Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Wedding FAQ

Here are some questions I got asked yesterday on formspring - I tried to be as in depth as possible, hope these qs help! I've filled in the gaps with some new pictures I've edited so far from the morning of Robin & Mairi's wedding!

Icebreaker questions/ line of convo during wedding photography?

In terms of talking to guests etc, a no brainer is “How do you know the couple?” - it’s important (in my opinion) that people don’t just see you as a photographer - asking how people met, what they spend the majority of their time doing i.e work, giving people compliments - if I like someone’s outfit I’ll tell them and if it’s a girl I’ll ask where they bought it from. People make a lot of effort for weddings so it’s nice to make that effort feel appreciated! You can also talk about the wedding itself - usually the couples will decorate in a way that gives you something to talk about - the flowers, her dress, the wedding favours and venue are all conversation starting points. Ask where people have come from, how they traveled, are they doing anything else up this way - if not, why not? Being genuinely interested in people is a key to being a good conversationalist, listen closely for other hints people drop about their lives. It also helps with pictures - if you get a good feel for that person’s character, you can translate it into a picture more easily.

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Do you shoot in manual when shooting a wedding?

Yes! Some photographers prefer to shot in aperture priority or shutterspeed priority but manual always works best for me. Shooting in manual gives me much more control over the quality of my images and the only downfall is the time used to adjust settings and having to be 100% alert all the time but the outcome is worth it for me.

Hello! I want to know how you get inspiration for new and different shots, in a world where almost everything has been done in terms of wedding photography.

I think it totally depends on the wedding - every wedding has a new selection of characters and faces, totally new lighting and backdrops and personality. There will always be token shots like “the first kiss” and the family formals, but everything in between is totally open to however you’d like to interpret it. I like to try and get to know the guests a little so I can get a good hold of their character, and I like to get to know the couples and their hobbies etc before the wedding so I can plan their portraiture in advance. I also do a LOT of research on wedding photography in the run up to a wedding - I look for cool inspiration and see what’s been done and try and think up new things. It’s good to be inspired and the more you surround yourself with good photography, the more it’ll rub off into your brain and subtly influence how you compose and capture moments.

What are the best subjects to take pictures of? (Besides the bride and the groom themselves)

I love taking pictures of the guests right after the ceremony - everyone seems so animated and cheerful right at this point! Everyone is hugging, reacquainting themselves and meeting new people - there’s so much going on, usually there’s a lot of ambient natural light and in my opinion this is the part of the day with most opportunities. It’s also nice for the bride and groom to look back on moments that they weren’t present for and to see their day through someone else’s eyes .

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What's in your bag?

Body - Canon 5D Mkii

Lenses (in order of most use) -
50mm 1.4
24-70mm 2.8
45mm TS 2.8
85mm 1.2
70-200mm 2.8
100mm 2.8

Speedlite 580XII

Lenses I want - 35mm 1.4, 24mm 1.2, 50mm 1.2

Lenses you use for wedding photography? Is 50mm good enough?

See above - the 50mm 1.4 is the lens I use the most! Though I would like to change it up for a 1.2 and I imagine when I get the 35mm 1.4 it will be one of my most-used lenses.

when do you feel it is better to be on B/W and on color? I thought wedding party is a time when people wants to show their costume along with the color effecting their look, but I found you tend to shot in B/W?

I shoot 100% in colour throughout the day, I edit the pictures in b/w afterwards in post production. Viewing a picture on a small screen on camera never does it for me, it’s only when I view them full that I can decided whether they should be colour/bw/both. I’m a sucker for black and white though, there’s always the one person in the pink cardigan that throws off the colour balance :P

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When you take the formal photos at a wedding what do people expect - there are so many combinations, how do you decide what to shoot?

