Wedding Photography Tips

Written by Infocus Photography and Video
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Wedding Season in Full Bloom now, and we love changing our shooting perspective each time we do the wedding. Here’s some tips we’ve prepared. If you have an amateur photographer in your family, your uncle or a friend who’s about to photograph your wedding, they will find it useful. Feel free to share, ask questions or comment below. 

Wedding Photography Tips

1. Create a ‘Shot List’

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One of the most helpful tips we can give about Wedding Photography is to get the couple to think ahead about the shots that they’d like you to capture on the day and compile a ‘shots to get’ list. This is particularly helpful in the family shots. There’s nothing worse than getting the photos back and realising you didn’t photograph the happy couple with grandma!  

 2. Wedding Photo Family Photo Coordinator

We find the family photo part of the day can be quite stressful. People are going everywhere and people are in a ‘festive spirit’ (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic. Very important: get the couple to nominate a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the ‘helper’ of the shoot. They can round everyone up, help get the family in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can get back to the party.

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3. Scout the Location

Visit the locations of the different places that you’ll be shooting before the big day. Pros know most locations and we find it helpful to know where we’re going to have an idea for shots and to know how the light might come into play. It is a good opportunity to do engagement shots too.

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 where 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

Show them your work/style. Find out what they like and are wanting to achieve, how many shots they want, what key things they want to be recorded, how the shots will be used (print etc). If you’re charging them for the event, make sure you have the agreement of price in place up front.  

6. Use the quiet mode on your Camera

Loud beeps during speeches, the kiss and vows don’t add to the event. Switch off the sound on your camera & flashes beforehand and use a quiet shutter mode.

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7. Shoot the small details

Photographing the details adds a lot of personality to wedding photographs - details of dresses back and front, rings, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus etc – these shots help give the end album an extra dimension. Visit our studio at 102 Main Rd Ballarat for a little inspiration.

8. Use Variety of Lens 

Borrow or hire an extra camera for the day and set it up with a different lens. We always shoot with one or two wide angle lens: 24-70mm and 16-35mm are great for tight spaces as well as for stunning panoramic shots of churches. We also use heavier but longer lens 85mm and 70-200mm great for candid shots and stunning background bokeh.

9. Consider a Second Wedding Photographer

Having a second and a third backup photographer is a great strategy. It means less moving around during ceremony and speeches, allows us to capture the formal shots and the others to get candid shots. It also takes a little pressure off you being ‘the one’ to have to get every shot. In addition we often shoot feature videos so a third photographer can be doing just that in the background.

10. Be Bold but Not Obtrusive

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Timing is everything and thinking ahead to get in the right position for key moments are important so as not to disrupt the event. Timidity won’t get you ‘the shot’ – sometimes you need to be bold to capture a moment. In a ceremony we try to move around at least 4-5 times but try to time this to coincide with songs 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 need to keep things moving.

11. Learn how to Use Diffused Light

The ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is key. You’ll find that in many churches that light is very low. If you’re allowed to use a flash (and some churches don’t allow it) think about whether bouncing the flash will work (remember if you bounce off a colored surface it will add a colored cast to the picture) or whether you might want to buy a flash diffuser to soften the light. If you can’t use a flash you’ll need to either use a fast lens at wide apertures (f1.2 - f2.8) and/or bump up the ISO to 800-1600. A lens with image stabilization might also help. 

12. Shoot RAW and only RAW

Unless you are shooting for a newspaper deadline, shoot in RAW. Choosing RAW means extra processing but a wedding is one time that it can be particularly useful as it gives much more flexibility to manipulate shots after taking them. Weddings present photographers with tricky lighting which result in the need to manipulate exposure and white balance after the fact – RAW will help you with this considerably.

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13. Display Your Shots at the Reception

One of the great things about digital photography is the immediacy of it as a medium. One of the fun things to surprise a couple with is to take a computer to the reception, upload shots taken earlier in the day and letting them play as a slideshow during the evening. This adds a real 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. Particularly with the formal shots have someone help you to keep control over the background. Ideally you’ll be wanting uncluttered areas and shaded spots out of direct sunlight where there’s unlikely to be a wandering great aunt wander into the back of the shot. 

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 arty looking shots that can add real interest to the end album. Try not to shoot too many similar looking images. 

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16. Change Your Perspective

Get 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 down low, up high and at wide angles etc.  

17. Wedding Group Shots

One thing that we’ve done at every wedding that we’ve photographed is attempt to photograph everyone who is in attendance in the one shot straight after the ceremony. We agree the location before the ceremony and find a place that we can get up high above everyone. This might mean getting tall ladder, using a balcony or even climbing on a roof. The beauty of getting up high is that you get everyone’s face in it and we can fit a lot of people in the one 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. We 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 to 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 to give a little fill in flash. We tend to dial it back a little (a stop or two) and use ETTL mode (Through The Lens Meter Measuring) so that shots are not blown out – but particularly in backlit or midday shooting conditions where there can be a lot of shadow, fill in flash is a must. We will soon run studio workshops on about using Fill Flash. If you are interested please add your name to our Newsletter Subscription here

19. Continuous Shooting Mode

Having the ability to shoot a lot of images fast is very handy on a wedding day so switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and use it. Sometimes it’s the shot you take a second after the formal or posed shot when everyone is relaxing that really captures the moment!

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20. Expect the Unexpected

One more piece of advice that someone gave me on my own wedding day. ‘Things will Go Wrong – But They Can be the Best Parts of the Day’. In every wedding that we’ve participated in something tends to go wrong with the day. The best man can’t find the ring ( it really did happen once when the best man forgot to take the rings), the rain pours down (Ballarat is well known for this) 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 & groom beautiful memories. Attempt to capture them and you could end up with some great unforgettable images that sum up the day.

21. Have Fun

Weddings are about celebrating – they should be fun! The more fun you have as the photographer the more relaxed those you are photographing will be. It’s all about the psychology and people skills. Don’t always hide behind the camera - to loosen people up is to smile as the photographer (warning: we always come home from photographing weddings with sore jaws and cheeks).

Last modified on Friday, 14 March 2014 04:17

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