Love Is In The Air
21 Wedding Photography Tips:
1.Create A Shot List.
The first thing you need to do is get the couple to think ahead about the shots that they’d like you to capture on the wedding day. Make a list of the” must have” shots so that you can check them off. This is particularly helpful in the family shots. There’s nothing worse than getting the photos back and realizing you didn’t photograph the happy couple with grandma! I work from a pre printed list that includes the family members, bridal party members, and special guests who will be included in photographs. Write down first names of everyone so you can refer to your list and call everone by their first name.
2. Family Photo Coordinator.
I find the family photo part of the day can be quite stressful. People are going everywhere, you’re unaware of the different family dynamics at play and people are in a ‘festive spirit’ (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic. Get the couple to assign a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the ‘director’ of the shoot. They can round everyone up, help get them in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can get back to the party. I prefer to do all of these shots prior to the ceremony and give the bride and groom a time schedule for each group of people I will be working with. It doesn’t hurt to tell them to be ready about 15 minutes earlier than they will actually be needed. Better for them to wait a few minutes than having them be late and delaying your schedule.
3. Scout the Location.
Visit the locations of the different places that you’ll be shooting before the big day. I find it really helpful to know where we’re going, have an idea of a few positions for shots and to know how the light might come into play. On some weddings I even visit the locations with the couple and take a few test shots. You might even use these for engagement photos.
4. Preparation is key.
So much can go wrong on the day – so you need to be well prepared. Have a backup plan (in case of bad weather), have batteries charged, memory cards blank, think about routes and time to get to places and get an itinerary of the full day so you know what’s happening next. If you can, attend the rehearsal of the ceremony. Here you’ll gather a lot of great information about possible positions to shoot from, the lighting, the order of the ceremony etc.
5. Set expectations with the Couple.
Showing them examples of your work puts them at ease and takes the guess work out of what style of images you are expected to deliver. Find out what they are wanting to achieve, how many shots they want, what key things they want to be recorded, how the shots will be used. Make sure you are clear about what your charges will be and be sure you have an agreement or contract ready for them to sign.
6. Turn off the sound on your camera.
Beeps during speeches, the kiss and vows don’t add to the event. Switch off sound before hand and keep it off.
7. Shoot the small details.
Photograph rings, backs of dresses, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus etc. These shots help give the end album an extra dimension. Flick through a wedding magazine in a news stand for a little inspiration.
8. Use Two Cameras.
Beg, borrow, hire or steal an extra camera for the day. Use a different focal length lens on each camera. I try to shoot with a wide angle zoom lens (17-40 mm) which is great for candid shots in tight spaces. Use a longer lens on your second camera. I use a 70-200mm.
9. Consider a Second Photographer.
Having a second backup photographer can be a great strategy. It means less moving around during ceremony and speeches. This allows one photgrapher to capture the formal shots and the other to get candid shots. It also takes a little pressure off you being the one to have to get every shot!
10. Be Bold but Not Obtrusive.
It is your job to produce results and sometimes you need to be bold to capture a moment. However timing is everything and thinking ahead to get in the right position for key moments is important. In a ceremony I try to move around at least 4-5 times but try to time this to coincide with songs, sermons or longer readings. During the formal shots be bold, know what you want and ask for it from the couple and their party. You’re driving the show at this point of the day and you need to keep things moving.
11. Learn how to Use Diffused Light.
The ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is important. You’ll find that in many churches that light is very low. If you’re allowed to use a flash (some churches don’t allow it) think about whether bouncing the flash will work better than direct flash Just remember, if you bounce off a colored surface it will add a colored cast to your image. You may also want to buy a flash diffuser to soften the light. I usually use a diffuser for most of my on camera flash shots. If you can’t use a flash you’ll need to either use a fast lens at wide apertures and/or bump up the ISO. A lens with image stabilization might also help.
12. Shoot in RAW.
I know that many readers feel that they don’t have the time for shooting in RAW (due to extra processing) but a wedding is one time that it can be particularly useful as it gives so much more flexibility to manipulate shots after taking them. Weddings can present photographers with tricky lighting which result in the need to manipulate exposure and white balance in post processing. Remember, you can’t reshoot a wedding!
13. Display Your Shots at the Reception.
One of the great things about digital photography is the immediacy of it as a medium. One thing more and more photographers are doing recently is, taking a computer to the reception, uploading shots taken earlier in the day, and letting them rotate as a slideshow during the evening. This adds a fun element to the night.
14. Consider Your Backgrounds.
One of the challenges of weddings is that there are often people going everywhere, including the backgrounds of your shots. Be sure to check out the area where you’ll be working ahead of time, looking for good backgrounds. Ideally you’ll be wanting uncluttered areas, and shaded spots, out of direct sunlight, where there’sless chance of a person wndering into your background.
15. Don’t Discard Your Mistakes.
The temptation with digital is to check images as you go and to delete those that don’t work immediately. The problem with this is that you might just be getting rid of some of the more interesting and useable images. Keep in mind that images can be cropped or manipulated later to give you some more unusual, or abstract looking shots, that can add real interest to the end album.
16. Change Your Perspective.
Get a little creative with your shots. While the majority of the images in the end album will probably be fairly ‘normal’ or formal poses, make sure you mix things up a little by taking shots from a variety of angles.
17. Group Shots.
One thing that I attempt to do at every wedding is photograph everyone who is in attendance in one shot. The way I do this is to arrange for a place where I can get up high above everyone right after the ceremony. This might mean getting tall ladder, using a balcony or even climbing on a roof. The beauty of getting up high is that you can fit a lot of people in the shot. The key is to be able to get everyone to the place you want them to stand quickly and to be ready to get the shot without having everyone stand around for too long. I found the best way to get everyone to the spot is to get the bride and groom there and to have a couple of helpers herd everyone in that direction.
18. Fill Flash.
When shooting outside after a ceremony or during the posed shots you’ll probably want to keep your flash attached and use a little fill in flash. I usually dial it back about 1 1/2 to 2 stops so that shots are not blown out. When shooting backlit or midday shooting conditions where there can be a lot of shadow, fill flash is a must.
19. Continuous Shooting Mode.
Having the ability to shoot a lot of images very fast is handy on a wedding day. Try switching your camera to continuous shooting mode. Sometimes it’s the shot you take a second after the formal or posed shot when everyone is relaxing that really captures the moment!
20. Expect the Unexpected.
One more piece of advice.Things will Go Wrong. In every wedding that I have photographed something has gone wrong with the day. The best man can’t find the ring, the rain pours down just as the ceremony ends, the groom forgets to do up his fly, the flower girl decides to sit down in the middle of the aisle or the bride can’t remember her vows…. These moments can feel a little panicky at the time, but it’s these moments that can actually make a day and give the bride and groom memories. Attempt to capture them and you could end up with some fun images.
21. Have Fun.
Weddings are about celebrating and they should be fun. The more fun you have as the photographer the more relaxed those you are photographing will be. Perhaps the best way to loosen people up is smile and stay light hearted. As the photographer your photographs are the relection of your personallity. Keep it light and cheerful.