TIPS FOR SHOOTING A WEDDING FOR AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHERS
wed. november 7, 2012
I have been fortunate enough to have photographed over 800 weddings, but I still remember the first time someone asked me to capture the events of such a special day. At the time, I wasn't a professional photographer -- I had never even dreamed about being a pro. I really just wanted to get memorable pictures of my 2 year-old.
As a bonus, I figured I might get some good travel photos. This is the type of image I was capturing.
Bellow: Turkish Women in a Bazar -- circa 1970
Today, as I sit at my computer, in Huntington Beach, CA., I am remembering that first wedding and sort of wishing I would have had someone one, or some place, willing to share some tips on getting great wedding photos. Hopefully, the following article will help you.
Friends and family have told you they love the photographs you take. Occasionally, after seeing your work, someone asks if you are a professional photographer. Recently you’ve decided to offer your talent to friends and family members, and you need to learn the special tips and tricks the professionals use. Weddings are not the easiest photo shoot. However, by learning a few tips, you can have a successful experience.
All of this assumes that you are the 'official' photographer, asked by the bride and groom, to capture the images of their big day. It further assumes that they have not hired a professional photographer. In the case where you are just a guest, stay out of the way of the person the couple has selected to be their official photographer. Do not get in the way. Do not jump up, or into the aisle, to get what you think is an important moment, like the first kiss, or when the groom first sees his bride. Remember, it is important to them, too, and they hired someone who is not you to capture those moments. You don't want to ruin your friend's wedding photos by blocking the pro, or having your flash go off at a critical moment, and ruin the exposure on a once-in-a-life-time shot.
OK, so if you are the official photographer, paid or not, how do you prepare to do the bet job that you can?
Being Prepared When shooting a wedding, it is vital to plan ahead. You will have only one opportunity to shoot these special pictures. There is no excuse for running out of batteries or memory cards, having blurry or poorly lit images, or missing an important person in a group shot.
Make a list of the equipment you will need, and be sure it is packed. The following list contains some of the essentials you will need.
Wide angle and zoom lenses
3 step folding ladder for shooting downward
Duct tape (for markers and securing extension cords
Notebook and pen
The Day Before
You don’t want any surprises the day of the wedding. There are no second chances. Visit the wedding location at the time of day the event is taking place. Check out the lighting and angles. Determine if you need any special equipment or props. Locate the electrical outlets. This is important, as you may need to bring several extension cords for extra lights. Ask the bride and groom for a program with the order of the service, and determine where you need to stand for all the ceremony shots. Place small masking tape reminders on the floor where you will stand during shoots.
Inside Locations Spend time observing the natural light coming through windows, and determine how potential “shoot” spots are affected. Pay attention to stained glass windows in churches, and consider how to take advantage of the colors they cast. Look for unique places to pose photos for individual shots of the bride and groom, and their “couple” shots. Bring a second person to pose in practice shots. Evaluate the resulting pictures before the day of the actual shoot.
Outside Locations Weather is always a consideration when shooting an outdoor wedding. Check out the weather forecast for the wedding day. If you are fortunate, the weather will be the same the day before the wedding. Visit the outdoor location, and check lighting with practice shots. Look for unique photo opportunities and write them down. Anyone can forget things that are not written down. Ask about the alternative location in the event of bad weather, and follow the advance preparation suggestions given for inside locations.
Two Assistants The two assistants are an important part of your planning. The first assistant is a person who is good with a camera, and can help by covering extra angles of important shots They will also be responsible to take candid shots of the guests during the wedding and reception. The second assistant is a member of the one of the wedding families. Their job is to be sure everyone who needs to be in the shot is present at the right time. They are also responsible to keep the guests with cameras out of your way until your work is done.
Make A Photo List This should be planned in advance with the wedding couple. The photo list includes every shot the wedding couple wants, plus those you suggest to them. Use your imagination to make some creative shots from the following suggestions.
Wedding rings placed on a Bible (add a rose or ribbons)
Mirror reflection of bride adjusting her veil
Bride with family members before wedding
Veil and bouquet
Bride with maid of honor
Bride holding her dress and looking dreamy-eyed
Bride looking at parent’s wedding album
Bride looking at snapshots of her childhood
Bride in informal setting with siblings
Groom with family members before wedding
Groom with parents
Groom with best man Groom in informal setting with siblings Mirror reflection of groom adjusting his bow tie
The Day of the Wedding Arrive early. Plug in all necessary cords, and tape them down securely. Check your masking tape “shoot” markers, and replace any missing or damaged ones. Go over your photograph “to do” list with your assistant. Confirm which shots your assistant will be taking and the shooting locations. You both need to be shooting during the reception. Eat a full meal before leaving for the wedding location, and pack some snacks in your bag to nibble when time allows. Do not expect to sit down and eat during the reception because this is the wedding of a friend or family member. You are there to work. The reception photos are a very important part of the wedding album.
