Sandestin Florida Wedding Photographers Information

I have a lot of visitors to my site that are amateur photographers interested in learning  Florida wedding photography and who want wedding photography tips. While I still have much to learn, I have been very blessed by a few photographers that helped me out as I was learning.  My goal with this page is to help aspiring Florida wedding photographers. Parts of this page still refer to film, but I felt it was important to keep those references in because I still have photographers e-mail me that are about to shoot their first wedding: with film.

Why do all of the wedding photography books I have seem to offer so little on how to actually light and shoot a wedding? Realistic Sandestin Florida beach lighting ! Not studio lighting. And why is some of the information that is out there useless? The answer is because you can’t beat experienced seasoned wedding photographer knowledge that you get from having been there and done that.

My goal is to help provide you practical Sandestin Florida Wedding Photographers Information! The page is long, but has good information! I first give basic Florida Wedding Photographers Information, then I answer some general questions, and then some more specific questions.

Some of the questions I have been asked about Sandestin Florida Wedding Photographers Information:

  • What equipment should I use to photograph weddings?
  • What digital camera do you use to photograph weddings?
  • What exposure should I use for a candlelight wedding? Or, what are wedding low light camera settings?
  • How to photograph a candlelit procession?
  • What are the largest prints that can be made from 35mm film?
  • What lenses work the best for wedding photography?
  • What film do you recommend for photographing weddings?
  • What type of digital camera should I buy?
  • How do I avoid harsh shadows when taking outdoor pictures?
  • What is the best camera for wedding photography?
  • Should I use a filter during wedding photography?
  • What books are best for beginning Wedding Photography?
  • Do you show your digital pictures at the wedding reception, for the guests to choose the photos they want?
  • How many pictures are typically taken at a wedding?
  • Exposure modes (auto vs. manual) and blurry photos.
  • What image editing software do you use?
  • How to take photos with blurred backgrounds.
  • Do you allow other photographers to take pictures at your weddings?  

However, it seems like the question that sums everything up, is, “My friend has asked me to photograph their wedding, do you have any advice for me?”

I think this is why many professional wedding photographers are “tight” with giving out information. They don’t want to inspire a bunch of amateurs to go out and take bad wedding photos – and then get blamed for it all. I am of the opinion that everyone has to start out at some point. I also believe that an inspired and skilled amateur that is willing to prepare and work hard is capable of taking better photos than some working “professionals”.

The first bit of advice I have for amateurs who havebeen asked to take wedding photos: hire a skilled, professional wedding photographer. Whether you hire the photographer for the bride and groom, or, give them a monetary gift and recommend several photographers for them to choose from – details don’t matter. Just do it. By hiring a good professional you will have:

  • Better photos of their wedding day
  • A much more enjoyable wedding day for yourself
  • Many more hours of free time
  • Much less stress in your life
  • Your friend will remain a friend
  • And, to top it off, you can watch the professional at the wedding and learn from them…

However, chances are, if you are looking for wedding photography tips, you’ve already decided to do it and are looking tome (a Sandestin Florida Wedding Photographers), to give good advice.

If that is the case, this page contains my honest advice on how to get the best results taking wedding pictures. You’ll need to plan on spending hours upon hours preparing for your first wedding (taking test photos, learning your camera, studying web sites).

