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  1. #1
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    HELP, first time Wedding Photo Shoots

    I have two friends wanting me to take professional photographs of their weddings in July and August of 2008. They have seen my nature photography and figure I can take wedding pictures as well. I have little training in portrait photography, much less the psychological/socialogical aspects of wedding photography. It makes me nervous to think I could mess up a friends wedding by not taking the right shots.

    My friend said he would buy the digital camera for me, a Canon Rebel XTi two months in advance so I can get familiar with it and make sure it works. I will get the extras, such as flash, lens and what not and charge only cost for the prints that they choose. I have a Canon Elan 7NE and Canon Rebel GS and will use those for Black and White photos as well as Infrared. I have a Canon 20-35 USM f/3.5, Canon Macro 100 USM f/2.8 (love the background blur!), Canon 35-80 f/4 III (came with rebel g) and a Sigma 100-300 f/4.5 DL (not that great at full zoom and super slow, obviously).

    My question: OMG! Where do I start??? I have no idea how to take a flattering picture of a person, much less me being under stress... What is considered ethical when taking the shots as far as "getting in the way" during the ceremony? Where do I position myself? They are both outdoor weddings (provided the weather is ok). What flash units can I buy that are not too expensive (do I need one?) and most important, what lens should I buy that doesnt go beyond $600 or $700???

    Is there anything that I should be prepared for that may be unexpected? Should I bring all three cameras?

    Any particular books to read that I can buy?

    ANY suggestions would be of great help!
    Thanks!
    Dan



  2. #2
    JIP
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    I don't wanna be a jerk here but if your friends want professional wedding photographs you should start by telling them to hire a professional wedding photographer especially if you are not confident in yuor abilities to do it. If they are going to pay the money to buy you a camera they should just pay someone a little more to have them shoot it.
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  3. #3
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    Exactly, do yourself, and your friends a favor and DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH THEIR WEDDING. They WILL be disappointed, and you will regret doing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by sm4him View Post
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  4. #4
    Leo
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    I would suggest attending a church wedding of somebody you don't know. Normally the church announces church weddings in their newsletters. Sit in the back and observe the photographer(s) and how he shoots the wedding. This is how I started, watching other photographers do the work. I also would suggest reading a book, Wedding Photography (Art, Business and Style) by Steve Sint. Excellent book, IMHO.

    Good luck.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JIP View Post
    I don't wanna be a jerk here but if your friends want professional wedding photographs you should start by telling them to hire a professional wedding photographer especially if you are not confident in yuor abilities to do it. If they are going to pay the money to buy you a camera they should just pay someone a little more to have them shoot it.
    I anticipated this response. I have mentioned this to my friends as well - as far as hiring a "professional" photographer to do it, but they insist and encourage me. I do not doubt that I have the ability to learn and am willing to take the extra steps to do it. I am a talented individual that may lack only in a business sense (I am not professional because I have not made money with my photography yet). Yes, I do put forth a shy nervous front - but WHEN does one jump into the cold water to learn? I only feel nervous and if I did not, it would only be then that I would mess it up, when I do not care. That is why I am here on this forum. Asking advice. Making the first steps. Have any suggestions as where I should start other that run with my tail under my legs???
    I am glad that my friends have faith in my abilities.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sw1tchFX View Post
    Exactly, do yourself, and your friends a favor and DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH THEIR WEDDING. They WILL be disappointed, and you will regret doing it.
    Have you ever done wedding photography? If so, when and how did you start? I need to know.
    Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo View Post
    I would suggest attending a church wedding of somebody you don't know. Normally the church announces church weddings in their newsletters. Sit in the back and observe the photographer(s) and how he shoots the wedding. This is how I started, watching other photographers do the work. I also would suggest reading a book, Wedding Photography (Art, Business and Style) by Steve Sint. Excellent book, IMHO.

    Good luck.
    Thank you! So far the best informational response. I will get that book and read it front to back. Awesome. I have watched wedding photographers before but not with enough focus. I have a friend that might let me shadow him. Any lens suggestions?

  8. #8
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    Okay this is the opinion of someone who shoots weddings professionally, so don't take it too harsh - it's not personal it's a business question.

    I can see two options:

    1) say thanks, but no thanks and continue to be friends.

