[WIP] My First Personal Photography Project

FamilyID

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I'm not sure if this is the proper place for projects. But this is where a lot of beginners post so I thought that this wouldn't be a bad place.

So hello TPF!
My name is FamilyID. I'm currently working on my first personal photography project, that will be completed in 8 months. What is this project you ask?

The project consists of me flying out to China and taking photos of my aunt's wedding. My aunt and I are very close, and I would gladly take time out of my week to capture some of the most memorable moments in her life. However, I'm really new to photography and I don't quite have techniques mastered, or all the terminology understood.

Good news for me is that her wedding is in 8 months (4/xx/14). I'm pretty confident that that will be enough time to build up a lot of skill and get well fitted into portrait photography. Expect photos by the end of April.

I'm currently only somewhat experienced in close up and landscape photography. I plan to go out and take photos every 2 weeks to improve my skills. So I have all to learn about wedding and portrait photography. I need to learn :

How to use Photoshop (haven't used it in a while, just need some time to remember)
Understand lighting (this I can learn more with experience and some research)
Learn what lens to use
Tips and Tricks (there's a sticky somewhere here, so I'll dig through that)
Learn to adjust composition quickly, and accurately
Learn natural lighting, and pratice it
Learn more about flash photography
Take photos as often as possible

My current gear:
Canon T3i - Really entry level DSLR, I don't plan to buy another body for this project
18-55mm f3.5-5.6 - Not going to really use this lens, but I'll bring it as a backup
24-105mm f4L - Main lens

I plan not to buy anymore gear, since the plane ticket is already pretty costly, and I'm still an undergraduate student. However, I might be able to get a cheap telephoto lens (probably will have to.)

In conclusion, I want to get better at photography, and bring out some killer photos for this big event. I know it may sound like I'm doing this all as a job. But I actually am passionate about art. Music especially. If you guys have any big tips or just anything to post. Please do.


P.S. Sorry for the super messing thread. I still have jet lag from my last trip to China (ended just a few days ago), I'll fix it when I have more focus.

Picture samples from my first 2 months of photography, all taken with a 18-55mm (some photos were compressed through ps to save on file size, so there's more detail in the actual photo.) :
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$IMG_0459.jpg

$IMG_0966.jpg
 
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Snakeguy101

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So you think you are going to be able to reach the same level as a professional wedding photographer (most of whom have been practicing for years) in 8 months? You have your work cut out for you- and a lot of it. If I were you I would tell her to hire a professional photographer and you can be there taking photos too but if you are close to your aunt then you should just enjoy the wedding and not hassle with a camera.

You posted too many photos for me to take the time to critique them all in depth so here are the main points of improvement for each one.

1) too much dead space and a centered composition.
2) the lines do not lead anywhere but off of the frame. The ends of the driftwood are cut off and awkward.
3) Where is the subject? What am I looking at? Underexposed.
4) Again- where is the subject? Depth of field is way too shallow for whatever you were trying to capture here.
5) Under exposed. Distracting foreground elements. Too much dead space. At least the subject is clear.
6) By far your best one but still a long ways from perfect. Good exposure and DoF but the background is messy. The lines from the grass behind the flower and the blown out sky are unappealing. The pedals are kissing the left side of the frame and creates an unbalanced focal point.

For all of these shots you should have asked yourself "what am I trying to show people here? What is making me stop to take this picture?" and try to focus on that. It could be an interesting element, a bright color, a unique texture, lots of energy, or something else. Whatever it is, think about how to make that the focus of the image. Your photos will start turning out much more interesting that way.
 
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FamilyID

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So you think you are going to be able to reach the same level as a professional wedding photographer (most of whom have been practicing for years) in 8 months? You have your work cut out for you- and a lot of it. If I were you I would tell her to hire a professional photographer and you can be there taking photos too but if you are close to your aunt then you should just enjoy the wedding and not hassle with a camera.

You posted too many photos for me to take the time to critique them all in depth so here are the main points of improvement for each one.

