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12-21-2010, 03:09 PM   #1
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Help! Agreed to be a wedding photographer and know nothing about it!

My Salvadorian friend's mother had cancer and one of her last wishes was to see her oldest son get married. Unfortunately, she passed away last week and the wedding is for Dec 26. But the wedding is still on, and since everything was so rushed, they didn't have time to plan for everything. They asked me to be their photographer. My credentials are: I have a Pentax K10D (w. the kit 18-55mm) and my nice Pentax 50mm 1.2 lens. And a Walmart tripod. And I sort of know how to do the manual mode. But I said yes, how could I not?

Okay, so now I'm in battlestations mode. What do I do? I have less than a week to get ready, but I haven't touched this camera in months! I don't know how to direct people, don't know too much about angles, nada. I have some really nice pictures.

This is what I need from you guys:
1) What lens should I buy/rent? Something inexpensive please. Maybe zoom?
2) Do I need a flash? Which budget one would you recommend? A diffuser?
3) Any books I can get right now for a quick lesson?
4) Recommend any websites for wedding photography?
5) Tips! Hints! Advice!

These are some of the most humble and nice people I've met in my life. But they don't have too much money, and medical bills from his mother is crippling, to say the least. So they don't have any money for a professional photographer. They have me or no memories to keep with them on their special day. Makes me even more nervous...

If anyone in the NYC area would like to help out and hone their wedding photography skills (and meet some really nice Salvadorians), believe me, you'd be so welcome. I won't be able to pay you as I don't have too much money either, but I'll compensate you for your travel.

12-21-2010, 03:19 PM   #2
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Step out and offer to find them a good budget photographer.
12-21-2010, 03:20 PM   #3
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How to shoot a wedding - Lesson 2

read that, found it just by googling and it's really helpful, i scanned through it and it seemd to answer most of your questions.
12-21-2010, 03:25 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
Step out and offer to find them a good budget photographer.
Believe me, I wish I could. I'm extremely busy at work, and have no time to practice.

Trust me, they don't have the money. He lives in California, and his mother was in New York, and he spent all his money on flights travelling back and forth, and skipping work and paying for the hospital bills. It's going to be a small affair, in a small church with no reception. More to fulfill his mother's last wishes.

12-21-2010, 03:26 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by clockwork247 Quote
How to shoot a wedding - Lesson 2

read that, found it just by googling and it's really helpful, i scanned through it and it seemd to answer most of your questions.
Thanks, I'm reading it now and that's what I'm looking for.
12-21-2010, 03:27 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by drexvil Quote
Believe me, I wish I could. I'm extremely busy at work, and have no time to practice.

Trust me, they don't have the money. He lives in California, and his mother was in New York, and he spent all his money on flights travelling back and forth, and skipping work and paying for the hospital bills. It's going to be a small affair, in a small church with no reception. More to fulfill his mother's last wishes.
Get their expectations low and find friends to help you.

How to photograph a wedding
12-21-2010, 03:34 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eruditass Quote
Get their expectations low and find friends to help you.

How to photograph a wedding
That's a good idea. I've talked about low expectations with him already. But now I'm just trying to do the best job I could via online research. I would normally trove through the forums for weeks and read everything to be prepared, but he just asked me 30 mins ago. I feel bad asking the forum such a newbie question.

I'll look for friends' help too. Thanks for the link!
12-21-2010, 03:39 PM   #8
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Check out CameraLensRentals.com if you decide to rent (I haven't rented before, but have heard nothing but good things about them here and elsewhere). The DA* 16-50mm F2.8 would probably be a good start, and the AF540FGZ flash - with the lenses you have you are going to be limited otherwise. Even if you are doing it for free, perhaps your friend would be willing to cover the rental costs.

12-21-2010, 04:08 PM   #9
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Weddings are no easy task, but given the situation I can understand them asking you and you saying yes. The answers I'll give to your questions are not really great advice, just safe ideas that will get you through the day. If you were asking about starting up a wedding photogrpahy business on the side then the answers I would give would be completely different.

