Thursday 28 February 2008

Friends Weddings 3 - Some Experience

Hi I'm Nisha - Chris asked me to write up my experiences of shooting a friends wedding.

Really it is a good idea to get a professional to do it!


I charged an extra battery and packed 2 spare memory cards (just incase) the night before the wedding and also formatted each memory card in the camera, as I had heard that sometimes they can get corrupted and I didn’t really want anyone’s hands around my neck!

Before the Wedding

I got to the brides house an hour before she was due to leave for the venue to get pictures of her getting ready and her family. This actually proved to be quite useful, because I now have a start to the ‘story’ and some really good shots of the bride when she is looking fresh. I should however have planned my time a bit better and gone to the grooms house as well, just to get a shot of him putting his tie on, or something of the sort. This was also a good time to get pictures of the 'details' such as the brides outfit, bouquet and accessories.

There was no way that I could have taken the pictures without a flash at the brides house as my lens's min aperture is f4.5 on a 70mm focal length and because I wanted those candid shots of her getting ready, I couldn’t use a tripod. Also shooting in RAW, with continuous mode and flash on was a little slow as I guess the flash needs a bit more time to recycle.

The Bride - by Nisha Patel

The Wedding

When I got to the venue, I found out how much time we had in the venue and the grounds after the ceremony was finished, so I could plan where to take the various family group and couple shots. It turned out to be a pretty wet and windy day, so having checked the forecast, I brought large black umbrellas with me, but they never got put to use and no-one wanted to go outside to get their hair messed up. This meant I had to find spots inside the venue to take family pictures and ended up using two different locations, but having looked through the photos, wish I had picked at least two more locations inside, so that there is some variation in the backgrounds. This isn’t so much of a problem when looking through the photos on the computer, but I’m making a photo album and the same background starts to get boring after a while!

I was shooting in Program mode with flash indoors, and cranked up the ISO to 400 as I didn't have an external flash, which is definitely something to invest in!

I didn't get much of a chance to shoot outdoors and when I did, it was pitch black and this was for the couples shots so I had to push up the ISO again! I had compiled a list of shots that I wanted from the couple so got these out of the way first and then just let them be natural around each other and 'do their thing'!!

What I Learnt

For a complete beginner like myself, who got thrown in the deep end, the first thing I would say is RELAX! When taking the group shots, people aren't always smiling, relaxed or comfortable (sometimes having to stand close to other people!) so you have to interact with them and make them smile. I kept an eye out for the couple giving each other 'looks' and just general candid shots of the guests enjoying themselves. Having looked through my shots, I have to say that I did focus mainly on the bride, so should have also got more close up candid shots of the wedding party in general.

Part 2 - Some Hints and Tips

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Friends Weddings 2 - Some hints and tips

OK so we have established that wedings are tricky and best avoided, but recently I was approached by my good friend Nisha as to what advice I could give her as she had been asked to do her friends wedding. For what it is worth - here is the advice I gave her

  • Get a professional to do it.
  • No seriously, get a professional to do it.
  • Can't you feign some sort of illness?
  • Oh O.K. well if you must.

Before you start:
Create a Packing List of everything you will need for the day and use it to pack the night before.
Make sure you have a spare battery and that all your batteries are charged.
Format all your cards and pack them somewhere you can get to them quickly
Check the camera settings: White Balance, exposure, metering - you really don't want to be shooting the whole day on the wrong white balance
Set the camera to raw as this will give you a bit more lee-way with the exposure.
Or you could ring round see if there are any professionals who have had a cancellation.

The Bride
(by Nisha Patel)

Create a Shooting list:
Work with the bride& groom before hand to get a list of all the groups they want shots of.
Add a shot of the rings, the signing the registrar, and the bouquet.
Keep this list with you and check each shot off on the day.

On the day:
If shooting indoors watch for flash shadow if people are too close to the wall behind.
Check your backgrounds, you don't want Aunty to have a telegraph post popping out of her head, or have to spend hours cloaning an ashtray out of each shot as I f did.

Be confident in moving people and stuff about to get the shots you want, much better to ask everyone to move across the room than produce a load of images you need to Photoshop the life out of.

In group shots tell everyone to smile, and take multiple shots as someone will always have their eyes closed when the shutter goes off. Take lots of shots plenty of candid ones will help to document the day.

Final Advice:
Are you sure you can't get a professional to do it?

Friends Weddings 1 - "Your pretty handy with a camera - can you do my wedding?"
In Part 3, Nisha tells us what she learnt when she did her friends wedding (apart from no t to do them)!

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Friends Weddings 1 - "Your pretty handy with a camera - can you do my wedding?"

"We would like you to photograph our wedding?" - Is just the most terrifying thing a friend can ask you, if your a photographer who doesn't really do people shots. There is no expression like it for putting the wind up your average landscape photographer -my advice is "just say no".

