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                             Compiled from Canon 300D Yahoo Group

From: "CJ Morgan"


Rather than tell you what you should do, I'll otherwise talk about my own wedding photography
experiences. Take what's useful, and feel free to disregard the rest.....

Even if I've been called to shoot someone else's wedding, I get in touch with the bride and groom
so that at least there's a bit of connection there. Brides and grooms have enough on their plate
without meeting some stranger photographer for the first time on their wedding day. So if I can't
meet them in person before the wedding day, at the very least we chat on the phone.

During this time, one of the things I try to impart to them is the importance of leaving a sufficient
amount of time to do the formal shots, etc. Most brides and grooms underestimate the time this
takes (usually it's 90 minutes to 2 hours), and so don't leave enough time for this (their choice),
which means I don't have enough time to do my work, and you know who gets blamed for that in
the end.

So I won't say that I bully them into having 90-120 minutes for doing this formal section the
shooting (and that does not include the travel time to whatever park or wherever this section of
the day's shooting will take place). But I am clear with them in no uncertain terms about how long
it takes to get the job done right, and strongly suggest they take that counsel. And if they're
otherwise of the mind that there won't be enough time (because they didn't plan for it as they
were planning their day and now their wedding day schedule is locked in) then I make it
abundantly clear that either they co-operate so we can work around this, or else I absolutely won't
be held responsible that certain shots didn't take place because there wasn't enough time.

And that might sound like a strong handing method as I've described it here, but to my
experience, most problems that happen between photographers and brides & grooms occur
because all parties weren't on the same page about exactly what to expect. And for my own part,
I find it's just a lot less painful for all concerned for me to be firm and clear with the bride and
groom before their wedding day, rather than each of us not being clear about our expectations
and then after the fact folks all pointing fingers of blame at each other.

That's part of the profession -- being crystal clear with brides and grooms what I need from them
on the wedding day so that I can get my work done in the satisfactory manner which will meet
their expectations. And top of the list of those things which I need from them is just adequate time
to get my shooting work done.


As well, during this discussion I have with the bride and groom, I counsel them to get someone to
take care of their shot list and round folks up who need to be in the pictures.

And that person ain't going to be me.

And it ain't going to be me for two reasons: first, I don't know these folks and all their relatives. So
the person with the shot-list needs to be someone who knows all these folks.
And second, I can't be concentrating on my photography if my mind is half distracted trying to
gather up wandering relatives.

So if there's a list of photographs these folks want with friends and relatives, then I tell the bride
and groom to give this list to: (1) someone who actually knows all these folks, and; (2) someone
who has enough command of authority to round them up and bark them into place when the
moment of shooting comes.

And for God sakes, don't give that job to one of the ushers or bride's maids (i.e. those who need
to be in a goodly amount of the pictures themselves). Rather, give that shot-list to someone who's
acting "behind the scenes" that day -- like some older brother who isn't in the wedding party, or
some aunt in the family who everyone knows is bossy anyway, so they're already use to barking
at the troops to come into place.

But I can't hurd people AND photograph at the same time. So give that shot-list to someone else.
And then once they're in front of the lens, I'll take it from there. But just get whoever you want in
front of the lens. I'll photograph them, but I ain't hunting them down.


So those are the two most important things I tell the bride and groom before the wedding day: (1)
make sure there's enough time for shooting pictures (and I won't be responsible for the results if
you don't leave me the time I need to do my job right), and; (2) if there's a shot-list involved of
friends and family to be photographed with the bride and groom, give that shot list to someone
who knows these folks and has the natural authority to round them up and get them in front of my



A day or two before the wedding, I test out my gear to make sure everything is working properly.
The wedding day is just not the time to find out our camera doesn't work, or a lens doesn't work
or something crazy has happen with the flash. So the gear gets tested before the wedding day.

Meantime, I'm also making sure that all my batteries are charged, and that I have sufficient
memory cards, blah, blah, blah. And by the by, you can never have too much in terms of batteries
and memory cards -- where both are concerned, I take more than I need for the whole day's


The night before the wedding, I go through a sort of "ritual" (for lack of better way of describing it).

What it amounts to in the most practical of terms is just getting all my gear ready for the next
day's work.

But I call it a "ritual" becuase it is not only the physical getting together of all my gear and making
sure I have everything for the work, but in doing this, I am also preparing my mind for the next
day's work.

And I would not trust any photographer who would go into this work without mental preparation
any more than I'd suggest someone try to break some boards with a karate chop without also
mental preparation for that activity.
Now each photographer has their own way of mentally preparing for the work ahead. And for me,
my way of preparing myself with peace of mind and focus of attention is simply to carefully,
methodically, and even ritualistically slowly prepare all my gear -- putting everything in its place
and having it all laid out before bed the night before the wedding.


