Whether you are a keen amateur or a professional in another field of photography, you can bet that if you are good with a camera, at some point you will be asked by a friend “Would you be interested in photographing our wedding?” Wedding photography is a huge industry and can be an expensive element of a wedding day – asking a friend is a great way to keep costs down. However, as the friend being asked, it can be a daunting task! Here are my top tips on being a wedding photographer when you aren’t!
Before the Day
Have a meeting with the bride and groom – discuss clearly what kind of photos they want at the end: Do they want lots of posed shots or more natural reportage collection of images? Do they want just the wedding photographed or the getting ready as well. What kinds of group shots do they want? What sort of editing are they expecting? How do the want the images delivered? What time do they want you there until?
It’s important to be clear on expectations before you agree to anything. They need to understand that you are not a professional wedding photographer and may not be able to get the slick photos and poses that people who work in the industry for years can do. But take heart, most likely they asked you because they like your style. Its a good idea to walk away from the meeting with a shot list – bullet points of the key photographs the couple want to remember the day (Vows, signing the register, cutting the cake, etc).
If you can, check out the wedding venue beforehand. See the light in the space where the ceremony will take place and keep an eye out for good backdrops. Take your camera with you and get a feel for how you will be able to photograph in the space.
If lighting is going to be tricky, practice with a couple of lighting set-ups, either a flash or low light – make sure you are comfortable with whatever you choose to use.
Whether or not you have the right equipment to shoot a wedding is a very common worry. Most modern DSLRs will be perfectly sufficient to do a great job on capturing a wedding for a friend. Professional wedding photographers will usually be shooting on pro, full-frame camera bodies – which of course are excellent for low light photography that is so common at weddings, but truth is, your friends are asking you because they have seen your photos and think you can capture their special day.
- Camera and Backup: In addition to your main camera, it’s a good idea to bring a back up camera on the day – borrowing from a friend was my usual option until I had my own backup. Make sure you know how to use it, just in case!
- Lenses: the kit lens that came with your camera is likely to have a good range of focal lengths for shooting most things, but as they tend to be slower, they may not be as great in low light. If you don’t have one already, a “Nifty Fifty” 50mm f/1.8 lens is a great investment. They are usually cheap to pick up and take lovely photos. My lens selection for most weddings is:
- Canon 50mm f/1.4
- Canon 85mm f/1.8
- Tamron 70-300 f/2.2
- Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L
The first 3 are my own lenses and I rent the 16-35mm for weddings as its great for low light.
- Tripod: tripods are great for both low light and group shots. I have a Manfrotto190XPROB tripod with a 804RC2 head. Its sturdy enough to take the camera body and the 70-300mm lens, but light enough to carry around the wedding venue.
- Remote: As a friend of the bride and groom, you are going to want to be in some of the photos! A remote can be picked up cheaply. I have an app on my phone that connects to my Canon 6d.
- Flash: I do not use a flash in my photography unless absolutely necessary, but if you feel you will need some additional lighting, a flash is a good fall back. If you have a pop-up flash on your camera, consider purchasing a Lightscoop to bounce your flash around – they are very inexpensive and make a huge difference to flash photography.
In the next part, we’ll look at what to do on and after the day!
About the author: Kat Goldin is a textile designer and photographer living in rural Scotland. She blogs at www.slugsontherefrigerator.com