Not “Running & Gunning” but rather a practical approach to shooting a small wedding.

The Wedding

It is always fun to shoot a wedding. A lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Today I would like to talk about gear, camera bodies, lenses & flash. If asked I think every photographer does it differently and uses different gear. I tried to keep it simple or well… simple for me. Again all photographers differ on what’s simple. Some will tell you they can shoot the whole wedding on an 85mm prime, while others will have soft boxes, second & third shooter. Some advertise themselves as “our team” and use terms like “running & gunning.” By the way the term “running & gunning” (in my opinion) is so effing stupid. Unless you are a photojournalist covering a war just shut up about the “running & gunning” thing. Also shooting a wedding with just one lens as like driving a racecar that is stuck in one gear.

So no, I was not “running & gunning” but rather taking a practical approach. The gear I choose for this project was carefully thought out and seemed logical, at least to me. Two full crop bodies, a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 6D. Three lenses a 70-200mm, 24-70mm and a 85mm prime, all Canon L series of course. For flash I went with two Canon 600 EX-RT units and one Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter. One monopod (to mount a 600 EX-RT), one flash diffuser and a Lasolite gray card.

So for this job I chose to work without a second shooter but I did use an assistant. I had a short shot list of the must have shots that we all know as standard wedding photography. The first kiss, ring exchange, cake cutting ect… this is all standard and of course your customer wants these shots. But to be honest I had never been to this location before, ever. I arrived at the location with a blank book so to speak as to what I wanted to do. My assistant and I scouted the location together and she started to get some ideas for some locations to shoot. We spoke with the staff and they gave some recommendations as to what they had seen other photographers do. Some of those ideas were good and others, well not too appealing to me.

So we had arrived real early due to the fact I had never been there before and working without a second shooter, I got right to the task at hand of grabbing the easy shots. Anything that does not move in my opinion is easy. Once tables were set I got the shots. I shot hallways, outdoor walkways, guest cards, again just standard locations and items that are going to be used in the photo book. Although they seem unimportant and they are not someone’s face, this is what makes a wedding. Then it was off to the bridal suite to get the “bride getting ready” shots before the dress is on and of course the wedding gown. Then back down to the cocktail area to shoot the groom, his father and his son. I should state that this was a rather small wedding of 55-60 people and the bride being from another country, so she had no family here. They had already had a ceremony in her home country and this was the USA ceremony. So as weddings go this is on the easier level of shooting. But with that said you do not want to let your guard down, you must stay on that “ball” so to speak and keep moving with the flow.

So let’s talk about moving with the flow. The key thing here is getting the shots. For me personally I want to do as few “staged” shots as possible. Sure you are going to have the bride and groom pose at some point and you are going to do all the formals, but you need those candid shots of life and that right there, is what makes it so much fun. At least for it does me. I think seeing the bride preparing with her bride’s maids is very special time and not just them, but anybody else who is in that room.

Technical: Ok so the 5D Mark III with the 70-200mm f/2.8 mounted was the star of the show. Hands down that lens is phenomenal and I love what it can do, simply amazing. Just like the price, amazing. I spent my time between Av & Manual modes. Flash was very minimal. The 6D was mounted with the new Canon 24-70mm f/1.2 USM II. This allowed me to keep up with the pace of the wedding and not have to change out lenses. Flash: I only used it when needed and using Canon’s new radio flash system is a dream. I could jump from ETTL to Manual and my favorite High Speed Sync. Sh… don’t tell anybody I use the High Speed Sync, otherwise all those old school guys will start chiming in as to how you shouldn’t use it. Now of course at the reception the flash was used a lot due to the dark room and fast movement of dancing. And again… my honest opinion here… the reception to me is boring for photography. But hey that’s just me. You can’t get a clean shot everybody gets in your way; it is just the nature of the beast. For most all my flash I mounted a 600EX-RT to a mono pod and the flash had a diffuser. My assistant would just aim and I controlled everything from the camera. I tried to stay at ISO 200 as much as possible although I did rack out at ISO 2000 for some indoor shots. And I have to say that ISO 2000 on the 5D or the 6D is amazingly great, not good but great. The key to using higher ISO is two things: 1. Have a good camera body, 2. Crop your shot in camera. And I guess you could also add over expose if you have to because we all know noise lives in the shadows. So that’s it, that is my technical, not a whole lot to it other than knowing your setting and how to change them. I spent a few days working with both bodies to make sure I could move my setting quickly. Things like focus points, ISO and metering are very important to be able to move fast without even thinking about it. Shutter and aperture settings you should already know without it being said.

So to finalize, it went very well, my assistant and I had a lot of fun and I felt confident at the end of the day that we had enough quality content to fill the wedding book and a slideshow. Now the daunting task of the edits.

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