Shooting a wedding with an entry-level DSLR

I recently received an email from one of our readers about photographing weddings with an entry-level DSLR (Nikon D3000) and an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. The request was to help out in understanding how to photograph weddings, figuring out the right camera settings and proper posing. Without much thinking, I responded to the query by saying that he/she should not photograph the wedding and perhaps leave the task to someone who knows what equipment to use and more importantly, how to use it. I never got a follow up email after that, but I have been thinking about the email ever since. I then remembered watching this video a while ago:

It is a funny video and even if it might be totally made up, it brings up a heated debate over the type of equipment wedding photographers should and should not use. I know that I am opening up a can of worms here, but here is my personal take on the subject – please let me know what you think.

Yes, most modern DSLR cameras are great and even the cheapest entry-level DSLRs today are equipped with a better image sensor than the most expensive cameras from a few years ago. As I have said it in some of my posts like Nikon vs Canon vs Sony, a camera is just a tool. However, there are certain factors that have a direct impact on images, such as lenses and the skill of the photographer. So, the camera is only a part of the equation here. Can cheap cameras create great photographs? Absolutely. Just like expensive cameras that can produce bad photographs.

So why did I tell the reader not to photograph the wedding with the D3000 and a kit lens? Because he/she had no idea how to use it.

When I get asked what to recommend for wedding photography, my response is always to get the best lenses first, and then worry about the camera. Lenses are far more important than cameras. A cheap zoom lens cannot do what a 50mm prime can. If you want to create beautiful images for your clients that you can showcase for your business, get the best glass you can afford. And as for the camera, if you can afford a full-frame camera, go for something like Nikon D700, Canon 5D Mark II or Sony A900. If budget is an issue, get a cropped-sensor camera like Nikon D7000. This is assuming that you already have a camera and know what you are doing. But don’t go out and shoot weddings with an entry-level DSLR if you are serious about your business. After-all, your gear is also the face of your company and business. Unless you are doing this for fun or just helping out a friend.


  1. 1) Eunice Brownlee
    May 31, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Great post, Lola! One of my biggest pet peeves is that the camera manufacturers are advertising on the idea that the cameras make great photographs, and that it has nothing to do with any other factors…thank you for clearing up the mis-perception that the image is made in the camera, not in the photographer. :)

    • June 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

      You are most welcome Eunice, thank you for your feedback!

      • 1.1.1) Olumide
        October 23, 2013 at 8:44 am

        Hello Nasim, I have been following a lot of your posts on site and i have been getting pretty well informed, I also commend the way you handle comments here-with so much maturity and respect. Thumbs up for you. Now to the issue on ground. A wedding is a pretty delicate programme and I understand why you said someone that lacks good experience should not take wedding pictures! Especially one that cannot handle a camera! (not been able to see video though).

        I will call myself an amateur because i still handle the ‘small’ cameras like the D90, however I have achieved great results in the past. The lenses are basic 18-55mm and 13 to 105mm ( i think the latter is faulty though as images from this are very blurry. Now with all the latest additions I feel ashamed! I haven’t upgraded basically due to budget but hopefully will soon. Please advise on what lens I can buy pending when i get better cameras ( i am thinking of the D7100 or the D610). These lenses must also be compatible with these cameras when i eventually buy them. Also, is there any article you can refer to me on lenses? I am all out on a learning mission for ideas and knowledge. I am plunging into photography big time and i know knowledge is power!

        Please is it possible to send me an email personally? I will appreciate a one on one connect with you if you dont mind!

  2. 2) [Gm]
    June 1, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I’m not a pro wedding photographer (and don’t have intention to be one, yet)… so my opinion might be bias.

    I think the key point here is how much the photographer charge the client; not everyone can afford to hire a pro photographer with pro gears. So, there is still room for entry level camera wedding photographer. Basically, you get what you pay.

    Entry-level camera will have limitation, including how big it can be printed. Well, if it is already understood by the client, and the price is acceptable, I don’t see any problem with that.

    I think the most important thing is that the photographer and the client are at the same page; the client should know what they are going to get with the money they are paying, while the photographer should live up to the client expectation (based on the portfolio or example provided).

    You said: “But don’t go out and shoot weddings with an entry-level DSLR if you are serious about your business.”

    Yes, I agree with you. If you are serious about your business, then you should have pro gears so that you can produce high quality product… but, can’t we start from small? And then save money from the paid job to start upgrading the gears?

    • June 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      GM, I think the amount photographers charge clients depend on multiple factors such as experience, confidence level, ability to market, etc. Most experienced pro photographers who have been in the industry for a while rarely charge little for their wedding packages. So the room for entry level camera wedding photographer is typically between those who just recently started, and those who do it for fun on weekends.

      As for the size of print, as of right now, most entry-level DSLRs have either similar or the same resolution as high-end DSLRs. It is not just about sensor resolution – there are a few other factors such as color rendition, depth of field, high ISO (especially on full-frame sensors) and AF performance that higher-end DSLRs are better at, in addition to other camera features. At the same time, those features are only good if the photographer knows how to use them in first place.

      I am in no way suggesting that newbie photographers should be buying the most expensive equipment. As I have pointed out in the above article, budget is an issue for many of us. So there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting small. But then you don’t just become a wedding photographer by buying a camera. Many photographers either start out by second shooting for an experienced photographer or by engaging in small, often unpaid events and grow from there.

      • 2.1.1) [Gm]
        June 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

        I totally agree with you in this comment. I’m sorry, I think I have the wrong impression when I read the post earlier… but after reading your comment, I guess it is clear now :-). I think we are already in the same page.

  3. June 1, 2011 at 5:01 am

    I can understand your sincere intention by this post, but I cannot fully agree with it. I know few professional wedding photographers using Nikon D40x or similar with decent lenses are producing stunning photos & albums, they are in this field quiet long period.
    Wedding photography is more art than science, experience and quick action really matters than a expensive body and lens.

    • 3.1) Kristian
      July 28, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Define “stunning”. If a camera and lens combo can’t handle the low light that comes with many wedding and reception venues, all their skill won’t matter and their images will be far from stunning. Hunting for focus during the first dance isn’t producing anything.

      So okay, if they can do nothing but outdoor weddings or somehow convince the venues to turn the lights to the brightest possible levels, cool. Otherwise they need better gear.

  4. 4) Mon Montero
    June 1, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Hi Nasim & Lola, after i read and watch about this article, i am now thinking if i will accept to be a photographer of my friends wedding, im not a pro photographer its only my hobbies to take photographs anything i see is interesting to shoot, i been doing this almost a year now.. I want your advice regarding to this. I have a Nikon D7000, and two lenses a Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S, Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, manfrotto carbon fibre tripod and one SB-600 speedlights, i have a plan and still have a budget to buy a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, but i just confused because i don’t have much a lighting equipment to used, i only have one speedlight and its only Nikon SB-600, do u think i need to buy more lighting equipment or a FX camera like Nikon D700 rather than to spend a very good and sharp lens like the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II, or do u think i can use just only natural light for whole day wedding photoshoot..and use my one speedlight for a night shoot..i really want to take this wedding photoshoot opportunity, its my first time to do this and they want to pay me in good price, but i am afraid if something wrong will happen. I want to become a wedding pro photographer in the future and i think this is a good time to start with, i am a graphic designer and i don’t have a problem regarding editing photos, i just want to know if my photo equipment is enough or i need to buy something else to make all my photographs is sharp, clear and to make my friend happy for her wedding pictures..i really want your advice..Thanks in advanced..and more power to your career Nasim and Lola :)

    • June 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      Mon, the gear you have is more than enough to photograph a wedding. You have an excellent choice of lenses and I would not worry about the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II for now. Lola and I have done weddings without using a zoom lens at all and one of the weddings I remember vividly was shot with only the two lenses you have – 50mm f/1.4G and 24mm f/1.4G. As for lighting equipment, it all depends on what time of the day the wedding will take place and where (indoors or outdoors). If you will be shooting indoors a lot or in the evening, you might need to get some more lighting equipment to help you out. Also, find out if the indoor setting will have white ceilings above. If the venue has low white ceilings, you would just use your SB-600 and bounce it off the ceilings to get good shots. If the ceilings are too high or of different color, find out how dim the room will be. In very dim environments, you will need to use flash or video light.

      I also highly recommend to learn how to use your SB-600 very well. If you will be shooting in TTL, change your camera mode to manual and work on your exposure depending on the ambient light. You might want to get another flash like SB-900 with a stand + umbrella if you want to get better portraits indoors. I also recommend getting a pair of PocketWizard units to trigger the SB-900 (or get an adapter for the SB-600 if you do not want to spend the money on the SB-900).

      Hope this helps.

      • 4.1.1) Mon Montero
        June 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm

        Thank u so much, this one really helps me a i know what i need to buy, i will buy some lighting equipment and i can save my money to buy next equipment..Thanks again Nasim and Lola..I love you both..:)

      • 4.1.2) John Adams
        April 17, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        I began my career as a commercial photographer for a large electronics company in the northeast. Many of the photographers there also had a part-time wedding photography on the week-ends. I apprenticed under two of them for a year and then began shooting my own weddings. It’s been many years since I’ve shot a wedding so I’m not qualified to comment on the current state of the art. The one thing I haven’t seen mentioned in the discussions of equipment needed for shooting a wedding is the need for back-up equipment. I always shot every wedding with a back-up set of equipment in case of any equipment failure while on the job. Those who are looking to shoot weddings with entry level equipment should factor in the need and the cost of back-up equipment.

  5. 5) Nicola
    June 1, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I was really interested to read this post. I am not a professional photographer by any means, but bought my first DSLR (also a D3000) a little over a year ago and have been enthusiastically learning how to use it ever since. I was recently asked, by a friend, to photograph their wedding – partly because she likes some of the photos I have taken and partly because she simply couldn’t afford to pay a professional photographer but did want some photographs of the big day, so I can empathise with your reader.
    I have to say that I think that articles on basic wedding poses and how to compensate for the challenging light conditions would be extremely useful – and I know you have produced articles on some of these issues, but one specifically for basic wedding photography might be a great idea. Of course, I appreciate my photos aren’t going to be as technically competent as someone who does it for a living, but I also hope that in taking pictures at her wedding, I provided my friend with a lovely gift, and indeed, I was pleased with some of the pictures that I took.
    Everyone had to start somewhere – and even professional photographers had a first job!

    • June 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      Nicola, thank you for your feedback! Yes, you are right – every photographer starts somewhere, whether it is second shooting for another photographer or working on free gigs. I am not suggesting that buying an expensive camera will make one a better photographer. However, your case in particular is an exception in a way, because you are not doing it professionally – meaning you are not charging your friend for your services. If you are not able to produce good photographs on her wedding day (which I hope you will), she would still be happy, because she does not have high expectations, as she understands that you are not a pro who does it for a living. However, it is a different story when photographers get paid for the job. Then, you cannot simply say, as in the above video, that your photographs were not good enough because lighting conditions were poor. Those are the things you find out in advance and if there is a problem, you communicate that to the bride and groom to lower their expectations.

      If I were using a low-end DSLR, I would be honest with my clients that in some cases, the camera and lenses I use might not be good enough to photograph in dark environments. This would obviously have a negative impact on my marketing, but at least I would not be lying about what I can and cannot do.

      As for articles on wedding photography, hopefully we will be able to put something together after the upcoming workshops.

  6. 6) Scott Duncan
    June 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for reminding me not to shoot a wedding. I know that I’m not ready, and thankfully I don’t have the desire. I was interested in reading how to, just to learn what is used. I guess portrait work would be more desirable for me to learn at this point. Thank you for all your tips and tutorials.

