This is a sponsored guest post.
Tying the knot is one of the most significant milestones in anyone’s life. On such a monumental occasion it’s only right that it’s beautifully captured, serving as a reminder for the happy couple of their special day for many years to come. If you’re just starting out then this handy guide is perfect for you, offering 10 easy-to-follow tips on taking wedding photographs that will be cherished for a lifetime.
1. Make a Plan
There are a lot of variables to consider when photographing a wedding. One of the most challenging aspects is capturing so many special moments in such a narrow time frame; you only have one opportunity to get it right, often within just a few hours (or less!) Planning ahead of the event itself puts you in a strong position to snap superior shots.
Visit the venue(s) before the wedding and work out the best places to take photos. If you can’t visit the venue on an earlier date, try to get their early enough on the big day to assess the location. You’ll need to stake out all the most photogenic spots that the newlyweds can be captured in, taking into account lighting and suitable backgrounds – which should strike a balance between being attractive to look at and yet not distracting from the bride and groom.
2. Understand Your Camera Settings
Shooting inside a church presents an interesting problem – these beautiful buildings tend to be low-light environments. This problem can be compounded in churches that don’t allow flash photography. So, what to do? You’ll need to experiment with the aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings on your camera until you find a configuration that captures photos you’re happy with. If you do need to underexpose the images to keep things in focus, this is where editing your images with presets in Lightroom can really help improve the quality of your photos. Again, it helps if you can arrive early to take some test shots so you know what to expect.
You can adjust the size of the aperture (the opening of the camera that admits light in) to change how bright your photos are. A narrower aperture results in brighter images and a wider aperture results in darker images, for example, an F8 aperture setting allows in less light than an F4. Your camera’s shutter speed also determines the amount of light allowed into the shot; the longer (or slower) the shutter speed, the more light is able to enter the camera lens. Your camera’s ISO also affects the amount of light that the photo is developed with; the higher the ISO the brighter your image will be.
4. Familiarise Yourself with the Guest List
Weddings and wedding receptions tend to be big social events with a lot of people turning up who are close (and not so close) to the bride and groom. Discuss with the bride and groom-to-be beforehand which friends and family members they want photographed, who they specifically want portraits of, and who they want to be snapped with them in group photos.
Compile a list of the happy couple’s preferred photo subjects, and when you’ve identified these people, introduce yourself to them as the wedding photographer and be friendly and sociable with them to help them to feel at ease about being snapped.
5. Bring Your Tripod
It just makes life so much easier to have a tripod to steady your shots! You don’t have to worry about shaky photos, plus they’re especially useful in low-light setting like churches when using long exposures (it’s hard to keep your hands perfectly still for long.) Do yourself a favour and bring your tripod with you when you come to photograph the wedding, and if you don’t have one, buy one.
6. Be Well Equipped and Prepared
Make sure all your equipment is good to go the night before the wedding. Ensure your camera is charged, your memory cards are empty, and you have sufficient spare batteries. It would be wise to also bring your camera charger and have a few batteries fully charged so you can swap them over whenever’s necessary.
It’s also highly recommended to bring a spare camera, ideally with a different lens so you can experiment with taking different photos, (for instance one long lens and one wide angle lens.) This is also a clever move just in case anything happens to your main camera; it’s better to be safe with an alternative than to be sorry and have disappointed newlyweds lacking the photographic recording of their big day.
7. Seek Assistance
It can be useful and efficient to team up with a trusted family member of the newlyweds and have them co-ordinate the people you want to shoot, rather than you (likely a complete stranger to most of the guests) trying to get people to follow your commands. You can ask the couple before the event if someone would be willing to take on that job; it’s an ideal role for an extroverted family member.
8. All Together Now
The wedding group shot is pretty much mandatory. An effective way of doing this is elevating yourself on a raised area, by using a ladder or getting onto an easily accessible roof. This way you can capture the faces of every single subject, and the bird’s eye view style perspective allows you to fit everyone in attendance in the shot.
Ideally you will be able to scope out the perfect vantage point beforehand. You’ll have a narrow window of opportunity to take the shot before people become (more) restless, so make it count. Beyond setting up the photo, the most difficult part of orchestrating group wedding shots is getting everyone to assemble, (See tip 7 above for help with gathering all the guests together.)
9. Get with the Programme
It’s incredibly useful to find out from the bride and groom what the planned order of events is before the wedding. This way you can be sure to capture all those key moments; the wedding vows; the first kiss; the first dance; the cutting of the wedding cake; and the throwing of the bouquet, etc. Knowing when these events are happening allows you to prepare and capture them in all their fine glory.
10. Look Out for Those Precious Moments
Let’s be honest, posing to be in pictures can feel, and look, really quite contrived. Some of the best photos are of the spontaneous moments; the smiles on the faces of the bridesmaids; the touching bromance of the groom receiving man hugs from his best mates; the laughter of a private joke between guests at the reception; and a drunken uncle getting down at the disco.
Capturing these moments is all about timing – you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings, looking out for perfect photo opportunities, and snapping continuously. While everyone appreciates a social media friendly group picture, nothing evokes raw emotion like a well-timed photo of happy tears flowing down the guest’s faces at the wedding ceremony.
Photographs of these wonderful moments anchor powerful emotions in physical form. When your bride and groom have received your collection of beautiful wedding photos, they will probably want to compile them into a wedding photo album; a priceless, lifelong artefact commemorating the couple’s love for one another.