Florida Wedding Photography Tips

  • Make sure you, and your friend, understand what you are getting into. Not only that, but make sure expectations are VERY, very low. That way, if something goes wrong there will not be hurt feelings. If your photos do not turn out as good as they could have – you will still hopefully have a friend. If they are expecting snap-shot quality images they won’t be disappointed in snap shot-quality images, and will be impressed with any shots that are better than average quality!
  • Write up a Letter of Agreement. You must be cognizant of the fact that your friend can sue you if something goes wrong. Once your friend is married, their loyalty will be (and should be) primarily to their spouse. You never know what will happen to a friendship. Take the time to write up a document, title it a “letter of agreement”, and clearly spell out the requirements of both parties. Make it as complex or simple as you like, just be sure to include a paragraph that says your friend understands you are not a professional wedding photographer, that you cannot guarantee to provide any specific photo, and that you are not responsible for any loss of coverage for any reason. Even WITH that phrase in the letter that is signed by yourself and your friend you can STILL be sued. However, with that phrase you should be much safer! I’m not a lawyer, and as they always say you should get legal advice from a lawyer, but I definitely encourage you to at least use common sense to handle the legalities.
  • Realize that wedding photography is expensive. Not only will you easily spend 30 hours of time on the project, but several hundred dollars as well. Even if you stick with the basics: fresh batteries for ALL equipment, professional film (if you are still using a film camera) – you can easily spend close to $500. If you purchase books and spend other time practicing – the price goes up. Also, think about the reprints. Who will handle those? If you are shooting film, will the prints be numbered or will you have to do that? Reprints can take a lot of time.
    • This is where digital equipment will save you a lot!
  • You MUST practice your lighting and exposures. You will have a hard time making excuses for bad exposure in the wedding pictures. It won’t sound right to simply say “the church was dark”, or, “my flash was acting up.” Do whatever it takes to go to the venues and take sample photos before the wedding. Write down all your photo exposure information (especially if you are using 35mm equipment to photograph the wedding). If you are using digital the information is usually recorded in the camera. Review all the photos, then WRITE DOWN the settings that work best and take that paper with you to the wedding. Make sure you use those settings.
    • I remember a time when I was just getting started in wedding photography and was using 35mm equipment. I went to the church facility on a Wednesday night to take some test photos. After the film was back, I was shocked to see how dark the stage was. I went back and took another set of test photos and was blown away to realize that: my camera meter, light meter, and eye were ALL somehow off from what the actual images recorded. I am so glad I took the test photos in the first place – and that I went back and did more experimenting when the first batch were off. I had never before, or since then, seem the same situation (where my light meter, camera meter, and eye were all off) and still don’t know what in the world happened that caused the photos to be dark (and no, it wasn’t the processing – because other images were mixed into that roll that turned out fine, and when I went back for another test shoot I achieved the same results).
    • Even with practice there are still little details that can make or break your exposures. Sunshine streaming through a window or a cloudy day can all make differences. Or, you could experience a slight technical issue with your equipment. A perfect example of that happened to me several years ago. I was photographing the procession from near the front of the church. As the grandparents came in I took their picture, but I didn’t think my flash “sounded” or looked like it had fired as much as it should have for the proper exposure. The interesting thing was that it HAD fired. I quickly began troubleshooting and found out the flash shoe had slid back the tiniest bit in its holder and was not fully synchronized with the camera, EVEN though it was still firing. The photo of the grandparents came out underexposed – BUT, because I noticed something was wrong and fixed it, the rest of the wedding procession (including the wedding party) turned out perfect. This is why you must KNOW your equipment.
  • You MUST fully know your equipment and have backup equipment ready to use. One camera is not enough. One lens is not enough. One flash is not enough. Fifteen rolls of film are not enough. 4GB of memory cards are not enough… Surely you get the idea? Simply borrowing, and bringing along with you, a spare camera will not work. You must know how to use it. Make sure all your equipment works and that you have fresh batteries (and lots of spares) on hand. Ask yourself if you would be able to shoot the entire wedding with your backup camera setup – and whether the bride and groom would be pleased with the photos. If you are using film, bring twice as much as you think you will need.
  • If you are shooting film, do NOT have it processed at a drugstore or discount store. Film can be damaged, destroyed, and lost. You need to take the film somewhere (preferably a professional lab) that has a good track record and will lessen the chance of loss. In fact, you should probably shoot with both cameras throughout the day, and process both sets of film at different photo labs to minimize chances of loss. Sounds kind of paranoid, doesn’t it? These are all very reasonable precautions to take – and underscore the importance of what you are planning to do. If this sounds like too much work or hassle, please refer to my previous advice and hire a professional. I have had personal, family snapshots lost and damaged at consumer labs, discount stores, and even large discount warehouse stores. Even labs that cost more and have a better track record (semipro stores would be similar to a Wolf Camera) are not as safe as true, professional labs. The drawback to using a safe, professional lab is often the cost, it can easily cost $25-$30 to have a single roll of 35mm processed and printed. However, no one ever said wedding photography was cheap.
  • If you are shooting digital, make sure you handle the memory cards carefully. This goes without saying, but is critically important. I have a small, portable hard drive that my assistant backs up the memory cards to at the wedding. I keep a few empty memory cards in my front right pocket. Completed cards go in the front left. From there they go to my assistant to back up, and then they go into a specific spot in the camera bag. I store the backup hard drive separate from the camera bag, so that if the camera bag was stolen (which is something I guard against during weddings) I would still have a copy of all the images.
