Sister asked me to shoot her wedding - Advice needed

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jaycobar-chay, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. My sister is getting married. Everyone in the family knows I have a camera and they like what they've seen of my
    abilities; they all think I'm good. As most ignorant people do, they think I can shoot events (such as a wedding) and
    do a good job. I try to explain that I'm best when things are sitting still and/or when there is plenty of sunlight and
    that event photography and/or indoor photography is best left to the pros, but this is an El Cheapo budget wedding,
    so my advice falls on deaf ears.

    I have a Canon 10D, which is totally awesome for low light, NOT!

    Lenses I have:

    Canon 50 1.8

    Canon 100 2.0

    Canon 28-105 3.5-4.5

    Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5

    I have no flash unit. I don't like flash and have never learned to use it. Everything will be available light.

    A couple of questions:

    1) Assuming I don't get any new gear for the shoot, I'm interested in hearing ideas for the best way to do it with what
    I have.

    2) If I need to get something else to do it, what should I get?

    I figured I wouldn't upgrade my 10D until I had so much money I could wipe my butt with it, but I suppose its time to
    get at least a 20D, which I understand is much better at low light/high ISO shots than the 10D. I suppose I could
    buy a used 20D and sell the 10D after the wedding to offset the cost of the upgrade. That way I'll have two bodies on
    me during the shoot.

    My lenses... Do I need to pick up something else more suited for versatility and low light? The wedding will be held
    in a very small building, so I figure a lens with reach will be too tight. I have no idea how many windows it has, if they
    will be open, or if the place will be lit by candles.

    I was thinking of buying/renting an image stabilized lens. Probably a good monopod as well. Suggestions anyone?

    How do you meter for a wedding? Black tux, white dress; zone system nightmare for someone that hasn't done it
    before. Usually I just trust the camera's meter and shoot Aperture Priority. Its not like you can walk up to the pulpit
    and get a meter reading off of the tux...

    Any advice will be appreciated.
  2. You are between a rock and a hard place.

    Many places who hire salesmen hire anyone because the salesmen will first sell their family and when they find out that
    they aren't good at sales they quit. The accounts now become house accounts and the family is mad because they no
    longer are serviced by the relative. There is a lesson in here somewhere.

    Some people try to save money by cajoling a relative into a service which may cost them a lot of money otherwise.

    You have a lot of decisions to make. Have you ever tried to herd a bunch of cats? That is what wedding photography is
    like. Have you ever shot a wedding before?

    My advice is that if you really want to maintain a family friendship that you really think twice before agreeing to
    something which could prove to be a total disaster.
  3. Hi Jacob, _ There is some different aspects: 1). do you ever shoot a wedding: there are people, moments, lights... 2). D10,
    D20, D30 are not good enough higher than 400ASA... 3). Do you have your personal site or blog, to discuss about
    photography with other people ( I am so sorry, but I don't knew your work as photographer)... think deep
  4. it doesn't matter whether you like flash or not. buy one, or rent one, and learn to use it.
  5. Hi Jake. Try and bail out on this one. I have done this before. It really doesn't work. You are family and as such you WILL be pulled into the festivities. Just when you will need to be there as a hired hand. You WILL miss a lot of shots because family will only see you as family and therefor get in the way. Family won't see you as the photographer that is there to do a job. No sir they won't. You WILL also run the risk of starting a family feud,because so and so wants you photograph something when you need to be focused on the B&G. Bad karma on a job such as this one. Hire a Pro. Sit back and enjoy the festivities. Shoot some photos if you want ,but do it as a guest. No pressure.
  6. For a change, I actually went as a guest twice this summer and it was SO refreshing not having to shoot.

    I'd say heck no! This is a family event and you should want to enjoy as well.

    This should be a day you enjoy instead or working and stressing.

    You mentioned a few reasons why I would pass...

    1) lack of experience

    2) Uncomfortable with your skills

    3) It's your family affair

    4) You are considering additional investment in gear

    So many reasons not to shoot.

    Most importantly, without proper education on bouncing flash, fill flash etc... (ie... thousands of clicks during real events in various lighting circumstances) you will give her nothing but blown highlights and shadows caused by the flash.

    My advice... You would do better posting on Craigslist. I'm sure you would get 10 offers to do it for basically nothing. Sort thru them and select the best.

    Since you are considering other gear purchases, why not put that towards a professonal? $500 would go a long way, even if only for a few hour basic package? Pass the hat among friends and family and give them the best wedding present they will ever recieve... a professional photographer.

    Good luck and best wishes.
  7. Don't do it, if your not comfortable.

    Even if it's cheap there are always some wedding photographer looking to for a 1st or 2nd gig to build a portfolio, who will provide reasonable prices. Good luck....
  8. Rather than spend the money on a 20D, I'd get a flash and learn to use it. Unless your sister's wedding is to take place in nothing but bright locations, you will not be happy with the results, even with a 20D.

    I would use the 10D with the Sigma and also the 50mm and 100mm for low light and the latter for reach. With a flash. You need to find out whether flash is OK during the ceremony. If so, use it. If not, get a tripod and use the 50 and 100mm lenses. IS isn't going to help you that much if it is candlelight only.

    Use Program and One Shot and a flash. Don't use AV inside or in dim light or you will have blurred images. Learn how to compenstate both the ambient and flash metering (two separate things). Don't get fancy. Just concentrate on getting what happens, on your focusing and keeping organized so you don't miss things.

    Be sure you have back up gear, lots of batteries and memory cards.
  9. There is tons of information on the forum regarding how to approach a wedding as a newcomer, many of which discuss having equipment limitations as well. I think your equipment is fine if you dont plan to be a wedding photographer. You absolutely NEED flash though. Bright, sunny day? flash for the shadows. Indoor reception? bounce /fill flash for sharper pictures. Buy an SB800, or even an SB 600, and practice. check out once you have.

    The idea of hiring someone from craigslist isnt a bad one. If its their first wedding though, you may as well do it yourself... my first wasnt bad, but wasnt good.
  10. Offer to take candid shots, and suggest that an experienced professional should shoot the wedding.
  11. IF you do shoot, you should know the 10D is notorious for inconsistent flash exposure. Exposure is keyed to the focus point and if you lock in on black tux... poof overexposed. and vice versa for white dress. It almost forces you to shoot manual flash as ETTL with the 10d is HORRIBLE. A way around it is a single focus point lock in on the face and compensate accordingly.
  12. This info is from Chuck Westfall interview about this issue with the 10d.

    I own a Canon EOS 10D and am shooting weddings with the 550EX flash, CP-E3 battery pack, and an EF24-70mm f/2.8L lens. I come from over 20 years of shooting weddings with MF and manual flash. I shoot with the camera on manual, typically ISO 400, and typically at f/5.6 with an Omnibounce. I can't seem to get consistent exposures even though I am not focus-locking and recomposing. Short of moving to a new camera, is there anything I can do to achieve greater consistency?

