Monday, July 29, 2013

A Wedding: Photographers' Aftermath

First, congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Dave Nelson! Again, thank you for allowing me (and talking me into) photographing your wedding. This has opened my eyes to event photography and what I thought was simple to a field of high respect.

So what I hope to cover in this blog is what my thought process was, how I was feeling, and what I did to get shots that I got. I just wrapped up my first edit through of all the photos (a bit over 500 total) and will be looking through them one more time before uploading them for them to see.

My equipment list:

  • Nikon D7000 + Grip
  • Tamron 20-70mm 2.8
  • Nikon 55mm 2.8 Macro
  • Tamron 70-300mm 
  • Battery charger for the car/wall
  • SB-700
  • 20 AA battries (for flash)
  • Two batteries for camera (one in camera one in grip)
  • Lens Pen
  • Lens Air Blower
  • Lint free cloths
  • Four 32gb Scandisk SD cards
  • Business cards
  • Body Strap (quick purchase from Best Buy on the way out to the church)
  • Large shoulder bag to carry this all

1/200 sec at f / 2.8, ISO 800, 36mm

I started out at the Brides parent's house (about 15 mins from the church), and at the same time my friend that I hired to be the 2nd photographer went to a hotel where the guys where getting ready (which I just got the photos he took late 7/28 evening). All of the girls had their make-up and hair done, and where just finishing up what looked to be lunch. So right away I started to shoot detail shots instead of getting shots of them putting food in their mouths. I started out with the dress, the flowers, and jewelry. While doing this I would keep a close eye on the bride, and her parents, hoping to catch those candid shots. This hour and a half went by very fast and I ended up taking just over 100 pictures in that time. I wanted to use natural light and not a flash because I wanted them to look at the photos and it spark a memory of this is what it looked like in the room they where in, instead of seeing a fake light or an unnatural bright room that doesn't exist in the house. All of the shots at the house were taken with the 20-70mm lens. Some of the detail shots were taken with the macro lens.

One of the things I was concerned is giving the ladies the privacy while they where getting ready, while at the same time catching candid photos. I knew this was one drawback of being a male photographer photographing the ladies getting ready. I started getting better pictures when I started to talk with everyone, instead of hiding against the wall. Everyone seemed to shake of their nerves about the camera following them around.

They started to load up the truck to head to the church, I felt this was the best time to pack up myself and get to the church and meet-up with the other photographer to get some empty church shots and get photos of people walking in. I felt these shots were important as both the bride and groom would be tucked away in a room and wont get to see much of these events. I also coordinated how I would like the wedding shot with the other photographer; I would shoot the party walking down from the floor and he would catch candid's throughout the wedding and covering a few shots in case I miss focus or exposure, or in case his angle would better since he would be on the balcony. I found this part of the day the most strenuous and it wasn't because of the precise moments that needed to be recorded, but the amount of squatting and moving that I had to do. Even though I was comfortable walking in front of someone else to get the shot I was looking for, I didn't want to ruin their own experience by standing in front of them. I took my shot and moved out of the way, I tried not to spend more than a few seconds when I was in front of people sitting.
1/10 sec at f / 3.2, ISO 400, 24 mm

The above picture I asked if they could scoot in so I could set next to them. They smiled and slid down so I could sit and after the shot I said thanks and continued to crouch and walk through the church. With the wedding kiss coming up, I took a spot in the middle aisle so I could be directly in line with them. To make the angle interesting, I lined just right of the cross on the back wall and put the couple to the left of it. Once I got the shot I wanted, I moved out of the way so others could have a clear shot with their cameras.

At this point, I thought the hard part was over. I was pleased with the shots I got so far and I was relieved that the important shots were done.....I was wrong. The hardest part was the posed shots after the wedding with family and the bridal party.

One of the photos was a group shots of all of the members that were married in the same church as the newly weds. This was when I first got hit by a wow factor of the history this family has. I was in a slight rush to get this shot done so I could clear out the church a bit for other photos. This was the moment I realized that these photos were more important than any of the shots taken during the wedding. These were photographs that recorded not only this moment during their wedding day, but as a recording of history for them to have and to share down with future members. This also made me realize that these photos needed to be perfect and that these photos are what everyone are going to be looking for. I also started to use flash at this time to help me get a quicker shutter speed as the first few shots were blurry do to movement for those that were standing. Primary reason for the slower shutter speed as I had to increase my aperture to make sure everyone was in focus.

