Progressive events, such as a weddings, are incredibly hard to capture because of the lack of repetitions. They also get you to work under pressure since you are responsible for the wedding photo album… something that the couple will probably sneak a peak at every Sunday night for the rest of their lives!
To be a wedding photographer, we have to be extremely aware of what’s going on around us and be able to capture every special moment. It’s not easy! However, here are some practical wedding photography tips that will help capturing that special day run a little smoother.
1. Be prepared.
Weddings can be long and if you are shooting the whole thing (ceremony, reception etc) then you will need to have the right equipment.
To a wedding, always take: an extra battery, a clean memory card and at least two different lenses. The variety of lenses will allow you to have more possibilities of shooting, which means more pictures.
You should take a telephoto and another lens capable of taking wide-angle pictures to create different kinds of frame. And if you think you won’t have time to change lenses, trust me: you will at some point.
2. Don’t miss the rehearsal!
Rehearsals are essential for photographers. If you don’t know how things are going to happen, you are likely to miss plenty of details and get really confused when you are working.
Knowing the proper steps, the lighting of the venue and the order of the people participating in the wedding, means you will be better placed to capture the key moments. Plus, it will allow you to save battery in less important moments.
3. Pay attention to details.
Wedding photography is not just about shooting the bride and groom. It’s about capturing the little details, those which often make for the best memories: The rings, the hand holding, the presents, the flowers, the dress, etc.
For these details you may want to consider two options: to capture them with a standard zoom lens or with a telephoto lens. Telephoto will allow you to take advantage of distances.
Remember, you won’t be able to come as close to ceremony as you would wish.
4. Be casual.
Unless you are in the reception, do not force any moment upon groom, bride or guests. Wedding photography art is built on the spontaneity factor, so the less the bridal party are aware of your presence, the better.
Of course, there will be times when you should ask them to pose or to give you a smile. But it won’t be enough. Plus, you can’t really say “smile” while the wedding official (priest, minister, rabbi, etc.) is conducting the ceremony. We don’t want to get shushed in the middle of the event!
5. Use autofocus.
This is one of the few times when we really need the autofocus. Since we need to think fast and move around at the same time, a manual focus would cause unneccesary delay and mean less pictures. Not to mention we would miss important moments.
Autofocus takes the responsibility of focusing from the photographer, which is a great advantage. We can take the liberty to adapt other settings to better suit the frame without worrying too much about precision.
6. Automatic settings are also justified.
Don’t feel bad if you need to use automatic settings. In fact, auto mode will encourage you to take much more interesting pictures because all you have to do is frame your shot and not have to worry about modifying aperture, shutter speed etc.
Every setting you adjust in the camera has to be previously set up: meaning your camera should be ready to go when the ceremony starts. And if you are using manual settings, then anticipation will be your best friend.
7. Always take pictures in RAW format
And by always, I mean ALWAYS. I learned this the hard way. Even though RAW format will take a little more memory card space, it’s almost always better than JPEG.
JPEG format will let you take more pictures because it takes less room, but RAW will give you the chance to make a proper editing after the photo shoot is over. Shooting your photos in RAW, will allow you to create stunning frames and to correct any mistakes in the edit.
8. Have A plan.
A wedding photographer without a plan is a troubled photographer. When I say plan, I mean a strategy to move around the church or the venue where the marriage is being held. If it’s a big location, you will need to scope it out first and decide the best spots to shoot.
To have a plan, you need to know what the order of events is: who comes in first? Do they come together? Who talks first? … These are questions you can solve by attending the rehearsal or talking to the wedding official.
9. Take Pictures Of Everyone.
Every guest is important! Take photos of them in the ceremony and reception. Put a little more emphasis on maids of honor, godfathers and parents or close relatives/friends.
Remember: not everyone likes to be photographed, so be sure to make them feel comfortable at all times. And don’t give up!
10. Presentation Matters
Wedding photography is indeed based on the photo shoot, but it is also important to present your work in a nice way. We don’t really want to say “get to the Cloud and download your own pictures”… The pictures need to be another gift for the bride and the groom. Give them a DVD with a nice printed box, or even a specially printed album.
So that’s 10 practical wedding photography tips.
Most importantly, try to have fun! It will help to relax the wedding party and will all be worth it when you see the results 🙂
image credit: Lindsey Child