    The EOS 10D, which was replaced in 2004 by the EOS 20D and subsequently in 2006 by the EOS 30D, used the original version of E-TTL, which has a flash metering pattern that is very sensitive to variations in the reflectance of subject matter. Because of this sensitivity, wedding photography can be difficult with this camera unless you essentially "trick" the flash metering system into an averaged flashmeter reading that looks at the entire picture area rather than the small zone around the active focusing point. There are two ways to do this when using Canon Speedlites with an EOS 10D:

    1) Set the focus mode switch on the lens to manual. This setting forces the flash metering to be averaged across the entire picture area.

    2) Leave the focus mode switch on the lens set to AF, but use Custom Function 4-1 on the 10D and refrain from autofocusing during the exposure. C.Fn 4-1 initiates AF from the AE lock button on the back of the camera, but it averages the flash metering pattern whenever the AE lock button is not being pressed. Using this approach, you would autofocus the subject first by pressing the AE lock button with your thumb, and then make sure to lift your thumb off the AE lock button before taking the picture.

    Either of these techniques should improve the consistency of your flash exposures during wedding photography with the EOS 10D and a compatible Canon Speedlite, but if you're looking for something better than that, I would recommend upgrading to a current EOS model with E-TTL II.
  13. If you end up without a flash, you may consider using a tripod....and hope the bride-and-groom can stay still for 1/4 second or so of exposure for indoor shooting.

    And you may reference

    for more information on "to do" or "not to do" a wedding for a family member.
  14. There is a very simple answer to an EX flash on the 10D. Get a Vivitar 285. Much cheaper and if you learn to use it, actually much more consistent than ETTL.
  15. I did a wedding a week ago w/ the flash in auto-thyristor mode (SB-28 on a K10D) and the images where flash worked came out fine. There were lots of technical details about interacting w/ groups of people and getting white balance, etc. right that I didn't realize until partway through the wedding. It's not a good thing to do w/o experience in lighting (I've been a strobist for a while but most strobist situations are static) or in herding cats.

    As for doing your sister's wedding, do a search for "sibling's wedding" for lots of sage advice I got. I'd agree w/ most of it. Either you're in the wedding or you're photographing the wedding. Ask your sister if they want a wedding album with only 3 pictures of you in it? That's one way to get out of it and you probably should. I was luckily only a guest with a camera (though the bride/groom expected more than that) so it was a relief to have the paid photog catching all the important moments.

    If you really have to do it, rent gear because you need a bunch including a flash and extra body. I ran the Sigma 17-70 for my shots as well as the Sigma 10-20 and 50/1.4 for "interesting" shots but a 17-50/2.8 would have helped a lot.
  16. My niece wants me to shoot her wedding in a couple years. Even a couple years from now I doudt I'll be good enough to shoot a freakin wedding a once in a lifetime event. I have told her I'm not a pro I have told her I'm hit and miss she still thinks I'm a pro because I have a 5D like the camera automatically makes me a pro "duh" I think what I'm gonna do is hire a pro as a wedding present for her. I'll tag along with the pro and get some tips and maybe learn something, and maybe if I'm lucky I'll get some good candid shots. Eather way I'm gonna save headache and family peace.
  17. Because of financial reasons, I agreed to shoot a niece's wedding. One camera body, one flash, lots of backup batteries and SD cards.... It all turned out much better than I could have hoped, but I was a nervous wreck! It's not worth it, contribute to the fund for a pro and since you helped hire, then you can feel free to tag along and learn.

    Look through all the wedding shots here on PN and note the ones shot without a flash.... you won't want to do that to a sister! She'll haunt you for life :) Mike
  18. Yes, you can do this. But, in order to be successful, you need to set some limitations before this thing ever gets
    started. Here's what I recommend:

    1. If she wants this done the way everyone really does wants this done, get her to hire a pro. It'll be important to her; it
    would be money well spent.

    2. Don't buy any new equipment. Use equipment you've had for years and know well. You'll be nervous.

    3. Do not try to photograph the whole "wedding." Try to get three good photos of the wedding party. You might want to
    try: Bride in her dress, bride and groom together, maybe a lineup shot of the bridesmaids with the bride, or some other
    kind of group photo.

    Okay, if you have no other options, how do you do this? You plan it. Most of these simple shots can be planned in
    advance, and are not necessarily time-sensitive with respect to the actual wedding ceremony. Nothing in this crude
    three shot plan about "I do" or a dramatic kiss or a running out the doors or anything there.

    How do you meter this? Black cloth, white cloth, draped in folds right about where the bride and groom will stand, at the
    same time of day, on a day other than the wedding, with no other big group in the church so that you can meter and
    compose to your heart's content and rehearse the three planned shots that you have to do because you couldn't hire a
    pro and get out of it.

    If I was stuck in your shoes, with no other options but to do it, I would rehearse, rehearse, rehearse those three shots.
    Then, when I got my technique down, I would tell my sister that's all I can do, but that's what I know I can do. And when
    you're rehearsing and planning all this, just a simple note taped to the camera is not going to cut it for a plan. You need
    to be able to move in a way that will get you those three shots without interfering with the ongoing ceremony and the
    group activities.

    Don't try to shoot the whole wedding. As soon as you wrote, "zone system nightmare", I lost a little confidence in this
    proposal; wedding photography as a genre is a refined form of reportage that large groups of people pin their sentiments
    on. One false move, that permanently trashes her otherwise perfect wedding, and it's a lifetime of "Bridezilla" for you!

    Help her out. Contribute to her wedding and her memories with your camera. Practice and plan to take three good shots
    that could be really valued by her in the future. But, I wouldn't promise to do the whole thing if it is beyond your skill level.

    Get her to hire a pro. If you're really broke, and it really is you or nothing, bust your chops to get those three good shots; tell her the
    truth about this in advance so that you don't get her hopes up too much.

    By the way, I don't shoot weddings. Good luck. J.
  19. Jacob.... As I sometimes do, I have opinioned before research. I have gone to your portfolio and I must say, it's impressive. You do see and understand light..... so, if you do get pressured into this, then get a flash as soon as possible, a bounce diffuser (I like StoFen), and practice. With your eye I think you can pull this off!

    Oh yes, KEEP your existing camera body... you want to be totally familiar with your camera because there will be too many distractions during the wedding.

    Ok, just my $.02 worth - Break a Leg!!
  20. Been there, done that for two sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law. Never, ever again would I consider it.
    Herding cats is an apt description since nobody respects your needs to have people there on time and in place and
    this was in spite of the fact that then wife and I owned and operated a very well know professional studio.

    Even the wife, who was my wedding assistant and damn good at other peoples weddings, suddenly lost all
    perspective in those events and lost all respect for me and the time needs of the projects because it was her
    frigging family.

    Shooting family events is very often a disaster and this has tragedy and ongoing anger written all over it, so my
    suggestion is take the money you would spend on the new flash and other gizmos and use it toward hiring a pro as
    your gift to your sister. Maybe enlist the other siblings and parents to pool their gift money to get someone
    who has experience and is both comfortable and good.

    Good luck with this one.