    2) say thanks, take the camera (that's a wierd one) and try to learn.

    Please note you should only choose option 2 if it won't hurt too much when these friends are no longer your friends. The very questions you are asking screams you are nowhere near ready for this. It's like me saying I'll buy you a gun if you'll be the sheriff in my town... having the gun doesn't make you a cop.

    If the wedding is in 08 and that's not a typo I would get with a local professional and start learning - it's the only way you'll do really well. Also if you choose to do it get some books - go look at them at your local bookery.

    If it is a typo and it's 07 I wouldn't even think about it.

    Reality check: None of the euipment you speak of in your post, except maybe the macro is built for a wedding. You also keep saying "nothing too expensive". Anything worthy of wedding duty is expensive. You need at the very least a fast lens and memory and a good flash and lots of battery power... on and on the list is long. You even ask if you even need a flash. It's just silly to consider this with your current level of photogaphic experience.

    In the end if you do decide to do it make sure they know they are not going to get professional results - but hopefully your studying will get them some good shots.

    "It makes me nervous to think I could mess up a friends wedding by not taking the right shots."

    It should make you nervous.

    I have invested a lot of time, sweat, tears and a whole lot of money to be a wedding photographer - it's a business and not a hobby.

  9. #9
    JIP
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    If you really want a book stay away from Art Business Style it has some good posing guides but they ae nothing ou can't get online with a little looking. The photos and techniques in that book are also extremely outdated. A really great book is [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Wedding-Photography-Capturing-Beautiful/dp/0471790176/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-9350429-6777424?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175654712&sr=8-1[/ame] I usually just flip through books of this nature and skim the text this one I did actually read cover-to-cover.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dewey View Post
    Okay this is the opinion of someone who shoots weddings professionally, so don't take it too harsh - it's not personal it's a business question.

    I can see two options:

    1) say thanks, but no thanks and continue to be friends.

    2) say thanks, take the camera (that's a wierd one) and try to learn.

    Please note you should only choose option 2 if it won't hurt too much when these friends are no longer your friends. The very questions you are asking screams you are nowhere near ready for this. It's like me saying I'll buy you a gun if you'll be the sheriff in my town... having the gun doesn't make you a cop.

    If the wedding is in 08 and that's not a typo I would get with a local professional and start learning - it's the only way you'll do really well. Also if you choose to do it get some books - go look at them at your local bookery.

    If it is a typo and it's 07 I wouldn't even think about it.

    Reality check: None of the euipment you speak of in your post, except maybe the macro is built for a wedding. You also keep saying "nothing too expensive". Anything worthy of wedding duty is expensive. You need at the very least a fast lens and memory and a good flash and lots of battery power... on and on the list is long. You even ask if you even need a flash. It's just silly to consider this with your current level of photogaphic experience.

    In the end if you do decide to do it make sure they know they are not going to get professional results - but hopefully your studying will get them some good shots.

    "It makes me nervous to think I could mess up a friends wedding by not taking the right shots."

    It should make you nervous.

    I have invested a lot of time, sweat, tears and a whole lot of money to be a wedding photographer - it's a business and not a hobby.
    Well, Im not sure if i post a response that anyone who has responded will know... but here ' goes.

    DEWEY
    Thanks for the info. That does help. I do think I am willing to dive in and it is in fact in 2008. I am in school for Web Programing and am thinking about taking and elective Photography course in fall of 2007... even though I have been a photographer for 15+ years. It couldnt hurt. I would be ready by the wedding dates.

    Yes, I know flash is invaluable even in outdoor situations (the weddings are outdoors) to light subjects in the foreground. Im just wondering WHAT should I purchase. Brand, type etc. Diffuser, reflector etc. Considering that I do know more than the basics of photography, what tips can I find in regards to dealing with people, setting up... etc. OK... so I might have to spend a bit on memory as well. 8 Gigs is a bit... however I will have my laptop to upload should the need arise and I will have two film cameras for back up and IR shots as well. Im thinking this lens as a purchase:Sigma 70-200 f 2.8 EX DG APO MACRO.

    Although for years it has been a hobby of mine, it is time that I make money from it. If you are interested, here is what I am capable of http://quixoticsage.deviantart.com/gallery/ but not even a full line of what I photograph. If I scream amature, let me know... I will take anything into consideration.

