Tips, Tricks, Hints

Wedding Photography: An Inside Look (Part One)

It’s been a while since I wrote much about photography. While I love to show-case newlyweds and recently betrotheds, one of the goals of this blog is to talk a bit about photography. So, with that goal in mind, I thought I might write a bit about the profession of wedding photography.

Many amateur and student photographers seem to have the impression that wedding photography is easy money. The fact being that professional wedding photography is hard work and requires a significant investment. Lets explore the investment part first.

No matter how you look at it the beginning of a marriage is a significant event. As such, you cannot afford to take chances with recording it for the happy couple. What that means is, at a minimum, you need two quality camera bodies. (I carry a third camera just in case things go really, really far south).

In addition to a pair of cameras you need a complement of lenes to go with them. The “kit lens” you may have gotten when you purchased your camera isn’t going to cut it either! Weddings tend to take place in venues with subdued lighting, and the reception hall will likely be darker yet. You need “fast” lenses capable of capturing crisp images in the worst of conditions.

Now some of you may be thinking that a decent flash will solve most of your low-light problems. While it’s true a good flash (you’ll need two actually) can bring bright light to a dark room, flash frequently isn’t allowed during the ceremony. And, even if it is, most true professional photographers avoid using it during the main event out of respect for the ceremony.

Others may be of the “ambient light is better” school of thought. I hate to break this to you but wedding photography is more a matter of dealing with “ambient darkness.” You’re going to need a good flash and a good back-up flash at a minimum. Of course your artistic control will be pretty limited if you’re stuck with on camera flash. Better add a couple of off-camera cords to your shopping list. And if you really want to get some interesting lighting during the first dance, group shots with interesting lighting, etc., you better plan on investing in a light stand, umbrella and some kind of portable light/flash fired by a radio remote.

Well that’s it for Part One, a look at equipment. I’ll do a Part Two sometime in the future and provide a look at the labor involved before, during and after the event. Until then, here’s a list of minimum equipment requirements to keep in mind:

  • 2 Quality SLR Camera Bodies
  • 2 or more rechargeable batteries per body
  • 1 Wide angle zoom or prime, f2.8 or faster
  • 1 Mild telephoto zoom or prime, 2.8 or faster
  • 1 Telephoto (300ish)zoom or prime. 4.0 or faster
  • Slower back-up lens for each of the above
  • Good quality tripod with ball-head
  • remote release (wired or wireless)
  • 2 Quality Speed Lights capable of TTL with your cameras
  • 3 changes of rechargeable batteries per flash
  • 2 Off-Camera Cords
  • 1 or 2 Flash Brackets
  • 1 or 2 Modifiers for your flashes (I use Stofens)
  • 1 Light Stand
  • 1 Light Stand Adapter/umbrella holder
  • 1 38″ or Larger Umbrella
  • 1 Manual flash or portable studio flash
  • Radio Remote flash controller (such as Pocket Wizard)
  • 6 or 8 Large capacity Memory cards.
  • Misc. lens cleaning devices
  • Waistbelt system for carrying extra lenses and memory cards
  • Bag(s) for transporting all the above

Congrats Jennifer and Patrick

My niece Jennifer is planning to wed Patrick June 23, 2007. During a recent visit to Indiana I had the pleasure of doing an imprompteau engagement session. (Wanna guess who’ll be photographing the wedding?)

The photographs were shot at Muncie Indiana after Jenny got off of work. The park bench and graffiti shots were taken at Westside Park, along the White river. The shot against the yellow brick wall was taken in downtown Muncie, at the location of a former resturant on Walnut Plaza.

All the photos were taken with a Canon 20D camera, Sigma EX 15-30mm lens, and Sigma 500 DG Super flash. The flash was connected via an off-camera cord and hand-held to provide a bit more directional lighting.


Friday the 13th Wedding

Congratulations to Lindsey and Preston Mann. Friday the 13th has always been my lucky day and having the honor of sharing this ceremony only further proves it. The bride, groom and entire family were simply great to work with and to meet

Alon Morris,, was on hand to create a sketch of the wedding ceremony. This was a special treat that I hadn’t seen done at a wedding before. From the looks of the preliminary drawing the results should be simply outstanding.