    "The only way to win is not to play!"---'War Games'
  21. After Michael mentioned it, I went to Jacob's gallery. Jacob--go to, under Techniques, about using on-camera flash and study. Get yourself a Vivitar 285.
  22. I'm sure it is hard enough when you're just the wedding photographer, let alone a member of the family that people are going to want to socialize with. My advice, stage a car accident and tell them all your camera equipment was destroyed in it. If necessary employ fire to make it convincing. You may need to go as far as inflicting wounds on yourself but I think it will be worth it.
  23. Don't do it.
  24. Hellow Jacob,

    Here so many other friends have realy adviced you very good thoughts on the equipments and techniques and some of those are very good.

    I would only add that Just keep confiedence in your abilities and skills and use those. Just now concentrate more on the event where you are going to shoot and do remember that it might be a chance in which can change your life/career.

    I would also say that before shooting the main marriage, you should practice some night time people shots with some lighting equips. at different ISOs so that you can judge yourself what and how to do.

    Just be confident and sure and beleive in yourself, everything will be good.
  25. Honestly I wouldnt do it. My friend asked if I would shoot her wedding and I said sure, even though I have never shot a wedding before and let me tell you it is nerve recking! If you are going to shoot it you def need a flash unit. If you have a hotshoe the pics will come out alot better without needing to go over a high ISO. Maybe you should buy a hotshoe and then take them out for like an engagement shoot to get used to the flash in and out of doors. After your first wedding youll feel alot more comfortable with it. But knowing your flash is key! The only reason why I wouldnt shoot a family wedding is because if I messed it, like them putting on the rings, the "I do kiss", and stuff, I would be afraid to hear it from the whole family.
  26. Just mail her the links to this and other similar threads.

    Was in similar situation, father in law got married again... I put it like this:

    Me. You want pictures like at our wedding, right?

    Dad - in law. Yes! their lovely

    Me. Mmm... I cannot give you that...

    DIL. But you take lovely pictures

    Me. Yep if I'm at a social event indoors I usually get about one in fifty to sixty that is technically OK, and a
    few of those are anything but record shots. You get to see those one in about 200 shots. Much better outdoors
    though, we can make it one every 50... if there is no pressure... and I almost only do it if there is nice light
    to start with... You are getting married at 9 am on the beach... if we are lucky it's cloudy

    DIL, REALLY!?!?!

    Me, Yup and besides, its a memorable occasion, I'd like to be part of it

    So in the end they got a young nice wedding tog that did a two-hour stint, with inexpensive lenses and an
    expensive flash, that took perhaps not sublime photos, but good solid photos of absolutely everything, no missed
    people, no flash shadows in a very pleasant and natural style. and I got perhaps four natural light moments that
    were quite good and just got the moment... and about twenty record shots after the pro left that could be
    salvaged in pp. Of course they still think if I could get that four I must have been able to get the hundred the
    pro got...

    BTW, there is no reason from your portfolio that you wouldn't be able to do this, it is just the first time, the
    inexperience with flash and the unknowns of light, and of course the family that counts against you...
  27. Here's some advice - don't shoot your sister's wedding. Let her hire a photographer and you simply be a guest. If something
    goes wrong, you'll have a big problem with your sister and the rest of the family for the rest of your life. Give her some
    money towards the hiring of a good, reputable pro and let it go at that.

    Good luck.

  28. You haven't specifically said whether it is indoor or outdoor, daytime or nighttime, dark church or bright, though you do hint at a dark indoor church.

    I've done at couple at no cost for friends or relatives. One friend paid for my gas and hotel bill to drive out of state for a few days. It was fun to hangout during the other events of the weekend and she was delighted with the results. The service itself was simple. No photography during the ceremony. Processional and recessional but nothing in between.

    Another was my own niece. She's thrilled with the results so far but I still have a lot of work to finish processing and give her some kind of book. The pastor gave me free rein of the church - "I understand you're Tracy's uncle and she's comfortable with you so you can do whatever you want." Since there was plenty of available light I didn't use much flash since I wanted to minimize disturbing the service. She commented how great it was that I was walking all over the place, so I guess she didn't notice me _too_ much. :)

    If you shoot the sort of stuff that you have in your portfolio, you will do fine. You take pictures of people. All your nice wants is nice pictures of people on her wedding day. But reading's guide to wedding photography will be helpful too.

    If this is something you might want to do more than once, you might also practice at one of those Craigslist postings looking for free wedding photography. Just make sure you write a contract that disclaims any results.
  29. You could try convincing them to compromise: persuade them that a pro should do the actual wedding (and perhaps also the post wedding shots), and that if they are willing to buy and resell a Canon 50/1.4 on ebay that you could do the pre and reception shots. I wouldn't depend on that f1.8: fragile and the extra bit of oof background is useful).

    If it all goes wrong it could rankle for years, even though it isn't really your fault.
  30. Jacob

    My first ever wedding was shot for my Sister - with a Canon 350D (Rebel XS to the Americans I think?). Whilst now I look back and cringe, my Sister loved the shots - she doesn't understand what noise is in a photo, but she does appreciate something being well lit/sharp - so I'd say you should definitely look into a flash and learn to use it well before the event. Stick to the 10D unless you've got months to get into another camera. You've got some fast lenses that should do you proud, but there's no substitue for fill-flash or bounce in darker rooms. If I were you, I'd offer two options

    1) Suggest a pro to cover just the ceremony - a lot of the important shots are there, from guests arriving to the B+G leaving to the reception. This would, in my book, be the minimum coverage I offer for a booking, and so the cheapest. Then, you shoot everything else - preparations if wanted, and then reception and so forth. This way it's cheaper, and you get to relax - the most stressful parts of the day are all in the ceremony, as you can't afford to miss any of those shots. Herding cats is a bit far for what goes on afterwards - you just have to make sure you're heard for group shots and that you act as cheerful as possible - no matter how long you've been waiting for Aunt Mabel to put her drink down, check her hair, adjust her dress and such forth.

    2) Do it ALL yourself, and spend a lot of time researching shots and locations, so you know exactly what you are dealing with. Two or three visits at least, maybe even with a few friends in tow so you can practise with them. But brace yourself for a long, tiring and stressful day. You won't have any time off if you want to do the job properly, but if you pull it off you'll be very happy with the day - I didn't feel like I hadn't enjoyed myself or relished the fact my Sister was getting married.

    It's up to you - safer bet is number 1...

