Sooner or later, you’re going to be asked to photograph a friend’s or family member’s wedding. After all, you have one of those professional-looking cameras, so you must know what you’re doing, right?
Photographing weddings can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first one. Just like the bride and groom, you could be experiencing your own pre-wedding jitters. So what helps? First, stop worrying so much and follow these wedding photography tips and you’ll make it through:
1. Be prepared and make a wedding photography checklist
- Scope out the location beforehand and plan some shots.
- Charge everything – camera batteries, flash batteries, remotes, etc.
- Check your camera bag at least 3 times before you leave and make sure you don’t leave anything behind (like a battery charging on the wall).
- Have backups for everything. Yes, things can magically stop working at a wedding (remember Murphy’s Law). Make sure you have a plan B in your bag ahead of time.
- Make sure you have a fast lens for indoors, or rent one for a reasonable price if you don’t have one.
2. Make sure you know what the bride and groom want.
Before the big day, create a wedding photography list of shots with the bride and groom’s input. In the chaos of the wedding, this will help ensure you don’t miss anything important. Give them a list of options and have them rate the importance of shots and add any of their own ideas.
3. Have a second shooter.
Alone, you simply can’t catch everything. But with another photographer supporting your shots, you can add another perspective to the wedding day besides your own. Not only that, but there are no “do-overs” for a wedding. You either catch the moment or you don’t. A second-shooter ensures that you will have images to present to your client even if somehow your memory card is abducted by aliens – or less dramatically corrupted.
4. Don’t blow the dress.
Not blowing out the white of a wedding dress while exposing a scene with a black tux can be tricky. Turn on your camera’s highlight alert feature (check your user’s guide). Then, when you look at your LCD screen you’ll see any blown out areas so you can adjust your settings if necessary.
5. Focus on the bride.
The bride is the star. Don’t leave her alone – at least not for long. The action and important people are bound to be wherever she is. Focusing on her will lead to the most satisfying pictures for the couple.
6. Pose people correctly.
Remember your photography posing guidelines. If you have learned how to pose people in a flattering way, you’ll sell more prints after the wedding. Do you want Mom to buy the family picture? Then, she needs to have a professional (that’s you now!) pose her in the most attractive way.
7. Change cameras rather than lenses.
If you have the luxury of owning two nice cameras, keep both with you. Put a zoom lens on one and your wide-angle lens on the other. Things at a wedding move fast and it always seems that as you switch lenses, you can miss an awesome photo op.
8. Capture the details.
What might the bride and groom want to remember about their big day? Tell the story for them. Remember to take photos of rings, details of the dress, centerpieces, the cake, the bouquet, the reception hall, the church, etc.
9. Don’t sit down.
Once again, a wedding moves fast. You sit, you miss something. You start eating the appetizers, you could miss something. Make sure you eat and hydrate properly before the event.
10. Take a deep breath.
Because a wedding is a fast-paced, once-in-a-lifetime event, it can cause you stress and anxiety. Despite this discomfort, act confident. If you’re uptight, that feeling will transfer to those you photograph and will make it hard for you to capture relaxed shots. Instead, let the joy of the day transfer to you. Give your “smile muscles” a workout. Take a deep breath and enjoy. Consider it an honor to be such an essential part of someone’s big day!