Help me, I have to take the wedding pictures!

My daughter’s friend is getting married this weekend, and since they don’t have much of a budget, I was volunteered to take the pictures. I’m doing it as a favor, not getting paid, and I just have a regular digital camera (I think it’s a 5mp HP), but I still want to do the best job I can for this girl.
Any tips? What kind of poses should I use? How can I photograph the actual ceremony without getting in the way? How large a photo can I print without it looking all pixelly?

Here are my tips.
Focus on the bride and groom and their family. Everyone else can jump off a cliff, to be honest. Ask the family who is the most important people they want to see in the pictures, and make a list. Write it down. keep it with you.

Ask them what poses they like. Write them down. Keep it with you.

Don’t let yourself get distracted by people pulling you away and asking you to take a picture of some snot-nosed teenager.

You may want to ask if they can squeeze in a ten or fifteen minute session with you, the family, and bride and groom, so you can get some “clean” pictures of them.

Are they going to have a “meet & greet”? The last wedding I went to had all of the family members come up, one by one, and stand by the bride & groom and get their pictures taken. This is a great idea, but they will need someone to run and fetch the family members - you really can’t leave your spot in this moment.

Remember that you are doing all this for the bride and groom. Don’t be pushy but don’t hesitate to ask for all of this because in 10 years’ time they will really appreciate you doing this.

Ask them if they have a plan or do they just want you to wander around taking candid shots. Personally I don’t like candid shots much…too much of Aunt Annie’s ass or whatever.

Good luck!

I’ve seen my share of amateur wedding pictures before, and they haven’t been pretty.

Lighting and focus: the two most important things to remember. Make sure you have these two things top of mind for every shot.

To expand on what Leaffan said, if it’s in a church, the lighting is going to be miserable. Real wedding photographers combat this with big flashes and huge lenses. Having neither, you’ll basically be unable to shoot movement.

Do everything you can to get as much light into the church. Get a tripod if possible. If you can, get the people walking down the aisle to stop for a picture. The tripod should help with the standing at the alter stuff, but make sure everyone’s standing still.

Move outside as quickly as possible for any posed family shots. Your flash is basically going to be useless, so don’t count on it to illuminate 10 people indoors.

Wow, what a tough situation. Here are some tips:

Try and plan an hour or two to meet with the bride and groom to discuss what they want. You want to have your expectations as clear as possible. A list of who and what they want pictures of and with would be nice.

I’d see if you or the bridal couple know anyone who has a better camera (no offense).

I’d scout out the wedding location in advance, around the time that they’ll be getting married. If you’re doing some outside shots you can estimate where the sun will be and you won’t have to lead people around looking for got spots to pose.

What size memory card do you have for the camera? If it’s small, I’d get a bigger card, maybe two so you have a backup.

Batteries and more batteries. If your camera uses a rechargable card-style battery, I’d see if the wedding couple could buy you a spare.

Do you have a laptop? If so, bring it and a card reader so you can periodically back up pictures.

Read up on your camera manual and make sure you’re familiar with the settings. Set it to take the highest quality photos possible (another reason to have extra memory cards).

Buy or rent a tripod.

Have them put out disposable cameras so guests can take candid shots. That will free up some of your responsibility and the more pics they have to choose from for an album, the better.

Get the hang of holding the camera up high while pointing slightly downward. That way you can get shots of people’s faces when you’re in crowded situations.

Having been put into a similar situation myself (I am an amateur photographer) I would definitely agree with the recommendations concerning talking with the bride and groom and family and find out their expectations.

Personally, I cannot over-emphasize the suggestion of visiting church and hall beforehand and getting a basic idea of available light, where to position yourself, etc. Depending on your comfort level, you could consider renting a better camera for the wedding but only if you can become familar with the camera beforehand.

One thing that professionals emphasise is having back-up equipment. I’ve taken pictures at one wedding where I was the “official” photographer, and brought two cameras to the wedding – fortunately, since one of them proved not to be working. So make sure you have enough of everything, including batteries, memory cards, etc., if anything stops working in the middle of the ceremony.

My step-mother is an amateur photographer. She takes lots of unposed pictures (think Ben, played by Brendan Fraser, on Scrubs) and did my SIL’s wedding, which was a themed wedding. Lot of candid shots of people dancing, laughing, eating, reacting. It was a beautiful album.

Thanks, y’all. Better camera is not an option, but they know mine is crappy. They really have no money for anything else and aren’t expecting professional shots. It’s gonna be a fairly small wedding, I think. I figured I’d just get some posed pix of the bride, B&G, and wedding party, and maybe a few of the ceremony only if I can do it from the back of the church without attracting attention. I might just leave my camera with my daughter to take to the after-party.

Most likely, your camera will be incapable of taking a shot from the back of the church since there won’t be enough light and your flash isn’t powerful enough. All you’ll get will be the backs of the heads of the people sitting in the pews or a completely dark scene.

Sometimes on craigslist, you’ll find new wedding photographers willing to a job for free, just to build a portfolio. Sure, a n00b may be a crappy wedding photographer, but then again, he or she may be a good photographer.

All I’m saying is, just try looking there.

Heck, even try advertising there. I have no desire to ever be a professional photographer – let alone a wedding photographer – but if I saw such an ad and knew the circumstances, I might be willing to do it for free just for the sake of gaining the experience and trying to apply new techniques. I’m guessing that other people that have more equipment than experience would accept a similar challenge.