I’d also like to thank Lacy Gadwill of Ever After Photography, for refering Lindsey and Preston to me. If you’re looking for a Charlotte North Carolina photographer be sure to contact Lacy.


Nurse Cherity and the Half Naked Native

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Cherity capturing a series of bridal portraits for her. While shooting on Atlantic Beach a “native” beach walker noticed that the bride was without a groom. He walked up, asked if she need a “stand-in hunk” and I snapped a couple of shots. As you can tell by the photo, Cherity had a good laugh. A good sense of humor and willingness to have a little fun is something I always appreciate. The beach walker, Cherity, her friends and I all enjoyed this gentleman’s antics. Shot with a Canon 20D, handheld, Sigma DG Super Flash.

Prior to the encouter with the “half-naked native, ” we spent some time shooting in and around Fort Macon. There are a number of interesting nooks, crannies, rooms and corridors that make interesting settings for photos. For this shot I used a Vivitar 285 on a light stand and bounced into a 30″ umbella to enhance the natural light entering the room from the left.

From Fort Macon we moved west to a Public Water Access park a mile or two down the road. Here we took a number of shots; Cherity on a swing-set, with the ocean in the background, with the fishing pier in the backgound, both before and at sunset. Cherity was a joy to work with and I’m looking forward to shooting her wedding at the end of October.

For this tightly cropped beach shot I shot in AV mode (aperature priority) using a Sigma 500 DG Super flash mounted on a camera bracket.


Sharon and Matt – Atlantic Beach, North Carolina Wedding

Congratulations Sharon and Matt! The Turner/Davis wedding was held on Atlantic Beach September 28, 2006. The wedding was hosted by Visions Concierge & Event Planning/Nautical Nuptials. Music for the wedding and reception was provied by Art Dearing, Twin Spin DJ Service; (

I met with Sharon at the Hampton in, Morehead City NorthCarolina, a few hours prior to the wedding. While at the hotel I snapped a few preparation shots of the bride and her nieces. I also had the opportunity to introduce myself to Matt. From there I drove over to the Utopia complex at Atlantic Beach to grab some pre-event shots and set-up to photograph the ceremony.

Following the ceremony we captured group shots of the happy couple with their family members, then escaped for a little while for Bride & Groom only shots. Following the fun and romance session Sharon and Matt joined their guests on the balcony of Utopia 2 for the reception. The bride and groom were a pleasure to work with. Both were very open to experimenting with different ideas in order to capture a few unique images. Thank you Matt and Sharon for allowing me to share your day.


Linzie and Kevin Wedding – New Bern, North Carolina

Linzie Derrick and Kevin Knots married of Labor Day weekend. I had the pleasure of covering their rehearsal, rehearsal dinner and wedding over the weekend. Linzie has a sparkling personality and uncanny ability to become camera aware just before the shutter snaps.

The wedding was held at the Sheraton Hotel, New Bern, North Carolina. It was a beautiful affair. Tropical Storm Earnesto had threatened the area, but moved through on Thursday clearing the way for a lovely outdoors wedding.
A great time was had by all. Congratulations Kevin & Linzie.


Playing Catch up.

The last time I tried to update my blog it wouldn’t let me upload photos. I got so aggrivated by fighting with it that I gave up! I even kind of filed the blog in the back of my mind and didn’t think about trying to update it for the longest time. Well this morning I thought about it and decided it was time.

It’s wedding season now, and I’ve been shooting my share. I thought I’d share a few marketing pieces I’ve been working on using photos from recent weddings. This will give me a chance ot share some new photography with you, and perhaps even generate a little feedback about the work.

The first image is a postcard featuring a “getting ready” shot from a Durham North Carolina wedding at the RTP Hilton. The Bride, groom and both families were absolutely wonderful. So often receptions end-up being quiet, boring affairs. But not this one. Not only did nearly every guest dance, most could dance really, really well. Congratulations Jennifer and Jarod. Wedding planning by Carlee Cash

The next two pieces are from an Atlantic Beach North Carolina wedding. Following the ceremony and usual group shots the bride and groom walked down to water’s edge for some shots with the ocean in the background. After fininshing the shots we turned and started to walk back towards the parking area with me in the lead. From behind me I heard, “Scott! Don’t do something like that without warning me!” When I turned to see what the commotion was I discovered that the groom had picked-up his bride. I snapped a few shots of the romance that followed.

