Did my first wedding a couple of weeks ago (I'm an amateur photog) and thought I would share the experience for anyone maybe thinking of doing the same...
Background is that I was asked by a family member whether I would do this for them and weirdly enough I had been thinking about doing weddings for a while so this was rather handy. It also meant that some of the pressure was taken off the task as the "client" is family and would hopefully be more forgiving of my first go! Having said that I did make sure the happy couple were aware that I haven't done this before, I'm just a keen amateur.
Anyway, in the lead up to the wedding I scoped the venue. Basically went and had a walk around, worked out where I thought I needed to be at the various times throughout the ceremony and where I could take the post ceremony pics. I also noted the direction the sun was likely to be coming from and places I could shoot if it was indeed bright sunshine. I also had a look at the lighting inside and whether I needed to gel my flash at all (this was the cause of much googling and indecision!).
This time was also used to have a read, and a couple of books I bought proved very useful e.g. wedding photography a guide to posing by David Pearce. I didn't follow the text of either in detail, but they did give me some ideas on things like how to pose the couple and a bit of inspiration. There are also little details like don't use flash when doing the confetti shot as it casts shadows - I would not have thought of that!
I'm a planner so I made sure I planned what shots I wanted to take and OK'd this with the couple. I am so glad I did this as you just don't remember everything on the day and a plan also means you can rope in a helper to e.g. get the group shots together.
The day before was the time for charging everything, cleaning lenses, making sure I had enough spare batteries for the flashes etc. I have a couple of flashes and a fair selection of lenses so I have an element of backup, but only having a single dslr body was a bit of a worry. If I was to do this in a paid role that would be my first investment for sure.
I shot the day with my trusty 40D and 24-105L. Actually I hired a 17-55 2.8 as a trial a couple of months ago as I was concerned that the 24-105 would not be quite wide enough or be fast enough for the low light evening shots. When the thing arrived in the post tho I quite quickly realised that I preferred the reach of the 105 and this clinched the choice. I just wasn't happy having to get real close to the couple to get the close-ups and the extra width seemed minimal in practice.
So, on the day I shot ...
- bride getting ready
- venue and details shots
- groom and best man before the ceremony
- guests arriving
- the ceremony itself
- bride and groom posed shots
- group shots
- cake cutting and first dance
- various candids
In total I took >350 shots and could easily have taken more candids. I made sure I took at least three of each of the key shots and this proved really handy as I was able to discard many shots in post production where eyes were closed etc and still have a keeper. I found that there was just no time for chimping during the main shots so relied on an occasional peep just to make sure stuff wasn't way off. I tried to keep it fairly traditional / formal but then throw in a weird angle etc. Some of these came off and some didn't but that was pretty much expected.
Lighting was overcast in the end so I didn't need to use flash outdoors. For the indoor shots I used bounce flash, bouncing the light off the ceiling with a small home made bounce card on my 580exII for catchlights. I could have used the built in card but this only works for landscape shots so I employed white card and elastic bands - someone actually asked if my flash was broken which was quite amusing!
Post processing I tried to manage my workflow as follows
- manage in the keepers (as opposed to deleting the"bad" shots). Thinking behind this was that this would keep the quality of the finished set as a whole higher rather than keeping shots that were only average.
- Fix white balance. I shot raw so this was fairly easy
- fix exposure and highlights. Biggest challenges were the white dress vs the black grooms jacket. Highlights slider in DPP coped admirably with this tho. Again, glad I shot raw to give me that extra latitude on exposure as the white vs black fooled the metering on occasion
- Fix any blemishes / distracting stuff.
- Any convert to B&W or other special effects I fancied
I'm not a massive fan of over processed photo's so I went pretty natural looking and hence post processing was reasonably light time wise (still about 8 hours tho). I also tried to avoid cropping by concentraing on cropping when taking rather than later in PP. On a couple of occasions I got this a little too aggresive so that's one to watch for the future.
I used the free canon DPP for the majority of this plus photoshop elements for the trickier bits.
Lessons learned? Several.
- It's all too easy to get caught up in the moment and forget the shots you planned to take. You're trying to be quick and sometimes miss shots that you could have captured, so strangely enough I think "take your time" is good advice.
- I also fell guilty of some basic errors like not checking the corners / top / bottom of my image to ensure that I had all I wanted in the frame - when shooting people I found it very easy to just focus your attention on the faces and miss stuff.
- Plan but be prepared to be flexible. I had several people approach me for ad-hoc shots I had not expected and these added to the day nicely so I will be ready for these if I do another.
- The main lesson tho was that it was great fun! It's not often that I get people who actively want to have their photo taken so that made a real difference and I can see why people do this as a profession.
I'll be presenting the photo's to the happy couple in the next few days - I'm pretty pleased with them - wish me luck