someone up front to pace them.
    Dave
     
  9. "I've never had a problem asking them to pause half-way up the aisle and smooch a little too." -Henry
    "Wow. Are you being serious Henry, or is this tongue in cheek? I can think of nothing more likely to get a photographer kicked out of church and chased down the street by a furious wedding party." Neil

    Actually this is very common during the recessional and doesn't take the couple more than 3-5 seconds to do in actual practice.....it's not a big deal. OTOH, interfering during the processional could create some serious problems.
     
  10. I think I actually asked this same question lol. I was having so much trouble with this when I started, but I got some great advice on here.
    What I found worked best for me is to grab an end chair about half way down the isle (if rules allow). And get 2-3 shots of each bridesmaid as their walking up, and as they are walking away. Basically just pivoting back and forth.
    One bit of advice I got was to lean slightly out into the isle, take the picture, and then go back into my spot. Except for when the bride walks out, that way your not between her and the groom (which is the best time to get the look on the grooms face).
    What was said above about having space between helps a lot too. I've been to a few weddings with no coordinator, and its very hard to get individual pictures when they come at you as a group. Now I simply ask someone to do it, or ask the bridesmaids themselves to wait 5-10 sec after one starts before they do.
    00UK3S-167973584.jpg
     
  11. I've never had a problem asking them to pause half-way up the aisle and smooch a little too.​
    yikes... talk about being intrusive.. hope you are kidding... i would never do something like that. it's their wedding..its not my place to tell them what to do.
    as for shooting processionals..i usually camp in the front while the other shooter camps on the back.. that way we get shots from both angles.
     
  12. "yikes... talk about being intrusive.. hope you are kidding... "

    Henry made this statement about the recessional and I doubt that he was kidding. I also wasn't kidding when I stated that it's a fairly common practice and I don't consider it intrusive at all.
     
  13. I usually crouch down in front as the couples are coming down. I'll have two 5D2's one with the 85L and one with the 35L. Both cameras have been set to manual and continuous focus. I'll primarily use the 85L at around f/1.8-2 and shoot 4-6 shots of each couple coming down. I then edit it to one full length and one 3/4-1/2 length shot. I'll do the same when the bride comes down but usually shoot at least 8-10 if not more and edit that to half. I get the grooms reaction too. A few quick shots of the give away and I'm gone from the front...
     
  14. I stand halfway down the aisle > more towards the back of the church. I tell the processional when to start -- I preset my spot (focus) on a pew ---set my camera all manual. Genuflect ..... When the bride/maids cross that point >> I fire --never changing the exposure/zoom or focus. 1/60 @ 5.6 Flash set auto @ about 6.7 (depends on footage )...Duck in the pew --wait for the next. If the church permits :: I follow the bride /father to the altar and fire one shot as he gives her away......Immediately return to back of the church --tripod awaiting ...Same system since the 80's > fail proof.....sharp and perfect exposure
     
  15. i'm up front like most others - on the bride's side. i jump in and out of a pew if there is one up front with some space, otherwise i'm up there where the bridesmaids are standing. i try and wait till they get far enough up the isle to show that they had guests and capture some expressions from the guests. if I want a nice tight shot i'll crop on the computer. on a few occassions i have had a brides maid and groomsmen stop because they think i need that to get a good shot or something but i just motion them with my hands to keep on walking. sometimes people bunch up. if so i just get a shot of the bunch such that all faces are showing. i take quite a few shots of the bride coming down the isle. only 1, 2 or 3 of the others depending on if i think got good expressions or depending on what they do.
    00UKBs-168029684.jpg
     
  16. I agree with Nadine, i did not specify whether i miss a bridesmaid or if i miss focus. So here it goes: Now that I am thinking before i would actually miss a bridesmaid but actually that was because I had an issue with my bracket's flash cord, but that is a whole different issue which I fixed by replacing it. So now my issue is "I miss the focus" in the beginning I used to shoot auto and you know what happens here, sometimes it focuses right and sometimes it does not so then I switched to aperture but then again its the same issue and so manual was the best option but i feel that I am not fast enough focusing and so that's my issue.
    Perhaps I should put this into practice:
    C Jo Gough - Carmel, CA [​IMG] , Aug 26, 2009; 07:00 p.m.
    I stand halfway down the aisle > more towards the back of the church. I tell the processional when to start -- I preset my spot (focus) on a pew ---set my camera all manual. Genuflect ..... When the bride/maids cross that point >> I fire --never changing the exposure/zoom or focus. 1/60 @ 5.6 Flash set auto @ about 6.7 (depends on footage )...Duck in the pew --wait for the next. If the church permits :: I follow the bride /father to the altar and fire one shot as he gives her away......Immediately return to back of the church --tripod awaiting ...Same system since the 80's > fail proof.....sharp and perfect exposure
     
