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Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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12 Nov 2020 8:19AM   Views : 461 Unique : 301


Have you ever photographed a wedding? Well, thatís a loosely worded question: I mean, have you ever been responsible for the official picturesÖ A very different game!

Iíve done it a few times over the years, always for friends, usually friends who were a little bit short of cash. And itís been incredibly hard work every single time.

My best advice, if you donít suffer from fairly severe masochism is, very simply, donít. But failing that, if youíre trapped, or if you really want to start doing this regularly, here are a few tips.
Limit the list of formal pictures that you agree to take. Every setup involving more people than the bride, groom, bridesmaids and best man will take you five minutes to organise. If there are twelve groups to organise into position, thatís an hour. If theyíre late from the church, and the meal is in an hour, you have a problem, Houston.


You donít need lots of fancy gear. Make sure that you know exactly how to use everything you take with you, and have backups available. Yes Ė a second camera body. A second flashgun. A second standard lens, or something that doubles as one. This is not the day to try something new and creative: itís time to be boring and take pictures like a well-rehearsed stage farce, with everything working perfectly.

Do a recce of the church, and if possible attend the rehearsal. You can find out about possible angles, whether the vicar will allow you to take pictures during the service (some will not. Respect that. Youíre on her turf), and how to fit into the vestry for signing the register. Also do a recce of wherever you are going to shoot the groups (and you will want to shoot someone before you finish, I promise!) What will you do if it rains? What will you do if the sun is so bright that everyone screws up their eyes?


See if the bride and groom will nominate someone as your group helper: someone who knows all the aunties and uncles, and has the charm of a Graham Norton combined with the voice of a sergeant major. Good planning means that you wonít be responsible for every single thing that happens, in terms of it not happening if you donít specifically set it going. Thereís massive inertia in a big wedding party, and it gravitates to the barÖ In between times, they can mind your camera bag.

High vantage points are always worth finding. You can see whatís going on, and also get an unusual shot or two. Get in among them, and try to get a casual shot of everybody there at some stage.
Shoot two frames of everything. Nookie Bear is a frequent attendee at weddings, especially later on in the evening at the reception.


Hitchhikerís Guide fan? Good. Donít panic!

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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
12 Nov 2020 8:23AM
So, on the whole, I hope that you're deterred. And please make it clear to anyone you do promise to do pictures for that you are not liable for any failures, because you are not approaching the task as a professional.

I've said all of this for years, and it didn't stop my son being dragooned into service by two cousins (who were happy with the results), nor deter my daughter-in-law from going into it professionally...

Mrserenesunrise Avatar
12 Nov 2020 9:38AM
I have always been happy shooting people/models but I have never been interested in shooting weddings... many years ago I did shoot one ...for a friend...I didnít enjoy it at all....
Another interesting blog John.
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
12 Nov 2020 10:34AM
I have never wanted to photograph a wedding. I hardly ever photograph people apart from casual street photography. Having said that, when I was about 18 I was living at home with my parents and attended my lovely cousin's wedding and took a lot of b/w photos with my small 35mm camera (Vito B?!). A few days later the brides mother got in contact because the official photographer's photos were rubbish, could I help.
So I set up a darkroom in the parent's bathroom (awkward) and turned out dozens of prints for them, which were well received.

Fast forward to 2000 and my middle stepson was married in England, the bride's brother had an early digital camera, insisted on being the main photographer and the results were terrible. This time I had returned to Spain and had to send a load of my own reprinted colour photos back by post, luckily they had been taken on a Minolta 9000 af & were fine but limited in detail, angle and subject.

Then in 2015 my stepdaughter asked if I could be the photographer at her wedding. I refused at first but she insisted that no formal photos were needed or wanted and I knew many of the guests.

At the time I had a Nikon D5200, but no flashgun! I purchased a Nikon flash and dozens of batteries! I had no spare flash, but I did have a quality Lumix compact in my pocket for emergency use only.
The event was held in the same hotel as the reception which was good. I introduced myself to the registrar and she couldn't have been more helpful. I was allowed to wander all round the room, even standing behind the couple with the usual warning that I could not include the actual register signing, a dummy book was produced.
I actually enjoyed the whole day, but of course there no photos of myself. I was so engrossed in the process I did not think of that...............

