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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004

Wedding Photography: Doing It for a Friend

I have been recruited to shoot a wedding. I am not charging for this. I have a Canon 20D. I know that these will be mostly candid shots. Do I shoot in JPEG on auto due to the candid nature? Do I shoot some in RAW? Since I am not being paid, my friends are not too demanding. I want to do a nice job but also enjoy the wedding as a guest. Any thoughts?

4/23/2005 1:54:29 PM

Chris J. Browne

member since: 3/11/2005
Are these friends of yours? Friends don't ask friends to take photos at weddings!
Friends do offer to pay you a token payment for such events ... at which point you may accept the payment or decline the payment, or decline it all.
As a friend, you could ask: Are the photos a wedding gift? Give them a nice album with the photos you take. Great gift ... that's what taking photos at a friend's wedding is ... a gift of memories.
With the Canon 20D, that is a fantastic gift. Digital is great for candid shots and setup photos. Not so great for speed shooting.
Good luck.

4/24/2005 7:57:59 AM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
thanks for your ideas re: the album gift that is a good idea. but I still need some help on how to shoot the wedding. any ideas in re: jpeg vs raw? justin

4/24/2005 8:39:21 AM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/14/2005
  Are you comfortable processing RAW images? RAW images will give you more latitude, but will require more processing.
If you shoot in JPEG, you can do some batch processing to adjust levels, and have a book of 4x6 proofs ready by the time they get back from the honeymoon.
Since you're not getting paid, you don't want to turn this into a huge project.
As for shooting, if you're most comfortable shooting on Auto, then do it.

4/24/2005 2:44:30 PM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
thanks for your help. I do shoot in RAW but perhaps it would be a faster project to just do jpeg. justin

4/24/2005 3:13:31 PM

Nancy Grace Chen
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/18/2004
  If you know how to process RAW, it sounds like it's up to you how much time you want to invest in this. If you just want to get it done, shoot in JPEG. If you want to do the best job you can, shoot in RAW. Also consider what size memory card you have. If you have any less than 1 GB, you should probably shoot in JPEG, so you can fit them all on there.
Hope that helps.

4/24/2005 9:35:38 PM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
  thanks Nancy. I appreciate the info. justin

4/24/2005 10:46:49 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  Make sure your focal length matches your shutter speed (or more) or they will be out of focus. Focus on the eyes. The on camera flash is unreliable. Maybe the couple can get you a 550ex as a gift for you to shoot professionally at their wedding. Light-meter their faces directly, or you may get highlights that will throw off your picture.

4/25/2005 3:03:08 AM


BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  You said you wanted to do a "nice job", but also want to "enjoy the wedding as a guest". This will not happen. So, just plan on either being the photographer OR the guest, but you can't be both.
The fact that they are not paying you really sucks, because it's going to be an overwhelming amount of work. Maybe they'll tip you or something as a thank you.
Since you don't have experience with this, I suggest you shoot RAW. Use the software that came with your camera to process the images (DPP).
Get a 550EX or 580EX flash with a bracket. Get it. Rent it, borrow it, buy it. You will need it.
You probably should take about 15 gigs of cards for RAW shooting. When you get home, download them to your PC immediately, and then burn 2 DVDs or CDs of all the images, BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE! Once you do that, go to sleep.
In the morning, begin processing the images by opening DPP. First, delete all the bad ones. This should be quick. Just look at it, and if it's bad, out of focus or whatever, eliminate it. Now you have your keepers. Now correct the WB (just click on something white in the image). You can process many at a time doing this. When you are done. Batch them all to JPEGs in a separate folder. Now you can go through them and decide which should be BW. Make a separate folder for those. Then you can batch process all those at once using PS.
When you're all done with that, you can go through and add contrast and sharpening to everything.
When finished, burn a DVD/CD for them and just give them that. Since it's free, don't spend any money on prints, unless you want to give them a few just for fun. I would probably give them one really nice 8x10 or something if they were good friends.

4/25/2005 4:44:50 AM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
thanks for taking the time to give me the great information. every bit helps since I am not a wedding photographer. justin

4/25/2005 6:27:34 AM

Junia C. Bain

member since: 7/23/2003
  Just some words of encouragement, I used my friend's wedding to 'practice' I delivered some prints to her and husband the next day. She got the offical photographer's the next week. Every one including the bride and groom thought that my prints were better that the offical ones and she got copies of the ones I made and distributed to her friends. Hey, and I had a wonderful time at the wedding as well.

4/26/2005 7:09:09 PM

Maria Melnyk

member since: 5/2/2004
  Hi, Justin. Since you're not a wedding photographer, do you feel you're able to produce quality photos for your friends? Sure, candids are fine, but you must do at least a few formally-posed photos. What if they or their parents want wall portraits? Do you know about proper exposure and stuff? Also, plan on having NO time to be a guest; you must concentrate on the photography. That said, I will offer two pieces of advice. One is: Do it. The other is: Don't do it. Think about the great responsibility involved, and then make your decision. Good luck either way.

4/27/2005 1:31:38 AM

Scott Pedersen

member since: 11/18/2001
  Friends "DO" ask friends to shoot but they should give you something for your time. If they are asking you its because they have seen and like your work. They trust you to do this. If you are confident about posing people go ahead. If you only shoot landscapes or non people photography simply tell them that you don't know how to do that type of work and don't take the job.

