WOW, are people here really stupid, she means taking pictures at a wedding not doing a shooting or so i hope not.
Have two cameras just in case your equipment fails. I carry both my digital SLR and then my film for backup as well as another digital SLR that I borrow. Have a good range lens like a 24-70 f/2.8 so if light is not great you can still get good shots.
Also get a decent flash like a Canon Speedlite 580EX.
As far a shooting goes, be sure you have an engagement session at the very least. This will allow you to really see how well the couple photographs and the adjustments you may need to make so you get great shots on the big day. Not all brides and grooms are good looking so you have to be sure you do all you can to help them photograph as best as possible. Be sure you go to the rehearsal if you can so you can be in the right spots during the ceremony. Be sure and get those candids, try to not get too many posed pictures. You need a good mix of posed and candids. Get shots of everyone, both families, and even the friends are important.
1) have multiple cameras ready - you get one try.
2) Get a shot request list from the bride and groom - this is your work order
3) get a deposit - not refundable
4) have your pricing for additional prints agreed in advance.
5) Get a LLC so your personal stuff is protected form lawsuits.
6) Be vocal when arranging large group shots - they are like herding cats.
7) get a proof sheet of all the pix to make ordering easy. - develop and ordering form.
8) get a contract signed for the work with your terms before you start.
9) deliver on time and better than promised for repeat business
if you are video taping tape from at least 2 angles so you can cut footage.
Use remote audio in places like the pulpit.
make sure the bride and groom give you a list the night before the wedding of exactly what shots they definitely want to have taken. They should consult with their families too before the final copy is given to you as well. That way no accidental shots are left out. We forgot at our wedding to have a photo of me with the groomsmen and my hubby with the bridesmaids and little things like that but we didnt have a list and we had a friend take our photos for us and realized we should have done a list just to make sure everything was covered. Oh and no matter what dont let them rush you, go at your own pace. If you get rushed the phots will look sloppy and make sure that the ladies do a makeup touchup and the guys do a hair check.
I can try to help but the advice I would give really depends on what your experience level is. If you are a professional but just have not shot weddings before the advice would be different than if you're an amateur looking to do this for a friend. It also matters what kind of equipment you have.
I would say if that in general the best advice I can give is to do what you normally would do to get a good shot (e.g. use the camera on program if that's what you're used to) until you're SURE you got at least something in focus and well exposed before trying to do anything more creative. If you are a pro that just hasn't shot weddings before, this should be simple.
If you are not a professional, I would say to make sure to use flash a lot, as much as possible, even outside. If you don't have a flash other than the one that's built into your camera, I would suggest getting one before the wedding and learning the basics of how to use it, e.g. practice a lot. I know direct flash can look boring (I hate it myself) but boring is a heck of a lot better than non-existent, which is what you'll probably get if you try to do too much in what is already a pressure filled event.
Also, I would not accept payment up front for this wedding. If you charge for it, charge for prints/albums on the back end and chalk the time spent shooting up to experience. You'll be feeling enough pressure just shooting the thing without worrying about how much they are paying you. Do a good job with this one and then think about charging a small fee for the next and so forth and so on.
Also, I would HIGHLY suggest that if you want to continue to do this that you get with a good wedding photographer in your area and offer to 2nd shoot for him or her, even if it's for free for a couple weddings. This will give you a wonderful, no pressure way to build a portfolio and with any luck at all, lead to some paying 2nd shooter jobs where you can get paid to learn from a working pro.
Last thing; have fun! Weddings can be tons of fun to shoot and offer some of the best photo-ops around so keep your eyes open and take LOTS of pictures. You can never shoot too much.
Hope that helps.
1. Don't-most professionals got their start assisting for other professionals. This is a great way to learn the nuts and bolts without all the pressure.
2. If 1 is unavoidable, be sure the couple knows your experience level ahead of time and knows what to expect
3. Be sure to get a detailed, itemized list of every "must have" shot that the couple wants. Hell hath no fury like a bride who didn't get the shot of great aunt Martha that she wanted.
4. Know your equipment, inside and out. You should be able to set your shutter speed and aperture without even looking at the camera. It shouldn't take you any longer than 10 seconds to change lenses. The same goes for film or CF cards.
5. Have at least one backup of everything important. This means bodies, flashes, and your most used lenses. Your backup equipment doesn't have to be identical, just as long as it will get the shot when something else fails. For a camera body, this could be a used consumer film body. For a flash, you could have a Vivitar 283 or the like on hand. For a lens, a consumer zoom. Just something that will work when you need it to.
6. If you're using film, carry at least twice as much film as you think you need. An average amount might be 10 36-exposure rolls-so carry at least 20 rolls. For digital, carry at least twice as much media as you think you need. Since I don't use digital, I can't advise you on this, but I'm sure someone else will.