    Good luck!


    p.s. - Final point - my one criticism of my own first wedding was that there weren't enough guests shots - don't get caught up in the desire to make your sister look stunning in every shot and miss the photos of family and friends that don't stand out to you. As a stranger at a wedding, everyone is interesting. To you, many of your relatives may be boring as hell and you wouldn't think twice about them during the day. This was my error during my first attempt...
  31. p.p.s - based on your p/f, you're miles ahead of where I was when I shot my Sister's wedding. I'd say go for it, just with a flash you're comfortable with and have had for a while. Maybe ask for the couple to go halves with you on it as your fee, and in their interests...!
  32. I think your chance at last has come. That said, you will need to have decent day and available light to work with for the best hope
    for success. El Cheapo being understandable and fully recognized here. You have the advantage of knowing the situation and
    participants. Obviously there will be a wonderful exchange of emotion and expression available, which you have inside track on.
    Certainly you will not be able to produce the "thousands" common by todays typical pro duo teams, but given your bio history, you
    should be able to plan the days shots, and the album beforehand. A 25 image album can work. The $ you save them will go nicely
    towards a down payment on a house! Utilize your experience and available light to preconceive your gift album to your sister, and
    plan these as best you can NOW with her so she understands exactly what she needs to do in cooperating to that end. If possible,
    borrow (buy) and practice with a decent point and shoot pocket (flash) digital. With a spare battery, and decent storage card, you
    should be able to augment the available light sets with impromptu ceremony, celebration, documentary etc. shots. For the most part,
    forget the guests "line" of shots. Try to focus on SIS, family, and what will be meaningful memories to her and her future children 20
    years from now.
  33. Don't do it. Just say no. I'm sure you'll want to take some pictures yourself, so just take a point and shoot so nobody
    badgers you into taking "official pictures". Because you're family, you won't be able to do a good time, or if you do, you
    won't have a good time, and there is a fair chance you won't do either.
  34. "There is a very simple answer to an EX flash on the 10D. Get a Vivitar 285."

    Just make sure that you get the newer Vivitar 285 HV. The older versions of this flash can fry the electronics of your camera.
  35. I shot my sister's second wedding with about the same amount of equipment that you have. After it was over, I wished I'd
    taken the advice offered by others here, to not be the main shooter of your sister's wedding, but to encourage her hiring of a
    pro. Your candid shots (when you have the time) would still be appreciated, and the pressure would be off for you. I
    experienced some unhappiness from the groom's parents when I couldn't fulfill their expectations, even though my sister
    was mostly happy with what I did. It gets touchy, working with our families in ways that should be left for the pros.
  36. I'm amazed at how people use new events as a reason to "upgrade" perfectly good equipment. You have a fine camera. It will do fine, mainly because the person you're doing it for doesn't care what quality you give her. She wants free. When price is the criteria everything else falls by the wayside. She's LUCKY you have a camera that produces great images, but that doesn't matter to her in the end.

    Shoot the wedding. Don't buy more gear.
  37. We had a very budget wedding. My father-in-law offered to do the photography. He was a very good photographer who had "done" many weddings before. Really, the photos he took are good, well exposed and composed and all that. However, there are many periods of time that he missed because he was part of what was happening! LIke, where's the photographer? Others had cameras so there were snapshots of most moments, some of which I got to see. The biggest problem was that it was a very long time before I saw the result as he forgot to give us the pictures! Many months later I happened to notice an album on their table and realized it was our pictures.

    I guess I'm saying that it can work out if you are okay with it but little things can and will go wrong. Decide how much you want to be a part of the celebration versus pleasing her request for your photos.
  38. Do it! I'm in the exactly same position. I understand that your family will not accept a NO for answer. They just don't understand how complicated it is. The wedding of my sister in law is on Friday and I'm pretty scared but I have no option. My humble reccomendation is that you find a friend that knows about photography to come along with his/her camera (as back-up) or someone within this forum might volunteer...

  39. There's really no option here. You're not comfortable with it. You have no experience doing weddings. You're extremely limited with flash. Don't do the wedding. You can't go back & do it over. It matters not if it's a cheapo wedding. Your sister deserves her memories of it. You're opening a can of worms that has a good chance of coming out badly. Don't do it
  40. wrote the following for another person who was talking about shooting a wedding.
    i realize there are many pros who are wedding phtographers, so ignore this.

    many yrs ago i shot 2 weddings; one for a friend and one for my brother in law. afterwards i made myself a promise that i have kept: NEVER AGAIN.
    if you must-
    -do your research. there are plenty of web sites available. find out what scenes EXACTLY to shoot and what to shoot it with. make yourself a list of expected shots and take it with you. make it in order of the shots.
    -for the bride and groom, especially the bride, this is their day. the once in a lifetime event. you cannot look at this as just another day for to take pictures and have fun with a hobby. weddings are extremely serious business and the pressure is on the photographer to DELIVER. there are no excuses for poor or not gotten shots at a wedding for the photographer. rpt no excuses for not getting the shots.
    -check out the church and check out the reception hall. this means go to them. can you use flash in the church? ASK the minister without fail before the ceremony starts, preferably when you check out the church. are you supposed to be at the brides home BEFORE everything on wedding day for pictures? which pictures of who, are they going to be there, who tells them to be there? i was for one of my weddings. my day started at 5:00am and i didn't leave the reception till past 2:00am. it was almost 24hrs on my feet. get rest and prior to wedding no liquid courage. at wedding and reception, pop or water only. you will be the soberest one there. your job is to produce pictures nothing else. what shots are needed at every place? of who are the shots at everyplace needed? where are these people? you are going to tell/ask anyone that you need after the ceremony to remain? if you do not ask them, who is?
    -get a external flash, as big as you can buy. also brackets, cables, more batteries(if flash takes extra), any other needed accessories. you do have more than one camera battery, right? and charger? do you need a12volt charger as well???
    -again. read. research so you know everything about taking wedding pics.
    -after reading. do you need any more lenses? what kind, what size, what fstop?
    - memory cards. do you have enough gb? if no, buy major brands only. do not take a chance on any great deals on memory cards. if you have el chepo cards do not use them, replace them. in all respects this is when you go with the best and most dependable equipment you can find.
    - consider a backup dslr. if you do not have one-buy, rent, borrow.
    -you mentioned setting up your tripod and taking many pics with it. do you absolutely have permission of the priest/vicar to use a tripod at that location. do not assume. also the same question about flash in the church.
    -find some way to talk the couple into using a wedding pro. this couple may not be your friends AFTER the wedding.
    try these web sites-

    this is a pdf file, 79 pages.

    you should read the following web site. very interesting.

    where do wedding photographers learn their trade???
    by being an assistant to a PRO wedding photographer. do it without fee if you have to but get the experience.
    - and very lastly. THE VERY VERY BEST OF LUCK. you will need it.


    another reply-
    at the wedding i was referring to i was in the house with the brides and all the bridesmaids at 7:40am, having arrived 10min earlier. at the reception i was shooting till about 2am when the bride/groom finally left. that ended up at just under 18hrs shooting. when i did this it was with film, not digital.
    though i have been asked, the one thing i learned was never again. the 2 weddings were done gratis, no fee, that was the wedding present.
    if you want to do more weddings i suggest glen johnson's book "digital wedding photography". not cheap, but well worth it. i have read it, and my conclusion is anybody who reads the book will never do a wedding. he simply tells what you have to do to photograph a wedding.

