Welcome to the forum!

As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

First time shooting a wedding

WendyMWendyM Member
edited June 2011 in wedding photography
Hi Everyone,
I am brand spanking new to this forum. I am in real need of some advice/direction. My friend is getting married and has ask me to shoot her wedding! I already told her she was crazy! She should get someone who is a "Wedding Photographer". Anyway, my question is, the reception. What type of set up do I use? Softbox and 580ex? Im in Southern Cal. The wedding is the first of week of July at 6pm. So it will still be light outside. They have a large window so I will have natural light. The walls are white/soft yellow. Im thinking of renting the equipment from Samys. Any suggestions?


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited June 2011
    Hi Wendy,

    Phew, that's a big ask, first wedding and all. You will have lots of reading to do.

    Here are a couple of links for photographing the reception.

    This is with a Speedlite on camera, using Neil's "black foamie thing".


    Other links:


    This one contains lots of links.


    This one has LOTS links for flash.



    With this one RECEPTION SPECIFIC.



    As to the color of the walls, that's good news.

    If you wanted to use the available light near the window you can easily do so, but make sure you don't have too big a contrast of light on one side of the faces, that is having the couple stand side on to window, have them face it more, or slightly angled to get the best light on faces.

    A good hint to get less contrast when using available light is to move the couple back into the room a bit, away from the light source but still facing the window, just not too close, that way with available light and you shooting back into the room you will meter for their faces, and get a little more background room light to register, because if you are really close to the window with more light, the background may hardly register, be darker.

    Of course if you wanted some of the window framing with some outside to show in image you would need to be closer.

    I personally never use softbox for receptions, always bouncing a speedlite with black foamie thing on, to flag the light and direct it more. Oh, another hint, zoom the flash head to its full potential when bouncing, Canon is 105mm I think, even if shooting wider.

    Sure Neil can offer lots more advice/links.

    Re hiring equipment, that's something someone else can answer.

    Good luck.

    EDITED: To add more links. EDIT again to correct spelling.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Trev ... nope, looks like you've covered it. :)
  • WendyMWendyM Member
    Thank you so much Trev!! I really appreciate it!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    No worries, read a lot & practice what you've read before the shoot. :)

    Good luck.

  • Wendy...we're rooting (and praying) for you....please report back to after the wedding so that some of us who might someday be in your shoes will learn from your experience...best regards....Anthony
  • Hi Wendy
    Bring a second shooter with you, it will take the pressure off tremendously.
    Even if you don't use there stuff sometimes its good to know they're there.
    I still bring one when I can, especially if the ceremony is a long distance away.
    I will send them ahead to the church.
    If you can't pay , trade by second shooting or assisting when they need it.
    It a great way to learn and see how other people work.


  • WendyMWendyM Member
    Thank you Anthony. The wedding is July 9th. I will let you know how it goes. Good idea about the second shooter Lou. Thank you!
  • MatrixphotoMatrixphoto Member
    edited June 2011
    Hi Wendy
    I assisted a videographer friend at a wedding on Sunday and Even the seasoned Photographer had an assistant/2nd shooter there.

    During the procession
    She Shot from the front coming in
    He Shot them outside Coming in

    During the ceremony she was behind the officiate
    He was beside the Videographer

    Then during dinner , they traded off during speeches
    so she could eat.

    Just Make sure you work out a Plan.

    You don't need to be a one person show.

    Oh , one more thing I learned another trick yesterday
    Ask your 2nd/Shooter assistant to act like your employee
    The reason is if people see you acting like your in charge they will follow your direction.
    Bridle Parties can get easy distracted then you'll be is chasing them around all day.

    Keep it Simple

    Get the Itinerary From the B+G

    If its Multiple Locations Print out maps,
    Map #1 Loc A - B
    Map #2 Loc B - C

    Don't rely on the limo Driver
    They love to play the game I call "Loose the Photographer"

    1 lenes , 2 Camera Batteries , lots of Battery AA's for flash Bring rechargers with you and plug them in at reception hall.