1) too much dead space and a centered composition.
2) the lines do not lead anywhere but off of the frame. The ends of the driftwood are cut off and awkward.
3) Where is the subject? What am I looking at? Underexposed.
4) Again- where is the subject? Depth of field is way too shallow for whatever you were trying to capture here.
5) Under exposed. Distracting foreground elements. Too much dead space. At least the subject is clear.
6) By far your best one but still a long ways from perfect. Good exposure and DoF but the background is messy. The lines from the grass behind the flower and the blown out sky are unappealing. The pedals are kissing the left side of the frame and creates an unbalanced focal point.

For all of these shots you should have asked yourself "what am I trying to show people here? What is making me stop to take this picture?" and try to focus on that. It could be an interesting element, a bright color, a unique texture, lots of energy, or something else. Whatever it is, think about how to make that the focus of the image. Your photos will start turning out much more interesting that way.
I now realize that I probably won't be able to take stunning pictures like the pros in 8 months. I don't have the equipment, and I've just seen the stuff that the pros use. Flashes, they have assistants for lighting, all sorts of gizmos and tricks. I'm way over my head on this one :3
Oh well, either way thanks for the critique :D. I'll remember those things in the future.
Any good websites with guides on photography?
 

Big Mike

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So you think you are going to be able to reach the same level as a professional wedding photographer (most of whom have been practicing for years) in 8 months? You have your work cut out for you- and a lot of it. If I were you I would tell her to hire a professional photographer and you can be there taking photos too but if you are close to your aunt then you should just enjoy the wedding and not hassle with a camera.

You posted too many photos for me to take the time to critique them all in depth so here are the main points of improvement for each one.

1) too much dead space and a centered composition.
2) the lines do not lead anywhere but off of the frame. The ends of the driftwood are cut off and awkward.
3) Where is the subject? What am I looking at? Underexposed.
4) Again- where is the subject? Depth of field is way too shallow for whatever you were trying to capture here.
5) Under exposed. Distracting foreground elements. Too much dead space. At least the subject is clear.
6) By far your best one but still a long ways from perfect. Good exposure and DoF but the background is messy. The lines from the grass behind the flower and the blown out sky are unappealing. The pedals are kissing the left side of the frame and creates an unbalanced focal point.

For all of these shots you should have asked yourself "what am I trying to show people here? What is making me stop to take this picture?" and try to focus on that. It could be an interesting element, a bright color, a unique texture, lots of energy, or something else. Whatever it is, think about how to make that the focus of the image. Your photos will start turning out much more interesting that way.

I don't see where they said anything about getting to the same level as a professional...just that they want to improve and learn everything they can.
I see a lot of negative critique, but no positive comments or actual suggestions for improvement.

So maybe you should ask yourself "Why am I posting this?"
 

amolitor

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Your program of self-education looks good to me.

You might also look for a specific list of Must Have wedding photos, and consult with the bride as well. The local culture might want quite different pictures, or might want you to exclude certain of the standard Western pictures, or whatever. Then it wouldn't hurt you to try to actually make some of those pictures. Round up a few friends to help. If you don't have enough friends for a group photo, use some chairs to fill in. Actually Do The Process and you'll definitely learn a lot. Especially if you look critically at the pictures afterwards.
 
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FamilyID

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So you think you are going to be able to reach the same level as a professional wedding photographer (most of whom have been practicing for years) in 8 months? You have your work cut out for you- and a lot of it. If I were you I would tell her to hire a professional photographer and you can be there taking photos too but if you are close to your aunt then you should just enjoy the wedding and not hassle with a camera.

You posted too many photos for me to take the time to critique them all in depth so here are the main points of improvement for each one.

1) too much dead space and a centered composition.
2) the lines do not lead anywhere but off of the frame. The ends of the driftwood are cut off and awkward.
3) Where is the subject? What am I looking at? Underexposed.
4) Again- where is the subject? Depth of field is way too shallow for whatever you were trying to capture here.
5) Under exposed. Distracting foreground elements. Too much dead space. At least the subject is clear.
6) By far your best one but still a long ways from perfect. Good exposure and DoF but the background is messy. The lines from the grass behind the flower and the blown out sky are unappealing. The pedals are kissing the left side of the frame and creates an unbalanced focal point.

