Photographing a Friend's Wedding

Photographing a Friend's Wedding

  1. Sean

    Sean Guest

    Sean submitted a new resource:

    Photographing a Friend's Wedding - Photographing a Friend's Wedding

    Read more about this resource...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2016
  2. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

    Messages:
    9,339
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    comments from the previous article system:

    By Bill Bresler - 02:49 PM, 09-27-2005 Rating: None
    Whenever someone asks me to shoot their wedding, friend or not, I arrange to be out of town.
    Bill
     
  3. vanspaendonck

    vanspaendonck Member

    Messages:
    132
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Location:
    Amsterdam, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wedding photography

    Thanks for sharing your experience and insights with us. At my age, I don't expect to be asked to photograph someone's wedding anytime soon (except when it is the third time or something), but I will direct any prospective wedding photographer to your article.
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Dear Bob,

    Interesting article, but I can't say I agree with a lot of it. Whenever I can't get out of shooting a wedding -- maybe half a dozen times in the last 35 years -- I make it abundantly clear that I shoot it my way (or, since I met Frances Schultz 26 years ago, that we shoot in our way) and that if they want it done their way (or indeed your way), they can damn' well hire a photographer.

    I completely disagree with your views about professionalism: if they're friends, they know me, and they know full well that I don't do suits. Likewise I disagree about your choice of cameras and focal lengths (we use rangefinder and fast 35, 50 and 75 or 90mm), film (Delta 3200 works wonders for many shots), flash (can't abide the stuff), tripods (never use 'em any more) and the interminable shot list.

    You also make a lot of cultural assumptions about what a wedding has to be like. Many are a good deal more bohemian than you suggest.

    Film, initial machine processing (for XP2 and colour) and a few hand-coloured prints are part of the wedding gift (as is the shoot). Reprints are their problem. We commonly shoot 500-1000 images, almost all 35mm B+W plus a few MF group shots in colour.

    Everyone so far has been delighted. I fear there will be one more (we're into friends' children now) but that should be the last. Your approach seems to me to add a lot of stress on all sides -- yours and the couple's -- and it's not really about photographing friends' weddings at all: it's about semi-pro wedding photography.

    Sorry to be so negative, but I just thought that others who are asked to shoot friends' weddings might find it easier and more rewarding to adopt my more casual approach. As I say, if this doesn't suit the happy couple, they can go find someone else.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Messages:
    9,068
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I agree entirely with what Roger says. My father was a part time wedding photographer but I would never want to photograph a wedding myself, even for friends. If I did find myself in a position where I couldn't say no, I would do it my way or not at all.

    When discussing costs, my father used to get comments (usually from the bride) such as '...my uncle has a camera and he says he could do it for x amount....' My father's stock answer was 'well, he's just the person to do it then'.

    Incidently, I did once attend a wedding as a guest where the groom was also the photographer! I'm not sure how that worked out but the marriage didn't last long!

    Steve.
     
  6. Jack Lusted

    Jack Lusted Member

    Messages:
    150
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2005
    Location:
    Robertsbridg
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wonder if I might add a few observations about wedding photograpers/photography?
    I am not a wedding photographer, but a clergy-man and so see wedding photography from another perspective.
    Firstly visit the church so you know what the lighting and layout is like. Also introduce your self to the minister - it's only polite and, moreover he/she will be able to explain how the service is to be conducted, what is appropriate or not, and so on. Remember, irrespective of your personal belief, for the minister that building is a sacred space and the wedding an act of worship, so treat both with due respect (as indeed the vast, vast majority do).
    The best photographers are essetially invisible during the service.
    The best ones use Hassleblads, Rolleis, or Leica (Brons and Mamiya are also good). They also have assistants to load the film for them. Those who try to look/behave as pappiaritzi are annoying idiots who destined for hell (or at least IMHO)!
    The best do not use di****l (again IMHO).
    It does not matter what you wear, but it matters that you are in charge when you are taking the pictures.

