Your One Stop Site for Wedding Photography Tips and Tricks!
So your looking for great wedding photography tips? Well as in my previous post, I am going to explain some of the things I learnt, when I was asked by some friends to take photo’s on their big day. While I was researching all this, I found a great course that goes into much greater detail than I can cover here with step by step processes set out by a professional wedding photographer who has compiled what I believe to be an excellent ebook that give you a great grounding in all the main principals you will need to make a success of the day. I found it really hard to find the right information online, until I came across this excellent ebook, which answered many of the questions I had!
This ebook goes into loads of stuff about the preparation before the big day, during the actual ceremony and about taking shots in tricky lighting, wedding photography poses and lots more and I would definitely check it out!
Back to my tips…..
The first thing l did, was talk to the bride and groom and get some idea of what their plans where and what their expectations where. Don’t be afraid to take a pad & pen and write all this stuff down. Make a check-list of venue, address and schedule for all the different aspects of the day. There should be a clear plan of what time the bride will be getting ready, what time she is due at the church or registry office, how many people will attend? Are there any really important guests that the couple really want on the photos? For instance, there might be a brother that’s flown all the way from Australia to be at his little sisters wedding and this will be a rare chance to get a photo of the family with him in it.
Once you have found out about times and places for the ceremony and the reception, it’s a good idea to go over beforehand and familiarise yourself with the venues. Drive the route, get to know what the traffic is like and plan how much time it takes, with some time added for contingency. You will need to allow enough time to make sure you can set up comfortably and in a relaxed manner. If you get uptight and have to rush around, this will make the couple anxious (and if you have been married yourself, you will know what an anxious day it is). Also it will lead to you making mistakes and/or rushing and missing important shots. Have a look round the venues too, make notes where you think the best place to set up might be, factoring in what shots you need and the number of people that are likely the be in each shot (you did remember to write down how many guests are expected, didn’t you?).
Here’s a great wedding photography tip and I found it very useful – don’t forget, the vicar or the registrar or anyone associated with setting up the venue will be very familiar with the preparation and execution of the big day. So make an appointment to see them and explain to them your what you’ve been asked to do. They should be only too happy to help you with things like, how the ceremony will go off; where the best places are to take various shots etc. After all, everybody should have one purpose in mind, to make the couples big day as perfect as possible. So go out of your way to make an ally of these people; you will find their help invaluable.
By now you should have compiled quite a bit of information and have a clear idea of how the day should pan out. (Did you expect this much work would be involved when you said ‘yes’?).
Another good wedding photography tip on the day, ask the bride or groom if any of their friends or relatives would mind helping you with ‘ushering’ the subjects in and out of the photos when necessary. After all, you may not know many of the guests and you will need their help in gathering together the groups of people etc. They will probably be dead ‘chuffed’ at being asked to do such an important job and will enjoy themselves bossing everyone around.
It’s important to prepare a list of shots that you need to take, which should include all the Formal shots needed, Groom, Best Man and guests as they enter, Bride & Groom together during the ceremony and after, including the Signing, Group shots with each of the families and the other guests as a group. Also, be ready to take candid shots throughout the day and record any special shots that set the mood…flowers, shots of the venue any special features such as stained glass windows, that add useful punctuation to the main shots to give a flavour of the day. the wedding photography poses are very important, to provide a good composition and to present the bride and groom and all the guests in the most flattering way. When taking shots of the couple, get them to face each other or turn slightly side on towards each other. In close up shots for portraits, get the couple to lean slightly towards the camera for a more flattering look. Group shots should be balanced around the main subjects, ie. groom and bride, bride and groom’s parents and attention to the heights of each of the people in the shot to create some kind of symmetry. Again, the group shots should turn slightly ‘side on’ to the camera, facing in towards the main subject.
I’m not going into the technical aspects in this article of how to set up the camera and take the actual photographs – after all, you probably would not have been asked in the first place if you had not already demonstrated a certain amount of skill with your camera. Also there are other resources with much more in-depth information about this. I’ll tell you about one such excellent resource for this later on.
One thing I would say before you start taking the photographs. If you have not used RAW on your camera before, now is the time to use it. Why? Well RAW gives you much more flexibility when you post-process the files. Beware though, that the files will increase in size considerably as opposed to ‘jpg’ for instance, so make sure in your preparation, that you have allowed plenty of storage space on your camera and with extra storage cards. So go and learn all you can about using RAW as soon as possible before the ‘Big Day’.
The next bit of preparation is the equipment. Digital wedding photography has a wide range of equipment and accessories available nowadays and it’s important to have the right stuff and to prepare it all in the right way. Ask yourself do you have enough of the right equipment? You will need a good DSLR with a range of lenses that allow you to take close portrait shots (a good 50mm prime lens would be best for this). A lens that gives a wider view is handy for those big group shots. You don’t want it too wide or it will look distorted, maybe a zoom lens that goes down to 28mm would be about right.
A good flash is a must; possibly with some portable reflectors to bounce the light around would be good to include’. A good sturdy tripod is very important and also gives the photographer some presence to make the guests more aware of you and they will know to keep out of the way and give you space. Extra memory cards and spare batteries should all be included in your armoury. A second camera can be a life saver. Imagine how foolish you would look and how upset the couple would be if your camera stopped working. If you can’t beg, steal or borrow another DSLR, then take along a compact camera as a backup. Not ideal I know, but better than having no camera at all. I even took a small video camera in the car as a last resort…should I have needed it. At least that way, you can record the days events if the main camera fails.
