Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Photographing a wedding - Tips for photographers and those hiring a photographer

This past Saturday I photographed a wedding with my second shooter and we had a blast capturing images for this newly married couple and their families. In May of 2018, I blogged what it was like shooting a wedding by myself, so this time I thought I would give advice to other photographers about shooting a wedding with a second photographer.

There are numerous advantages of photographing a wedding with a second photographer. Some of which are:

* Each photographer can concentrate on their subject
* The second shooter can assist with the grouping and posing
* Both photographers can give creative input
* It is less stress knowing that both photographers are capturing key moments
* You can have fun working with each other

I am going to take you through our day and explain the thought process for what we were capturing. This should be helpful to all those photographers who are just starting out, and wondering what to capture and how to capture really nice images.

First of all, you as a team need to coordinate to make sure you get the key shots of the day. Those are:

* The bride getting ready
* Portraits of the bride and her brides maids as they get ready
* Detail shots of the shoes, rings and other sentimental items
* The groom and groomsmen getting ready
* The bride getting her dress and jewelry on
* Portraits of the bride and bridal party in their dresses
* The wedding ceremony (with the ring exchange, first kiss and big exit)
* Portraits after the ceremony (all family and key friends)
* Reception: Grand entrance
* Reception: First dance
* Reception: Speeches
* Reception: Bouquet toss
* Reception: Garter toss
* Reception: Cake cutting
* Reception: Dancing and partying
* The big exit (if there is one)


(Canon 1D X Mark II, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 800, F/3.5, 1/200 sec)

Carol (the bride) is one highly organized woman and had scheduled out the day to the minute. She had us arriving at 2:45pm to start taking photos. Evan (my second shooter) and I met for lunch at noon and decided that we should arrive an hour early, so that I could capture images of the ladies getting ready, and Evan could get the detail shots.

(Canon 5D Mark III, 100mm macro lens, ISO 800, F/10, 1/320 sec)

Evan collected the rings, shoes and other items so that we could capture those photos outside while I did my job inside the house.

(Canon 1D X Mark II, 70-200mm lens at 160mm, ISO 2000, F/5, 1/160 sec)

I was able to capture photos of the ladies getting ready without stressing about the detail shots or the men getting ready. I knew that Evan was going to head over to the hotel to capture images of the guys as soon as he completed his work at the house.


Having the freedom and extra time to concentrate on the bride, bridesmaids and her family, also gave me a chance to have some fun with them. This portrait of Carol's parents was taken in between the formal photos.


Meanwhile, Evan was at the hotel capturing images of the guys. Evan has second shot for me many times and I have full trust that he will capture high quality images. This trust is really important, since this part of the day was all on him.


We were now about 2 hours before the start of the wedding and it was time for Carol to get her dress on. I captured many images that included their faces, but also zoomed in with the 70-200mm lens to get the detail of her dress.

Throughout the afternoon, Evan and I were staying touch through text messaging. When he was done photographing the guys, he let me know he was heading back to meet me at the house.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 24-70mm lens at 24mm, ISO 2500, F/4, 1/250 sec)

It was Evan's idea to have all the girls lay out Carol's dress, and my idea to grab a chair to take this high shot. Both ideas came together for a really nice photo.


Now that Carol was dressed, we went back outside the house for more portraits.


We were very lucky to have overcast skies, which made for perfect photography conditions.


Evan took this shot of me doing my thing.

(Canon 1D X Mark II, 70-200mm lens at 130mm, ISO 200, F/4.5, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT at -1)

And here is the shot I was taking at that very moment. (Photographer's note: You will see in Evan's photo that there was a pillar to my left. I made sure to move my groups away from that pillar so that it would not be in the background. My goal was to have as much of the foliage and flowers in the background as possible. I also changed my aperture from f/2.8 to f/4.5 so that everyone would be in focus, front to back.)


While Evan was helping me set up the next group, I turned and saw dad and one of the brides maids watching on. I love the expressions on their faces, as they looked on with so much emotion.


Evan was taking some photos of Carol when I got down low and focused just on her bouquet.


We had completed all of our portraiture, and Evan took off for the venue. I was in my car about to leave as well, when I saw this open window and knew that it would make a good photo of the bride. I turned the car off, unpacked my gear and had Carol peak out of the window for this shot. It was well worth the extra couple of minutes.