    • To give you an idea of how important the memory cards are after a wedding: If I am driving (or flying) cross-country to a wedding I will not transport all copies of the wedding images in the car with me. What if I were involved in a fiery automobile accident? The couple would be left without images. I will bring a small shipping box with me and arrange for a UPS pick-up at the house of the bride or groom’s family. After the wedding I put my backup hard drive into the box, seal it shut, and give it to the family to put on their step. That way a copy of the images is transported back separately from me.
    • You can never be too careful with the memory cards and images.
    • When I return from a wedding the first thing I do is to download all the images to my system and then burn a copy of all images to DVD. The DVD’s are then stored off-site. This is usually completed that very night.
    • If I have a problem with a corrupt memory card I always move on to the next memory card. I will then use photo-restore software to recover the images on the memory card. I have experienced a few memory card failures over the years (I blame most on my camera or my computer Operating System) and I have always been able to recover all images from the memory card via Sandisk software. However, if I have any questions about a card having a problem I will always move to a fresh card.
    • If you think you’vesomehow lost a memory-card worth of images you need to be careful. No reason to panic when Photorescue can restore the images. Even if you fill a card with images and then format it – the images are still there! The main danger is if you were to fill a card, format it, and then refill it with new images, in that case you would lose all of the original images. I guard against this by NEVER formatting a card at a wedding. The night before a wedding as I prep my gear I will go through and make sure every card in my bag has been formatted. This way I never have to format a card on wedding day.
    • If you were confident that you lost a memory card of images, the best chance you’ll have of redoing the images is at the wedding on wedding day.
  • Spend as much time as possible preparing for, and practicing, before the wedding. Buy books that deal with wedding photography. Take the book out and do practice photo sessions. Not including the time I spent learning photography up to the point of my first wedding, I easily spent 120 hours getting ready for that wedding.
  • Consider having a “backup” photographer taking snap shots throughout the day. This is a touchy bit of advice and must be handled carefully. You don’t need several photographers taking hundred’s of pictures throughout the day and getting into each other’s way. However, it would be nice to know that some images are being captured by someone else throughout the day on a separate camera. Some people might have a friend work as their “assistant” and might loan the friend their “backup” camera to use during the day. Or, you might ask a friend who has a camera to take photos on their camera throughout the day. On the other hand, if you know guests will have cameras and be taking pictures throughout the wedding, you might not need to ask any one in particular to shoot some backup for you.
  • Again, be VERY careful how you track and manage the exposed film and/or digital memory cards. At one of my weddings I changed rolls of film during the procession. When shooting film at a wedding you must constantly watch the film counter and be aware of where you are at. Most rolls of professional 35mm film have 36 exposures. If the procession is about to start and you’re on #33 – you are setting yourself up for a problem. As it is, I had been watching my counter and was shooting more than usual for the procession. Since I had attended the rehearsal I knew I had some time in-between the flower girls/ring bearer and the bride. So, during that time I changed film (good thing I had spare film in my pocket – something else that is very important on wedding day: always have spare film and/or memory cards in your pocket, there will be times that you need to change and are away from your camera bag). After changing film and carefully putting the exposed roll into my opposite pocket (for me, unexposed goes in the right pocket, exposed stuff in the left – which is primarily covered by my battery pack – so it’s easy to put in but harder to get out), I moved to the back of the church and continued photography. During the ceremony my assistant and I transferred the film to the “exposed” bag and checked our roll numbers. We found a roll of exposed film missing. I knew it was the roll from up front but had no idea what happened to it. I had to keep photographing the wedding ceremony despite being VERY concerned about that roll of film. As soon as the ceremony was over I headed up to the spot I had been at for the procession and didn’t see anything. As my heart sank a couple caught my attention and held out a roll of film, saying, “We saw this fall off the chair as you headed for the back and thought you might need it.” I thanked them, and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
    • Digital is especially easy to lose because so many images can fit on one card. I’ve heard of wedding photographers losing ALL of the images from a wedding because their cards were stolen or lost in an airport security checkpoint.
    • After shooting a film wedding, the film doesn’t leave my person until I’m safely home. Even then, I treat them like gold. If I stop a restaurant for dinner on the way back from the wedding I will take the memory cards into the restaurant in my pocket; I don’t leave them in the car.
    • For digital weddings, I carefully track my exposed memory cards and, as soon as a card is shot, I download the images to a portable hard disk. That way, if my cards were lost or stolen I would still have the images on the portable hard disk.
  • With digital – you don’t have to change “film” every 36 exposures. But you DO have to be aware of the buffer. With my D1x, each compressed RAW photo would take 15 seconds to save, and it only had a 6 shot buffer. I could fire off 6 photos very quickly, but would then have almost a minute and a half before I could take another. I couldn’t shut the camera off during that time because I would lose the images in the buffer. Cameras are doing better now (and I’ve had my buffer upgraded on the D1x), but you need to be aware of how many images you have left on your memory card and how full the buffer is. Most cameras, as you near the end of a memory card and fill up the buffer with a number of images, the camera will then lock (not allow you to take any new photos) until it has had a chance to save all the images in the buffer to the now-full memory card.


