- What a First Time Wedding Photographer Needs to Know
- Interesting Photo of the Day: Humpback Whales Breaching (Plus Shocking Video)
- Tips for Better Street Photography: Day-to-Day Life
- Rare Lenticular Clouds Phenomenon Captured with Timelapse Photography
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 04:47 PM PDT
The news that you are photographing your first wedding often leads to emotions ranging from excitement to apprehension, and in some cases, fear. Assuming you have experience with your equipment and have developed the necessary skills to take great photographs, the wedding event has a greater likelihood of being a successful one if you follow some key steps.
This article provides an overview of important steps to follow before, during, and after the event. As with any important job, the keys are preparation, focus, and follow-through.
Before the Wedding
Proper preparation before the event is the best way for a photographer to have a successful outcome. I spent several weeks before my first wedding visiting other photographer’s web sites. I read books on wedding photography, and I researched photography blogs and forums. It is amazing how much information is available for little or no charge. These tips and other photographs can inspire you and get you thinking about what you want to accomplish and how you are going to make it happen.
It is important that you have a standard written agreement that is signed by the bride- and groom-to-be and the photographer. There is no excuse for not having this document in place. It should describe the deliverables and the fees associated with the service and products. It should also include a model release so you can use the photos for promotional purposes. It is highly recommended that you contact an attorney and draft a standard agreement that protects you.
At the time of signing the agreement, there are two other opportunities to enhance the process. First, get to know the bride and groom. Spend some time chatting so you will know their story and they will know you. When the wedding day comes, they should feel comfortable with you so their true personalities will shine. If possible include a no cost or low cost engagement shoot so everyone can gain even more of a comfort level. It is a good opportunity to give them some posing tips that they can use on their wedding day.
It is also imperative to know the schedule. When you are meeting with the bride and groom, go over the agenda for the time you are expected to be at the wedding. Get to know their expectations. Let them know when you expect them to devote time to photographs with you in charge. This is a good time to talk about a wedding coordinator. If they will designate a friend or family member that will help the you identify important family members during the wedding day, it can be a tremendous help.
Another important component of preparation is checking your equipment. Check it thoroughly at least four or five days before a shoot. A check prior to my first wedding revealed a faulty auto-focus mechanism on one of my camera bodies, and I had to borrow a second camera for the shoot, but I was ready.
A proper equipment check also requires making sure you have backups of everything. You need two camera bodies and two flash units at a minimum. If you do not have them, you can rent them. On my first senior photo shoot, the wind blew my tripod and camera to the concrete surface. You never know when something will drop or just fail.
Check your batteries and memory card supplies, and bring more than you think you will need. It is not uncommon to take 2,000 to 3,000 images at a wedding. If you are using flash, you will burn through batteries very fast at that rate. For memory cards, it is better to have several smaller cards than just one or two big ones. If a card fails, you minimize your loss by using multiple cards.
Visit the venue(s) prior to the wedding day in order to scope out lighting and shot locations. Do you need to gel your flash for proper white balance? I often find that if I take a few test shots with and without flash, and perform a custom white balance check with my camera, that there are competing colors from the various light sources. For indoor venues, I often have to gel the flash to match the color of the venue’s lighting. This will save you much time and aggravation later in the process.
To prepare yourself physically for a tiring day, have a light meal before you go. It is a good idea to bring granola, energy or candy bars or other portable snacks. Bring water too just in case.
If you are prone to headaches, have a pain reliever with your in your pocket or bag.
Part of blending into the event is dressing appropriately. Talk to the bride and groom about their expectations before the event. In all cases, wear comfortable shoes.
When you arrive, begin by taking outdoor venue shots. Here in southeast Michigan, you never know if the weather will turn on you later, and the same is true in many locations. Get some key building and landscape elements without people, just to have them.
Calibrate your camera’s white balance as soon as you walk indoors; do it for all of your cameras. Also, turn camera sounds off; you don’t want your camera to make noise during the ceremony.
Bring a fast lens; the faster the better. Indoor lighting at churches and reception halls is notoriously poor and dim. Be prepared with a fast lens (f 2.8 minimum – f1.8 preferred). If you don’t have one, rent it.
If you are in a place of worship, have a clear understanding of where you can go and what locations are off-limits. Also, flash is usually not permitted in places of worship, but you can ask.
Consider bringing an assistant. Let them carry equipment, help set up shots, hold off-camera flash, and more. If you are working a 6-8 hour event, be prepared for the physical impact it will have on you. Having an assistant will ease the burden on you and should result in better photographs.
If you have a break from the bride and groom, start shooting the very young and very old early. They can get tired fast, and some may leave early.
If you have a camera bag, lock it down or have your assistant carry it. If you are on your own, consider using a cable lock for your camera bag and hide it out of sight. It serves as a deterrent from theft. You may feel comfortable with the bride and groom, but you never know about their friends and family or the staff at the venue.
Never reformat memory cards at the event. Backup when you can, but do not reformat. Check everything on your computer and complete backups before reformatting.
Take shots of the bride and groom as soon after the ceremony (or before) as possible. After people start drinking and celebrating, it will get harder to assemble people and have them look their best.
