Digital Photography Tips, Tutorials and Resources
Do you want to take better wedding photos? A wedding is one of the most precious days for a couple. If you’re a wedding photographer, then it’s your responsibility to capture the best moments and create a great memory album of the big day! In this article, we will share some of the best tips on how to take stunning wedding photos and common wedding photography mistakes to avoid.
Here are a handful of the concepts we’ll cover. Understanding these tips will help you prepare for your first shoot:
- Working in pairs
- Coming prepared with good equipment
- Planning your shots
- Knowing who and what to photograph
- Capturing the little moments
What Is Wedding Photography?
Before you can really understand how our tips will help your wedding photography, you have to understand what makes photographing a wedding ceremony and wedding reception challenging.
Wedding photography is different from other genres of photography, because you only have one chance to get the images right. Weddings typically only last one day — the wedding day! That means there’s very little room for error on the part of the photographer. You have to make sure that you’re ready to shoot at a moment’s notice.
The bride, groom, their families and friends may be stressed, so it’s also key that you maintain a positive, easy-going attitude.
Like many other event photographers, you’ll want to make sure you prepare a wedding photography contract in advance for the wedding party to sign. Having an established agreement up front eliminates the possibility for disagreements down the line. This agreement should include the total number of deliverables your clients will receive after the shoot is over.
Wedding Photography Tips
Here are some of the best wedding photography tips to help you succeed in taking the best wedding ceremony and family photos at your next event.
1. Assist a Professional
You should know the do’s and don’ts of wedding photography before shooting any weddings. Learning the basics from a veteran photographer will help you avoid common mistakes.
Try reaching out to a professional wedding photographer before you start your own wedding photography business. They may allow you to shadow them at weddings they’ve booked, or pick their brain for advice.
You can gain hands-on experience while working alongside a seasoned professional that you can apply to other, later shoots. Some of the tips you learn may not be new to you, depending on your photography skills. But, it’s always helpful to see how other professionals in your field work to achieve the best results.
2. Test Your Camera in Advance
You should check all your gadgets to make sure they’re working properly before you leave to take great wedding photos.
You’ll likely want to bring a tripod with you to use at the wedding ceremony, in addition to several camera lenses and external flashes. If the wedding you’re photographing takes place indoors, you may also need other lighting equipment. For outdoor ceremonies, you can likely get by with a bounce rather than cumbersome lights.
It’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and bring more equipment than you think you’ll need. Pack several spare batteries and memory cards so you don’t miss anything from drinks at cocktail hour to fun-filled dancing on the dance floor.
3. Pack Sufficient Accessories
As a professional photographer, making excuses for your failures doesn’t look good. So bring all of your accessories you’ll need to take great wedding photos. If you can, bring a laptop to manage the backup of your photos in real-time. This will help you avoid potential significant technological mishaps down the road, including losing photo data.
Wondering how much does it cost to start a photography business? We’ve got a guide for that.
4. Photograph with a Partner
You can’t carry all your photography accessories alone. You’ll likely need a helping hand to take the best wedding photography images you can. You may also need another professional photographer to assist in managing lights, taking test shots and capturing scenes you’d otherwise miss. You can’t be everywhere at once!
Ask a wedding photographer to become your assistant in exchange for being their second in command at their next event. This trade is a smart way to stay on budget and get help from an experienced wedding photographer.
5. Pre-Plan the Shoot
Planning your shoot is just as important as the shoot itself. Make some extra time for this part of your wedding photography preparations.
You’ll want to schedule time to take multiple photos of the bride and groom in different locations. The couple will follow your instructions and defer to your professional judgment, but they may also have their own ideas for photo ops.
How you decide to pose the couple in the photos is up to you. We recommend showing your clients a manual of poses as you plan the shoot together. Let them choose the poses they want for their wedding photos, and then add them into the contract you both sign.
Depending on how comfortable your clients are in front of the camera, you may have to provide extra instruction to capture the best shot. That’s why it’s so important to be patient with the newlyweds. The more you can help them feel comfortable, the more they’ll enjoy the experience.
And remember, word of mouth advertising is essential for growing a photography business. A patient photographer is one your clients will recommend!
6. Capture the Firsts
Couples want to remember every minute of their big day, especially the milestone first moments. These monumental firsts include the couple’s first kiss, first dance and first look. Your clients may even be planning their own, nontraditional “first moments,” so it’s important to ask them about any special moments they want photographed.
Plan time for these first moments, and make sure that you’re set up in advance to capture the best shot. These milestones are quick, so you have to be prepared ahead of time.
The best strategy for ensuring that your first moment images come out well is to set your camera with a high shutter speed so you can take multiple, quick photos without delay. That way, in post-processing, you’ll have a series of images from which you can choose the best one.
Try to get different angles of these first moments, too! For example, if the couple plans a grand entrance, try setting up multiple cameras with a remote shutter to capture the entrance from multiple points of view.
7. Shoot the Reactions
Newlyweds love seeing photos of their guests having fun in their wedding album. If you notice guests and friends having fun on the dance floor or during the reception dinner, make an effort to capture those moments, too. Those expressions of the relatives, friends and family that showed up to support your clients deserve to be captured.
If you’re working with an assistant, this is a great job for them to assume. Assign them to capture the “WOW!” expressions of guests and family while you stay close to the bride and groom.
Ask your partner to take photos quickly and cover as many faces as they can. It’s a joyful occasion, and these moments should be preserved for the couple to see later.
8. Know the Guests
In a wedding, there are all kind of guests. Neighbors, colleagues, relatives, friends and others will turn out to show their support for the happy couple. While capturing the guests’ joy is important, keep in mind that the guests didn’t hire you for the shoot.
Discuss the guest list with the couple to designate some VIP guests. These special guests should get priority portraits, and you should make an effort to learn their names and make them feel comfortable for the shoot.
As you already know, friends and family of both bride and groom are the life of the party. They’re important to the couple, which should mean they’re important for you. Plan on shooting some good portraits of them with the couple and solo.
9. Capture a Group Photo
Everyone wants to have a portrait with the couple, which could take all night! It’s better to shoot in groups. Otherwise, you won’t have enough time for the most important shots.
Manage these groups efficiently with the help of your partner. Your assistant might be in charge of assigning groups, fixing flyaway hairs and adjusting other small details so you can focus on photographing.
When shooting groups, it’s difficult to get everyone looking perfect at the same time. Some people blink, others are out of focus. That’s why it’s helpful to take lots of extra shots, so you can choose the best picture for every group.
10. Look for Smiles
Where there’s a smile, there’s a moment worth capturing. Kids playing, people whispering about a special moment, friends laughing from the corner — these are all hidden moments within a wedding ceremony and reception that can liven up a wedding album.
You can’t create or plan these moments, because they’re rare and original. That means you have to be on the lookout for them, and don’t hesitate to click your shutter! The couple will love these kinds of photos.
That’s a lot of advice for beginners! Hopefully this article has helped you think about or plan your next wedding photography shoot. Are you a seasoned wedding photographer? Share in the comments what advice you have for newcomers looking to make a name for themselves in the wedding photography industry. Your experiences can help others along the way!
Be sure to check out some of our other wedding photography posts, including How to Plan Amazing Wedding Photography With Drones and 6 Ways to Get More Work as a Wedding Photographer.
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