The following information is for those just starting out or thinking of doing so not seasoned pros or gear heads, so keep that in mind. Also see my Wedding photography Post as well.
It’s been a few years since I wrote this blog some things have changed. You can get really good deals on black Friday from Nikon ( even cheaper than used ones on eBay). Discounted D750 and D810 with free battery grips is what I saw in 2016. Really nice refurb deals as well. Some wonder if the new D500 DX body would be good for weddings, absolutely, it has less than a stop disadvantage in ISO compared to the d750 etc. but makes up for it with an excellent low light focus system. 20mp is plenty to work with. There is no built-in flash to control another hand held speed light though. So called pro style body without a grip.
The example above had motion blur on the bride only so I decided to make it look more like they were spinning by adding some twirl motion blur to the image. These type of photos aren’t going to get blown up and hung on a wall so have fun with them.
Nikon’s D700 used prices are about $600 -800. Overall the D700 /D3, D600/610 and the newer D7100 /7200 crop cameras are probably the best values for a used wedding camera from Nikon. Someone has to buy the cameras the upgraders sell, so here is your chance to get a nice deal. If your really into video the Canon is the best. Don’t be fooled by Nikon latest 4k video specs they only use a small portion of the sensor resulting in everything being telephoto. Shame on you Nikon. Once again not listening to what photographers actually want.The Newly announced models from Nikon and Canon both have much better video than in the past though.
Don’t be misled, even the D7100 can do things that 35mm film shooters only dreamed about years ago. There is no reason a pro can’t produce excellent wedding photography with it. yes we would all like to have $10-$20,000 worth of best and lastest equipment to bring with us but that is not a reality for most people unless they are on a roll making good income or just have the money already. And in the end the images probably wouldn’t look much different to the clients.
I am not going to discuss technique. You can learn a lot by visiting the forums on wedding photography on flickr.com. There are a lot of them. http://www.flickr.com/groups/weddingphoto/ http://www.flickr.com/groups/16568581@N00/ Here is a guy that has a nice very informative blog (my favorite in fact, make sure you check it out thuroughly) that explains flash use in a wedding very well with lots of examples. See the articles on the right side of the page: http://neilvn.com/tangents/ another wedding photographer that has useful information is http://laurencekim.com/?category=13&start=30 For natural light shooter this team has a nice style: http://www.meninenuotrauka.lt/en/index.php If you want to shoot natural light without flash your going to need fast lenses and a camera that can shoot clean high ISOs so you can keep your photos sharp in low light and get good isolation when you want it. Even then you will still want to use a bit of flash at times just to control color casts.
Contrary to what you might read in many forums being a successful wedding photographer has very little to do with having the latest gear but almost everything to do with how well you can market yourself and whether people like you (It’s mostly other photographers that notice what gear you have). If you can deliver outstanding images than that is a bonus. Marketing yourself is the single most important thing photographers need to learn, its not more technique or getting the lastest gear. It’s getting harder and harder for start-ups because there are so many part-time wedding photographers out there that shoot weddings for a lot less than the pros who need a minimum income to survive. I personally do it for extra income. I live in a fairly depressed area financially so making a living from it is highly unlikely, Also if I were to charge the normal rates I would get very little if any business Since I want to be shooting I charge what the market will bear just like I did when I was selling art work. Even though I state that you don’t need the latest pro lenses to start with you are better off having them if you can afford it. What ever you do don’t quit your day job until you see you have enough bookings and they are consistant enough for you to go pro, otherwise just have fun and enjoy photography. You can also do some weddings for free or at least be there to take some shots and observe the photographer and get to know some of them and learn as well as get some photos to post on your website. Offer to assist them on future shoots to get some experience, you will be under a lot less pressure as well. You will get very little income from your friends anyway so get some experience by doing shoots for them at what ever price works or even for free.
You can shoot a wedding just fine with an entry level DSLR and kit lens such as the Nikon D3200 for example (at least 85-100mm on the long end is best to start with) along with one fast prime for low light and bokeh/isolation, as well as an external flash unit, eveyone needs to have a flash unit no matter what their style of shooting. Once you have some experience you will see what you need to suit your shooting style. I reccommend 2 umbrellas , 2 flash units and a radio trigger set to start with if you can swing it. For the bright sunny days you may need a studio unit or a camera with a higher flash sync. Keep this in mind though, if you don’t have a back up flash and camera what will happen if your camera or flash fails during the ceremony or while they start to walk down the isle? This is why some have 2 bodies around their neck just for this period of time. if you fail to get the shot at this time you might get sued or refusal to pay all or some of your fees. A pro is supposed to be prepaired. An assistant is really nice to have too. Just something to consider as you start out. Every wedding photographer started somewere and they all didn’t have 2 of everything or even pro gear. Even a cheap well used older DSLR body and a flash unit buys you some insurance. I have had my camera refuse to focus at a wedding but it happened at a good time and I resolved it. Have a mental plan of what to do if the camera won’t AF or release the shutter. Also what to do if the flash won’t fire. If your out in hot sun (it gets 110 in my area) for a while your flash could over heat much quicker. If you only have a second flash unit make sure it is set the same as your primary so you won’t lose time after switching. If your camera won’t AF switch to manual and make do untill you have time to trouble shoot it. It’s part of being prepared.
The latest DSLRs are like science fiction just 20yrs back with the IQ, DR and high ISOs they can shoot at. The latest generations of DSLRs have such good high ISO performance and excess mega pixels that you can crop more than in the past which allows you to use shorter lenses and shoot at higher ISOs which in turn can save you a lot of money & weight on lenses because now you can get by with F4 lenses instead of F2.8 as well as shorter lenses, or at least less of them. This can add up to a lot less money spent on expensive lenses not to mention having to carry less glass around your neck. Take for example the new Nikon D8xx series with it’s 36mp or any FF Dxx at 24mp. It will downsize well giving even better high ISO performance then the D3 / D700. Cropped to DX it’s noise level is better than the 16mp D7000 crop sensored camera which is very good, cropping further should not be a problem at lower ISOs if you have good focus . I suspect this is going to be a big deal as it will for me in the future, although I am not interested in having all my raw files at 36mp. A 24-120 F4 could easily cover your needs for a wedding ( add a macro filter for ring shots or use a P&S). The days of having to have all that gear hanging around your neck will soon be gone for many. F2:8 lenses will still be a benifit for isolating our subject and getting better IQ in low light conditions (remember there is about 1 stop of difference in DOF between DX & FF). It just depends on your buget. If your serious about being a professional photographer and you have the financial means you should outfit yourself with the proper tools. At least your tools of the trade will hold their value well, only the camera body will lose a lot of its value over time. Good pro grade lenses and other accessories tend to hold their value very well. So even if your business fails after a couple of years you still have a good 65-75% of your equity left in your equipment.If you buy used than the loss will be even less. That’s not bad. For FF Nikon shooters the new 70-200 F4 and 24-85 kit lens combined with a prime or two would make a good start without breaking the bank. You could also consider a used 80-200 F2:8 for about $700 instead of the F4 version.
