First Wedding Photo Shoot?

October 27th, 2010

A family friend is getting married in a few days and their photographer canceled on them at the last minute. I am an amateur photographer, I have done some high school football games and family photo shoots. But I have never done something as big as a wedding, and I will be the only photographer so I am very nervous. I know that I take great shots, the couple has seen them and I get compliments on them all the time. The wedding and reception are both indoors, I imagine the lighting will be less than perfect. I was just looking for some tips on how to help these photos look extra special for them, or any specific settings or tips that would help at all. I appreciate all advice.
I have a Nikon D60 with a 18-55 lens and a 55-200 lens, I plan on bringing both of them as well as my stand. One problem is That I only have the flash within the camera since my other flash broke, and I am tight for money at the moment and am not going to bring my umbrella lighting because that would be silly so there is no option for buying a new flash.
PLEASE; no statements on how i shouldn’t do this because i am amateur and this is a very important day for them, YES I realize this and they have called around for a new pro but I am their only option aside from others just using basic digital cameras or no photos at all.

Thank you.
I am not going to ruin their day, I never said that I was some sort of professional photographer nor did I make myself appear as one. I do live in a relatively small town so no there are not a lot of photographers so no they could not have found someone else. I do family photos with just my little nikon D60 as well and i’m a firm believer that it is the photographer, not his/her equipment that makes a photo well off or a total disaster. So don’t talk down to me and call me pathetic just because I am not some better than thou yahooanswers critique who has nothing better to do than to shove hurtful comments on anyone trying to get into the world of photography, I have read what you answered for other people and I think you are an a**. Degrading people just because they are new to photography and are curious what people think of their work? Really? Thats so mature.
And I am no professional considering the fact that I am only 20; Photography just happens to be something I enjoy and that I am relatively good at. So they asked me to help them out in a tough situation. But I doubt you would know much about that because you aren’t a nice person. And I have looked at your flickr page, and your photos aren’t that great. I have taken much better with my so called “inadequate” Nikon D60.

8 Responses to “First Wedding Photo Shoot?”

  1. Jaze says:

    I found myself in the same boat several years ago and the way I handled it was just to take massive amounts of photos. When you take a thousand pictures, a couple hundred of them are bound to turn out good. Just don’t leave out any important family member. I neglected to get a photo of the groom’s great aunt and after she died a few months later, they wished I’d gotten some photos of her.

  2. Fishmeister says:

    Camera body is basic, I would say inadequate.
    Lenses are certainly unsuitable!.. An indoor shoot with those two crappy kit lenses?!?!.. Where is your fast lens for indoor use?. Where is your prime for portraits?…. Do you understand what I am saying when I say that your lenses are not fast enough for this type of shoot?.
    Only the built in flash?… Do I need to explain to you why this is totally inadequate?.

    You are certainly NOT the only option they have. Tell them to ask around for a friend who possesses the right gear and skills for this shoot.

    I am sick of these questions from idiots with an entry level DSLR, kit lenses, no flash, and no experience and skills other than shooting on fully auto, thinking they can gather all the knowledge they need to shoot a wedding in just a couple of days.



    Eric > My problem is not that she is portraying herself as a wedding photographer (which she obviously is not). She has said ‘yes’ to shooting this wedding obviously not considering that she has completely the wrong equipment and does not possess the skills to pull it off. That is my issue with her. Why say yes to something when you can not do it and risk ruining somebody’s big day, friend or family ties, and your reputation.

    It’s all about knowing your limits, and when to just say no.. This person should have said ‘no’.


  3. Eric Lefebvre says:

    Ouch … ok so I won;t say it. 🙂

    You are doing them a favor so hopefully if you mess up it will be fine. first thing I would do is rent some gear. Rent two flashes (8$ each), rent or a fast portrait lens like a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 (about 140$ to buy a 1.8 and 10$ to rent a 1.4), rent a 70-200 2.8 (about 40$), rent a 20-70 2.8 (about 30$) and beg, borrow or rent a second body (renting is about 120$) and that has you covered for gear.

    Bringing your umbrealla is NOT silly! You place it by the head table and shoot through to spread and soften the light (as long as ou have remotes to go with it like pocket wizards or flash poppers). You use it to soften the light for the formals for fill light so you can expose the sky and have the bride and groom well lit. I just bought an unbrella today for 2 weddings I am doing this weekend … I found my small flash mounted softbox was just too small.

    While you say that you are tight on money, you are replacing a professional photog … the least the couple can do is foot the bill for the rentals … even if you don’t charge them for your time (just helping out a friend). After all they were willing to PAY probably 1300$ – 2000$ for a pro to do their wedding right so even if they pay 400$ in rentals, they still save about 900$ – 1600$.

    EDIT: People on here need to chill a bit. She’s trying to help this couple out, it’s not like she went out, bought a camera yesterday and then started booking weddings. She’s helping people out after their photog dropped them at the last minute.

    I’m kind of surprised they weren;t able to find another photog. I guess they are in a small area?

  4. Genius Gene says:

    1. Since marriage parties are mostly indoors and in evenings, make sure there are enough lights to expose your photos. Try practicing at home with M/P mode in your camera and checking the exposure. Photos may look good in screen, but when you print, you notice the difference.

    2. Weddings are all about capturing moments. Try and look for that extra expression on faces, compose the shot well so that you don’t have much of empty space. Zoom in whenever required.

    3. Be very attentive. Keep a note of various sequences that follow in a wedding so that you do not loose any important part of the event. take extra care that you don’t loose any moment.

    4. Shoot in highest resolution, so that you may easily manipulate/crop in editing software.

    5. Do keep a Flash handy and use it with diffuser. You may even use fill flash option in day light if you require to do so. If you cant get a flash, and have to do with the inbuilt one, place a soft tissue paper over the flash to diffuse the light, so that you avoid the Shine on the faces.

    6. Carry extra batteries and memory cards. Keep on backing up your images to protect them from accidental formatting/ crash.

    7. While editing, make sure all images are in sync. Also arrange them in an order that they don’t look very contrasting to each other.

    8. Review several images over the net and see which angles look better, where to position, how to make people pose.

    All the best for your venture!!
    I am sure you will love the experience…

  5. Phi says:

    Listen to Fish and Eric. Renting equipment is your only option for pulling this off. You better do it now since it has to be shipped.
    The other option is to say, I will be there taking photos but I am not a wedding photographer.

  6. Rudy H says:

    You will not do a good (enough) job unless you get some more equipment. Rent if you have to. Borrow if you can. Cost should not be an issue here. They had money available for a photographer so they have money for equipment rental. Lens rental and a flash.

    See if you can also get someone else to shoot with you. Covering shots you are not taking, and to help cover your butt when thing don’t go right. Even to help arrange people for the shots. Get help. Weddings are difficult enough and your first one is certainly no joy.

    And if you have studio lights then bring them. No you will not be using them the hole time but for formals they will be great. If you don’t get a better lens then the studio strobe will give you half a chance to get some decent images by shooting at a reasonable aperture (for your lens) and a larger light source with the umbrella. Did I mention to have someone help you? Do it.

    Even if you can only get a 50mm f1.8 lens that will be a huge improvement. They are cheap. Or borrow one.

    Watch these and the others in the series. Its free. Some good information

    In the end you will do your best. It will be hard on you. But it won’t be as hard as I had it. I was taking some photo classes (many years ago) and a fellow student was getting married. He was unemployed and I think she had a job. They needed someone cheap and asked me. Even though I didn’t want to do it I reluctantly agreed. Shooting film with no auto focus. Two 35mm cameras and a medium format (twin lens reflex) for the large group shots. My batteries crapped out in my flash so I was shooting the the ceremonies. (NOTE Bring lots of batteries) Luckily for me they had the wedding outdoors but under a big white tent. Help as far as lighting. The brides sister comes charging down the aisle and I didn’t get her in focus. The only shot that really hurt. I had fantastic light outdoors for shots of them and some great locations. After wards I got pretty drunk and ended up with another photo student from our class.(and I’m not saying more than that)

    After that I said I would never do another wedding again. And have not. But it seems I’m being roped into it again this fall for my niece’s wedding. I’m not looking forward to it but at least I have a lot more knowledge, experience, and the right equipment. (did I mention a backup camera)

    Good luck

  7. says:
    I’ve always felt this to be a great tutorial aimed for someone in your situation. I’ve recommended it to several people.
    You might try to see if you could rent a flash unit because you’re going to really put that pop up through heck if you don’t. You might see if you could at least rig a diffuser over the flash so your images aren’t too harsh.

