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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Apple Valley, Ca - USA
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    588

    Shooting Outside of my Comfort Zone

    Well, it happened. Way back when I picked up this hobby, I swore I'd never shoot a wedding. Event photography, especially one as important as a wedding, was one area that I swore to avoid like the plague. But, I ended up shooting my first "real" wedding last Saturday.

    I've been asked by friends to shoot other events in the past year. It's for friends who don't have the money to hire a "real" photographer, so I agreed. I did two memorial services, and my sister-in-law's wedding to her 2nd husband. But that was an informal living room, family only wedding. No real big deal, no real expectation. Then about a month ago (maybe a bit longer) very close family friends, whom I consider family, asked me to shoot their daughter's wedding. I turned them down at first, but then started feeling bad about it. I talked to them again, and basically the deal was that either I shoot it, or they do it with their p&s cameras, and I couldn't deal with that, so I changed my mind.

    Every time someone tried calling me a photographer, I'd correct them and say, "no, no photographer, just a guy with a camera". I was super nervous at first, but attending the rehearsal helped a lot, and shooting on the day of the wedding wasn't all bad, but it wasn't w/o some snags either. First, we were dong posed family shots before the ceremony, and I brought my light stands, umbrellas, and my gadget infinity "poverty wizards", and one of them wouldn't fire if I got more than 2 ft. away from it. Not good. So, a call home and I had my fater-in-law rush down my SB-26 (w/ built in optical slave) to fill in. It worked pretty reliably, but I had a few failed shots until I realized the problem. Guest's were still shooting w/ their p&s cameras, and their flashes would trigger my SB-26, so it wasn't ready for me when I took the shot. A little communication resolved that problem.

    The ceremony went off well enough, I shoot it w/ my F56AM flash on top of the camera and bounced it off the ceiling for most shots, with satisfactory results. After the day of swapping AA batteries, I can see why it's imperative to have a nice set of external battery packs if you do events like this regularly. That, and good radio triggers...

    I'm still developing the raw files so maybe I'll post a few in a couple of days when I get them done.

    So, in the morning before the wedding I hurt my back palying w/ my kids (stupid age), so by the end of the day (7hrs of shooting) I walked away, kind of bent over since I couldn't stand up straight, w/ a bag full of dead batteries and 375 pictures on my card...

    So far I've got about 330 keepers after tossing out the dark frames, blurry shots, and test shots. I'm still paring it down though, maybe closer to the 315 mark once I'm done scrutinizing all the shots.

    So, what's a normal number of pictures from a professional wedding photographer anyway?

    All in all- it wasn't as bad of an experience as I thought it'd be...but I'm not anxious to do it again...

    BM

    ps. special thanks to the strobist blog and planetneil.com...excellent resources w/o which this would have been a miserable experience.

  2. #2
    Member gracie_r's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Location
    Southern Minnesota
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    255

    Re: Shooting Outside of my Comfort Zone

    I am glad it went well, and I can't wait to see some of the pictures!

    I don't know what is normal number of pictures from a wedding photographer, but we got about 400 shots from our photographer if that helps.
    Feel free to edit and repost my photos as part of your critique.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2004
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    Apple Valley, Ca - USA
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    Re: Shooting Outside of my Comfort Zone

    Here are a few pics. I'm still only about half way through processing all the raw files. I need to set up better lightroom presets to help speed this process up. I'm still climbing the learning curve of processing large numbers of raw files. One thing I've found is that the same settings, even in similar conditions, isn't optimal for all the pictures. So, I do basic global batch edits, then go through each one making the necessary tweaks until I'm satisfied.

    So how did your photographer deliver the final product to you after the wedding? Did you sit down with him and pick what photos you wanted printed in what sizes? Seems like it would be a tedious process w/ 400 shots to go through.

    I've only seen a pro wedding photog in action once, at my wife's cousin's wedding. It was a wham bam vegas wedding, and this guy had the whole thing choriographed. He shot all the photos w/ a direct flash on a flash bracket, not gelled in a tungsten room, so the subjects were well exposed with the correct white balance, but the tungsten lit background was dim and orange, but within a 1/2hr after the wedding he had a slideshow already read for us to view. I don't think he took 400 shots, but the images he captured were fantastic. The moments, expressions, etc.









    The first two were shot w/ the umbrellas & Nikon strobes @ iso 800, the last two were shot w/ bounce flash @ iso 1600.

    BM

  4. #4
    Hardcore...Nikon Speed's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    Location
    Newport, NC
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    Re: Shooting Outside of my Comfort Zone

    For starters, you take a lot more gear than I do. I carry my camera, my flash, extra batteries (for the flash and the camera), extra CF cards, and I usually work with just a couple of lenses. I usually have my camera bag with me with my other lenses (rarely used, there as backups), and I may take my SB-28 along with my SU-4.

    How many photo's I take depends on the wedding and the reception. My last wedding was a smaller wedding, they didn't do any toasts, they didn't have a DJ or a band, and they didn't do any dancing. I came away with a little over 350 shots. A larger wedding, larger families, band and/or DJ, toasts and dancing, and the picture count goes to around 500. That's for a typical four hour wedding. Subtract time and the picture count goes down a little (you shoot faster), add time and the picture count goes up a little (after a few drinks, the pictures aren't anything anyone really wants to see, and certainly aren't going to buy).

