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Old Jun 25, 2005, 2:13 PM   #1
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Hello everyone,

I'll be photographing my first wedding in october and i'm looking for information about this field of photography. i would appreciate any input and advice you all have to offer, i know there's a lot of information floating around this board so please respond. just some background, right now i'm using the Canon 20D with 4 lenses, i've got a fairly nice tripod and a 2 gig card. you can also check out my website to see some photographs i've taken, though most are not that related to the field i'm inquiring about.

www.pbase.com/mikej86

Thanks in advance,

-Michael Johnson-
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Old Jun 26, 2005, 10:53 PM   #2
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Sigh. First off, I appreciate that you asked this question so far ahead of time. That changes my impression of you and how you're going to attempt this. You might actually have a chance in doing a decent job.

I've addressed this topic a lot, and my answer is almost always the same.

Before I get into my answer, though, I have to ask a few questions.

Are you getting paid? Do you know the couple involved (in any way)? Do you have access to an assistant? If you are getting paid, don't do it. If you know the couple, don't do it and even feign in jury to get out of it. They could end up hating you forever. If you are going to do it any ways, please get an assistant to help you. They can check CF cards when you rotate them out and learn if you blew the images or not.

Now to my canned answer.

Don't do it. Please. I mean it, don't. Seriously. Look at how many posts I've made. Last I saw the number was over 4,000. I am (last I knew) the most prolific poster on this web site. So I'm not kidding when I say that you shouldn't do it. I take photography very seriously.

Yes I did look at your gallery (thanks for including that, often people don't do that) and clearly you take photography seriously. There are some good shots in there, and a good number of "fairly good" shots. I didn't really see any that made me cringe, which is a good sign.

But truly, you don't know what you're getting into. Please search this web site for the words "wedding eric" and you'll get the threads that I've commented on. Please read them.

Here is the short form.

Wedding photography is the hardest type of photography you will ever do. It's second only to war correspondent/photo journalist. It is really that hard. Here are just a few examples of why it's hard:

The pressure is HUGE. You are taking pictures of a once-in-a-life time even. Second in importance to the birth of the first child. You can't mess up. The standards are very high, and everyone knows exactly which pictures you need to get.. and you have to get them. You have a split second to get the ring being put on the finger... miss it, and there is no do over.

I have read too many stories about people who hide their wedding photos (and don't talk about the wedding) because the pictures were that bad. In 20 years, most won't remember the details of the wedding... but they will have your pictures to refresh the event in their minds. Your photos are the things that will be the only thing they have from the wedding (except maybe a plate or a glass.)

The black tux and the white dress produce the absolute worse exposure situation. Your 20D (I have it too) will have serious trouble catching the details in both the dark parts (the tux) and the light parts (the dress) and you have to get detail in both. And you probably can't use a flash indoors (maybe, maybe not.... it's dependent not on your needs, but who owns the location where the wedding is done.) You will have to practice this a lot to get it right... and you'll only have split seconds in each situation to get it right.

What happens if you activate the bug in the 20D's firmwear and erase the Lexar CF card (just an example, you might not have a Lexar card)? What happens if your flash battery dies (or gets used up?) What happens if your camera locks up? What happens if you get bumped and dunk the camera & lens into the punch bowl? You have to be completely prepared. You have to have extras for everything. Camera body, lenses, batteries, flash cards, flashes, everything! Sure, you might not need them... everything might work fine. But then again, it might not. And you can't tell them "I'm sorry, my camera has cranberry punch in it... I didn't get any pictures after the ceremony."

You have to drive to the site before hand (preferably on the same weekday the week before) and learn how to get there. Understand how long, based on real traffic, the travel times i. Scout out the location (and hope the weather is the same) so you know where you'll shoot all the post-wedding photos. Take test photos, with people wearing light and dark clothing, to learn what the proper exposure will be to get the most detail.

And speaking of people, you need to learn the people. You have to learn who is who, and make sure you get their picture. That long lost roommate who flew in from Japan has to be taken with the bride. And you won't know to get that shot unless you talk with people and learn. I recommend going to the wedding rehearsal and getting time with both the bride and groom (which is not easy, so you might not get them.)

And speaking of detail, you have to be able to get big prints out the some of your shots. Really big, potentially (13x19.) That requires a very sharp image. Getting something that sharp, on the first (and often only) try, with all the detail and dynamic range is hard.

