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First Wedding - Help!

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Jeff Fillmore, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. I got recruited to do a family wedding in a few weeks and am a little nervous- particularly with the formal portraits as this is not my forte. I am meeting with the couple this weekend to discuss the particulars of the event and what they are looking for and expecting. I have already had the I-am-not-a-professional talk with them but they are a young couple paying for everything out of pocket or on a credit card and on a serious budget.

    Here is what I know- Ceremony is at a small country church early afternoon- reception is at the hall at the church. Couple has suggested portraits outside because they will not have access to the church until 2 hours before the ceremony and are worried about timing- which I think is a bad idea. Florida in August is a little hot- plus direct sun- etc. I am going to try to convince them to move indoors if possible- even if it means taking some shots after the ceremony.

    Here is what I have for lighting now – 1 SB-800 and a Gary Fong Lightsphere (I am so NOT a studio type guy- sorry.)

    Here is what I have coming from B&H 2nd Day Air so I can start messing with it this weekend – (2) SB-600 Speedlights, (2) 45” Convertible White Satin Umbrellas with Removable Black Backing, (2) 9 ½’ Air-Cushioned Heavy Duty Light Stands, (2) Swivel Mount and Flash Shoe Umbrella Bracket and (1) Neutral 3-Tone WB Target.

    So aside from reading The Strobist some more than I already am- what advice can you guys offer? Any serious suggestions will be very appreciated.
  2. snugelbune


    Mar 15, 2006
    NYC suburbs
    Not experiened wedding photog but from my personal...


    I've never shot a wedding, did a Christening once and it was "fun" but I'll stick to my wildlife. What I can suggest from two personal experiences is this...

    I got married in Nevada when it was 115 degrees and INSISTED that we take outdoor pictures much to the dismay of the photographer and the stylist who did my hair and makeup...they pleaded, but I insisted. (I didn't know anything about photography then and now I understand the lighting issues which were tough in the desert sun.) Anyway, if they really want
    outside, check to see if the church as a nice gazebo you could use or any trees that provide shade. Our church had both a gazebo and a nice bit of landscaping with some trees and the pictures were beautiful in both places.

    Putting them out of the sun will give you the nice outdoor look without the harsh shadows and all that jazz. I also have taken some lighting courses and the professor said it over and over again, either you wait for the right time of day, the right day (overcast) or you find shade, no exceptions.

    I'd definitely discuss a back up plan in case it is raining or there is NO available shade. If they still insist, would you have an "assistant" that could help by rigging some kind of screen out of the frame but enough to deaden direct sun?

    As for lighting, I'll let an experienced person help you there.

    Good luck
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2007
  3. Pack lots of batteries and change them out at preset intervals before they go dead. Get rechargeable ones if you can.

    If you know where the wedding is going to be held try to scope out the site and pick the best spots for the "formals". Try to go to the site around the same time as the wedding will be so you'll know what lighting will be like. Keep in mind that you don't want them looking into the sun. If you can get inside the church try to get a couple preset white balance readings and save them on your camera.

    Shoot RAW!!!!

    Find out about if you can use flash in the church. Most won't let you use them during the ceremony.

    Go online and and do a Google image search for "classic wedding poses". You'll get lots of idea for the formals this way.

    Things will go smoother if you can bring an assistant to help you out with your gear, posing and maybe as a second shooter.

    Looking at your list of lenses I think you are definitely set gear wise, and you looking at your gallery you obviously know how to use it. Now just relax and have a good time
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2007
  4. mr2monster


    Jun 29, 2007

    Quoted and bolded for truth. I just shot a wedding and forgot to change out my batteries on my speedlights. I ended up with a bunch of underexposed images because the flashes couldn't keep up with my heavy trigger finger.

    Lesson learned and next time I'll be wasteful with batteries, if need be, and change them out every so often.

    I lost a lot of great photos because of that.... High ISO killed the post processing for trying to bring them back to life too.

    The other thing I learned is that once a moment has passed, there is no getting it back. Be ready with your camera at ALL times.
  5. Sounds like you're gonna be a studio type guy... but don't expect it to happen overnight. New gear could hurt more than it helps. You don't have much time, and this is a mission critical assignment, so stick with what you know.

