Shooting my brothers wedding reception - Tips?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by JohnS., Jun 3, 2019.

  1. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You might consider renting a 24-70 f/2.8 for the event. If that isn't possible I would probably shoot the 50mm most. Try the 18-105 in low light, you may have trouble with the autofocus depending on how low the light turns out to be.

    I agree with the suggestion to get the flash off the camera if possible. Otherwise, bounce whenever you can. Bounce off the ceiling, off a wall to the left or right, even bounce off a wall behind you.

    The Rogue Flashbender is an affordable and handy accessory for a speedlight and IMO is better than a plastic cap style diffuser.

    If you shoot in aperture priority, watch the shutter speed - don't let the camera slow your shutter too far. There's lot's of movement at a reception.

    Most importantly, have fun with it! That will come through in your shots. Good luck!


     
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  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    A 24-70 zoom would be very useful...
     
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  3. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    Good luck..........
     
  4. JoeW

    JoeW Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Okay, a bunch of advice.

    1. Have 2 batteries for your camera charged and ready. Bring extra SD cards. Bring extra batteries for the speed light. Like 8 extra batteries. Recognize that some Nikon speed lights (once they get hot, like the SB-600) will start to misbehave. Bring a micro-fibre cloth. Liquids get splashed around and if the wedding is in summer you'll be sweating like a pig--you'll need to clean stuff off your lens.

    2. Visit the hall ahead of time. Ideally it will have a low ceiling so you can bounce your speed light off the ceiling. Check it out same time you'll be shooting (so if reception is 5pm on Saturday you want to check it out on a 5pm). I bet you the skin tones are ghastly and your WB goes all to hell--white dresses look green, etc. And then you want to try and figure out what the lighting will look like in 5 hours (because most receptions run past sunset and the lighting only gets worse). Have a person you can practice shooting with so you can look at the result and go "oh f*ck--the glare on their face is terrible and the shadows from the speed light are a killer--what am I going to do?"

    3. Plan on getting a shot of every single person at the reception. Your job is not to follow the B&G around or get artsy photos for your portfolio or get some lovely photos. Your job is to document the reception so years ago the B&G will be looking at the photos and go "oh wow--I forgot Janet was there--and look, there's her date!" If you get great photos of the B&G, that's nice but not sufficient--you've failed. Literally, plan on taking a group photo of every table (I assume everyone is assigned a seat). I'm serious about this. Go shoot every table with all guests. Get them to do something like raise their glasses or give a thumbs up. Be large and in-charge--give orders. Tell me "Focus here please--on me, count of 3 say congratulations!" Do not be passive. Otherwise you'll just get a lot of cluttered shots with no-one focusing on the camera.

    4. Put together a "shot list" as a job aid. Keep it handy. List all of the traditional shots (entry of B&G, portrait of B&G, the first dance, the first toast, the table with the B&G and best man, etc., cutting the cake, and about 80 others). And consult it to remind yourself "okay, I need to get shot X."

    5. I assume you're not shooting the wedding. So leave before it's over. Yeah, I know, you're family, this sucks. But you're the reception photographer--you can't get at the reception the same time everyone else does--you need to get there 45 minutes before them. You need to start taking photos BEFORE anyone gets there. Shoot the tables before anyone is seated, looking all nice and neat. Shoot the food before anyone has dived in. Shoot the flower arrangements and the table decorations. This is all stuff the B&G discussed but they won't see it in this state--they'll get there after everyone else is there, they'll be focusing on the people, life will be a blur. I'm serious about this--you need to get there early and shoot how beautiful things look before people go in and clutter the shots.

    6. Know where the sun sets. And look for a good place to shoot a portrait of the B&G with the sun setting in someplace lovely nearby. So this means you may need to walk 2 minutes away from the reception to get these shots. Unless the wedding photographer is getting them (and even then, don't be sure on this. Besides shooting weddings, 2x I've been asked by good friends "hey, we've got a photographer but would you mind tagging along--we'd love extra shots" and I got the best portraits of the B&G at the reception--the official photographer hadn't scouted out spots and didn't notice the sunset until it was too late.

    7. Shoot a bit. And then stop and check. Use the Nikon "+" on the back of the D7000 and expand the photo and go over it to make sure you're in-focus, your WB isn't set on something bizarre, you don't have exposure compensation actually dialed in, there aren't water marks on your lens.