    Pack some Snack Bars , Gatorade and , Advil ( if your over 30 ) LOL

    Lou Recine

  • I learned all my wedding stuff from this site. I use a dSLR, a speedlite, and a an extra battery and memory card. I have a second shooter always in case I miss something.
    I occasionally will use strobes with softboxes for outdoor formals if needed, but the previously mentioned stuff is really all I need. that and some good walls and bald heads to bounce lights off of.
  • I will be shooting my second wedding September 2012. I am so nervous. I did the first as a favor and I was not as prepared as I should have been. I did have a second shooter that the B&G picked but she had no idea what she was doing. They were extremely happy with my pictures but I know that I could have done better. I am hoping this next one will go much better especially since I have a little over a year to prepare myself and learn a lot more. I am so glad I found this forum! I will be watching this thread and I am sure I will be asking questions. Wendy good luck with your first wedding...can't wait to see some pics.
  • WendyMWendyM Member
    Thanks everyone for your advice! It really helps!!
  • HalefaHalefa Member
    edited June 2011
    July the 9th will be my first wedding, too. :D I'm very nervous about the ISO-possibilities of my Canon 40D (I have a Speedlite 580+BFT).
  • WendyMWendyM Member
    Good Luck Halefa!!! I know...Im nervous as well! Let me know how things go.
  • ZenonZenon Member
    I took 8 months to prepare for my first. Good luck to you. Hope all goes well.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2011
    Hi WendyM,

    How did you go, shoot the wedding yet mate?

    Hope you had fun if so.

    Please post a pic, love to see it.


    EDIT: Just realised the time zone, it's only the 9th in US at the moment, so hope to hear from you in next couple days.
  • Hi Trev,
    It went well. Was a great learning experience! Didn't have a second shooter. If I was to do it again, (for me) absolute must!! I was so nervous about the group weddings that some of the pictures I shot with high ISO. Don't know what I was thinking. Have a lot to learn. The family was happy with the pictures. Thanks for all your support!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hi Wendy,

    Glad it went well for you. For the time being just having someone to 'assist' you would be the way to go until you get your confidence.

    Images look good mate and I am sure you will improve with experience.

    To help get your practice I would get a friend/family member or a couple, make sure one of them is wearing white, preferably with some form of pattern in it, so you can get used to what settings you need to expose properly, etc.


  • Great idea.
    Thanks Trev!
  • Hi Everyone,

    helping a friend out by shooting his wedding reception tonite. My first attempt at a wedding and hope to put what i've learnt to practice. Will post pictures.

  • TrevTrev Moderator

    Obviously practice would be done and dusted by now, I see it was marked 'tonight'.

    Hope it went well.

    Post couple images.

  • vaenkavaenka Member
    edited October 2011
    Thanks Trev. Attaching couple of shots from the wedding. It all went to quick and changing manual settings each time was tedious but once i found an acceptable exposure, much easier. I realized many of pictures lacked composition. i had left out the feet and limbs in many of my pictures.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    They look pretty darn good Vaenka for your first wedding. Your large table group is lit evenly, well done. :)

    Yep, takes practice for manual, but in reality, once you choose a setting for the same type light source, ie reception or church, rest is easy with flash filling in for subject/s.

    It only gets really tricky when shooting a ceremony outside, then guests mingling later on, and you are dealing with lot of shade, shadows and sunlight when swinging around from one light source to another, I have lately been quickly choosing Aperture Priority for those scenarios, and flash TTL -3EV to cope with the fast paced movement.

    Manual 99% of time for rest though, oh, in RAW also obviously.

  • Clicking on the attachments doesn't pull up a full size photo. Any way they can be made visible to other readers?
    Thanks, Doug
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited October 2011
    Hi Doug,

    When you click, you should receive a dialogue box asking do you want to either Open the image [by whatever program] or do you wish to save it.

    Do you get that?


  • My fault Trev, I was clicking the thumbnail instead of the file name. When I do that (using an iMac) the file downloads automatically to my desktop.
    Thanks for the quick reply.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    ahhh, no problem. :)

    In the words of a famous secret agent: "Missed it by thaaaat much"

  • HalefaHalefa Member
    edited December 2011
    I just realised that I never showed pictures of my first wedding in july.
  • Hi
    I am newbie in wedding photography. I am damn so nervous for Feb 18th, my friend wanted me to 2nd shoot her wedding and she gives me all the creative freedom. She wants me to give her an interesting coffee book-like material for her wedding. Urban photojournalistic whatever sort of fine art wedding (I dunno what I'm saying really :)). Of course this is my gift to the couple.
    This event will be like my platform to again another second shoot opportunity on June in LA for my friend's daughter's wedding again the same expectations but this time they are paying my flights, hotel and a photographer's fee! Yehey moment but comes with serious professional commitment here.
    So, I am trying to absorb all the advises and suggested links and anything that would help me prep for Feb 18th.
    I have 2 DX cameras (D90) with batt grips, Nikon lenses (17-55, 70-200, 50) toki 11-16 & Sigma 105mm. Flash SB800 & SB600 and a lowepro 250Aw overnight bag. Photoshop elements 6 and Lightroom 2.
    any thoughts?

  • Am I missing any gadget that I need? I have extra batteries and battery pack for the flash and cameras.
    Can anyone suggest a sort of wedding photog planner? How can I evenly lit a group picture in wedding by using only my speedlites on camera? I am thinking of using the white plastic cap stofen omnibounce? or a rogue flash bender with white inner body?
  • You seem to have the most important parts. Backup for all your gear.