    Go to the sites of the ceremony and reception, at the same time of day that the event will be held, and take test shots. Work out your settings in advance so you can concentrate on the bride and groom on their big day rather than technical stuff.
  6. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    In addition to the great advice you have received, never let your gear out of sight of you or your assistant. A friend of mine had the manuals to all of her gear stolen out of her bag last Saturday. It could easily have been the whole bag. Just because you are in a church doesn't mean a thief won't strike.
  7. It depends on how much time you have and the group size but I'm not sure I would try lightstands and extra flashes - could cause more problems than they solve (as uf said)

    like everyone has said - find shade somehow, would add if you have any photog friends bring one along as a 2nd shooter and also have backups of stuff you might need to use (e.g. camera)

  8. Thanks for the good advice all-

    Going to meet with the couple tomorrow to discuss what they want for formals, ins and outs of the event, and see the site at the same time of day as the ceremony.

    I did find out there are 12 in the bridal party including the B&G.

    Also got my delivery from B&H- fooled around with it just a little in TTL mode and pretty happy with the results- but I will be cautious about trying to reinvent the wheel next week next week for sure.
  9. Uh- Yikes. Went to see the church this afternoon.

    The stage has very nice (huge) windows looking out behind it that are throwing a LOT of sunlight right behind everyone / everything up there. Quite a struggle with getting the flashes set up right- here are a few that came out okay I think- ironically the first ones I took- they mainly got worse from there but I think I understand what I need to do now. Luckily the bride has no problem with flash use during the ceremony- otherwise I have no idea how I would keep them from being complete silhouettes or completely blowing out the windows.

    Best Man-


    Bride to be-

    I did order a Sekonic L-308S Flashmate, Flash and Ambient, Incident & Reflected Exposure Meter.
  10. Go over to dppreview and look up Sam Stern. There's currently a thread on there from someone shooting his first wedding. Sam has all the poses and setting listed. I used his advice last summer shooting my son's wedding--never again--and Sam's suggestions overcame my terrible composition sense.

  11. Looking good. So the equations are, one set of test shots is worth 100 helpful suggestions, and one beautiful bride equals 100 test shots. :wink:

    I think this will turn out OK. You're motivated, and you have a knockout of a bride as your primary subject. :Love:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2007
  12. Cope


    Apr 5, 2007
    Houston, Texas

    Thanks for the information, i like what he says. Link to the post:

  13. Make sure the church allows flash photography during the ceremony. It's good to know that the bride is ok with it, but you wouldn't want to be surprised on the wedding day if the church doesn't allow it.

    It's good that you're preparing in advance. I've seen so many people cry out for help the day before or even hours before the event... I'm sure you'll do great! Do you have insurance on your gear? This is something you might want to think about getting if you don't have it already. As others have pointed out, it isn't unheard of for a photog's gear to go missing or get broken during a wedding. Ins. could offer you some peace of mind and allow you to concentrate on taking the photos.
  14. Well it is done- I really appreciate all the information I got here.

    I finally got all the images processed and online. The results are posted here if you would like to take a look. :rolleyes: 
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  15. You did a fine job, Jeff! I'd imagine the bride is delighted!
  16. Thanks guys- I appreciate it.
  17. Sounds pretty exciting Jeff! Those pics don't look too bad, looks like you're heading in the right direction. If it helps I'm nervous for you as I'm going that route with my photography as well, so reading your thread, I'm imagining being in that situation and to be honest I can't wait.
    Still in the reading/studying phase and waiting fro some equipment to arrive. What part of Florida? Depending on when and where I wouldn't mind being an assistant.

    When all else fails and your nerves get to you, get your flashes set up and hit the "func" button to auto meter your scene and fire away. Just picked that up in a thread here a couple f days ago but heck if i remember who to give the credit to (sorry :rolleyes: )! Perhpas not the best way to go but as I said, when and if the nerves pile up, it's a "bail out". :biggrin:

    Good luck!
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