Here’s my take: If you are currently using or considering using DX and Pro lenses your probably better off getting FF and using comsumer zooms then pro zooms and DX, why? If you compare the latest sensors you get about 1 stop ISOadvantage and about the same with DOF with FF so 2.8 lens on a DX which cost a lot more than a F4 lens come out the same plus you get better IQ in the images because FF lenses don’t look better on DX they tend to perform worse then DX lens with sharpness. The sweet spot of a FF lens is a myth as the glass has to be made to resolve more with a crop camera. My Nikon 70-300vr has far greater range than my 70-200Vr zoom ( which I now no longer own). The 70-200 is an IF lens and the long end at portrait distances is more like 160mm (135mm on the newer vR2 version). If I step back a bit and zoom my 70-300Vr to something like 250mm (which really is 250mm)then I get better bokeh than the 70-200vr1 at F2.8 (sorry but that is the truth, the cheaper lens wins IMO). My 70-300 also has a faster more effective VR and snaps to focus every bit as fast as the pro lens from my testing against a 70-200 VR1. As far a focus tracking goes I’m not sure. Now the newer $2500 70-200VR2 is a better lens but cost almost 5x as much as the 70-300 vr and double the price of used 70-200vr1 lenses. I can get a few F1.8 primes for times a really need large aperture. I also think that having both pro and comsumer lenses is the way to go if you have the money, this way you can handle most anything that comes you way and not have to carry around $6,000 of heavy lenses with you every time. Expect to pay around $6,000 for the key 3 pro zooms in your brand of camera. Clients won’t notice any difference between F3.5-4 and F2.8 but F1.8 they might. Since most shots will only make it on line or as a half to full page book images, an extra stop or so of high iso noise from a FF camera is not going to be an issue. Our expectations of what we need is going to change as newer generations of sensors show up in our cameras. large heavy expensive fast pro zooms just aren’t as neccessary as they have been, I see the smaller lighter less expensive F4 lenses as the new standard for pro zoom use in most situations ( you can’t isolate the subject as well though). And as the economy continues to erode only the rich amertures (and there are many of them, so many that Nikon can hardly make enough lenses for them) and high paid pros will purchase these multi thousand dollar a piece lenses. We already have excellent fast primes at very reasonable prices right now. A few primes and some consumer or F4 zooms should sufice just fine for 99% of our work. If you have some specialty you do then your needs will vary. Again it’s just a matter of money and size/weight for most folks.
One more thing, don’t go thinking you can just set you lens to F1.8 – F2.8 and go taking all your shots at those settings because you can’t shoot at a high enough ISO. Why? because unless your camera has a very accurate AF with that lens and your technique is very good your likely to get quite a few out of focus images. F4 is safer if you can swing it. Combine high ISO with sligtly out of focus images shot at large apertures and they won’t look too good on the screen, sharpening does not do a whole lot most of the time when it comes to OOF images that start with a shallow DOF.
You may have decided that pro DSLRs and Lenses are just too big and heavy for you to deal with, well that’s not a problem as you can go with small DSLR, Mirrorless like the Sony A7 or a Micro 4/3 system camera and get much smaller fast glass. Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic make some fast pro lenses. Here is the 24-70 wedding lens 4/3 verson from Panasonic. http://www.dpreview.com/previews/panasonic_12-35_2p8/ Here is the 70-200 f2.0 (the fastest lens of its kind) version for 4/3 and the price is the same as the lager ones too. http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-35-100mm-Zuiko-Series-Cameras/dp/B000BKP1JE You also have wide angle and primes to choose from. You can mix brands with M 4/3 systems with an adaptor unlike most DSLRs. How about a super fast F2 28-70 version for M 4/3 http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Zuiko-14-35mm-Digital-Cameras/dp/B000X1P5R4/ref=pd_bxgy_p_img_b These are amazing lenses. Some folks like this lens better: http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-14-54mm-2-8-3-5-Digital-Cameras/dp/B0000ET9DG/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1338249888&sr=1-1Remember that if you go with 4/3 system camera your DOF will be 2 stops greater than FF. so f2.8 on full frame will be about F1.8 on 4/3s 2x crop factor sensor. That means if you using f2.8 your really getting the isolation of f5.6 with a FF camera and lens using the same equalized focal length. You really can’t get much of a blurry background with smaller sensors without using a long lens or getting close.
Too much obsessing is going on with pro type gear these days. There is always the newer less expensive but high quality 35, 50 & 85 mm F1.8 prime lenses if you want sharp high quality fast glass at a bargain price. If your using a crop camera that is a few years old you really need at least one of those lenses. The 70-200 f2.8 VR cost about $2400 new. For weddings the older Nikon 70-200 vr 1 would be fine as the corner sharpness and fall off with a full frame camera is not really an issue for wedding work. If the D800 will let you get by with a 85mm or 120 instead of the 200 mm end you can see the savings to be had, also you might be surprized how short 200mm is on the 70-200 at portrait distances, this lens does not give you anywhere near 200mm except at infinity due to it’s IF design (or at least in part). Now the current lower MP full frame camera won’t let you crop as much as the D8xx cameras but they will let you use an F4 lens and higher ISO if you need to. Your still better off with F2:8 lenses if you can afford them though.
