photographing a wedding on a boat

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by bikealps, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Very soon I will be photographing a wedding on a boat. I'm having the planning conversation with the bride tomorrow. I have never attended a wedding on a boat much less photographed one. This will be a first for me. I can imagine a lot of the logistics are different than photographing a wedding on land.
    Getting ready will be on land, the ceremony will be on a yacht, and the dinner will be at a restaurant. I don't yet know where family photos will be. The yacht will be on Lake Tahoe. It will be a winter wedding, so it will be cold! I don't yet know if the wedding will be on-deck or inside the yacht. I don't yet know the size of the yacht. There are certainly some large boats in Tahoe, like the Tahoe Queen, but this is a smaller wedding, so I'm guessing the boat is smaller. I'll know more tomorrow.
    So, I'm wondering if anyone has any experience photographing a wedding on a boat. It seems like a few things will be different from the usual garden, hotel, or church wedding. A boat venue changes the formula as the usual shot lists, sequence of events, and where you need to be at different times in the ceremony could well be different.
    If the boat is small, I might have less working room. I might use an ultra-wide zoom more than usual. Probably 1 camera with the ultra-wide and 1 with the 70-200 instead of the usual 24-70 and 70-200. Probably can get some nice scenic shots for the album of the boat at dock with the lake and mountains in the background while people are lined up to board.
    Light ought to be good, but with the boat moving, it could be more difficult to frame shots. I assume that any water movement won't be bad -- it's a calm lake, not the ocean -- and I don't have to change VR settings or shoot with super fast shutter speeds.
    Any thoughts? what's different? what to look out for on a boat wedding? Yes, I'm crazy, but I already knew that.
  2. Will the boat be moving or anchored ? Backgrounds and angle of sun will change if moving.
    Sounds like you won't be doing too many photos other than the ceremony on the boat. Will you
    be doing the family formals AFTER the ceremony on the boat ?
    You really need to call and find out if the ceremony is inside or out. That will have a huge impact
    on your working conditions for the ceremony. If it's inside, tight fit all the way around. Don't expect any fantastic backgrounds if it's inside.
    Depending on the size of your post wedding formals, you could either shoot them inside or on the back deck of the yacht. It's hard to give any real insight without more info to the size of the yacht.
    My experience has been that there wont' be that much room to move around. Then again, it all depends on the size of the yacht and whether you are indoors or out.
  3. I've shot on a lot of boats (I live in Maine, and have worked for a cruise company), the one thing I can tell you is DON'T use a tripod or monopod, unless you're on a boat without a motor. The motor of a boat causes serious vibrations, and if you use a monopod it will transfer right up to your camera without you probably noticing. The make small sandbags with tripod mounts for this purpose, not that you'll necessarily need one. Otherwise, I'd suggest doing the formals on land for the groups, but make sure to get some killer shots of the couple onboard.
  4. Keeping the horizon straight might be little work....much depends what sorts of boat you are dealing with. You can correct this in pp. I'd use wider angle lenses due to proximity and use faster shutter due to all that motion. But, you should be able to get some interesting and dynamic backgrounds. If you can, and you are allowed to, take a look around before everyone gets will help you frame the shots better. Good prep is important. I've been to L. Tahoe many times and sometimes the water can get seriously choppy....sooo the calmness is not always there.
    Good luck and dress's often rather cold there (6500' elev).
  5. Sadly I've done a lot of them. I hate doing them! Here's why... No room to move around. Pick a good
    spot to do the ceremony shots, be the first person at that spot and try to be higher up, above the
    people. With almost all of the photo shoots they cut the engine so people can hear the ceremony,
    unless you are on a sailboat of course. A regular boat will drift. The ceremony will be short and often the
    captain performs the ceremony. All of my weddings have been on the Pacific. You need to keep your
    balance and I feel that you need a person behind you holding on to your jacket or something.

    I also HATE taking photo's for 2 major reasons. The first is the background which is mostly water. Well
    the sun reflects all over the place and the water has lots of glare from the sun. To do this correctly you
    MUST use a polarized filter. You should also have a very good flash. The couples are almost always in
    the shade if the captian is experienced. Usually they are. So you need to get rid of the reflective sun on
    the water and match the exposure of the water. Your flash then needs to do the fill. You need to make
    the people match the exposure of the water and or the land. Maybe the captain will circle that huge rock
    on the east part of the lake. Thats a fantastic background. The rock in the water, by the cove. If you
    don't match the background it will be blown out.

    Second - With some vessels there's simply no room to do any formals correctly. I will try to get as
    many people as I can together probably in the back of the boat - much less wind and try to climb to the
    upper deck or something, every boat/ vessel/sailboat have their challenges. The goal here is to
    photograph pretty much everyone at once or in several groups. Needless to say you need photos of the
    B&G. Often I will ask the B&G who they want in the next several pictures. This way the B&G are
    responsible for who is in the pictures. You should try to ask about assorted people that weren't
    photographed. Parents the families, the bridal party.