    • June 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      Scott, you are most welcome. It is a good idea to start with portrait photography and grow from there.

  7. 7) Diane Burchfield Johnson
    June 1, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Oh my wow, just watch the video and the last part she walk out then had to pay her back for what she did a lousy job saying just blah blah blah like lighting effect. But the photo that the judge saw which prove she didnt do any of her good job.
    I have taken quite wedding photo and know what has to be done with lighting and the main important is the lens. I have no problem with this since I’ve done my photography for over 35 years. :) Plus working with US Army Photographer for 30 years.
    With the beginners photographer will have to be more aware of what they have to do. LOTTA PRACTICE…
    Sheesh, I back off all about her saying to the judge and roll my head back. LOL Thank you.. Just never know what the client will do if their pictures doesn’t turn out good and can be serve in the court.

    • June 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Diane, that one photo with the couple in the center and flowers in the background tells a lot about the photographer :)

  8. 8) adam
    June 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Perfect. Love it. That judge had me rolling on the floor. Thank you Judge Joe Brown.

    • June 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      Judge: “What f stop did you use? Where is your 28-70? You don’t have 7D, 5D, 10D or the 1 series and I am looking at the cheapest lens you can get by on a Canon system”. He is awesome, LOL :D

      • 8.1.1) Brad Seaman
        May 7, 2012 at 8:18 am

        This show has become somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me as of late and I cannot tell you how amazing this episode is! The fact the Joe knows so much (more than one would expect) is Awesome, and he just totally calls them out on the technical details.

        Also, not sure if anyone has pointed this out, but the biggest part of running a business, photography or otherwise is customer service. These two women were outright rude and a prime example of what customer service should not be.

        Thanks for the post Nasim!

  9. 9) Mako2011
    June 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Just an observation. I have been reading your website for awhile and have refereed many to it for the purposes of learning. I understand your reasoning perfectly with regards to the proper equipment and skill needed to professionally photograph a weeding. I agree with you, Yet, when you say …..” I responded to the query by saying that he/she should not photograph the wedding and leave the task to someone who knows what equipment to use and more importantly, HOW to use it”……that seems unlike the friendly helpful folks I have come to admire. The wording and tone surprised me as it seems to belittle and I know that was not the intent. I mean no disrespect as I look to you both as a teacher and a great photographer. You did ask us to let you know what we thought. Thank you and I apologize if I misread. I was just trying to express how the article struck me.

    • June 2, 2011 at 12:06 am

      Mako, I am sorry if what I wrote sounded that way to you. Perhaps I should not have emphasized the word “how” in caps, as it might create an impression that I was arrogant towards the person who wrote to me. I am only here to help and I meant no disrespect, especially to our readers. I just wanted to point out that photographing someone’s wedding is a responsibility, which as shown in the above video, could result in a liability.

      Thank you for your feedback – I will revisit the wording in my article and hopefully it won’t leave such a negative tone as it seemed to you.

      • 9.1.1) Mako2011
        June 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm

        I was 99% sure that was your intent and am very relieved I was correct as this site is so refreshing. Please continue to have such a positive impact on photography. I look forward to your next article. Best Wishes.

  10. June 2, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Also consider that most wedding pros have backup camera bodies and lenses, which is more essential in weddings than portrait sessions. The wedding-shooter-newcomer should consider getting a better body and keeping their less-pro body as a backup, if they’re planning on staying in that biz long.

    • June 2, 2011 at 12:42 am

      Paul, I absolutely agree with you. Nothing is worse than a camera failing in the middle of a wedding ceremony. Also, it is always nice to be able to shoot with two different cameras + lenses without having to dismount lenses, especially when things move very fast.

  11. 11) Peter
    June 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Who is that kid in the Miranda & Ben wedding shot? Is it theirs?