Then go to bed relatively early. Because the next day will be long and demanding. And the work
might even get a bit sweaty (which is why part of packing my gear for the next day also includes
packing a change of clothing -- not sweating during the shooting of a wedding day is more
exception rather than the norm).

Truly speaking, if I wore proper attire for my work of shooting a wedding, you'd see me during that
day in gym clothes. Because after all, the work is like an aerobic workout.

But in as much as folks would look at you funny if you did that, I otherwise try to be a bit dressed
up, but with comfortable shoes (a MUST!) and for sure a change of clothing becuase for sure I
will sweat.

In any event, once all that stuff is ready, it's off to bed at an early hour. As I said, the next day --
the wedding day -- will be long and demanding.


The next day -- the wedding day -- I get up and have myself a good breakfast. And I do this for
two reasons: (1) It's the most important meal of the day (didn't mom teach us that?), and: (2) who
the hell knows when next I'll be able to eat!

Besides which, starting off the day is a slow leisurely way with a good breakfast is also part of
attaining "peace of mind" for the work ahead (as anybody knows who's ever woken up late,
rushed out the door, and finds for the rest of the day they're perpetually just trying to play catch-
up with themselves.

So a good breakfast to start the day. Our body needs it, and our mental "peace of mind" needs it



For my own part, my shooting of the wedding day usually goes like this:

-   Get to the bride's house (or wherever she's getting dressed) about 2 and 1/2 hours before the
    ceremony begins
-   Shoot there for about an hour and a half

-   Drive to the church. Get there about 30 minutes before the ceremony.
-   Make a bee line to find the priest or minister so as to find out from him (or her) what is and
    isn't acceptable in terms of when I can shoot during the ceremony.
-   Few shots of the nervous groom (and if he's not nervous, then he doesn't know what the heck
    he's getting into).
-   Bee line to the back of the church to catch the bride as she's arriving.

-   Shoot the ceremony itself.

-   Catch the bride and groom as they come out of the church after the ceremony.
-   Some misc. candids while friends and family congratulate the bride and groom.

-   Take off to whatever park we're going to be shooting at.
-   Try to get to the park before anyone else so as to scout out a few initial locations for shooting
    (because once other folks arrive and start following me, my options become more limited with
    all this seeming sheep following behind me).
-   Start my park shooting with the largest group shots possible.
-   Work my way down to smaller and smaller groups. (This way, whoever doesn't have to stay
    any more can bugger off to the reception. I'm not holding them up, and they're no longer in
    my hair.)
-   Deal with mother-in-law who expects that I carry safety pins around. (Go figure -- I do!)
-   Make a deal with guests who want to shoot what I'm shooting: Bug off, let me do my
    shooting of a given scene, and then I'll stand aside and let you get all the shots you want.
    That way, folks are looking at me when I'm shooting, and looking at the other guest
    photographers when they're shooting. It's a win-win situation and everybody is happy
-   Eventually get all the shooting of groups down to the point where I'm done with them all and
    we're just down to me and the bride and groom (and in as much as most folks have left to go
    to the reception by then, my shooting of the bride and groom can now be done in a more
    intimate way).
-   Send the bride and groom off to the reception
-   Race myself off to the reception

-   Get to the reception
-   Get some shots of the recieving line if there is one (usually there is).
-   Eat dinner while the guests eat dinner. (But only half so because even while eating there will
    perhaps be a number of situations where I'll be interrupted having to make one or another
    shot during meal time. Still, even a humble photographer has to eat.)
-   Deal with mother-in-law who expects that I have needle and thread in my camera bag. (Go
    figure -- I do!)
-   Pray that the bride and groom gave me a dinner seat near the front table, so that when I go
    running up to shoot them while I'm eating my own dinner, it isn't a hundred yard dash each
-   Shoot speeches.
-   Laugh if something in the speeches is genuinely funny.
-   Shoot the dancing.
-   At some point in the evening, shoot the bride and groom cutting cake.
-   Deal with drunken uncle who expects that I have pen and paper with me. (Go figure -- I do!)
-   Take some shots of the bride and groom with certain relatives who they forgot to invite to the
    park (and that always happens).
-   Shoot more dancing and party festivities.
-   Shoot bride tossing her bouquet and groom tossing that garter thing.
-   Shoot pics of family and friends as they get drunker and drunker throughout the evening.
-   Get shots of bride and groom as they leave reception.

-   Go back to car; change clothes (yet again).
-   Drive home
-   Sleep

-   Don't look at pictures for at least two days (because everything we shoot looks like heck if we
    review it right after the fact).
-   Give thanks that I didn't screw up too much during my day of shooting.


