Wedding Photography Tips for the Beginner

Wedding Photography Tips for the Beginner

You have just bought your first digital camera and familiarized with taking quality shots when a friend or relative approaches you. In an instant, you are appointed to cover a wedding ceremony as a wedding photographer. You are both nervous and excited. It may be very daunting for a beginner photographer to do his first wedding shoot, there is no second chance if you mess up or miss out on something. So much is expected from you since this is a big day for both the bride and groom. Here are some wedding photography tips that can help you capture those incredible moments.

Have a Shot List

To make the shoot easier for you, ask the couple to think about the shots they would like you to capture on that day. You can then compile the list and organize yourself on how the shoot will take place. Having a shots list is very important especially when it comes to family members. You’ll be using this list to check-off the “must have” photos. There is nothing worse than finishing the shoot and realizing that you didn’t capture a photo of the bride with the flower girl, or the groom waiting for his bride. Also, you can add notes to each shot to indicate location and style of photography for each one. Although it may be a tedious process, it will help you stay focused all through the ceremony.

Get The Couple To Choose a Family Photo Coordinator

The family photo session may be very stressful. Everyone is in a festive mood, and you can’t find the appropriate moment to capture the shots. Have the couple appoint someone, either a favorite uncle or aunt, to be directing the shots. He/she will be responsible for rounding up the family members and keeping the shoot moving smoothly. If it’s for the shot with the couple’s grandma, the coordinator will gather all the people and facilitate a successful shoot.

Scout The Locations

Maybe the couple wants to shoot at various locations such as the beach, the park, beside the pool among other places. Make sure that you scout all the places before the big day. This will help you analyze other factors that might come into play during the shoot, such as weather and lighting conditions. This way, you will get an idea of the best positions to shoot from and how lighting will affect the photos. Also, you can take the couple with you and take a few test shots to your posing and arranging skills.

Prepare All Camera Equipment

Preparation is the key to successful wedding photography. Weddings may be very busy and hectic, thus preparing in advance is very crucial. Since anything can happen at any time, ensure that you have a backup plan. Do you have all the equipment needed for a successful wedding photography session? Do you have a backup camera? What about a selection of lenses, batteries, flash strobes, and a tripod? Think about the routes and time needed to get to places and get a full day’s schedule, so you know the order of events. Attend the rehearsal ceremony where you will get all the information such as lighting conditions, the order of events and potential locations where the shooting will be taking place.


Set Expectations With The Couple

Wedding Photography Tips for the Beginner

Have a thorough conversation with the couple and find out what they intend to achieve at the end of the shoot, the number of shots they need, the major things that should be captured and how they expect to receive the photos at the end, whether is a digital format or printed. You show them your working style and let them determine if it’ll work for them. Also, they can tell you their preferred style to help you prepare well in advance. If you’ll be charging them, ensure that you agree on the price upfront.

Turn Off The Sound In Your Camera

There is nothing that can distract more in a wedding than the sound of your camera as it tries to focus. So, make sure to turn off the camera’s sound and leave it off all through the event. Having a client camera will also make it easy for you to shoot solid photos without alerting the subject, letting you capture a more natural photo. Ensure that you turn the sound off at the start of the day.

Shoot Even The Smallest Details

Wedding photography is all about capturing even those small details, don’t let anything slip by. Capture wedding rings, shoes, table settings, flowers, backs of dresses to give the end photos an added dimension. You can browse the internet for sample wedding photos for inspiration. Some of the wedding photography books also have pictures you can go through to get ideas.

Use Two Cameras

Borrow or hire another camera to help you with the shoot. And, don’t set up both cameras with the same lens, set them up with different lenses. You can set one with a wider lens and the other with a longer lens. No single lens is appropriate for all kinds of situations. Also, having different cameras with different lenses can make the work a whole lot faster and easier for you. When you see that one camera doesn’t work out for a certain situation, you don’t have to get into the tedious work of changing the lens. You just need to pick the other camera and see if it works for that situation.

Consider a Second Photographer

As mentioned earlier, a wedding can be very busy. There are a lot of things happening at the same time. Having a backup photographer can be a useful idea. This will ensure that you don’t move around a lot during the ceremony and speeches. One may be capturing the formal shots while the other captures candid shots. Also, it will take some pressure off your back; the pressure of being the one to capture every shot.


