Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2002/05/12

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Subject: RE: [Leica] Lenses For Wedding
From: "Derek Zeanah" <>
Date: Sun, 12 May 2002 23:40:26 -0400

I've been trying to figure out how to answer this, and I'm having

Various thoughts, in the order that they come to me:

1) Make sure you want to do this.  If you feel pressured and obligated
you're starting with 2 strikes against you.
2) Make sure they're aware of your capabilities, and talk a LOT about
expectations.  Friendships have been lost over wedding pics (no joke).
Look at albums together, figure out what they expect to see.  Check out
a couple of wedding photo books on the market for ideas.  Someone coined
the term "Bridezilla" for a reason -- count on seeing her sometime.
3) Use gear you're comfortable with.  Don't get caught in the trap of
renting a Hasselblad without being used to one.  If you need to you can
shoot the whole thing with a 50 or a 35 (I know lots of wedding photogs
who never needed more than an 80mm lens in medium format) -- don't get
too caught up in the technical details.
4) Shoot wedding film.  Low contrast is key if you want details in the
dress and tux at the same time.  Portra, NPH, NHG-II (so I hear), Reala,
5) Outdoor weddings are DARK -- plan for it.  Fast film and/or fast
lenses and/or flash.  Carry lots of batteries for flash or carry a
battery pack.
6) Plan to shoot a lot of film, as this is an uncontrolled event that
you won't be able to reshoot.  Figure 1,000 frames but be prepared for
2x that.  Make sure you discuss costs with the B&G before the shoot (dev
+ proof from a professional wedding lab averages about $1/frame, maybe
$0.72 per 35mm neg; dev only is like $2 per roll that you can then scan,
but this is really time intensive).  Maybe shoot Tri-x and let them
choose images with a loupe and contact sheets if they're really on a
7) Have backup equipment.  Use it.
8) Take lots of pictures of the old folks.  This might be the last good
picture op for a lot of them, and the B&G wil likely forget to point
them out as VIPs.  They will expect lots of great pics later when great
aunt millie dies, though.
9) Does she want a bridal portrait?  Ask.  If you don't, believe it or
not she might assume you magically made it happen sometime during the
10) Plan the formal family groupings in advance.  Have WRITTEN DOWN who
they want in each grouping, and stick to the list (hard to do when
everyone's anxious to get to the reception).  Explain that each grouping
might take 5 minutes when planning to trim the list.  Use a tripod and
flash for the groupings -- I don't care if you're using a Leica (shoot
these on MF in you can -- when great aunt Millie dies someone may want
to really blow up a group portrait because that's the best expression
she had.)
11) Get to be friends with the DJ/Bandleader/wedding planner/whoever.
This person can make sure you're in the right place at the right time.
12) Have fun.  These things are a blast to shoot.  DON'T DRINK.
13) If you want to play the leica-candid game (low light, low shutter
speeds), consider doing it with B&W film.  Otherwise the images you shot
with flash will have a much different color balance from the remainder,
and if the B&G are going to want an album (all of 'em do, in my
experience, even if they talk about artsy collages and unique
presentations up front) you want the images to work well together.
14) Mom and Dad's expectations are probably much different that the
B&G's with regard to pictures.  Shoot images to make them happy too.
Think color, posed, well-lit, boring crap that matches the boring crap
you see in most PPA ads (no offense to PPA photographers -- I just think
it's dull).
15) You *might* want to consider something like a softar for pics of B&G
+ parents.  See 14.
16) Have the authority to make it happen.  Don't be afraid to stand up
and take charge if necessary (hopefully you won't need to, but if they
want shots of the cake cutting you need to be INSIDE the guests, and
guests aren't thinking about pictures.)  

That's all I've got right now.  Good luck.

And no, I'm not the expert.  I've shot less than 2 dozen weddings.  Love
'em, but hate the follow-through afterward.

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