View Full Version : Shooting 5x4

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07-02-2010, 12:04 PM
A neighbour's daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks, and it crossed my mind to do some LF shots. The full event should be covered by a professional, and I'd like to do a couple of shots for the album and extend my portfolio - Is a 5x4 a realistic proposition ?

07-02-2010, 12:25 PM
No ,it is not your wedding and imposing yourself like this runs the risk of making you a very unpopular person , I advise you to do as Susan Sontag suggests

07-02-2010, 01:07 PM
interesting - I don't think you're imposing anything. On the contrary, I really like the idea. Mind you - as you said - only a couple of shots. They won't take that much time and could produce something unique, assuming you don't completly mess up the shots. Even if, you're not ruining the wedding in any way. The main photographer will take all important the pictures anyway. You're just a guest who happens to have a really big camera :D

Why don't you just ask them? Show them the camera, tell them what you'd like to do and if they're up for it? Ask the pro so you can somehow shoot together when they're doing the group shot, or it's just the two of them posing.

Seriously, I say go ahead and ask them. Maybe they like the idea? I surely would. I think it's a special day, so why not have an equally special picture to remember it by? Make them an album with the shots, do it for free, or try and get some film and paper money and leave it at that. I can't imagine that you'll make yourself unpopular with that.

If you're unobstrusive and quick - like you should be at a wedding anyway - why not?

07-02-2010, 01:19 PM
I don't think you would be imposing on the situation.
But the official photographer, could possibly have a different opinion.
Were you thinking of taking some pictures at the wedding ?
Or some sort of pre-wedding session.
It's a great idea, if everyone can agree on the proper conditions.


From The Long Island Of New York


07-02-2010, 01:29 PM
If you can do it with a hand-held press camera, the whole thing might be seen as a fun part of the day.

07-02-2010, 01:40 PM
When is doubt, ask about! They may be thrilled or maybe not, best to find out in advance. Let them deal with the pro.

07-02-2010, 01:43 PM
YOU want to do large format shots. What about the bride? I used to shoot weddings for the $$ and I have to tell you nothing would be more annoying than some amateur rolling up with a large format camera. Leave it at home and go enjoy the day. Take a small camera if you want and take candid shots. Don't interfere with the pro. He was hired for a reason.

07-02-2010, 02:15 PM
I did a couple of shots at my Sister's wedding with a Speed Graphic which had been our father's camera. For me the getting permission part was easy, and I coordinated with the pro before hand so that I didn't impede his work. He was fine with it and things went well.

I'd say talk to the parties involved, and go for it.

Joe Lipka
07-02-2010, 03:17 PM
If you can do it with a hand-held press camera, the whole thing might be seen as a fun part of the day.

But it's only if you wear a double breasted suit and a nice, fedora. Especially a fedora with a "press" card stuck in the brim. (Cigar is optional.)

07-02-2010, 03:39 PM
It seems to me that the bride is in charge here. If she is happy with you shooting a few 4x5 shots, then that is fine. A contraindication is if there is a contract stipulating that the professional photographer is the only photographer allowed.

Also, it would certainly be a nice courtesy to see how the professional photographer feels about the matter, even if he/she has not been granted exclusive right to photograph. After all, you would not want the pro to be mad at you and the bride because there is just an outside chance that the anger could show up in the product somehow... not that it necessarily would mind you, but I'm just sayin'...

kauffman v36
07-02-2010, 03:50 PM
lately, a large portion of my income has come from shooting weddings (not my fav. but it pays and you meet a lot of people, lol) i would FIRST make sure it is okay with the bride, not just okay, but that she actually supports it. THEN talk to the hired photog. theres nothing i stand more than reviewing my files for the group shots and seeing family members looking in other directions because some uncle with a DSLR is right above my head saying "smillleeee, look here". i mean im getting paid for it, so dont interfere on my work. im sure the photog would be okay with it as its a sort of nostalgic thing with the huge 4x5. i would not take more than 5 photographs though, depending on how fast you can get through them.

Ian Grant
07-02-2010, 04:02 PM
Most modern weddings (in the UK) wouldn't allow time for a 5x4 shot unless grabbed hand held like Whiteymorange suggests. The Pro covering the wedding dictates where and when people are, and has a hard enough job. I've been on both sides so can say if you want that shot you have to be ready to shoot just before or after the Pro and literally seconds :D The B&G + family & guest will only really do as he/she asks unless they already know you well.

My Grand-parents wedding was large format, 100 years ago this year, shot on 12x10 and contact printed, (I have THE print) and earlier shots of my grandmother & bridesmaids (sisters). The wedding shot is all the guests, surrounding the families, then both sets of Parent, and finally Best man, Bridesmaids with my Grand-parents. The whole scene was set up and planned before they & guests returned to the farm, they just got into position.

LF and weddings unless hand-held need planning.


07-02-2010, 04:28 PM
I think no problem. Use range finder to focus (press camera), 6 films per pack. At less have two film pack full load, so you can take 12 shot. Ask about if they like B&W or colour.

07-02-2010, 04:31 PM
Assuming that the bride and groom are okay with it ...

If you are shooting 4x5 hand-held (Speed Graphic et al) use it to shoot something different from the main shots taken by the contract photographer. Candids, unusual vistas, kids playing off to the side, parents finally relaxing and maybe a casual portrait or two of the bride and groom.