Scott works for a NASCAR race team, as did several of the wedding guests. Their reception, at the Sandbar in Beaufort, NC, was ceratinly anything but boring. You can check-ou their slideshow at: Wedding by Visions Concerige/Nuptials by the Sea, Atlantic Beach NC. Reception was held at the Tiki Bar, The Sandbar at Taylor Creek Marina, Beaufort NC.

The next sample is from a wedding in Selma North Carolina. Jason and Letanja were married in a country church with their reception held in thier lovely wooded yard next to their home. The ceremony was actually a reaffirmation of their vows from a prior civil ceremony in the winter. They were certainly two of the nicest people you could ever meet. Sharing their special day was both a pleasure and an honor.

I hope you enjoyed this excercise in catching up. Since the system seems to be allowing me to post photos again, I’ll try to update the blog more often.


It’s GOYA Friday!

As is often the case, I shot GOYA Friday on Wednesday. Just happens to be the day I usually have open. For this weeks edition I drove over to Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Even though the temperature was in the low sixities, and the wind was blowing strong, a few brave souls were out enjoying the sunshine, visiting the beach-side bars and taking life easy.

I especially found the young man with the hat and glasses interesting. Using a frisbee he’d dug a, (shall I say it?), “fox hole” for three young ladies to be able to get out of the wind and still be able to enjoy the sun. When I asked him if I could take a couple of shots he was busy digging a shelter for himself.

There were a few folks sitting along the boardwalk engrossed in reading. Using the rear of one building and the side of another they escaped the wind and were able to catch a few rays and keep the pages of their books under control. Not a bad way to spend a day.

I noticed a couple of girls pull into the parking lot and walk to the playground area. One climbed the jungle-jim set and posed while the other took a picture. I figured what the heck? As long as she’s posing I might as well grab a shot as well.

I’m not sure if the Marine was returning from deployment, or if his detachment took a wrong turn on thier way to the port to head out. Regardless, he came out of a coffee shop on the boardwalk and walked hurriedly back to the rest of his group.
And finally this little feathered fellow was intent on exploring the contents of an unoccupied blanket.

The folks who owned the stuff had walked down to the water’s edge and left it unattended. He would walk around it, looking intently. Stop and look around to see if anyone was near. Move in a little closer and repeat. Finally he pecked at one of the drinks and knocked the cup over. It was quite entertaining.

That’s it for now. Comments always welcome. If you own a camera, don’t forget to GOYA yourself. And be sure to checkout the “official” GOYA site:


Scott and Hanna, Swansboro, North Carolina Engagement Portrait Session

I spent a little time with Hanna and Scott Sunday morning. They’re planning a July wedding, on
the beach at sunset. (Now that’s gonna be absolutely beautiful!) The couple wanted to meet with me to discuss doing a Bridal Portrait session for them and possibly wedding photography. While we were there I offered to shoot a few engagement type shots for them to use for samples. The wind was howling, chill in the air, poor Hanna was shivering in almost no time. We went inside Paddy’s Resturant, next to the Swansboro Bicentenial Park, to grab coffee and hot chocolate to shake off the cold. While sitting across the table from Scott and Hanna I “sniped” a few candid shots. Ambient light, low iso, slow shutter speed, but kind of interesting I think. Motion blur and camera shake can sometimes make a photo, just as blur and soft focus can break a photo. In this case I think it gives it an editoral feel. If you’re curious about the results from the actual shoot check out Engagement Photo Gallery

Engagement GOYA

Linzie & Kevin (+ GOYA Friday)

Congratulations to Linzie and Kevin of Indian Trial NC.
They will be wed in New Bern, September 02, 2006. I had the pleasure of meeting them today and took the opportunity to capture a few engagement style photos. Sunsetting over the Nuese…… Sailing Yachts, Power Yachts and a couple in love…… a recipe for romance!