Most of the time, the photographer’s role should be to blend in and be discreet. Disappear in the background and try to capture people when they are relaxed, happy, emotional, etc.
If the wedding and reception are indoors, make sure to take shots of the bride and groom outside. Try to get away during the reception and get some outside shots – even if it is nighttime.
Take a group shot of everyone. This is a great way to have everyone in attendance in one photo. It makes for a great enlargement and an opportunity for sales to others in attendance at the wedding. Be insured. If someone trips over your equipment are you covered?
After the Event
After the event is over, I believe it is important to process the images as fast as possible. There is something to be said capturing taking the energy of the day and carrying forward. Posting images quickly to a web site will make everyone happy.
Keep in contact with the bride and groom and schedule a time to meet with them to go over the images and discuss ordering details. It is as important to provide a high level of customer service after the event and before it. If you establish a relationship with the couple, they will think of you for family portraits and portraits of their children in years to come.
Finally, take notes about what went right and what went wrong. This may help you do an even better job next time around.
About the Author
For Further Training on Wedding Photography:
You may want to consider Simple Wedding Photography, it covers everything you need to know to photograph a wedding and the business behind it. From diagrams of where you should stand throughout the ceremony to advice on all the final deliverables to the client. This 200 page ebook will be useful to wedding photographers of any experience level. It also carries a 60 day guarantee, so there is no risk in trying it.
It can be found here: Simple Wedding Photography eBook
Go to full article: What a First Time Wedding Photographer Needs to Know
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 02:48 PM PDT
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … whale? This humpback whale calf takes breaching to a whole new level. Completely clearing the water, it appears to fly in the air, fins spread out. Adult humpback whales weigh about 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg) and measure an average of 39 to 52 feet in length (12-16 metres), and even calves weigh two tons and are 20 feet at birth, so that’s a pretty powerful animal.
Captured by Matthew Thornton, this photo was a 2012 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest entry. It was taken off the coast of Tofino, British Columbia.
For a similar close encounter with humpback whales that was recently featured on national news, check out this truly shocking video, it kind of chilled me to my core when I saw it (for those of you reading this by email, the video can be seen here):
There was some discussion about whether the diver would have been alright if he had been eaten. The conclusion was that the whale probably couldn’t have swallowed him but also would have had trouble “spitting” him out. It is likely the diver would have been partially trapped in the whale’s mouth until he drowned. Something like this hasn’t really happened before so there are a lot of differing opinions about it.
Go to full article: Interesting Photo of the Day: Humpback Whales Breaching (Plus Shocking Video)
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 12:44 PM PDT
Photographer Kevin Meredith (aka Lomokev) takes his camera everywhere he goes. His name comes from the popular Lomo camera, which is just one out of the many cameras he has in his collection. When asked about his photography style, he says it has everything to do with capturing moments as they happen. It's just day to day life that anybody can discover, from tattoos, to summer shoes, to seagulls taking flight (for those of you reading this by email, the video can be seen here):
Like many others, he never leaves home without his trusty iPhone. "It's not about expensive gear. It's not about expensive studios. For me, it's all about getting out there with my camera and plunging into whatever is going on around me," he says. Also, don’t think that what you’re doing is weird because it’s not!
He emphasizes that you don’t need an expensive camera to take pictures. The best camera you have is the one you have with you. It’s fine if you don’t have a degree or background in fashion. Just try to spot people who stand out from the crowd.
For Further Training on Street Photography:
Have you been wanting to learn more about the technical and conceptual aspects of Street Photography? This 141 page eBook covers everything about the genre even down to specific post processing techniques that can bring the best out of street scenes (& includes a bonus eBook of interviews with famous street photographers).
It can be found here: Essentials of Street Photography Guide
Go to full article: Tips for Better Street Photography: Day-to-Day Life
Posted: 29 Jul 2013 10:53 AM PDT
Most photographers shoot still photographs to capture precise moments in time. Timelapse photographers take hundreds or thousands of images at fixed intervals to portray the passage of time. The images are played back consecutively to condense hours into minutes or seconds. New Zealander Bevan Percival records surreal timelapse photography sequences in beautiful landscapes.
Watch his timelapse of lenticular clouds in the Rangipo Desert on the North Island Volcanic Plateau (for those of you reading this by email, the timelapse video can be seen here):
Percival used a Canon 5D Mark II and a Dynamic Perception Stage Zero Dolly to shoot this video. Though you may not see such remarkable natural phenomena near your own home, you can get started with timelapse photography using just a few tools, most of which you probably already have. At minimum, the equipment necessary for timelapse photography includes:
In its simplest form, timelapse photography is just a matter of stabilizing your camera and taking lots of images at even intervals. In reality, timelapse involves attention to many more facets such as calculating the length of the sequence, choosing an appropriate shutter speed, maintaining consistent exposure, using ND filters, compiling the images, and more. It’s an art that requires plenty of research, time, and practice to master.
For Further Training on Timelapse Photography:
There is a COMPLETE guide (146 pages) to shooting, processing and rendering time-lapses using a dslr camera. It can be found here: The Timelapse Photography Guide
Go to full article: Rare Lenticular Clouds Phenomenon Captured with Timelapse Photography
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