    8. Part of the reason you want to check out the reception location is: you want to find a convenient wall or space for portraits. Because I GUARANTEE you that people will come up and say "since you're here with your camera, and Aunt Phyllis and I rarely get this dressed up, would you mind shooting a few of us?" Grandma will insist on turning this in to a time to get photos of all the Grandkids. Basically what I'm saying is that you need a portrait station. And if there isn't one, you need to create one. Get a backdrop of some sort or tape up white/creme paper. Then use masking tape to put an X on the floor where you want people to pose (so they're in-focus but the backdrop is just a white bokeh).

    9. Bring extra light. Got an extra speed light? Or a couple of LEDs? Because most receptions (especially if they're in a basement of the church) have terrible lighting.

    10. Bring yourself a granola bar and stay hydrated (no booze). If you're eating, you're not shooting. You should assume you will have no opportunity to partake of snacks, food or probably even cake. You should assume the ONLY time you are seated is when it's a courtesy thing (the Best Man is speaking and you don't want to block views). Seriously--do not plan on eating a meal or sitting at a wedding table or letting go of your camera. Yeah, I know, it sucks. You need to treat this as you are NOT family but you're there to professionally (as best you can) shoot the wedding.

    11. One of the best gifts you can give is have some edits to the B&G right away. As in like--email a couple to them when they're on their honeymoon. It doesn't matter if the wedding photographer is a pro and you're a schmoe, wedding photographers usually take a while before they have initial edits to show. So when you have a few early shots, the bride and MotB will be especially excited and it will compensate for any shots you miss or goof up or if your shots pale significantly in comparison to the wedding shooter.

    12. I'm not wild about swapping out lens. Better to have 2 bodies. You don't. So just assume the the less lens swapping you do the better.

    13. I completely agree with the suggestion about renting a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8. It's perfect for weddings and it's great it low light and it kicks ass with portraits. The other lens I might bring (because it will produce some breathtakingly gorgeous art shots with tons of bokeh and narrow DoF) would be something like a 50mm or 75mm f1.8. Imagine a shot of the bride's wedding ring in focus and the rest of her arm and lace dress is a blur of bokeh. Or a portrait of the bride focusing on her eyelashes from the side at about f2.2.

    14. Remember that shot list and about scouting the location? So you know there are going to be certain "money" shots (Best Man Toast, B&G kissing when people tinkle their glasses, shots of B&G at the head table). So figure out the best place to shoot those. And remember, when you're scouting it's in an empty hall and 2 hours before you actually take that shot (ie: much darker) so adjust. You can't just stand right in front of them and click away--people behind will be throwing fruit salad at you because you're blocking their view.

    15. Figure out a way to share photos for everyone beyond the B&G. Because everyone will want to get photos. FB is a good way--set up a group of "X and Y's wedding Reception" and then post photos. Tell the B&G they can decide who they "friend" with that group. Let the B&G after the honeymoon deal with the hassle otherwise you'll have half the people at the reception emailing you to send them that portrait you took of all the grandkids.

    16. Congratulate your brother--and tell him that he owes you big time and you will never let him forget this debt.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
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  5. texxter

    texxter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It is also very heavy for a 3+ hour event. It wears me out. A 35mm prime is featherlight. Just saying.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes... but it is a very useful "event lens".

    BUT YEAH,heavy. 35mm f/2 or 35mm f/1.8 is very light by comparison. On a D7000,the 24-70mm focal length would get a lot of good useful angles of view. If the light level is good, such as at an outdoor wedding, the 18-105 would be very,very useful.
     
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  7. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you use a flash.

    Unless the ceiling is fairly low, less than 15 feet, don't expect to be able to bounce the flash.
    Warning on color. Do NOT bounce the flash against a colored surface. If you do, the bounced/reflected light will be the color of that surface. A neutral color surface is best.
    So be prepared to have to use direct flash.

    I HATE side shadows when I rotate the camera for a vertical shot, and the flash is now on the left side of the camera.
    The shadow in the back of the subject is generally harder to see and less distracting.
    So, I would put the flash on a bracket that holds the flash above the camera.
    I use a 'Custom Bracket' rotating bracket. I used to use a Stroboframe 'Camera Flip'​
    You will need a sync cable from the camera a shoe on the bracket.

    At least THREE sets of batteries for the flash, all fully charged.
    NiMh batteries, NOT alkaline. Alkaline recycles too slow.

    Shoot slow. Shooting fast will cause heat buildup inside the flash, and could cause the flash to fail/die. The problem is heat builds up inside the flash, and the flash case is plastic. Plastic is a heat insulator, not a conductor, so heat dissipation through the plastic case will be SLOW.
    For that reason, a 2nd flash is a good idea. Then you can use flash #2, while #1 is cooling down.

