need some advice please!

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by manda_j, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. Hello everyone, I'm new here, and I was hoping I could get some advice. I am a fairly new wedding photographer (2nd photographer in small business), and my wedding experience is limited. So far, I have been very happy with my results, but I have only at this point shot daytime weddings.
    With that being said...
    One of my very dear friend from childhood is getting married in the Florida keys in October. Her ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. I have looked up sunset for this time of year, and it appears to be at 6:55 p.m. She has seen my photography, and is happy with the results, and I have tentatively agreed to be the photographer for her wedding for only the cost of travel. I am concerned, however, because currently I know I do not have the proper equipment to do a sunset wedding. I have a Nikon D60, and a lens range of 18-200. I will be seeing my friend again in a few weeks, and I would like to tell her for sure by that time if I will be able to do her wedding or not. In the mean time, I would like to find out what equipment I would need at the minimum.
    I know I will have a lot of time to practice photography at sunset if I do decide to do her wedding. I guess the deciding factor is how much the equipment will cost. What kind of flash would I need, at the minimum, to get good results? At that time of the day, will I need to have my camera on the tripod at all times, or is there a flash that will allow me to be mobile without going blurry?

    I know that many of you will say, "if you don't know, you shouldn't be doing it," but this is a dear friend, and I am hoping to save her some money if all goes well. I will not agree to do it if I don't feel that I will be able to do it right for her, but I would very much like to be able to if at all possible. Thanks for any advice you may have to give me in advance.
  2. Quite frankly, you don't have the right equipment to shoot weddings professionally under any condition. Your D60 is an entry-level consumer camera that is far from suitable for professional work, and your 18-200 is far too slow for wedding work. If you truly intend on keeping your "dear friend" as a friend you need you be honest and tell her that you are not experienced enough and don't have the proper equipment to shoot her wedding. It's a tremendous gesture on your part to provide photography services to your friend, and I'm sure that you are well-intentioned. But, given your experience and equipment it sounds like a recipe for loosing a friend.
    If you're still dead-set on doing this, I recommend you rent a D700, 24-70 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses, and an SB-900 flash and start reading the manuals and practicing. After you have some time in the saddle learning the basics with pro-level gear you can be in a better position to ask more specific questions about technique.
  3. You can use your gear for this wedding, but you will definitely need to get an external flash. The time at dusk and sunset is actually difficult to get re balancing flash with ambient--at a certain point, you will need to switch from ambient as main, with fill flash, to flash as main, with ambient registering but not the main source of illumination. Plus, sunset presents certain challenges if the bride/couple wants the sunset sky as a background, as does the processional/recessional as regards freezing motion in dim light.
    In addition, you will need back up--you need a back up camera body and flash, as well as a lens you can use should your main zoom go down.
    For the flash, a used SB-800 or SB-600 will work, if you don't have a lot to spend.
    Find out what the layout is, and whether the bride expects to have the sunset sky as a backdrop. Also remember that things often get going late, so what you expect re sunset may not actually happen until after.
  4. I will keep these things in mind before letting her know. I have been looking at the SB-900, so I am glad to hear that might work. Keith- I will look into renting for this event. Nadine- thank you so much for your advice on the lighting. Thank you both for your help.
  5. "I have tentatively agreed to be the photographer for her wedding for only the cost of travel."
    Will you be delivering prints, an album, etc? I would say charge for at least your overheads, not just travel.
    "...I am hoping to save her some money if all goes well."
    In order for all to go well, you need to be well prepared (technically, mentally, and emotionally). You need a back-up camera, just in case yours decides to pack up on the day. Also, back-up lens(es) and backup flash. Even more important because it will be at dusk.
    A wedding photographer needs to make split-second decisions, on the fly, in order to capture arguably the most important day of a couple's lives. You say you will have plenty of time before the day to shoot in sunset? Be that as it may, will you be practicing in a wedding situation? I would strongly urge you to do so. See if you can second-shoot in similar conditions with a seasoned pro. The dynamics of weddings are, like I've said, very different from a casual sunset shoot.
    Some resources that may be of help are:
    If you do feel you won't be able to deliver, you might want to hire a pro as your way of saving them money. However, I believe with a well-thought out strategy and due diligence, you do have enough time to prepare. Just be true to yourself, since you know what's at stake.
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “I would like to find out what equipment I would need at the minimum.”

    Answering only re equipment: I would like to have two bodies capable of high ISO capture to exploit the ambient light as much as possible. Then I would like a fast lens or two - one simple solution would be a fast (F/2.8) standard zoom and a fast short telephoto - but I likely would opt for two fast primes one being a normal Field of View and a slight wide (equivalent 50mm and 35mm lenses for 135Film format) and the short telephoto also. I would like two Flash units and a bounce card or similar.

    But that leads onto . . . “Thanks for any advice you may have to give me in advance.”

    Now the equipment above, describes just about "the basic kit" that you will see listed on all the threads titled "What do I need as a Basic Wedding Kit?" . . .

