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First (and possibly last!) marriage blessing shoot- please hit me with your golden rules

ErinCErinC Member
edited April 2014 in wedding photography
Hello brains-trust,

I'm shooting a marriage blessing this Sunday. I don't do events because I'm not skilled enough yet, but agreed to it for a friend's sister as they weren't going to have a photographer at all (they had one at the actual wedding which was overseas), and getting a 'student' to do it was a compromise with her parents who really wanted some pictures from the day that weren't taken on an iphone.

Anyway the closer i get to the day the more I think I am forgetting - I think the nerves are starting to fry my brain. I'm re-reading through Direction and Quality of Light as a refresher and going back over tangents but I'd love to hear the key things you pro's think I should remember on the day. What are your rules of thumb when it comes to the basics like setting WB in mixed light scenarios (is it closest match in the church? Do I chimp or rely on the histogram?), should I stick to one shot all day or switch to servo at some stage, what lenses am I more likely to be needing at different times (I've hired a 24-70 F/2.8 and a 70-200 F/2.8 and have an 85m 1.8 and 100m 2.8 portrait lense available), where are the most ideal places to stand during the ceremony, how much whiskey should I drink before hand etc...

I'm working with a 5dmkIII, 430 exII and a 60D as backup. Guessing I will shoot in the biggest RAW format possible (though if you think I can get away with MRAW pls tell me!) I was meant to have a second speedlite on loan but that has fallen through (literally, fell through the bottom of my friend's bag and smashed on the ground in a puddle) so looks like if I use the 60D as a second body it will be sans flash. Thanks in advance for any quick tips you might have - I usually do newborns so this is a massive learning curve to me.


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited April 2014

    Don't know about the 'brains-trust' (love that) but here is my single grey cell's worth.

    1) Lenses: Covered, fabulous choice, no question.

    2) Bodies: 5D MkIII: Fantastic and back-up not a problem.

    3) WB, go with Manual setting, and merely adjust until it looks close, and stick to it (in church) easily synced across the board in your RAW Converter. Outside, that's easy, just set to appropriate Daylight, Cloudy.

    4) "Do I chimp or rely on the histogram?" Both, the histogram requires experience a bit because you can have stuff 'blown' to the right, but they may not be 'relevant' highlights. The operative word here is 'relevant' to you.

    Chimp away to your heart's content. Remember, you are in RAW, you can fix easily up to 2 stops over. It's much much better to be over in exposure than under, as you will then have murky/noisy shadows when you open under-exposed images up.

    5) 'One-Shot' or A1 Servo: Depends, more than likely One-Shot Erin, and only need Servo if they actually do an 'entrance' down the aisle in the church, then back out again. Easy to change to each setting when needed. Practice that quickly, should only take 2 seconds to do.

    6) Do I shoot Full RAW or Medium RAW?: With a 22mp full frame camera, and those types of shots, absolutely categorically you do not need the full res. In Canon you have the choice of Full RAW/Medium/Small, I would go Medium RAW. You can still very easily get a full 20x30+ inch print out of it, no question at all.

    7) Flash: Here may be your only snag, the 430EXII is not a very powerful flash, but the good news is, with the 5D MkIII camera, you can easily push the ISO up to 6500+ if needs be. Do not worry about that at all.

    8) 60D second body, no flash: There is no need, because I would only shoot with the 5D body mainly, and only use the 60D if the 5D falls over, just swap out the flash. If, however you are concerned about the range of lenses, I would not worry about it, stick with the 24-70 in church, sure put the 70-200 on the 60D, but use it sparingly, then once you are outside, you can use both very easily anyway, or just swap out the lenses on the 5D.

    9) How much whisky do I drink beforehand?: hmmmm, difficult to estimate, I'd guess a couple of shots of Jack Daniels before may help the nerves, but not the trigger-finger. (obviously tongue-in-cheek, but don't drink and drive).