One thing that you don’t see mentioned very often, and this is important to know, is that using a lens at F4 on a full frame sensored camera gives about the same DOF / isolation as F2.8 on a crop sensor with the eqivualent field of view, so if your using a APSC/DX crop camera you can’t match the shallower DOF you get with a FF camera at the same F stops and equvalent focal lenghts with F4 instead. . We are talking about saving thousands of dollars here for the same IQ as you would get with F2:8 lenses on a crop camera, Plus you will gain with the better high ISO capabilities.
When your shooting the ceremony and close to the end of it and waiting for the Bride & Groom to kiss and walk down the ilse or walkway having that 24-120 will allow you to get both a wide view including the audience and enough telephoto (which can be cropped even more) to get by with just one camera hanging from you neck instead of two bodies with a 24-70 & 70-200 (that’s a lot of weight and bulk, and looks rediculous as well IMO although in this situation is not a bad idea incase the first camera fails). No reason you can’t shoot weddings now days with just one body in use and in your hands. If you have an assistant then you have more options. When you look on the wedding forums you will see all kinds of opinons, just make sure to use the advice that applies to your needs and buget not a bunch of gear heads who alway have the latest and best. It’s not a bad idea though to have an extra body in reach during the ceremony just in case your primary camera developes an issue during shooting. Of all the weddings I have been too I have yet to see a photographer with 2 cameras around his neck, most have had an assistant with them for that. I have seen photos on forums of photogs with 2 -3 cameras around their neck. I admit to never having been to a highend wedding (wealthy couple, very expensive wedding). All the wealthy folks I know who got married didn’t use a pro photographer that I can remember. Photography just is not that important to everybody. I see more priority on the video these days in my area. Two features that every wedding photographer is going to want is a camera with 2 memory cards, one for backup in case one fails, and custom settings control to quickly go from podium shots to the bride and groom on the move towards you. Different AF settings are usually used here and being able to just turn a knobe and know you have everything set right is really a nice thing to have.
You may also have the need to own a crop body camera for your other photographic needs such as birding, wildlife or landscape photography, in this case you may have to decide which camera body will suit your needs most if you can’t afford to have 2-3 camera bodies. If you need long lenses for wildlife uses you may be able to buy the new Nikon V1 and adaptor and use you existing telephoto lenses but now with a 2.7x crop factor. If you have priced the longer pro f2:8 or F4 lenses you know how expensive and big / heavy they are. With a crop camera or the V1 you can get much more out of your existing or moderate priced telephoto then you could otherwise and at the same time not limiting yourself to the light & quality loss using teleconverters (the better ones are pricey too), Up until a few years algo all pro Nikon shooters were using Crop cameras and making beautifull photos, that has not changed, we just have more choices now and better sensors as well in DX & FF bodies.
If your a raw shooter and worried about the file size of these high MP cameras Lightroom has a nice option for raws imported as DNGs and that is the ability of the DNG to be read as sections / tiled so the computer can process it using multible cores/threads, this should greatly speed up the responsiveness of the larger files, see the artical here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-57371809-264/adobe-offering-new-reasons-to-get-dng-religion .In the future we should have the option to downsize raws at import as more high mp cameras come out, this will be a great benifit for high mp camera users who don’t want every file to be so large. For jpeg shooters you always have the option in camera anyway. I can see these and more options (maybe in camera as well) addressing the large file issur to the point it is no longer an issue with newer computers. On a newer computers handling a 36mp file is not that bad, it’s when you start appling filters or working with layers in Photo shop that’s when you will see an increase in waiting times corrisponding to the file size. A 36mp file will take about 3x longer to process than a 12mp file, that might mean anywere from a few seconds to minutes longer depending on the process. For basic editing you won’t have much of a problem. You can alway download some full sized files and see for yourself. Any newer i5 or i7 chipped computer should be able to handle the larger files just fine. Even older quads and i3 will work with them its just you will notice longer waiting times in certain situations. Computers 4-5 yrs old and older will most likely need upgrading. I remember moving up to 10mp from 3mp, what a difference in speed between working with the 3mp and 10mp on my older computer. I expect to see the same difference with my 2 yr old Q8200 quad machine if I go to a 36mp camera. The trick when using LR is nt to apply the lens correction tools until your done editing and then downsize then when exporting to a 16bit Tiff so your PS work will the same as it was before, in otherwords only work in the large files when editing virtually in LR once you leave LR export the file to any size you like working with and your workflow won’t be slowed down at all once the export is finished.