1) Most weddings photographers I've worked with (I'm a professional wedding videographer) use a 24-70 & a 70-200 f/2.8 on a full frame camera. If you're able to rent it, the 16-50 as mentioned before is a good choice. You're going to need something a bit longer than the kit lens during the ceremony, as you won't want to be right in their faces the whole time.

2) Get a flash. Something like the Sigma EF-530 DG ST which is cheap and versatile. It will let you bounce off ceilings indoors and fill in shadows outdoors for good (though not amazing, when used on camera) portraits and group shots. A flash will give you more chances to get photos because you'll be able to shoot from any direction regardless of where the sun is. And it will let you set up group shots with the subjects backlit and the flash filling in to get nice, quick, results without too much fuss.

3) It's a bit late at this stage for books, but try the internet.

4) I find there's not a lot of wedding photography/videopgrahy tips or tutorials on the internet, mainly because most people don't want to give away their secrets for free. However, you'll have good results if you type in a google search for something like "photo portait tips" or "indoor photo tips" and then apply those to your situation. Look for tutorials or tips that use minimal equipment.

5) Other tips - shoot in AV mode - let the camera do some of the decision making for you so you can focus more on what is happening around you. Shoot RAW so you can recover some of your exposure mistakes later on. Try to visit the locations in advance so you know what you're dealing with. Bring lots of batteries and cards. Stick to the basics - rule of thirds, leading diagonals, etc. Print out a good posing guide to carry with you so you are never short of ideas. this one here has some good ones for males, females and couples - Lynn Herrick Photography - Posing Guide - I suggest you cut out the ones you like and paste them onto a single A4 page to carry with you. Be friendly with all the guests - smile, joke, compliment them - and they will be more relaxed in front of the camera. Make sure you can carry everything in one bag - you're going to need to move quickly and can't stop to pick things up or shuffle gear around. When indoors, (unless the roof is super high such as in a church) bounce flash off the ceiling and when outside, shoot towards the sun and use fill flash - these techniques are a quick way of putting more depth in your photos and will noticiably seperate your work from the billions of standard 'facebook snaps' people take at these sorts of events.

Also have a chat with the bride/groom/family beforehand and let them know that you will do your best but you can't promise you'll deliver professional results. You have limited equipment, experience and time to prepare, so make sure they understand that so you don't end up with any dissapointment or tension later on. Then they'll be pleasntly surprised later on when you deliver some really nice shots!
12-21-2010, 05:21 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
Check out CameraLensRentals.com if you decide to rent (I haven't rented before, but have heard nothing but good things about them here and elsewhere). The DA* 16-50mm F2.8 would probably be a good start, and the AF540FGZ flash - with the lenses you have you are going to be limited otherwise. Even if you are doing it for free, perhaps your friend would be willing to cover the rental costs.
This site is a godsend! The rental prices are within budget, so I'm happy about that. Thanks!

I might just buy a flash instead of renting it, for future use.
12-21-2010, 05:31 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by deltoidjohn Quote
Weddings are no easy task, but given the situation I can understand them asking you and you saying yes. The answers I'll give to your questions are not really great advice, just safe ideas that will get you through the day. If you were asking about starting up a wedding photogrpahy business on the side then the answers I would give would be completely different.

1) Most weddings photographers I've worked with (I'm a professional wedding videographer) use a 24-70 & a 70-200 f/2.8 on a full frame camera. If you're able to rent it, the 16-50 as mentioned before is a good choice. You're going to need something a bit longer than the kit lens during the ceremony, as you won't want to be right in their faces the whole time.

2) Get a flash. Something like the Sigma EF-530 DG ST which is cheap and versatile. It will let you bounce off ceilings indoors and fill in shadows outdoors for good (though not amazing, when used on camera) portraits and group shots. A flash will give you more chances to get photos because you'll be able to shoot from any direction regardless of where the sun is. And it will let you set up group shots with the subjects backlit and the flash filling in to get nice, quick, results without too much fuss.

3) It's a bit late at this stage for books, but try the internet.