Once this was done I then took a few more shots of just of the newly weds, which I had ideas when I visit the previous week. These shots went quick and got them out of the church and let them have time alone before they had to go to the reception. This was a perfect time for me to stretch out and take a look around the reception area as I haven't been there yet. This was only 15 minutes from the church and was a nice ride. The reception was at a museum which they rented out for the evening. Visitors had free reign of it and as long as I didn't use flash I had permission to take pictures for the wedding in it.  I also was able to get some detail shots of the set-up while nobody was in the area.

At this point I've been standing for about 4 hours (only 30 minutes were sitting, while driving from and to locations). I was super thirsty because of the heat of the church and my legs were cramping, so I quickly got some shots and started to slowly hydrate with the water fountain inside the museum. I also had to watch the time as I wanted to get a picture of the couple driving up to the museum (I told them to call me or text me when they were about to pull up). I was also able to introduce myself to the DJ and the dinner coordinator during this time and give them my business card. When I got the text, I went up to the front and was able to get 5 minutes of sit time on the bench and once they pulled up there was no more sitting until dinner was served (2 hours from then). From this point, it was very fun for me. This was my favorite part of the evening was capturing the candid moments. Moments the couple wouldn't see, moments of family and friends laughing and smiling, moments of tears over the happy moments, and of just everyone dancing and having fun.

I didn't realize this until he sun started to go down that I was actually very lucky! The canvas that was used, that everyone sat under for the reception, was white. I was able to use it as one huge reflector umbrella and was able to fill up the whole area with my SB-700. This was perfect as I was able to shoot well into the night. One of the other things, that I was hoping they wouldn't get with another photographer, is I was able to talk to the ranger to do some photos in the back of the car. Was some of my last shots of the night and they are really neat. While walking back inside from the car, they instantly held hands while walking down back to the museum. I instantly saw the last photo of the night, and to me represented them ending the night together walking away together.

1/80 sec at f / 2.8, ISO 3200, 48mm

I left shortly after and got home. I right away got the images copied over to the computer and ran a backup. I also then took the other memory card (I had my camera set to shoot duplicates on the second memory card) and put it into a fireproof safe. I also edited three images for the Bride right away so she could share them right away and use them for Facebook. I didn't only do this for her, but for her to post images of what I took so everyone can see what type of photos I will have compared to those who uploaded via their phones. I wanted them to be eager to see my photos before printing their own photos, hoping they would order mine instead. I did realize, however, that I forgot to put my watermark on those images since I was in a rush. However, I did get a few messages through FB asking when they would be up ready to see. I told them my goal is to have them up by August 3rd or shortly after.

At this point it looks like I should be delivering over 500 photos, and because of some of the things that happened (certain stains on clothes) I actually touched each photo to make sure things were perfect. This was something I didn't expect to do but since I love editing photos was fun to do. It added a good chunk of time I didn't expect to do, so make sure you take that into consideration if you decide to photograph a wedding. It took me about a total of 24 hours to edit these photos and since I just got another 100+ from the other photographer I expect to spend another 6 hours. that would be a total of 40 hours spent for this wedding. So when you are attempting to price out a wedding, this one took me a work week of time. When you put this on top of another full time job, it was very wake, work, sleep type of week. So for those who are reading this that wonder why a photographer charges what they do, I hope this helps you understand their prices. For those that read this to that are looking into wedding photography, I hope this helps you to pick a worthwhile price for you.

Overall, I'm 99% happy with the results of this event. There's a few shots that I thought I had, that ended up being blurry when I looked on the computer. Once of them was a request photo from the Bride's parents of them standing in front of a section in the museum that has history with their family. Beyond that one photo and a few candid's that didn't turn out that I thought they did, I think they will enjoy the photos greatly.

Photo taken by: Curtis Gibeaut Jr. 

At the end of the day, I only ended up using one battery and one bar out of the second. I used half of the battery power in the SB-700 and had about 400 shots left on the first set of memory cards. I didn't drive any shot, though I did shoot it a drive setting which I changed the FPS to 3 instead of the full 6. The only time I drove my shots was during the cutting of the cake in which she stuffed cake into his face. All other shots I waited for the shot and took it, and I don't think I missed anything because of this. A few shots where blurry because I didn't watch my shutter speed but I think this is why my first wedding turned out so well. I pictured the shot in my head, composed my shot, and waited for the moment to happen. If it didn't I moved to the next shot.

