How to photograph a wedding

Romance is in the air, and smiles radiate like sunbeams, camera shutters click furiously like crazed crickets on a hot summer’s day.  Yup wedding season is upon us.

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Tips on how to

take better wedding photos
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The challenge of any keen photographer attending a wedding is usually to be able to present the happy couple with a memorable image or two of their special day, perhaps even act as their ‘unofficial’ (or even official) photographer for the day.  Here are my tips on making sure you capture such images…

A quick note before I begin, as with most weddings, the couple are likely to have paid for a professional photographer to capture their day.  This does mean that these professional photos will have been carefully planned and priority will be given to the professional photographer. ‘Photo bombing’ or ‘jostling for position’ in competition with their photographer will not win you any favours from the couple getting married or their photographer – you wouldn’t bring your own flower display to put onto the top table would you?!   So do bear this in mind.  Most good professional photographers are very aware that everyone wants to take good photos and will usually work around the guests as well as prioritise the shots they need to take.

Your main aim: To tell the story of their day to remind them how wonderful it was when they look back at the photos.

Each wedding has a similar flow to the day, once you know this, you can anticipate moments and be ready to capture them.

Preparation – if you are allowed in with either before, you could capture the tension and anticipation on their faces as they wait expectantly.  Also good for the waiting by the altar shots too.

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The all important preparation

Speech rehearsal by the best man..
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Tell their story

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That first glimpse, when the groom sees the bride appear.

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That first glimpse...

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The first kiss...

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Readings

Vows (but do respect any instructions given – you may not be allowed – definitely NO flash)

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That look

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and again!

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Ring exchange

First married kiss and applause

More reading and possible singer/music

Register signing

Walk back down the aisle

Being congratulated by everyone

Bubbles!

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Bubbles and

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Laughter

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General meet and chat and celebrate and bask in the newness of being married – a good time for photos but give the professional photographer time here too – they shouldn’t take too long!

Time for group shots  etc..(do them early while everyone still looks pristine).

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Interesting group shots

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Keep it simple

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Wedding breakfast

Speeches, traditionally: Father of the Bride, Groom then Best Man (plus surprises) be prepared to capture the laughter and the ‘looks of embarrassment’ photos!!

Cutting of the Cake

First dance.

Departure!

 

Top tips for wedding day photos:

  • Listen for the laughter and follow it, you’ll always find good photo opportunities (especially after a few drinks have been consumed!)
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There'll be giggles,

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Laughter,

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Joy,

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and LOTS of smiles

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  • Try to encourage the main people for group shots etc into an attractive, shady spot so that they will have soft even lighting on their faces and no squinting into the light.
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Use doorway light..

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And shade

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  • TURN YOUR FLASH OFF IF POSSIBLE!
  • If it’s raining, use external doorways (think of a church archway which has good light) so they remain sheltered but in good light.
  • Use your zoom lens, you’re more likely to capture some funny and poignant candid moments that way.
  • Before pressing the shutter – check in your frame that there are no feathers etc sticking up people’s noses/out of ears etc and if there are adjust accordingly.
  • If it is raining – show that, it is part of the story of their day, photograph guests arriving in their colourful brollies for example.
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Make a feature of the weather

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Show how the image was shot

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  • Mix up group shots, have a mixture of people sitting and standing, facing inwards and outwards.  It creates much more visual interest.
  • Shoot colourful details, brollies, flowers, cakes etc; the couple may not remember every little detail so this helps to build up their story.
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Details,

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Details,

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Details,

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Details.

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  • If shooting just the bride OR the groom, have the other person standing near you so they can look at each other, you’ll capture more emotion in their photos.
  • The couple really like photos of what other guests were wearing/doing/talking with, so remember to take photos of this too and try to make them interesting or go for a ‘Hello’ style round of images.
  • Take a mixture of close up shots (hand holding, whispers in the ear etc.) and wider shots which tell the larger story.
  • Focus on the EYES for portraits, but for detail shots focus on what you want the viewer to see and remember.
  • Group shots are best shot at around f8 if possible to keep everyone in reasonable focus, or make sure they are all in a line next to each other.
  • Remember, as a guest to enjoy yourself too!!
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Have fun!

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I hope that if you attend any weddings this year, that you capture some really special moments with your camera, whether you are a guest or the main photographer, it’s what it’s all about!  Have fun!