This past weekend I did my first wedding. I now have 1,200 photos to process after making initial cuts (redundant images, missed focus, missed exposure, pointless compositions, unattractive expressions, eyes closed, etc). I’d say overall it was quite the success. The wedding itself went very well aside from a 5-minute downpour that soaked the wedding party and a few guests… and the photographer. I got a few shots I am very proud of, lots of shots that are fine, and learned a hell of a lot in the process. The formals were challenging, especially since most of the group shots were done outside in full sun (ouch). There are a few shots that I missed, mostly during the ceremony because it was the shortest ceremony ever, but for the most part I checked off everything on my mental shot list and I think the newlyweds will be happy with the results.
I’ll post much more after I’m able to put up more photos, but naturally I want the bride & groom (currently on their honeymoon) to be the first to see the majority of them. For now, I’ll talk about the very basics: my gear strategy. This is what I brought along:
- Nikon D700 + MB-D10
- Nikon D300 + MB-D10
- Tokina 12-24/4
- Nikon 17-55/2.8
- Nikon 80-200/2.8
- Nikon 50/1.8
- 1 SB-800 flash
- 2 SB-600 flashes
- Nikon SC-29 off-camera TTL flash cord
- 36 gigs of CF cards (SanDisk Extreme III and IV)
- Lastolite 48″ 1-stop Tri-grip diffuser
- 3 light stands and umbrella swivels
- Justin clamp (never used)
- 2 shoot-thru umbrellas
- Tripod (never used)
- Small step-stool (borrowed from the bride)
- Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Home shoulder bag
- Impact Light Kit 3 bag
For the “getting ready” shots, I used my D300 and 12-24/4 alongside my D700 and 50/1.8, with occasional use of my 80-200/2.8. I wish I had an 11-16/2.8 or faster ultrawide lens for the D300, but the 12-24 did well even though I had to bump up the ISO on the D300 a little higher than I would have liked. For the formals, I used the D300 and 17-55/2.8 almost exclusively. The ceremony and cocktail hour had me using that combo alongside the D700 and 80-200/2.8. For the reception, I used the D300 and 17-55 or the D700 and 12-24 (yes, they play nice together, much better than the 17-55 on full frame) along with an SB-800 flash on a remote cable. The reception took place in an extremely dim ballroom, which posed a bunch of challenges because I still don’t quite know what the SB-800 is going to do in TTL mode. That said, I came away with 300+ very usable, fun shots, so it worked out in the end.
I shot everything in RAW, used a custom white balance wherever possible, and generally tended to D2XMODE1 picture control except for the reception shots. I was in aperture priority mode 90% of the time and full manual mode the rest of the time. I was shooting for about 11 hours, from a little after 1pm all the way until midnight. The result was that I filled up all but one 4-gig card out of the 36 gigs worth of CF cards that I’d brought (holy crap).
My girlfriend acted as an assistant for part of the day, helping me schlep all that gear from place to place (the hotel where the wedding was held was huge, so lots of schlepping), holding the Tri-grip, pointing out flaws in various poses, and generally being a super helpful rock star. Should I ever shoot a wedding by myself, I’m going to have to cut down on the amount of gear I bring, because there was a bit too much to lug around.
Big thanks to the couple, who liked my work enough to take a chance on a rookie wedding photographer, were incredibly laid-back and easy to work with, and had a great wedding at a beautiful location.