A set of wedding pictures is a very specific product that has very great importance for the consumers. A professional knows in advance all the pitfalls and cautions to avoid getting a real product.
“Uncle George has a camera – why pay someone…?” is usually followed a week or so later with, “Damn, why didn’t we hire a pro?”
Just because your Uncle George fluked a picture of little Johnnie staring at the candles at his birthday party doesn’t mean he is up for this most challenging of photographic assignments.
If you’ve been recruited to cover the wedding, here are some wedding photography tips that may save your butt.
There are, generally speaking, four phases to a wedding and then post-production.
The wedding photography tips pages here are laid out in the entire wedding shoot’s general sequence and your role as the photographer. The menu at the top of the page will guide you.
You can use the links above to navigate to the particular Wedding Photography Tips you may be interested in, or you can simply read through each page in sequence by clicking the “Next Page” buttons at the bottom of each page.
Before We Start Shooting photos, that is.
1. Think ahead.
A planned wedding will usually be planned down to the finest details, including what shots are wanted. Find out what they want to be photographed from the bride and groom, and make a ‘shot list’ that you work through.
2. Beg, buy, hire, borrow or steal the following equipment:
- A camera with a wide-angle /zoom lens. You do not need a wide-angle smaller than 35mm, and you won’t need a zoom greater than 135mm.
- Spare batteries for the camera.
- Several spare Memory sticks, if your camera uses them – it had better.
- A working flash outfit can stand separate from the camera or has a slave unit and ideally a reflector.
- Spare batteries for the flash outfit.
- A reflector for outdoor shots. (you can make one, but people will laugh at you. Better to hire one.)
- A tripod.
- A professional attitude.
3. If the bride can’t give you a shot list, make one of your own.
It’s indispensable. You don’t want angry ‘customers’ coming up later and demanding prints of the ceremony you don’t have because you were taking a break… If shots of the ceremony are wanted, go visit the priest/minister of the church and find out what you can and cannot do during the ceremony.
Most churches will not allow flash during the ceremony. Still, if you are discreet about it, you may be able to set up your camera on the tripod (seriously – use a tripod for these shots!) and quietly shoot away with the available light. You can get some very lovely shots this way – if you’re allowed.
But find out in advance. Most weddings have a rehearsal, and you should get yourself invited to that so you can study the lighting, angles, key moments, etc., beforehand. 4. Realize that the consumers of your product will be first the bride and groom.
After them, the immediate family, then the guests. So plan your shots in that order. Don’t get waylaid by guests wanting shots of themselves until you have covered your principles. Stick with your shots list.
5. Practice with the equipment.
Set it up, take it down, set it up, take it down. Do test shots. Find out what the flash will cover. Don’t skimp on this because you will want to be focused (literally and figuratively) on the subject, not the tools.6. Decide you are a professional.
This means wear a suit, not jeans. This means to act professionally. These means get the shots first and party later. These means think of your shots as being ‘saleable’ items – not goofy accidents.
7. If possible, have a backup or an assistant.
If you’re shooting the wedding for a friend or a relative, try to recruit another friend or relative as a backup photographer or your assistant. Get him familiar with the shot list and work out any conflicts between shots.
For example, get the backup guy to shoot the bride’s arrival outside the church while you’re setting up inside the church. Where there is no conflict, just have him shoot ‘over your shoulder’ or the same scene from a different angle. In any case, you will need spare batteries, memory sticks, a tripod, a flash unit and so on, and it helps to have someone watching your stuff while you are blazing away.