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Photography Question 
Kathy Gossage
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/9/2002

Wedding Photography: The Best Lens?

What is a good lens for shooting weddings? I have a Canon 40D.

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9/1/2009 5:29:53 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  The answer depends on your budget and how you're working (guest or paid pro, and traditional poses or photojournalist style). Generally...
(a) Fast primes are good (eg. EF 35 f/1.4L USM, EF 50 f/1.4 USM or f/1.2L USM, EF 85 f/1.8 USM or f/1.2L USM, etc.)
(b) Any f/2.8 zoom (eg. EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM, EF 24-70 f/2.8L USM, or similar from Sigma, Tamron, Tokina)
(c) On s slim budget, many consumer zooms are plenty sharp (even the kit EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS), but they just don't have big apertures for low indoor light (or shallow depth of field), so a flash or high ISO setting is going to be necessary.

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9/4/2009 5:56:23 AM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  I second what Jon said. I use my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L and my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS for 90 percent of my wedding shoots. I was using a Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime for low light until it lost its focusing ability (both AF and Manual focusing quit working). I never dropped or mishandled the 50mm - it just stopped working! I am looking at the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 to replace the Canon 1.4.
I also have the 40D and the Canon 1Ds.

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9/4/2009 12:08:17 PM

Tareq M. Alhamrani
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/26/2006
  So let's say with 2 1D series cameras and 3 L zoom lenses plus one or 2 primes such as 50 1.4 and 35L or 85L can anyone start a wedding photography?

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9/4/2009 6:45:37 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hello Tareq,
You asked with having the right equipment if anyone can shoot weddings ?
Having the equipment and having the knowledge & ability to shoot weddings are 2 different things.
I dont shoot many weddings as they can really be a pain to shoot sometimes. I like taking my time to set up shots and I prefer nature & landscape shooting. I have learned to shoot weddings by taking classes (I took one here with Paul Gero) and have worked as 2nd shooter with other wedding photographers before starting to shoot them on my own. There are lists & more lists, stressed out brides & over-caffeinated mothers, people running late, lots of other photographers/guests who will jump right in front of you as you are shooting (at every wedding) & lots more challenges that can be very trying. I do enjoy myself when shooting a wedding and I like the challenges that pop up at each shoot. I had a wedding shoot on a boat last year and boats have lots of ropes hanging everywhere. Just composing shots by keeping the ropes from being too distracting in the captures was a challenge. It also had space limitations that prevented me from shooting at preferred angles but it also provided some spaces to get creative with other angles. I got some great sunset silhouette shots of the couple on the back of the boat (and there were ropes there too) but I had fun and the photos came out very well.
I think personality and temperament are the 1st things to consider if you want to be a wedding photographer. You have to be patient, thick skinned, organized, have more patience and smile the whole time even when things are falling apart. A good wedding photographer can make a trying event go much smoother by being confident, patient & supportive to the people involved. Sometimes a stressed out bride needs to know that you have everything covered and that she can rely on you to give her a little peace of mind. I have seen dresses fall apart, important guests arriving late, catering issues, and even the weather can be a problem. Being patient & supportive can make all the difference in the world to the bride and it will get you many referrals when you are there for her.
Once you get the psychology of shooting weddings, then you can concentrate on the techical aspects of shooting the wedding. I will go to the venue beforehand if possible to see what my lighting challenges will be and I prefer to do this with the wedding coordinator, brides best friend or someone who knows everyone at the event that I can work to assist me with getting the various groups of people together for portraits. If there is an area I can set up my Alien Bees, if I will have to rely on speedlights, if natural lighting will be sufficient - everything about the light and the space I will be working in.
Backups & more backups - cameras, cards, speedlights, tripods, lightstands, ladders, etc... You cant have an equipment failure stop or even slow you down, just grab the backup and keep shooting...
Then the lists - there are a bunch of them but I will tell you now that that the biggest sellers for prints are the group portraits of grandma Jones & Ol Henry who hadn't seen each other in 25 years. Everyone will want that photo. The traditional Bride/Groom, B&G w/parents, B&G w/Wedding party portraits are normally the biggest sellers.
I shoot all the traditional poses & groups and also shoot a more journalistic style that tells more of the story about how the day went. Kids running around with squirt pistols, friends laughing & hugging, the shot of the bride in a quiet space when she is not aware you are shooting her, and of course Grandma & Ol Henry sitting under a shade drinking iced tea.
I love my 70-200mm lens for being able to stand back and watch from a distance & capture everything happening and not being intrusive on the people who are having their experiences.
The journalistic images will tell the story of the day and are very precious in themselves although you dont usually sell a lot of these, they are what will bring out all the smiles to everyone who looks at the album.
I do like to shoot the ocassional wedding and I do have fun and find it rewarding but I still prefer being chased by a rabid Emu or shooting a beautiful sunset on the mountain.
So whaddya think Tareq, wanna be a wedding photographer ?

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9/5/2009 9:16:35 AM

Tareq M. Alhamrani
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/26/2006
  Hi Carlton,
Thank you very much for these very helpful worthy information and knowledge.
In fact I shoot landscape and outdoor and nature, but I am looking to shoot portraits including weddings. In my country I can't do wedding photography due to religious, Social and cultural reasons, so I must live out of my country to do it, but until that I just like to read and know more information and details about weddings photography, so that I ask everywhere and keep reading and watching the pros and masters in this field.
I am shooting sports since 2 and a half years ago, so I learnt about actions, and also about timing, weddings is mostly about capturing the right moments as in sports capturing the peak action, and I know it needs patients and following all the details and be relaxed and be so lovely smiling person in any weddings, I shoot sometimes some events in sports or meeting and conferences where there are people and groups indoor and outdoor so I can deal with different lighting conditions, I know it is not east but I believe all weddings photographers never became pros and master fro the first time, it needs practicing and patient and time for that, and I don't know when and where I can start doing wedding photography, but as I said, until that time I keep reading and watching this field to be ready at least, and I will always do my best, maybe I am not a good photographer but I don't do all bad and crap shots pressing the shutter, it is a matter of my skill/talent, my behave, my eyes/mind, and my photography tools.
Thank you very much again for the post!

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9/5/2009 1:58:40 PM

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