Feel free to visit my website at: to view my gallery (not of the wedding photos as the rest are being kept private for the families to share). Also, please visit and like my facebook page:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Event Photography: Jumping Right Into a Wedding

So I am now, eleven months (almost to the day), of when I started to look into selling my photos and services to pay for my photography addiction. With a lot of research, lots of pricing comparison, and getting a feel to my style of photography, I have finally reached a comfortable zone to start doing events! I was hoping to get a few other events in before I did a wedding, but a friend decided to come to me to do record her wedding.

When she messaged me I was actually pretty excited, I mean someone actually reached out for me and asking me to do something as important as recording one of her most important days in her life; her wedding. I actually ended up saying no to her a few times and explained that I really only did landscape and nature photography. She said she understood that this would be something new for me but she really did like my photography and would really like me to shoot her wedding. After clarifying this, and understanding I would also do this as an official business transaction, I finally agreed to do it!

She actually had asked me back in February, and it gave me a lot of time to hone my indoor photography as well as research wedding photography. I was amazed on how much was out there for free! Youtube became a great learning pool of video after video, actually able to see how other photographers prepped and shot for a wedding. I then realized it wasn't much different than nature photography! When I shoot nature, I actually setup my composition for a landscape. I then wait for an animal to jump into it making a great story out of the picture. Otherwise, they were just candid photos of the birds flying or the animal running around. That isn't to different than a wedding if you look at it closely. The only difference: light, time, and space.

Light in the church, or at high hours of the day, or weather can all affect how you can shoot. How fast your shutter speed is and location become the biggest puzzle of this event. How fast can your shutter get in this low light while keeping your ISO low enough to get the best quality photo? How do you fit everyone into the photo? Where can you fit everyone into the photo? How much time do you have in the church after the wedding happens?

I only saw a few photographers recommend checking out the location before the wedding day if possible. This allows you to feel the area, take your time, and work with those in charger of the church prior to the wedding. This actually worked for me, as I went a week before the wedding and took a look around with the couple (which happened to already be there when I went). We were able to point out a few spots to take photos after the wedding, point out where people where going to be, and I was able to get some sample shots to determine what the light would be.
Exposure +.5 (ISO 800, 1/80, f / 2.8)
No other edits were done. Lens correction would fix the "everything falling away" feeling

I set up in the back of the church, put it into aperture priority and set my camera to be wide open at 2.8 (didn't worry about composition). From this point I adjusted my ISO (I do not use auto-ISO) until I got to a shutters peed of 1/80.  I then took a look at the histogram and saw it was a tad bit underexposed and put it up a half step and it was spot on. As you can see in this picture, the lights were not on so if it is cloudy the day of the wedding it should be close to this with the lights on and no light coming in from the windows. One challenge I have: available light only. Meaning, I cannot use flash inside the church. This was important me to find out before the wedding in case I needed to rent a different camera body than what I already own. I do not as I have a Nikon D7000 and I can take great photos up to 1600 and grain/noise just starts to appear here. If I go black and white photos I can bump the ISO up to 3200 with no problem. So I am very comfortable with my equipment at this point. 

Beyond the posed shots after the wedding the rest of the event are candid and detail shots which I love to do. I have already set up their online gallery on my Smugmug site, password protected it, and I printed off 50 business cards that have their URL to their gallery and password for them to hand out at their wedding/reception. One other thing I did to prep for this event, is I made a photo checklist to help me get all desired photos. They are not promises, but I will be looking at this checklist to make sure I can get as many as possible. So when we are doing posed shots, I can get a few shots off and if we are wondering what is next I can pop the list out and keep the flow rolling. I also had the bride and groom enter in some of their own items to the list as well. Such as key names and shots they would like that I wouldn't have normally done. Example: They would like all couples in one photo that have been married at this church. I would have never of thought of recommending that one!

One of the last things I did, is I looked at photography insurance. This is something I would recommend anyone who could not afford replacing their camera if it was damaged. Mine is about 500 a year, and covers just about everything with a 500 deductible. No matter what of my camera equipment is broke, it's cheaper for the deductible than to buy the equipment again.

Keep an eye on my blog as I will follow up with this Sunday if I have time, or early next week. The wedding is this Saturday (only two days!). Let me know if you have any questions. Comment here or on my FB page: