Some time, sooner or later, I knew I would get into wedding photography. With my experience the past few years shooting events and sports primarily from a candid perspective, the pursuit of more freelance work with portraiture and weddings was the next natural step.
So, when presented the opportunity to be the primary photographer for a country wedding, I jumped at the chance, despite the fact that at the time I was preparing a musically intense senior recital for my undergraduate degree in music education. But hey, I do love a good challenge, and this one was no exception—with time management a chief concern.
Regardless, after much research on wedding photography articles and ensuring I had the proper gear to take on anything an outdoor wedding could throw at me, I felt more and more confident as the wedding day grew nearer. Along with backup photographer and lighting assistant Chase Bullock, we were set for a successful day of shooting.
And succeed we did! All in all, I whittled down a large batch of files from three cameras in Lightroom 5 to a solid pool of 500 images. Obviously I don’t have the bandwidth on this site to post them all (and I would not expect any reader to want to look through the whole set!), so below are 42 selections from this pool that span the course of the wedding day.
Nikon D300-Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF ED
Nikon D600-Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S
Studio Equipment Used:
2 Nikon SB-800’s
4 Nikon SB-24’s
2 Linco Senior Compact 10ft Light Stands
2 Kupo Ratcheting Umbrella Tilt-Head Adapters
2 Fotodiox 60-inch Parabolic White Reflective Umbrellas
2 Radiopopper Nano Transmitters and Receievers
2 Impact Triple-Flash Hot Shoe Adapter Mounts
2 Sets of Rouge Color-Correction Gels
Lastolite Ezybox Speedlite Softbox
B+W MRC 52mm 3-Stop Neutral Density Filter
4 12.5-lb Sandbags
For the most part, I stuck with using the NEX-7 and D300 for the entire day. For much of the ceremony, the D300 and the autofocusing 80-200mm f/2.8 were invaluable to help me keep up with all of the key events. However, during somewhat slower times (candid getting-ready shots, portraits, reception, etc.), the NEX-7 performed just like it always does. Most photographs with the D600 and 28mm f/1.8 were captured by Chase.
This day I made sure to bring a hard copy of a checklist so I knew exactly what I needed to photograph at any given time. I got many of the decorations and details out of the way before any of the main events:
Of course, since we arrived very early, we made sure to photograph the wedding party getting ready for the day:
Right near the time of the ceremony, moments became more spontaneous and fun:
While the actual ceremony itself followed a traditional flow of events, the outside setting in a field with hay bales and a setting sun made for an interesting venue, and for rapidly changing qualities of ambient light!
Immediately following the ceremony, Chase and I set up the full lighting rig while little ones were playing about in the hay bales…
…and I rounded up the wedding party for the staged series of formal portraits. To overpower the setting sun, I fired all my flashes into the umbrellas at full power, and used the neutral density filter to control my shutter speed below the maximum sync speed. To offset the color difference of the sun and flashes, I gelled all the flashes to give them a slightly warmer tone. All of the group shots turned out great, and the only problem we ran into was a too-small stage to sometimes hold everyone!
After the immediate family members dismissed for the reception, I had a chance to work with the small four-member wedding party for some quick ambient light shots. I took advantage of the warm setting sun and fired away:
As the couple moved to the reception, Chase and I packed up most of the studio gear and captured some more of the typical events found in most wedding receptions. By this point in the evening, the light changed very quickly as the blue hour came and went:
By the end of our long day, I noticed that the sky was extremely clear with a bright crescent moon overtop the wedding venue from a few hours before. Using a tripod and careful manual focusing, I captured this night scene of the stage and seats along with the sycamore trees and thousands of stars. Gotta love a country evening where there is little light pollution:
All in all, this wedding probably could not have been any better for a first wedding to photograph. Conditions weather-wise were always favorable (though a tad chilly) for great ambient light, the setting was naturally beautiful with the field and trees coming alive in late spring, the bridal party was small and easy to work with for portraits, and the entire atmosphere was very calm and stress-free. I can’t wait to shoot some more this summer if the opportunities are there!
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