My First Wedding

I photographed my first wedding recently. I think I did a pretty good job but I definitely think it was a learning experience so I thought I would just put down some of the things I would do differently if I had a time machine:

  • Follow the bride. I had intended to do this but I made the mistake of assuming I knew where she would be arriving….this meant I was not there when she arrived at the church and I missed some shots. I am still kicking myself about this because a few quick questions at the right time could have sorted this out.
  • Look for moments. The shots from the day that I am most keen on are ‘moments’ rather than stagy posed shots. I did get some but I think if I do it again I will be much more on my toes for these. In general I think its a great idea to shot as much casually as I can – this is where my strength lies I think.
  • Shoot as much as you can. Don’t be shy to shoot away…you only get one chance so better to take some extra shots than not enough. As it turned out I think I ended up with enough good shots but I can think of some that I saw but missed and there must have been a load more I didn’t even see.
  • Use your creativity. I think I was quite focused on documenting the event and thats good but I think I could have used my creativity a bit more.
  • Trust your photographic instincts. When the ceremony was over and it was time to do the ‘formal’ pictures the light inside the church was wonderful.
    My first instinct was to do the formal portraits and group shots inside but I decided to go outside. What I got was fine but I cant help thinking that posing them inside would have been better. I think the main reason I did this was just that there were so many people milling about inside but I could have worked round this / moved people away from where I wanted to use.
  • Spend more time with just the couple. I don’t think I spent enough time with just the couple – I think I should have tried more shots with them and also tried to take a mixture of formal and more impromptu ones while I had them alone.
  • Pay attention to what going on around you when you are doing the formal shots. I spotted these while lining up the group / formal shots but these are the only 2 like this. I am sure there must have been dozens of moments like them. Having your 35mm camera to hand while using my Bronica is a good idea.
  • Find way to have your film to hand – I was constantly searching my pockets for film!
  • Learn to use a flash! I would have liked to shoot at the reception too but it was far too dark for anything but 3200 speed film and even then only in some places and its very grainy and I think less suited to wedding photography. I have been putting off learning about flashes but if I want to do any more of this I just have to bite the bullet and learn a little bit about lighting.
  • Get more of the kids. It occurred to me a couple of times during the day to get some good ones of the kids but I never quite got round to it.
  • Be in the right place at the right time.

    Easier said than done I know but I think if I had asked more questions about the running order I could have planned my movements a bit better.
  • Shoot the parents.Β  Well, take some photographs of them anyway πŸ˜‰
    I had actually thought of this before hand and intended to get at least one good impromptu portrait of each of the four parent but I forgot somewhere along the line…
  • Em, I knew I should have written this sooner … can think of the rest of what was running through my head the day after right now! I am sure it will come to me and I will come back to this…

10 Responses to “My First Wedding”

  1. wilsonian Says:

    These are really wonderful. I hope you keep posting as you do more… I’d love to see how this all evolves for you.

  2. ericsgirlie Says:

    Congratulations on your first wedding. I remember my first wedding. Keep posting πŸ™‚

    Flash can be your friend, but do invest in a nice fast lens. 2.8 is great but a F 1.4 is even better for low light conditions.


  3. motleycollection Says:

    @wilsonian -thanks! I was just doing this as a favor for the bride and groom who are my friends so I dont think I will be doing any soon. I do think I could do it for a living but I suppose its a question of getting a reputation and some word of mouth going.

    @Laura – thanks for the comment. I do have fast enough lenses for a normal reception (1.4) but this one was held in a nightclub so was to dark for even that really. Thankfully my friends only wanted photographs at the church…thanks for the encouragement πŸ™‚

  4. ericsgirlie Says:

    LOL, yeah, receptions can be tough. I have an assitant with a light on a stick to help me in those situations. I soon will be getting the D3 and then I can shoot at really high isos. I cannot wait. I got to play with one and it is amazing πŸ™‚


  5. motleycollection Says:

    oooh, a d3 would be nice! I mostly shoot film right now but if I were to try to do this as a career a nice digital would be my first purchase…I have spent the last 2 nights scanning negatives non stop πŸ™‚

  6. Max Says:

    Excellent observations, I would add that of all the formal “do’s” I’ve done choreography is vital – you have to link your official shot list to places and times, but follow the bride is a great default. The shutter click is very intrusive and I always take a compact for during the services and only move when other people move unless a desparately good shot is obviously available.

  7. motleycollection Says:

    Thanks Max. Yeah I think choreography is something I would have to get better at were I to do this more often.

    On the intrusive thing I shoot 35m with a rangefinder rather than an SLR so its very quiet (virtually silent really). It is also has zero shutter lag so very good for catching the right moment. I did shoot some medium format during the ceremony with my Bronica and that thing is loud! As you say I only used it when there was something worth shooting though. No one seemed to mind but I had warned the couple and asked then if that was okay so I didnt feel too guilty. I did as you said and only moved when there was something to distract attention from me…

  8. Phil Says:

    I really like the candid shots, they have a very nice feel to them. I’ve done 1 wedding in the past too, also for a friend, and I found it really stressful! I don’t think I’d do it again. I was definitely into using flash for it, otherwise I’d have been totally goosed.
    Anyhoo, if you want to get to know flash/lighting at all, you’re welcome to a shot of my 430EX if you want. I’ve also got some strobist style toys that I haven’t played with much yet.

  9. motleycollection Says:

    Hey Phil, thanks. I did find it stressful but I also really enjoyed it so I think if someone else asked me to do it I would go for it. I enjoyed the license that being the ‘official photographer’ gives you to go up to people you dont know and snap away πŸ™‚

    I will probably take yo up on that offer sometime – I seem to have a mental block when it comes to lighting / flashes and it would be handy to have a person like yourself to talk me through the basics. I think with lighting it almost makes photography a different discipline – instead of looking out for nice situation / nice light you are the one creating the situaton and lighting so it seem different to me somehow!

  10. Diego Sevilla Says:

    Very very nice comments and photos! I sincerely won’t expect on 2008 somebody to be shooting on film and medium format on a wedding (it seems that today the photographer has to take snapshots on a quarter of a second… hooray for digital photography!!)

    I have a serious problem, because being an active film photographer, I would like to have my own wedding registered in film (I’m getting married this year πŸ™‚ but I’m not sure if I’ll find anybody…

    These square shots are really wonderful. I love my s2 too πŸ™‚


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