Being a good wedding photographer is more about your abilities than having the latest gear and all kinds of exotic fast lenses. Keep it simple don’t get too caught up in the gear. Some guys carry around with them 10 lenses that’s just crazy IMO. My advice is to start with a good modern DSLR and a fast prime along with the kit or better zoom lens. You will need at least one flash unit. I also recommend an umbrella and either an extra strobe or a studio unit and power source. I made my own but Paul Buff has an excellent really small light portable unit for sale. I also recommend the Paul Buff PLM umbrellas along with his lights ( also known as Alien Bees), these two together really give you some extra output with even coverage, and their very reasonable in price as well. Be sure to check out the link at the begining for the tangents blog, lots of good flash info there.
Some of the best wedding photos I have seen were done using nothing more than a normal lens on a medium format body. I use 3 lens and a macro filter, mostly 2 lenses, a wide-angle zoom and a normal zoom. the primes I only use indoors or when the light gets low or when I am not using flash and want more isolation on the subject. I’m more of a wide-angle shooter when it’s acceptable. I have a longer zoom but rarely use it. My advice is to keep it simple and try to avoid having 2 cameras and all kinds of gear hanging all over your upper body, it looks comical IMO(keep that extra body handy though during the ceremoney). Have your spouse or assistant handle or watch the extra gear for you or get a proper pack to carry with you. Try to dress and look professional at least.
If you using flash always make sure your batteries are fresh for the ceremony. Its a good idea to have a back up flash unit (with the proper settings applied) and camera body as well as memory cards in case you have a problem with one of them. I alway format my memory card before each shoot and reset the camera to get rid of any setting changes I may have made that I am not aware of. Note: if your using a higher iso or larger f stop your batteries will last much longer ( another benifit of higher ISO cameras or fast lenses).
Most folks can’t see the difference between the bokeh of F4 vrs F2.8 or ISO 1600 & 3200 in print or web sized images using the newer FF bodies. We are the ones that notice these details. Now if you’re a bokeh fan then F1.4 or 1.8 is going to show noticeably softer backgrounds. If you want the maximum blur in the backgrounds use a longer focal lengh or larger apeture (f 1.4 is larger than f8 because it creates a larger opening). You can also add a bit more in software without it being obvious.
Outdoor weddings on an overcast day requires the least from your camera as the lighting is easy to handle. Even P&S camera and cell phones can get good pictures. Bright sunny days require fill light of some sort or stay in the shade. Evening, night or indoors make good use of higher ISOs but flash can save the day here as well. I don’t see much use for a flash bracket my self, as long as your bouncing or using some sort of reflection you won’t run into shadow issues behind your subjects. All flash brackets do is lower the shadow behind the subject so you can’t see it as nuch as well as prevent direct lighting and red-eye ( red eye shouldn’t be an issue unless your using the cameras built in flash unit). Dealing with people and knowing how to get interesting photos is the most important factor in customer satisfaction not technical perfection. I have seen plenty of boring wedding shots made by gear heads and plenty of winners with entry level gear. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t deliver a good wedding shoot without such and such lens or camera, yes it helps but it’s not the main thing and may not be best for your style of shooting.
Nothing like shooting a wedding out in the sun at mid day. This was shot with film using manual flash on an old Kowa medium format camera about 15yrs ago then scanned for the web. Today we are spoiled with instant feed back on our digital cameras. The learning curve with getting flash and exposure right is much faster with digital then in days of manual film cameras and flash.