  • What equipment should I use to photograph weddings?
    • For film, use professional 35mm equipment or better. Make sure you know how to use your equipment. There is no particular brand that is required. The important thing is that you know how to use your gear and can take good pictures with it.
    • When I started photographing weddings with a DSLR I had a Canon 5d (with the extended grip/battery holder), a 580 Speed lite flash, and a few lenses. I carried an old (but reliable), manual Canon camera as a backup camera and would put a few rolls of film through that one as well. Over time, I added new lenses, another camera body, another flash unit, and additional wedding photography books (usually a book or two before each wedding).
    • In the modern area of digital cameras, I would recommend a high end DSLR (the image quality tends to be higher on DSLR’s than on point and shoots) that is at least 15 megapixel’s.
    • An external flash shoe is required for bounce flash.
  • What digital camera do you use to photograph weddings?
    • I use the Canon 1ds Mark III. I went fully digital in March of 2003. The camera does a fantastic job, and I have only discovered a few challenges:
      • Canon cameras can pull an extra 2 f-stops if the image is overexposed and it was shot in RAW format – Nikon cannot.
      • Fast buffer and Fast  writes (takes tenths of seconds to save a compressed RAW image ).
      • Automatic white balance is spot on. I check it in my view finder every time a change lighting conditions.
    • I don’t have current recommendations on “best buys” for cameras. I would recommend you visit the following web sites for detailed reviews. In particular, I like the “pro’s and con’s” that DPReview (when I’m buying a camera I’m as interested in knowing what it DOESN’T do well as what it DOES well – or CLAIMS to do well).