  41. Don't do it. Do some shopping for them and give them three options of cheap photographers to consider. Take lots of
    pictures of your own and give them to them in a nice album as a gift. When they get what they paid for (probably not
    much) you can be a hero by giving them your versions as extras. At least you won't be personally responsible for the
    "real" photos. Even if you did it for free, you are still putting yourself in a bad position. Your sister may be very forgiving,
    but what about everybody else,,, the groom's family, etc.
  42. Instead of upgrading your equipment and not having a clue how to use it, offer to split the cost of a professional
    photographer as your wedding gift. Remember that no good deed goes unpunished, especially when it involves family.
  43. Whew, lots of questions!

    You didn't actually ASK whether you should or should not do it. But lots of other folks have answered that
    question, so I'll weigh in, too. When a close relative asks you to shoot their wedding as a favor, there are two
    reasons to say yes: (1) because they're a relative, and (2) because you're trying to break into the wedding
    photography business and you are desperate for experience. I'm inclined to say that the first reason - the one
    that seems to apply to you - is a bad one, but that's perhaps not fair. However, if you do say yes, then I
    suggest that you do two things for sure. First, put in writing (in a short informal note) your acceptance of the
    job along with a disclaimer about your abilities. Second, PRACTICE. Shooting a wedding is a bit like stepping
    into the ring for no-rules boxing.

    Do you have just the one camera? Perhaps this has already been mentioned, but it bears repeating: you're taking a
    tremendous risk if you don't have a second camera. For a close relative, who you have thoroughly warned about the
    risks, perhaps you can get by with one camera. But one of the first and firmest rules of wedding photography is,
    take (at least) two bodies. Cameras do break. Batteries die.

    Now, to the questions you actually asked.

    Your lenses seem like an okay collection. The Canon 28-135 will be useful if you're shooting outdoors in good
    light. Inside in low light it's probably too slow. Using a tripod during the church ceremony will help, but there
    are limits to what a tripod can do. The Sigma 17-70 is a pretty good and pretty useful. I have the Pentax mount
    version of the same lens and use it quite a bit. Be nicer for your purposes if it had a fixed aperture. And
    remember that, at 35mm, it's also going to be a bit slow. You might be able to shoot the entire wedding using
    that 50 f/1.8. I don't think I would want to do that personally, but it's theoretically possible. But with the
    1.6x field of view "crop factor," even that 50mm lens is a medium telephoto - not so good if you're close to the
    subject. A 30-35mm prime would probably be a better choice for most purposes.

    If you were going to buy just one lens for this event, I would suggest something like the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8.

    Re metering: you'll need to read and practice. You're right, the black tux vs white bridal gown problem is a
    classic, but there's a ton of info available online about this.

    Shoot raw.

    Good luck,

  44. As they used to say in the old movies, "Please! Don't shoot!! When brides think of wedding photos they remember their girlfriends' or cousins' wedding books from the past, not realizing there is a difference between an experienced pro and a brother who's made a few good shots. After all, all there is to it is aim the camera and click. If you think you can get professional results the first time out go for it; she will secretly never forgive you if you blow it. I have shot at weddings, but specifically shots of those holding the flowers that my wife arranged for the wedding party. My hands were full. The pro was skittering about like a waterbug. Besides it's your sister; you should be a guest. (Little guilt trip to help you get out of it:)
  45. "Have you ever tried to herd a bunch of cats?"--- Or teach school, really good one.

    If you have a chance, shadow someone shooting a wedding, make a list in sequence, of important events, do not try
    to shoot everything, be familiar with the wedding event, and if you are not willing to step in front of the others to take
    at least minimal control of the cats, well, hopefully what ever you can make of what you shoot and get printed up at
    Costco, choose the best, toss the rest.

    If you take 100 shots, that is really sufficient, people shooting thousands of shots, well, obviously your sis is more
    interested in getting married than starring in some photo production.

    Flash, do you have a good dealer, preferably the one who sold you your camera? If so, borrow what ever used flash
    he can spare, and test out the rig at various distances. The light takes the photo. Get your stuff checked out at the
    same time. I did shoot three in the family of my photo dealer. ;-)

    A lot else has been said.

    I have not photograhed my family's weddings, but I have still not been in the photos, which tells you something. ;-) I
    did photograph two weddings in which I was in the bridal party, worked out fine, I set up the groups and handed my
    Rollei and Braun strobe to someone to push the button.

    No hard rules, if you get 12 excellent shots, and 12 good ones, you will have succeeded better than some. And yes,
    lots of spare batteries.
  46. Well it is your choice. If you can't help out your sister who can you help. She knows your not a pro and as you are being asked I doubt the she intends to hire a pro. You said it was a cheep wedding and I understand that not everyone can have an expensive wedding or a pro photographer. By photographing your sister's wedding you will be doing what thousands of people have to do every weekend for their family and friends. It only normal when people are on a tight budget to see what family members are able to help out. Do your best and make the most of the equipment that you have. Explain that you are not anywhere experienced with weddings and if she still agrees and you agree then give it your best shot. She will either be thankful for the pics you take or she won't. You will likely get some special shots, some nice shots and a whole bunch snaps. If you can manage to get the bride and groom alone to shoot some portraits then try to do that also. That way they may get something nice to put on the wall.
  47. I too shot a family event (baptism) for a friend shots came out pretty nice IMO but she had BIG expectations and didn't like the pictutres although they were free as was my service I did it only because they were in a pinch and couldn't afford a pro.
    Since then I don't shoot any family events I'd rather be outside shoot nature then be in a stressful situations and loose the rest of my hair it's just not me.
    This is up to you if you want to help your sister do it might not be as bad as some say.
  48. If you are going to shoot the wedding I would say 1 piece of equipment you should get is a flash. Sometimes you just need
    more light.
  49. You really, really have to find and set the expectations with everyone. When my wife and I got married my then
    new mother in law took 24 pictures with a yellow box disposable and baked us a cake from a Pillsbury box. (Then
    we went back home and threw several dozen hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken breasts on the grill and had a party
    to beat the band with all of our friends.) But we
    knew up front that was the deal, and we had those expectation. One of those pictures is still hanging in our
    bedroom mirror decades later. But we got what we wanted, and we haven't ever been sorry about it. We could have
    afforded "bigger and better" since it was a second marriage for both of us and we were working career
    professionals, but that wasn't the deal *FOR US* on that day.

    You have to be cognizant that this is not a paying customer whom you don't even know well; this is your sister.
    And I don't get the impression it's her second wedding in middle age like mine was.

    If that's not what she, or not what the new in-laws expect, then you probably have a problem on your hands. While
    you may be a good photographer, you will *NOT* be a detached third party at this event. (This is the important
    part, you can either be a participant, or a detached professional, but you cannot be *BOTH* simultaneously.) If
    that's OK, then by all means have a great time and be the token photographer in the soup. But if they want a
    job, even if they don't want a $10K professional job but need the budget special, you're going to have a hard
    time delivering *YOUR* best
    work at your sister's wedding.

    I'm not saying you can't do a good wedding shoot. I'm just saying you are going to have a hard time doing *THIS*
    wedding shoot if you're already worried about it. My mother in law was having a great time hamming it up at our
    wedding, but we had the expectations managed properly. If you can get the expectations clear, then you can have a
    wonderful time, and it will turn out great. But if the expectations don't match reality then you may be doing
    damage control afterwards.

