Wedding Photography – 21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers

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Wedding Photography 21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographersby Darren Rowse


Help me Im photographing my first Wedding! Help me with some Wedding Photography Tips Please! Its a question thats been asked a few times in our forums over the last few months so while Im not a Pro Wedding Photographer I thought it was time to share a few tips on the topic of Wedding Photography. Ill leave the technical tips of photographing a wedding to the pros but as someone who has been asked to photograph numerous friends and family weddings here are a few suggestions.

Photo by rougerouge

Wedding Photography Tips1. Create a Shot ListOne of the most helpful tips Ive been given about Wedding Photography is to get the couple to think ahead about the shots that theyd like you to capture on the day and compile a list so that you can check them off. This is particularly helpful in the family shots. Theres nothing worse than getting the photos back and realizing you didnt photograph the happy couple with grandma!

2. Wedding Photography Family Photo CoordinatorI find the family photo part of the day can be quite stressful. People are going everywhere, youre unaware of the different family dynamics at play and people are in a festive spirit (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic. Get the couple to nominate a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the director of the shoot. They can round everyone up, help get them in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can get back to the party.

3. Scout the Location

Photo by wiseacre photo

Visit the locations of the different places that youll be shooting before the big day. While Im sure most Pros dont do this I find it really helpful to know where were going, have an idea of a few positions for shots and to know how the light might come into play. On one or two weddings I even visited locations with the couples and took a few test shots (these made nice engagement photos).

4. In Wedding Photography Preparation is KeySo 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 whats happening next. If you can, attend the rehearsal of the ceremony where youll 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 CoupleShow them your work/style. Find out what they 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 youre charging them for the event, make sure you have the agreement of price in place up front.

6. Turn off the sound on your CameraBeeps during speeches, the kiss and vows dont add to the event. Switch off sound before hand and keep it off.

Photo by Ellas Dad

7. Shoot the small detailsPhotograph rings, backs of dresses, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus etc these help give the end album an extra dimension. Flick through a wedding magazine in a news stand for a little inspiration.

8. Use Two CamerasBeg, borrow, hire or steal an extra camera for the day set it up with a different lens. I try to shoot with one wide angle lens (great for candid shots and in tight spaces (particularly before the ceremony in the preparation stage of the day) and one longer lens (it can be handy to have something as large as 200mm if you can get your hands on one I use a 70-200mm).

9. Consider a Second Wedding PhotographerHaving a second backup photographer can be a great strategy. It means less moving around during ceremony and speeches, allows for one to capture the formal shots and the other to get candid shots. It also takes a little pressure off you being the one to have to

get every shot!

10. Be Bold but Not Obtrusive

Photo by Brad Ross Photography LLC

Timidity wont get you the shot sometimes you need to be bold to capture a moment. However timing is everything and thinking ahead to get in the right position for key moments are important so as not to disrupt the event. In a ceremony I try to move around at least 4-5 times but try to time this to coincide with songs, sermons or longer readings. During the formal shots be bold, know what you want and ask for it from the couple and their party. Youre driving the show at this point of the day and need to keep things moving.

11. Learn how to Use Diffused LightThe ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is key. Youll find that in many churches that light is very low. If youre allowed to use a flash (and some churches dont 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 cant use a flash youll need to either use a fast lens at wide apertures and/or bump up the ISO. A lens with image stabilization might also help. Learn more about Using Flash Diffusers and Reflectors.]12. Shoot in RAW I know that many readers feel that they dont have the time for shooting in RAW (due to extra processing) but a wedding is one time that it can be particularly useful as it gives so much more flexibility to manipulate shots after taking them. Weddings can present photographers with tricky lighting which result in the need to manipulate exposure and white balance after the fact RAW will help with this considerably.

13. Display Your Shots at the Reception

Photo by Jen Clix

One of the great things about digital photography is the immediacy of it as a medium. One of the fun things Ive seen more and more photographers doing recently is taking a computer to the reception, uploading shots taken earlier in the day and letting them rotate as a slideshow during the evening. This adds a fun element to the night.

14. Consider Your BackgroundsOne of the challenges of weddings is that there are often people going everywhere including the backgrounds of your shots. Particularly with the formal shots scope out the area where theyll be taken ahead of time looking for good backgrounds. Ideally youll be wanting uncluttered areas and shaded spots out of direct sunlight where theres unlikely to be a wandering great aunt wander into the back of the shot. Read more on getting backgrounds right.

15. Dont Discard Your MistakesThe temptation with digital is to check images as you go and to delete those that dont 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/abstract looking shots that can add real interest to the end album.

16. Change Your Perspective

Photo by shutupyourface

Get a little 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, at wide angles etc.

17. Wedding Group ShotsOne thing that Ive done at every wedding that Ive photographed is attempt to photograph everyone who is in attendance in the one shot. The way Ive done this is to arrange for a place that I can get up high above everyone straight after the ceremony. 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 everyones face in it and 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 without having everyone stand around for too long. I 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. Read more on how to take Group Photos.