    After the wedding they will soon forget you if you have done a reasonable job, they will remeber you if you did a good job, they'll never forget if you have done a bad job/are an annoying idiot.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Dear Jack,

    Hear! Hear! I'd like to add further to this: at the last wedding we photographed (in a 600-year-old church in my native Cornwall), we explained to the vicar (the day before the service) that the last thing we wanted was to interrupt the service; that we would not be using flash; and that as old friends of the bride's parents (I've known her father 40+ years) we obviously wanted pictures that everyone was happy with.

    We asked the vicar about a few specific pictures -- couple at the altar, taking the vows, signing the register -- and found that the she was more relaxed about shooting positions, and our moving about during the service -- than we were. This was, I think, simply because we asked respectfully and made it clear that this was her turf, not ours. Her wishes, and those of Tony and Louise (the couple) took precedence over ours.

    Changing the subject somewhat, at the same wedding my wife Frances Schultz shot a 'bride dressing' sequence that was close to a reverse strip-tease (Louise started out in underwear and stockings) and made a small, personal album just for the groom. He loved it, and Louise has kindly let us use even these personal shots for publication; one of them appears in the (paid) module on rangefinder photography in The Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com. Frances used a Voigtlander Bessa-R2 with 50/1.5 Nokton. In the same module there's a wedding picture of one of my oldest friends at her second wedding (her first husband died) taken with a 50/1.2 Canon on an M-series Leica: it gives a wonderfully soft, romantic image at full bore.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. Jack Lusted

    Jack Lusted Member

    Messages:
    150
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2005
    Location:
    Robertsbridg
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dear Roger,
    It's all about being professional isn't it? The minister wants to do the best job for the happy couple, so does the photographer, so it's best if they cooperate, which means speaking to each other. Not rocket science, but it works!

    By the way - have had a look at your photos - excellent. I like the idea of the reversed strip-tease - now, does her husband start from the front, or from the back?

    Jack
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Oh, dear; we could rapidly plumb the depths of vulgarity here, couldn't we? Actually, I forget which way around Frances set up the album: fully dressed first, or underwear first...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  10. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

    Messages:
    543
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I am not a wedding photographer - by far the vast majority of my work is Landscape. I have photographed one wedding - for a friend, who is an artist, and has the budget that one would expect of an artist :smile:, the groom is a DJ. I tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted that she did not want a traditional wedding shoot. She hired a photographer to do some portraits prior to the ceremony, and she asked me to just shoot what I wanted - that she wanted something more artistic and original for the day itself.

    In my opinion, one of the most important things when doing a job for someone is to understand what it is that your client wants. A list of poses and lighting for traditional wedding portraits might not be it!
     
  11. Menard

    Menard Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm

    I apologize that I have been absent from the board for so long. I just happened across the board again and have seen some very helpful input from other members.

    Roger,

    I primarily wrote this article as an introduction to wedding photography for photographers who have never shot a wedding before. Certainly any photographer who has developed their own style will bring that to the table as well.

    I am not being presumptuous enough to suggest that my way is the only way to shoot a wedding; it is just a good starting point for someone who wants to know some basics.

    This article was written when I moderated a photography forum. A common question that would pop up time to time from amateur photographers whould be (along the lines of) 'I am shooting a wedding for the first time; what do I do?'.

    My intent was to create an introduction aimed at someone shooting a wedding for the first time, using what equipment they had available, plus offering some advice garnered from wedding photography that would not be covered in a simple equipment and poses checklist.

    I can certainly recall my first time shooting a wedding as a photographer; as an amateur photographer. It turned out okay (you can breathe now), but there were mistakes that were made; primarily among those was the assumption that being a photographer made one a wedding photographer.

    There are many good books and articles out there written by Monte, Bambi, and some guy named Roger Hicks:rolleyes: which provide instruction and advice well beyond what I have provided in my little article, but, what I found to be missing was a basic introdution aimed at the amateur to be able to use their own equipment to photograph a wedding.

    I do hope I provided enough of a warning of the importance of getting a professional wedding photographer, if that option is available. Of course, not everybody can afford that. Often, in that situation, someone will ask a friend, especially if they are either a photographer or they have, what they consider, a decent camera. That friend now has a reference for shooting a wedding with what they can bring to the table (yep, ah like using that phrase:tongue: ).