I’ll try and get the bride and groom to send me over a list of formal shots they want before the wedding. Something I ALWAYS do is ask for the best man/maid of honour to have the list and stand next to me and call out the people who are needed - but to do this, you need everyone to listen and co-operate. This is how I go about organizing the formals:

Let everyone mingle after ceremony/photography
As I go round, tell small groups that in 10minutes, formals will be taken outside/at location and to start to make their way there
Continue photographing, and then make second rounds and say 5minutes till formals, please gather …. (insert location of group shot here)

I’ll then wait until everyone is outside, and luckily I have quite a big voice so I’ll say something like
“Hello everyone! We’re about to take a group shot of everyone, so if you could form …........... (depends how many people/location etc) with men on the back and ladies at the front. That’s …..........., with men at the back, ladies at the front.”
I’ll then head round to people individually and check they know what’s happening.

After we’ve got everyone in, I’ll then say

“Okay - we’re doing two shots. One fun, one formal. Let’s start with fun - on the count of three, everyone throw your hands in the air and woop!” I’ll usually get the bride and groom to do the countdown as there’s nothing like having someone shout in your ear to get the timing right :P

As soon as the formal shot is taken, I’ll continue to speak leaving no time for people to wander!!!
“Great job everyone! Now, if I have stay behind any relatives and family of the bride and groom please. Unless you want a portrait with them, or have been requested to have one, you can head back inside. If the brides family can stand over to my left, and the grooms family to my right, that would be wonderful.”

Separating the families keeps things organized for me and my assistant/bestman person.

With a list it’s then pretty organized from there on, but in case of no list, it will be:

B&G with B family
B&G with B siblings
B&G with B Aunties/Uncles
B & G with B grandparents & parents
B&G with B parents

often the groom will step out for any of these shots, too.

Then repeat, with the groom’s family.

do you have a spare camera when you're shooting weddings?

I have just the one camera, though I’d love a backup but can’t afford on right now.

I find I get very judgemental stares after I try and capture natural moments during a wedding. I don't want to ask guest's permission first though as they tend to look too posed. How do I try and capture natural moments without imposing too much?!

This is a fab question and I’m sure loads of people relate to it! There’s two ways to go about doing it, and it depends on whether you think wedding photographers should be sociable at weddings or stay more “ninja”.
If you think wedding photographers should be more ninjalike, then your best bet is to invest in some telephoto lenses, crouch behind plant pots and crawl underneath seats, if you can attach harnesses and wires to the ceiling even better ;) but jist of it is - just be more secretive. I worked this way up until a couple of months ago, I found my telephoto lenses just weren't cutting it quality wise even though I was getting “the moments” without “the judgement”. So now, I’m more a fan of using a lens like the 50mm 1.4, getting awesome quality and getting up close to the people. Of course, that puts you in the “invader of personal space” category, so here are a few tips to ease the pain:
1) Smile. At EVERYONE. If people think you’re a happy person, they’ll less likely assume you’re out to take a bad picture of them and feel more comfortable to approach you
2) Make conversation where and when you can - if you can include a quick line about how awesome it is that everyone is smiling and don’t mind having their photo taken, even better - it makes it okay for you to take pics of them, plus you’ve just made them feel good about themselves and more relaxed in one go
3) Tell people - “Oh, I got a really nice shot of you when you weren’t looking a few hours ago!” It gives people confidence that you have their best interests at heart.
4) Let the guests have a go - a novel approach, but sometimes we get the best reactions from people we know. “You’ve got a great angle there - do you want to take a shot?” - hand the camera over to the person who looks uncomfortable being photographer and let them see the framing you’re working with - knowing that you weren’t focusing on them and were using a wide angle makes people less self conscious, AND you’ll probably get a nice, natural group shot from them. Of course, you can always swap back later and zoom zoom zoom ;)
5) keep in mind that you’re being paid to get these intimate shots. If someone looks at you funny - to be honest, it’s probably not intentional anyway. If they continue to - go over and make them your friend! People at weddings are lovely and happy and will respond well to being approached. They’ll probably even think you’re more professional for it, too.