In terms of gear for shooting a wedding, I try to keep it as simple as possible, within reason.
Not uncommon that I'll take my 12-24mm lens, my 24-70mm lens and my 70-200mm lens. And a
flash. And perhaps a reflector or two (may or may not use them... it depends). And lots of
batteries and memory cards. And tripod (may or may not use it).

And a spare camera in the car in case -- for some odd reason – my main camera craps out on

But as much as all this stuff is, I'm still of the mind to try to keep things as simple as possible
(technically speaking) because the less time I'm thinking about my gear and making decisions in
that regard, the more time my focus of attention can be on the folks in front of my lens.

So truly, as much as is reasonably possible, I try to keep my gear relatively simple.


And that's that.

Hopefully all of that (or at least some of that) is of some help,



From: "CJ Morgan"

     Steve Sowell wrote:
     First, remember the words on the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: DON'T

That's actually good advice for a would-be wedding photographer. A wedding day is crazy. And
we actually get our work done best if we go into it with peace of mind. Firm. Focused. Assertive if
we need to be.

But it's sort of like dealing with little kids -- folks sense fear or nervousness. And in as much as
the bride and groom are perhaps nervous enough on that day, what they need from a
photographer is some who, if not totally commanding, at the very least goes about their own
section of the work with a degree of self-confidence.

And it really is like dealing with little kids. Not to say that a bridal party and wedding guests are
childish. But simply that whether it's a pack of kids or dealing with wedding folks, they look to us
for guidance and direction. They want direction. They want someone who, as the person with the
camera, is providing them with firm leadership.

And we can't be a firm leader if we're half in panic mode, or playing to nicey-nicey with folks, and
in too much a wishy-washy way saying to them "What do you want to do?"

In many cases, they just don't know. And why? Because we're the one behind the lens
constructing the images, and so like a director, they're looking to us to help them.

So it really is like dealing with a bunch of grade school kids who are out on some field trip. We
don't have to talk down to them. But nevertheless, it is helpful to them if we are decisive in our
thinking, assertive in our directing, and at the very least act confident (if need be, fake it to make
it) in our leadership.

     Steve Sowell wrote:
     Fifth, talk to the couple, let them know you're nervous, and get their input as to what they are
     looking for in the photography.

Yes, good to get the couples input about what they would like for the images of their wedding

And no, don't ever let on that you're nervous -- it undermines the ability to effectively lead and
does not at all inspire confidence in those who will be before our lens.

AFTER the wedding day, if one wishes to confess that they were nervous, then okay. But not
before of during the day itself. I mean, it's just a killer to do so.

Or at least that's been my experience with such things.



From: "Sandra"

Also, what saved me on my first wedding was having a checklist. I gave the bride a list of
photographs and had her check the ones she wanted. I made SURE I had those photos and then
shot candids the rest of the night. I was the only photographer there. I also went to the rehearsal
dinner and made sure everyone would know where to stop for their photograph (you can even put
tape on the floor for them). You can view my wedding shots at . They may give you some ideas
on what to shoot. Good luck. Oh, I used Canon 50mm F1.4 lens for them.


From: "Paul"

I really appreciate the person who originally posted this discussion thread as I found myself in a
similar situation. I shot my brother-in-law's wedding yesterday (Friday). I read the advice and
suggestions and found much of it to be very good. Having just completed this, I have the
following to offer (if it was already said, so sorry):

-    Attend the rehearsal. It will give you an excellent opportunity to check out lighting (hopefully
     the rehearsal and wedding are at the same time of day) and locations to shoot from. You can
     shoot the rehearsal and practice your technique and determine what lenses you will use and
     what will merely add weight to your shoulder the next day. This worked very well for me as
     the church I was shooting was a round one with NO CENTER AISLE. Had I not been to
     rehearsal, I would not have known until the last minute which aisle the bride would walk down
     and which aisle the bride and groom would walk up (they were different). I also visited/made
     friends with the clergy to find out where I could and could not go and I also visited with the
     organist and soloist who also had suggestions from what they had observed in past
     weddings. Shooting the rehearsal also gives the bride and groom more photos and more
     casual, fun photos.
-    I think CJ posted a good suggestion about preparing mentally the night before and going to
     bed early. I found this to be a good time to clean lenses and make sure batteries were
    charged. I thought it to be similar to a football player taping up before a game or a hunter
    checking his rifle before heading into the woods.
-   Most used lens: 28-75mm f2.8 (Tamron), second most used lens 24mm f 2.8 (Canon)
-   Download the firmware hack and use the jpeg + raw to dial down the jpeg size (gives you
    more shots on your memory card)
-   Filled 2gb of memory cards
-   Used 2 camera batteries and 2 sets of flash batteries
-   I found it enjoyable, surprised to get goose bumps when the bride walked down the aisle

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