    • June 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      Peter, yes, it is… I asked the same question from Lola when she came back from that wedding. Apparently many couples have kids before getting officially married nowadays.

      • 11.1.1) Peter
        June 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

        They sure took their sweet time about it given the size of the kid.

        I’d bet this was a wedding in California or Colorado. Cool, man!

  12. 12) Aggie
    June 5, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I myself use a D3000 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, and I’d NEVER use the 18-55mm kit lens ever again, let alone at a wedding!

    I agree with you about getting the right lens first before worrying about the body. There is such a huge difference between the 50mm f/1.8 and the kit lens that I don’t even know where to start!

    And yes, if anyone was to charge for their photography services then they should definitely check out the venue for any rules/regulations and lighting conditions in advance, and inform their clients. It’s only professional and ethical.

    I’m not saying that I’m a brilliant photographer or anything, but it’s sad when people perceive that having an expensive camera will produce wonderful photos.

    Again, another wonderful article.

  13. 13) MichaelG
    June 6, 2011 at 12:02 am

    My background is in motion picture and television production. This topic reminds me of the situation we would occasionally find ourselves in when shooting a picture. Although not an every day occurrence, when it does happen it’s critical. That situation is the “one take” scene. We have to get it in one take because we cannot restage the scene for any number of reasons (cost, logistics, destruction of elements, etc.). When we have to get it in one take we are far less concerned about what brand lens or camera than with who is behind that camera. We want someone who has been there and done it enough to be comfortable and competent. A lot is riding on his ability to capture that scene.

    Think now of a wedding instead of a motion picture “one take” situation. There are a lot of similarities. That wedding between those two people is going to occur but once (we hope). It’s a unique event..when it’s over, it’s over and it’s not going to be restaged. The stakes are high…it’s probably one of the most expensive events the couple have experienced yet in their lives and there is a certain amount of tension. They will hire a photographer to capture those moments. A lot rides on his skill, his ability to get it right the first, and only, time. Beyond that there is much specialized knowledge shooting weddings…..from who to shoot and what situations to set posed before hand and what key photos to get during and after. That’s why wedding photography is such a specialty.

    Photographers who specialize in weddings tend to have the best equipment for a reason–because they know how to use it and it supports their skills and vision. Asking what gear to get to be a wedding photographer is putting the the cart before the horse. As your skills grow you may need better gear. But better gear is not going to give you the vision or creativity or skill to make great photos. That will come from hard work and experience and some inborn talent.

    This reminds me of the story of the professional photographer whose amateur friend kept saying he could do better if he had the pro’s gear. The pro then made laid down a challenge. The pro would take his friend’s entry level gear for a day. He would give his pro gear to the friend for the day. They would both go out and shoot. At the end of the day, whoever had the best shots would get to keep the other guy’s gear. The amateur looked sheepish and did NOT take the challenge. Smart decision.

  14. 14) Brian
    June 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    The video was hilarious! I’ve done a couple of event photos for different organizations, and I’m trying to shift towards engagements and weddings. I started out with the D3000, but got rid of that within several months when I needed something more. Fortunately, the D7000 came out, and I bought the 70-200mm as a bundle. So right now, I have:

    * D7000
    * 70-200mm VRII
    * 35mm
    * SB-700

    What more do you recommend for quality engagement / wedding shots? Because my budget is very tight right now, I’d have to rent lenses, which I don’t mind. I would probably have to rent a second body – a D7000 or D300S. I’m always researching and experimenting with my camera and lighting.