                     What exposure should I use for a candlelight wedding?

    • Practice, practice, practice. Learn how to use your camera’s meter and take a reading to find out the proper exposure. It will vary depending upon how many candles are lit and whether there is any additional ambient light nearby. I can’t give you any exact settings that are guaranteed to work. Practice at your own house (or the church) ahead of time. Obviously, an 400 speed film (or equivalent ISO on a DSLR), a good tripod, and a nice lens (with an aperture of at least 2.8, but preferably 1.4) will help.
  • Any tips on photographing a candlelit procession?
    • There almost isn’t any way to conveniently get great photos in dim lighting during a candlelit procession. Some ideas for things to try:
      • Sometimes they will have the lights on during the procession and then dim them for the ceremony.
      • You could stand on one side of the aisle, put a 3’x5′ sheet of white (glossy) posterboard on the opposite side of the aisle, set your flash to bounce sideways, and hit the posterboard. It’ll look odd to have a sheet of posterboard over there, but the results should be beautiful.
      • You could always try a dim available-light shoot (make sure you practice in advance with the same lighting conditions). You might need to bump the ISO as high as 800 (even if it’s grainy), shoot wide open (perhaps buy a 50mm F1.4 lens ) and do a natural light shot.
      • If the ceiling is fairly low (and white), you could bounce off of it.
      • You could buy another flash unit and set it up on the opposite side of the aisle and flash with that. You’d have to work to try and avoid harsh lighting and shadows between the two flash units, but that might also look rather nice.
      • If you are shooting a candlelit wedding remember that it is OK for the photos to be a bit dark. Your job is to record the event, and the event will be dim/dark. Don’t make it look like daylight!
  • What are the largest prints that can be made from 35mm film?
    • Prints can be made as large you want. However, they will start to be grainy. On the other hand, medium format prints also get grainy when enlarged. I have run 11×14 prints from a cropped 35mm negative and been satisfied with the results (although I now get far better from my digital camera).
  • What lenses work the best for wedding photography?
    • It depends upon your style. A common lens is a 24-70. The biggest issue is often the maximum aperture available on the lens. Try to use lenses that have a max aperture of f2.8 or greater (yes, those lenses ARE more expensive – but they are worth it). A good selection of lenses that has worked well for me: Canon L series 17-35 f2.8; 24-70 f2.8, and a 80-200 f2.8.
    • The most important part of the lens is the maximum aperture. Professional lenses are usually F2.8. That is a huge advantage when shooting indoor bounce-flash and available light. Consumer lenses are usually F4.5-5.6. If at all possible, get professional lenses.
  • What film do you recommend for photographing weddings?
    • Almost any type should work fine – even consumer grade. However, it would be best to use Professional grade film – preferably Kodak Portra 160 NC or 400 NC, or Fuji NPS and NPH. These films have less contrast and will show more detail in the white wedding dress and black tuxedo than consumer film.
  • What type of digital camera should I buy?
    • If you are serious about photography, try to buy a DSLR. That way you will be able to purchase separate, high quality, lenses. A resolution of at least 15 megapixel is important. That’s about all the specific advice I can give. Keep searching the web and make sure to visit for detailed camera reviews.
    • The flash unit is as important, if not more important than the camera. I have a really old Canon Point & Shoot digital camera – but it has an external flash shoe. With it, I can take indoor bounce-flash photos that have incredible lighting; no one would guess they come from an old digital camera.
    • When buying a digital camera, make sure you get a quality external flash that allows you to rotate the flash head vertically and horizontally.
  • How do I avoid harsh shadows when taking outdoor pictures?
    • As your photography improves you will quickly learn that the old adage, “shoot with the sun over your shoulder” is not a good rule to live by. The sun causes harsh shadows and lots of squinting. However, if you are serious about your photography you are going to have to deal with photos that are outdoors in the sun (at times). The best way to deal with that: practice (notice that bit of advice keeps coming up?). Use fill flash, reflectors, any nearby shade, and take a bunch of pictures. Write down your settings and see which ones look the best. Later, go out side and do it all again.
    • When I am outside I try to shoot on cloudy days or when the sun is setting (sunset is a wonderful time to take outdoor wedding portraits).
    • If you are out on a sunny day, most photographers will try to put the subjects into a shady area for photos. You’ll have to keep an eye on the background to make sure it’s not too bright for the shade you are using for your exposure.
    • Another option is to put the sun behind or perpendicular to your subjects and use fill flash to illuminate them. You might try using you camera in full auto mode while in the sun with -1 or -2 flash compensation. That is often what I’ll use when I’m in the sun and experiencing constant light changes.
    • When I am outside in the full sun, I usually shoot with my flash (straight ahead, automatic, -1 to -3 compensation).
  • What is the best camera for wedding photography?
    • This is one of those questions that doesn’t have any one “right” answer. The best camera will vary among wedding photographers – though there will be a variety of cameras that are being used at any one time. First issue would likely be what type of film format you are using: medium format, 35mm, or digital.
    • There is always an advantage to owning a camera that a certain manufacturer considers to be “professional”. The bodies are usually more rugged (they normally do not have pop-up flashes) and the feature sets are usually going to be more in line with what a professional will need. Granted, any SLR or DSLR will likely be functional – especially if you know how to use it. On the other hand, if you have X dollars available, you might be better off buying two non professional cameras (perhaps $1,400 DSLR’s) so you’ll have a quality backup camera as opposed to one truly professional camera.

Should I use a filter during wedding photography?