4/27/2005 4:14:56 AM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
  junia, maria and scott
thanks for taking time to comment on this. I definitely have to do it as my friends are on a tight budget. I do know proper exposure, I am more into nature and landscapes but I guess this will be a learning experience. justin

4/27/2005 6:25:14 AM

Kristi G

member since: 5/16/2004
  I don't have any great words of wisdom on taking the pictures for your friends, but just want to remind you to give them a copyright release so they can make reprints at any photo lab, (I work at one) and not have to go through any hassles. My guess is that they will really appreciate you doing this for them - awesome wedding gift!!

4/27/2005 8:13:43 AM

Teresa K. Canady

member since: 2/16/2005

Yes, friends do ask you to take photos at their weddings. Especially if the budget is tight. Ironically, I have been asked to do the same as you. My friend has seen some of my work which consist of pictures of babies and children. I took the Bride out a few weeks ago and took some "Bridal Photos" of her, and they turned out very nice, after some editing of course. She was very pleased. I have to admit I'm a little nervous about the actual wedding, but I think it will turn out just fine. From my experience, I think you should just relax and take shots as you see them, and everything else will fall into place. Good Luck!!
Teresa Canady

4/27/2005 10:24:01 AM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
  kriti and teresa
thanks for the help. teresa, let me know how the wedding goes and any advice after shooting it would be appreciated. justin

4/27/2005 10:29:32 AM


BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  I justed wanted to add a weird twist to this...I am a professional wedding photographer. And, I WILL NOT shoot a friends wedding, or a family members wedding. Anyone here who is a pro understands why. There are a few really good reasons for this.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but it's kind of a land mine waiting to be stepped on.

It's hard to judge without knowing specifically what you are planning to do.

Can you schedule some time with them to do an engagement session? This will help you become comfortable with shooting them. And, you will learn if they are blinkers and the best positions for them to look good. My sessions run about an hour, but being that they are friends, you can hold them hostage longer. Take as many as you can and see what kinds of positions make them look best. This will also prepare you for a portrait session at the wedding, if you are going to do that.

You can also ask them to get dressed up in their wedding stuff after the wedding, like maybe a week later, and do another portrait session somewhere that has meaning to them. Urban sessions can be fun. At a park. Anywhere they want.

If you do these things, you will have engagement photos, the wedding, and then some after the wedding shots. With all that, you should have some really great stuff to give them.

Since you're not used to shooting people, I'm trying to give you as many controlled situations as possible to give them a nice set of images.

4/27/2005 12:12:38 PM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
thanks for your imput. I really appreciate it. since this is what you do, you have given me some good ideas. I don't live in the same state, so I will not be around too long to do before and afters. so I guess I will just have to do the best I can. thanks again. what do you feel about shooting in raw vs jpeg. justin

4/27/2005 2:04:34 PM


BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  I shoot 100% JPEG. I understand RAW, I used to shoot RAW, but I found that I was wasting my time. Mostly, the advantages of shooting RAW are correction of blown highlights and poor exposure.

However, I have found that those issues are so rare for me, that it was just a waste.

Since this is your first wedding, I would strongly suggest RAW, unless you are very good in very fast moving difficult lighting situations.

For instance, you might be shooting down the isle in a dark church, back out into the light, still shooting standing in the sun into a dark church, then they come out, now you are shooting in the sun and they are in the sun, then they walk into the sun light so you are shooting with a strong back-light straight into the sun.

It can be very tricky and you have to be able to change settings very quickly and capture all the action.

But, I don't know the extent you are going to go to. So, I have no idea what you should do.

If you have any hesitation about your ability to capture split second action in varying light conditions, I recommend shooting RAW. If you have experience with this, such as newspaper experience or something, like a photojournalist of some sort, then you will be fine shooting JPEG as you will know how to react quickly to situations.

RAW provides a pretty good latitude to make mistakes. JPEG is very unforgiving.

4/27/2005 4:06:08 PM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
thanks again for your input. it is much appreciated. at least now I have some guidelines to think about before I plunge into this. justin

4/27/2005 10:20:19 PM


member since: 9/27/2003
  Hi Justin
If you are doing this for FREE, and it's
your first wedding. Follow the KISS principle. Keep it simple .....
I would Shoot only JPEGS,and Batch process them using Levels or Curves, and a Hue & SAT layer for color correction.
The exception might be if you want to shoot some RAW photos of the Bride and Groom. This will keep things simple, and easy on you.
Since they asked you to do it for free,
it's doubtful they are looking at a print size larger than 11 x14., and proably only 8 x 10's. If they do want any prints charge them for the prints.
I'M not sure about the Cannon D20. But my Nikon can shoot a RAW file and a Fine Jpeg at the same time.
I don't know about 15 Gig's of cards.
I usually get the job done with 3 or 4.
That gives me 500 - 600 photos in RAW.
I can get the same info on a Gig and a half in Fine JPEG.
30 years + photography experience, I also teach Digital Photography at our local college.
Best of luck Gary

4/30/2005 9:44:48 PM


BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/28/2003
  I shoot around 1,500 to 2,000 images at a wedding. If shooting RAW, you need 15 gigs. If shooting JPEg, you can probably get by with about 5 gigs.

However, I do realize that you will not likely shoot this much.

5/1/2005 5:56:34 AM

Robert Baer
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/7/2004
  Gary and Jerry
thank you for the info. I like the idea of basically shooting in jpeg except for the really special shots. I do need to keep this simple. I appreciate your advice. justin

5/1/2005 6:47:49 AM


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