Ever wondered why professional wedding photographers charge such a lot of money for taking a few snaps? Do a wedding yourself and their charges will seem entirely reasonable! It is a job that requires a special blend of skills:

First you have the technical challenges like a bride wearing white and a groom in a dark suite, this is usually combined with a bright sunny day that can make for an exposure nightmare. Alternatively if the weather is grim you need to be able to shoot indoors and have sufficient lights/flash to cover the groups you need.

Then you need to be able to deal with a wide variety of people, from precocious small children to boisterous grannies. Coral them into various groups before they disappear into the bar.
Satisfy the mother-in-law who wants lots of formal group shots with all the family in, whilst producing the relaxed reportage images the couple want.

The most important issue with weddings is you only get one chance, mess it up and the day is gone.

The Bridal Chest
(what happens when you let me loose at a wedding)

You need to do all this without upsetting anyone and ensuring the wedding doesn't end up as one long photo shoot.

I have only ever done one wedding and I have to say its not something I would be rushing to do again! In short - get someone else to do it.

In Part two I give some advise for those of you who feel it might be a good idea to shoot a friend's wedding.

Monday 25 February 2008

Kevin Goodchild exhibition opens

Fellow Essex photographer and good friend Kevin Goodchild has his first exhibitions of images of Essex opening today. If you are anywhere near Rayleigh its bound to be worth a visit.

(by Kevin Goodchild)

The exhibiton runs through to Friday 28th March at
The Mill Arts & Events Centre
Mill Hall, Bellingham Lane, Rayleigh, Essex SS6 7ED
Telephone: 01268 778737

If you can't make it to the exhibition the images are on his website.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Norfolk Landscape Photography Workshops

Two good friends of mine: Kate Barclay and John Duckett - both of whom are members of The Painting With Light Society and are excellent photographers in their own right, have started offering Landscape Photography Workshops in the photogenic county of Norfolk (England).

Floods at Thurne
(by Kate Barclay)

They have only just been announced, yet places are being taken quickly. So, as they say, book early to avoid disappointment. The currently available courses are:

Workshop One - Saturday March 29th - The working Norfolk Coast.
This workshop starts at dawn and takes in the Quay and beach at Wells-next-the-Sea. After a cooked breakfast/brunch it's then onto the boats, lobster pots and sheds of Brancaster Staithe.

Workshop Two - Saturday April 26th - The Norfolk Broads and Dunes.
Again starting with the mills on the river Thurne at dawn and finish the day on the dunes at Horsey Gap.

Workshop Three - Saturday 1st November - The Norfolk Broads and Dunes.
Again starting with the mills on the river Thurne at dawn and finish the day on the dunes at Horsey Gap.

Workshop Four - Saturday 8th November - Location to be confirmed.

All workshops have a maximum of 8 people and will be tailored to your level of experience and skill. The workshops cover basic through to advanced use of digital and film based cameras. Advice will be given in metering, creative use of shutter speeds and apertures, choices of focal length, creative compositions, when and what filters to use.

Brancaster Post
(by John Duckett)

Why not pop over to and check them out for yourselves.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Considering Composition

Lately I have got round to reading one of my Christmas presents. The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos is an interesting book that deals solely with composition and has already given me plenty to consider when creating photos.

Somerset House
(Click to view large)

The curving stones provide a lead-in to the main building with the figure on the thirds to add interest.

Many photography books cover composition but this goes into much more depth than many of the more general books. The information here is not just the dreaded "rule of thirds" or "stick a rock in the foreground of your wide angle landscape shots", its much more detailed than that.

It covers using shapes and contrasts, the effect of colours and intent, plus a whole host more.

I would recommend reading it in one pass to get a feel for it. Then going back and studying a small section and attempt to use it in making your pictures.

Gas Light

A rusty gasometer lit by a setting sun makes for an interesting abstract. Tilting the camera utilises the rectangular frame to gives a composition made almost entirely of simple geometric shapes.

All in all a highly recommended book.

Related Posts


Monday 4 February 2008

Keep it Clean

Over at Lightingmods, Rui M Leal has produced a lovely detailed guide to how to clean your camera gear. It covers both lenses and sensors - good stuff & well worth reading.

All I need now is a guide to get sand out of tripod legs and how to clean your whole camera just after you have gone head first into some Thames mud and I'll be sorted!

Hadleigh Ray - Taken just before I launched myself & my camera into the mud
(Click to buy this image)

Saturday 2 February 2008 are Photographers of the month for February brings together a team of some of the best landscape photographers from around the world. It is a collection of amazingly beautiful images from around the world the make you yearn to visit the locations that are so exquisitely captured.

~ Rundle Igloo - 7042 ~
© Darwin Wiggett

Previous Photographers of the Month