    • I do not use any special effects filters for my wedding photography. I do have UV filters on each of my lenses, though their primary reason is to protect the front lens element on my lenses. In fact, whenever I buy a lens I ALWAYS buy a UV (clear) filter that is instantly put on the lens and never comes off. Filters are easy to replace – scratched lenses aren’t.
    • A lot of wedding photography special effects have been overdone in the past: the “soft” focus picture, the “star effect” filter, etc. I shy away from some of those effects – though some people are able to effectively use them.
    • Photographers that use black and white film might want to consider the use of filters. Otherwise, a red flower might appear the exact same shade of gray as the green grass. Filters are used to darken the reds, or the greens, etc. Since I use a digital camera, I capture all data in color, and, later, I am able to selectively convert to black and white. At that time, I will tweak the saturation of reds, greens, and blues, to get a custom black and white file with far more flexibility than if I used film and filters.
    • What kind of flash do you use, and do you have any lighting tips?
    • For the portraits, I often used my Canon 580 Speed lite  in TTL mode.
    • Now, I have purchased White Lightning flash units and have been very pleased with them. I use umbrellas and a sync cord to the camera. No longer do I have to worry about the low power output from my SB80’s.
    • For regular indoor (non-ceremony) lighting I use a basic and very gentle lighting approach. If there is one thing I do not like, it’s the full blast, F11 flash with the black background and the harsh shadows that so many photographers used to use (and many still do!). I always try to bounce my flash off walls (or, if walls aren’t available, ceilings). Otherwise, I’ll point the flash head up with a diffuser on it and slow down the shutter speed. Because of the f2.8 lenses I use (often shooting at f2.8) and the 1ds camera (which does an incredible job at ISO 400 ), I am usually shooting natural light with some fill-flash (though, again, it’s never direct fill flash unless I’m outside). In fact, most indoor weddings I’m shooting ISO 200, f2.8, 1/60th with flash bounced off a wall (my Canon 580 speedlite II).
      • Bouncing off the side walls is probably the key to my unique indoor flash lighting style. I try to only use a little bit of flash and mix it into the scene, and when it comes from the side (instead of straight on) the result is usually beautiful. Anytime I’m taking photojournalistic photos in a building that has light-colored walls I get excited! Even gyms! It’s amazing how natural the gentle bounced light ends up looking. I’ve even stood in such a way as to be able to bounce flash off a white pillar about 5~10 feet away (in an otherwise dark paneled church) to photograph a wedding procession.
    • Make sure you do lots of practice with the lighting – it’s a crucial part of the wedding photography.

Do you show your digital pictures at the wedding reception, for the guests to choose the photos they want?

  • I am not the type of photographer that shows or projects my photos at the reception for the guests to order prints. My view is that the reception is to celebrate the wedding, and it is not an opportunity for me to “peddle my wares” and try to make additional sales. On top of that, during the reception I am completely focused on taking additional photos and it’s VERY rare for me to sit down at all (whether it is to eat or rest). If I wanted to begin selling prints to guests I would likely launch an e-commerce application on the web site.

How many pictures are typically taken at a wedding?

Good question… I’ve found that the amount of photos I take varies quite a bit per wedding. The factors seem to be:

  • How long I am at the wedding (I can easily take 100~150 shots per hour; I’ve been at some 10+ hour weddings and my shot count is usually quite high for those; on shorter weddings I’m usually pushing myself harder to make sure I get a good amount of quality images).
  • It’s hard to phrase this one: but, how “scenic” the wedding is, or, how much action is going on. At a wedding involving a couple from large families, with lots of friends and guests, held at a scenic location, with lots of cute kids running around, and a large wedding party, combined with a long wedding service and lots of formal photos —- I tend to end up with a lot more shots.
  • Whether or not I have an assistant, and my assistant’s skill level (my clients don’t get a choice of assistants – but, generally, the ones I’ve been using lately are family and they are skilled). I’ll generally sync all the clocks in the cameras before a wedding. My assistant will usually shoot the backup camera (which saves JPG’s). My camera shoots raw. After the wedding, I’ll dump all the photos from both cameras into one folder, sort by time, and rename them with a four-digit number (0001, 0002, 0003, etc.). Then, I sort by file type and pull all the JPG’s out. The raw images are processed separately. After processing all the raw files I’ll have an idea of how the wedding is looking, and whether there are any gaps. I then pull up the assistant’s JPG’s and go through looking for the best shots. The more skilled my assistant, the more images I’ll use. The lower my shot count is, the more I’ll use (assuming there are good ones to choose from). If most of the shots are duplicate’s of my shots, I’ll use less. The larger the wedding, the better the chance the assistant was somewhere different than I was and was getting different images – the more I’ll use. Sometimes I’ll include 20 shots from my assistant, other times 100 or more.
  • The more duplicates and rejects I have – the less photos the couple will see. Although I’vefound myself pulling out less and less images over time. I definitely try to include as many as possible for the couple. At this point, I usually only pull ones that the exposure is way off (and not salvageable), or ones where the person in the photo would be embarrassed (eyes were blinking, head was at a funny angle, mouth was opening to say something, etc.). I’m quicker to pull such shots out when I have another one that is a similar shot but higher quality (for example, I usually notice when my exposure/flash is bad and will try to quickly reshoot).
  • Keep in mind that all of the above represents my style . Other photographers’ shot counts will vary significantly. I know of some that are still shooting medium format (EXPENSIVE to process!) film and only take 300 or 400 shots at a wedding (I couldn’t imagine taking so few). And yet I know of others that shoot more than 2,000 (digital) shots at each wedding (which sounds like a lot to me). Others say that only 100 or so images end up in the wedding album – so why bother shooting lots of images. My thought is: I shoot every single good shot I can, and my goal is to give my clients the best possible 500, 750, or even 1,000 images to choose from when they build their album; but I don’t ever shoot mediocre or bad shots just to try and bump up the shot count – I’m always looking for good compositions/scenes/lighting/moments. My contract gives a low number: stating that I usually deliver 400-500, or more. But I don’t guarantee a specific number.