Photography is no different from anything else, if your heart is into it than your work will show it. Keep in mind a professional can’t always get the best shot over anyone else but they should be more consistent with their results and style. Uncle bob at the wedding might get some shots better than you but he probably couldn’t deliver the whole package with consistent results. Being in the right place at the right time and being prepared is the formula for wining pictures and that is something we can’t always do no matter what. A child walking by with a P&S camera could take an award-winning photo just due to chance and timing. I see great shots all the time but the moment passes before I can get the shot most of the time.
My recommendation from Nikon: Nikon D5 / D500, D800 series, D750, D7100/D7200, D600/D610 / D3S, D700. 24-70 lens or 24-120 F4 lens and SB800 or SB910 + P&S or close up filter. You can add what ever lenses suits your style or needs. Don’t spend $2500 for that (70-200 vr2) for a just in case situation unless you have lots of mula to spend. You can always turn down a job or rent the lens you need if you don’t have what you need for that one job which might not come up again for a long time. I have never needed the 70-200 F2:8 vr lens yet I have always been able to adjust my distance and use shorter focal lenghts with a bit of cropping if needed, then again I don’t shoot dark church interiors with flash & distance restrictions. If I still had that lens I might adjust my shooting style and make more use of it. If I have one on my camera I will use it but the size and weight is not what I want hanging on my neck for hours. Obviously many other photographers would disagree saying they would never do a wedding without one. To each his own. Do what suits you not someone else. No reason you can’t do an awsome job with one prime lens if you had to. lately I have started to use longer focal more often so maybe in the future I will be using the 70-200 who knows but for now I get good results with my slow 70-300vr in good light and with flash and higher ISOs I can get by in darker situations. Otherwise my 35 & 50mm primes with a bit of cropping works well ( my next lens will the the 85 f1.8 G lens or 70-200F4 G depending on my needs at the time).
I am recommend Nikon because that is what I know. Canon has many good cameras and lenses as well although the Sony sensors used by Nikon area superior in DR ( shadows mostly).
You can see how easy it would be to spend $15,000 on gear to get started if you wanted to.
One of the best light sources you can take with you particuarlly for a outdoor sunny wedding is a light stand with a light bar on it that can hold 4 inexpensive speed lights. You get 2 stops more light plus you don’t need a power source and its mostly wind resistant. Also because the lights are spread apart you get a bit softer light source without even having to use a reflector of any kind. And it does not get in the way when you set it up around people. Going from one speed lightt to Two gives you another stop, going from two to four gives you yet another stop. If you make one of these be sure to buy cheap but powerful manual flash units, there is no point in spending $500 for each when you will be using manual mode anyway. This guy has a video on using it. You may just find that this is the way to go instead of all that bulky equipment. The cost is a bit more overall from a studio light setup but the portability if just awesome.
Keep in mind that using fast glass at its largest apeture in low light is not always the best choice as your depth of field will be too short for anything other than having one or two persons in focus most of the time. Often using a higher ISO and shooting at F4 is a better choice for people shots when you want several people to be in focus and you not using flash as your primary light source. The idea that you can walk around and shoot a wedding with F1:4 is not realistic as getting focus will be difficult in many situations and clients will see that everything is not sharp unless the subject takes up a large portion of the frame. Large F stops should be used when appropriate not as a crutch for lack of flash knowledge or poor high ISO camera performance.
