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Need advice for a photoshoot (completely unexperienced)

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Jakob F., Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Jakob F.

    Jakob F. Mu-43 Regular

    May 18, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I've been asked to shoot at a friend's oldest son's confirmation (is that the correct english term for the christian ritual where you confirm your christening?)
    Apparently I'm the only one around with a decent camera -only problem is that I have no experience whatsoever with these kinds of photoshoots. I normally do a lot of candid/street/architecture/plants and stuff like that, handheld with a 25 or 45mm so I have no idea how to go about this business, and actually, my first impulse was "I'm NOT the guy for this job!"
    But then I thought, hey, it would be a good experience to actually try this out, especially since they don't expect too much, besides that I have a better camera than they do.

    So I thought I'd turn to you guys, since there's bound to be one or two in here, who's shot a wedding or the like, and can spare some advice for a newbie ;) 

    This is what I've got:
    E-P2 with viewfinder or FL-36
    Oly 17mm
    PL25 with ND8 filter
    Oly 45
    Oly 14-42 kit lens
    OM 85/2 w. adapter

    I've also got a monopod with decent working height for shooting people (170ish mm I think) but I'm unsure whether to bring that one or just keep it handheld.

    What they want:
    For me to show up before we go to church, and shoot some pictures of the kid and his parents, and probably during the ceremony as well as at the party afterwards.

    My main experience is handheld, so that's what I'd prefer -but what would you guys recommend? Anything I should be aware of? ISO settings, shutter speed, where to place people in regards to the available light? The pre-church shots will presumably be outside, but I have no idea how to place people in sunlight, to get the best pictures.
    I recon I can practice with my girlfriend, to get a feel for which focal lenght would make most sense (from what lenses I've got) but any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Also, did I forget to ask something important, then please point it out and enlighten me :) 

  2. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2010
    Leave the mono pod/tripod. It will only get in your way for most of what you will want to do. Viewfinder for the outside shots. Fl 36 for inside if needed and is acceptable for situation. Auto focus lens will let you catch the fleeting moments. Try to blend into background as much as possible. The event is not suppose to focus on the photographer. Then enjoy the whole experience.
    By the way, the work begins after the "shoot" is over. Sorting the "keepers" from the round file, cropping, straightening, and any other PP you deem necessary.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 All-Pro

    Depending on how well lit the church is will let you know whether to use the FL-36 or not. Consider getting a diffuser or such for it, although you may not want to because of the flash's long recharge times.

    For lenses, I'd recommend using the 14-42mm for wide angle and the 25mm (without ND filter) and 45mm otherwise. General rules of photography: ISO as low as possible, and shutter speed as high as possible.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England

    Hold that thought! :wink:
  5. Grant

    Grant Mu-43 Veteran

    A long time ago I use to do weddings. If the church was a first time venue I would make and appointment with the priest and ask him about restrictions and locations I could shoot from. When you know this you can make decisions on what equipment is appropriate.

    The restrictions will differ from church to church. At one church I could stand next to the priest when he said, "Will you take this woman to be you … " at another I couldn't photograph during the ceremony. At no church was I able to use a flash during the solemn part of the event.

    Just be aware that it is a very serious event and you must be aware of the clergy restrictions.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    They are "hiring" you because you are cheap--this is not a criticism of you, but them. Go and have fun and take pictures. If they do not like them, they only have themselves to blame.

    Personally, I would run, not walk, from a job like this.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    I think Grant has the right idea ... check out the location first if possible. The lighting is going to be key.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Warren T.

    Warren T. Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 10, 2010
    San Francisco
    you already have some good advice and warnings. If you still want to do it:

    - know your location (scout it during the same time of day as actual ceremony)
    - know the rules (talk to the people involved in the event)
    - know the sequence of events in the ceremony (so you aren't standing at the wrong end of the location, or fiddling with equipment when something important happens)
    - know your equipment and how to compensate for difficult (lighting or action) situations beforehand
    - know your subjects (discuss and think about must-have shots)
    - practice ahead of time to give yourself some experience (you say you have absolutely none, use stand-ins if necessary)
    - will there be a rehearsal, go to it and practice, and look for good angles and locations from which to shoot
    - bring a backup camera/kit and know how to use it
    - solo, or can you get an assistant who can help with things (you are the shooter, but your assistant can help with carrying equipment, watch for eye blinks, gather people for group shots, help with posing, etc.)
    - Unless you have a lot of time, or if you are very familiar with using it, I would not bring the adapted lens. Stick with native and AF because you'll be under enough pressure to get shots without having to worry about manual focus. 85mm (170mm fov) is a bit long anyway, IMO.

    these are the things that I can think of off the top of my head. I hope that helps.

