View Full Version : Advice on film choice
My brother has asked me to take a few pictures at his wedding during the cermony, of the kiss, etc. Unfortunately they haven't the money or the time to hire a real photographer. I am honored he asked but at the same time apprehensive because of my meager skills and unreliable equipment.
To the question at hand - the wedding ceremony is indoors in what he described as an enitrely artificially lit church. I will probably not have a chance to view this before the event. I have never used Tungsten film, but guess I may need it on this occasion. Will there be any way for me to guess based on lighting when I get there or should I stick with Tungsten for sure?
Any advice related to the film, or weddings is welcome. I am way out of my league here. My biggest worry is that I have seen some strange banding in the pictures from my main camera so the shutter may need adjusting. It seems, oddly enough to only happen at the beach but I will give it a full test before.
Sorry for the long winded note...
Wayne R. Scott
My advise to you is RUN, do not walk to the nearest travel agency and book a cruise for the wedding date. Then tell your brother that you can not make it to his wedding as you have this cruise already booked and that you will be glad to photograph his next wedding. This will give you some time to prepare for his next wedding, test different films, and have your camera(s) serviced. Note the plural on cameras.
If you can not do this, explain to him that you will try your best to help him, but that he is going to end up with exactly what he paid for.
This is a potential disaster in the making. If you do poorly you will be the S.O.B. brother-in-law that ruined the lovely bride's wedding photos. If you do well, you may be sucked into the dark side of photography and lose your week ends to wedding photography.
My advise is to shoot the ceremony in black and white with either Tri-X or Ilford HP-5. I would rate both of these films at 800 ISO and have them processed accordingly. I would then use Kodak Portra 400 UC or VC or NC with a flash mounted on a flash bracket for the before and after ceremony shots.
As far as taking a camera that is starting to malfunction to shoot a wedding, you may as well play Russian Roulette with a fully loaded revolver!!
I would definately not be focused on the film question. Does your brother know that you don't have a camera to use at his wedding at this point? I definately would be making a bee-line to get my camera serviced, or use this as an excuse to buy a new one if you have the means and an understanding partner.
where in texas do you live? I can put you in touch with a dealer who rents photo equip. if you need it (this is not a good situation for a first time wedding photographer or for future family get togethers).
My suggestion is to go to the Popular Photography & Imaging web site at http://www.popphoto.com/idealbb/default.asp?sessionID=7669D31C520C4A9DBEFBE301EEA4 11B8 and use the search function at the upper part of the page. Search for wedding and you should find several threads on this subject. You have several problems.
First is that it is difficult to turn down your own brother. You want to help and that is laudable. Still, you don't know anything about weddings. Of course that may be a blessing in disguise. You don't know about what is standard for photos, such as procession, moment of pronouncement of marraige, kiss, cake cutting (as I assume you will also be expected to photo the reception too), etc. Can you use flash? Do you have anything more than on camera flash? Do you know how to use it so as not to cause objectionable shadows? Do you have more than one lens? How bright is the church? Maybe you won't need fast film. Probably you will. Will the preacher/priest allow photos during the ceremony? Now, before you dispair, many of these things will be covered in the PP&I threads.
Also, I would guess many of us have in fact been requested to photo a wedding. I have done several, although not in many years. Always for someone who knew I could spell camera, and said they had money problems. I always told them they weren't paying for it and they ran the risk of getting what they paid for. Fortunately, all were happy, but even though I had a lot of photographic experience, it could have turned out badly.
One other thing so as not to dispair if you must do this. When I got married, I had the same problem. I grabbed a bride whose wedding I had photo'd, gave her a point a shoot and asked for her help. Bless her heart, she got us some really good photos. So, not knowing you or your abilities, I am not going to tell you not to do this, but do research wedding photography, practice some before the wedding, and do your best. It will probably be OK. Especially if you have told your brother and his wife to be that they aren't hiring an expert.
You do have a possible problem with your camera. That needs to be resolved! Either get it diagnosed and fixed, then check your camera out, or get some other gear and get very familiar with it before you try to use it. If you are married, ask your wife to use a second camera if you have one, or even a P&S, or some throw-aways (with flash) from your local drug or grocery store.
You might also consider hiring a professional as a wedding gift for your brother. It could keep you from being a pariah within your family as well as reducing your anxiety.
Oftheherd and Paul put it in better words; just don't do it, but if you have to... tell them NOT to expect anything.
