My first (photographic) wedding


Mu-43 All-Pro
Mar 10, 2014
Real Name
Hi, two days ago I shot my first wedding. I was unprepared, unqualified and...uncomfortable but I did it.
I have been recruited by my sister and after evaluating a few alternatives I wasn't allowed to say no.
It was a very simple civil marriage, 40 guests. My sister did want a simple reportage of the event, no posed portraits and the like.
I still do not know if I did good enough, as the spouses are now away for the honey moon, but my opinion is that it could have gone worse. I'm not really happy with many shots but not disappointed either.

General impressions
It was fast. In retrospective it wasn't, but during the whole time I felt like everything was fast, too fast. The bride arrival, the ceremony, the rings, the kiss, signatures, guest felicitations, the exit from the building, the car leaving. All of this in exactly 25 minutes. The dinner and the afternoon was instead very slow and with really few events.
Was it fun? Well, I do not know, I think I felt too much pressure. I was not at ease both with the speed of the technical stuff and on the candid shots stuff.

What I did wrong
1. My plan was to meter on the bride dress (red) and on a gray card in the morning to discover the stop difference and than use the dress as a reference for spot metering. As a fallback I could meter on the groom black dress and place it at -2. Instead I felt that was too risky, maybe I panicked a little, and shot all with aperture priority and matrix metering. So now I have 200/250 decent shots all with slightly different exposures to fix.
2. To play safe I kept the exposure compensation to -1/3, -2/3 almost all the time to avoid clipping. When I forgot to do this I had a few big clippings, on the white roses, the white ring pillow, etc. So this is also one thing I did right (thanks to the advices from this forum).
3. I shot everything with the 12-40 and it was great for the fast ceremony but I really should have use a longer lens (I had 60 macro, 40-150 and nikon 50mm 1.4 Af-s) to have some different shots. They are all very similar and quite boring.
4. I used focus and recompose all the time. There was not time to move around the focus box very much (of course there was, but it's not how I felt it). I did not trust the face recognition: too many faces around. I should have used "back button" focus, but I'm not used to it.
5. I shoot almost everything from eye level. I should have tried more different points of view, at least in the afternoon. But I was all well dressed, so I was unwilling even to place a knee on the floor or in the garden. I could have asked to go to the second floor for a couple of shots from above.
6. I used auto ISO with 1600 as the maximum value. I hit the limit just a couple of times, with 1/80s f/2.8, so I think I should have set it to 3200 to be safer. Aperture priority worked as a charm, always giving me at least 1/80s.
7. I should have got a few shots that I didn't, no matter what. Like asking the car to stop and take a few right shots.

What I did right
1. Continuous shooting (slow) was great. I'm happy to have a few shots to choose from as many have motion blur, closed eyes, etc.
2. I took a few shots from the hip, using the tilted LCD and it worked great. First because I had a different angle, second because it was a lot more stealth, it looked like I was just chimping.
3. disabled the picture preview after the shot
4. blinkies active before the shot.
5. A couple of times I used the teleconverter to quickly gain more reach, and 8MP should be enough and I can also upscale a little.

1. OMD EM-10. Perfect. The only disappointment was the limited blur. Once in the morning it freezed while writing on the card (freshly formatted with the camera) and I had to remove the battery to stop it. The picture was lost, but everything else was fine.
2. 12-40 2.8: Perfect. I used the Fn button for the teleconverter. Most of the shot are at the long end.
3. Matin neoprene fast strap: great, I just forgot it was there. But most of time I held the camera, so eventually I dropped it and used a simple wirst strap.
4. a small sized hip bag with the two extra lenses, two cards, two batteries. I used exactly one battery (patona premium).
5. Extra grip. I forgot it was there, so I think this means it was good.

Lessons learned
1. Shoot manual, ever! At least unless the action is extremely fast changing wasn't.
2. Do not use "hit and run". Obviously people get upset as soon as they see you are shooting. So my main strategy was to arrive, take a few quick shots and move away. But I think this is not the best strategy. To stay a little longer in the same place, so that people get accustomed to your presence and after a while forget about you could have been a better option. It was tricky anyway to get candids.
3. take many pictures of the gray card for each different light situation. I'm struggling to fix all the AWB shots guessing the right value to use.
4. Shoot wide: you can crop, but you cannot add.

Other stuff
1. I never used the flash. The small EM-10 flash casts a big shadow with the 12-40 and it's practically unusable with this lens.
2. In all my shots there is very little background blur with the 12-40 at 2.8, no matter which focal length. I think only a long prime could have made a difference.
3. I took 1300 shots, raw+jpeg.

The shots
I do not know if I can post them, so I'm going to add just a safe one (sooc):

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This Space For Rent
May 26, 2012
Detroit, Michigan
Real Name
Nice write up, Klorenzo!

I no longer shoot weddings or special events because I simply didn't enjoy the process (and your write up brings back a number of bad memories :biggrin:).

The time frame of the ceremony does tend to feel "compressed" - while the reception seems to drag on forever.

It's nice of you to take the time to post this - I'm sure others will benefit greatly.

Best regards,



Photon Mangler
Dec 10, 2013
Glasgow, Scotland
Real Name
A friend of mine shoots weddings quite often using B&W film.

Next time, when everyone is gathered in the one place (church, registry office, courthouse) ask the groom to advise everyone to ignore the photographer - you'll be standing next to him with your camera in hand btw... He can tell them that they'll appreciate the resulting images much more than a series of face-on mug shots. ;)

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