For all of these shots you should have asked yourself "what am I trying to show people here? What is making me stop to take this picture?" and try to focus on that. It could be an interesting element, a bright color, a unique texture, lots of energy, or something else. Whatever it is, think about how to make that the focus of the image. Your photos will start turning out much more interesting that way.

I don't see where they said anything about getting to the same level as a professional...just that they want to improve and learn everything they can.
I see a lot of negative critique, but no positive comments or actual suggestions for improvement.

So maybe you should ask yourself "Why am I posting this?"
Thanks for the encouragement, I thought that everyone was going to tell me that it would be impossible :3
Does the 24-105mm cover enough focal lengths for a wedding? I'll probably be near to the front. 2-3 row~

Your program of self-education looks good to me.

You might also look for a specific list of Must Have wedding photos, and consult with the bride as well. The local culture might want quite different pictures, or might want you to exclude certain of the standard Western pictures, or whatever. Then it wouldn't hurt you to try to actually make some of those pictures. Round up a few friends to help. If you don't have enough friends for a group photo, use some chairs to fill in. Actually Do The Process and you'll definitely learn a lot. Especially if you look critically at the pictures afterwards.
Thank you, I'll keep that in mind. There will be around 100 people. So the people for the group shot will probably have to be hand chosen. Around 20-30?
 

amolitor

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I guess staging 100 person shoot is going to be tough for practice ;) Rough it out, though. Figure out how much space 100 people will take up, in a couple different configurations, and have friends stand at the corners of that space and if you have extras one or two in the middle.

I forgot the "China" part, of course there will be 100 people. At least!
 
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FamilyID

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I guess staging 100 person shoot is going to be tough for practice ;) Rough it out, though. Figure out how much space 100 people will take up, in a couple different configurations, and have friends stand at the corners of that space and if you have extras one or two in the middle.

I forgot the "China" part, of course there will be 100 people. At least!
Yea, plenty of big families in China. Not all of them are that big. Plus at least 20 of those people (I'm presuming) are close friends. I've probably met a majority of the 100~ people. There's going to be a lot of thinking involved in this.
 

Big Mike

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I have moved this into the 'General Gallery'. A wedding would fit better in the People gallery, but it sounds like you may be encompassing plenty of different things in the next 8 months.

Does the 24-105mm cover enough focal lengths for a wedding? I'll probably be near to the front. 2-3 row~
It's certainly doable, but I would personally find that 24mm isn't wide enough on a camera like yours. Just as an experiment, put on your 18-55mm and compare the field of view you get at 18-24mm. Do you think you may want to shoot wider angles like that?

Also keep in mind that while you can shoot large groups or scenes at 24mm, it only works if you have enough room to back up. During a wedding, you may find yourself in many situations where you don't have room to back up, and thus you would want a wider view (shorter focal length).

When I shot weddings with a 'crop sensor' camera like yours, I often had a 10-22mm lens so that I could get a really wide angle view when I needed to.
 

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This thread is a variation on a thread that has been here many times over. Basically:

"I'm really new to photography and I don't quite have techniques mastered, or all the terminology understood."

Good news for me is that her wedding is in 8 months (4/xx/14). I'm pretty confident that that will be enough time to build up a lot of skill and get well fitted into portrait photography. Expect photos by the end of April.