Oh - speaking of gear, here is what I used for this wedding:

* Canon 1D X Mark II
* Canon 5D Mark IV
* Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens
* Canon 24-70mm 2.8 lens
* Canon 16-35mm lens
* Canon 100mm macro lens
* Canon 600EX-RT flashes (6 - mostly at the reception)
* MagMod flash diffusers
* Four Manfrotto light stands
* Lots of Powerex AA rechargeable batteries
* Pro Grade Digital memory cards
* Blackrapid camera straps with the Acratech Swift Clamps
* All packed in a Thinktank rolling bag

Then it was wedding time!

(Canon 1D X Mark II, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 640, F/4, 1/500 sec)


Evan and I made a simple plan, where I would mostly shoot from the center aisle and he would roam. If I roamed, he was watching and would cover the middle. All of my ceremony shots were taken with the Canon 1D X Mark II and the Canon 70-200mm lens.


Evan was moving around, this time shooting from the side, which gave us a different view of the bride.


I moved to the side for this shot and we switched positions. There was no real communication of the switch, but we have worked together enough to predict these moves.



I moved back to the center position and asked Evan to get some shots of the parents in the front row.


He did a great job of capturing the emotion!


One of the key shot - the ring exchange.


Another key moment - the first kiss!


I always enjoy capturing images as the newly married couple walk out from the ceremony. There are usually great smiles and sometimes great relief from having completed their big moment.


I was running up the walkway, but Evan was positioned perfectly to capture this shot.

(Canon 1D X Mark II, 70-200mm lens at 130mm, ISO 640, F/4, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT at -1)

The most stressful part of photographing a wedding is when we are taking the photos after the ceremony. My goal is to do this as quick as possible, ensuring that we have great shots but also not taking so long that the couple is missing too much of their reception.


The fog was rolling in behind our subjects, which made for some great lighting once again.


The groupings are very important. Carol had created a very detailed list of the photos she wanted, and Evan was in charge of herding the cats.


We only had 35 minutes of daylight after the ceremony, so it was imperative that Evan gathered everyone efficiently and I shot quickly.


We had to get a photo of just the bride! After I took this, we decided to have some fun with her veil.


I had Evan take the end of her veil and throw it into the wind as I captured this shot. But, we can see Evan at the left side of the frame.

(Canon 1D X Mark II, 70-200mm lens at 70mm, ISO 1250, F/4, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT at -1)

This was easy to fix in Adobe Photoshop, by cloning him out of the photo. I also made slight adjustments to the lighting as you can see.



Evan asked the couple to walk up the pathway to get some shots of them walking. As he did this, I was packing up my bag, preparing to head over to the reception.


I looked up from my camera bag and saw this shot, and had to get this perspective as well.


Remember how I said that it was important to have fun? Here is David (the video guy) and Evan joining in on the fun.
(Canon 1D X Mark II, 16-35mm lens at 20mm, ISO 1600, F/4, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT on camera in ETTL mode and two more remotes in manual mode)

In between taking the portraits and the start of the ceremony, Evan and I jammed over to the club house and set up four light stands with remote flashes to cover the dance floor. I had two on my frequency and he had two on his (so we would not be triggering each other's flashes).


We captured the different speeches...


...which were both hilarious and moving.  This one was captured from my angle.


This one was captured at Evan's angle.


As you can see from this shot, Evan had the better angle for this best man's toast (since he was turned away from me).


The father / daughter dance...


...and the mother / son dance are always a great shot.


I was definitely not expecting this, as Paul Michael picked up his mother at the end of the dance.

(Canon 1D X Mark II, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, ISO 800, F/3.5, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT on camera in ETTL mode and two more remotes in manual mode)

There are two good positions for the bouquet toss. I took the "over the bride" shot (using the Canon 16-35mm wide lens), while Evan took the "receiving" shot below).



We took a lot of photos of people dancing and having fun, making sure to key in on the bride and groom when they were out on the dance floor.


Just before 11pm, the bride and groom made their exit through a tunnel of sparklers. I decided to shoot without any flash, using just the ambient light from the sparklers and the light from the videographers.



One of their friends had this beautiful old Bentley, and the couple wanted their photo in it. In order to get this shot, I ran back into the venue and grabbed a second flash. I had the groom's father hold the flash by the passenger window (pointing into the back seat), and remotely fired his flash and my on-camera flash to make this happen. I then removed the father in Photoshop.

(Canon 1D X Mark II, 16-35mm lens at 31mm, ISO 2000, F/4, 1/160 sec)


But this was the real exit vehicle. Paul Michael's family is well known in the area for fixing up VW microbuses, so it was only fitting to send them off in one. (As a matter of fact, if you have been reading the blog for the past 6 years, you may remember this crazy blog about them.)

The job of a photographer is to tell the story of the day, and this was the perfect ending shot for us.

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