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First wedding -couple portrait poses, lens choice and other things

xenonxenon Member
edited June 2013 in wedding photography
Soon I'll be shooting my first wedding, though just the portraits of the couple. An assistant will hold a softbox or reflector and I plan to shoot outside, weather permitting. The Canon 580EX II will be either controlled by TTL via a long off-camera cord, or manually by a radio trigger. I think I'll take the cabled TTL route.
When it comes to posing I'm a newbie. I know it takes years to perfect that art but where do you suggest I start? I'm thinking traditional wedding couple portraits in front of a tree, on a bench, stairs or whatever. Romantic, classic, stylish, professional and beautiful is my goal.

I have a fair collection of lenses to choose between (I'm using a Canon 50D which has a 1.6x crop sensor):
- 24-70 f/2.8
- 70-200 f/2.8
- 35 f/2
- 50 f/1.4

I love the shallow DOF of the 50 f/1.4 but then again I don't want to risk missed focus shots. The 24-70 f/2.8 might be a better allround choice in the 50-70mm range, or what do you think?
For metering I'm planning on using a gray card, which will also double as a white balance reference. This should solve the confusion of the bride's white dress vs. the groom's black suit.


  • Before shooting my first wedding (last April) I was on youtube.com a lot looking for instructional videos (which is where I came across NvN).
    I would also recommend you check out this blog under wedding photography
  • ZenonZenon Member
    Posing is by far the hardest part IMO. Download images, videos, etc. You will probably forget about 80% of them unless you have a photographic memory (no pun intended). That is normal, happened to me and another member here had the same experience. Easy to sit and look at them but once you are in the field there is so much going on. Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't try to remember too many. Also depends on the people. If they are willing to have fun, etc as opposed to stone cold really a makes a difference. Over time as this becomes second nature it gets much easier.

    I think Neil stated that you need about 10 basic scenes with about 6 key shots in each.

    Good Luck.
  • xenonxenon Member
    I saw a video by Jasmine Star where she explained how she preferred not to give exact directions because that made the image static and lifeless. I guess the key is to have some poses to start with, then let the rest flow by itself as you keep a relaxed and easy going tone with the clients.
    I'll keep looking for Youtube videos on the actual posing as that's something I've barely touched.
  • ZenonZenon Member
    I have customers tell me they want total guidance for posing. They did not know what to do. Every couple is different so you have to be prepared for all scenarios. The key thing is knowing how to make people relax so you can do that "not giving exact direction thing." And people wonder why photographers charge so much. All they do is push a button all day :)
  • Find some shots you like and practice posing a couple of friends before the wedding!
  • xenonxenon Member
    edited June 2013
    Well, the shoot is over and it didn't go too bad. At least I got some great shots and learnt a lot. Yes, I really should practice on friends first, but didn't have the opportunity this time around.

    Bright sun outside with very limited time to shoot made it a challenge. I found some nice trees to give shade, but only partly. So I used a Canon 580EX II flash in a softbox on a monopod which an assistant held for me in order to fill in the shady parts on my subjects. First by manually radio triggering, but it proved too hard to chimp the LCD in order to check for correct fill-in. and time consuming to readjust the flash power again and again, so I pulled out my long TTL cord to make it all simpler.
    Unfortunately, with the bright ambient light I occasionally forgot about the X-sync limit (1/250th on my 50D), shooting above that (faster shutter speed), resulting in a few blown out shots since the flash forced the camera down to 1/250. Frustrating, but fortunately I always shoot in RAW and have been able to rescue most of those shots. Still, in hindsight I should have enabled HSS (high speed sync) so I could have mostly forgotten about that and (within reason) used the apertures I wanted. Actually I read about a photographer who had HSS turned on permanently and I can't see why that should be a disadvantage (as long as you have loads of extra batteries -which I actually did) and don't take too many shots right after each other.

    I shot mostly in manual mode, but since the lighting changed so rapidly when we moved around I decided to give Av (aperture priority) a go. However, I believe there are some issues with using Av and flash, but it's slipped my mind. Perhaps it has more to do with lighting dark indoor environments rather than bright ambient light outdoor.... anyone know? At least Av gives me one thing less to think about than constantly checking for the correct exposure as in M mode.

    Other than that I assigned the back-focus button for auto-focus and used evaluative metering. The 24-70 was used for the most part except for the very end where I switched over to the 50mm and did some shallow DOF shots in front of a tree at f/1.4 I believe. Lovely lens!

    I did plan on metering using a gray card (given the black/white combination of the bride and groom) -also in order to have a white balance reference, but since it's so small (credit card sized -I've ordered a bigger one) making it hard to focus on, the lighting changed so much anyway and I was working within a tight timeframe I decided to trust my evaluative metering and correct things in post production later on, concentrating instead on composition and posing. Posing actually went pretty well. I had a few basic ideas in my head which I used and greatly improved the results!

    Comments on how to improve etc?
  • ZenonZenon Member
    Glad it went well. You know what I learnt doing my first. You have zero time and you are in demand all the time. I pray for multiple venus so I can get a 15 minutes to myself between locations :).
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2013
    Also glad it went well Xenon for you. Any pics?
    Zenon said: You have zero time and you are in demand all the time. I pray for multiple venus so I can get a 15 minutes to myself between locations :).
    It's funny how you think when starting out, these days I pray for the 1 venue [or at least as few as possible] so that I can take photos instead of driving all over the place.

    Went scouting an old sugar mill here yesterday for an upcoming wedding [they want farm/milling/rustic stuff] and found some great stuff, this one shot is the old bagasse building [by-product of processing sugar which is turned into fuel for the mill or pulp for paper products] and it had such striking lines/colors that I certainly am going to utilise it.

    Almost architecturally thought out coincidence.


    Also found a falling down building, quick grab shot and BW, certainly going to use that. [Just have to watch out for nails sticking out of timber]

  • ZenonZenon Member
    Well that is indeed interesting Trev.
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