The Final Product When it’s time to print, don’t use your local discount store or pharmacy. Use a professional photography laboratory for long-lasting prints the bride and groom will love. Professional laboratories offer numerous sizes and options for quality prints, including glossy, matte, soft focus, and canvas.
Using these tips will give you the professional results you want, and your bride and groom will be delighted. Proper planning, the right tools, and a helpful assistant will make your shoot go smoothly.
[Edit:] I mentioned having a snack in your bag -- but what bag? You certainly don't want to carry a large camera bag, full of everything you own, on your shoulder, or hip, all day long. How do you make sure that you'll have the best lenses, for the ever-changing shoot opportunities, available when you need them?
Of course, you could drape two camera bodies over your shoulders, each with a different focal length lens. There are speciality straps designed to help keep the cameras from clanging together, as you move. However, there is another option: Enter the Shootsac. The Shootsac is the original lens bag. It was created by wedding photographers to allow you to carry a couple of lenses, flash, extra storage cards, and other items that you are likely to need over the course of shooting a wedding -- and carry them is a comfortable, convenient way.
Click on the following image, or watch the video, bellow, for more information.
Article courtesy of MyProPhotoBiz. Read more with a FREE subscription.
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WONDERING HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH FIREWORKS?
wed. july 4, 2012
Happy Fourth of July!
As we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S., we also mark another season --- a season of fun with family, friends, BBQs, and yes, FIREWORKS! These are the moments we want to capture, including those beautiful bursts of color in the sky.
So, the question is...
How to Photograph Fireworks?
Over the last week, the folks at Adorama have put together a few helpful guides that we wanted to share. Take a peek before heading out to the fireworks show!
Are you planning to shoot with a DSLR? Watch this handy video from AdoramaTV. Mark Wallace provides 8 simple steps to shooting awesome fireworks photos with your DSLR:
Grand Finales, in all their glory, are difficult to photograph. Working with Photoshop after the big event, you can create your own image by following these guidelines: Using Photoshop to create a Grand Finale
We hope you enjoyed these tips from Adorama. You're now ready to capture your memories with amazing 4th of July photos! Do you have other tips for shooting fireworks? We'd love to hear them - please share in the comments below. We'd also love to see your fireworks photos - you can email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a safe and happy holiday!
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SHOE-TING WEDDINGS: FUN OR FUNCTIONAL FOOTWEAR?
tue. september 27, 2011
I've been shooting weddings for over ten years. So have my poor, sore feet. When I first started shooting, I had it all wrong--I showed up for that first job in STYLE, meaning heels and a dress! The way I felt the next day (unable to get off the couch) made me run right out and buy the ugliest most comfortable pair of black shoes I could find, along with several pairs of high waisted black pants. No more teetering on heels and showing my butt crack halfway down the church aisle for me!
I was all about FUNCTION.
But I wasn't having any FUN!
(**PLUG: for a SHOOTSAC look that's FUN and FUNCTIONAL, check out our CURRENT SALE!! Your bag will show up on your doorstep in a few days with absolutely FREE US shipping!)
ANYWAY, back to the story
For a number of years, I settled on a pair of Dansko Mary Janes. Still on the wrong side of ugly but on the right side of function. I would call them...acceptable. But honestly, they weren't really my style. I was on the hunt for the PERFECT pair of shoes.
One morning before a wedding in 2009, I happened to be out shopping in the little town where my wedding was going to take place that afternoon. I came across the CUTEST pair of orange flats. I thought they were adorable, certainly comfortable in the store, and the perfect pop of color on my otherwise black outfit.
12 hours later, my toes and heels looked like they'd been through a meat grinder. Here's a photo of the hateful shoes from that day:
I finally ended up settling for cute flats, but of a different nature. I now wear either Sam Edelman gold flats (mostly THESE) or Kenneth Cole Reaction flats (like THESE. For me, they're the right compromise between FUNCTIONAL and FUN!
I am still on the hunt for the perfect shoe. I would LOVE a shoe with a small heel in a cute style that I could stand in all day. Does such a thing exist?
So LADIES: HERE'S WHAT I WANT FROM YOU:
A photo of YOUR shooting shoes sent to email@example.com and WHY you love them! Be creative--we know you shoot shoe photos every week, time to be creative with your own! Your shoes do not need to be new, cute, or perfect--you get points for creativity! You can ALSO post photo of the worst shoes you've ever worn to shoot! If we get something really good/funny/interesting/creative, maybe there will be a runner up prize :)
The photo we love the best will be posted here TOMORROW, and that person will win a $25 shootsac GIFT CARD!