18. Fill FlashWhen shooting outside after a ceremony or during the posed shots youll probably want to keep your flash attached to give a little fill in flash. I tend to dial it back a little (a stop or two) 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. Read more about using Fill Flash.

19. Continuous Shooting ModeHaving 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 its the shot you take a second after the formal or posed shot when everyone is relaxing that really captures the moment!

20. Expect the Unexpected

Photo by missmellydean

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 Ive participated in something tends to go wrong with the day. The best man cant find the ring, the rain pours down 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 cant remember her vows. These moments can feel a little panicky at the time but its these moments that can actually make a day and give the bride and groom memories. Attempt to capture them and you could end up with some fun images that sum up the day really well. I still remember the first wedding I photographed where the bride and grooms car crashed into a Tram on the way to the park where we were going to take photos. The bride was in tears, the groom stressed out but after wed all calmed down people began to see some of the funny side of the moment and we even took a couple of shots before driving on to the park. They were among everyones favorites.

21. Have FunWeddings are about celebrating they should be fun. The more fun you have as the photographer the more relaxed those you are photographing will be. Perhaps the best way to loosen people up is to smile as the photographer (warning: I always come home from photographing weddings with sore jaws and cheeks because of of my smiling strategy).If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...How to Shoot a Traditional Cultural Wedding Wedding Photography Tutorials for Wedding Photographers Weddings 5 Ways you can be a Working Guest Note to Self 3 things I wish Id done differently in my last wedding A Fly on the Wall 10 Tips for Wedding Beginners

630 Responses to Wedding Photography 21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers - Add Yours1.

2. laura j. says:3. July 10th, 2007 at 12:44 am

I can vouch for making a list of shots my cousin (a natural party planner if there ever was one), created our wedding cakes, decorated our reception hall, and gave me moral support during the debates I had with my mother over what I wanted and what Emily Post wanted. Sadly, the only photo I have of my cousin is a candid snapshot that my great aunt took when my husband and I were standing at the grooms table and my cousin was tending to a little detail with the cake. Because she was looking down, its not a full shot like I would have liked. MAKE THOSE LISTS!!! 4.

5. ken thompson says:6. July 10th, 2007 at 12:55 am

The title says it all! Tips for Amature Wedding Photographers In a word, keep away from Weddings unless you are a fully competent Professional Wedding Photographer. You normally only get one chance to do the photographs, and if you dont mind the pressure of actuially taking charge of the shoot and the wrath of the Bride if things go wrong or you produce a pile of rubbish, (as you really cant go far wrong with digital) you will get some pictures. Whether the pictures are any good remains to be seen. (composition, artistic, wow factor, etc) I do not support amatures misleading brides to be, stating they can do wedding photographs. Oh the number of brides I have spoken to whos photographer friend, has bottled out at the last minute does not bear thinking about. Give them a Digital Camarea and hey presto everybody is a Professional Photographer. 7.

8. Stephen Newton says:9. July 10th, 2007 at 1:05 am

Thanks.. Great advice, but I had that wedding this weekend just gone. Although I wasnt asked to do the photos I have been asked by the groom if he can see them and have copies. Luckily I had no input into the formal shots and was effectively the second photographer getting the candid and behind the scenes shots. The other bit of advice I would give for people specifically doing family or friends weddings. Remember there are two sides to the weddings. I find it difficult sometimes to remember to take pics of the other side because I dont know them and although they are not important to me or the side of the family I know they are to the other side and as Laura mentioned its always a shame when there isnt a pic of someone who was there. 10.

11. embrownny says: 12. July 10th, 2007 at 2:26 amThis is great! Ive done a few weddings as the second photographer with no pressures. Since Im an art director in my day job, I know the importance of a shot list. These tips are great. Keep up the good work. 13.

14. AC says:15. July 10th, 2007 at 6:13 am

Some really good tips. Ive never done this type of event photography but hey, you never know ^_^. Of the example pics, I really like the one by Ellas Dad. Perfect. 16.

17. mdwsta4 says:18. July 10th, 2007 at 6:32 am

here is another page with excellent tips! 19.

20. Darren says: 21. July 10th, 2007 at 8:15 amKen I agree with you to a point. The reason I put #5 in (getting expectations right with the couple) was because I think its so important. The problem is that many professional wedding photographers are just too expensive for some couples. One of the first weddings I ever did was for a couple who had just suffered the groom being made redundant and they just couldnt afford the prices of a Pro. While I attempted to dissuade them from me doing it (I was petrified) it was either me or nothing. So I decided to do it after showing them the standard of images that I take. They went into it knowing that there was a possibility that Id completely mess it up. Thats why I asked another couple of friends to make sure they took plenty of shots also so thered at least be some level of back up. Every wedding since this first one Ive done the same thing: 1. try to convince the couple to go with a Pro 2. when they insist I show them what Ive done before, including some of the less spectacular shots 3. attempt to have a backup photographer Problem is that in most cases the couples couldnt afford to go with a Pro and had seen the previous shots from other couples and thought they were good. These days I rarely take this type of gig. 22.

23. Andrew Ferguson says:24. July 10th, 2007 at 9:02 am

I was...