I took my camera to my brother's wedding and made some shots. They were simply disastrous, and I only sent him six prints of the two rolls I shot that evening (Portra 400 and Ilford XP2, with my Nikon F80; this was before my getting hooked on rangefinders). Oddly enough, the photographer they hired thought I was a professional because I had a nice flash diffuser he didn't have...
So, film and equipment are not as important as experience. I was observing the pro while I was burning my film, and I noticed the moments he chose to photograph people (before, during and after the ceremony, before and during the reception too... and he "invited" me to use his set of lights, which he had brought to make portraits on the spot). Man... it wasn't as easy as I had imagined!
Now... if you cannot weasel your way out of this, get yourself a book about shooting weddings, and start planning your shots. In fact, practice them with friends, burn a few rolls before you go to the wedding all equipped, because there's nothing worse than, say, taking a number of good B&W indoor photos only to realize you left a CPL on the lens instead of a Y2 filter, or, worse yet, running out of flash batteries (if they allow the use of flash).
Sometimes, priests don't want a flash disrupting the ceremony, so use a very fast B&W film, and then colorize during the reception. Tungsten won't help here...
Good, very good, extremely good luck and may the force be with you in this assignment!
Many thanks to everyone for all the advice.
I have explained to him the situation with my gear, and tried to tell him that the pictures may not be great etc. but to no avail. I guess its either me or nothing for him at this point so he's willing to take the risk.
Unfortunately going on a cruise is not possible, or you know I would!!!
Todd: I'm in Houston, but I don't think I can afford to rent equipment or get used to it in time.
Hiring a photog for him would probably be out of my price range too.
Thanks again for all the advice. The wedding is next weekend so I'll post again then and let yall know how it goes, maybe even a few pics if it goes well.
Some of my images are at http://www.contaxg.com/user.php?id=3332&page=user_images if you want to take a look.
Scott, looks like you know what you're doing with a camera. Unfortunately, a wedding is a whole new ballgame. And if you blow a shot, just wait until the bride's mother gets a hold of you.
HOWEVER, seeing that you can't refuse, you need to get another camera body right away and get at leas two rolls through it to make sure everyone works fine.
A wedding is no time to be testing a new lens or new body or new equipment.
Bring a tripod and plenty of film. Personally, I like Portra 160NC. Bring six or eight rolls. You might use half of that, but you definitely don't want to run out of film.
Get table shots, people dancing and other fun photos.
Remember, you're in charge when it comes to photos. Just be confident and all will work out OK.
Just don't plan on enjoying the wedding.
1. if you can, sit down with the soon to be wedded couple and make a list of the shots they want.
2. carry this list with you.
3. for posed shots, be gentle yet firm with your directions re. poses.
4. don't panic but be aware that some shots, like putting on the rings, are a one time deal. there will be no repeats.
5. take lots of film
6. if you are slow at changing lenses, then just use one lens for shots like the procession.
7. think of yourself as 'the official' shooter, this means getting in front of others to take the shot if necessary.
8. check your metering - then check it again!!
9. don't drink too much - fuzzy shots are a no-no.
10. at the end of the night, give your endeveloped film to the newly married couple and then go hide somewhere for a couple of weeks.
Scott... You have only one week?
Allow me to suggest one thing: not only read about the kinds of shots you may want to take as the (reluctantly) "official" photographer, but also try to practice some poses with your brother and future sister-in-law (just to see how your gear reacts to the conditions) in the church, preferably, or anywhere else. Knowing what you'll get is worth burning an extra roll of film... and you'll burn a lot!!
Best of luck! Who knows? Maybe you like it... Maybe you turn out to be good at this, and you'll be able to get some additional money this way!
In any case, let me wish you the best! :)
Good news. I spoke some more with my wife, then my parents, and my parents are going to get him an inexpensive photographer for the wedding. I'm very very relieved.
Its quite a small wedding. The recpetion is outdoors at my parents my house, so perhaps I can get a few candids there and some groups shots.
Thanks for all the good advice - fortunately I will not need it this time.
Scott, this is an excellent opportunity for you to "do a wedding" without the pressure... Just for practice... as long as you can sacrifice some of the effort and have a good time too!
I think Doug is right. Now you can go, enjoy and do the best job that you can taking photographs without the pressure that you are the official photographer. I actually was able to spend a lot of time at the last wedding I went to watching and talking to the photographer. I feel I learned quite a bit.
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