    And speaking of printing photos, do you have any recommendations on that? Maybe you can do a separate article on it? Perhaps titled “Publishing your masterpieces”

    • 14.1) max
      March 17, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      you have enough learn photography blury qaulity pics are amazing capture moments

  15. June 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Nice video.. :D “where is you 28-70…” :DD
    I believe that in most cases clients get what they pay for.. For example, here in UK, almost very guy who owns some kind a camera and a few lenses offers himself as a wedding photographer for some £800 per whole day etc. if people really believe they can get a high level wedding photography for that kind of money, they really get what they pay for in result.. ;)
    …and it’s the same in all things.. Those who pay hundred bucks for chinese iPhone copy for example and think it’s a smart thing to do also get what they pay for in result! :)

    • 15.1) max
      March 17, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      you can be amazing and charge cheap ..maybe you just wanna be rough.. i know waa you mean but there are people out there

  16. 16) Dianna
    July 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Hi! Thanks for the great information! Can you tell a novice what to expect for the cost of lenses? You speak of ‘cheap lenses’. How can I konw. Ebay/Craigslist/Amazon and a million other sites vary SO much I dont know where to begin! I have a D3000 and the standard lens…need to shoot a friends (unpaid-they know the total truth of my skill) indoor low light church *gulp*

    And do I have to have a tripod!?

  17. 17) ivy
    December 4, 2011 at 5:35 am

    i used a point and shoot camera for a professional wedding photos and my cousin used a high grade DSLR..the pictures came out the same..i got better depth…it”s not totally about the camera, it’s how you use it..

    • 17.1) Tomas Haran
      February 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      The more recent point and shoots are actually very nice. They have a wide range of iso, zooming capabilities, and even carl zeiss optics which are fantastic. If the pictures were about the same that means that you probably are better at using a camera than your cousin.

  18. March 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Hi mansurov,

    I am a beginner to photography . I have Nikon D5100 + Kit lens (18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR) and it is a good camera to begin my photography hobby. I have read all of your articles , it’s very helpful for beginner like me. In a future I plan to have my own studio for photography business (ie: wedding photography). Do you have a suggestion or tips how to become professional photography ?

    Meanwhile please visit or comment :-) my photostream

  19. 19) Radovan Adamisin
    April 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    this clip reminded me personal experience with one professional photographer, when I was selling my Nikon D700 and when I met with older man first thing he did was ,that he give me his business card. Card said :Professional photographer!!! , then he was looking on my camera and pull out his Nikon D40 +18-55 lens. When we spoke before we met he said that he wanna try his own lens. So I have to tell him that he need FX lenses for D700. We chat for awhile and he told me that he does weddings, and that kind of photography. But goal was when he was looking at my camera and ask me what “P” stands for, and where is AUTO ?????
    In the end he give me his other business card with different address !!!
    After all this I decided to sell my camera cheeper but somebody who will know how to use a camera.
    And of course I have more friends who thinks that if you have DSLR than you are a pro and you can do wedding because it is easy way to make money. Or if you have money and took maybe 100 pictures of your kids with Nikon D3s and your friends say that you did great pictures and you should do that as a job and they believe them then is going to be a problem for people who hire that kind of photographer. Or one more type photographers who have decent camera and flash.
    I’m photo enthusiast and lucky that I can afford some better lenses and camera. I was at one invited to friend son christening and his cousin is”pro”photographer with big mouth. we start talking about gear and prices, so he tried to impress me about his camera {Canon 7D+ 28-135,+ flash} how expensive it was and how superb, and that he is going to buy some better lenses but they are so expensive and good lens coast around 700-900??? So I just listened and when I start talking and asking question than he left . At that time I was proud owner of Nikon D700 and I had already 24-70,70-200,50 f/1.4 AFS ,105 Macro VR,Sb 900.
    I know that camera doesn’t make pictures but photographer, but I can’t imagine call my self after two years in photography. But if you find clients than you can call yourself a PRO I guess??

  20. 20) Mark Payne
    May 17, 2012 at 10:53 am

    This is a great post (and video) and I’m going to share it on my facebook page at She sure got what she deserved. He should have asked her if she knew what an f/stop was! Thanks for this post.

  21. 21) Jon Millard
    June 21, 2012 at 6:18 am

    There are some really good and interesting points on this forum.