Be Bold but Not Intrusive

Wedding Photography Tips for the Beginner

Being timid cannot get you the best shot, you need to be confident and bold. However, thinking ahead and timing are two vital factors that you need to consider so as not to disrupt the ceremony. Try moving around but time this to concur with sermons, longer readings or songs. You need to be bold during formal shots, know what you want and ask for it. You’re in control of the show at this moment, so keep things going. Don’t be shy to stand in front of the audience. Everyone knows that you were hired for this occasion, so don’t worry about walking around.

Learning How to Use Diffused Light is Very Important

The ability to use diffused light to your advantage is the key to getting quality shots. You may find that many churches have poor lighting. If you are allowed to use camera flash (some churches do not allow using flash ) think about bouncing the flash off a colored surface to add a colored cast to your photos. Also, you may consider having a diffuser to soften the flash’s light. If the church doesn’t allow the use of flash, you can use a fast lens at wider apertures and set the ISO to a higher number. A lens with image stabilization may also be helpful.

Shoot Raw

Some of the photographers shy away from shooting RAW because of the processing needed later. However, in a wedding, shooting in raw may prove to be helpful because you’ll have the flexibility of manipulating the shots after capturing them. Weddings may present tricky lighting situations, which may need manipulation of white balance and exposure. RAW can help significantly with this. Thus, when faced with a low-light scene, consider shooting RAW.

Display Earlier Shots at the Reception

The best thing about digital photography is that the results are immediate. You can carry a computer to the reception, upload photos taken early in the day and put them on slideshow during the evening. Be sure to include even the funny and unexpected images. This will add a touch of fun and enjoyment to the night.

Your Backgrounds

One of the significant challenges that presents itself when it comes to wedding photography is that people are moving here and there, altering the background of your images. For the formal shots, you can set a suitable place with an appropriate background, away from direct sunlight. You can also choose a place where there is a less likelihood of people wandering there. Also, you can carry your own background for formal shots or use aperture to blur the background. Backgrounds make an essential part of your shooting. They can be the difference between a quality shot and a poorly captured shot. So, pay keen attention to this factor.

Don’t Delete Your ‘Mistakes’

One of the temptations of digital photography is checking your recent images and deleting those you think won’t work. Do you know that you may be getting rid of exciting and usable images? Remember that photos can be manipulated or cropped to get abstract looking shots. Don’t delete, keep them. They may add interest at the end of the album.


Change Your Perspective

Wedding Photography Tips for the Beginner

A vital element in wedding photography is being creative. You would want the couple to look at the photos and say, “these photos are amazing”. Creativity is what will make your photos stand out. Don’t see things in their usual way, look at things from an unusual angle to add an element of creativity in each shot. Even the most ordinary objects like flowers at the reception can make an exceptional shot if you experiment with different perspectives and angles. Although most of the photos may end up looking formal, mix up things a little in a creative way.

Wedding Group Shots

Group shots in a wedding are fun, but how can you capture a photo with twenty or thirty people in it? After a ceremony, you can arrange a place where you can get high above everyone and get a shot. You can photograph from the balcony or even from the roof. Getting up high will ensure that you capture everyone’s face and have everyone in one shot. Don’t overlook group shots in your next wedding photography session.

Fill in Flash

During posed shots or when shooting outside, you may want to keep the flash attached. This will give a little fill-in flash, but make sure it’s the correct amount so that the photos aren’t blown out. For backlit or shadowy situations, fill in flash may be a must. Fill flash is not the primary source of light, but it’s used to supplement the existing lighting conditions, where natural light doesn’t reach.

Continous Shooting Mode

Shooting lots of images fast may come in handy in a wedding. This may be particularly useful when shooting moving subjects such as children enjoying the wedding. However, you need to think about the focusing strategy. Some high-end cameras continuous focusing to help with this but with simpler cameras, you may find the focusing isn’t keeping up in the continuous shooting mode. Keep in mind this factor before turning on this mode. Also, practise using this mode upfront to determine the sensitivity of the shutter release.

Expect the Unusual

Don’t expect everything to go smoothly all through; anything can happen at any time. You may be relaxed capturing photos, then the rain starts pouring down or even the rings cannot be found. These situations may be panicky, but you can use them to give the couple wonderful memories. Capture these moments and you may end up with some funny images that can sum up the album on a lighter note.

Relax and Have Fun!

Finally, remember that weddings are all about fun and celebration. Although they may be stressful for you as the photographer, relax, chat with the guests and enjoy yourself. Being relaxed will help you be more creative and deliver high-quality results. Always be armed with a smile and the people you’re shooting will smile for your camera.

Hopefully, these tips will help you make the most out of your next wedding photography. The most important thing is being sensitive about how the bride and groom feel about their special day and reflect this in your photography.