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  • Christening/Baptism

    I had a client ask me if I could photograph her child's christening in a couple of months time. I explained to her that this was not my type of photography and that I could not guarantee the results, but she was still keen so i've asked her to contact me in a few weeks time. The photos would include the god parents dressing the baby, church photos of the christening and some group portraits.

    I have the camera and lens for the job but I'm hesitant as I don't want to produce substandard results yet I'd love the experience! I was wondering if anyone has done a christening and if they could give me some pointers and maybe share some of thier results with me?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    What kind of photos do you normally take?

    Wulf Forrester-Barker << Sites: blog / flickr >>
    Gear: Nikon D40, Nikon AFS 18-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6G, Nikon Series E 50mm f/1.8, Nikon AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6G, Vivitar 90mm f/2.5 macro, Raynox DCR-250, Lensbaby 2.0k, SB600


    • #3
      I've done three Christian Orthodox Christenings so far... There are some "standard" shots you want to take so you might want to familiarize yourself with the ceremony first. For instance, Christian Orthodox baptisms, include the godmother reading and reciting from a Holly book, the child being dunked in a basin of water etc.

      The parents expect a photo of the godmother reciting from the book, the child being dunked in the water, then having his hair trimmed symbolically etc.
      All of these happen really quickly with a crying, squirming child. You don't have time to change the lens or even re-adjust your camera and of course you can't say ot the priest "hold on, I didn't catch that"

      I also found myself in a pickle when a christening was taking place in this TINY church and because the child's uncle was also a priest, there were TWO priests attending... in the TINY church... I didn't have room to breathe, must less move
      Not my most artistic photos but I caught all the "important" steps and everybody was happy.

      I have another christening coming up this Saturday and I have arranged with the parents to meet me an hour early so we can do a mini photo-shoot of the artistic kind... then I will go through the notions at the ceremony just doing the normal photo shoot expected in this occassion.

      You can't be very artistic when you do this kind of thing because you are captuing a moment and you have no control over lighting or composition or space
      Because in a Christian Orthodox christening people move a lot all over the church, I don't even bring lights.. just my camera and the external flash with a softbox on it.

      At first I was shy about giving instructions to parents because I didn't want to disturb the priest, some get very cross if you talk so try to be invisible.
      I am a little more bold now, but still respectful because I am in a church after all...

      Oh!! And you also need to photograph the clothes, first shoes, christening favors, the cross the baby will receive (if there is one, depending on the denomination of the parents) get there earlier so you can catch a few photos of the child not crying and arrange those items as you like.

      I would love to share photos but from the 3 I did, none of the parents consented on me showing pics in my portfolio... however this one coming up on Saturday said she is ok with it, so I can share a few of those

      Wish I were more help... let me know if you have a specific question to ask, I might be able to answer it
      Have fun!!
      I am not a photographer...but I would love to become one!!
      Visit my blog:
      (most posts are in English as well as Greek)


      • #4
        Hi Wulf and Tina,
        thank you for the relpies. I havent had a chance to check before this.

        Wulf, I usually do child portraits, either studio or location (usually outdoors), so event photography is not something I've done but I'm thrilled with the opportunity.

        Tina, thank you, thank you, thank you for your advice. I'd already planned to arrive early at the parent's house to take photos of the christening dress, shoes and other momentoes. The mother has given me a brief list of the photos she would like and I have a few ideas that I would like to try as well. The church is quite large but the lighting poor, but I will contact the priest before hand and with any luck, he will allow me to take a few test shots. I'd planned on usung my 50-135mm f2.8 , keeping the shutter speed above 1/150 and apature at 2.8, bumping up the iso as required as flash is not allowed in the church. I'm not sure how close I'll be able to get either as there will be several babies being christened that day, so I thought the zoom lens would be handy.

        I'd love to see some of your christening shots! It would help immensley to give me an idea of the type of pictures that I should be taking and some of the things I need to consider and prepare for.

        Can I ask what lens you would recommend or which one you tend to use in the church?

        Thanks again!


        • #5
          No problem Kit!
          The way it is done here (Christian Orthodox) is one baby at a time. They book a time slot and even though they can be back to back, the next christening party is not actually allowed IN the church until their time has come. When I did my last baptism a couple weeks ago, there was a wedding right after the baptism but nobody entered the church until they had gone.

          Flash IS allowed in our case so I took my Speedlite with me, I used my 50mm 1.8 lens and I was allowed to go quite close. However... I do not like flash photography Yes I got correct exposures etc but I preferred the slightly sepia hue the natural light coming through the windows gave my photos.
          So what I did was this: when I could (there was time) I took one shot with the flash and one without.
          I rarely took the camera out of my eye, thankfully I have learned to work "blind", don't actually need to look at the display for most of the measurements (I count clicks of the wheel for instance to change shutter speed).

          Here is a small selection of the "hot" moment, when the priest prepares the baby (put sacred oil on him) and then dips him in the basin...then hands him to his godmother. Older babies usually cry, younger ones don't (which is why I christened mine when they are 6 months on the nose lol).

          I always give the parenst both the color and the FX copy btw.




          I am not a photographer...but I would love to become one!!
          Visit my blog:
          (most posts are in English as well as Greek)


          • #6
            One more because it wouldn't allow me to put 5 pics...
            I am not a photographer...but I would love to become one!!
            Visit my blog:
            (most posts are in English as well as Greek)


            • #7
              Thank you for allowing me to view these Chocoholix. They are beautiful and I bet the parents were over the moon with the results. It looks like you were able to get in quite close to the action which is nice.

              I contacted the church today and there will be five babies being baptised at the same time. I'm not sure of the procedure yet but I'm going to see the secretary next week and she has said that I can do some test shots in the church. Yay!

              Just wondering how many pictures you took and how many you gave to the parents.


              • #8
                The arrangement based on their budget was 150 digital copies on a CD. I took about twice as many. But over here in Greece, this kind of photography is not very popular and people won't pay for it. I hear of sessions in the US costing $600 to $1000 and I snicker because there is NO way anyone in Greece would pay that much for least not your average Joe that is
                I am not a photographer...but I would love to become one!!
                Visit my blog:
                (most posts are in English as well as Greek)


                • #9
                  Thank you Chocoholix, for your time and generosity.


                  • #10
                    absolutely beautiful

                    @chocoholix The title of this reply says it all. These are fantastic for someone who was hesitant to take the job in the first place! You should honestly try to sell them to a company that makes baptism and christening invitations or something.
                    Last edited by stuartm; 07-29-2011, 02:56 AM. Reason: found an example of the sort of thing i was talking about