Wedding Photography Techniques

Learning different wedding photography techniques and tricks is critical to the growth of your skills and abilities. Looking for digital techniques, lighting and flash tips, camera settings, exposure advice, setting the scene or composition? You’ll find them here and more. Got a great idea or tip of your own? Please share it with us and your fellow wedding photographers by submitting a tip here.

“It’s a good idea to nail your exposure in camera as best as you can. If you have the time, set a custom white balance. You will save yourself so much more time in post processing! Think to yourself before you click the shutter – is this well composed? Is it exposure good? The earlier you get your images edited, the earlier the bride gets her pictures, and the happier you both will be!”
– Meagan K Photography
Arkansas Wedding Photographer

“1. I always ask them to do some off-the-wall, silly pose. Not to capture that one…but to capture their reaction afterwards. It is usually a big smile, real laugh, or them poking fun at each other. The good times come across in the photo!

2. Get creative with light! Silhouettes, strategically placed shadows, and anything that can serve as a sort of spotlight work wonders for amazing photographs.”
– My Grace Photography
North Carolina Wedding Photographer

“Use natural light where possible. If you place your subject close to a large window the natural light coming in will be very flattering. However, this works best with light from a window facing north or south as you don’t want direct sun coming in. If the subject is too dark on the shadow side you can use a cheap white foam core board (available at a craft store or Target) to reflect light into the shadow side. Try to get a board that is at least 36″ or so. Mostly you want to capture great emotions rather than a subject that is too stiff or posed.”
– John Hanson Photography
Minnesota Photographer

“Be as unobtrusive as possible, anticipate and capture the moments as they happen with as little “Direction” as possible. Also, encourage the bride and groom to simply talk to each other!”
– Covenant Photo Studio
California Wedding Photographer

“Look for the light, then the emotion and great pictures will follow. Always make the bride your number one focus for the day. Those are the pictures that sell, not the ones of Uncle Bob eating his chicken dinner :)”
– Joel Martin
Minneapolis MN Wedding Photographer

“When shooting portraits, its always a great idea to shoot a few extra quick snaps AFTER the initial shutter – your subjects usually do something very candid, funny, or RELAXED immediately after they think the photo is over . . . and these moments often make for the best images!!”
– Don Wright Designs and Photography
Destination Wedding Photographer

“We use a tungston flashlight on some of our after dark bridal formals. The advantages are a continuous light,so that you can see where the light will fall before you shoot the image ( unlike a hotshoe flash), a light that can be directed to just the spot you need and with the intensity you want. Plus the quality of light looks great. You can see the results on the image we use here on WeddingphotoUSA.”
– JP Brandano Photography
Londonderry, NH Wedding Photographer

“I’ve found that using an off-camera flash makes all the difference in the quality of photos! It’s like being in a portrait studio in terms of quality of light. And by using a Pocket Wizard®, I can work independently of the light and use the focal length of lens that works best for what I’m wanting to achieve for the photo.”
– Kathy Fitts Photography
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Wedding Photographer

“When you have clients who seem nervous or uptight about their photo session, use your telephoto lens and step way back from the scene and let their personalities come out for more natural, non-posed shots.”
– Simply Digital Memories
North Little Rock, Arkansas Wedding Photographer

“How to create a strobist style wedding photo for beginners:

1. Set the couple against a setting sun.

2. Set your ISO to 100. Set your aperture between f8 and f11. Set your shutter speed between 100 and 200 (or 250 depending on your camera’s maximum flash sync speed). Target for about 2 stops below ambient.

3. Get an assistant to stand about 5-8 feet from the couple and point a flash at them on manual power between 1/4 and 1/1 through a white shoot through umbrella. Alternatively you can hold up a golden reflector and hit the flash away from the couple towards the reflector.

End result should be an exciting and dramatic picture of the clouds and sunset, with the couple perfectly exposed.”
– AliphAurMeem Photography

“Don’t be intimidated by bright light sources behind your subjects. Maneuver yourself so that the subject blocks the light source, reduce your exposure by about 1/2 a stop and snap away! You will end up with a great halo effect around the subject. In sunlight you can achieve a wonderful golden glow great for kissing couples!”
– SC PhotoGraphik
Amo, Indiana Wedding Photographer

“Always shoot in RAW format. We all make mistakes, but by shooting in RAW you have the most flexibility to fix mistakes in post production.”
– Benjamin of Corey Pro Photography
Wedding Photographer serving ME, NH, MA, CT

“Other than capturing the emotions and details that make up a wedding day, lighting is everything! For best results, use available lighting, or if that isn’t an option, get your flash off of the camera to show more dimension in your images.

– Ron of Southern Wedding Photography Taylors, SC Wedding Photographer

“Even if there is a wedding planner involved, if your clients want lots of group shoots, they can take huge amounts of time. Have them break down the shots they want to “special” and “obligatory”. The “special” ones should be done before or immediately after the ceremony when everyone is fresh and you can take some time. The “obligatory” ones (you know, uncle Harry, cousin Waldo, etc.), do during the reception/party when people are loosened up and a bit silly – those can be quick and less formal. Also, have the B&G designate a “crowd wrangler” who knows everyone to find and organize them for you. On my last shoot, a no-nonsense male friend of the family did the wrangling and made my life way simpler!”– Dan Derby North Hampton, NH Wedding Photographer

“When shooting in various environments, try to find background colors that match the eyes of the subject to enhance the focal point of a photo. Scout the church or venue lighting setup in advance before finalizing a location for formal/traditional posed shots.”
– Patrick of Day 6 Design & Studios Kendallville, IN Wedding Photographer

“Utilize natural light for photos whenever possible. Incorporate your background into the story of the image.
Inspiration is everywhere! Never stop growing and adapting.”
– Audrey of Audrey Snow Photography Sarasota, FL Wedding Photographer

“When shooting “wide open” to maximize emotional impact and connection with the subject, I will always selectively focus on the subjects eyes, and more specfically their iris. This causes the viewer to be drawn to that area of the photograph and creates an instant connection with the viewer.”
– Christie of JLM Creative Photography Sparks, NV Wedding Photographer

“You can see everyone’s face, the shot is well lit, everyone is facing the camera and no-one is doing the bunny ears! Just as you begin to breathe that lovely sigh of satisfaction you notice that at least two people have their eyes shut. Sound familiar? It is a given that someone has their eyes closed. Ask your audience to “close their eyes and open them when I count to three” wait an extra count of one before snapping the shutter and hopefully they have all remembered to open their eyes. Asking them to say a funny word or phrase can help as well, just wait until the laughter has died down before hitting the shutter. “
Johnny of Johnny Wells Photography Swansboro, NC Wedding Photographer

“People enjoying seeing what they see every day. Flash is good when light is not available, However, given the option existing light creates images so real you feel them.”
– Tom of Tom Sapp Photography Wilmington, NC

“99.9% of wedding photography is anticipation. Keep your camera up, and your eyes sharp and the magic shots will come.”

– Melody of Twilight Images Richmond VA Wedding Photographer

“Remember to sharpen photos before you add softening. This will give you luscious portraits that have clarity and softness. What a combo!”

– Charlotte of Charlotte Bell Photography Austin TX Wedding Photographer

“When you must work in bright sunlight, get in a position to have the natural light work for you and not against you. Highlights on the face, skin and hair and soft shadows that add a subtle contrast makes a romantic look. Be careful of too harsh shadows and sun – change positions to get the light is just the right spot. ”

– Polly of Simply Digital Memories North Little Rock AR Wedding Photographer

“Be in the moment. That’s the best advice I have for photojournalistic photos. Observe without interfering.”
– Marc of Marc Sadowski Photography Cambridge, MA Wedding Photographer

“When doing wedding poses, I try to schedule more time than I think I really need. I also try to get some “alone time” with the couple, since other people tend to distract from the shoot. Carefully compose your shots, and check your composition through viewfinder before shooting. Pay attention to lines, form, shadows and highlights, as well as getting a good exposure for the wedding dress. You want a good “flow” in the composition, so watch the placement of arms and hands. Generally, strong horizontal lines break the flow of a photo, so keep arms more vertically aligned. Finally, the placement of the wedding dress and veil should compliment the overall shape of the bride, rather than distract from it. Dresses often take the form of an S-shape or curve; you should use arrangement, lighting, and other compositional techniques to enhance this look in your photos.”
– Shawn of Shawn Mac Photography Somerdale, NJ Wedding Photographer

“Using simple light techniques give more flattering results than just flash. Natural window light, candle light and up lighters make the eyes sparkle and give the skin a more natural and beautiful look.”
– Mimika of Photo Lyrical Photography Waxhaw, NC Wedding Photographer

“My best tip is to lose the flash and learn to work with the light that is available. Take brides to interesting places for their portrait sessions, and remember if there isn’t something pretty at the church to use as a background the ground, and the sky are ALWAYS available.”
– Jennifer of Beck and Call Photography Fredericksburg, VA Wedding Photographer

“Help the Bride overcome nervousness and camera-shyness by occasionally asking her to “VOGUE” – that is strike a Fashion Model type pose. It really works and most times you can get a really great photo out of it!

– Ed of Diaz Digital Discoveries Oxford, MA Wedding Photographer

“When the background is too busy, and you are looking to do a head and shoulders close up try using a window as a background. You must have your camera on manual settings to expose the photograph properly. You can achieve a high key white look with this technique, just set your exposure for the shadow.”

