Editor’s note: Oliver Ruffus used the r/photography Reddit sub as a resource for purchasing gear as well as getting tips for shooting his first wedding. To show his gratitude, he decided to give back by talking about his first experience with a wedding so that first-timers know what to be aware of. Oliver was kind enough to allow us to share his post on DIYP as well, as his way of passing it on and helping others.
As Oliver stated, some of this info might be redundant with other sources but hopefully something new will catch someone’s eye.
I shot a wedding yesterday. Here is the gear I used:
- D3200 with 35mm f/1.8 and speedlight SB-300 (mine)
- D300 with 70-200 f/2.8 and speedlight SB-910 (rented from Glass and Gear)
D3200 + wedding = does not compute I agree. Please send me a nicer camera at your nearest convenience. Until then… I must work with what I have.
Here are some tips that I’ve compiled from a few different sources, and some that I came up with:
1. Bring multiple copies of everything
Batteries, memory cards, cameras, clothes, picture lists. Bring battery chargers, too. I got pretty lucky in that nothing went wrong, but there were several occasions when I found myself thinking “Oh god, what if that drink had been spilled two seconds earlier?” or something along those lines.
2. Scout the area before the day of the wedding
I can’t stress this enough. If possible, do this with someone who knows the ceremony. The day of the wedding will be hectic and the last thing you want is unfamiliar territory. Get to know the lighting, outlets, and most importantly find some good shots that you would like to take on the wedding day.
3. Get a picture list
Ask the couple for a list containing each subset of the guests with which they would like a picture. Make sure to do this days before the wedding so that it can be edited.
What I mean by “picture list” is a list of people that the couples want pictures with directly after the ceremony. These are the pictures that are framed and hung around the house most often and you want to be sure the client gets what they want. I’m not talking about micro-managing BS like “I would love a picture of this chair at this time of day with my grandmother’s picture next to it”. Sorry, I’m too busy shooting your wedding.
4. Know the ceremony like the back of your hand
Where will the partner be entering from? Any religious/spiritual traditions that need to be captured? What time of day is the ceremony? Don’t try to wing it!
5. A TIP for Crop Sensors: Bring a lens that can go in the range of 18-24mm
I wish I had a smaller focal length to capture large group shots on the dance floor and during the actual ceremony. Because I was shooting DX the effective focal length of the 35mm was around 50mm.
6. Prepare for rain
New Englanders, you know what I mean. Some plastic shopping bags and rubber bands will serve in a pinch, but you can find commercial products that will serve you multiple times.
A wedding is supposed to be a fun time and you are there to capture everything. Smile, talk to people if they talk to you, and in general don’t be a stranger to the guests. People are more likely to let down their guard and enjoy themselves if they know you aren’t just some person with a camera.
This list is by no means exhaustive. It is simply what I think were the most important aspects of shooting my first wedding, and a low-key wedding at that.
Some people have WPPSTD (wedding photographer’s post-traumatic stress disorder). This having been my first wedding, I can see how this would happen. Luckily this was a pretty relaxed wedding. I wouldn’t let a wedding photographer veteran snub your dreams of doing it. You might love it, or you might end up with WPPTSD. Never know if you don’t try.
About the Author
Oliver Ruffus is an amatuer photographer who learned from the web and wants to give back.