Wedding photography tips

Many people, when asked why they invested in a DSLR camera, or why they enrolled on a photography course, is that they wanted to take better photographs at the wedding of a friend or a family member, and that they wanted to guarantee quality by having the best possible equipment they could afford. Others will be familiar with some of the problems of shooting at a wedding: it can be difficult to take photographs in a poorly lit, or stained-glass window filtered light; it is often difficult to get close to the front of the church or registry office to get those crucial images of the bride and groom holding hands, exchanging rings or gazing into each other’s’ eyes; and of course anyone photographing a wedding will be aware that good photography is so much dependent on the weather. This short guide has a number of tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your wedding photography, and to encourage you to plan, practice and prepare as much as you can, to help ensure the best shots you can on the big day.
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Even if you are just a guest at a wedding, if you are serious about producing good photographs, think beforehand about the shots you want to capture. Magical moments can’t be replayed, so unless you are in the right place, and ready to shoot, you won’t be there when they happen. Make a list of the shots you want, and be sure to be in the right place to get the picture you want. If you have been asked to photograph someone’s wedding as the main photographer for their album, it is even more important to talk with the bride and groom about which shots they want included, and make a plan for how you are going to set up your equipment and shoot throughout the day. Any Google search of “must-have wedding shots” will show you which shots are traditionally required for an album, but don’t be afraid to capture candid moments throughout the wedding day, such as when the bride and groom are mingling with guests, or the page boy is sliding down the dance floor on his knees! If you are really serious about improving your photography skills, think about enrolling on an online photography course, often costing less than half the price of your camera, with a reputable trainer, like the Institute of Photography or do some internet research on how to shoot a wedding.
Work with the light
Photography has been described as “painting with light”, and it is certainly the biggest determining factor in the quality of shots at a wedding. The interiors of churches are often fairly dark, and are notoriously difficult to light, while modern registry offices may have harsh, fluorescent lighting. Neither of these conditions is great for the atmospheric shots we want when photographing a marriage ceremony. Unless you have sophisticated flash equipment and are a really experienced photographer, a good idea is to try as wide an aperture as you can, and as high an ISO as you can, to allow the maximum light to fall on the camera’s sensor, with your camera’s sensor set to the highest level of sensitivity to light that you can get away with. There is a caveat to this: the higher your ISO number, the more likely you are to have noise in your picture. Noise is that grainy quality we see in pictures sometimes, which, when you zoom into it on a computer screen, becomes very pixelated. Practice using your camera in dark conditions, using different ISO settings (read your camera’s manual to learn how to change ISO settings) so you know before the big day what is the maximum ISO you can get away with, without losing picture quality.
Candid photography v Formal Wedding Photography
These days, many couples prefer informal, candid photographs of their big day, rather than posed, formal, traditional shots, and this gives you the chance to be a little more creative. It is almost obligatory now to photograph the bride getting her makeup and hair done, or to shoot the groom having his tie done at home by the best man, and wedding reception photographs are now much more requested than just the pictures of the ceremony. Brides and Grooms want a record of how enjoyable the day was for their guests, and also want to see the parts of the wedding they may have missed because of having to entertain all day. So, always go prepared to take quick shots of those little unexpected things that happen throughout the day and evening. Take much more card storage than you think you will need, and be sure to have extra batteries for your camera, or flash equipment, so you don’t miss some little gem of a photo.
Final Words
The best way to get better at shooting weddings is to practice. So, go to the church when it is empty, and shoot in as many different settings as you can, and then examine your shots at home, before the wedding. This is the only real way of learning your camera’s capabilities so you can set up correctly when you need to. And be sure that any courses you may be considering include a section on how to take photographs as a professional, which will ensure that some consideration is given to wedding photography.

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