Photography isn’t like other pastimes. You’re not one day an amateur and the next a professional. Over time you may gain confidence in your craft and take on some tougher challenges. And then, once you’re confident in your abilities, you start seeking out paid assignments.
Nowhere is this more true than in the competitive world of wedding photography. You may have shot a few weddings for friends, and now you’re getting offers for paid shoots. While exciting on one hand, this can also give you a case of pre-wedding nerves!
In this post we’ve rounded up 10 essential wedding photography tips for the ‘almost-pro’ photographer who wants to take his or her wedding photography to the next level.
Wedding Photography Tips: 01 Pre-wedding planning
Arrange a pre-wedding shoot with your bride and groom away from the venue. Try using a 70-200mm lens at f/5.6 to ensure both are in focus. Keep it relaxed – this is all about getting to know the couple and their requirements.
Wedding Photography Tips: 02 Start off simple
Taking your lights into the bride’s bedroom may not be the best start to her day! Make use of window light and meter off her face, underexposing a little to control highlights on the dress.
Wedding Photography Tips: 03 Keep the lights on
For the ‘getting ready’ shots use whatever light is available. As long as the main light source lighting the bride is daylight then a mixture of lighting is great and can give the shot real sparkle.
Wedding Photography Tips: 04 Quick and dirty WB
An easy way to set a custom white balance is to take a picture of the church interior, then use it to set Custom WB. This gives an accurate white balance – without interrupting the service by getting the vicar to hold up a grey card!
Wedding Photography Tips: 05 Shoot wide open
A fast lens is a must for any budding wedding photographer. The Canon 50mm f/1.2L, for instance, is a beautiful lens. Using it to shoot wide open on f/1.2 or f/1.4 is hard but the rewards can be amazing.
Wedding Photography Tips: 06 Light the groups
Stand on a ladder and use a wide-angle lens (such as 16-35mm) at around f/11-f/18, depending upon size of the group. Use an on-camera flashgun to fill in as many rows as possible.
Wedding Photography Tips: 07 Go for the ‘wow’ factor!
Always try and do a ‘wow’ shot. For instance, shooting with a wide-angle zoom lens, look for a cool background or sky that can be controlled with shutter speed, and set an aperture to underexpose the scene, then use a 70cm softbox to light the happy couple.
Wedding Photography Tips: 08 It’s all in the details
Every bride and groom puts enormous effort into the decorations and small details of their day. So don’t forget these! A tip: try using a lens like the Canon 50mm f/2.5 Macro at f/11 to capture all those little details. Even at this narrow aperture, depth of field is still quite shallow.
Wedding Photography Tips: 09 Make the first dance one to remember!
Try putting one flashgun into a softbox on 1/4 power as a main light, and another two flashes, set to 1/8 power, on top of speakers or stands at either corner of the dance floor. Your shutter speed depends upon how dark the room is – anywhere from 1/8 sec to 1/125 sec. Set aperture around f/8-f/11. This will give you some wonderful stars in the background to light up the room!
Wedding Photography Tips: 10 Finish with a bang!
If there are fireworks then position your couple away from the main group and use a Speedlite on a stand off to their right set on 1/8 power. The distance to the subject is critical as to not overexpose them. If the fireworks are very bright set shutter speed to 1/80-1/200 sec; if they are not so bright slow down to 1/8-1/30 sec.