It’s very important to conduct yourself well on the day. I think it’s a fine balance between being assertive but unobtrusive. After all, your there as an observer, to record the events of the day, not to be part of the wedding. But that’s quite a hard balance to achieve. Firstly, dress appropriately; I would suggest you imagine you are one of the guests and wear an outfit accordingly. Don’t be afraid to be assertive on the day with other guests. Some will be reluctant to be in the photos or they will be awkward about posing and/or standing in the right spot. Just gently remind them, that these photos are for the happy couple and that they would be disappointed it they where not in the photo. Main thing of course, is be polite and professional at all times and SMILE! Make sure you look like your enjoying the day and look calm (even if inside your a bag of nerves). Pay attention to the ‘experts’ that you talked to before the wedding and take your cues from them for the appropriate times to take each different set where appropriate. Don’t forget to use your ally to help marshal the guests.
You need to take a number of portraits of the happy couple somewhere special; these are often taken in the grounds of the church or registry, so that you get natural light, which is often more flattering, along with wonderful back drops of nice gardens or trees in blossom etc. Of course, this opens you up to the unpredictable weather and it’s not always possible to get these shots, so a back up plan of some indoor shots, away form the other guests with preferably impressive features of the building as a back drop. I mentioned earlier that sometimes you can get more than one shot of the big day…. if the weather is really bad, you can maybe bring the couple back on another day to do the special shots. this is not ideal as of course the couple, especially the bride, will have gone to a lot of trouble with their hair, makeup and clothing to look ‘just right’ so it will be hard to make sure there is a convincing continuity to the shots and this should only be used as a last resort.
Finally, prepare yourself for the big day, get a good night’s sleep so you are alert and get up in good time and have a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day. Set out early and do let the bride know you’re on your way, to calm her nerves in case she is worrying you may not show.
Most of all, enjoy the experience and although the day itself will be quite nerve racking, with the right preparation and planning, the day should be fun. I hope you found this website useful and don’t forget to bookmark it to refer back to it when you need to. Good luck for the big day and have fun!
Like with all pursuits, the main thing is preparation, preparation, preparation! I wanted to learn as much about the subject as possible. I am sure that they would be happy with what ever photos I took, but I can’t do half a job it’s not in my nature. I wanted to do as professional a job as I could for them on their wedding photographs.
There wasn’t much time before the big day, so I had to do my research as quickly as possible. I don’t know if your like me, but it you’re reading this online, then I guess you must be… the first port of call for me if want to know something is to look on the internet and do most of my research on here. Trouble is the knowledge base for wedding photography tips seems to be polarised into two camps, just a little bit of information for amateur photographers or books and stuff for the professional wedding photographer. I had a dilemma; I wanted to learn as much as I could about wedding photography as an amateur wedding photographer, but presented in such a way that it was enough to be able to do a professional job – in fact, I have even considered doing it as a part time job.
There didn’t appear to be any single source of information to cover this aspect of photography, therefore I embarked on pulling together as much information as possible and compiling it in to one piece of work which would hold me in good stead for the ‘big day’. Having put all this advice, tips & techniques into one resource, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you – after all you may already have been asked to do some photos yourself and that’s exactly what’s brought you to this page.
Some of what l am going to share with you is common sense and some of it l am sure will be very useful to you. But I don’t think it does any harm to cover as much as possible. You may like to use this article as a wedding photography checklist to help you provide your friends with affordable wedding photography.
I am going to repeat something here that I mentioned earlier-and its probably one of the most important parts of this article. PREPARATION! PREPARATION! PREPARATION! I can’t emphasise it enough. You need to ‘prepare’ a plan of the day; such, where the venue is, what time the guests are expected – along with all sorts of other things which we will explore later. You have to prepare your equipment; it might seem obvious, but charging batteries, taking a spare set, taking a spare camera even. And preparing for disasters! This one might be the worse one, because not all disasters can be foreseen. But with the right preparation, you can minimise the most frequent disasters & hiccups.
In my next post, I’ll go into some tips about the dealing with the bride and groom and also the other guests, along with the plans for the ‘big day’.
Why did I need to urgently find some wedding photography tips? I’ll explain; “Hey your good with a camera” my friend said to me. “Yeah, I guess I am.” I said, somewhat humbly. “Why?” I asked. “Well you know we are getting married next month, we can’t really afford a professional wedding photographer.” She explained. I knew what was coming next, which was filling me with dread. “Would you do them for us?” she asked.
I was honoured of course and I do love photography, but it’s such a big day and there would be so much to think about, that I immediately felt nervous. “If you’re sure you want me to, I would be happy too.” I replied, through gritted teeth. I knew l would enjoy the day, but more than a little concerned about ‘getting it right’ on the day. There wasn’t much time before the big day
Wedding photography is a little different to other forms of photography. You have a finite time to take the photographs and a huge part of the day is about connecting with people, ‘directing’ them and trying to make sure you get all the photos that the couple want. After all, it might be the only chance they have to get a photograph of Great Aunty Bessie! The vagaries of the weather play an important part too. The wedding goes ahead, regardless of the rain, wind, blazing sunshine or whatever arrives on the ‘big day.’ These things we have no control of, but it’s very important that the things we do have control over we make sure work 100%
So where do I start, I thought, Well the best thing to do would be to find out as much about digital wedding photography as I could. I was comfortable with my camera and used it for some great shots, but the importance of the day means that you only get one shot at it (if you pardon the pun). Although sometimes you can get a couple of goes at it; more of that later.
My next post will be about how I went about my research and some of the information I gathered. I believe you will find it a useful resource to read and refer back to.