A nice touch was that I was presented with a bottle of very good Malt Whisky at the reception.
99% of the images were of acceptable technical if not artistic quality and about 30 were printed by a company and given as an album as one of our wedding presents.. One large picture of the couple signing was selected and specially printed and framed.
Would I do it again? - NO!
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
12 Nov 2020 10:41AM
That's precisely what I've said, every single time...
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
12 Nov 2020 11:36AM
I have done them in the past, family, friends and word of mouth. All were well received and better than some people's 'professional' sets.
But I don't do them anymore as it's very tiring, physically.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
12 Nov 2020 11:41AM
VERY tiring - I should have mentioned that. Apart from anything else, modern coverage seems to embrace everything from the bride getting ready to the end of the evening disco.
bluesandtwos Avatar
bluesandtwos 13 544 1 England
12 Nov 2020 12:12PM
Yaers ago, twice, for the very reasons you mentioned ( impoverished, persuasive friends) pre digital, and never ever ever again. Way to stressful, I've skydived for a hobby and gone into potentialy explosive burning buildings as a job, but never would I do wedding pictures ever again, far too risky!!!!!
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
12 Nov 2020 12:17PM
In years gone by I did quite a lot of wedding photography. But it was always very hard work and stressful. My recommendation is to do what some of the expensive US photographers used to do in the 1980s, which was to wait until the couple came back from honeymoon and were happy and relaxed and then take them off for the day to an awesome location to do some really beautiful portraits that are guaranteed to be far better than the cheesy pic of the couple in a church doorway, which was always the money shot photo on the wedding day.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
12 Nov 2020 12:53PM
That's fine, if the couple will buy it: but generally, people want reportage that includes the set pieces.
mistere Avatar
mistere Plus
10 37 8 England
12 Nov 2020 1:12PM
My Son in Law does wedding photography, so i don't have to. He's very good at it and, despite the already mentioned pitfalls, he quite enjoys it.
Having a willing assistant from both the Bride and the Grooms family is well worth a couple of pint's. They can do the hard work and usher the
required guests to the camera when needed.
I've been to most of the weddings that he's photographed, and at least one of my cameras has taken a good deal of the pictures. I've even been
enlisted as second shooter for some of them. Apart from having the necessary equipment (a reasonable idea of how to use it) and tons
of patience there are two things that a wedding photographer must have. A good sense of humour and excellent people skills.
They have to be comfortable working under pressure and performing in front of a crowd of strangers. Being watched by dozens of people
as they try to orchestrate the group photo's and trying to keep both sides of the opposing factions happy. It's not an easy thing to do, and
it all has to be done with a smile and a bunch of pleases and thank you's. It's a few days work to do it well, and you only get one chance to
do it right.
No wonder the professionals charge an arm and a leg for doing it. I'm in full agreement with you John. Just say no.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
12 Nov 2020 1:22PM
I really enjoyed doing candid pictures while a friend took the formal set. He was meticulous, and had done it many times before: Dave, you know who I mean!

My worst experience was the first one I ever did. My camera died the previous day (I only had one then) and I had to use a friend's Olympus 35RC - a tiny fixed-lens rangefinder camera, strapped to the side of a Metz shoulder-pack gun.

And... The groom's father kept leaving the group to take his own shots with an ancient twin lens reflex. Nightmare...
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
12 Nov 2020 2:08PM

Quote:That's fine, if the couple will buy it: but generally, people want reportage that includes the set pieces.

They sure do. Clearly there's a gap in the market for someone to tell people that what they need isn't necessarily what they want! Lol. At the end of the day most wedding albums never come out of the cupboard after the first 9 months, wheras a stunning wedding portrait could be on display forever! But there again the customer is always right, even when they're not! Lol
altitude50 Avatar
altitude50 19 23.9k United Kingdom
12 Nov 2020 2:09PM
I suppose that now there is the video cameraman to contend with.
When I was married for the second time (1984) a friend provided a decent video inside and outside the Registry Office but couldn't find the location of the reception despite being given good instructions!
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
12 Nov 2020 2:42PM
I have been asked a few times to do weddings.
I always respond:
I shoot wildlife and sports, I do not have experience shooting weddings.
If it is family or a friend I add, "I can bring my camera but I will not be the "official" photographer".

Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 14 12 147 United Kingdom
12 Nov 2020 3:56PM
If you want to learn how to earn a living from photography, become a wedding photographer. You will never work harder...
Lontano Avatar
Lontano 13 8 2 United Kingdom
13 Nov 2020 9:32AM
I was asked once to do a wedding, by someone who had seen my work on my walls. I declined, using the excuse that my disability would soon tire me and I would also find it very stressful.
Think I made the right decision.
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
13 Nov 2020 10:24AM
I have done weddings....never again !!
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
28 Nov 2020 7:34PM
I spent 16 years doing weddings, giving up when digital took over.

I awoke in a cold sweat this morning. I had a dream where I had woken up realising that I was shooting a wedding today. I was covering for a photographer who I never really got on with, and I had been given 4 rolls of Kodak Gold 100, then panic set in, as I realised I had sold all my film gear, and I just had a Canon 10D and 20D, so nothing to put it in! Convinced it vwas real, open I opened my eyes to see rain poring off the roofs outside my bedroom window.

I cheered up, when I realised first job of the day was to photograph the location where somebody had killed themselves, which was somewhat less stressful.

I worked up from 35mm film in 2 bodies, then onto 2 Bronica 645 cameras. As Dudler says carry duplicates. I dropped a body on a job once, so it's sound advice. I reckon primes are good on weddings. A 35 can double for a 50, an 85 works too. 2 flashguns, 2 synch cables, more film than you need, 2 scripts and family lists, tripod, and spare plates and nerves of steel. I reckon you need 6 under your belt assisting before going solo.

All academic in Covid year anyway.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
28 Nov 2020 9:58PM
It's so hard to refuse an impecunious friend, though.

But never again, as Janet said!

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