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What do you use to process tones in a picture?? I’m an advanced user, just wondering if u used mainly curves or gradient maps and other adjustments??

For tones, I just stick to curves. For colours I use curves too - occasionally occasionally I will dodge/burn at a very low opacity with a large fuzzy brush but mainly on the BWs. I make selections, feather them and adjust them separately rather than adjusting the tones on the image as a whole. It gives you more control over how the picture comes out and allows you to create some depth.

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I'd like to know what settings you suggest for certain occasions like indoor and outdoor pictures, because having to use manual the process has to be fast and maybe you can have some preset settings?

As a general rule, I keep my aperture low (1.4-3.2) and will try and keep my shutterspeed above 1/100 and adjust my ISO appropriately. In daylight, shutterspeed is generally pretty fast and I hate having my ISO over 4000 so I’ll use a flash if it starts getting higher than that.

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Roughly how much memory do you need to shoot a wedding and reception? And does one battery do you for the day or do you need more?

I usually get through a 16GB and an 8GB memory card in a day but I take more just in case. I charge my batteries while people eat their dinner and that lasts me till the rest of the night! :D

how do u pose a couple and get intimate shots ...please be detailed and thorough...

Number 1 rule here - before you start, just let the couple know your intentions! Say, “I’d really like to get some intimate shots with you both. I don’t want you looking intentionally posed so please avoid looking at the camera, act like I’m not here and stay true to yourselves.” there’s no point asking a couple who aren’t PDA people to make-out for the camera! :P
The best way to pose someone (in my opinion) is to lead them to a location and give them a free reign - I will give them a few ideas, like “you have your back to the wall” or “I’ll have you facing this way” but I’ll always re-iterate that they can do what they like from there. Hands and arms can look so awkward when posed by someone else, so it’s nice to let the couple do it themselves. Giving them a good verbal brief - using words like “initmate”, “cute”, “playful”, “soft” gives them permission to role play a little. You’ll probably also have them burst out laughing a few times, so make sure to capture that too ;)
A fun pose if you get stuck is to play the surprise game - so simple yet so effective! Get your poor victim bride to stand with her back to her husband, and simply tell him to jump behind her with his arms around her when she least expects it! It looks pretty fun and gives some nice naturally reactions, plus it’s not too cutesy-cutesy.

Do you just a the couple a simple CD/DVD or do you have a special case... etc.?

Sadly I’m incredibly basic when it comes to these things! A memory stick in person is usually the way I go about doing it - I’m no good with fancying things up!

Do you also do invitations and/or thank you cards afterwards? And what about Photobooks?

I guess the way I look at it, is that I’m a photographer and that person is hiring me for my photography skills - I’m not a crafty person nor would I know whether I even had good taste in things like card making and book making - so I tend to say something along the lines of, pay me for what I’m (hopefully) good at,and save some moneywith me by not having me make something that may or may not be your taste or even any good. None of my couples have said anything negative about this aspect of my photography and I’ve have no problems with it - it saves everyone time and money and people leave with a product they like!

Do you always shoot in RAW?

I actually shoot in Jpeg because my GIMP won’t process/open RAW files.

How many breaks do you have at a wedding?

One - when people are eating. I charge my batteries and socialize a bit, get to know people - nobody likes or needs pictures of guests eating, it makes most people uncomfortable to have a camera in their face at this time (I’ve found) so it’s nice to sit back and chill for 30mins here :)

What if the couple does not like the grain from a high ISO?

If the grain is heavy, which usually it isn’t, I’ll explain to the couple that it’s down to it being dimly lit. I’ll always try and keep ISO down as much as possible but I think at the end of the day most people would rather see the moment and put up with a bit of grain, though I’d probably not blog those images as it doesn’t represent the majority of the image quality I try and deliver

Do you use sunbounces or softboxes at weddings?

Just natural light! Nice and simple.

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Do you have an assistant at weddings?

Generally it’s just me, though I have shot with second shooters before. I think I prefer it on my own, I just need to concentrate 100% and give any free time to making guests feel comfortable.

How many batteries/memory cards should a wedding photographer have?

Depends on how many pictures you generally take! I have about 40GB of memory cards which is enough for me. Battery wise, a backup is a great idea!

What if the couple does not like the pictures?

I curl up in a ball and cry?! That would be painful!

What should I do if the couple gets nervous and is pressed for time?

I always make a couple aware that bride/groom portraiture requires at LEAST 30mins and that the formals will go on way longer than they expect, and to give 30-1hr for those alone. That way when they do inevitably take far too much time up, you have made it clear beforehand and you don’t have to worry about disappointing them. If they’re pressed for time, try and take some later on in the evening. Plan your concepts and locations out as much as possible beforehand so it goes as smoothly as possible, though.

I want to start a wedding photography business. I’ve already done a couple of weddings but I want to do more. What’s the best way to start/promote oneself?

Word of mouth is always the best way - take business cards with you wherever you go, get talking to people on trains and planes, I’ve even given my card to shop assistants and security before just out of making random small talk. You’ll find engaged people at weddings, which is why it’s doubly important in my opinion to get to know people when and where you can. If you’re looking for something less direct, make albums and give them to venues/ceremony locations/vendors like florists etc.

How do you stay so positive and smiley throughout a wedding? I’m always so exhausted after a few hours!

Haha, oh I know that feeling! :P guess I see it somewhat as I’m also part-entertainer at weddings, so I have to make people feel as happy and comfortable as possible. People have so many questions, so I feel staying upbeat is key to showing how much I love my job. It has to be genuine though - if I get tired, which I havent so far, but if I did I’d probably take 5mins to myself in the bathroom and just pull myself together. People pay for a service and I want to give them the best possible service I can, which isn’t just photography but being a cheerful, nice, helpful person on their big day, too!

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How much do you charge for a wedding and what do you offer?

It totally depends on the wedding, and especially how many photos people want edited. For a full day wedding in the summer (busy time) with up to 800 edited pics, I charge around £2800. BUT, if a couple only wanted 300 pictures, I could cut that price to £2000. I have one wedding coming up and the couple were really on a budget, and only asked for 50 pictures, so I cut their price to £500 I think it was. But again I wouldn’t be able to do that often, just because the chances of me getting a higher paying booking are pretty good, especially in summer, so I’ll only really do that for last minute wedding bookings.

How many weddings do you usually shoot per month?

It can be anything from 1-6/7 so far, summer gets pretty busy and I have so many in June, it’s gonna be crazzzyyy!

who is your favorite wedding photographer?

Gotta say, I have a top 5, but my top 1 is Jonas Peterson. I just love his work, every picture he delivers has so much atmosphere and knowing he shoots digitally (as well as now medium format film) gives me hope!

Some other wedding photographers who also blow my mind:
Allister Freeman
Jose Villa
Ash Imagery (Michael)
Sean Flanigan
Corbin Gurkin

along with loads of others!


  1. Hi Rosie,
    great post! *_*

    You say you don't shoot in Raw because of Gimp; do you know Raw Therapee? It's an open source program for Linux, I found it quite nice :)

    Have a great day!

  2. I have to say, most of the answer you gave were completely different from what I expected!
    I have my first wedding as a photographer this saturday (it's the third actually, but the first with an actual ceremony and after party pictures), if I could be good enough to make the bride smile that'd be marvellous.

    Thank you a lot for your tips!

  3. Wooow! Rosie! That's almost a book you wrote there! Hope that didn't cost you a sleepless night! Great advice! I'd have to get back and read it one more time. So many useful information!

    Thank you!


  4. Great post Rosie and really informative. I was asking all the businessy questions at your Birmingham university talk as that is the road I am going down at the moment. My only issue is a current lack of wedding photos to show people having shot no weddings as of yet! Any recommendations on how to get hired without any wedding photos as such? I have plenty of other shots as featured on my website -

    Ali x

  5. Shooting my first wedding this summer. Helpful tips. Gracias :)
    You have great energy.

  6. super duper thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Rosie, I use gimp as well for image editing and use UFRaw which is a plugin for Gimp to open RAW files. It's pretty cool, the only thing you may need is to import your camera's color profile. You can check it out from here

    Love your work!

  8. I would like to say THANKS A LOT ROSIE for actually taking the time to sit down, answer all these questions. You were so detailed and honest. LOVE IT! And I'm sure all the readers/fans are very grateful right now. I am pursuing a wedding photography business soon, and this information helped me a lot.

  9. Hey Rosie, always a fan! Thank you so much for your insight. Very helpful :)

  10. I absolutely love your blog and post.
    Please stay a photographer :D I need you at my wedding in a few years or so (I'm 16 right now) :D
    Your pictures are so inspiring.
    Loooove ♥

  11. Hi Rosie,

    This post is so brilliant! You're so kind to be so informative to your fans, you're such a down-to-earth and wonderful person! I have to say, I used to hate wedding photography because I was only seeing bad wedding photography, but after seeing your photographs + Jose Villa's in the past, I'm in love with them, and am very inspired to go out there and try to get some second shooting experience at weddings!


  12. Thank you for this Rosie!!! Love this FAQ! :)

  13. Thank you for your kindness :)

  14. Rosie you are always so honest and willing to share! I love that about your personality (your online presence anyway lol) it's very encouraging! Thank you so much for sharing this post, it's great!!! Lots of valuable information :)

    Take care,


  15. Great stuff Rosie! I'd love to know what size/rez the edited photos you deliver on the memory stick are :)

  16. Great advise, especially for those of use just starting out

  17. thanks for sharing your experience :)

  18. I am not even a wedding photographer and I found this useful.

  19. Thank you for reply my question :)

  20. Great post Rosie, lots of good info in there, but I'd like to question you on one point, that point being, 'No back-up equipment'.
    What would happen if your camera locked up as the bride was half way up the asile?
    If I was paying £2000 for you, and that happened, I'd be asking you why you don't have a back up.

    I've had a camera freeze on me myself, luckily during the meal so I was able to fix it before starting up again, but for that 10/15 mins I was indeed thinking that I'd be using my back up the rest of the day.

    I'd highly recommend that you get yourself a back-up body.

  21. Hi Rosie, thank you for all the info.Lots to think about. Great post.

  22. Oh man! This is such a FAB post with so much great information. Thanks for posting! :)

  23. rosie, you are so encouraging and inspirational! i looove your photos, and to see this peek into how you do things is wonderful.

  24. Thank you!! Very helpful :)

  25. Best blog post I've ever read! Incredibly helpful. Not many togs are willing to give away their secrets to help others!


    - Kel

  26. Hey Rosie, I saw where you said Gimp doesn't process RAW images, have you heard of Raw Therapee? It's the open source program similar to Lightroom, so then you could do some RAW shooting and editing if you wanted. I found it pretty helpful!

  27. Hey Rosie, I've been following you for quite a while and watching your photography grow more and more. I myself am a photographer and am so inspired by your work. Also am a GIMP user myself and was quite shocked when I realised in this post you used it too, which surprises me as Photoshop is so highly hyped out there, that people don't realise that GIMP is just as good. I hope that I will be able to afford to come and have a ShootOut with you at some point, it'd be a pleasure to meet you (: keep up the awesome work x

  28. Amazing interview and great answers, I love the tips :)

  29. I see people are recommending UFRaw and Raw Therapee. They're OK, but I never found RAW processing interesting until I tried Darktable (, it's just amazing.

  30. Travel time can be quite a hassle if venues are spread far and wide, especially if you’re planning a large wedding.
    city hall wedding photographer

  31. A lot of thanks for sharing this post with us.