    For the garter and bouquet toss, there are three shots (the toss, mid arc, catch or scramble). And you can get only ONE of them. This is because your flash will NOT recycle fast enough to get more than one shot. Talk to the couple and ask them to choose which ONE they want, then practice doing all three with a friend. This is to be prepared for them to tell you at the reception that they changed their mind and want a different shot. grrrr.
    Tip1. Tell them to put a couple dollar or half dollar coins in the garter, so that it has enough mass to be tossed. Otherwise it is like tossing a tissue, it isn't going very far.
    Tip2. Tell them to practice tossing the garter and a fake bouquet, at home. I've seen a few bad tosses; straight up, right down into the floor, to the side, etc. Practicing will also let them determine how far the receivers have to be from the tosser. I've seen the receivers so far away that the garter barely got half way to them.
    Tip3. They should toss on your count, so you and the tosser are in sync, especially for the toss shot.​

    I think flash diffusers are almost worthless in a big open area. Because there is nothing for the diffused light to reflect the light back to the subject. In a wide open area, I only use it to widen the flash coverage for a wide angle lens.
    In a smaller room or hallway, it works, because you have a ceiling and wall to reflect the light back at the subject.
     
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  8. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    MAKE A LIST of shots that the couple (and you) wants. And have them go over that list MANY times, to make sure they did not forget any.
    And use that list as a checklist to make sure you get all the shots. Cuz during the event, it is easy to forget a shot, if you do it from memory.
    It stinks if at the end of the evening they ask if you got a shot of Uncle X. And you have to say, "NO, was I supposed to?"

    And rank the list items, so that you make sure you get the important shots first.

    I found that having an assistant manage the check list works well, then you can concentrate on shooting and arranging people.
    This is important because, someone might be missing at table Y, so you skip table Y intending to come back later. You need to remember to come back to table Y later. An unchecked table on the list, tells you that you need to go back to shoot that table.

    Cake cutting. YOU NEED TO BE IN CONTROL. Do not let a friend or relative butt in front of you or push you out of the way (it happens), or you will NOT get the shot. They can get their shot AFTER you do.

    Watch your gear or have an assistant watch it. I've heard of photographers getting their gear stolen because they left it in the corner of the room, unattended, while they were eating. Or left their backup gear in the corner of the room while they were shooting. In many venues, a non-guest can easily sneak into the reception.

    The 18-105 with a flash should be adequate.
     
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  9. Solarflare

    Solarflare No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'd recomment to get a used AF-S 17-55mm f2.8 DX instead. Those buggers are built like tanks, have superfast autofocus, really amazing optics especially for a zoom (its one of those rare zooms that are hard to distinguish from a prime lens, another Nikkor like that is the AF 80-200mm f2.8), and most importantly their used prices are getting criminally low recently. So much even I consider getting one ... and I'm shooting full frame.
     
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  10. JohnS.

    JohnS. TPF Noob!

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    There are some decently priced 17-55's are Adorama and BH... But $700+ is still a lot of money to throw at a lens I only need for one event, not to say it will be the ONLY time I use it but I don't shoot often anymore. I will definitely invest into a second battery since there have been several times in the past where I got dangerously low on one charge and didn't have time to charge on the go.

    So if the ceilings are high, the flash diffuser won't be as effective and you guys would recommend I shoot without the dome on?
     
  11. JohnS.

    JohnS. TPF Noob!

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    Other options I've considered that are more in my price range:

    Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 DC HSM Art

    Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM

    Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

    Also, I found out where the reception is going to be. I don't think I'll need a flash haha. It's not a "traditional" reception with a dance floor, bar, low lights, DJ, etc.
     
  12. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    A flash diffusser works by diffusing the light from the flash, so that it bounces off the other surfaces in the room (wall, ceiling, etc), creating a soft even light. In an open area, with nothing to bounce/reflect back off, that function does not work.

    With a HIGH ceiling, the light from the flash has to travel maybe 20 feet up, then 20 feet down, total 40 feet. By that distance, the light intensity has dropped so much that it isn't worth it. And if you reduce the light intensity by using a diffusser, it is even worse.

    You could look into renting a Nikon 17-55/2.8. Though I have no idea what the rental cost would be.

    Caution, the Sigma zoom ring turns in the opposite direction than the Nikon zoom ring.
    This is not an issue for slow/casual work, but if you work fast, Nikon muscle memory will clash with the Sigma zoom ring.
    I tried a Sigma 17-50/2.8 zoom on a Canon, and gave up in frustration after 20 minutes. I kept turning the zoom ring the wrong way. When shooting fast sports, you don't have a 2nd chance to correct and turn the zoom ring the other way.
    If you don't have Nikon muscle memory, then that does not matter.

    The Tamron zoom ring turns in the same direction as Nikon.
     

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