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D700 Wedding Photography Questions

Christopher Carille , Jun 07, 2009; 08:31 a.m.

Hi Everyone!
I know the first answer I'll get is "Don't shoot weddings!" or "Leave it to professionals," but I am going to be doing a huge favor for a couple friends of mine by shooting their wedding in August. I've taken some advice already and am having them create a shot-list and assign members from each side of the family to corral people, and I will do a walk-around of the inn that the wedding is taking place at, with the bride and groom. I also will be bringing an assistant along to help with lens changes and set-ups, and will have scouted outdoors photo situations and an indoors alternative. Furthermore, there will be two other friends of the family (one from groom's and one from bride's) there that will be taking photos as back-up.
So I have a couple questions...First, I will be using a D700 and I have a few lens choices. I would like to know what suggestions people have for a walk around out of the following: All Nikon, AF-S VR Micro 105mm f/2.8, 50 f/1.4 D, AF-S VR 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 G, and the AF-S 14-24 f/2.8
Second, any suggestions as to where I should stand during the exchanging of vows? I ask because the last wedding I was at had the photographer set-up behind the priest photographing out. (I do plan to discuss more with the bride and groom)
And lastly, since I normally am a nature photographer that shoots while on backpacking trips...any other suggestions outside of what has been mentioned already? Thank you in advance for any advice, I really do appreciate any help.


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Robert Gulotta , Jun 07, 2009; 08:42 a.m.

you are actually leaving yourself in a bind with the lens choices. If you want to shoot wedding formals, you can probably get away with the 50, but if you have to back up further and there is a wall behind you... the 14-24 is too wide to shoot that kinda stuff. I would seriously look into renting a 24-70 for the day, or buying one, or look into any of the tamron or sigma alternatives. If budget is a concern, even a nikon 28-200 would do.

There is no subsitute for a mid range zoom at a wedding!

David Haas , Jun 07, 2009; 09:03 a.m.

Leave the 70-300 at home. Get ahold of a good sigma or nikon 18-50 or 18-70 zoom.

As for where to stand... A lot (80% plus) depends on the person performing the ceremony. The only consistency about them is their inconsistency. I've done Catholic weddings where if I had wanted to stand behind the Priest and shoot out... I would have been damned to hell forever and barred from ever shooting in that church again!

Ask the bride / groom for input...but at the end of the day - the person performing the ceremony sits the rules and if you want cooperation and sucess - you follow their rules. Some will say it's up to you, others will tell you what is and isn't allowed and will give you guidelines to work in.

Good Luck


Matthew Brennan , Jun 07, 2009; 09:08 a.m.

I'll second Robert's point re- requiring some mid range focal lengths for people events like weddings. I also think renting a 24-70mm for your D700 is a wise choice, renting an additional flash unit might also be warranted if the indoor venues are particularly dark. You appear to have put plenty of forethought into your shoot. Hope all goes well.

Brian Duffy , Jun 07, 2009; 09:39 a.m.

I agree the 24-70 would be perfect and get a majority of the shots. The 50mm 1.4 on the D700 is a nice full length portrait lens and you can use it for candid shots of small groups of people 2-3. If the lighting is not great the 1.4 will come in handy and allow for nice shots without flash. At least using fill flash in most situations is best though to keep from having shadows on people's faces.

Frank Skomial , Jun 07, 2009; 10:34 a.m.

"but if you have to back up further and there is a wall behind you... " - your 14-24/2.8 Nikkor is perfect lens so you would not to have back up at all perhaps, unless you wish. You usually have to back up with much longer lenses to frame your subjects, but not with this wide lens.

The 20-24 mm range of this lens is fully usable for weddings in small quarters and larger crowds. Since you have 50/1.4 Nikkor, and this wide lens, you are already set for the wedding. Of cource 24-70 would be better but is not necessary, if you operate your lenses properly, doing the hard work on framing and approaching the subject.

Quality of pictures could improve with experienced use of flash(es) if allowed, but D700 should handle low light well.

Ramon V (California) , Jun 07, 2009; 11:27 a.m.

i will have to agree on the need for a medium zoom. the 14-24mm/50mm combo will do the trick but it will need a great amount of skill of framing ---- a lot of "leg work".

Jens Frederiksen , Jun 07, 2009; 01:45 p.m.

I have done weddings with 24-70 only and it works fine, but.. it would have been nice with the 14-24 too for larger groups. I would not have signed up for the jobs without the 24-70, so why not rent one? And go for it! There are always a first time.. Have fun.

William Pahnelas , Jun 07, 2009; 02:12 p.m.

first of all, that's a nice kit for nature photography, IMO. for weddings, not so much. probably the 50/1.4 is best out of the bunch you mentioned for walk-about. but if you're going to do the conventional wedding thing, you really will need the fast mid-range zoom people are talking about, too. as for where to stand during the ceremony, that brings up a second lens decision. i use an 80-200/2.8 D lens, so i can shoot from different vantages around the church, and still remain somewhat out of the picture myself. i doubt you can make the 70-300 work for you in that role, mostly b/c of the limited max aperture. since you have the opportunity to check out the venue with the couple, that would be your best opportunity to figure out how you're going to make your gear work for you.

Ilkka Nissila , Jun 07, 2009; 03:12 p.m.

How much people photography experience do you have? If you have to ask lens questions and people photography isn't your area of expertise, you should not be doing this. It's like someone asked me to photograph an arctic fox for a cover of a nature magazine. No can do.

If you really are going to do this, I would get the 24-70/2.8 zoom to use most of the time, with 105 used for close-ups. You can use the 50 for low light and for groups, the 14-24 for interior pics of the church but I'd avoid using the 14-24 a lot for people images even though this might be vogue - it's just tasteless. The gap between 50mm and 24mm is way too wide; in most weddings most of my shots are in this range. 24mm is too wide for people photography in general, and 50mm will put you in a situation where you won't be able to include important elements in the shot when working close. A 35mm prime would close the gap well enough if you don't want to spend the money for the 24-70. I have done all primes weddings but I have a fairly good idea of what is going to happen and when. This is something you also need to know. It's not sufficient to react to what you see; you need to be always in the right place.

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