Younger generations are much more likely to want to make their own wedding albums and prints so the traditional money making from prints and albums is going the way of film. everyone can make their own books almost anywhere these days, true they might not make a high-end version like you or me would like to do but with digital media being the main stay now they are more likely to use the web and an iPad or TV to show off their photos rather than albums and prints. Times are changing fast. Your younger clients are most likely going to fit this discription, even some older clients. You need to find new ways to make money from wedding photography. Video is also going to take away some of the still image market as time passes. I would say that a well done video is probably more entertaining than stills for friends and family but stills will still be required. Video is another option for income but has a steep learning curve to get good at. What ever media you deliver on Disk I recommend getting your disks printed and custom cases as a nice touch. WHCC offers this: http://by148w.bay148.mail.live.com/default.aspx?rru=home&livecom=1#!/mail/InboxLight.aspx?n=904862455!n=561422724&fid=1&fav=1&mid=876dc301-581f-11e1-aef2-00215ad801ce&fv=1
I don’t see current technology going much further then the current set of sensors Nikon has in their D600/800 bodies. using Bayer based sensors except for some kind of pixel bining with higher MP, we need a whole new type of sensor to really move things forward. I would also say the high ISO and image quality available in FF cameras today is all most will ever need anyway. What I so see changing in the near future is mirrorless APC & FF camera bodies becoming the next big thing.
In the examples above you can see the difference shutter speed and flash output makes on the same dance floor. When flash is the entire light source none of the colored lights show in the photo, when flash is used just enough to stop the action combined with dragging the shutter you get a more realistic view of what the light actually looked like at the time. The trick is finding the balance. If you have a high iso camera like the Nikon D3S you may be able to do without flash or at least very little. I shot them at ISO 800 and 1/5 sec exposure at F5. I also did some longer 2-3 sec exposures for more effect later on. You will have to adjust your F stop and ISO to make the background and overall exposure what you want. It takes a few tries to get something that works. Now I could have used bounce flash here for a completely different look. Get creative and try something new.
“So What” that’s the response we should have when it’s pointed out that we are not doing things according to the status quo, that’s how we develop our style or technique by stepping/thinking out of the box and making use of what ever materials / equipment we have at hand and improvising. Photography can get boring pretty fast if we do the same things over and over again. Try new techniques from time to time.
One note, I always get a kick out of the snobbery among some photographers (gear heads). Some will look down their noses at you if your camera has a built-in flash as that makes it’s an amature camera in their eyes, they may even think your gear is a joke. If you use the LCD to check on your images too much some will say you’re not a professional. If you don’t have the fastest, latest, best equipment you’re not worthy either, Stay away from these people they will only drag you down. Hang out with happy positive folks who will encourage you to try new ideas using your current equipment instead. And don’t worry if rich uncle Bob has the best and latest camera, just do your best with what you have and deliver outstanding images because that’s all that matters in the end. It’s mosty other photographers that will notice what camera you have or make a comment about it. No one I know would recognize the difference between a Nikon D4 and a D90 with a grip on it, only other photographers would. Now in the film days a medium or large format camera did get noticed more often. On the other extreme if you showed up with a Nikon D40 and 18-55 kit lens some folks (very few) might note that the gear didn’t seem too high end. A P&S camera and nothing else would probably cause some concern though. I bet the new Canon GX1 P&S could do a wedding just fine if the lighting was not too difficult.
what I see with the very latest announced cameras is that big gains in pixel quality and high ISO abiliies seem to be flatening out as Bayer sensor tech is reaching its max effeciency. So the new Nikon D4 seems to have about the same IQ as the older Nikon D3S only with bigger 16mp files now. Not much reason to upgrade unless you need the improved video functions of the D4 (this is where the biggest improvments are) and supposed better AF, I’m shure it’s a better camera overall but is it worth the $6,000 upgrade. The D800 has proven to have better DR & High ISO than the D700 when the image in re-scaled to match the 12mp D700, Probably about 1 stop better ISO and 2 stops better DR, its the resolution that really matters to many. As far as lenses go the 36mp sensor should prove to be no more stress on the lens than the D7000’s 16mp crop sensor is on the center area of DX and FF lens, which are working just fine.
What about the older D version AF prime lenses we used with our film cameras? they will work just fine, some though just won’t show a really sharp image across the board mostly in the corners due in part to their design. But for the purpose of shooting weddings the final usage of website galleries and prints they should all do the job. If you want good resolution and sharpness accross the frame then your going to have to pick very carefully or use the latest pro grade lenses. Ken Rockwell has an excellent database of Nikon and some canon lenses and comparisons at his site. www.kenrockwell.com Not too many older zooms cut it anymore. Trying to manual focus a lens on a modern digital camera will really show you how good or bad your focusing abilities are. A crop camera is much harder to get focus accurate by eye due to the smaller magnification factor. Slow lenses also make it harder to see well through the view finder as they don’t let in as much light.