    A nice 16-35mm zoom works well. You need to avoid the 16 to 22mm range on the lens - distortion

    You won't believe this - I did a wedding on Lake Tahoe 10 plus years ago, about this time of year. The
    lake can get choppy ( the water isn't flat like a lake should be.) You must watch your balance. Dress
    warm, it's around 6000 feet above sea level. Below 32 degrees at night. The low 50's probably in the day
    and with some wind during the day. There may be some rain going through your area. I'm not sure
    though. Hope for no sun. Nice even light with storm clouds. There's a storm right now in Siera's and a
    cold front.

    The veil - look out! It will be blowing all over the place. When taking photo's have the groom hold down
    the veil behind her waste with his hand. Also take a few photo's with the veil flying all over the place in
    the wind. Those can be really cool shots.

    Show us, post some pic's, good and not so good to help educate other photographers.

    If you follow most of my recommendations the bride and groom will be pretty happy. Oh, use the
    mountians surounding the lake as part of your background when you can or the town on the north side.
    See! I've been to Tahoe! hehe

    Make a list before hand. The pics that you didn't get on the boat, make the up before and during the

    I know I told you and everyone that I hate shooting on boats of all types. Also if it's really cold the vessel
    may be closed in to keep the people warm. There will be plastic windows, also a pain with flash

    My last comment is when you are looking through your camera you "Could" lose your balance. A
    perspective issue, sort of like vertigo; balance. It's a natural thing that happens, thus the need to have a
    guest or a friend hang on to your coat or shoulders.

    Well there you have it. I surely wish you the best. Use one camera only. The second camera could
    bounce all over the place banging into parts of the boat. Below deck there may be a setup of finger food.
    You can take a few samples. The people are always laid back on the sea.

    Hope this helps my friend and most of all have fun with it. These weddings are a love hate adventure. I
    love the seas, hate the weddings!

    I've been on 4 day trips in the Pacific chasing tuna. One trip I came home with 800 pounds. I kept about
    25 pounds and the rest went to all of my friends. Talking about eating lot's of sushi! That's the love
  6. Three things all of which have been mentioned:
    1) Space is at a premium - you'll need some wide angle glass to get the photos. Plus a medium length to get close when you physically can't.
    2) Moving boat = changing background - be aware of what's in your frame.
    3) Boat + engine = movement / vibration - you'll need to shoot at a faster shutter speed.
    and one that hasn't been mentioned:
    4) GLASS - most of the wedding boats I've and the one I've been on have glass. Lots of it. Be aware of the glass and reflections that can be caused by your flash.
  7. Most of these boat cruises hug the shore, so keep an eye out for interesting backgrounds ... I saw this particular background coming up and ran down to get the B&G for a few shots.
    It was a cruise in a foggy Boston Harbor, and the background was the USS Constitution ... the still active US Navy heavy frigate that defeated five British war ships in the war of 1812 because British canon could not penetrate her hull made of 21" thick Southern Live Oak ... earning her the nick name "Old Iron Sides".
    What a background!
    - Marc
  8. I tried to use available light as long as I could ... the windows actually can help if you use the correct angle. (see attached image)
    The advice to forego a tri-pod or mono-pod is a good advice.
    I used one of these strap Pods to help ... and it did.
    - Marc
  9. Many thanks for all the helpful advice. The wedding is Saturday. I'm really happy I asked for help.
    Yup, definitely no tripod or monopod. I wasn't planning on using one, but it never occurred to me that engine vibrations could cause a problem.
    Best piece of advice was to research weddings on the specific vessel. I found several weddings on photographers web sites. Many feature lots of off-boat scenic shots, illustrating how hard the boat could be to work with, but I also found a lot of successful on-the-boat shots.
    Fortunately, getting ready, family photos, and the reception are not on the boat. The ceremony will be either indoors or outdoors, depending on last-minute call by the bride, who is an angel and totally a dream to work with. Outdoors will be cold, but I'm hoping for outdoors. Indoors looks like a mess. It's a small wedding -- much less than the capacity of the boat -- which really helps.
    I'll be going with 2 cameras. On the boat it'll be a D90 + 12-24 and a D3 + 70-200. In most cases I'd rent a 2nd D3, but given I need an ultra-wide the D90 should work fine.
    It is a multi-venue wedding between getting ready at the house, family photos on shore (various places tbd), ceremony on the boat, and the reception on shore at a restaurant. I think it'll work out well.
    I saw one really nice photo of a ceremony on this boat that was obviously done with a fisheye. Normally, I despise cheesy fisheye shots but this one worked very nicely. I don't own a fisheye and I don't plan to rent one for just one shot. Can I use the ultra-wide, stitch a couple of shots together, and do some sort of transformation in photoshop to approximate a fisheye? If so, how many shots and how would I do it?
    Thanks for all the help! You guys rock!

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