  17. It seems from your second sentence that you have photographed more than one wedding.....so.......how come you book weddings when you don't know a basic issue like this one? The image of the father and bride walking down the aisle is arguably one of the most important images in a wedding, so I'd advise you to learn some solid techniques for photographing the processional before continuing to accept wedding assignments. As far as your particular question goes, the best way to solve this....and other problems, is to always attend the rehearsal. You get to see, and perhaps influence the timing a little, and you also get to meet many of the principals.......so you and they are no longer strangers on the big day.....regards...Bob
     
  18. Patty--you seem to be confusing camera exposure mode with focusing mode. I don't know what camera you are using but focusing mode is usually controllable separate from exposure mode. So being in aperture priority does not mean your focusing mode is one way, and when you change exposure mode, it is another way. What camera and focusing mode are you using?
    The method that C Jo describes is the traditional way--used in the days of manual focus, manual everything camera. It still works today. A variant of that is to know what to set your focus to on the lens by how the subject looks in the viewfinder--but if you use zooms, this can be a confusing method. These 'old' methods can be the fastest methods, actually, because there is no focusing lag, and as C Jo says, can be pretty fail proof.
    The drawback is, if something changes (the ringbearer decides to run full speed instead of walking, taking you by surprise), you may be caught short, so to speak. These days some photographers can rely on ever improving autofocus systems, even in dim light, and even using AI Servo. But you have to be darned good at controlling these systems, and if you have a consumer level camera, your autofocus system may not be that accurate--it depends.
     
  19. I should also add that another drawback of the old methods is that it relies on a DOF margin of error, so if you are using wide open apertures with high ISO to avoid using flash, you will not have much success with them.
     
  20. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Simultaneous to my posting: Patty H clarified her question.
    My general comments do not add value and I have deleted them accordingly.
    WW
     
  21. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I too think you are confusing the Camera's MAIN (shooting) MODE with the Camera’s Focusing Mode.

    For any detailed assistance, I think you need to supply much more information about:
    FOCUSING mode you use;
    Camera model (goes to best section of AF)
    Lens(es) (goes to AF / MF efficacy)
    Flash (goes to Flash focus assist)

    ***

    Notwithstanding that information:
    I usually use a pre-focus point much like Jo C described.
    The variant Nadine mentioned (how big in the viewfinder) I understand also - and I also use an adaptation of that.
    As I drive two cameras - one always has a prime and the other either has a Prime or a zoom on it.
    Knowing the Venue and Planning are very important. Knowing the number of and the membership of the Wedding party is important. Rapport is important, a gentle word to the Lead Bridesmaid like “you look beautiful, remember ‘slow is the go’ they all need to feast on the beauty of the whole Wedding Party as you guys walk down the Aisle” - Interaction is not in everyone’s style, however.

    The issue of a child running (and it is a real issue) - I have that covered by plans B, C and D and using AF:
    . always starting with a safe buffer of distance between the (Wedding Party) Child and the camera, enough to compose and pull two or three shots, quickly.
    . always having one camera with a zoom lens if there are Children in the Wedding Party
    . as a last resort, a child can be captured at the wide and shot from the hip and cropped later. (I have never had to use plan D – but I have practiced it should it be required).

    ***
    RE: "I've never had a problem asking them to pause half-way up the aisle and smooch a little too.

    “Henry made this statement about the recessional and I doubt that he was kidding. I also wasn't kidding when I stated that it's a fairly common practice and I don't consider it intrusive at all. . . “
    This is a common and natural occurrence here in Australia: I have also arranged or encouraged that shot, too.

    WW
     
  22. At this point I'd caution using Manual Focus because if, for some reason, you miss the shot then you're left scrambling to catch it using Manual focus at this point.
    You can still pre-focus using the auto focus by locating exactly where you want the "target" to be in the aisle when you want to fire to capture the subject. Using your auto focus just point and capture a focus point on the pew or a person in the pew and then recompose and wait for the subject to walk into that zone and fire your shot. At this point you can still use your auto focus to merely fire another shot or two at the subject as they proceed towards you so you have "backup" shots.
    This is actually a great thing to practice during Rehearsals ... you do go to rehearsals at this point in your development right? (hint).
    Summary: lock your auto focus on a predetermined location in the aisle and fire as the subject gets to that point and then fire one or two more by firing directly at the subject by quickly pressing the shutter button quickly in auto focus mode.
     