    The point I am making is: As it is the intention to shoot at the half hour before sunset, which encompasses the 10 minutes (sometimes less) of what is (misleadingly) termed "the Golden Hour" . . . and during that time period of: light; half-light; dusk and then dark - there will be the most activity of the event. So the Photographer NEEDS to be on their metal and NOT second guessing or learning how to balance the Ambient and the Flash and finesse the change from: Key Ambient to Key Flash or when there are those fleeting minutes to pull the shots All Ambient.

    So, whilst in many situations, I would agree that it is NOT “all about the gear” but rather about the skill of who is driving the gear – in this particular case I believe it is more about the gear than it otherwise would be.
    Because, just for three items, as examples, the D60 would perhaps be a bit shy of quality High ISO capture and the 18 to 200 is not only slow (maximum aperture) but the varying maximum aperture could cause a lot of grief, in this particular, rapidly changing shooting scenario.

    That said, we move to . . . “lot of time to practice photography at sunset if I do decide to do her wedding”

    Yes, if you take the job: do so.

    Also, plan some outline to the coverage during this 45miute time frame and expect it to change – it is most likely there will be a time line slippage.

  7. A sunset is not the same everywhere. If I where you I would want to hear specifically what wedding shooters from Florida and the keys would have to say.
  8. Manda,
    As long as you are up front with your friend in that you can not make guarantees concerning the quality of the images; I think you'll be ok.
    Honesty is always best in this scenario.
    If your friend values the wedding photography highly, she should probably hire a pro.
    Old saying, "pay me now or pay me later." Unfortunetly, weddings are not something that can be re-done.
    Lastlt; if you are going thru with this, make sure you fully understand how to handle not just the camera, but the flash as well. The two are deeply intertwined in wedding shoots. Practice like crazy, be locked & loaded and be prepared for anything...It is a dynamic scenario.
  9. Thank you all- I am obviously leaning towards not doing it now that I have read all your comments. I would rather her be able to get the best shots than to have me accidently mess it up. Thanks again.
  10. If you are new and do a wedding for strangers under these circumstances and they aren't thrilled, you work your way through the situation, make some concessions and move on.
    When you do the same for a friend or a relative, this person remains part of your life. So if they're unhappy, you'll have to face them forever, or perhaps not if they're not speaking to you.
    Even if your friend is comfortable, are you willing to risk your friendship over this?
  11. I can understand your desire to help out your friend and if after reviewing all of the advise, thinking about your skill level and feel you have the confidence to complete the jobe successfully then go for it... If however you have doubts don't do it - you could lose your friend in the process - this is a once in a lifetime event and no matter what she say she will be upset if the photos are not done well - we have seen this many times on their forum where the new photog say "she said she would be happy with whatever I gave her, now she's mad" - I think you need to upgrade your equipment either by purchase or rental and get yourself a fast lens or two - if you dare you can post one of your previous wedding photos for critque to see how this groups views your work... that might give you a starting place...
  12. Don't be discouraged Manda. If there is ample time to practice your flash skills then go for it.
    Don't mind the DIY stuff, focus on the concepts and the hands ons. If you can master flash photography then you can use your existing gear, and just rent the others like the backup body and lens. And contrary to popular belief flash photography is easy to learn as long as you're having fun =)
    Some folks may think it is looney but to me shooting a friend's wedding is one of the best time to experiment because you and your subject a close enough to try out ideas that wouldn't go well with couples you don't know.
  13. Can you give us more info on exactly what the bride envisioned re the sunset in relation to the ceremony?
  14. Just go as a guest, and take some great supplemental shots to give as a gift. Let experienced Pros from that area of Florida who will have experience in this arena shoot the wedding.
  15. Manda, one other thing to consider is that if you are the photographer you may not really enjoy the wedding. I'm sure the members of this forum all remember their first wedding assignment. Many years ago (too many) I agreed to be the photographer at my best friend's wedding. The day was very stressful and I had to focus on the shots and couldn't enjoy the wedding. The pictures were beautiful, but I had an emotional reaction to my camera and glared at it for several weeks before I could use it again. (Needless to say, I've never done another wedding!)
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Sunsets are different in various places around the world, agreed.
    But, for clarification, Florida is about 25 degrees North; Brisbane (Australia) is about 27 degrees South and it is very likely the open Brisbane Waters would display somewhat similar (sunset across water) and, more importantly the time-line of the sunset would be about the same, when in the same season.
    The time-line I referenced was from experience at venues in Brisbane - though, agreed - it is still an educated guess, and not from experience shooting in Florida: an opinion from photographers experienced there, would be very beneficial, agreed.
    Manda, a question still unanswered, regards the Bride's Expectations (Nadine's question).
    My answer assumed the Bride's expectations would be for a lot of "Sunset" in the Portraiture and in the shots of the Service (Ceremony) - I might be barking up the wrong tree?

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