Home Forums Main YANAP Discussion Forum I've scheduled a 1st communion gig in May-15: HELP !!

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    I shoot candids for special needs kids (no one is posing, which is what the parents want and what I’m best at, capturing genuine smiles of kids being kids). I rarely charge.

    However, a group ‘my families’ have banded together to have a 1st communion party next May and they want me to shoot GROUP PORTRAITS in the church at the end of the ceremony. They want family portraits I guess inside the church near the alter. I reluctantly said yes.

    I don’t want to ruin what will potentially be lifetime memories for these special guys. The families say they have faith in me, but I don’t – I’m not a seasoned portrait photographer. I shoot action – running, jumping, skipping, play-fighting and am well suited for this.

    Any youtube stuff to watch? Pointers?


    The good news is that it is months from now.

    Are you familiar with the church?  How much have you done with on and off camera flash?

    Are you shooting the portraits at/near the alter, or is there a room or basement that will be used?  Oh, I see you said you guess inside near the alter,…  First step might be a visit to the church to see what the options and requirements are.

    No time at the moment, but I think YouTube videos about weddings in church may be worthwhile.  At least you have camera bodies that can use higher ISO values without trouble.  For group shots, fast lenses are not much help because you will need f/8 or so to get DOF.


    watch the B&H videos about portraits and wedding work. Some of them are really, really good and full of tips. If you haven’t, I’d get a medium sized umbrella, lightstand and stick a flash in there. Depending on how many people are in the groups you may need two. It is not so much to light up and provide all the light for the group portrait but more if the light is a bit boring in the church. If the sun is in the wrong place you only get soft, diffuse darkness which makes for pretty poor photos. On the other hand if you get lucky you get wonderful soft side light streaming in through the windows. Also if you have too much flash it will darken the background.

    You have loads of time so next time you have friends over, get practicing and send them an 8×10 as thanks for their help.


    Just wing it EyeDoc, you’ll be fine. Focus on your shooting and composition, don’t over think it and you’ll be fine.


    Thanks for the wonderful advice and kind words.

    As it turns out, one of the mothers heard the trepidation in my voice and gently asked if I could recommend anyone else to do the church portraits because “you’re probably so busy already.” She gave me the out I wanted / needed. I told her my pick, and she mentioned the photog will get a call this week.

    Problem solved. 🙂



    That’s good that you got an out, but there’s another way to look at it. With 6 months to prep, perhaps you should consider this a chance to expand your skill set. If you have no desire at all to shoot posed groups/portraits then it makes sense to pass, but if you’re only passing because you’re worried about screwing up then you might want to take another look at this opportunity.

    There are hundreds (thousands?) of good tutorials online, and with the holidays coming up you can probably wrangle so family or friends to be test subjects in exchange for free photos.

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