    • Like Like x 1
  9. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    1) If at all possible, don't use a flash. (the images would be much more natural looking and you will be less evident.)

    2) If you need to flash, hopefully it is for fill.

    3) When using flash, shoot only at the peak of 'action', set the camera on single shot.

    4) Before or after the ceremony grab some color shots, ala ... stained glass windows, the outside of the church, the inside of the church (don't forget small details), et cetera.

    Confirmation, is a group activity, so you will not be alone with a camera. Feel free to move around for a better angle (but be discriet). Be aware of people behind you and not block their view of this once in a lifetime experience.

    Remember that this is a solemn religious ceremony, you are there to grab a few snaps and that you are not doing this as a professional (as in ... you can get fired if you miss the decisive moment).

    Good Luck and Good Shooting,

    PS- While I am not a wedding photog, here is a wedding I shot as a second shooter, friend of the family thing. (I stayed completely away from the professional and didn't compete for similar images as the pro.)

    Baptismal Snaps (stills)

    Wedding (movie from stills)

    • Like Like x 1
  10. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    I agree with Gary's advice, stay away from flash use as much as possible. The 17, 25 and 45 should be fine. Find out which shots are most important to them, and make sure you're in the right spot for those at the right time, so check around to be sure of the schedule and sequence of events.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Jakob F.

    Jakob F. Mu-43 Regular

    May 18, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    There's a lot of good advice here, sorry for not getting back to you earlier, but it's been a busy weekend :) 

    @snkenai -I'd be more comfortable withoout the tri/mono pod, so thanks for pointing that out! And sticking with the AF lenses seems like a smart move as well. I like natural lightning, so I'd also like to avoid using the flash if possible -it does leave me with another problem though -the, imo, horrible amount of ISO noise at ISO levels above 1000 -and yeah, I'm aware that the real work comes afterwards, in Lightroom ;) 

    @shnitz -I'm unsure about the 14-42 since it's relatively slow -and I figured the wide angle would probably be most relevant indoors where I'll need a faster lens. I'll give it a shot, but will probably stick with the 25/45 combo

    @foto2021 -why would you say that?

    @Grant -good points. I'm actually not quite sure whether they just want some shots outside the church before the ceremony, or if they want me shooting the entire day. Important thing to find out beforehand ;) 

    @Hikari -I know, I know. But since they're friends of the family and I could use the experience, I thought, what the hey -if I get some keepers, we'll all be happy, and if not, well, then I'll hopefully learn a bit about what to change/keep in mind for next time. After all, I've only been shooting for little more than a year, so there's a lot to learn -and I would never learn how to do this, if I don't get out there and do it. Maybe, over time, I'll be good at it, maybe I'll just stick with street and candid. But I'll never know, if I don't try it out, and I hardly think I can charge for fooling around ;) 

    @WarrenT and @GaryAyala -thanks for taking your time to write this down! It'll be really helpful to keep in mind :) 

    -and Gary, thanks for posting Luke's baptism. Gave me instant inspiration, and a thought just struck me, that for shooting in the church, the 45mm might be best for not getting too close to the action? I guess it's probably best to keep my distance, but since I don't have a fast super long lens, the 45 would be the best shot. Agree?

    Again, thanks for all your feedback! I'm beginning to look forward to doing this, even though it's a freebie ;) 
  12. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    If the 45mm is the fastest then take it. Most of your shots will be before and after the ceremony. Take a longer lens and pray the IBIS works.

    Good Luck and Good Shooting,
  13. Jakob F.

    Jakob F. Mu-43 Regular

    May 18, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    The 45/1.8 is of course not as fast as the 25/1.4 -but my only other option is a 50/1.4 manual OM lens, and I'd like to have the AF.
    Oh, and the 45/1.8 is the longest AF lens I have!
  14. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England

    To recap, you said "I'm NOT the guy for this job!" and I said "Hold that thought!"

    As a social photographer for the last 4 decades, recently retired, I think you should be extremely cautious about taking on this task. I have been asked many times by amateur photographers for advice about how to shoot weddings/events because they are in the same position as you - a friend with a camera - and someone has asked them to shoot their wedding/event on the cheap.

    Only you can make the decision but in your position I would politely decline. You could help your friends find a suitable photographer with experience, and/or make a contribution towards the cost of hiring a seasoned professional as a present, if you were feeling generous.