    The general rule of thumb is, you should have two pictures for every minute you are there. You take fewer during the ceremony, about two a minute at the reception, and you take several per minute taking the before and after wedding shots. As I said, it's a rule of thumb, and it varies with the size of the wedding party, size of the family, lenght of time you are there, etc.

    The shots you've uploaded look good. Don't sell yourself short. ("no, no photographer, just a guy with a camera") I know that feeling. Been there, done that. But when you are the guy with the SLR and you are the primary guy taking pictures, you are THE photographer.
    Nikon Samurai # 1


    http://mccabephotography.tripod.com

    http://precisionshotsphoto.tripod.com

    "Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry." - Thomas Jefferson

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Apple Valley, Ca - USA
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    Re: Shooting Outside of my Comfort Zone

    My problem w/ shooting events isn't not knowing how to work the camera, it's how to work people. In this case, most everyone I already know, and are pretty close family friends, and pretty much consider them family. So, they know I'm not a pro photographer, and helped me a lot with direction and who to shoot and how. I don't really know how to pose people. That's one area I need to learn. People don't understand simple instructions, you tell them to squeeze together and instead of moving with their feet, they just lean in. And there's the problem of getting them centered on the background too... all those little stupid things get annoying.

    I may have brought more equipment than you, but I was lacking in some very important areas. I only have one 4gb cf card, so I brought my laptop and made a tactical photo dump right before the ceremony started. That, and not quite enough charged batteries.

    BM

  6. #6
    May the force be with you Canuck935's Avatar
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    Apr 2003
    Location
    San Diego, California, USA
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    1,119

    Re: Shooting Outside of my Comfort Zone

    Nice images. Looking good so far. My problem with wedding and event photography is the same as yours. Dealing with people is not my cup of tea. However, I must say that the more you do it the easier it gets. I'd still rather not do it though. I've only shot one wedding as the sole photographer, opting to team up with a second photographer most of the time. I'll shoot with a local wedding and event photographer or just with one of my photography buddies. My kit is more like Speed's. I carry only what I can fit into my tamrac shoulder bag. Camera, flash, 3 or 4 lenses. Tripod is in the car if I need it. Of course with that I don't achieve the kind of lighting you get with stands and umbrella's, but I make the most of what I got by diffusing and bouncing whenever possible.

  7. #7
    Hardcore...Nikon Speed's Avatar
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    Newport, NC
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    Re: Shooting Outside of my Comfort Zone

    Gotcha! Posing people is probably the biggest thing I had to learn. (Still working on it every time I shoot people.) Sometimes you have to show them, literally, physically, where to stand, how to angle in to each other (to get closer), etc, etc. Yes, it can be annoying. And you do quite a bit of moving about, walking up to show them where and how to stand, going back to your camera to take the picture, then doing it all over again for the next group. And the next group. It's something you learn to do.

    The important thing is to remember to stay positive and upbeat, even when you think "they've got to be playing stupid just to annoy me". And you will feel that way! Don't let the silly stuff get to you.

    As far as working with folks who know you, it's a matter of just taking charge. A little self confidence goes a LONG way. Even if they know you, even if they know you're not a pro, if you project that you are in charge and you know what you're doing, they will do what you want them to. I had to learn to speak up and tell folks, this is the way it's going to go, and then do it. Nothing flashy, don't make a big deal out of it, don't get cocky, just proceed like you do it every day. They may know that you're not a pro, but they won't know just how professional you can be until you show them. The first time you get this down, you will be amazed at how easy everything seems to flow after that.

    As for the small things, definitely get another 4 gig card. As a rule of thumb, I always put fresh batteries in my flash before I go, and I always carry at least one backup set of fresh batteries. I made that mistake - once. Fortunately, my wife brought me more AA's and I was good to go.

    Same thing applies to the camera battery. When I first got my D200, I went on a photo-camping trip with a couple of my college buddies. I only had one battery, and I would shoot during the day, then charge it that night. It never ran out of power on me, but I ran it down quite a bit. I bought more batteries when they went on sale, and eventually ended up with four batteries. When I bought the D300, that count went to five. I make sure they are all charged up before I go to a wedding, camping trip, whatever. Five may be excessive, but I never worry about not having enough power. ;-)

    I firmly believe that every digital camera shooter should have at least two batteries for his camera (actually, I always carried a spare with my film camera too), and if you shoot high volume events like weddings, three would be even better. One battery usually gets me through a wedding, but I don't believe in taking chances if I can avoid it.

    You have had a great learning experience. Take what you learned and apply it. Experience isn't something that can be bought. You learn it by doing it. Like I said before, you took some very nice photo's, so don't be hard on yourself. Next time, you'll be amazed at how much more comfortable you are. Because you are THE photographer!
    Nikon Samurai # 1


    http://mccabephotography.tripod.com

    http://precisionshotsphoto.tripod.com

    "Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry." - Thomas Jefferson

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