“I’ve been asked to take photos at my friend’s wedding… what equipment should I get” is a question that pops up fairly often from non-photographer friends.

Remember this is for someone who is totally not a photographer and is trying to be nice to a friend… bet it’s happened to many of you  🙂

She already has a basic DSLR (Canon Rebel), which is the first good thing. Once you get a camera with interchangable lenses and can add a flash, you have more options and the photo sensor inside is much bigger than snapshot cameras.
Here’s what I suggested for equipment & strategy:
You might do better to plan to do 100% of the photos outside and then tell the couple ‘no promises’ on anything inside.

Set up the groups outside/in nice shade so you have some safe, nice shots… then the rest is snapshots that you and other people can be asked to do.

If you stop in to a good camera shop, they’ll show you options on flash and lens. Flash you’ll use the rest of your life  and is really worth having. The lens, can be pretty pricey for one to zoom in enough, and either not need flash or be as bright as possible zoomed in with flash.

For a long zoom lens, if you aren’t going to use it forever (mostly just enjoy snapshot), it’s so hard to spend the money.

A ‘cheap’ basic lens is around $200. They make one for $135, but it doesn’t have image stabilization, and you’ll really want that if you are trying to keep from shaking doing wedding photos and probably many without flash of the ceremony.

Flash is Power for Life:

The Canon Flashes are $150 or $250 and since it’s something you really can use forever, the $250 might be good even if you don’t buy a lens, get the flash. Flash info HERE on Amazon.

The advantage is more power, but more importantly, it is higher, which cuts red eye, and it can point at the ceiling and bounce the flash, which looks very nice for photos at events (no shadows, etc).


Online Rental Rocks:

Thinking about it, you might do much better to do an online rental like BorrowLenses.com, etc. And ask the bride to cover the cost.

You can get a flash and a lens for around $100. Or like I said, buy a flash and have them cover a lens rental. Ask if you decide to do this and I’ll send links.

This would be a great flash and great lenses at BorrowLens.com HERE

It’s Not the Equipment… It’s the Photographer:

And as always, for the most part, it’s not the equipment, it’s the photographer… so a better flash can give you more light, and a good lens will help you zoom in without the photos getting too dark… but if you have a good eye, and understand the camera settings well… you can get great shots with almost any equipment.

Warning! And an Option:

Frankly, if you aren’t sure you can take great shots, be very careful, because there are lots of mistakes that can mean the couple gets hardly any, or no good photos… and they’d blame you… the nice person who’s just trying to help.

I suggest if a couple can’t afford nice young photographers, then rather than put all that pressure on a friend, they should just be OK with a bunch of snapshots that they ask everyone to take. And you work really hard at getting them great photos, knowing you have a bit of a safety net.

To the pro’s reading this…yes, I know we all get snotty and say that every couple should hire a fantastic pro photographer… but in the real world this request happens a lot, so I hope it helps someone who’s stuck in the same situation.


Comment: Working Around a Hired Pro:

I had a comment from my Google + Canon group about this, where someone noted they took some photos alongside the pro at their child’s request… and I said:

You’ll totally be the hero if you get some great shots they would have missed. Or the discount ‘pro’ turns out to be awful.  And you can save them some money by doing the later part of the reception say, or some ‘before’ shots if they don’t hire someone for that.

Many eager ‘friend photographers’ make this mistake  if a pro is hired, and just plain get in the way.  Please do give her space to do her job. It can be really frustrating to be doing an event and have other people in the way, or worse yet holding your subjects up for ‘just one more photo’.

And I don’t do weddings… but it happens at PR events too.

So what can you do to help without getting the way? Try a longer lens and take a shot from a different angle from the pro… while he does the normal group, you can skim the side of the group with tight focus on your kid, etcTake some cool wide shots showing the context of the whole event. Take shots of key people that the photographer may not know, but you know since you are family. Maybe document a shot at each table if the photographer is just hired to do ‘creative’ candid photos… he’ll appreciate your doing the ‘dull’ stuff.


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