    Negative? Not at all. I can, however, not recommend to someone considering shooting a wedding for the first time to 'do it their way'. Of course, as someone develops as a photographer, that is an option they can take, but, when someone is doing a one chance event like this for the first time, or even the first few times, they need to do it well, not screw up, and put 'their way' in the backseat.

    I am tickled pink that you took the time to critique my article and and offer input. This is very valuable for future considerations and I thank you very much, as I do all of those who have provided input.:smile:
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Dear Bob,

    You are too generous. Merely because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I think you're wrong, if you see what I mean; I was just trying to put a (rather different) viewpoint, and did it clumsily, for which I apologize. Between the assorted advice on the thread, most people should be able to steer the best course for themselves, if they make it clear to the Happy Couple what they're getting.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  13. Menard

    Menard Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You make an excellent point, Roger, and I agree. Each additional input from another photographer expands upon options and various perspectives, especially from different experiences and viewpoints. The collective lessons and opinions should provide for a useful springboard, as well, a way for someone to consider different approaches to the same subject.

    Bob
     
  14. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How to avoid being asked to shoot wedding

    By Ryuji Suzuki

    1. Tell your single female friends that they aren't allowed to marry until they can afford real money for photographers. Don't keep friends who can't agree. Also, avoid meeting their mother at all costs. If she is Japanese, never speak Japanese to her. If Russian, same. If she is French, it's ok to speak French as long as your French is very bad. Always talk about politics when you meet their mothers, but again, not with the French.

    2. Don't put ANY picture of social events on your website. Your website should also have "I don't shoot wedding." and perhaps more in boldface. You should get a separate domain for those pictures, and make sure you have a different name or no name at all on the social pic website. Your real close friends will ask you regardless of what you have on the web, but you don't want a stranger calling you.

    3. If you don't want the job, never quote the price. Not even a price range. Just ask them to make their offer and you'll see what you can do. They won't come back to you. (Pricing high is not a good option. You feel bad if they take the price, and this actually happens more often than you think, because you will look very confident when you quote the ridiculous price.)

    4. Tell them that having you to shoot won't save much money. Whether people admit it or not, it is a factor in their decision. Give them a service fee schedule of your local pro lab (and make it as complicated as you can).

    5. (US Only) Tell them how many tablets of Tylenol you needed to go through the form 1040 and 88xx. Tell them how many BOTTLES of Excedrin you needed after the last wedding you shot. Make liberal use of exaggeration to make them feel bad asking you.

    6. Tell them you will be the first one to hit the bottle of the 18-year-old scotch at the cocktail bar, even before the bride's father, and this is the only way you can go through the group formal shots painlessly. (Conversely, never let the bride's father hit the scotch until he is dismissed from the group shots.) In most countries outside the US, they have bottles of spirits on the table, so ask for a few extra on your table. Also, you need a few glasses of Chianti Classico with the steak so that you can go through the cake cut and first dance painlessly.

    7. Never leave good impression with the caterers and the manager of the building for the reception. This part is easy if you follow my advice 6 above, but just make sure you don't get kicked out (outside the US, this won't happen). Don't give them your cards. (Or give them cards with erotic nudity printed on it.) You don't want business through them. But keep good relation with the DJ and musicians.

    8. If you shoot wedding for your close friends only and want to keep control of who you will shoot, ask them not to put the pictures on the web with your name. You better not put a watermark with your name or website, either. You should try to include pictures that no pro will shoot, but never let anyone else see your name next to it... at least until you decide to start a full service wedding studio business.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2007
  15. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I tell the same, too. My friends may be different, but I don't find that has any influence over their decisions. Most of my friends want to make their wedding differently from the rest of the world, although none of them took my advice to get married on a pirate ship on the public sea. So far the most strange request was to shoot in a middle of a forest (but then it got changed to a local arboratum because the bride's grandparents can't climb up the mountain).

    I agree with this as well, for the most part. I get hot and sweat very easily, and so there is no way to wear anything formal when I'm shooting anytime except December to February. I'm actually thinking about wearing a dark colored dryfit shirt next time.