    If you feel flattered by being asked, you shouldn't. They only asked you because they knew you owned a good camera and wouldn't bill them.

    You should think about how you would deal with the disappointment of images that didn't live up to their expectations, images you couldn't produce because your camera locked up or your battery expired or images that didn't work because you were rushed or the light was wrong.

    I apologise for sounding negative but I felt there was a need to provide some balance when other people here, most of whom will never have shot an event of this kind, are making such encouraging noises.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. danxk

    danxk Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    First of all it's not a wedding, it's a significantly less relevant event. It seems to me that your friends' expectations aren´t that high if they´ve asked a (non pro) friend to take care of the photos. Besides it's a personal favour, not a paid job, so they should only be grateful for your effort whatever you do.
    I think it's a great opportunity to test your skills and I´m sure you´ll learn a lot. The Oly 12 f2 would be useful for WA shots indoors, but the equipment you have is more than good enough for a casual shoot of the event. Go ahead and enjoy the experience - just make sure their expectations are reasonable and I'm sure they'll be pleased with the results.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. MizOre

    MizOre Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2011
    What are the expectations here?

    If they want you shooting the entire day, you either sacrifice doing the best photography possible or you sacrifice participating as a guest and friend of the family in the event.

    Don't do the entire day if you're there as a friend of the family more than as an event photographer in training. Get a couple or three of the minister/priest talking to the child (staged if necessary) and a couple of the parents with the child and put the camera gear back in trunk of your car and lock it.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Jakob F.

    Jakob F. Mu-43 Regular

    May 18, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Point taken, but I do think you're a bit mistaken here -I'm not flattered that they ask me, I just see it as a good opportunity to try these things out. You've been doing this for 4 decades, of course you wouldn't do it for free.
    I'm a bike mechanic and the only bikes I fix for free, is my own and my girlfriend's. Everyone else pays, be it my uncle or my neighbour. I'm glad to help, but I don't work for free.

    This, on the other hand, is not work, it's a couple of friends who need someone who knows their way around a camera, and they have absolutely no money to spend on a pro -I'm going anyway, and I bring my camera almost everywhere, so I thought, why not? I'll learn, and at worst, they'd get the same kind of pictures they would've gotten, had they done it themselves with their Ixus50.
    This way, we'll probably all get out happy -no matter what kind of pictures I manage to make, I'll have learnt something. And they will have photos that, to them, are better than anything they could have produced themselves. Even if I'm not that good -which I'm probably not, since I've only been shooting for little more than a year ;) 

    Best regards,
  18. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jakob, as a young fella I say go for it man. It's not as if it's a wedding and this exercise will help you learn and get better. I've had exactly the same situations, and bit by bit I'm getting better. Heck, even wedding photographers would have done their first wedding. If they were told to run away and did just that, there would be no wedding photographers at all.

    my tips would be,
    shoot raw
    use the light
    catch candids (these are way more meaningful than posed pictures)
    use a higher iso (if shot in raw noise can be fixed to a fairly good extent
    monitor your f stops (chimp at intervals to make sure you are getting in focus what you want, you might have to stop down a little sometimes rather than being wide open.

    I'm sure you'll be fine:2thumbs:
    • Like Like x 1
  19. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England

    Understood, thanks.

    In which case, try to visit the church at the same time of day as you will be shooting the confirmation. Find out where in the church the key parts of the event will be situated and what light will be available. Find out whether you can use a flash - I suspect probably not, but a little fill flash can work wonders in difficult lighting. Find out what are they key points in the ceremony that your friends would wish to be recorded and concentrate on those, looking at possible compositions and above all lighting. If I haven't already made it clear, shooting pictures in church is all about lighting. Good preparation will make the event a lot less stressful and hopefully help you get some memorable shots.

    Some shots before and after the ceremony - inside and/or outside - will also help add context. I applaud your determination and wish you every success on the day. :smile:
  20. Jakob F.

    Jakob F. Mu-43 Regular

    May 18, 2011
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I'd love to borrow a 12/2, but unfortunately I don't know a lot of m43 shooters in CPH -and I don't think I can raise the money to buy it before the event. And no, of course I wouldn't buy it just for that -I'd love to swap my 17 with the 12, but it'll be a while before I can afford that ;) 

    Apart from that, you're absolutely spot on -it's a personal favor and a great opportunity to test my skills -my thoughts exactly :) 
    • Like Like x 1
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