Every bride wants her wedding day to be special, no matter what the budget might be for the actual event. And every wedding photographer has horror stories of photo shoots gone horribly wrong. Thanks to them, these seven must-remember wedding photography tips will help you be the photographer who adds to the occasion and makes it memorable.
Make a list of must-have shots
It’s vitally important to sit down prior to the wedding with the bride and groom (she may have to drag him kicking and screaming!) but you don’t want to go into photographing a wedding assuming you know what they want. In addition to many of the standard wedding photographs, you will find that every bride and groom are going to want to make sure certain people or types of pictures are included. It’s too late to find out after the wedding is over that you didn’t photograph the bride with her sorority sisters!
Know the location
Every wedding venue has its own quirks, whether it’s lighting (or lack thereof), layout, or even simple geography. And you need to know what to expect. It’s too late once the wedding is underway to think about compensating for poor lighting. By the way, lighting is poor in many churches to begin with – and some won’t allow you to use a flash. On top of it, you could run into a situation where the only light you do have is coming in from a window – what if you get a cloudy or rainy day on top of it? Which leads us to…
Expect the unexpected
It’s up to you to rise to the occasion when things go awry – and they will. For instance, what’s your back-up plan if it rains? The ceremony may be inside but if the wedding is taking place at a scenic location (beach, park, etc.) and your plan included some of that scenery, you’re going to want to have a quick “plan B” to go to in case of bad weather.
There are other curves coming your way that can alter your shot list too. What if a key member of the wedding party is running late? Or the best man can’t find the ring? Or the bride cries during her vows? Or…
Remember, anything can go wrong. Visualize the potential problems and the possible positive outcomes before you get into the situation, and chances are you’ll be quicker on your feet to come up with a great shot that turns lemons into lemonade.
Two cameras are better than one
You’re not going to want to use the same camera settings or even the same lens for every shot. At the same time, you’re also not going to always have the luxury of hoping events can wait for you to make adjustments to your equipment. Plan on using two cameras and set each one up for different types of shots so you can just grab the right camera and keep on shooting with just a few minor adjustments. For instance, you may want to have one camera set up for indoor shoots and the other for outdoor. Or you may want a wide-angle lens on one camera for tight shots and a longer lens for group shots. And make sure you have plenty of backup batteries and memory cards (or film if you’re old school!).
Don’t be afraid to get the shot but don’t interfere
There is often a fine line between stepping up to get that perfect wedding shot and intruding on the event itself. At the same time, you don’t want to be so timid that you miss great opportunities to capture a moment. During the ceremony itself, you’ll want to be bold enough to take the shot – but think ahead so you know where you need to be during key moments. Choose the right time to move around and change positions – perhaps during a song or during longer passages in the sermon. And when you’re getting the formal shots before and after the ceremony, be assertive and keep things moving. You’re orchestrating the event at those times, and the bride and groom are going to rely on you to help keep everyone on track – which isn’t always easy, especially when everyone’s ready to head for the reception and get the party started!
Save every shot, even the mistakes
The beautiful thing about digital photography is the almost-unlimited amounts of pictures you can take. It’s a good idea to save every shot too, instead of deleting what may seem at the time to be unwanted pictures. Wait until you’re done with your shoot and review all of your pictures carefully. You may find some unexpected treasures, even among the mistakes – you never know what’s going to come out of those shots once you start reviewing and cropping them. And those treasures will make great additions to your portfolio and demonstrate to the next bride why you always seem to ‘get the shot’ that others miss.
Mix up your angles and your environment
Every picture doesn’t need to be at eye level. You can get more compelling shots by shooting down low, up high, with differing lenses, etc. And attend the rehearsal – this is a great way to better visualize potential shots on the wedding day. It will also help you plan around busy backgrounds and cluttered areas that may compete with the subjects you’re shooting. You’re also going to be shooting in a naturally bustling environment to begin with, so avoiding high traffic areas where guests are coming and going will be crucial.
In the middle of all this, it’s important to remember that a wedding is an event and a celebration. It’s supposed to be special and fun. And as the photographer, everyone in attendance will be coming in contact with you – try to smile and have fun yourself, and you’ll keep everyone else around you relaxed and smiling.
About the Author:
Neil Austin, Photography Enthusiast
Neil writes for his photography blog DigitalWeddingGuide.com. Neil mostly writes about wedding photography and digital photography. You can visit his blog to read more of his wedding photography tips.