4) I find there's not a lot of wedding photography/videopgrahy tips or tutorials on the internet, mainly because most people don't want to give away their secrets for free. However, you'll have good results if you type in a google search for something like "photo portait tips" or "indoor photo tips" and then apply those to your situation. Look for tutorials or tips that use minimal equipment.

5) Other tips - shoot in AV mode - let the camera do some of the decision making for you so you can focus more on what is happening around you. Shoot RAW so you can recover some of your exposure mistakes later on. Try to visit the locations in advance so you know what you're dealing with. Bring lots of batteries and cards. Stick to the basics - rule of thirds, leading diagonals, etc. Print out a good posing guide to carry with you so you are never short of ideas. this one here has some good ones for males, females and couples - Lynn Herrick Photography - Posing Guide - I suggest you cut out the ones you like and paste them onto a single A4 page to carry with you. Be friendly with all the guests - smile, joke, compliment them - and they will be more relaxed in front of the camera. Make sure you can carry everything in one bag - you're going to need to move quickly and can't stop to pick things up or shuffle gear around. When indoors, (unless the roof is super high such as in a church) bounce flash off the ceiling and when outside, shoot towards the sun and use fill flash - these techniques are a quick way of putting more depth in your photos and will noticiably seperate your work from the billions of standard 'facebook snaps' people take at these sorts of events.

Also have a chat with the bride/groom/family beforehand and let them know that you will do your best but you can't promise you'll deliver professional results. You have limited equipment, experience and time to prepare, so make sure they understand that so you don't end up with any dissapointment or tension later on. Then they'll be pleasntly surprised later on when you deliver some really nice shots!
Thank you so much for your reply sir! Funny that I'm in the library as I type, checking out wedding photography books. The poses are great too, and I'll need to filter out a lot since some of them seem to be more suitable for the honeymoon.

I think I'll just buy the flash, as it's within my means. As for renting the lens, do you have any specific lens models for my K10D? I won't rent a full frame. It's going to be a very small wedding in a small church, as all their friends are in California.

Thanks again for the info.
12-21-2010, 05:34 PM   #12
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Probably covered in one of the readings that were recommended, but, have the bride (and maybe the groom) make a list of the photos they want - ie: cutting the cake, photo with Uncle X and Aunt Y, etc. Also, don't forget to get photos of the guests.

Then, make sure you you actually GET the photos they want - ask them to pose, do a a re-shoot (chimp the photo) if necessary. Remember, when it comes to actually getting/taking the shot, you're the boss!!

You've got 5 days - PRACTICE!!!!!

Good luck.
12-21-2010, 06:07 PM   #13
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I have never taken pictures at a wedding, but you have a huge advantage now vs. a few years ago: digital. You don't have to wait days or weeks only to find out that you missed some or all of the pictures, and you don't have to worry about being constrained by film costs.

Paul
12-21-2010, 07:24 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChipB Quote
Probably covered in one of the readings that were recommended, but, have the bride (and maybe the groom) make a list of the photos they want - ie: cutting the cake, photo with Uncle X and Aunt Y, etc. Also, don't forget to get photos of the guests.

Then, make sure you you actually GET the photos they want - ask them to pose, do a a re-shoot (chimp the photo) if necessary. Remember, when it comes to actually getting/taking the shot, you're the boss!!

You've got 5 days - PRACTICE!!!!!

Good luck.

Thanks for the tips! There won't be any official reception, just the ceremony at the church. My experience with photos were all landscapes and cityscapes, so I'll be testing my directing skills for the first time this Sunday. Actually, I did use to direct my dog when I took 2 billion pictures of him, but I used a milkbone, and I doubt that would work well with the guests!

I'll bring some treats, just in case...
12-21-2010, 07:25 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tibbitts Quote
I have never taken pictures at a wedding, but you have a huge advantage now vs. a few years ago: digital. You don't have to wait days or weeks only to find out that you missed some or all of the pictures, and you don't have to worry about being constrained by film costs.

Paul
Film? What's that? Explain me this mysterious medium...
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