– Rene of Rene Minnis Photography Sabattus, ME Wedding Photographer

“I know this is probably obvious to most, but I was told by my fellow photographer partner this past wedding, that I should shoot at an ISO of 1600 when I was inside the church. Well I continued to shoot at that same ISO the rest of the day, indoors and out, and many of my pictures had noise if magnified. So don’t shoot at an ISO 1600 unless lighting forces you to. : )”

– Caroline of Story By Pictures Glendale AZ Wedding Photographer

“Never underestimate the powerful beauty that natural lighting can
Janet of Hudson Schroeder Freelance Bentonville AR Wedding Photographer

“The lower a bride holds her flowers the thinner she will look.

Alyssa of Alyssa Hennessy Photography Bakersfield CA Wedding Photographer

“Pay close attention to the facial expressions of the subjects. Do not seek only the smiles, but also the frowns, and genuine emotions of the moment.”
Jeremy of Jeremy Igo Photography Huntersville, NC Wedding Photographer

“Be Creative! Every Bride deserves images that look like nothing
they have seen before.”
Christian of OnSight Photos South Huntington, NY Wedding Photographer

“Lighting has much better qualities if it is not hitting the subject straight-on. Try to place subjects in such a way that the light will be mostly coming from one side or the other. If you can take your flash off camera by using a cord attached to your camera, you should do this and place it higher and to one side of your subject.”
Ron of Southern Wedding Photography Campobello, SC Wedding Photographer

“For those photographers who shoot with Canon digital cameras, don’t feel shy to crank up that ISO and shoot wide open. You’d be surprised what your camera can produce. If you question my rational then check this link and keep in mind that almost all these images were shot at 3200 ISO at 1.8 to 2.0.

Jeff of Jeff Newcum Photography Natick, MA Wedding Photographer

“Shoot manually to set exposure on your subject in unique lighting situations (ex: back lighting against windows).”

– Alison of Alison Rose Photography Fort Collins, CO Wedding Photographer

“Consider using a unique viewpoint. Get down on the ground and shoot from there or get high and shoot down upon the subject.”

– Michelle of About You Photography Minot, ND Wedding Photographer

“Try to use as little flash as possible in situations that permit it.
When it is necessary to use flash, use only fill flash, or bounced flash.
This will result in much more natural lighting on your subjects.”
Kevin of Kevin Quinlan Photography Newark DE Wedding Photographer

“Almost any photograph can be improved by getting closer to the
subject (or zooming in) to eliminate needless background details.”
Teddie of Abundant Light Photography Rogers AR Wedding Photographer

” Try to follow your subject around without them noticing. You can often get a natural pose that captures the moment like no posed photo can.

David of D Coleman Photography Springfield, MO Wedding Photographer

“Try to see what other people miss. Take shots from unusual angles to make images more memorable.”
John of Wollwerth Imagery Beaufort
SC Wedding Photographer

“It’s easy to fall into a certain way of doing traditional photos. Always remember that you started for the love of photography and keep that creative edge going by trying something new!”
Holly of Out of the Ordinary Hudson Falls NY Wedding Photographer

“Wedding photographers must be mentally a couple of steps ahead of
the action so they can predict emotional shots before they happen and be
in place to capture them.”
Chris of Holmes Photography Grand Ledge MI Wedding Photographer

“Use natural light when available. Take test photos ahead if you can to check your lighting so that you are prepared. Look for the little moments that are not rehearsed but say so much.”

– Tracie of TKW Images Asheville, NC

“When shooting a bride and you don’t have a assistant find a white wall or van place bride facing large white object you face bride and you have a natural fill. Try it, it looks great!”
Cash of Bryan Photography Tracy CA Wedding Photographer

“Don’t let bad light ruin good photo ops. Always bring a translucent white sheet with to a wedding and use this to defuse harsh sun. (By the way, ironing board clips work great to hang simple sheets.)”
Mark of Amelse Photography

“For night time photos if your subject is more than approximately. 20 feet away, it’s usually best to turn off your flash. This tricks your auto camera into, “dragging the shutter” as pros call it. The results are a much more, “as you see it” image instead of a big flash making the subject look like a ghost.”
– Billy and Bridget Hinamon of Alpha Omega Creations d.b.a Hinamon Studios, WV Wedding Photographer

“One of the best ways to get great outdoor photographs of people is to leave your flash on, particularly when in the bright sunlight. This gives great highlights in the face and eyes, and reduces dark shadows that can be caused by intense sunlight.”
– Tania Elsesser of Studio E Photography, IN Wedding Photographer

“1: Avoid bright sunlight. Look for shaded areas and always use a flash – even outside to help fill in shadows. 2: When you are about to take a picture, take three steps closer than you normally would shoot. Don’t be afraid to take close ups, you want the full effect of their expressions. 3: When looking in the viewfinder, make sure to not cut people off at their knees. Instead, take the picture either a bust(Chest and up), or from their waist and up.”
– Muir w. Boda of Boda Photography & Art, MD Wedding Photographer

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