In Depth Wedding Reportage – #1 Making Preparations

Hi and welcome to another blog post about wedding reportage!

This time I want to give you an in depth overview about making a wedding reportage.
I will start this series of articles with telling you how to prepare your wedding reportage.

Preparing a wedding reportage is lots of work in general. After you received a job from a client to shoot a wedding you will have enough time to contrive everything well because the client will send you a request well in advance, normally.

A wedding is a sequential procedure so you need to know when you have to be where. Ask the client for a timetable or a listing of all of the important happenings on that day. This timetable may change a lot until the wedding day, but it is very important to you to get an overview of that day as soon as possible because you have to plan everything well and you need chronological indications to arrange how long to stay for the preparations of the bride and the groom or how much time you will have to get from the church to the celebrating location etc. As soon as you got the final detailed timetable go into detail for your arrangements.

There are three main topics of a wedding day:

#1: Preparations of the bride and the groom
#2: The marriage ceremony
#3: The celebration

If you are doing a full day reportage you normally cover all of those three topics. That means to arrange each of this topics in detail.

Take a blank sheet and a pen and start with #1, the preparations.

Write down everything you can think of that has to do with the preparation of the bride and the groom – the location, the address, the time, the possible procedure, how to interact to create an easy atmosphere, the lighting (available light, flashguns or a studio flash with a softbox, on camera or off camera flash, gelling etc.), which lenses to use, the camera settings to stay flexible for unexpected happenings, how to transfer the mood and atmosphere during the preparation, important details to shoot and so on.
Of course you may not have a tangible knowledge about the scenery where the preparations will be, but go through the most possible situations and search a solution for each so that you are prepared for any situation and do not have to struggle with an unexpected situation like a room with a wooden ceiling or colored walls with mirrors on it etc. Also think of how to draw attention to those who are involved. Think of the light you want to create – backlight, sidelight, dead frontal etc.
Set a fixed amount of time for every stay. For example 60 min for the bride and 30 min for the groom.
Think of how to start, for example with an overview image of the scenery, than capturing the work of the make-up artist, capturing emotions of the bride, shoot the dress, shoot details etc.

You should also make you an own timetable with details about when you want to shoot what and whom – send it to the client.

The things you should think of for #2 and #3 are similar to the ones in #1. Just go through the procedure like in #1.

At least you need all addresses and phone numbers of the locations and the people who are involved like the witnesses to a marriage, the church, the priest, the bridal couple of course, the catering etc. Think of the tasks these folks have on that day and get in contact with them. Ask them for their purposes. Ask the priest for permission to shoot the marriage ceremony from the first row etc. Think of all possibilities and how these folks could help you to get the best images possible that document this special day in the (very) best way. So, this is a professional approach, of course. And it fits to my slogan: “Striving for the better picture everyday.”
While others are working sloppy and do not care about arranging everything well ahead but shooting straight ahead without a plan, I contrast from them because I care about a solid preparation to be prepared in the best way to be a step ahead of unexpected situations, to keep cool when it gets stressful so that I am still able to concentrate myself on the main things: Catching the Moment and make great images that match to the clients expectations.

The evening before you sally to the wedding it is time to pack your camera bag.

What you are taking with you depends on the effort you want to make.
For a standard reportage I am using a camera, f2.8 lenses from 11-200mm, tele-converters and a flashgun plus gels and filters.
If there are portraits to shoot you would also need a light-stand and a softbox or an umbrella, a reflector or so. If you plan to install a remote camera you would also need SuperClamps, a MagicArm and a wireless trigger. Lots of stuff you have to carry. An easy way to carry all that stuff is to use a trolley case for the big stuff and a camera bag like the Lowepro Stealth Reporter bag for your lenses, flash, camera.

After packing your bag, check your car: Oil, tire pressure, water. Clean/wash your car – The first impression counts!

Program your GPS with all locations in chronological order and print all routes, too.

Finally, pack your clothing if you have to stay overnight. A suit/pantsuit for the wedding reportage, casual wear for the journey and a pajama to sleep well after an exhausting day of wedding reportage. 🙂

Go to bed early and do not eat spicy food the day before if you do not wish to spend 80% of the wedding day in the toilette! 😉 Finally, start your journey early enough to prevent traffic jams and have a solid breakfast before.

I hope that article helps you a bit to prepare your wedding reportage.

Next month I will post the 2nd article of this wedding reportage series that shows some “behind the lens” action. 

Bye!
Chris

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True Words

Hi everybody and welcome to a short blog post about how camera gear can influence your success.

When I read my G+ stream this morning I saw a post from Lisa Bettany who wrote something about “not to be limited by the camera gear you own”.
On January the 10th she also wrote something similar linked with a success story of herself. When she started photography with an Canon Rebel DSLR she experimented a lot and shot a backlit cowboy during sunset. She published the image on flickr.com and a year later Lisa got a request by Penguin which wants her image for a book cover.
So, the quintessence is, that she took an experimental photo with entry-level camera gear which got published on a book cover of a Penguin Readers book.
That’s cool, isn’t it?

I can confirm such kind of success with entry-level gear. When I was new to DSLR in 2005, I shot and experimented a lot, too. I started with an entry-class NIKON D70s and cheap but good SIGMA lenses. I went out there in the woods and nature to take great images. While I was walking around and looking for a nice scene, I took notice of a sunlit forest path. The whole scene was backlit and the sun glanced through the branches and flood the path with warm yellow light. I composed a bit then pressed the shutter.
Someday I found a postcard publisher on the net and decided to sent them a few of my images, maybe they would use one for their postcards. A few months later I got a reply from them that they want to use the “sunlit forest path” image for a postcard. Finally, this image got published as a postcard and was distributed in Germany.

As you can see, success doesn’t has to do that much with high-end camera gear. Of course, you cannot cover a fast sports action scene in a dark gym with just a 3 frames per second, noisy ISO 3200 entry-camera and a 18-50mm f3.5-5.6 kit-lens and expect high-class images. Just use your gear in fields that it is suitable for. And use it as effectively as it is possible to cover the best images possible.

And Lisa’s G+ post contains another good tip: If you really need high-end gear for a job, you can always rent it.

Think about it. As a photographer you always have to think of profitability aspects, too.

Have a nice weekend!

Bye!
Chris