    I've found lenses from 17mm to 100mm useful in wedding, but I don't do it any differently from my usual shooting style. For 35mm format, 24mm, 35mm and 85mm are my favorites. But in reality I shoot 6x6 in Mamiya rangefinder, and I have two bodies, one with 50mm and another 75mm ready, and 150mm in a camera case. Also, a quiet lens shutter camera with fast lens, such as Konica Hexar AF loaded with Delta 3200 or TMZ is very useful during ceremony, although I don't like to use these high speed films exclusively. You could also include other funky things like Ektachrome films cross processed, infrared film, toy camera, etc. People love this kind of crazy things. (Keep the system very simple for the ceremony and group shots but you can try other things when the stress level is low.)

    I don't find a tripod to be useful in wedding at all, except for the group shot, when it's kinda handy to have a platform to put the camera down when you arrange people and tell them to fix their expression, etc. If you want to shoot groups on a tripod, get a good grip ball head with quick release. Other heads are too slow operating. However, a good simple monopod can be very handy during ceremony. I don't like lenses longer than 100mm (35mm format), and I find the image stabilizer on Canon 24-105mm f/4 USM IS L to be very useful.

    I think it's good to be ready to shoot with available light, but in most cases I've seen, all the guests take their digital cameras out of their pocket and raise them very high above their head to take pictures in the dark church... and they of course fire the flash. Many cameras give off the nasty fake shutter noise as well. When you see people doing this, there is little point to refrain from using your flash.

    For flash, I use Sunpak 120 above the camera lens as my main flash. Sometimes in barebulb, but other times witht he reflector. It makes beautiful shadow that most other portable flash units don't. (Or you could use a Norman or Quantum flash with similar reflector.) I find it most useful to have a few slave units (I use Sunpak 383 super) ready. I sometimes use them to add rim/hair light from the back, sometimes use them to brighten the room, etc. When you use the slaves outside a closed room, you don't have control of other people using their digicam so radio slave is kinda must.

    Another thing is camera case. Ideally, everything should fit in a single case, but tripod and monopod are exceptions. I use a large Pelican case. This is very useful sometimes, because 3-4 girls can sit on it when they need a break. Ideally, the main system on the bracket should fit in the case without disassembly. But I haven't been doing that, as I don't shoot often enough to make such a perfect setup.

    I also agree with Roger that not all of the usual professionalism is required. You should assume that the couple expects the quality of work to meet or exceed that of most commercial wedding photogs, but the shooting style doesn't have to be. There are a lot of pictures only a friend photographer can take, and those can more than make up for not wearing a tux or getting drunk with the couple at the end of the night.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2007
  16. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    more random thoughts on shooting wedding

    What I found to be very important is to understand what people want out of wedding photography. Pros know this very well but amateurs dont. They say they have a limited budget, don't need many pictures, just this and that, do whatever you want, etc. Many things don't significantly reduce the cost, or reduce your work, or worse can increase your stress. I also think many people only have vague idea of what they want and can't really communicate it because they don't know what can cost and what requires extra work. I've come to think that most people (those in my circle of friends anyway) are better off with complete set of photographs taken (film and development are cheap) but make a small album. I don't recommend this to everyone, but for the price of an album book, one can take a class on bookmaking and buy all necessary materials. Or maybe they can get a $300 book as a wedding gift from someone else.

    Also, as a photographer, you might think anything smaller than 8x10 is a waste of time and quality. But in reality, people want lots of 5x7 pictures, two on each page. Many people seem to want 8x10 or 10x10 or something of that order for posed photos, ceremony, and other major events, but want 5x7 for the rest. Also, people don't necessarily want wall prints larger than 16x20. (Whether they can afford to pay a framer is another question.)

    Another cost saving can be made in printing. I've come to think that scanning negs and printing off shutterfly is the cheapest option. When I checked last, they are one of very few online printing services that claim to use Crystal Archive paper. I'm sure a lot of people here don't like to hear this, but when the cost is an issue, this option may be very useful. After all, I insist on the best possible quality on the film and film processing, so they can always redo this part when they get a real job. I also have a list of local labs (both pro labs and consumer labs) that use Crystal Archive paper and give it to them as well. Also, once they have digitized image files, they can make low cost picture books printed online as well. I hand print in my darkroom 8x10 and larger, but I dont want to do too many 5x7s.