  8. mister-damus says:

    Well, as long as you realize what you are getting into (and it sounds like you do).

    “I am an amateur photographer”
    No you are not. You are a recreational photographer (that’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is. It’s not a put down). I myself am a recreational photographer (I’ve been shooting with an SLR for 15 years).

    “I have done some high school football games and family photo shoots.”
    That’s a start.

    “I know that I take great shots, the couple has seen them and I get compliments on them all the time.”
    That’s nice, but taking nice family photos and recreational photos IS NOT THE SAME AS TAKING good wedding photos (that’s a whole different animal). Just because you take good pictures does not mean you can take good wedding pictures. My relative asked if I could be the photographer at her wedding because everyone loves my travel and people/family pictures. I said no but that I would take pictures in addition to the pro they should hire. Luckily they took my advice and hired a pro because the pictures I took at their wedding were pretty bad for the most part (for some reason my 10 years of experience behind the lens did not translate into good wedding photography)

    “I have a Nikon D60 with a 18-55 lens and a 55-200 lens.”
    That’s good. If you can buy or borrow a second camera body, that would be even better.

    “One problem is That I only have the flash within the camera since my other flash broke.”
    Unless you really knew (and I mean REALLY KNEW) how to use your accessory flash, it’s not the end of the world. Most people are bad at flash photography (myself included, but I’m learning). I purchased a separate flash for my relative’s wedding thinking it would somehow be better than the built-in flash. It wasn’t (because I used it on auto – I did not have time to learn how to use the power dial and rear-curtain sync and all that jazz). I know better now, years later . . .

    “i’m a firm believer that it is the photographer, not his/her equipment that makes a photo well off or a total disaster.”
    Good. That’s very important.

    “But I doubt you would know much about that because you aren’t a nice person. And I have looked at your flickr page, and your photos aren’t that great. I have taken much better with my so called “inadequate” Nikon D60″
    Please tone down your attitude – it’s annoying and immature. Some people here are just trying to help.

    Now to your original question: “I was just looking for some tips on how to help these photos look extra special for them, or any specific settings”.

    There are no specific settings that will give you good pictures (there are no magic bullets – remember, it’s the photographer, not the camera). Settings come with experience, and we don’t know what specific lighting situations there will be at the wedding (and neither do you).

    My first bit of advice would be to get a good book on wedding photography to get ideas and inspiration (either borrow one from the library or buy one). You can also check out websites of pro wedding photographers and see examples.

    If you are able to, check out the location beforehand.

    If have not read your camera manual cover to cover yet, then do so before the wedding.

    I have found that shooting in ‘aperture priority’ mode is easiest for me because I can keep my shutter speed as fast as possible. If you have experience shooting in manual mode, that’s even better (I’m not to comfortable with my capabilities using manual yet, but I’m getting better).

    Use the lowest iso you can get away with (it will need to change depending on the lighting conditions. If you are going from inside a church to outside and then back inside to the reception, don’t forget to change the iso if needed, otherwise you won’t be making full use of your camera’s capablities),

    Avoid flash as much as possible, but don’t be afraid to use it if you have to. If it’s sunny outside, you definitely want to use fill-in flash to get rid of facial shadows. Try to take portraits in shade if you can. And watch out for backlighting that will fool your meter.

    You can increase your iso to avoid using flash, but if your iso is too high you may get grainy photos (this is where being intimately familiar with your camera comes into play – it is important to know how your camera behaves in different situations, and adjust accordingly).

    Anticipate the moment. be ready for the kiss, for the couple walking down the aisle, the toasts, etc. Stake out a good vantage point for the first dance and father-daughter dance. Same goes for the bouquet toss. etc.

    details (close-up pics of the food, wine glasses, place settings, bouquets, hands clasped together), pics of architectural details, etc.

    Don’t forget extra memory cards and batteries. You may also want a power bar or other small snack to keep you going. There are more things, but too much to write here. You will need to do your own homework.

    Good luck

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply