Just when I think I’m all clear of anyone asking me to shoot a wedding, I get blindsided by a request from good friends that I just can’t turn down. This request was made about a year ago though, so I had time to forget about it until a few weeks before. Then the bag of bricks hit me and I realized what I had gotten myself into. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my hobby of photography, so I can see many mistakes I made, but overall, I’m fairly happy with what I was able to turn out. Certainly no pro, but I don’t pretend to be one.
Prior to this, I’ve done two weddings for friends and family, but in both cases, the ceremonies were outside and I had free reign to go where I pleased and use a flash as I saw fit. This time was a bit more stressful as the ceremony was in a big old church and flash was not permitted during the ceremony. The light sources were a mix of tungsten, LED and daylight coming in through stained glass. Trying to adjust white balance on that was a bit challenging. I also had to stay behind the congregation or be in the door frame of a little side room next to the altar. To get from the rear of the Church to the little room, I had to exit a back side door, run down the alley and enter the room through another side door. Never a dull moment.
I don’t have the f/2.8 zooms that a wedding shooter should, so I was forced to use the Fuji 55-200mm for much of the ceremony shots because I was so far back. It performed better than I expected and didn’t let me down. The high ISO and IS worked quite well.
After the ceremony, there was a long list of family portraits to take in the Church. I quickly set up 2 light stands with a speedlight each firing through 43″ umbrella’s. Triggering was done via old Cactus V4 units and worked quite well. Trying to position people so they wouldn’t be shadowed was the toughest challenged, as some shots had over 20 people.
The fun part for me came in the reception. Walking about with my camera and just getting the fun shots was a really good time. The one thing that bothered me with the Fuji X-T1 was the autofocus in the dark during the dancing was very hit or miss. I ended up setting the camera to manual and just zone focusing to make sure I got the shots when I wanted. I’m really hoping that firmware 4.0 for the X-T1 will resolve some of the low light lag in focusing. Other than that, the camera and lenses performed beautifully. I had a Meiki battery grip on the camera and was able to replace batteries in that and keep the camera battery charged in case of emergency. I did fill up most of the SD card space (8GB x 3 and a lone 32GB card). I burned through 4 sets of rechargeable batteries in my flash and was on my emergency alkaline set while a set of AA’s were on a wall charger. So, thinking ahead on if I ever do this again, I need more storage and more battery power for the flash, not to mention a backup camera.
In the end, the bride/groom are very happy and thankful with everything I’ve shown them. I’m really blessed that I was able to give them these memories that they will have forever. Best of all, we’re still friends, so I’ll call that a win.
Anytime I go to a wedding anymore, I have to remind myself that I am only a guest, not the photographer. I haven’t shot many weddings (by choice), but it is still difficult for me to stay out of photographer mode. It’s my hobby, it’s what I like to do and it also gives me something to do. Thinking about that before my wife and I made the trip to the venue, I decided on only taking one camera and one lens. I chose my Fuji X-T1 and paired it with the Fuji 35mm f/1.4. With the lens being around a 52mm equivalent field of view, I knew that it would be good for more intimate tight shots along with low light capability. I also put the accessory flash in my pocket for some dancing pictures.
I’m sure that any wedding photographer reading this is probably rolling their eyes and thinking that I should have brought nothing with me, and they may be right. Since there would be so many family there that we normally don’t see, leaving the camera at home wasn’t an option. On the contrary, it was probably better that I used my X-T1 since the shutter is quiet and I turned off all noises on the camera and the AF Illuminator. I was surprised at how many people stuck up cell phones during everything and left all the noises on! Since I’ve done a few weddings, I understand how the family photographers can get in the way and I made sure to sit on the end away from the aisle, stay in my seat and only take a very few select pictures during the ceremony.
I was very lucky to find that my assigned seat for dinner has me at the end of the sword ceremony. I was probably 5 feet from where the formation ended with the bride and groom walking straight toward me. I stayed in my seat and hunkered down as low as I could so as not to block any of the ‘real’ photographers shots. During the reception, I took sparingly of the bride and groom and got more of the other family. Overall, the X-T1 was great to shoot with and did pretty well AF wise even in the dark for dancing. Seeing the pair of hired photographers stalking around loaded down for bear reinforced yet again that I just do not want to shoot weddings as a job. I’ll keep this gig as a hobby.
This past weekend, I broke my cardinal rule of photography, which is not to shoot weddings. There is something about knowing that you get a single chance to get everything right that adds just a little bit of pressure to an already exciting day. My cousin-in-law and his bride-to-be asked me to be their photographer and even after I warned them about my skill level (lack thereof) and general inexperience with weddings, they still wanted me to shoot it. I couldn’t say no, and I’m glad that my own insecurities were shoved aside for that day. What did make it a bit more interesting was using my new camera system, the Fujifilm X-E1 and trying to adapt to its personality. I ended up using all 3 of the lenses I own, the 18-55mm (reception), 55-200mm (ceremony) and the 35mm f/1.4 (detail and reception) and overall, they all performed their job with little fault. I also had a Fuji EF-42 TTL flash on the camera for some of the shots as well as a messenger bag stocked with extra batteries, memory cards, cleaning cloths, gels, diffusers, etc. The day was perfect, as it was an outdoor ceremony starting at 2pm. Everything fell into place and I enjoyed a good day of picture taking.
Shooting with the Fuji X-E1 was both great and challenging at the same time. The AF speed was adequate, but going from an OMD E-M5 was certainly noticeable and made me think more about focus instead of just pushing the button and it locking immediately. On the plus side of the Fuji was the controls, which made setting everything up so easy and effortless. It really felt great to be able to set my controls and keep them locked in and even view them with the camera turned off. The smaller size of the Fuji system (compared to my old full frame Nikon D700 and the f/2.8 glass I had) made shooting with it all day easy. I was able to pack everything I needed (and then some) into a ThinkTank CityWalker 20 messenger bag and carry it for most of the day without any fatigue. I also brought another Kata bag that contained a few lightstands, umbrella’s, reflectors, triggers, etc for use when doing the large family portraits. That gear was used only for a short time and wasn’t carried around much.
Overall, I am very pleased with the results. For it being my only 2nd wedding, I’ll give myself a passing grade.