Photographing Outdoor Wedding next Saturday


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Oct 21, 2011
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Well, I was asked, no, begged, to photograph a friend's wedding...she has seen my other work and really wants me to photograph her wedding. I have photographed 5 other weddings...however, those were indoor, and this will be outdoors. I have been to the location and the bride is extremely willing to help me out and has even sent me photos of the location at the exact time the wedding will be starting and all of that so I get a good idea of what the lighting will be like.

I'm not terribly nervous...outdoors is so much easier than indoors.

Now for the group shots...this is my extreme weakness. I am not sure which lens to use. I have a 50mm 1.8, 55-250mm, and the 18-55mm kit lens. Not great lenses but they'll do. I will have lots of room as it is a huge open field. Lots of natural props including a nice fence, shrubs, and things like that. I think I have figured out where I will photograph the group shots. The families on both sides are quite large so I imagine some of the pictures will have a lot of people in them.

Here is what I will be bringing with me for equipment:

My camera is a Canon Rebel T1i. I will bring the lenses mentioned.
My 430EX II flash
Rotating flash bracket for off camera flash (in case it is needed for fill)
Gray and white balance cards
Several 16gb memory cards
4 batteries all charged as well as batteries for the flash
Lens hoods for all the lenses
22 inch reflector that can be silver, white, gold, translucent, or black
An assistant

The bride and her fiance are very laid back and this is going to be a very laid back wedding. I have told them many times that I have very little experience with this, so they are aware that the results may not be up to professional standards. I requested no money but they are giving it to me anyway...but I am not going to allow them to pay me anything until they see the results. I just can't, in good conscience!

Here is the location I am shooting at. This is the tree that she and her fiance will be standing under when the pastor marries them. This is about the angle that I will have, and this shot was taken at 4pm, which is when the wedding will commence.

She will be walking through this arbor, but from the other side (the side she was shooting) so this shot is looking towards where everything will be happening:

Same position, farther out, you can see where the tree is...she'll walk through the arbor and down an aisle with chairs on either side...a reception tent will be on the left, and I will be photographing their group shots...somewhere...probably left/back of the field against the fence or trees or something.

Please shout out any ideas and tips you might have!! I have not really used fill flash for my outdoor photo shoots before, but as she is darker skinned and I will probably have to be shooting into the sun some of the time, I thought it might be helpful. I do know how to use the manual functions of my flash so I can dial it back a bit. Do you think I should get a larger reflector?

Thanks SO MUCH!
Also forgot to mention that I will be shooting in RAW and can do post in Lightroom and PSE8.
Don't get trapped into thinking that outdoor shooting is easier than indoor. Bright/harsh light challenges can be just as great as low light challenges. That said, looking at the images you've posted there's lots of good spaces to work in.

A few thoughts: A 22" reflector is rather too small for anything but a head shot. I would look for something in the 48" - 60" range. It doesn't need to be a Photoflex 5 in 1; even a large piece of Coroplast or posterboard will help, BUT... you will need a helper.

Take an afternoon and practice your fill-flash skills. You will most definitely need to have this weighed off. You will also have to pay attention to your positioning if you're shooting large groups as one Speedlight is NOT going to diddly-squat for fill in that situation.

Assuming that you will be using a LOT of fill flash, make sure that your crank up your ISO a bit so that you can reduce your flash power to save battery and decrease recycle time.
Thanks...that's the kind of feedback I'm looking for.

I will have a helper with me and she'll be able to do what I need her to do.

I am definitely worried about the sun being can sometimes be the enemy. I will be working all next week on the fill flash so that I have a good handle on it. I have done it a few times before and have a fair idea of what works but I will experiment and brush it up anyway. I am most nervous about the group shots. I am planning on bringing a step ladder so that I can go a step or two higher than everyone else in order to get everyone's faces in the big group shots.

I hope I do not have to use a lot of fill flash and I won't have any secondary light/flash to help fill the group shots so I'm going to have to really plan the setup carefully. By 5pm, the sun should be facing the fence, which is behind where the tree is. It may even go down behind the trees, in which case, that would help some things. I will also bring my tripods in in case I need them.

There are definitely lots of good spaces to work with. The field is huge, and very wide, and there are many places we can go. I'm not worried about the couple shots or the candid photos at all. Just the group shots and the lighting on the bride and groom under the tree. Definitely don't want splotchy, and I think the sun will backlight one of them as it will be to their side so I am *hoping* that a little flash fill will ensure that the shadows and contrasts are not too strong.
You know.. I have been pretty lucky. If the wedding I just did last week had happened on my earlier weddings, I would have been screwed. They had to cut the wedding short because it was raining. We were supposed to do group photos outdoor but instead we had to do it inside. I got my light ready, cleared a few tables and did the group photos there. Are you ready for that? Don't be banking on shooting outside.
Yeah, definitely remember fill flash because from the looks of the pictures your couples backs are going to be to a bright sun setting you up for some bright back light and dark faces but a reflector a fill flash will fix that no problem. There is a lot of green there and I like that tree. Maybe bring a blanket and do a pose with the Bride and groom laying/sitting and get level with them, I've gotten nice pictures this way. I always bring a white sheet with me to have the bride and/or groom sit on. It won't be visible in the photos, it's more to protect her dress from having to be on grass, brick, walls etc.

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