I get asked a lot of questions about wedding photography and what camera I use so I thought I’d make a post on the most frequently asked questions. (Scattered throughout the post is just a random sampling of my favorite pictures that I’ve taken)
Please keep in mind that these are all just my opinions and experiences and to do all your research before buying a camera or lenses or starting your business.
What camera and lenses do you use?
This is an update to my last FAQ as we’ve upgraded our cameras. Both my husband and I now use Canon 5D Mark II’s (we both have our own) and we have our Canon 40D’s as our second cameras. For everyday pictures I use the 50mm 1.2L lens. For weddings I also use the 24mm 1.4L lens and J uses the 85mm II 1.2L , the 35mm 1.4L lens and sometimes the the 70-200mm lens as well. If I were to only use two lenses I would pick the 50 1.2L and the 35 1.4L. Both are the perfect length and are great for low light situations which you will find a lot in weddings. J and I like to use as much natural light as possible. We only uses flashes when absolutely necessary.
I am a prime lens girl, (meaning that the lens does not zoom, the only way to get up close or far away is to physically move yourself.) I do not like zoom lenses and plan on only using prime lenses as much as I can. This is totally a personal choice and you must try it out with both to determine what you like better. My best advice before buying lenses is to rent them and shoot with them as much as you can. I rent from our local camera store, Glazers and we’ve also rented lenses from LensProToGo.com, which you can rent for weeks at a time and it’s cheaper than the daily rate at Glazers.
What kind of camera bag do you use or how do you carry your camera around?
I bought a Coach bag (looks similar to this one but bigger) that slings across my body and can carry one camera + lens, flash and the pockets carry extra batteries, business cards, extra CF Card. When I am actually shooting, I carry both cameras on me and on one of my cameras I use the RS-4 R-Strap which really helps as you can slide the camera up and down the strap and the two camera straps don’t get twisted. It’s hard to explain but trust me, if you use two cameras, I highly recommend using the R-Strap.
Where did you take or recommend taking photography classes?
Both J and I are self taught. We’ve never taken a photography class, we’ve both learned by going out with our cameras and taking pictures of everything and anything including each other! Since I don’t have experience in taking classes I can’t recommend anything but I’d suggest talking with other photographers in your area to find out.
Are you a wedding photographer too or is it mainly just your husband?
My husband and I are a team and neither one of us is a “second shooter” we both shoot equally as much and neither of us are assistants in any way. If you look on our blog, all of our posts are a mixture of mine and his pictures but they work so well together that you can’t tell who took what picture. Our styles just mesh really well together. We do find that he is better at some shots while I’m better at other shots. That’s what makes us a good team and I love more than anything in the world to be shooting alongside my husband. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What setting do you use?
You’d be surprised how many times I’ve been asked this question. As a photographer, I kind of chuckle at it, but I understand that if one wasn’t a photographer, there just are too many buttons on a dSLR not to wonder what one to use. One thing you have to know is that there is not one magical setting or button that will help you take pretty pictures. YOU are that magical button. I shoot on manual all of the time and that’s the only way that I recommend. However, if you are first learning, I say use the Av setting and don’t just take pictures on that setting, learn from using that setting. (If you don’t know what the Av setting is, go find your camera’s manual and read it, it will explain it in there.) You can see how the shutter speed changes when you change the aperture, so you can start making the connections of how you would manually control it.
Do you have any photography tips you can tell me?
Photography is a very personal thing so the only way to learn how to take pictures is to go out there and just do it. We bought our dSLRs with very little experience, only the love of photography. We didn’t take any classes, we didn’t have friends that helped us, what we did was go out almost every single day and shoot with our cameras. It didn’t matter what we were taking pictures of, it was just that we were learning to “make” pictures. Go out at different times of the day and put your camera on manual and just start shooting away. Find details in your neighborhood that you never noticed and take pictures of them. Find out what to do when the sun is low, when the sun is high. Shoot at different angles. Find different ways to shoot one subject. My husband and I practiced taking pictures of each other a lot too. We don’t do it much now which I kind of miss. I love those early pictures of learning and the pictures that we took of each other. Taking pictures of people is a lot harder than most people think so any chance you have at taking pictures of people and not just inanimate objects, do it. It’s the only way you’ll learn. Try practicing on two people or even three people at once. The more people there is, the more complicated it is to shoot. Practice, practice, practice. Go out there and see what you like, read photography blogs, look at images in magazines, find inspiration anywhere and everywhere.
Tips for photographing people: First of all, understand that you can’t just put people in front of a camera and expect fantastic pictures. The biggest thing that helps create those pictures is to connect with your subjects and help them feel happy and relaxed in front of the camera. A few years ago, J and I had a session with a photographer who pretty much did nothing expect to tell us to “act natural” which really just made us even more uncomfortable because when you have a camera in your face, how does one “act natural”? We spend time with all of our clients before their session to get to know them and then throughout the session we chat with them and get them to laugh and relax in front of the camera. Also, know how to pose people. When you are the photographer, everyone will look at you and say “Where do I look?” “Where do I put my hands?” “What should I do with my feet?” J and I like to tell our clients that we pose without it looking like it was posed. We tell them where to look, when to kiss, how to sit but the way that they react after they are posed, their head turn, their smile, their laugh, the look in the couples eyes when they look at each other is what we try to capture. All that is just them being them but they feel less awkward because they were given some direction on what to do. Don’t be afraid of being bossy! Your clients want the best pictures possible so if you think the picture will look better if the hand is up on their partner’s shoulder than on the waist than tell them. They are trusting you to get the best shots so don’t be afraid to say something to get your best shot!
How did you start your wedding photography? How did you find clients? Did you do a lot of free weddings?
When we first started we offered free sessions so that we could learn how to shoot couples. I think every new photographer should do this. You might think you know how to work your camera until you get two subjects in front of you who are looking for your direction in front of the camera and then that’s a whole different story (see tips above). We actually did two free engagement sessions with people we didn’t know, two sessions with friends and since then we’ve been charging. We have never shot a wedding for free. This blog has been the biggest network in us finding clients. The majority of J and my friends are married so we didn’t have the friend network to go through so I’ve just been doing self promoting through this blog, twitter , facebook and just generally telling everyone we know that we are photographers. I recently had to go see my doctor and told her about our business and it turned out she was interested and took our card. You just never know who will need a photographer! We’ve also been lucky enough to meet some really wonderful people and hope that we can continue expanding our network. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m also pretty business minded and enjoy that part of growing our business. We still have a long way to go and am still struggling to find new clients but I always remember to take it one day at a time. We have short term goals for our business as well as long term goals and we’ve been doing our best to keep to them.
If you want some good advice, I really really like this list from PhotoDino. Especially this:
“Never compare your journey with someone else’s. It’s a marathon with no finish line. Someone else may start out faster than you, may seem to progress more quickly than you, but every runner has his own pace. Your journey is your journey, not a competition. You will never “arrive”. No one ever does.“
Read the list and keep that in mind if you are diving into the world of photography.
Hope this helps to all my wonderful readers that are interested in photography. I’m always up for a one on one chat or email exchange but my time is quite limited so if you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me and I might do another FAQ post.