    I have been asked to shoot a friends wedding, as she knows it’s my hobby and has seen the pictures I upload to facebook (mainly family shots or landscapes). I’ve opted to take on the challenge, but have been completely clear on the risks associated with me opposed to a professional. Mainly:
    – Significantly less experience
    – Amateur kit (Canon 500D, Tamron 17-50 2.8VC, Sigma 30mm 1.4, Canon 50m 1.8, Jessops 360AFD flash)
    – No backups

    We have have opted to mitigate the 2nd two points by her paying for me to rent Canon 7D (so all my lens will work with it, opposed to renting a full frame 5D mkII/mk III), 70-200 2.8 II and canon 600 EX-RT flash, which come to approx £200 for the weekend. This has eased my mind as if my camera or flash died part way through it would be horrific.

    Though I’ve yet to do the wedding, I think managing the expectations of your friend is vital, so I shall be agreeing with her and her husband-to-be the type of shots they want, formal group shots and understanding the dreaded family politics. Also I’ll find out which photographers have shot at that venue to get ideas for good locations for the couples and formal group shots. From all the advice people have given, or that I have read, preparation is key.

    For those considering shooting a wedding for a friend, I’ve bee doing some research and have found these books very useful:

    On-Camera Flash Techniques for Wedding and Portrait Photography
    Neil van Niekerk

    Wedding Photography – a Guide to Photojournalism
    Kerry Morgan

    Wedding Photography – A Guide to Posing
    David Pearce

    These were suggested to me by a friend who is a full time professional photographer, and they have certainly expanded my theoretic knowledge. Now i need to practice practice practice, especially with manual control and my flash in doors to do the best with available ambient light.

  22. 22) Warren Lyons
    August 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Although I am an intermediate level hobbyist and probably will never turn pro, over the past 30+ years, I have attended enough weddings, including two of my own to notice a few things. Those paying upwards of $2.000.00 for someone to records what is hopefully a once in lifetime event, expect those doing so to look the part. That means showing up with at least one large DSLR, along with an assortment of lights, battery packs, and tripods, whether they are used or not. Anything less is one more nail in his/her professional coffin. Although a good pro could get excellent results with a top of the food chain compact system camera, particulary a Sony Nex with real Zeiss lenses, it still gives the appearance of a point and shoot on steroids. Ditto for the budget DSLR. Even if the wedding is Civil War themed, and at an antibellum plantation, that Canon had better not have a Rebel decal. When all is said an done, the professional wedding photographer not only needs to show his clients that they are getting their moneys’ worth, but hopefully will attract future clients from amoung the invited guests. Think about it; were you interviewing for a waitress job at Hooters, would you show up dressed like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms?

  23. 23) Annalise
    October 19, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I think it’s all in your style. I know a photographer that charges at least $5,000 to photograph a wedding (she only shoots weddings)… and she has a full frame camera, but only shoots with a 50mm lens. She feels that it allows her photos to be more intimate. Considering that people pay her… I would think she is doing something right… I don’t think there is a proper way to photograph a wedding… I think that what works for me might not always work for someone else… that’s part of art. I shot a friend’s wedding for free using a d3000+ the standard lens kit. The photos were “okay”, but it was a good experience, I didn’t get paid, and she doesn’t know anything about photography and thought the pictures were fantastic.

    I currently shoot the majority of my photos with a 50mm prime lens and a D700… considering I’m getting paid…and people are head-over-heels happy… I must be doing something right.

  24. 24) Teniel
    June 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I was once looking for help on how to stack photos using photoshop and came across your website. I pop in every now and then to see whats new. When I saw the title of this article, I got quite excited as I am an amateur photographer.

    I work full time but have a passion for photography. I am now part time self employed and have been taking on wedding photography jobs for a little under a year now. I am by no means a pro and am still working with my entry level DSLR, 18-55mm kit lens and a 70-300mm Tamron. I would LOVE to be able to afford a good quality prime and wide angle, etc but that’s just not feasible for me right now. I would also LOVE to be able to afford to put myself through some sort of course to learn the technical side of photography but sadly, cannot afford this either so I rely on forums such as these (and lots of practice) to improve myself.