New style camera straps can really make shooting more comfortable then the stock versions. Here are a couple to consider. If you go for the cheaper one make sure to order the camera mount attachment as the large clunky one that comes with the cheaper units is nowhere near as nice or comfortable. Watch the Blackrapid video to see just how much nicer these are compared to the old style versions, plus they look cool when in use.
Fortunantly we can mix and match parts from most of the various strap brands, so if there is a feature you like from one brand and a feature from another you may be able to purchase just the part you want and add it to the strap you buy.
Amazon cheaper version & FastnerR-3
Printing: These days with the cost of printing so cheap and quality that is excellent from places like Costco it doesn’t make sense for most of us to do out own printing. Some things you should know though. Every printing machine will deliver slightly different results and the chemicals won’t always be just right. Costco provides printer profiles for each of its machines at each warehouse that you can download and use in PhotoShop’s Soft print mode check for color shifts before submitting a print. Also you should never select Auto Correct from the options when getting prints made as AC can really screw up your prints. The only way to be sure if you have had AC done to your prints or not is to look on the back of the print, you will see a series of N N N N then if you see NN, the Ns close together that means AC was used on your print. Some times even though your receipt may say no AC or you may have selected no AC at checkout it was done anyway by mistake so check that out when a print does not look quite right to you. Always tell your clients not to use AC if they are printing files you provided to them. Also don’t forget to select “Full Resolution” when uploading to your account.
Don’t forget to practice your technique with different lighting situations before actually doing a job. Preparation and practice is the key to success and confidence in anything you do. Then you can concentrate on being creative.
Before I close out this page (if your still reading) I want to leave you with a link showing just how useful the DR of the new D800 can be for underexpsored shots or situations where you would like to recover a lot of shadow detail without any noise or artifacts showing in the full or cropped image: http://www.fredmiranda.com/5DIII-D800/index_controlled-tests.html
Discrimination. Once you are a legit business you can’t legally discriminate for any reason or you could be sued in court. For example what should you do if asked to do a same sex wedding and your beliefs don’t allow you to do so with a clean concisous? Well if you have not talked to the persons yet you could just avoid doing so or Just explain to the same sex couple that you would not be able to put your heart 100% into your work due to your personal beliefs reguarding same sex marriage and would prefer that they seek another photographer, make sure they understand that if they insist you shoot their wedding that you would do it if that date is available. No one would want to hire a photographer that is not going to be able to put 100% into their work for any reason and no court would find you guilty of such a thing if the couple insisted for some reason that you must shoot their wedding and then complained that he work was not up to their expectations. Legally you can’t discriminate or turn them or any one down outright. Homosexuals have been trying for years to get people to accept their lifestyle and they should be able to do the same for others and respect that. I personally would not want to process photos of two men kissing (Not sure I could get myself to do it), others may not have any issue what so ever. There are plenty of wedding photographers out there for people to choose from. If your concious won’t let you do it at all and the couple insists on using you then you will just have to take your chances by declining. Not everyone sues everytime they feel wronged.
Lets be realistic here, of all the services one might do for a couple this is a pretty intimate one were a photographer is expected to catch romantic moments and poises or to create them for the couple. No one should be forced to do something like this when there are so many photographers out there that would be more than willing to do the job. This is more of an issue when you become somewhat famous/successful (at least in your area) and have higher end clientiel that don’t like to be turned down. If your reading this then you probably have a ways to go before an issue like this comes your way. It’s not just about same sex it could be anything, race, religion, language barriers, age, gender, economic statis etc.
There are of course many types of situations that might be construed as discrimination and you should give some thought to how you might respond or not respond when that situation comes up. I knew an apartment manager who had to quit working there because every time certain people got turned down as a potiential renter they started discrimination lawsuits aganst her ( She was the same nationality as them too). So be sure to treat everyone with respect.