    Soft light is all about the size and distance of the light source to the subject. The omnibounce as it is called requires something for the light to bounce off. As a stand alone it does nothing to help.

    Light travels in strait lines. See attached file. In the first illustration I am using a 2' by 4' softbox that has been moved to over 50 feet form the subject. I know it is impossible to light someone from this distance so just go with it for the demo. I can draw lines all day and I will not be able to eliminate shadows behind the head.

    In the second illustration we have move the softbox to within 5 feet of the subject. Now the light can get behind the head. This goes for eliminating shadows under the eyes, nose, chin and shadows for eye glasses.

    The third illustration shows light bouncing off a wall.

    Here is a good article that I live by.


    Card style reflectors like the flash bender are most effective type. I stopped using on flash diffusers years ago. I will always try to bounce first. If I can't my flash goes on a bracket, ISO goes up, shutter slows down (depending on scene) and aperture opens up. This was taken with direct flash. It was a fashion show and there was no where to bounce. Pretty boring flat light but I doubt there is any diffuser that would have made a significant difference here.


    Here is a DIY that costs about $5 to make.


    To light groups it is better to have more that one flash but that is not always practical. I think understanding the Inverse Square Law and fall off is as critical as understanding how ISO, your shutter and aperture work together. It can make a world of difference to a photographer. It will help you to to understand how to light groups.

    This is the best explanation I have seen on the subject. A little confusing at first but be patient. By the end it all makes sense.

  • Thanks Zenon,

    I appreciate the generosity of knowledge you shared. this actually rocks! The inverse square law really helps a lot, I tried metering on every foot measurement and noticed one stop difference. so in a way you can quickly meter and concoct your camera parameters to take advantage of the light fall off by also changing the distance of the subject to the light. Either I can bounce the light off the wall behind me to almost evenly light up a group who are standing in a row with a deep end against the light. Or to get the subject near the light/light source to get dramatic contrast.

    I haven't tried using a bracket because I don;t know if I can still accomodate more weight with a camera with grip, flash, battery pack and heavy lens like 70-200. but for group 17-55mm with a dx would suffice in group pictures during reception.

  • ZenonZenon Member
    edited January 2012
    No problem. Every day I find something more fascinating about flash photography. I had a lot of help too.

    My bracket weighs 11 ounces and I must admit it does adds up at the end of the day. I pray for white ceilings/walls. Neil stopped using brackets when the high ISO capable cameras came out. He will bump up the ISO, open up the aperture, slow the shutter (depending on conditions) so the flash does not work as hard. I shoot a lot of high ISO as well but still have not been able to let go of it. It is mostly for portrait orientation but helps with landscape. I was on a another thread and due to high ISO capable cameras many people just shoot landscape and crop for portrait later. That sounded appealing to me. Experiment with that and see. Personally I don't like battery grips. I can get 400 to 500 images off one battery. Good enough for me.

    There is an idea for a new gizmo. A simple light weight attachment to get the flash 3 to 5 inches higher off the camera while in landscape mode.
  • How can I get hold of that attachment? I am thinking would this attachment allow the flash to get its TTL mode working?
  • It does not exist I don't think. It was just an idea. I've yet to see one but you never know.
  • My D90 starts getting visible noise at ISO 800 and above. But I don't think its practical for me right now to change to a high ISO capable camera.

    Zenon, though this is out of subject. I noticed recently when I convert my raw files to jpeg 640 x 640 pixels in lightroom, the pixelation starts to get obvious-you know that square-ish pixels. But when I convert it to large or original size the pixels behave in zoomed orientation. Why is this happening? Is this the one we call compression?
  • ZenonZenon Member
    edited January 2012
    That is just effects of mass downsampling. I would back off on sharpening when going that small. Always sharpen after you resize. I don't have LR but I use ACR (PS) which is virtually the same thing. In sharpening section there is amount, radius, detail and masking. My guess is LR should be the same. Leave the amount at zero or low value. If you leave some sharpening Masking should help you here if LR has it. Press the Option key on a Mac (I think that is Alt for PC) and slide the slider to the right. It will be pure white at the start and then you will see some details. Everything that is white will be sharpened. As you slide it further there will be less white. You will notice that eventually it just becomes edges. So skin, background, etc does not get sharpened. That is basically edge sharpening.
  • ZenonZenon Member
    edited January 2012
    I just found this. Good info on ACR if anyone is interested. Pages 16 & 17 talks about the masking slider so it may help you.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Zenon said: I just found this. Good info on ACR if anyone is interested. Pages 16 & 17 talks about the masking slider so it may help you.

    Good link Zenon :)

Sign In or Register to comment.