For Wedding Photographers – How to shoot a wedding?

I have received a few inquiries about tips regarding wedding photography camera equipment.  I didn’t get to much help when I first started out, and I had to learn the hard way, so I was thinking why not share some of my experiences. If you have a question you can ask me too!

For pixel peepers! I use all the equipment here every week, sometimes every day. On destination weddings, sometimes I sleep with them. I don’t care if a lens is not sharp at the corners because clients never care that 23 pixels are missing from the pixels. What clients care about is that I got the picture, they look good, and I don’t disturb them during their happiest day of their life. Nobody complained that I got an amazing shot with the older Canon 70-200 2.8 and not with the latest Canon 70-200 2.8 Mark II!!! Period. Honestly, I hate review sites which get a copy of  a new lens or a camera and they “test’ them on tripods in studios. I am not a studio photographer, so I need some real out in the field practical advice.

Omair wants to know where I got myCanon 28-70mm and the Canon 24-70mm 2.8 lenses and what I think about them.

Answer: I was lucky.  I got the 28-70mm 2.8 lens for $800 and my 24-70mm 2.8 for a little bit over $1400. I got the Canon 24-80mm 2.8 from B&H. To tell you the truth the 28-70mm (at least my copy) is a really good lens! What I have noticed is that the newer 24-70mm is a little bit faster. It is not important if you use it as a serious amateur photographer. However, I would get the new 24-70mm if you want to be a professional photographer. It is faster and the AF seems to be more accurate. The difference may mean capturing or not capturing the decisive moment during a wedding. (Still you are fine if your style is more the traditional posed wedding photos, but you are in trouble if you are after capturing the moments! Based on the fact is the Canon 5D cameras (both the new Mark II and the old ones) have slow and inaccurate auto focus, you may or may not get the bride’s mom crying or the wedding cake falling, etc with the older 28-70mm lens.  Both lens are very sharp, the contrast and saturation are quite impressive.  They are great for walk around lenses and they are widely used by wedding photographers. It is quiet useful for weddings because both lenses are fast in a low light situation.

You can blur out a lot in the background if you open them up on a full frame camera.   Mounted on a Canon 5D Mark III or IV they perform very well at higher ISO.  If you can come across a used Canon 28-70mm 2.8, buy it!  It is much cheaper and equally good as the newer 24-70mm 2.8. You wont’ miss the extra 4mm at the wide end.  I have never noticed the difference.  My wife usually takes the 24-70mm with her and I use the old 28-70mm.  I don’t care. They are the same with different price tag.  I hope it helps. Happy shooting!

Yves asked me the following questions:

I just bought the 5DMK2, great camera, I have some questions:

1, – do you use maximum resolution and raw or sraw 1, cause photos take a lot of space 🙂

2, – at the moment I only have primes, in movie mode, you choose live and push “af-on” to autofocus, at first sight it isn’t so easy filming 🙁

3, – I have the 85 1.2L & 135 2.0L, i’m thinking of selling the 135L, but on the other hand it complementary with the 85 1.2 with slow AF

4, – maybe i buy a 100-400L instead of a 135L for more range but I doubt using it much, do you have this one ?

5, – normally I’m going to buy the older 28-70 2.8L as standardzoom (better than 24-70 2.8L & 24-105 concerning sharpness & vignetting) you know this lens ?

6, – the 17-40 is not so good after all, I saw you sold it?

Thanks for the info!

Best regards,


1 – Yes I do use the maximum resolutions for wedding photography.  When I am with my family I do shoot in JPEG though a lot of times. When I know that the lighting situation will be difficult (i.e. I take my kids toi the beach, we go to a park in the middle of the day, etc) I do use smaller raw settings.


Question: “When I post pictures on Facebook the quality is not as good. Do you do anything special to retain a good quality look on your facebook page? You have some very beautiful shots,  I wish I could shot like you. Any facebook advice would be appreciated.”

Answer: Make sure that the picture is extremely high quality before uploading to Facebook. When you upload the photos, please choose “high resolution upload” in facebook.  This is the way I do it.

I hope it helps!

Julien from France asked me the following:

“I’m a French beginner in photo journalism/Event/Wedding. I would to buy a 5D Mark II with 24-105.

Reasons : price and weight cons Canon 5 d Mark II and 24-70 2.8

In the future :

Canon 16-35 f2.8

Canon 50 mm 1.4

Could you give me your experience and your mind?

Answer:  You cannot go worng with Canon “L” lenses. They are all great. In case of the 24-105mm f/4.0 you may have to use flash more often in low light conditions, i.e. wedding ceremonies in dark churches, during party, etc. The lens is sharp and the colors are beautiful. Keep in mind that it is a Canon “L ” designated lens.  This is my favorite walk around lens. Make sure that you buy it as new, or if used, from a reputable seller. I have bought used lenses on the internet and they weren’t sharp or had some issues. I ended up buying new ones at the end. There were other cases when I bought old used lenses and I was totally happy with them. The lesson here to be careful!

