My first wedding on Saturday


TPF Noob!
May 25, 2006
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Hey, I am really new to SLR Photography and I am shooting my first wedding on Saturday (for free as a learning experience for me), and I would like any advice that you guys have to offer. I will be using a Nikon d200 and I am still familiarizing myself with all of the controls and options. I just want to see if there is any advice you guys could offer to help to save me from ruin?
My first question is...are you the only photographer? Weddings should not be looked at as a learning experience for you, not primarily anyway. A wedding is about the couple and their family. Even if you are doing it for free, they deserve to have good photographic memories of their wedding...and if you are not experienced enough to provide that...there is a problem. Even if you were experienced with shooting weddings...a wedding is not a time to try out new equipment. Most Pros will test out their new equipment for weeks before actually shooting a wedding with it.

That being said, you have to start somewhere. As long as they are aware of the situation...more power to you. If you are not familiar with your gear, I'd suggest keeping it on auto. Or Aperture priority if you understand DOF, aperture and shutter speed.

Shot in RAW, this will give you the most flexibility with the images. Watch your histogram while you are shooting. Whatever you do, don't blow out the highlights (right side of the histogram). Shadow detail can often be saved...but highlights are often impossible to recover.

Good luck.
agreed on most of what Big Mike said.

RAW might help you after the fact, but if your camera can (im a canon girl, so not sure about your nikon) shoot RAW + large JPEG, just in case.

More info would help us help you.
1)Describe the wedding scenario: indoors? outdoors? well-lit? reception? etc any details would be helpful
2) What lens or lenses do you have to work with?
3)Do you have a backup body (or a plan in case something goes wrong)
4) how much memory do you have total with all of your memory cards?

you said you are new to SLR photography, so just how new are you? any experience with photography?
Just a few details that I could add, i guess:

The couple had been shopping for photographers in their area and the ones they wanted were booked and the ones available they didn't like their work vs. their prices. They had at this point decided to not have a photographer and were going to have the bride's mother catch everything on a point and shoot. I basically heard about the situation through a friend of a friend type thing and offered to shoot the wedding for free in exchange for the experience. They understand that I am not experienced, and vs. their previous plan of having the mother of the bride running around with a point and shoot they opted to let me shoot the wedding. My fiance is working on this with me with a digital point and shoot just in case I miss something important. We eventually will be doing this working as a team with 2 good cameras once finances allow.

I have 5 GB memory, 2 2GB cards, 1 1GB card and a portable harddrive (40GB) so I can move images to the hard drive and format while I'm working with my second 2GB card. I have 2 extra batteries. I have only 2 lenses and not the best possible for the situation. I have a 18 - 50mm/f3.5 and a 50 - 200mm/f4.0. I am extremely new to SLR cameras. I've used an SLR in the past but without having any clue what I'm doing. I understand SLRs in theory because I've been reading books constantly since I decided this is what I'm going to do, but I didn't actually receive my camera and lenses until yesterday. I'm just trying to familiarize myself enough with the controls so that I don't stumble too much if the ISO needs to be adjusted manually, etc.

As far as the wedding goes it will be in a well-lit church, and the reception will be well-lit. I plan on catching as much as I can outdoors at the church, and I'm preparing worst case scenario to have low light at the reception. I've been reading about bouncing flash, and adjusting ISO, etc. for low light reception type scenarios, but it is all theoretical for me at this point. I'm at my day job now and will have very little actual opportunity before the wedding, but I plan to play around in different lighting situations to see how pictures come out, etc.

I'll be shooting in RAW + Fine Quality JPEG. (20MB a shot, ouch)

I'm just now really beginning to catch on to the histogram, but it seems really really useful. Still learning how to read it.
Well it looks as though you are doing your best to be prepared, that's a good sign. Here is a good explanation about using the histogram. There are quite a few other tutorials and essays on that sight, that might help you with your digital work-flow.

If you have time, play around with your RAW files. If you feel comfortable editing them, I might consider shooting just RAW or RAW+small JPEG. While it does make sense to cover all your bases and use RAW+large JPEG...I've personally found it a waste of memory. At most, I now use RAW+small fine JPEG...just so that I have some small files for proofing or quick E-mailing. But that's up to you.

Take plenty of photos and have fun. While you will obviously try to capture everything you can...there are (IMO) only a handful of must have shots when it's all said and done.
spot metering and aperture priority are your friend. dont forget to change your ISO from inside to outside shots. look at several websites from pro wedding photographers for ideas of shots.
just got back from the wedding - went a little bumpy, but I survived. I'll post some pictures in the critique section when I have time to look over them.
mysteryscribe said:
first of all congradulations... there is an old adage I remember from a long time ago it was "save yourself first" I think that applies to wedding photographers double.


Congrats on surviving your first. :mrgreen:

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