Then give them an album of contact prints.

That way you will truly add to the record.

07-02-2010, 04:48 PM
I'd start this idea at what images you want to create, not at what format you are going to use. Suit the format to your idea. There is almost no reason to shoot sheet film just for a wedding portfolio. There are reasons to shoot it for actual wedding work. However, for what you describe needing, and what you will be able to shoot as a guest, I don't see any real benefit from using large format, but I see a plethora of drawbacks. Do you have a Rollei or a Hassy? If so, I'd use that.

Additionally, professionally speaking, I feel that one should build their portfolio from work shot at weddings at which he or she has been hired to be a photographer, not at another photographer's wedding. The best way to do this as a beginner is to work as a second or third shooter for the main photographer. If you are good, you'll have a portfolio but quick doing this.

07-02-2010, 05:42 PM
YOU want to do large format shots. What about the bride? I used to shoot weddings for the $$ and I have to tell you nothing would be more annoying than some amateur rolling up with a large format camera. Leave it at home and go enjoy the day. Take a small camera if you want and take candid shots. Don't interfere with the pro. He was hired for a reason.

Ditto. A wedding is already stressful for everyone involved, and what you are proposing will just add more stress.

07-02-2010, 06:04 PM
"It seems to me that the bride is in charge here."

Ha, spoken like a bachelor.

In reading all the advise so far, all pretty good, I am thinking that maybe you should scrap the idea and shoot with something smaller.

jerry lebens
07-02-2010, 07:54 PM
Sorry to rain on your parade, but speaking as a sometime professional wedding photographer, I think you should keep the 5x4 at home and not to even ask the bride. I know it seems a bit harsh, but try to see it from my perspective..

As the official photographer at a wedding it's my job not only to get fantastic pictures (that my clients will look back on happily) but also to stage one of the most important bits of the day. Ok, It's not conducting the wedding service (I try to leave that bit to the vicar!) but shooting the group pictures is also an important "rite". It's the moment when the two families stand together for the first time after the service and it can be incredibly stressful - not just for the families involved but for the photographer too. Expectations are high and shepherding all the people, making sure they're all in the right place at the right time, is hard work and the photographer is expected to do it efficiently without ruffling any, err, feathers. (I'll leave the mother-in-law cracks to Les Dawson) It's a bit like being a sergeant major, except you aren't allowed to upset anyone.
Consequently, having someone rock up, with equipment that "upstages" mine, who expects me to do the hard work of marshalling crowds, then letting him take over "for just a couple of minutes", is something I really wouldn't appreciate. Dealing with all the uncles and their DSLR's shouting over my shoulder is bad enough, but having someone hold up the event with a 5x4 would be really, really, annoying...

Worse still, if you ask the bride if it's ok before the wedding and she in turn asks me, my answer will be "Yes, of course, what a lovely idea!", because the last thing I want to do is offend my client. Similarly, if you turn up and ask me on the day my answer would be the same - because I wouldn't want anyone thinking I was a grumpy s*d. (Yes, I know I am, but I don't want the clients to know that. Besides most brides have friends of the same age who are probably going to get married soon, too, and the last thing I want to do is put off any potential clients with what looks to them like a show of petulance).

In short, turning up with your 5x4 would really get up my nose but I wouldn't say so, I'd grin and bear it and the pictures would probably suffer ; overstressed photographers take bad pictures.

Shooting a wedding with 5x4 is a fabulous idea - but it isn't as simple as just asking the photographer/bride if it's ok. If you really want to shoot a wedding, offer to do the whole event or arrange with the bride for you to do the group shots long before the pro is engaged and then she can let him know it isn't part of his brief.


07-02-2010, 08:59 PM
An issue which has been not adequately explained by the pros is the problem of people's attention when more than one person is trying to photograph a group. If the designated photographer is doing a photo and you have other people standing around with cameras, even if they are just grabbing shots or looking through the viewfinder, some people will be looking where they are supposed to, some people will be looking at their friend with a camera. So in the final product of the designated photographer, different people will be looking different places. The only way around this is to have one photographer at a time working, and it's enough trouble to manage the subject, much less manage photographers and subjects at the same time. Brides or people who rarely/never photograph weddings aren't aware of how distractions mess up group photos and the time efficiency/teamwork required to a too-big list of group photos done.

If your family would like to do it and you've coordinated it with the hired photographer, you should be very fast, and not focus the camera or distract the group while the pro is shooting or managing the group. You could probably bribe the pro to help with your task to ensure everyone's posed properly, but don't offer that until you already have permission from the pro.

07-02-2010, 11:48 PM
One of the techniques I used to use when I was shooting weddings was to publicly announce to the crowd that they would be welcome to take any photo they wanted as soon as I finished, and then when I did finish with a particular pose or grouping, I'd ask the subjects to pause for a short while so the other people could get their shots.

Generally speaking this meant that people would respond respectfully, and I could control the pace and scheduling of things. In essence, I was depending on the fact that my vision, technique, equipment and materials would result in a superior enough product that my customers would pay me for extra prints in preference to just getting copies of their friends/relatives' shots.

It also had another benefit - I was rarely lacking for cooperation from the wedding guests, which meant good results when I shot candids, and sometimes an extra helping hand or two when I could use one.