SEND IN THOSE SHOE SHOTS NOW!!! Also, feel free to leave a comment with a link to a shoe you like for shooting, a tip on finding perfect shooting shoes, or anything shoe-related!
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HAPPY 4TH: SHOOTING FIREWORKS!!
mon. july 4, 2011
Happy Birthday America!
All over the USA tonight, we'll be able to look up and see amazing burst of fireworks illuminating the sky! It's no surprise that shooting fireworks is on our mind as we get ready for the big night :)
People are often intimidated by shooting fireworks because they seem so tricky and happen too infrequently to practice much. With these little hints, you can nail the fireworks shot of your dreams!
Last year, I photographed a wedding over this same weekend and the fireworks show was quite long--I had a lot of time to practice before the grand finale. Here's what you need for your shot:
-a camera and somewhat wide angle lens (I'd recommend at least a 35, and a 24 if you've got one)
-a tripod is preferable and will give you more options but isn't 100% necessary--fireworks are bright!
-a remote release if you're really wanting to make sure you have no shake lines in your photos
-a clear shot at the sky
-If you have a tripod, shoot at the lowest ISO you can. 400 and lower works best for the least amount of grain as long as you are properly exposed
-DON'T USE A FLASH. Tripod or not, a flash will ruin the gorgeous lights the fireworks give off and make your shot look cloudy
-Don't go for a super long exposure without a release ... tripod. The fireworks are plenty bright and a 30 second exposure is more than enough for a nice clean shot most of the time. If you don't have a tripod, stabilize yourself as well as possible (sit down and brace the camera against your face) before triggering the shutter
Here was my favorite experimental shot from last year:
This time, I decided to try a long exposure. My settings for this photo were:
400 ISO, 5.6 Apeture, 8 second exposure, handheld.
That's right--8 seconds, handheld. I didn't bring a tripod with me on this trip.
The reason this technique works so well is that the low ISO keeps the photo from being too noisy. It also forces a longer exposure, which is why the trails of the fireworks are so long. I was able to focus at 5.6 on a previous firework that was set off before this shot.
You can handhold something like this because when the fireworks go off is the only time the frame will be illuminated. Between fireworks, it's pitch black, and the explosion freezes the action like a flash would. If you move during the explosion though, you'll have a blurry shot. It's WAY BETTER AND EASIER to shoot this on a tripod.
(it also helped that the people setting these fireworks off were...untrained and had them going off waaaaay low. That's why the smoke, ground, and barn are so well illuminated.)
hope this helps, and happy belated 4th! We'd love to see your favorite fireworks shots--post a comment with a link or email your best to firstname.lastname@example.org!
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REVERSIBLE COVERS: A DEMONSTRATION!
fri. july 30, 2010
Hello out there! There have been a few questions about how the new reversible covers work, so I thought I'd make a little video to show you live and in person how to use them! I hope this is helpful! If you like videos and want more of them, let us know in the comments! Topic suggestions of things you'd like to learn about are always welcome too!
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BAROQUE: COMING TO A HOME NEAR YOU!
thu. june 25, 2009
HAPPY BLAST DAY!!
If you don't have your email yet with the sale of our BEST SELLING BAROQUE COVER, you should have it shortly! Don't live in the USA? You can go buy from Adorama, our partner who is participating in this months' sale!!
This months' photo is one that Michael Norwood shot of me shooting on the beach wearing Baroque. Michael and I often take turns second shooting for each other on days that we don't have our own weddings, which is an added little bonus for some of our clients! I thought it would be fun to share what I was shooting while Michael snagged that shot of me here today!
Let me just say that I had an easy job that day--this couple was gorgeous, easy to work with, and the light was perfect. Perfect light to me is that golden light about half an hour before the time of sunset on the beach, when the whole world looks warm and glowy.