  50. Wow! You've already received a LOT of responses on this issue. If you are determined to go ahead, all I can do is share
    my own experience. I, too, am most comfortable when things aren't moving much (landscape/nature/macro). I also am
    most comfortable with natural light and have never used a flash unit since going digital with my Nikon D40X.

    Back when I was still shooting film, I was asked to shoot my brother's wedding and a co-worker's wedding. To this day, I
    don't know if they were just being nice, but I've never heard any criticisms of my work, despite my inexperience with the
    subject. I charged the co-worker and I offered my services to my brother and his bride as a wedding gift. I can say this--
    one of my best shots from my brother's wedding is still framed and hanging on their wall. I was extremely lucky in that in
    both cases, I was able to shoot strictly outdoors in natural light (except for some portraits of the brides-to-be getting ready;
    try to find a bright window for lighting in that case).

    Here's my 2 cents' worth of advice:

    1) Be frank. Make sure your sister and her groom are completely aware of your inexperience in this situation and lack of
    pro equipment, and remind them that they are taking a gamble here. Tell them they may get exactly what they (didn't) pay

    2) Speak with the bride and her groom about their expectations. Make a list of what kind of images they're looking for
    (portraits of bride getting ready, rings on joined hands, signing registry, family groups, candids, semi-formal/formal portraits
    etc). Study this list!

    3) Look at other couples' wedding albums, especially those shot by pros. Obviously you won't have access to all their
    equipment or their skill, but you will be able to pick up excellent ideas on poses, expressions, composition etc. It really
    helped me!

    4) Visit the site/venue where the photography is to take place (pray that it's outdoors!) with the bride- and groom-to-be
    ahead of time. Practice setting up the shots. I did this and it really helped. Have an alternate site in case of rain and
    check THAT out, too.

    5) TAKE CHARGE. That's what the pros do. Despite your relationship to the subjects of the photos, you will have to be
    firm and move people around as you see fit, for the purposes of composition etc. You have to step outside the box with
    this, but in the end, they'll (hopefully) appreciate your efforts.

    6) I would post-produce your best images and leave the rest until the couple have reviewed them. Present them via CD or
    a photo site and have them pick out what they like, and do some more editing if necessary. At this point, you'll have to
    decide whether you give them control of the edited images and let them do the printing, or whether you'll take care of that

    7) GOOD LUCK!!

  51. Just wondering, you reckon your still going to bite the bullet and do it after all?
  52. Sorry my response is coming so late. I shot my sisters wedding this summer, I'm in a similar caliber of gear as yourself and was hesitant at first. The thing that made me change my mind was a few years back when my oldest sister was married. She didn't want to ask me to shoot but instead chose to have me in the wedding party and enjoy myself instead (I got wasted). The problem was the hired photographer was horrid. Most of the better photos were taken by friends with decent cameras as well as my step dad and his 20D.
    This summer my sister was married outside on a lake front in the middle of the day (harsh shadows) I shot photos with my 20D and speedlight flash as a fill. Using a fill flash can be scary but isn't so hard once you start practicing, there are plenty of good places to find info on the technique. What put me most at ease was knowing my girlfriend would be there as well with here D70 as well as a neighbor friend with a 30D. When the party moves inside or under a tent (it ended up raining for part of the wedding) you can bounce a powerful flash off the ceiling to speed things up without the sketchy direct flash look.
    Other than what I've already wrote the best advice I would give is to have a plan, let the wedding party know what you plan to shoot and when. Once you've taken all your wedding party photos you can relax a bit a start looking for candids.

    Good luck.
  53. You have received very good advice.

    1. PRACTICE on site ahead of time, with other people and some cloth samples. Find out about the lighting plan
    and use that in practice.

    2. Make a real point of setting expectations with the bride & groom and other members of the immediate family
    ahead of time. (I still think it's better to be a guest with a camera if at all possible.)

    3. Plan a few specific shots, perhaps with the B&G's direction, and work hard to get those shots.

    4. Bracket, bracket, bracket if you are worried about exposure.

    You could try taking some engagement pictures of the couple at the site as a test, and
    see if they are happy with those. If those are so-so, you could try again to convince them to get a
    professional. If they like them, then it's a vote of confidence for you.

    I would not upgrade equipment except for buying or renting a flash. The image stabilized lens will get you one
    or two more stops, not four or five. I think in this situation, the return on investment is just too small when
    to a good flash. Practice with that flash a few times. Move it off the camera using a sync cord and the
    camera's TTL metering. See what that looks like. Head-on flash tends to flatten out the subject.

    Flash units can eat batteries fast. Bring backup power/batteries for your camera and your flash.

    About what to meter on, try to remember that the bride's dress is probably the most expensive single thing at the
    wedding and has more sentimental value to her than just about anything else there except the groom. Do your best
    to get the detail of the dress in at least a few of the shots. Bracketing is your friend in this kind of
    situation, and in the mixed lighting you describe.
  54. Jacob,

    If you really want to shoot your sister's wedding, go ahead. I think you know what you're getting into with all the pitfalls
    that it might entail.

    But if you don't want to, then don't to it under ANY circumstances.

    If you don't want to shoot her wedding just be honest and firm. Tell her that you don't have the necessary equipment to
    properly shoot the wedding nor that you have the experience to pull it off successfully. Tell her that she deserves a real

    But as a compromise, to help save your family some money, you might want to offer to shoot some wedding portraits of
    your sister and the bridegroom before or after the actual wedding day. That way you could take nice photos of the
    couple that they could keep or make inexpensive copies to give to their friends and family, but you wouldn't have to deal
    with all the pressure of trying to capture their wedding day on film.
  55. Yuck, what a long thread.

    Lets get down to the basics:

    Camera: At 6.3mp you're just pulling even with film. You may want to either upgrade or rent or borrow a film camera shooting Fuji Press 800.

    Metering: Assuming that lighting conditions will not change dramatically during the ceremony, get a gray card, before things start take readings off it 1) in front of the alter, 2) at the end back of the isle where the procession will start. Write these down and use them to set the camera's meter in manual mode.

    Flash: Let me sum up years of training in flash photography quickly, point the flash up and rubber band a white index card to the back to throw the light forward. Consider the possibility of somehow having the flash off center (if you have the equipment for it).

    Lenses: Ok available light is possible in most settings. You're going to want to use your f/1.8 and f/2.0 but ISO 400 is really pushing the slow side. Unless in a well lit indoor setting you're looking at ISO 800-1600.

    A tripod with a quick release head set up before time so that you can plunk your camera on it and cover the alter might be a good idea.

