Just photographed my first wedding up on the Oregon Coast this weekend! It was family so I got to play a little instead of what may or may not have been a more stressful moment if it was an "official" shoot.
It was just me, my Canon 7D with Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8L and Canon 430EX II Flash with a Sandisk 32GB memory card, and two Canon 7D Batteries. That's normally what I use for just about everything because I like to keep all the gear that is SUPPOSED to work together the best for most efficient final outcome. I may get a new lens to play around with soon enough but for the meantime, this is what I use for just about every shoot. I just bought the Canon 430 EX II Flash used from craigslist for $140 cash. VERY cheap! Gotta hunt around. Great timing. Just to rent it would probably be half that cost for the weekend and I've never used one before. So... why the hell not?
It started on Friday evening. Arrived on the Oregon Coast past Canon Beach a little bit. Went to the family party pre-gathering to celebrate a family member's wedding. Basically whipped out the camera and started popping pictures of everybody and everything immediately (as you should if your airplane ticket was paid for in return for a wonderful time, photo challenge to yourself, learning experience, and be with family trade off). It was pretty easy and relaxing because I knew most the people there. And it wasn't too hard to adjust the lighting for the Flash since I had watched some wonderful videos online ahead of time. So basically it was chill and relaxing and I was doing what I was doing. Got some great candid shots and everybody had a great time!
Went to take a few photos of the bride and groom preparing the day before at the church. They were in rehearsal so I actually didn't take any because I didn't know the church's rules of photos ahead of time. ALWAYS ask ahead of time! It would be most disgraceful and inappropriate to take photos in a church without asking ahead of time. (I asked Father later when a good time would be to take photos. He said anytime not during the ceremony.)
No pre photos, which was a supposed failsafe plan to do just in case i couldn't catch THE photos on the actual wedding day. But no... just feeling it out first. Camera in hand and ready either way. After there ceremony I asked the groom when a great time would be to do photos and what exactly to take photos of just in case there were some I had not figured out ahead of time. They told me just get what I thought was interesting. I was the photographer. So... cool! Now let's have some fun!
Good thing I'm beginning to know my camera and it's settings better every day. I can adjust quickly! I'm no expert yet, mind you, but I can move pretty quick around some lighting problems these days with a semi-quickness.
Took pics of the wedding cakes throughout the process of it being made. Took photos of the brides shoes, earrings, wedding dress, gown, overcoat, and the bride and grooms rings. Took pics of the bride preparing. And the groom as well. An exterior of the house they were staying at which was basically a mansion. It's an inn / house. Right on the coast. Super something-out-of-a-dream. Took a pic of the car which was pre-decorated for the post wedding as a request by the bride and groom.
The next day (the wedding day) I took pics of the banquet being prepared and the chef's. In the kitchen and in the banquet hall. In the hall next to it where tables were being set up and music stands were already. This was going to parrrrrtay! (can't get to that yet.)
By the way, was using the flash at full capacity most of the time for all the shots. Just adjusted the camera settings if too much light was in the room. Mostly stayed at or below 400 iso the whole time to keep the shots crisp and in focus. I go by visual. I always have. The shots were super crisp. I zoomed in on all shots to find out and make sure.
Wedding time. 1 pm sharp is the wedding schedule. I'm there with family at 12:45. Camera ready, batteries full, memory space full, test shots taken, ready to go! (I already mentioned I took photos of them preparing). The groom is already there. The Father is not. The Musician is not. The bride is waiting in the car. She's getting nervous. Can't take it. They drive off. The Musician arrives. The Father arrives 15 minutes later. Everybody is there! I ask him the rules of photography. He says no flash during the ceremony and no camera during the gospel part of it. Got it.
Groom comes by and I wave her over. She comes. I take photos as she gets out of the car using flash turned to the side. There's already enough light from the sun and it would be horrible to flash in the brides eyes as she's about to walk down the isle! She walks in and takes the "father's" hand (would be her father but a substitute was in order) down the isle. I snap a few shots as she's walking down then turn off the flash and quickly come up to the first row. I take a few more shots and the groom takes off her veil. Then I don't use the big camera again. (I noticed just about everybody was using cell phones to video it so I whipped mine out, too! Full battery, of course and plenty of storage space!) Got all that. Then the ceremony and no more camera until...
The end of the end when they are to walk back out of the church together. I had a technical difficulty at that moment with my flash. The shutter speed was waaaaay to slow for some reason! Ahhh I wasn't ready! I quickly whipped it into automatic and I got some great shots, actually! They were halfway down the isle already, but still, got a really good few. Could have been a few more if I was ready... I should have left to the back an extra minute or two ahead of time to change my settings back to adjust where I was taking photos from. It was a different light situation... Well, I still got some great photos as they walked out the church. And some interaction with the family directly afterwards. Some candids.
We then went to the beach and got a great set a photos! They held bends. He picked her up. They went into a cove and we snapped some shots. They were under a waterfall and we took some great shots there! As they were walking I took photos of that as well. Basically any moment and angle I could think of to shoot them from. Great lighting! Used some flash and didn't use some flash. Switched it up. If I used flash, it was only in the cove or to the side at medium capacity to add a bit of light since it was overcast. Very natural shots and very fun! I would love to shoot more photos like this for sure!
We went back to a full table of wines, champagnes, and appetizers! I took photos of all food and the people while eating and talking of course. There was stuff like foi gras and leg of lamb and fine cheeses and stuff I can't pronounce. I'm accustomed to chicken breast, broccoli, and rice these days. So took photos of that.
Took photos of the live musicians, the friends, the family, the chefs and assistance, the bride and groom. And them cutting the cake, of course. It was a jolly good time! It was low light area so I had the flash on full and Iso around 200-400 depending if I was inside or outside.
Got all the shots I needed. Saw them. They look crisp, clean, full of energy, and full of love. I'm happy with them and showed a few to the bride at one point. She had said in a thick accent, "You are the best photographer.... in the world!!!" (That pretty much made my day and I'm guessing it made hers as well! I can't wait to show them to her! I can't show any of them to you, unfortunately. I've been asked to keep them private and I respect privacy with the upmost gratitude.
So... new photographers to weddings. Just have fun with it! Make sure you are prepared as much as possible. Full batteries, and have two of them. I only had to switch once for the full weekend but if you take even more shots than I did, then you may need two batteries. Make sure you have your laptop with you so you can upload and dump photos throughout the process. Some weddings are larger than this one. We had around 40-60 guests. Some are WAYYY larger and you need an assistant(s) to help you. As long as you know the process (and your camera!) and know your boundaries and be respectful, you are good to go! Have a great shoot and let me know how your wedding shoot(s) go! I may be doing this again in the future if I get an offer for it so I'm positive I can always grow each time as a photographer with each additional shoot.
Have any questions? Ask away!