  23. WILLIAM M "Summary: lock your auto focus on a predetermined location in the aisle and fire as the subject gets to that point and then fire one or two more by firing directly at the subject by quickly pressing the shutter button quickly in auto focus mode."
    Sorry :: exactly what I do --sorry to confuse the manual focus ... SO, use to the 120 film days. I still only fire once. And I explain, in detail, that I tell each member > when to start down the aisle.
    NADINE: Generally always at 5.6 on 28mm --plenty of DOF with my 2.8 Zoom. When they fill my screen properly and trigger the established spot... just can't miss. Every image is the exact density also.
     
  24. If AF is reliable. Why not seting it to continious? That should track the motion. If one wants to take 2 or 3 pictures the predetermined spot works for the first one only.
    If used in single shot AF and a pew is used as focus reference that sounds good for the first couple but when they keep on coming like a train focusing an a pew and recomposing every time seems counterintuitive and slow.
    I'm not speacking from experience on weddings though.
     
  25. Patty--still awaiting your answer on what camera you are using? It makes a difference on what I'd recommend, because some cameras are not as good on autofocusing, particularly AI Servo.
    Alex--continuous focus can be dangerous inside in dim light, and it almost presupposes that you are shooting a number of images in a row (continuous drive), because some of the series of images will be OOF. This is by design. This method also means your flash better keep up, if you are using flash, which can be a problem.
    In any case, I would repeat that aperture priority or shutter priority with flash, for Canon users, is dangerous, because with Canon, the camera always goes for full ambient exposure, so you will probably get motion blur if inside in dimmer light. It is still dangerous for any camera user in another sense--that is--reliance on auto functions take away the ability to fine tune shutter drag. Even with a camera that sets the shutter speed up fairly high in aperture priority, for instance, you could still get motion blur, if the ambient light happens to be fairly bright. When balancing flash with ambient with motion involved, it is always best to use manual camera mode and control your shutter drag.
     
  26. Yeah, you are right Nadine, I was confusing camera exposure with focusing mode!!!!!
    I am using the Nikon d300 with the 18-200 f3.5-5.6.
    I have been using the single-servo AF mode and the Auto-area AF mode.
    I appreciate all the advice.
     
  27. Nadine one more thing about the servo mode. I have a Canon 40D I could set it to single shot, for the drive mode and servo for the focusing, and lets say average metering for the exposure (not that is is an issue here) this set up would not give any rapid fire therefore the flash would not be trying to play catch up.
    With the above mention setings in manual mode would you not think servo would be the logical choice? given a lens that open wide enough F1.8 to F2.8 lets say to registrer more light for the focusing?
    Thanks for your valuable feed back
    Alex
     
