“Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold.” - Zelda Fitzgerald
Once you’ve decided to get married, how can you ensure that you get the best photos on your wedding day?
Wedding photography is an art and not just anyone can do it well. You have to learn how to take good wedding photos. With experience and by following our advice, you should be able to get started on the right foot.
In this article, we're looking at wedding photography tips for wedding photographers. Whether you're a professional or just a friend or family member who's been tasked with capturing the big day for their wedding album, here's how the best wedding photographers do it.
Meet with the Couple First
The first thing a wedding photographer will need to do before photographing a wedding is to talk to the couple about the big day. Any professional wedding photographer worth their salt will ensure that they've spoken to the couple before the wedding ceremony.
Meeting with the couple is a great way to agree on what they want and what you can offer them and ensure that everybody is on the same wavelength. Getting good photos is about more than technical know-how. The photographer needs to respect what the couple wants to ensure that they’re happy with the final product.
Ask them about the day, where it takes place, how many people will be there, and the theme (if there is one). You’ll also need to ask them what kind of photos they want, whether they want candids, posed photos, particular guests to be photographed, and groups that need photos together. Thus, they won’t have to bother the happy couple during their big day.
They will also need to discuss which photos the couple will want to take together. Sometimes, photos of the couple are taken on a separate day to the wedding.
Similarly, no two wedding venues are alike so you might want to consider taking pictures of the venue before the day. The wedding pictures don't necessarily have to be taken on the day of the wedding if they're closeups of the architectural features of the wedding venue, for example. This can also free up time on the day as you won't have these photos to take when you're trying to get candid shots of the wedding party, the ceremony, and the bride coming down the aisle!
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The Equipment for the Big Day
There’s no way that you can tell the couple on their big day that your camera is broken and you won’t be able to get any more photographs. That’s why it’s recommended that you have backup cameras, memory cards, batteries, etc.
Taking at least two camera bags is also a good idea in case something happens to one of them. Some photographers opt to have different lenses on different cameras so that they can quickly switch between cameras rather than fiddling around with different lenses.
Don’t forget to bring:
- A tripod
- A cobra flash
- Several batteries
- Several memory cards
- A laptop
You can use the laptop to load your photos throughout the day. While this isn’t essential, it can be useful. If you don’t bring one, make sure you bring enough memory cards.
You’ll also need to ensure that you have the right equipment for low-light settings as well as photos outside.
Consider doing the same for photographing the happy couple if you’ve planned a separate photoshoot on a different day. After all, the couple will be looking for professional photographs, which is why they got in touch in the first place.
Some photographers may also offer video services. Of course, a wedding video is a whole different beast to photography for a wedding and a good photographer won't necessarily be a good videographer.
Make a List of the Important Stages of the Wedding
When you meet with the bride and groom, ask them about the most important parts of the day that they want to be captured. I’d recommend that you take notes and have everything written down so you don’t miss a single thing. In addition to the prep, the ceremony, the speeches, and the first dance, the couple may have other moments they’d like captured. There may like photos of the decorations, their grandparents together, or the entertainment.
Note this all down before the day. Take these notes with you on the day and you won’t miss anything. A photographer’s job is to capture the key moments, including laughter, tears, and joy. You’ll also need to be ready to capture moments that aren’t in your notes.
Talk about what kind of ceremony they're having. For example, an Indian wedding is a whole different kettle of fish to a traditional British wedding. A professional photographer doesn't want to be caught out by not being ready for an event during the wedding ceremony that they weren't expecting.
You may even want to talk to the bride and groom separately just in case one has a surprise planned for the other one that they'll want capturing. Neither one of them will probably want to mention this in front of the other so it's a good idea that you talk to the wedding couple together and apart.
Similarly, professional wedding photography needs to be unobtrusive. Nobody wants photographers or videographers getting in the way while they're shooting video or taking photos. Knowing what's going to happen and when will allow you to get into position for the perfect wedding shots.
Scope Out the Venue
A good wedding photographer needs to be organised and prepared. One of the most important things to do is check out the venue. This is helpful when it comes to photographing the happy couple. It’ll help you to work out the best angles, the lighting, and just know your way around.
In some cases, it might be worthwhile checking out the venue before the big day as it’ll save you some time on the day of the ceremony.
Ask for Help from One of the Guests
If you don’t want to be constantly bothering the happy couple, who’ll probably be very busy on the day, you might want to ask some of the other guests to identify who’s who. This might be useful for getting photos of the in-laws, grandparents, etc.
Generally, guests will be happy to help you as they’ll be in high spirits. From the ceremony to the speeches, this help will be invaluable for ensuring you get the right snaps.
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Use Depth of Field
Any good photographer should know the importance of depth of field.
In wedding photography, depth of field is useful for highlighting an important subject, often the bride or groom. Similarly, you might want to use it to highlight some of the decorations.
To get this effect, you’ll need a large aperture. Even if you can get this effect in post, it’s a good idea to capture it at the source.
Work in RAW on the Day
Generally, photographers will photograph in RAW or JPEG. While JPEGs are treated by the camera and take up less space on your memory card, you might want to keep all the information from the image and use RAW files. Shooting in RAW allows you to rework the photos without any loss. You can alter the exposure, lighting, colour, contrast, etc.
Keep in mind that shooting in RAW will take up a huge amount of space on your memory cards. If you plan on doing it, you’ll want to bring high-capacity memory cards or plenty of extras with you for throughout the day.
Take Bracketed Shots
This is useful for taking photographs on sunny days. Take several photos of the same thing at different exposures, for example. You’ll have underexposed and overexposed photos by doing this.
This means you’ll have a choice of photos and can send the best ones to the happy couple. This is useful because if you take just one photo, you run the risk of it being too dark or too light. Bracketing will give you a choice when it comes to retouching the photos.
Use a Cobra Flash
Not every photographer loves using a flash. However, in wedding photography, it’s almost essential. The flash is useful in dark areas like in churches or at the reception. Of course, you don’t want to blind the guests, either. You want a flash that you can point away from the subject or reflect off a wall or a neutral background. Similarly, a flash can be useful for photographing the happy couple in a separate session. It allows you to manage the lighting.
Edit the Photos After the Wedding
Even though the party might be over, your work as a photographer isn’t. Now it’s time to edit the photos. You’ll need to sort through all the pictures and choose the best ones. Put the best photos into a separate folder or allow the couple to choose which photos they want to keep. That said, you don’t want to overwhelm the happy couple with thousands of photos to go through.
Then, you can retouch the photos, crop them, or just ensure that they look as good as they can. This step can take hours or even days but it’ll be worth it when the bride and groom are presented with fantastic photos of their big day.