The art of wedding photography brings with it a lot of responsibility. In the past, wedding portraits were traditionally recorded in the sterile studio. Luckily, this trend has changed and modern wedding photography has become less stiff. Nobody wants boring photos without scope for spontaneity. The newlyweds have become more and more aware of the importance of having the entire day recorded. Sooner or later you are going to find yourself booking your very first wedding photoshoot. Even if you’ve done a few of them already in your career, these tips will keep you on track and stress-free. Besides, the only person who should be stressed out on the day of the wedding is the groom. The photographer should have his act together long before arriving. Whether romantic, funny or unusual, these expert wedding photography tips will make any wedding photos unique.
Wedding Photography Tips:
1 – Stay Calm
Weddings have the potential to make you uneasy because many things are just not controllable. We are not going to candy coat this at all. Wedding photography is tough. It is not a walk in the park or a simple point-and-shoot kind of gig. It takes a ton of preparation, organization and patience. So, with this in mind, you really need to understand that this is a big deal to the wedding party. They will be expecting spectacular photos from someone they believe is a professional at doing this sort of thing. Do not disappoint. So, as a wedding photographer, you are required to adapt and react to new situations again and again. But hey – do not panic. Even the best wedding photographer is faced with some challenges but will try their best. And even with the worst of weathers, you can still create chic photos. So, always stay cool.
2 – The Paperwork Part
Before you start dusting off the lenses and updating your photo editing software, you need to complete one very, very important task. It’s the contract or letter of agreement between you and the wedding party. It’s a document that basically covers both sides of the arrangement. It needs to be written in a simple language, what is expected and what the final outcome should be. Even if the wedding you are about to photoshoot is of your best friend, you do not want some minor misunderstanding about payment, hours, rates or any other reasonable snag to get in the middle of that relationship.
Wedding photography is not cheap. You will be spending no less than 40 hours with these people over the course of probably a few days during the final arrangements stage. You will get to know the families reasonably well and in some cases become part of the ‘package’ that encompasses the entire event. However, your services are coming at a price. You will be spending many days hunched over a computer tweaking, fine-tuning and otherwise turning photographs into something the will cherish for life. As a result, your price tag will not be small.
Before every wedding, take time and sit down with the wedding couple. In doing so, you can go through with both of them the whole wedding day. Have them identify the times of honored points such as the arrival of the groom and the bride when the ceremony will officially begin etc. As a wedding photographer, you need to know when, what, where, and then be there when it starts. “How many guests did you invite?” Or “Which pictures are particularly important to you, which ones are less?” These are a few selections of questions that you can ask the couple. Have a list of questions on paper and go through it with them. This will bring you and also the wedding couple a lot of security.
5 – Explore the Shooting Location
Visit the wedding photography locations and the different places where the pictures will be taken on the big day. With this, you can create a plan on how or when to take pictures during the big day. This will minimize the mistakes that could happen on the wedding day.
6 – The Wedding Begins with the Preparations: Hold on to Them
Not only you have to prepare, but also the bride and groom. The wedding usually begins with the preparation of the bride: until the hairstyle is settled and the make-up is on, time flies during this period, in which interesting scenes will arise. As a photographer, stay discreetly in the background, so you don’t destroy the natural mood and unique atmosphere. To emphasize the reportage character of the recordings, you should work with the aperture wide open. Particularly interesting are the shots with blurring in the foreground, such as a second person, the bridal bouquet or a door frame – through this perspective, the viewer slips into the role of the secret observer.
Empty your memory card before you go to the wedding. Again, take a replacement memory card.
Take the fastest camera with you. If you want to take continuous or many snapshots one after the other, your camera needs a large internal buffer memory. Otherwise, your camera will falter and you might miss some good snapshots.
Do not forget the schedule: Create a simple script with the different wedding photos to be made. Make a note of the places where each photo should be taken.
Be part of the rehearsal: Most couples “rehearse” the way to a church. A great way for you to experience the light conditions in the church or the shooting places. Just ask, you can be safe.
8 – Pay Attention to the Small Details
Take pictures of the rings, clothes, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus and other small details. Such pictures later complete the wedding album and are an important part of the wedding photography. If you need inspiration, you can scroll through a wedding magazine and the ideas will just bubble out of you.