It absolutely KILLS me when I see a photographer shooting on the beach in this light and using a flash or reflector. The point of lighting devices is to help create the very light that is ALREADY EXISTING NATURALLY at that time, and I feel that my responsibility is to capture it, not interfere with it. Here's a few shots from that session:
No reflector here, Just a little "S" curve in photoshop to bring up their faces which were a little dark since I exposed more for the light in the background
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APRIL SHOWERS: FAKING A RAINY DAY!
wed. april 22, 2009
**the april blast is being sent as we speak! we have VERY limited quantities of some of this month's blast items, so if you want to buy, get on it quick!**
April Showers Bring May Flowers, as the saying goes! April is normally a dreary month, not quite winter, not quite Spring/Summer, although here in California we've been having quite the heat wave! I was hoping that the weather would stick with the blast theme of the month, however all we've had is drought and heat. Therefore, I had to fake a rainy day to share my empathy with people who are experiencing more typical less-fortunate weather :)
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find rain boots and umbrellas in California? Most of these ended up coming from J.Crew, although I did get one of the umbrellas at the Gap. The boots were all $19.99 at J.Crew and even though I don't need them, I did buy them in my size :)
For those of you who aren't on the mailing list, here is the photo that went out:
A fairly convincing rainy day! Special thanks to Jeffrey Neal for being the garden hose sprayer while I shot safely and dry-ly from the sunny spot immediately to the front of the photo :)
This photo was processed using a few different means. First of all, I believe very strongly in trying to shoot a photo as close to the way you want it to be as possible. Photoshop isn't a way to make a bad photo good, its a way to make a good photo BETTER! As such, I knew that I was going to try to make the photo look as rainy as possible straight out of camera. I didn't do a very good job:
I knew I'd be able to work with it though. I knew I wanted the atmosphere to be darker and the colors to be more popped out. The first thing I did was use the Totally Rad Actions Yin/Yang to even out the exposure. Next, I used the clone tool at 100% to remove the piece of garden hose at the right hand side. Next, I used Jesh De Rox's Enlighten Action "blueberry night" at 62% to darken the photo down and add a purple/blue tone similar to what you might have on a cloudy, rainy day. I used Yin/Yang again afterwards to accentuate some darker tones around the back left of the photo, and used a slight "S" curve in Photoshop to make the colors pop a bit.
I finished it off with "Dappled Shadow", Jesh's darker vignette, and there you have it--this month's blast!
As of next month, all behind the scenes stuff, feature articles, stuff you should know about, and people you should care about will be coming in our free (for now) newsletter! Get on the mailing list before it's too late!
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BREAK OUT OF THE RUT!
mon. april 6, 2009
I've been thinking a lot lately about photography and what separates GOOD photographers from GREAT photographers. Is it just the photos? Is it attitude?
And what about creativity? Is it more important to be creative, or to be consistent?
I've built my business on consistency. I know other people who have built their own businesses on being 100% creative and never doing the same thing twice. Neither group seems to be on the whole more or less successful than the others, which makes me think that there must be some other formula to determining which is right!
I'm a believer in finding a happy medium, but I realized the other day that it's been a long time since I did anything other than shoot right there in my happy little comfort zone, doing what I'm good at and ignoring the creative aspect. So I decided to shake things up a little bit, and bought this:
I'll be honest with you--I have basically no idea how to use this thing. Business wise, I'm sure it's a terrible purchase, but I just couldn't resist it's solid build, Zeiss 80mm 2.0 lens, and the dream of getting buttery, beautiful, film images. I'm almost positive I DIDN'T get any buttery, beautiful film images this time, but the sound of the shutter when it advanced the film sure was nice!
More importantly, it gave me something NEW to be excited about! As you can see, I didn't ditch my handy staple, 5d, but for 45 frames yesterday, I felt like a completely different photographer. It inspired me to see things in a different way, and to break out of my comfort zone. I don't think that can ever be a bad thing.
Plus, this photo shows my shiny new bling!
To see the images I got on film (whether they turn out good or not) and to hear the backstory behind them, you need to JOIN OUR MAILING LIST RIGHT NOW!!! We are going to be starting our new newsletter this next month, and that's where you'll get all the juicy, behind the scenes details and info from us!
*this post brought to you, of course, by SHOOTSAC*
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YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THIS WORKSHOP
sun. december 14, 2008
I just found out that my good friend Jay Reilly has FINALLY started offering seminars & workshops! If you don't know Jay, he's one of the most amazing lifestyle/wedding/commercial photographers I've ever met. I'd say he's a lighting maverick, and he's getting maverick-y all over the place with his new workshop website:
If you have the opportunity to take advantage of something he's offering, DO IT!! He's so freakin' talented, so there's no doubt you'll learn a lot. I'm going to take one of his one-day lighting ones myself.
Awesome new site Jay!!
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DO YOU FLICKR?
thu. july 19, 2007
Do you FLICKR? Do you know what FLICKR is? I recently found out that we have our very own shootsac group on flickr! I originally thought that it was a place for anyone with a camera to post photos for others to view, but I see that it is more than that! Anyway, if you flickr, or even if you don't, you should go sign up to be a member of the flickr shootsac group! You can post photos, trade covers with others, and chit chat all in one place!