  28. Alex--in a nutshell, no--for me. Granted there are different methods of shooting the processional which I'll talk about below, but I usually photograph the processional with safety (the bride and father is an important, must-get image), sharpness and correct exposure in mind.
    I have a 40D (alongside my 5D) as well. The 40D is a semi-pro camera, and the low light focusing is not as swift as I would like to feel confident in accurate auto focusing indoors, in dim lighting such as one typically encounters in a church. Particularly using AI Servo, particularly using a wide open aperture, and even if using One Shot and not continuous drive. Actually, the 5D is the same.
    When I say the flash won't keep up, I don't mean just because one is using continous drive. As I said above, the idea behind AI Servo (as far as I know) is that the camera follows subject motion. In doing so, it will sometimes be OOF, and then catch up, etc. When I read about AI Servo in manuals and online, it is always recommended that you shoot a series of images, so that one improves one's chances of in-focus images. Most such information sources say that some of the series will be OOF.
    Knowing this, it is a given that one needs to shoot more than one image of the subject(s) as she/he approaches. This creates problems with flash usage and with the actual act of photographing the subjects. One does not always have to use flash, but in many instances, one does, because the ambient light is too dim for a comfortable ISO and fast enough shutter speed to stop motion, or, if outside in bright sun, for flash fill. Inside, I am sometimes bouncing the flash (if possible) for softer light quality, or at least diffusing it somewhat, meaning more flash power needed per shot. Outside, even the most powerful shoemount flashes are puny against bright sun. Hence, recycling is a big issue when you are trying to shoot a series of frames of the same subject in a short period of time (not even using continuous drive). Your time may be even shorter if, for instance, the aisle isn't very long or you are restricted to one place along the aisle. If using AI Servo and shooting a series, one 'may' get the perfect shot, but then again, one may not, or the perfect shot happens to be the one that is OOF.
    When using One Shot focusing and one of the 'old' methods, one can pretty much guarantee that one good, sharp, correctly exposed image will be gotten. One can even control when that image is taken (say the subject blinks or looks down just as you are about to take the photo), to a degree, even if confined to taking that image in a short range of subject distance, by taking one step backward (to maintain the established subject distance) and taking the shot when the subject looks good again. This is why I prefer to be unencumbered by pews behind me. If I start out in between pews, I prefer to step out into the aisle to take my picture (where I can step backward if necessary) and then step back into the pews.
    You also do not get focus assist using AI Servo (with my Canon cameras), which can be important in dim lighting, and while a fast lens does help with auto focusing, it isn't necessary for the working aperture to be wide open for the lens to take advantage of the light. The lens is wide open when the shutter is not engaged (when the exposure and focusing info is taken) and stops down to the actual or working aperture when the shutter is open. Not to mention that f1.8 is very slim DOF to be relying on. If shooting a full length of the subjects at 50mm (non crop) at 10 feet subject distance, your DOF is little more than 1.5 feet total. The subjects can move out of the DOF range easily, in a very short time.
    Now, there are times where you might be able to get away with using AI Servo with enough accuracy, such as when there is ample ambient light during the processional--a modern church with floor to ceiling window during the bright daylight hours, for instance. You could use a high ISO without sacrificing quality, a fast enough shutter speed to stop motion, a small enough aperture to have a DOF margin of error, and flash as fill, so used with the flash head direct (since as fill you won't get ugly shadows) and at a low power, no worries about recycling. You can't expect these conditions every time, however. The only thing that isn't remedied is AF accuracy, the possibility of OOF shots and focus/exposure lag.
    Some photographers shoot this way even if they are in dim light, upping the ISO and claiming that both noise and possible subject blur are inconsequential to the kind of nice image one gets with ambient light. This is up to you. Having been shooting for a while, I am more of the 'one good shot' kind of photographer. I personally see the processional shots as important (the bride and dad) but not necessarily an opportunity for art. I therefore shoot one or just several, sharp, well exposed images designed to show what is happening. I don't see why one would need, say twelve shots of each person or even the bride and dad, progressing down the aisle, passing and disappearing to the altar. But that's me.
     
  29. I shoot maybe 20 shots -~~ total ~~ from the start of the ceremony > to exiting the church. Tripod only during the ceremony manual focus / cable release ....
     
  30. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Patty:
    There is wonderful advice regarding various techniques you might practice so you will have a range of skills to address the Processional.
    I too use CANON DSLR, and I believe Nadine's comments regarding the AF MODES of Canon Cameras are generally applicable to other Manufacturer's equipment, such as your Nikon Camera.
    But, for any detailed advice about the nuances of the AF protocols and any temperamentalities of your camera, you would be best to seek advice from those working Professionals who use Nikon Cameras.
    I add that it is likely your AF is generally working harder and less efficiently with the lens you are using. (This is an assumption not a statement of fact).
    But, as a statement of fact - Manual Focus will be more difficult with the lens you have, because you are working the viewfinder at F/4.5 to F/5.6 most of the time - and that is substantially darker than using an F/2.8 (zoom) or F/1.4 (Prime).
    Also, you should investigate the use of any “Flash Focus Assist” options your Nikon gear might employ.
    WW
     
  31. I shoot with a Nikon. Prior to my current full frame cameras I used a D300.
    I position myself dead center as the processionals proceed. Prior to it starting, I do test shots to get the correct exposure at the distance where I want the participants framed. Flash is TTL and may be compensated to the plus side if using a diffuser. I always use at least f/3.5 or smaller (like f/5.6) with a 1/80th shutter ... and set the ISO to accomplish this in any given light. The D300 is fully capable at slightly higher ISOs.
    I use single focus. As they come toward me, I lightly tap the shutter button to follow them toward me until they reach the predetermined spot and then shoot with one clean press of the shutter button. Following them toward me assures the shortest focus throw and least delay in AF lock/shoot. This technique eliminated an occasional slight miss-focus as the subject stepped toward me as I shot.
    As they approach me I step to the side and get them passing by on a 3/4 angle.
     
  32. I usually get this one when they're all lined up at the entrance. I don't always go for the individual ones. If the church has a balcony, I shoot one from there when the whole party (or most of them) are on the aisle.
     

Share This Page

1111