    Scanning negs at a service bureau is always expensive. Printing straight out of the film is also expensive. Scanning yourself is too time consuming. I haven't found a particularly good solution to this problem yet.

    If anyone has to shoot wedding for friends, the most useful thing is to visit the sites a week or two before the actual wedding day. You want to go with a camera with a zoom, a light meter, and a notebook. Take a quick sketch of the site, where people sit, etc., and make quick reading of the light and the useful focal lengths. Set up your equipment and select films with this knowledge. Also, decide where you want to set up your equipment case, battery charger, etc.

    Another useful thing is to ask the couple to write down the detailed program and give it to you in advance. Memorize the whole thing. Also, introduce yourself to the wedding planner and/or DJ and ask him to let you know when important events are about to happen.

    Another useful thing is to ask the couple to write down the entire list of group shots they want. The original post of this thread has a long list, but not everyone wants them all. Ask them to make their list. Also ask them to have a relative in charge of checking the list off, to make sure everything important is photographed. If a bride's cousin is put in charge, he probably knows the face and name of everyone on the list, and this is a huge help to cut down your stress.

    You need to bring a big bottle of water and a couple of boxes of powerbar. When shooting groups, you have to be very fast (due to the influence from the digital technology, people are no longer patient), you have to keep talking something funny, you have to give posing instruction constantly, and you'll be using your voice a lot. Just because you are a friend, don't let the members of the bridal party too comfortable. You'll often have to yell at them to drop their camera and get in your picture. You have to maintain a good level of control during group shot and you need a lot of water. Finding a caterer is a waste of time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2007
  17. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I totally understand that aspect and I would've definitely appreciated your article if I read it before my first wedding.
     
  18. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Oh another nice thing to hide in a camera case is a pair of good earplugs. When you are shooting with very loud dance music, you feel fatigue coming very fast, and you may also have hard time communicating. Many earplugs make muffled sound that make it difficult to talk, but a very specific product called Etymotic ER-20 (about $10-20 a pair, available from B&H or J&R Music) has rather flat attenuation and it is very useful. It's also great for night clubs and rock concerts.
     
  19. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    As a photographer who has done many weddings, and still does more than he'd like, I thought is was a Great preparatory article. The list of shots was a good one. Perhaps the bride or groom don't want 'em - but, trust me, the mother-in-laws will be whining if they're not there! Between Robert and the Vicar's insights I think it was well covered.

    Have to say the "My Way or the Highway" approach is a little harsh - it's not the photographer's day, it's the bride and groom's. (or at least the bride's!). Bit like giving them a vacuum cleaner as a wedding gift when a tea service is on the list!
     
  20. biloko

    biloko Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    Chastre / Be
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When asked to take pictures for any friend's celebration I just remember that, if they are friends, I'll also appreciate to get time to celebrate with them. Photography is real fun... but drinking, eating and meeting people too !

    So, my basic rule is: get a second friend photograph.

    Far less stress on each of them and mixing the styles and the angles is definitely a good thing.
     
  21. donsmerz

    donsmerz Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Pittsburgh,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    NEVER agree to shoot a friend's wedding unless you don't value their friendship. There are just too many things that can go wrong--the "missing pictures" are among my very favorite wedding photography gotcha's. The bride says "You didn't get any pictures of me an my sister!". Believe me, every time she sees you or speaks with you after that, the ONLY thing she will be able to think of is how you ruined her wedding pictures by not getting any pictures of her and her sister. And this kind of complaint is just the tip of the wedding photography iceberg. NEVER shoot a friend's wedding. When you are asked, simply say "Oh, I am looking forward to your wedding so much! It's going to be a great party. I just don't think I could enjoy myself if I had to spend the day behind my camera. But I'd be happy to recommend some experienced wedding pros if you like." Remember--the word is "NEVER" and a word to the wise should be sufficient.
    --Don Merz