9 – The Right Setting for Your Camera
The wedding dress is the most important accessory of the bride and at the same time the hardest to peel off. It can become a real nightmare, especially if the picture is overexposed and instead of filigree details you can only see a monotonous, white mass.
Wedding photography has a special trick: make sure your image is minimized. Thus, the details in the bridal gown and the wedding suit of the groom come into their own, as shades are easier to recognize. You can do this by adjusting the tonal values to get a higher rash on the left side. Important: In the end, there must not be any extreme outliers up i.e. the shadows. This creates a minimal underexposure that you can correct later with photo editing software, but the details of the wedding dress and the tuxedo better come to an advantage. If the picture has become a bit too dark, you can make corrections afterward in the image editing program.
The wedding day is not the day to pull out your new camera and start using it. If anything, you should be using the equipment you have been using for some time now. This prevents a monkey wrench from messing something up. The same rule applies with back up. Have spare stuff nearby so that if by chance a battery dies or a light fixture gives up, you have all the bases covered and you can recover quickly without a lengthy delay because you have to run home to get something. Having your backup camera set up and ready can save the day for you and everyone else.
As mentioned earlier, it is important that you first visit the wedding location. This enables you to see the beauty of the backgrounds for the bridal couple’s shooting. It also enabled you to familiarize yourself with the position of the sun. Even the most beautiful background does not help if the bride and groom have to blink in the sun all the time while shooting. Pick a place for your photos that is a little bit sheltered and offers some shade. The location should also provide the bride and groom with a beautiful setting for the wedding photo. Make sure you choose a suitable place for the bridal pair shoot.
12 – Plan Group Photos Correctly
The obligatory photo of the whole wedding party is another challenge. This is because you have to make sure that all the guests are in the picture and that nobody blinks or looks unfavorable. The most important thing is first of all to group all present around the bridal couple, two of them have to be in the center. Choose a high but safe Viewpoint such as a tripod so that you can easily take the photo from above.
That ensures liveliness in the picture. So that all wedding guests have their eyes open in the photo and look cheerful, it is advisable to direct the attention of the guests towards the camera shortly before the shooting. Take several pictures one after the other to get the best possible result, but be aware that you’ll probably need to rework the photo a little so that everyone in the photo looks the way you imagine.
13 – Know Different Lighting Conditions
The correct use of lighting in wedding photography is crucial. A lightning storm is unpleasant and on the pictures fade very fast. Use a diffuser to create soft light. Clarify in advance if flashing is allowed in the church at all because some churches do not allow this. Think about whether there is the possibility to work with an indirect flash.
Sometimes you need the courage to capture a special moment. The right time in combination with the right location is the key in wedding photography. But be careful not to disturb the ceremony. During the ceremony, keep your movement as little as possible and change the location 4-5 times. Most inconspicuous are changes of location between the songs, before or after the vows and between the speeches. During the formal recording, it should be noted that you know what you want and you agree with the couple. When the celebration starts, it’s time to keep moving to capture moments and emotions.
Most DSLR’s have a continuous shooting function. Shooting a variety of pictures quickly is also great in wedding photography. There are moments at a wedding, you just cannot capture. For example, attaching the rings or the kiss. You just have to go “safe”. The series-recording mode helps you optimally. With several frames per second, chances are you’ll miss the best moment. Your camera needs a fast buffer memory and at least Class 10 memory cards.
17 – Insert Reflectors Correctly
Reflectors are a great way to optimally illuminate the wedding couple. Especially when you take photos against the sun, the faces often get dark and the picture unusable. With a reflector, you can reflect the sunlight and illuminate the subject well. But make sure that the bride and groom are not dazzled by it. After all, we do not want to keep our eyes bent on every photo.
18 – Be on the Lookout for Unexpected Moments and Take Photos on the Spot
Wedding photography is governed by certain stages where we know exactly the course of things. The bride and groom who rented your services, did it because they love your world. So be on the lookout for unexpected moments: an emotional dad who embraces his daughter, a hug, a happy grandma who passes her hand on the cheek is a sign of gratitude and tenderness. You may be witnessing some things that the bride and groom will not see because that day they will not be everywhere, and this will mean a world to them.
19 – Bring Accessories for the Couple Photo Shoot
This advice is a small bonus, but it is not negligible. If you like to add a touch of color to your photos, think about accessories. You will obviously choose with the bride and groom so that the pictures look in the way they envision them. Tip: if you are obsessed with the pictures of people lying on the floor, plan a small white towel or a sheet so that the bride does not smear her dress.