My current, delivered, shot count for weddings seem to be between 800 and 1,300. My RAW shot count (especially depending upon how many shots my assistant takes on the backup camera) often runs between 1,000 and 1,700.

Destin Florida Wedding Photography Tips and Techniques

This happens often.  You love photography and have been asked by a friend to take pictures at their beach wedding. Why is it that it seems like every professional photographer will recommend you don’t do it?  Maybe they don’t want to be blamed for encouraging you to take the photos if you make mistakes and ruin the wedding photos. I’m a wedding photographer that realizes every professional started out by photographing a “first wedding” at some point. While I will still recommend you give the couple a monetary gift so they can hire a professional photographer, if you are going to go ahead and do the photography yourself, I want to help you do the best job possible!

When I first started in the Destin Florida wedding photography business I remember spending more than a hundred hours working to prepare for my first wedding. I learned as much as I could online. I took practice photos both indoors and outdoors. I also visited the church and reception site to prepare for my wedding shoot. I took more practice photos at the same time of day as my upcoming wedding  so I could match the lighting conditions. I got  people (family members, relatives, friends) to pose for me so I could practice arranging my wedding shots.

It is possible for an amateur photographer to successfully photograph a wedding.  You have to be willing to work really hard. Be willing to dedicate a lot of time to preparing for the wedding! Make sure the couple knows it is your first wedding so that they have low expectations. Then you can blow them away with your good results!

Learn About Lighting

Do you know how to take well-lit photos in a variety of settings? Can you take nicely-lit photos that primarily use natural light while indoors? Or do you use “blast-flash” on all your subjects?

There are three basic settings on the camera that control exposure. Do you know what those three are? If you are a student of photography you should immediately know the three I am referring and should know how they interact!

#1– Do you know what ISO refers to and what settings work best for various lighting conditions? If you stepped outside for some photos at a wedding, what would you move your ISO to? If you are indoors, what ISO setting will give you a good mixture of quality and light capture? At what ISO setting does your camera begin to take grainy photos? On my Canon 5d Mark II I will shoot indoors at ISO 400 all day and end up with beautiful, grain-free results. If needed, I can go up to ISO 520 or 640. I try to avoid ISO 800 – but will do it if needed (there are tons of Photoshop plug-ins, free and paid, that can be used to lessen the grain).

#2– I use Canon full frame cameras and IS L series lens now. If you can’t afford them yet you need to know what shutter speed you can comfortably shoot at without taking blurred photos? The first bit of advice is to hold the camera as still as possible while taking photos. Sound simple, but it’s important! Don’t jam the button down, press it gently.

Second bit of advice is to use a tripod whenever possible. I almost always use a tripod during wedding ceremonies that are indoors. Most of the time it is the only way I am able to get natural-lit shots of the wedding ceremony (due to the slow shutter speeds and dim lighting)

Third bit of advice is that, if you can’t use a tripod, try to brace yourself on whatever is handy. Lean against a wall. Set the camera on the back of a pew as a stabilizer.