The 16-35mm f/2.8 is amazing! What can I say. Buy it if you can!

Canon 50mm 1.4 is my overall favorite. This one and the 50mm 1.8 are the best lenses for you money! The Canon 50mm 1.4 is a little better for around $350. It is a steal! You can buy the 50mm 1.2 for $1500 but you will be disappointed with the 50mm 1.2 after using this one. I don’t think the 1.2 is worth $1200 extra. I use it primarily as a portrait lens, and it excels at that. The 50mm 1.4 is very sharp from 2.0!

Another question regarding the 85mm 1.8 and 1.2 for wedding photography:

“Hi Otto,

I’m having a dilemma to sell or not to sell the 85 1.2

As I can remember you have (or had) both the 85 1.2 II and the 85 1.8

Now and then people keep telling me the difference is minimal and cannot be seen with the eye, and the 1.2 has a lot of CA wide open.

As the 85 1.8 is lighter, cheaper and faster AF I’m really doubting about selling the 85 1.2.

I searched forums and discussions online (also the famous WCastleman topic) but I don’t find the pictures so representative to compare (pictures taken inside with dolls).

Also some other websites like the digital picture, Fredmiranda forums have pictures, but there’s no actual topic with picture comparison 🙁

My question is : could you possible send me following pictures :

– A same picture with the 85 1.2 & 85 1.8 both taken on f1.8

– A same picture of the 85 1.2 on f1.2 and the 85 f1.8 taken on f1.8

This to really see the difference in pictures quality & bokeh.

If you don’t have the 85 1.8 anymore, maybe you could browse your old pictures to find this comparison?

This would be a great help for me,

Thanks in advance!!!

Best regards!

The answer: give me some time and I will post photos taken by both lenses with exif data.

BEN asked the following question:

Hi. I am a fan of your amazing work, Haring Photography. May I ask what you use as an image editing/post production software? I’ve been comparing Aperature and Lightroom.

Honestly, I have never been a Mac fan. I am a photography fan. Mac is not the prerequisite for Photography, in my view.

I use Photoshop CS4 and I am testing CS5 at the moment. So far I couldn’t justify the upgrade to CS5.

I hope it helps!

Thanks. –Ben.


Hey so I was going to update all my gear soon and am buying some photography equipment and wanted to get some advice from you. Firstly I am gonna buy a 5D and was wondering if you knew of a new version coming out in the near future. If so maybe I should wait for the newer one?

– I am not sure about the new version of the 5D Mark II. Honestly, Canon is the clear leader for this DSLR category. It beats all of its competitors in price and functionality. There is no camera which can match the 5D Mark II in ISO speed, video and megapixel….If I were Canon I would wait. It is still a the best selling professional camera up to date. Don’t forget! Canon is a corporation whose most important objective is to make shareholders happy!!! 🙂

Also I am buying some lenses and wanted to get feedback. Was looking at the Canon 50mm 1.2 or 1.4 L series. Debating that lens or the 85mm. I think the 50mm is better because it is most similar to how the human eye sees right? And would be best for both photo and video. What do you think?

– Canon 50mm 1.4 is a killer lens.

I was also planning on buying the canon l series 70-200mm and see theres 5 versions of it. One is a f4 and is f2.8. Plus one has IS and one doesn’t. What are your thoughts here?

– I would go for the IS version of it. It doesn’t matter whether it is the 4.0 or the 2.8.

Can you also recommend a good flash? Some flights? Any other gear I would need? In addition to shooting events I plan on doing some fashion photography in a studio setting. Any silks, bounces or anything like that that you’d recommend? Wireless flash?

You have several options. Canon 430 or 580 or Metz. Metz is awesome!

Thanks for all the help! And again let me say I would LOVE to do some assistant shooting with you if you have anything coming up. Let me know! Thanks!

Tom Declerck
Hi Otto, do you still use the 16-35 II ? Just bought it to replace the 16-35 2.8L MKI and it seems very good, I use it even as my walkaround lens instead of 24-70 🙂 The 24 1.4 II L would not be used so much I think, so didn’t buy it. Thanks!

The Canon 16-35mm 2.8 is a great lens. I always have room for it in my little bag. I don’t mind the fact that I have to correct the images I shoot at 16mm. Distortion can easily corrected in Lightroom. Sometimes I just leave them as they are. I would not use it for subjects where you need sharp corners. I don’t think this lens was intended for architectural photography. There are better alternatives for that. I use it for walkaround and people photography. BIG plus that it is a 2.8! Buy a 17-40mm 4.0 if you don’t need the 2.8. I find that the two lens are similar. I am not a pixel peeper and neither your clients. Clients would not recognize the difference!

I hope it helps!