20 – Your Photos Should Tell a Story
Try to tell a story with your photos – the story of the bride and groom. Think about exactly which photo moments best tell this story. In addition to the photos of the bridal couple, take photos of the preparation for the big day, for example, how the makeup of the bride is applied and how the groom ties his tie or slips into his shoes.
Try to capture details and quiet moments before the wedding or at the party. Do not forget the single shot of the bridal bouquet or the wedding location without guests and try to capture as many emotions as possible. Especially these pictures are the ones that make an unforgettable moment and which best transport the feeling of the newly married couple.
Make funny and original shots. 360 ° photos, Polaroid, Lomo, Holga, Spinner, vintage photos, etc. These shots will undoubtedly seduce.
24 – There’s A Reason Why They Hold Rehearsals
The wedding rehearsal concept should be a hint to you that you need to do some research yourself. For example, you need to put some practice time in on your lighting and exposure skills. Take advantage of the wedding rehearsal opportunity to jump in and take some preliminary snaps to work out some bugs before they multiply. This is also a good chance for you to get familiar with the venues. Work on your group photos by staging ‘mock’ shots so you can save time on the Big Day. Move people around, pick sites for specific photos and take notes of all of it to take away the pressure on the wedding day.
25 – Evening Reception
After the wedding, the relaxed part of the day begins. Always keep discreetly in the background and capture the most expressive and authentic images in the style of a photojournalist. In addition, there are also some mandatory motives. These include, for example, the congratulations of the wedding guests, the cutting of the cake and the wedding waltz of the bride and groom. It is best to talk to the couple a few days before the wedding about the program and clarify what and how long you should take pictures. Especially at festivities until late in the evening, it is important to determine in advance when your work is done. When shooting with the flash, make sure that the existing lighting is maintained. Manually reduce the flash output, flash indirectly, and choose a slightly slower shutter speed of 1/10 to 1/30 second.
Above all else, do not mess around with memory cards. Use new ones or reformatted ones and keep them separate from any others you may be carrying with you. Label them accordingly, store them safely after use and you can prevent a major ‘oops’ from happening. Sure, we’ve all screwed up a time or two by deleting something we shouldn’t have but doing that at a wedding shoot can lead to a fast divorce – the wedding party and you are going your separate ways. That’s why you need to take extra care with memory cards.
27 – Practice Makes Perfect
As soon as you think you have put enough prep time into getting ready for this specific wedding photoshoot, you better put in some more time. We can’t emphasize enough how important a wedding is to photograph correctly the first time and without a lot of errors or mistakes along the way. Sure, the odd mistake you can cover up, just don’t let on that you’ve been having one of those days and you’ll get through it fine. The more practice you commit to the event, the less likely a snag will throw you off your game.
Wedding Photos Are a Memory That Will Last for a Lifetime
Taking pictures at weddings is not easy. Even if you were just a sports or landscape photographer, on the wedding day you’re a wedding photographer – the toughest photography job in the world. The reason is simple: there is no second attempt. This one wedding, for which you are responsible, exists only once. There is no time for broken cameras and insufficient memory cards.
Should any of these scenarios occur, it can cause a bizarre moment and can be frustrating to the bride. Because she has, no matter whether you get paid or not meticulously planned this special day and dreamed about it for a long time. It is therefore important that you come prepared for the job and make it successful. The above tips for wedding photography should offer you with a guide.
Shooting weddings can easily become a specialized field of photography for you – if you do it right from the beginning. It takes a special kind of style, skill and ability to become a sought after professional for wedding photos. However, taking photos is only half the job. The photo editing work that will follow is what will be noticed most by all who see and purchase the wedding photos. The final product will speak volumes about your talent so it is as important to the equation as your actual shooting of the event.
Will you be able to score a victory at your next wedding shoot? You have the power to turn that event into your best photo session this season but only if you properly prepare yourself for the job. Hopefully, this short list of suggestions will help you to get closer to becoming the type of photography you want to be.
Nermin Grahovic is a photography enthusiast and photography blogger based in Europe. His images are fun, creative and exciting and his love for travel makes its way into most of his images. Some of his favorite photography genres are portraits, street, landscape, and industrial photography.
Pixobo LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.