7. For film only-use pro lab. This means no Walmart or Walgreens. Camera stores are typically better than these places, but only use these as a last resort in the absence of a real pro lab. Expect to pay for this-around here, process and printing of 36-exposures at a pro lab runs just shy of $20. The quality of printing and careful handling of your film will pay off, though.
8. Also for film only-don't skimp on the film you use. Use a quality pro negative film. Weddings tend to be very contrasty, so you're better off using the lowest contrast films available. For Kodak, this means Portra 160NC or 400NC. For Fuji, this means Pro 160S or 400H(formerly NPS and NPH). If you need an 800 speed film, Kodak Portra 800 or Fuji 800Z would be your choice. Expect to pay at least $5 per 36 exposure roll of these.
I just shot my first wedding in July. Its scary, but the most fun! the important thing is that you take pictures of everything. I took over 800 pictures, and some of the best were not planned. You might get with the bride a few days before the wedding and find out what sort of pictures she is looking for, and also you could suggest bridal portraits. They are alot of fun. on the day of the wedding, take pictures of the bride getting ready, the cake, the groom and his dad, the wedding party, as well as the wedding itself. Just remember to stay calm, and try to stay out of the audiences way as much as possible, they will understand what your doing. Make sure you take every shot from a different angle too. sometimes it works out better that way. Just remember that you have the camera, and if there are pics you don't like, you don't have to show them. Your in control, you will do a great job!
Be very personal, capture every minute that is important to the bride and the groom. Be creative, for instance, take photos of the wedding dress at different angles. Or use soft lighting.
Go to www.photo.net, go to the wedding and social event forum, and read the posts in the newbie and first wedding archives. You will find a wealth of information. (Only some of it will sound rude!)
Have at least one backup camera and flash.
Try to shoot a trial run at the event location at about the same time of day as the wedding will be. Take a model with you for practice.
Check out a few pro photographer's websites to get some ideas about posing and what is classic and what is trendy. Those 400lb bridal magazines are a good resource for wedding photographers.
If it's to be in a church, prepare yourself for no flash during the ceremony. Most will not allow flash after the processional until the first smooch. You will need a tripod, probably, unless there is a lot of light inside. If you're using film, get a fast roll. Better a bit of film grain than blurred pictures of the ceremony.
Speaking of film, if you're using it, you have to be aware of how many exposures you have left on a roll and how fast things are moving. You won't have time to change rolls mid-processional. Not as much of a problem if you're shooting two camera bodies.
If shooting digital, shoot at least the formals and the body of the ceremony in RAW. It is much easier to fix any WB and exposure problems if you have the RAW image. I shoot RAW + fine jpeg for the important stuff. Takes a lot of memory, but it's worth it if only for piece of mind during post processing. The getting ready stuff and reception should be ok on the best jpeg setting.
Take control of the formal poses. Put people where you want them. Never shoot a person square on. You should always have a front and back shoulder, not a right and left. Their bodies should always be at an angle to the lens. Practice some posing beforehand with friends. Don't let the groomsmen line up with their hands folded over their crotches. (Big peeve of mine!) Most of the girls, brides included, will want to hold their flowers too high. Position the bouquets at waist level. Always be aware of what the bride's train and veil are doing. If you only get one (or two) good pictures of the day, you MUST get a good one of the bride by herself, and the bride and groom together. If at all possible, and it's daylight, try to get a few of the couple outside. If it's a beautiful location, so much the better.
Take control of the other photogs shooting over your shoulder. Tell them you get first shot. When you're satisfied that you've bagged the shot, then the Uncle Bob's can have a quick turn if you want. Bear in mind, if you have a dozen people trying to get shots of every pose, you are going to eat up a lot of precious time. Also having a lot of cameras going at once assures that your people in the group shots will be looking every which way. So take control! You have to get the shot, they don't! You could ban cameras from the formals altogether, (many professionals do just that) In your case, I wouldn't. If the unthinkable were to happen, and none of your shots come out, then at least the couple will have something.
Wear comfortable shoes! Very important! You will be on your feet (and knees, and crouching, and possible laying down to get a great angle!) and comfortable, quiet shoes are a must!! Dress at about the same level of formality as the guests.
BTW, if you're shooting the wedding for a friend or relative, be sure to realize that you are working. For you, it will not be a social occasion. Don't drink alcohol. It is OK to grab a bite while the B&G are eating.
Unless you are already a working professional, I wouldn't charge for the job. It would be acceptable for the couple to pay for your costs and prints, unless you'd like to give it all as a gift. I hope everything goes well for you and them!
This guy practically invented wedding photography: http://www.montezucker.com/
And thanks to all the gun-toting shooters for a good laugh!