The fourth bit of advice is the industry-wide rule of thumb regarding shutter speeds: you generally shouldn’t shoot at a shutter speed “faster” than the zoom of your lens. If you have a 50mm lens (don’t forget about digital magnification factors) you would want to shoot at 1/50th or faster. A 200mm zoom would be best shot with 1/200th of a second or faster. But this is why PRACTICE is so important: over the years I have found I can shoot with a slower shutter speed if I am using flash (to find out about my flash lighting techniques, visit my web site which I link to below). I’ve successfully taken non-blurred images while indoors with extremely dim lighting using ISO 200, f2.8, 1/30th of a second exposure with a 70mm lens and some bounce flash.

#3 – Do you know what aperture setting is best for indoor photos? For outdoor photos? For achieving a blurred-background effect (yes, shooting “wide open” – which means a low-numbered aperture – with a zoom lens is all that is needed)? For having as much of the photo in focus as possible?

This is the first in a series of articles that are designed to help amateurs as they prepare to photograph their first wedding. I have a significant amount of additional information on my web site, and also link to other web sites that have information to help you out!

Destin Florida Wedding Photography Tips and Techniques Part 2

Wedding photographers have to balance between portrait photographers  and photojournalist. Portrait photographers learn lighting, how to use it,  and portrait composition. Photographers spend time setting up the shots for the best possable lighting effect. One of my Destin Florida Wedding Photography Tips and Techniques that I will share with you is to try strive to control every aspect of the wedding portrait. With in reason of coarse. You are on the beach 9 times out of 10 and there is only so much you can do with the brides hair and the wind. If you are smart, during the bridal consult ask the bride to wear her hair up as well as her bridesmaids. This will save you alot of photoshop clean up later. 
     The photojournalist at work during a ceremony  shooting Destin Florida Wedding Photography on the other hand is quick to draw and always paying attition to what is going on around them. The photographer is able to capture a fleeting moment in time for the couple to treasure forever. A good Wedding Photographer is on their toes looking for the chance shot the perfect shot. In a wedding you are expected to get portrait like images but you are limited in time you have to shot the wedding party because they have to attend to there guest. As a wedding photographer you are also expected to catch those fleeting moments and memories that will make your mark on the busy and extremely competitive  
Destin Florida Wedding Photography industry.    

Photographs tell the Story of the Wedding

     All weddings are different and you should plan the photography with the bride and groom during the consult. Try to see the dream wedding through their eyes and give them what they want. You are a storyteller capturing memories in your images during your wedding photography session on the beaches of Destin Florida.

     You should start your story with engagement photos if you can. My tip to you here is that this is one of the best opportunity you will have to get to know the bride and groom.  You will be able to find out what they like and don’t like.  When you photograph the wedding you will start with a good rapport and you will get better results.  Some couples will want you to start at the brides home to record the preparations.  If you plan and tell a good story the wedding couple will remember you forever. If you follow these guidelines you will make a nice living on the beach. These are my Destin Florida Wedding Photography Tips and Techniques to help all you young aspiring photographers out their. Good luck to you!

Close up portrait tips – lens focal length

Choosing the best focal length for portrait is always a debate, is the wide angle is better or telephoto is the best? Is prime or zoom is better?

It is all depend on your taste and your clients. But we especially need to be careful with focal length. Wide angle lens will give some distortion, standard focal length (40mm-60mm) will give you close representation of the model, and telephoto lens will compress the model and also the background.

Most photographer especially glamor and fashion photographers will like telephoto lens instead of wide angle because the compressed look usually make the model look more flattery. Telephoto lens combined with big aperture also will make compressed and produce a nice blur in the background separating background with the model.

Even though telephoto lens is more desirable for portraits, but there is limitation of telephoto lens. One of the limitation is space, you need more space to work around with telephoto lens. If you are working indoor in small studio/room, you can’t use telephoto lens effectively.

You will also have problem in incorporating background into your picture because of its narrow view and compressed background.

Prime or Zoom?
Before, prime is desirable lens because of its sharpness. but now many lenses can produce tack sharp image as well. So you can use prime or zoom lens for portraitures. Zoom lens will provide you with more flexibility especially in tight space, while prime lens will give you benefit of portability. Related Post: Prime vs Zoom lenses.

So what focal length you want to use is basically depend on what kind of portrait that you want to achieve.

Other popular focal length for portraiture : 85mm and 100mm


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