    10) If you do not have a battery grip for the bodies, make sure you have spares on hand, even though you probably for 99% odds you don't need a spare, but, you never know if your battery packs it in for no apparent reason, no spare, no chance of getting the shots, since I am unsure if the 5D/60D batteries are compatible, so a spare for each body is a must.

    Trev :)
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    ErinC said: What are your rules of thumb when it comes to the basics like setting WB in mixed light scenarios
    Shoot in RAW. Not negotiable.

    Gel your flash when you're shooting in Incandescent lighting.
    ErinC said: I've hired a 24-70 F/2.8 and a 70-200 F/2.8
    These are my workhorse lenses. I don't often use the other lenses I have.
  • Good advice. I would also chime in to recommend full size raw rather than S or M. You lose more than just resolution using S or M raw.
  • ErinCErinC Member
    Thanks everyone. Aside from being gel-less (the ones I ordered are scheduled to be delivered tomorrow and couldn't get any locally before today) I've taken it all on board. Both bodies set to raw, have wb cards at the ready to make post easier, and whiskey in imitation lense flask ;-)
  • ErinCErinC Member
    Oh god. Why did I not really take a flask of whiskey? Never ever ever doing that again. How the hell you pro's manage that week in week out I do not know but what great respect I had for how difficult it was previously trippled.

    To summarise, bride didn't want portraits (which is the thing I am good at) or any photos at all for that matter (her parents had asked me to come), there was a zimmer frame completely blocking access along one side of the church, a double pram blocking the other, they started the processional before everyone was in the church and after being told they would have a photo op immediately after the signing of the registry (for which I positioned myself for at the front of the church) I heard the bride say "No, we don't want to do that" so the priest announced "The Bride and Groom" and they started the second processional so I had to practically run, backwards down the aisle trying to get photos of them (all of which I think are horrendous)

    Luckily they spent the whole day saying "no pressure, no pressure, we just want photos that aren't off an iphone, we'll be happy with just one nice picture of us all" so hopefully its just my personal and professional pride that has been completely crushed to smitherines by this experience !
  • ZenonZenon Member
    You can plan, study, prepare till the cows come home but when the show starts you have little time to think and adjust. I remember how many times I studied wedding poses for my first and when it got to the day I forgot 90% of them. Like anything else through experience you gain skill and being able to recover quickly when you get into trouble is a big one. It does not hurt to through that experience at least once in life if it is a no pressure/favour type deal. You'll have something for them.
  • ErinCErinC Member
    True Zenon. I have some great images from the reception and learned alot, though the most important lesson was that I should have stuck to my guns when I told them that I wasn't ready to be a first/ solo shooter at events. I honestly have gotten better shots of the processional as a guest with my slow lenses than what I did with the extraordinarily heavy 70-200 F/2.8L (you pros must have biceps of steel to be carrying that baby around every weekend). Despite the above I am certain someone with more experience could have done an amazing job, and that's where the big gap in my knowledge is still - knowing how to handle each situation on auto pilot. I think for now I will stick to newborns and only consider events in second shooter situations.
  • JerryJerry Member
    I felt the same way after my first wedding last year. Only doing the ceremony at a Register office, and some portraits in the garden afterwards, all and all, maybe 45 minutes in total.

    I thought the photos were all crap and knew a gazillion things I could have done better in hindsight. However, the couple was happy with the photos and I stopped being quite so hard on myself (took a few months though). I also swore ti never do a wedding again, specially as the only photographer. ....

    Here we are a year later, and my second wedding is only three months away. This time, preparations, arrival at church, ceremony, portraits and reception.... oh my...


  • ErinCErinC Member
    Good luck with it Jerry! I have been slowly sorting through them all and have more good'uns than I thought - but lacking gels really has played havoc with my workflow (that and the 27 different light sources all of different colour temperatures that seemed to be present at the reception! Now to try and figure out noise reduction settings as I was at between 1000 - 2500 ISO most of the day. Now I know why it took my photographer six weeks to edit my images from my own wedding - its a massive PITA!!
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