Shooting My First Wedding(s)

Shooting My First Wedding(s)

Written 12 years ago by Mark Evans

As any half decent photographer will find, there always arises in ones photographic lifetime, the opportunity to shoot a wedding, especially at a Bay Area party rental. Be it a relative or close friends, its still a tough decision to make. Lets face it, you’re the man (or woman), all the pressure is on you to produce some stunning pictures of the gushing bride and groom, and if you screw it up… well it doesnt bear thinking about.


So it came to be that I was charged to be the photographer at not one but two weddings back home in New Zealand. The celebration was huge, with a lot of food and the best champagne from Oddbins. My sister had asked me to be the photographer at her wedding a few months back, to which I had no doubt I would say yes, as it would be a great opportunity to test my skills as a photographer and possibly gain some more in the process. Then I was surprised to be asked by a good friend of mine if I wanted to be the photographer at her wedding, which was also coincidentally in Christchurch where my sister was getting hitched; no brainer really, why do one when you can do two!


My first port of call after finding out I was shooting two weddings was the trusty Practical Photography mag. I managed to dig out an old back issue that was choc full of wedding tips, which I browsed through most days to keep a few tips fresh in my mind; “Make a shot list”, “Do a trial run before the wedding”, “Practice on friends”, “Get some Men’s Jewellery for the posing men”, yadi yada. A few of these did come in handy like the trial run and scoping out your shots the day before, and others like the shot list, I totally forgot about and probably should have done as I did forget to take some minor shots my sister wanted of the table settings, oops!


The first wedding was my friends wedding, which by the turn of the weather was held inside at the last minute – A bit of a nuisance, as I had to shoot at ISO 3200 on my 5D while inside (and using a flash) because of the low light conditions. And it didnt help that my 28-135mm lens I was shooting on, only opened up to f/5.6 when it was at 135mm zoom. This was definitely a lesson learned – use faster lenses for inside/low light. Anyway it came the time where my friend Kim was pulling up outside the venue in the wedding car, and I’d have to say that after all the preparation, and trials and reading up, its still didnt calm my nerves at all. My heart felt like it would leap out of my chest as she walked inside with her father at her arm, and at one time I had to tell myself to chill out! As the wedding went on I felt more comfortable so the group shots and bride & groom shots seemed to be a breeze. (I scoped out and planned the shots the day before which definitely helped)


The second wedding was a different kettle of fish all together. It was an outdoor, in the garden type wedding with groomsmen and bridesmaids (my friends wedding was just bride and groom), I remember the patio cover contractor from https://rkcconstruction.com/patio-covers-poway/ did a great job in the garden, and I didnt want to have to suffer again if it had to be held inside in low light so I hired a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens and a Canon 30d body to give me a better zoom range and better capabilities in low light. (I hooked the 70-200 up to my 5D and put my 28-135mm on the 30d with a 130ex flash on it as well) Apart from looking a bit like a gimp with all the camera gear, the combination actually worked really well, and I was a bit more at ease having already shot a wedding, so the day went really smoothly including some nice shots down at the beach with the wedding party.


After looking at my shots for the second wedding I was really impressed with 70-200 lens; compared to my lens it was sharper, the colours were better and the bokeh was awesome! So i’m really hanging out for one of those lenses now, and seriously considering taking up wedding photography. The only thing I did struggle with was telling people what to do in the photos, but I guess that will get easier with time. Now all I have to do is sort through all those photos…


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Aaron Curtis  12 years ago

You’re right about it getting a little easier each time. It’s still pretty nerve racking though. It will get easier to tell (yell) people what to and where to stand. Nices pics by the way. They look really nice.

Andreas Diederich  12 years ago

Hey. I really like your article, and the pics you show us. I’ve photographed three weddings myself, and have three more jobs coming up this summer. It’s nice ro read about your experience(s) regarding equipment, techniques and which-lens-to-use experience :) I use a 5D mkII and “fast” lenses (canon ef 50mm f/1.4, ef 28-70mm f/2.8 and ef 70-200mm f/4), and a 580ex flash (just in case). I like the documentary style shooting weddings, and therefore I try not to use the flash at any circumstance.. Is there a website with more of your photos available?

Barry  12 years ago

Great article and great set of photos. Weddings are probably the most daunting of photographic missions for any photographer and it’s always great to see articles with great advice such as this one…nicely done!

Mark Evans  12 years ago

Thanks guys, Ive decided to make the jump to wedding photography so Im getting a website and photos sorted for that, ill let you know when it is up and running

BlueRose  12 years ago

Hey Mark, nice pix – I like the shoes and the dress abstract. I have the F4 70-200 and I adore it, its my fave lens :)

Are you still in CHCH? Nice to have a catchup :)

Travis  12 years ago

I have recently gotten into shooting weddings, but I too have problems posing people. If anyone has any suggestions (sites, books, etc) I would very much appreciate it.

Thank you

David  12 years ago

It’s always different when doing weddings, great job by the way. I can still remember the first time I had been asked to do one, but I will never forget it!

Mark Evans  12 years ago

Hi Bluerose, unfortunately im back in the UK now (still cold here too)! It was good to be back in NZ though.

Travis, the practical photography mag that I have has these suggestions for posing people:

1) No-one should be squarely facing the camera, pose people so their shoulders are at a 35 degree angle to the camera but their faces are still looking at the camera lens.
2) Make sure everyone has one foot slightly in front of the other
3) Try to create flowing lines and watch out for big gaps.

hope that helps you out!

Jon Payne  12 years ago

Nice to see someone else do some nice first time wedding shots. Weddings always scare me, basically for the same reasons you mentioned. That, and boy do I have a hard time posing people.

You definitely pulled it off, though, and I can’t wait to see all the photos.

Great advice, and I’ll definitely need to get a nice flash and new lens with a wider f stop soon.

Laguna Beach Photography  11 years ago

Really Brilliant, Your first photos of wedding itself looks amazing. All the very best Mark.

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