    Oh and for those who think shooting weddings is a high stress environment, let me assure you that there are much higher stress things you can shoot. Riots, even relatively benign ones, come to mind.
  56. Oh my've had so many responses to your question. I can't possibly read all of them, but I'll give my advice for what it's worth. I guess a lot depends on your sister and what her expectations are. I shot my sister's wedding (50-yr old first marriage, and she didn't have money for a photographer). I also catered her wedding with help from my other sister (yes, I know I'm a glutton for punishment!). But my sister is the kind of person who has never 'composed' a picture in her life. She isn't very discriminating when it comes to pictures, and she just just grabs quickie pictures when she shoots. I've always been the photographer of the family, and she thought my pictures over the years have been pretty good. So she figured my level was good enough for her. I had a serious talk with her though, and I told her 'you get what you pay for', and of course I was doing it for I warned her that if something went wrong with my equipment she would have no memories of her ceremony. So I advised her to ask someone else (a friend) to also take pictures......she actually had someone videotape the ceremony. So that covered the bases somewhat, and it took some of the pressure off me. The one thing I felt a little conspicuous about while shooting her ceremony was where to stand. I had no experience in this, and I was trying to get the ring exchange, the kiss, the vows, etc. without being obtrusive......easier said than done when you're doing it for the first time. And the last bit of advice would be to go the day before or very early before the ceremony and get your lighting and camera set up. At my sister's wedding there was bright sunlight coming in on one side of the church, which made for difficult lighting situations. I think it would be a lovely gesture on your part. I know my sister is forever grateful to me for giving her such a gift. So I guess only you can determine whether to do it after considering all of the variables. Good luck! Oh, and don't forget to take a picture of everyone at the wedding. A good time to do this is prior to the ceremony while people are sitting in the pews because at the reception people are milling around and it's easy to miss someone.
  57. I just have to add my two cents worth...Really, shooting a wedding is not just about the equipment. With all your current gear I could cover the event and have the same quality shots I normally have at my weddings (I would bring my flash though...)

    In your bio, you mention the expression"f8 and be there". The photographer I used to assist was always shouting that expression when we were shooting in the church...the reason was simple: with a Hasselblad, a Metz and your camera set to 1/60 & f8, you could shoot until you would run out of film and your exposure would always be bang on...the trick part was to get the shot and getting the shot meant shooting it right.
    If you want to have a career as a wedding photographer, then do it. Jump. I can guaranty that most of your shots won’t turn out. First you will shoot with available light only and second since you never shot a wedding you won’t know what and how to shoot it...But that’s ok, this is how you will the expense of your sister!

    On the other hand, if you don’t want to pursue a wedding photographer career, then listen to the majority of the posts here...don’t do it and enjoy the wedding.
    Tell your sister that you will make her a dress instead...
    See what she says.

  58. I shot my sister's wedding, turned out only medium terrible. Had some small idea of what I was doing, but not enough.
    Have (a long time ago) shot some other weddings, also not very high on my list of good accomplishments. The only
    salvation was the aforementioned Vivitar 285. If you overcome the urge to follow the basic good sense advice to not shoot,
    invest in the vivitar and practice with it. I still have and use mine, but not for ANYBODY'S wedding. Swore off and have
    refused to consider several efforts at persuasion to shoot them.
  59. You should look at other wedding photographers websites to get some ideas, do you know how to do any fancy editing?
  60. I don't really get why most people seem to object to him helping out his sister. If he is the only option, she is aware of his lack of skills and he is willing to do that for her then there can't be any complaints. He does not have to do a pro job. It won't be expected that every shot will be excelent or that every moment will even be captured. It is not like he is endangering anyone with his actions. She probably would just like a set of photgraphs from the day. By asking her brother who likes photography she hopes to get something a bit better than aunt Mable's dodgey snaps with missing heads.
  61. Why not see this as a great opportunity and rise to the challenge? It's an event like any other. Just because it's a WEDDING doesn't mean that you are unqualified--it's a situation that requires your patience and skill, your interaction with people, and your judgment. Why would your sister's wedding be any more difficult than any other thing you would like to shoot? If you refuse opportunities because they seem hard or risky, what's the point of photography? Reading these response, it seems as if people think you are embedding in Baghdad. It's just a wedding, there's nothing to be scared of, and if you believe in yourself and your talents (you sister believes in you), you'll do a fine job.
  62. Take it from all of us that have done weddings for family and friends. Don't do it. Just be firm and tell your sister that you want to enjoy her wedding as a guest.
    If you do it. On herding cats. Get somebody to be a handler and use radios. Wrangling everyone together for group shots requires at least one extra person. Preferably for each side. Use equipment you know. If you are going to do it with available light what happens when the weather forces you inside? Good luck. You are up to the challenge but you are not letting her down by saying no.

  63. Hi,
    I have photographed a few weddings. The first thing I would make a list in order off the photos your going to take being flexible and talk to the Bride and groom and give them an idea what you are going to do
    You could start by taking some photos at the brides house before the wedding eg Bride on her own, Bride and Mother ect, this saves time later.
    You will need a flash gun one with some power. In the UK the weather is not to kind sometimes I have had to take the photos indoors so a powerfull flashgun was handy.

    Fill in flash I always tried to avoid but I have had some good results but that was before digital. I would experiment before hand, I took some photos recently with my digital camera with fill in flash and was suprised with the results. I would use no more than 200 iso 100 beter still

    In bright sun light I always tried to take my photos in the shade under a tree my favourite, just watch for the harsh shadows in the faces. Also watch out for the back ground so you dont add people not in the photo.

    You could look at other peoples work this will give you some good ideas what to take.

    Best off luck Michael
  64. Did it once. Daughter of a friend, her second wedding, no church, outdoors. Never again! But assuming you can't
    get out of it, three pieces of advice that helped me get through it relatively unscathed. (1) Be sure to have a
    serious conversation about why you are hesitant to do it. Lack of experience, of course. But most important, lack
    of proper equipment. So that you are absolutely sure that you don't leave them with falsely high expectations. In
    other words, cover your ass, so you can honestly say "I told you so." (2) Do your homework. Anticipate,
    Anticipate, Anticipate. I scouted the location in advance. With bright sunny sky forecast, it was mostly under
    the shade of large trees, but with patches of sunlight everywhere. I knew fill flash, both on camera for random
    shots, and off camera on stands for posed shots was critical. Had I not it would have been a disaster. And (3)
    don't do it alone! I enlisted a photographer friend to do walk around shots, while I concentrated on the priority
    shots. But mostly, he provided someone to bounce ideas off. 2 heads are way better than one. And most important,
    minimized the panic of being alone. Good Luck. Bill
  65. They key thing is - what will your sister say if your camera breaks and you get no photos at all?

    Did a cousin's wedding. They waited until a week before the wedding to ask me, via their dad - probably to make it quite clear that if I
    didn't do it, they weren't getting anything. Primarily, they said, they wanted someone to do the group photos. I phoned them up,
    guaranteed they'd get what they paid for (nothing), phoned a friend who's a pro and borrowed a decent flash (Metz CL4). I used a 300D, a
    28-135 IS (also borrowed), the 18-50 kit lens purely for the group shot, and had a spare (but slightly broken) 300D as well... Got there
    early, scouted around, asked questions. I settled on using manual exposure all the way through, with two settings I pre-checked for
    inside and outside.