I'm currently only somewhat experienced in close up and landscape photography. I plan to go out and take photos every 2 weeks to improve my skills. So I have all to learn about wedding and portrait photography. I need to learn :

How to use Photoshop (haven't used it in a while, just need some time to remember)
Understand lighting (this I can learn more with experience and some research)
Learn what lens to use
Tips and Tricks (there's a sticky somewhere here, so I'll dig through that)"

Well, eight months is like 240 days, give or take. I suppose if you really throw yourself into studying you could "build up a lot of skill" and become "well fitted into portrait photography". But I think you will definitely need to do much,much,much more than just shoot a bunch of photos every two weeks. SHooting every two weeks for eight months means 16 practice/learning sessions. I'm sorry, but unless you have a hands-on, very experienced tutor who is at least a journeyman photographer, I think your degree of improvement with self-directed learning, from your starting point, is probably doomed to see you reach no higher than the level of "advanced newcomer".

The fact that you're asking if a 24-105mm lens is well-suited to wedding use with you "sitting near the front", with you shooting a Canon T3i tells me you lack a firm mental concept of what that lens "sees". Looking at your photos, I can see that your sense of composition is let's call it "unstudied". Of course, I could be wrong, but based on the pictures shown above, you're going to want more than 16 practice sessions. You asked for advice and tips. My advice: Start shooting pictures EVERY DAY. 16 sessions is not going to be enough, based on what you have shown you can do with a camera. Have fun with the project, and really work hard at it. Good luck, and I hope the lessons help you gain some confidence, and a good feel for the lens and camera you have.
 
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FamilyID

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Yea, maybe more than once every two weeks... What I meant was that I can be sure to have at least one shooting day every two weeks. I'll probably do more than that though. Thanks for the encouragement!
 
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FamilyID

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I tested the 18mm vs 24mm. I can conclude that it's quite the difference. I can get a lot more in the image with the 18mm than the 24mm. Whether or not it would be super useful, I don't know. But I'll bring along with me none the less.
 

Snakeguy101

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So you think you are going to be able to reach the same level as a professional wedding photographer (most of whom have been practicing for years) in 8 months? You have your work cut out for you- and a lot of it. If I were you I would tell her to hire a professional photographer and you can be there taking photos too but if you are close to your aunt then you should just enjoy the wedding and not hassle with a camera.

You posted too many photos for me to take the time to critique them all in depth so here are the main points of improvement for each one.

1) too much dead space and a centered composition.
2) the lines do not lead anywhere but off of the frame. The ends of the driftwood are cut off and awkward.
3) Where is the subject? What am I looking at? Underexposed.
4) Again- where is the subject? Depth of field is way too shallow for whatever you were trying to capture here.
5) Under exposed. Distracting foreground elements. Too much dead space. At least the subject is clear.
6) By far your best one but still a long ways from perfect. Good exposure and DoF but the background is messy. The lines from the grass behind the flower and the blown out sky are unappealing. The pedals are kissing the left side of the frame and creates an unbalanced focal point.

For all of these shots you should have asked yourself "what am I trying to show people here? What is making me stop to take this picture?" and try to focus on that. It could be an interesting element, a bright color, a unique texture, lots of energy, or something else. Whatever it is, think about how to make that the focus of the image. Your photos will start turning out much more interesting that way.

I don't see where they said anything about getting to the same level as a professional...just that they want to improve and learn everything they can.
I see a lot of negative critique, but no positive comments or actual suggestions for improvement.

So maybe you should ask yourself "Why am I posting this?"

I gave my honest opinion and I did include some ways that I thought the OP could improve. Sorry for not sugar coating it with so many words. Do you really think that your post is better? It is nothing positive or constructive and it has in insult...
 
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To the OP: take Derrel's post to heart. Not only shoot every day, compose every day. Before hitting that shutter button look at your composition twice, or three times. Adjust it slightly to make it better or greatly but never go shoot rapid fire with no long pause to ponder your composition. You can take a lot of photos, even every day, and in 8 months time be basically where you started. Practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent. Study the various "rules" of composition, enable rule of third guidelines on your camera. Again, slow down and focus on great composition. Once you have composition down start working on using the natural light in a scene to sculpt the image. Photography is drawing with light. Obviously if you are doing wedding photography you will want to learn how to use fill light. This is something I'm just learning. Read this to learn about off camera flash. Good luck.
 
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FamilyID

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I added a couple more steps or things that I need to do.
 

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