    This is something I would love to do professionally one day but have to say, I am a little apprehensive about joining this “elite” group of pro togs that do nothing but knock the people that are trying to build a career for themselves in this industry. (You are not the first to do it)

    I found your article to be very arrogant and condescending. I don’t know one pro tog that picked up a camera for the very first time and knew exactly what they were doing.
    I advertise myself as an amateur. Clients get to see my portfolio and they sign a contract, just like they would with a pro. If clients are approaching people such as myself, why should we turn that offer down? Its a chance to bring in a bit of capital so that we have something to put towards our development and its a great way to get some new shots for our growing portfolios.

    If amateurs are upfront and honest and the client is still willing to place their business with these photographers, then whats the problem?

    If professional photographers offer mentoring and advice online, they should use the facility to help their fellow photographers rather than knocking their hopes and dreams.

    • June 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm


      A camera is just a tool. If you learn how to use your entry-level DSLR effectively and take killer photos, go right ahead! My biggest problem with anyone grabbing an entry-level DSLR is taking on a wedding, is that they often do not know how to use it and they end up ruining all the photos, like the photographer did in the above video. Everyone starts somewhere – my first DSLR was not an expensive camera either. But I would not have taken on something as important as a wedding, without learning how to use the camera first and doing some portrait work successfully first. If you are just starting out, photograph your friends and family first – they are great subjects to learn the basics. Then find a local photographer and volunteer to assist in weddings. Learn the craft and only once you are confident and know how to handle paid gigs, start booking clients.

      Lola will be writing an article on second shooting weddings – I highly recommend that you give that a read.

  25. 25) Gyselle
    July 16, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Nasim, I love your blog and wish I had found it before I spent my money on cheap lenses. I photograph as a hobby but intend to make this my retirement job. I started with a prosumer, thought I was doing well, bought a Nikon 5100 to start with dslr with the 18-55 kit lens and the bundle 70-200 zoom lenses, I was wondering if the problem was me for not getting the results I wanted. Wish I knew this blog earlier. thanks so much for sharing

  26. 26) Judy G.
    February 4, 2014 at 12:20 am

    Hi, first off I love your articles :)

    I am an aspiring photographer, shooting for others for only a few months, but shooting for myself for years.
    I have a relative who has literally begged me to do her Wedding.
    I’m am not experienced in weddings, but after her constant badgering I agreed.
    No charge, of course.
    I own only a Nikon D5100 As well as a Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G. I have bought an AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.dD and AF-S Micro Nikkor 40mm 1:2.8G.
    I have a very small budget of $400 for a lens.
    What would you recommend I get?
    I have received many negative comments about me being an amateur with a beginner camera, but my cousin cannot afford a professional and I’m doing her a favor. So any non-negative pointer would be extremely helpful!
    (Posing tips, settings, etc.) À

    • 26.1) Hari
      April 27, 2014 at 6:40 am

      Mr judy to be a photographer there are litte small small tools are sufficiat those are all as under dear
      No one
      your presence of mind has to to its duty
      No two
      your hands to do its duty
      No three
      your Legs have to do its duty
      Even a point and shoot camara too will take amazing Picture @ less than 100 $.
      Try this And tell me

  27. 27) Karin Ott
    September 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Judging by the comments I’m not the only one who’s friend has said, “you must photograph my wedding!” Quite apart from feeling nervous about whether I would be able to do it well enough, I felt disappointment. I don’t think my friend realized that if I am to photograph her wedding, I am not invited as a guest. I will be at work.

  28. 28) Camila
    July 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I was wondering if you had the chance to test the Sony RX100 III ?
    I am not a professional photographer but I’m going to shoot my brother’s wedding… would this camera work to shoot at a wedding? Or should I borrow a proper DLSR?

    Thanks for the help


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