    Thanks again for you input! I know that I cant be perfect at first, and realizing the consequences only make me want to learn harder and climb further. Thanks for your encouragement!
    Dan

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JIP View Post
    If you really want a book stay away from Art Business Style it has some good posing guides but they ae nothing ou can't get online with a little looking. The photos and techniques in that book are also extremely outdated. A really great book is http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Weddin...5654712&sr=8-1 I usually just flip through books of this nature and skim the text this one I did actually read cover-to-cover.
    Thanks again. You rock. BTW, uh... do you get these responses from me? Not sure if I have to "quote" to respond directy or if I just "post" eh... im tired. Thanks again!
    Dan

  12. #12
    I spend too much of my life on TPF!
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    With that much time I would say you'll be fine. A good way to get ideas about weddings is simply search the web and look at photographers websites. From there of course you just have to fill in the blanks and learn how to get consistant results in less than ideal conditions. Bad lighting conitions abound in weddings so practice in the dark... learn how much you can boost the ISO before noise becomes an issue... Outside weddings have bad lighting issues too... be ready for the bright sun with a white dress.

    The flash is critical - the wedding being outside means you will need to learn how to get a good balance with the flash. Also practice shooting something shiney and white on someone in the sun... you have a razor thin exposure target... shoot RAW for sure and start learning RAW software.

    I think with that much lead time you will be able to learn enough to achieve what they are looking for... just read up and practice practice practice.

  13. #13
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    I agree with dewey. Even though your friends say they have faith in you, do they really know what they are asking of you when you have no prior wedding photography experience? I got a lot of good feedback on equipment and technique in the post similar to this one, but only as a relative who is going to be practicing at 2 weddings this spring and summer. I wouldnt dare think about taking on a job like this yet.

    I do quite a bit of portrait photography, and I am very comfortable with that, but I know I am not even close to being ready to take on a wedding by myself. I admire your eagerness to learn and not wanting to let your friends down. Its quite an honor to be asked. For the wedding in July I will be practicing at, I was actually asked to shoot the wedding first, but I was smart enough to respectfully decline, because I knew I would not be ready in time.

    And as far as the camera goes, a Rebel XTi is the bottom of the line for advanced amateur/beginning professional. If you really want to grow in photography, you might want to consider the next levels of Canon, the 30D or the 5D. As dewey says, it gets expensive, but if you are really committed to learning all ins and outs, it is well worth it.

    I also have the book by Steve Sint (got it as a gift), and I like it. But I have to agree that it focuses on a lot of generalities, and you can get updated info on methods and techniques on websites.

    Oh, and a very important study tool, if you can find some, is to examine the EXIF data on indoor church shots with no flash! You will start to get an idea of how your camera willl work in that type of lighting (or lack of).
    Last edited by NJMAN; 04-03-2007 at 09:34 PM.
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  14. #14
    I spend too much of my life on TPF!
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    Yeah don't get me wrong - everyone has to start somewhere. But the equipment you list is still going to make it that much more difficult on you.

    I would track down local wedding photogs and see if you can get a gig as an assistant... before I got the more permanent assistant I use now I always used to use local photog students.

    You really just have no idea what to expect until you participate in one and the first should be your friends.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJMAN View Post
    ...
    And as far as the camera goes, a Rebel XTi is the bottom of the line for advanced amateur/beginning professional. If you really want to grow in photography, you might want to consider the next levels of Canon, the 30D or the 5D. As dewey says, it gets expensive, but if you are really committed to learning all ins and outs, it is well worth it.

    I also have the book by Steve Sint (got it as a gift), and I like it. But I have to agree that it focuses on a lot of generalities, and you can get updated info on methods and techniques on websites.

    Oh, and a very important study tool, if you can find some, is to examine the EXIF data on indoor church shots with no flash! You will start to get an idea of how your camera willl work in that type of lighting (or lack of).
    The Rebel XT is the bottom, XTi is quite a step up with 10+ megapixels (yeah, I know megapixels doesnt make the camera - but its canon optics...). I would like the 30D, but I think... why? If it was full frame, heck yeah... but the only advantage I can see is that it is a light bit faster... im probably missing something though. Its only 8+ megpxls. SO i dunno. More research to do here! EXIF data noted. Thanks!

 

 
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