It is good you have 4 lenses (also a sign you take this seriously) but it won't matter. You won't have the time to change lenses. Well, ok… you'll have a little time, but not when it matters. When the main event is going, it doesn't wait on you… it marches on with or without you. So you will be able to change lenses when you move from the ceremony to the reception, but that is probably it.

Ok, you get the idea (I hope.) So now lets move on.

I do mean it about not doing it. But you do have some time.
If you're not doing this for money, and there is a paid wedding photographer there too, then do it. Watch what the guy (or gal) does without getting in the way. Try to get some of the hard shots. Learn. It won't be the same (you won't have the pressure to get all those key shots) but it will give you a taste.

If you still want to do it, I seriously recommend going to a wedding as an assistant to a real wedding photographer. Learn as much as you can while helping him/her out. The best way to learn is to do it with someone without the pressure on screwing up.

Ok, I gotta get to bed. You get the idea.

Really, I recommend not doing it.

Here are a few links that might help you:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=10091703

Read this thread. If you have to, do what I did and at least read all the posts by "Teresa in Portsmouth" (the woman who started the thread.) This is very detailed about a woman's first attempt and photographing a wedding… and just how hard it is:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=13960926
You might not have the same problems as her, but it should give you an idea of the ways it is hard… probably ways you aren't used to.

Or start here and read the whole thread (its short)
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=10090152

You have the time to get better, but I don't believe you'll really know what you're getting into without actually trying to photograph one. And the best way to do that is to assist someone.

Eric
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Old Jun 27, 2005, 2:54 AM   #3
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Thank you very much for your response eric. it was very thorough and informative. i knew i wasn't ready for this when my uncle (yes it's his wedding) asked me to do it. i just couldnt say no to begin with. since i do have some time i'm going to try everything i can to get out of it. i don't have the equipment, nor the experience to give them what they expect out of a wedding photographer. although they might be a little upset at me for committing and then backing out, i think it's better to do it this way than to have the moment over and them being mad at me for the rest of my life. i appreciate your advice and look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

-michael-
www.pbase.com/mikej

PS- Eric, i would much appreciate it if you looked around my site and gave me comments and pointers on my photographs if you get the time. you seem like a very knowledgeable person and your input is greatly appreciated.


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Old Jun 27, 2005, 9:45 AM   #4
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Eric has made some good points, and I'll repeat one of his: Run away. Join a monastery instead. His advice about getting help is also very good. Someone to keep track of the formal shots: do you have one with aunt Emma yet? Someone to find the folks who should be in the shots. Someone to watch for neckties on straight. Several other folks with cameras to increase the odds that there is a good shot.

What is expected of you depends on what kind of wedding it is: A full formal wedding with a 30 yard wedding train on the brides dress should induce thoughts of suicide as a reaonable alternative. If it is a quick trip to a Justice of the Peace followed by a reception at Joe's Saloon, go ahead and shoot it and don't worry much.
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Old Jun 27, 2005, 9:28 PM   #5
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johnsonM86,

I'll happily take a look and make some comments. I gotta get to bed soon, but I'll look at it in the next few days.

From what I saw, a lot of what you do isn't what I know well. What this means is that while I can make comments about what I like and dislike, I can't really say how it could be done better. I also probably won't pick up on subtle things (like a pose that could be better with a slight head turn.)

If you really want advice on specific photos, I'd suggest you pictures in the forums here. pbase is nice and lets you do direct linking, so you can store them there, but post links so they display here.

Eric
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Old Jun 27, 2005, 10:21 PM   #6
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Thanks for you advice again. What kind of photography are you experienced in?

-michael-
www.pbase.com/mikej86
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Old Jun 28, 2005, 10:00 AM   #7
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I do almost exclusive nature/wildlife photography. I spend my time focusing on birds, but I do other wild animals if they present themselves (like I bumped into a family of Mink this past weekend.)

Here are a few of my recent shots that I really like:
http://esmith.marx7.org/web_posts/co...lowthroat3.jpg
http://esmith.marx7.org/web_posts/merlin_stone.jpg
http://esmith.marx7.org/web_posts/yellow_warbler.jpg
http://esmith.marx7.org/menotomy/hab...ed_babies1.jpg

Eric
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