    I showed them about 90 pictures, out of probably 250 taken. Out of those 90, maybe 10 were good shots, the rest were so-so, and my
    wife had to persuade me to leave a lot of them in. I did a lot of post-processing to rescue all my mistakes with exposure, composition,
    colour balance, and all the rest. I then printed all of them using an online print place (, including some enlargements, and
    uploaded everything to a Photobox album so that they could order more and I wouldn't have to worry about colour profiles going wrong.

    I had a lot of things on my side. I knew all the key people at the wedding, which helped massively. They didn't want *any* photos in the
    ceremony - including signing the register - which made my life a lot easier, as I only had to worry about brides arrival, and the couple's
    exit from the church. Everything else was slower-paced. Out of the 50 or so pictures I got for the couple, I would consider maybe 10 to
    be OK, and maybe and obviously there were about a hundred which they never saw. I screwed up exposure, colour balance, and
    composition left right and centre.

    End result? They LOVED the results, and I got to do a favour for a couple who would otherwise not have had any formal photos.

    My conclusions? The 300D's buffer is a real pain for weddings - but I knew that, and with a faster camera I'd probably just have more
    junk, unless the flash could keep up. I would never ever ever again be first shooter, unless it was a similar situation for similar people
    who would still speak to me if it all went wrong. The lenses were fine - though obviously something which opended up more would have
    been nice. I'd have liked another couple of years experience with the flash - as opposed to the evening's practice I got....

    If I'd had better equipment, I'd just have ended up making more sophisticated mistakes. Upgrading my camera for a wedding would be
    the last thing I'd do.
  66. They key thing is - what will your sister say if your camera breaks and you get no photos at all?

    Did a cousin's wedding. They waited until a week before the wedding to ask me, via their dad - probably to make it quite clear that if I
    didn't do it, they weren't getting anything. Primarily, they said, they wanted someone to do the group photos. I phoned them up,
    guaranteed they'd get what they paid for (nothing), phoned a friend who's a pro and borrowed a decent flash (Metz CL4). I used a 300D, a
    28-135 IS (also borrowed), the 18-50 kit lens purely for the group shot, and had a spare (but slightly broken) 300D as well... Got there
    early, scouted around, asked questions. I settled on using manual exposure all the way through, with two settings I pre-checked for
    inside and outside.

    I showed them about 90 pictures, out of probably 250 taken. Out of those 90, maybe 10 were good shots, the rest were so-so, and my
    wife had to persuade me to leave a lot of them in. I did a lot of post-processing to rescue all my mistakes with exposure, composition,
    colour balance, and all the rest. I then printed all of them using an online print place (, including some enlargements, and
    uploaded everything to a Photobox album so that they could order more and I wouldn't have to worry about colour profiles going wrong.

    End result? They LOVED the results, and I got to do a favour for a couple who would otherwise not have had any formal photos.

    My conclusions? The 300D's buffer is a real pain for weddings - but I knew that, and with a faster camera I'd probably just have more
    junk, unless the flash could keep up. I would never ever ever again be first shooter, unless it was a similar situation for similar people
    who would still speak to me if it all went wrong. The lenses were fine - though obviously something which opended up more would have
    been nice. I'd have liked another couple of years experience with the flash - as opposed to the evening's practice I got....

    If I'd had better equipment, I'd just have ended up making more sophisticated mistakes. Upgrading my camera for a wedding would be
    the last thing I'd do.
  67. "ended up making more sophisticated mistakes" I love honesty! A priceless statement and one we won't often admit... thanks Ben!! It made my day... Mike
  68. I've recently done my first family wedding. I really regret it. Mainly because I had to work all day instead of catching up with cousins I don't see very often and enjoying the day. instead I was working really hard and found it extremely difficult to get anyone to take me seriously as they did not see me as a hired professional. I was looked upon as just another family member taking when it came to asking the best man to come away from the bar for a few photographs, I wasn't taken seriously. Don't get me wrong, I love wedding photography, I just think family(especially immediate family) weddings don't come around often enough to not enjoy them. You can still take photographs at the wedding, you will just enjoy it more. Get someone else to do the hard work... and remember, when you're the sole is WORK! I think any experienced wedding photographer would say the same.
    If you were a waitress, would you want to serve them dinner?

    Just my two cents, but I do hope you enjoy the wedding.
  69. You will definitely want a flash unit. The Vivitar 285 is an excellent and cheap unit. Also, the "auto" modes on it are quite accurate.

  70. Wow! Thank you everyone for all of the advice.

    I suppose I should have mentioned in the first post what a lot of people already figured out; by stating it was an El Cheapo budget wedding, I assumed people would understand they aren't expecting anything great. They just know that I have a good camera and can take some good shots. To them, that means they might get some photos that are good where they might not have gotten any at all because they weren't going to pay for a photographer anyway.

    It isn't going to be a big wedding. Just the groom and the bride, their immediate family, and some close friends. Its one of those wedding chapel, good, better or best package deals. There is a small building, some pews, they officiate for you and serve cake and punch.

    I forgot to say that the wedding day is two weeks away and I'm a student in chiropractic school taking my second set of national board exams the weekend before. I don't have time to learn a flash; I have to study two years worth of school to take two days worth of tests. The wedding is also five hours from where I live, at ten in the morning on Saturday. I won't be able to get there before the big event. I'll get in late Friday and will be "flying blind" so to speak the following morning.

    I've listened to everyone's advice about not buying new equipment. I thought at first that renting a 70-200 2.8 image stabilized lens would be a good idea, but the place will most likely be too small to use a lens with that much reach. (Why hasn't someone come up with a 17-100mm 2.8 image stabilized lens? Man, I would step over my own mother for something like that!)

    With my trusty 50mm, I should be able to get some decent shots handheld inside. The 100 will give me some nice shots outside where I have more room, and the 17-70 will do the work for any group shots. Like I said, they're not expecting greatness, they just want photos of the event. They have to be happy with what they get.

    To everyone who thought the wedding was going to be a bigger production, I apologize that I didn't clarify better from the start, and I appreciate your advice.

    I want to say a very appreciative thank you to those that looked at my portfolio and gave me votes of confidence. You guys summed it up pretty well; I have a decent idea of what I'm doing and I'll do the best I can. I should get some good shots. I might not get an abundance of pro shots, but I'm sure I'll get at least a handful of good ones they'll appreciate.

  71. If the place is small enough use the 50mm as much as possible.

    For portraits look for consistent outdoor shade, no mottled lighting sneaking thru the trees.

    Try to have contrast between the clothing and the background. No dark suit and dark green foliage.

    Good luck
  72. Read all you can here and where ever you can find information.

    You sound pretty well versed in the use of a camera, so I won't teach you to suck eggs. However, I think you should try to grab a basic flash, perhaps an ex430 and learn to bounce it with a bounce card attached.

    The situation you are in is familiar to me (a little). My older sister asked me to her wedding about twenty years ago and forgot to mention I would be the only one there with a real camera. At least you will be prepared.

    Best of luck.

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