Am I hearing wedding bells?

Wedding season is fast approaching for many of us, sometimes we need a little refresher, here is a list of some of my top tips from my wedding workshops:

Be “in control”

This is the most important thing you need to grasp, you must be “in control” of the wedding party while shooting photos. If you are not in control then you risk not getting the shots you need. Many photographers use their wedding contracts to almost scare the bride and groom into letting them be the one in control at the risk of losing the photographer. The more that you are in control the easier the day will be for you. You do not need to be an ogre, you just need to be yourself.

Create a “Shot List” (see enclosed list)

One of the best tips I’ve been given is to think ahead about the shots that you and your clients would like to have captured on the day and make a list so that you can check them off. This is most helpful during the formal and family shots. There’s nothing worse than realizing you didn’t photograph the couple with grandma during the confusion that can occur on the wedding day! I encourage my brides to tear out images from magazines that they like, many times you cannot replicate them but at least you have an idea where the bride is coming from. If your bride brings you all romantic shots or just classic formal shots than you can make sure to incorporate those things into your package of shots.

Preparation is Key

So much can and does go wrong on the wedding day and your clients will be very emotional, so you need to be prepared. Always have a backup plan (if the weather goes bad), have extra batteries, memory cards formatted, get an itinerary of the whole day so you know what’s happening next. If you can, the rehearsal is a great place to gather information about where to shoot from, the lighting, the order of the ceremony, etc.

Two are always better than one

Beg, borrow or steal an extra camera for the day and set it up with a different lens. I shoot with one wider angle lens mounted on a strobo frame with a Norman flash and one setup with a 2.8 lens for natural light stuff.  Better yet, I could not imagine not having a second photographer as the “candid man” and helper. Two photographers mean less moving around during ceremony, it allows for you to capture the formal shots and the other to get the candid shots. For me it takes the pressure off and let’s me not worry so much about missing the shot.

Shoot small details

Remember to photograph the rings, backs of dresses, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus etc – these shots are always loved inside a brides wedding album. If you need a little inspiration, thumb through wedding magazines every chance you get.

Be Bold but Not Obtrusive

Being timid will never get you “the shot”, sometimes you just need to be bold in order to capture that special moment. Timing is everything and also thinking ahead about where to be for that key moment is important so as to not disrupt the ceremony. Try to move around during transitions such as songs, sermons or unity candle lighting. During the formal shots all bets are off, be bold, be in control and run the show! You’re driving at this point of the wedding and need to keep things moving.

Learn how to shoot in any Light

The ability to use your flash is the key. You’ll find that in most churches the light is very low. If they let you use a flash think about whether or not bounce flash will work (remember bouncing off a colored surface it will add a colored cast to the picture) or whether you might need a flash diffuser to soften the light. If you can’t use a flash you’ll need either a fast lens with wide apertures and/or move up the ISO. A lens with image stabilization also helps. Take a lesson from the movie industry, a photographer lights their subject while the cinematographer lights a scene.

Shoot in RAW

Weddings present photographers with some of the most tricky lighting which result in the need to mess around with exposure and white balance after the fact, shooting in RAW will help with this.

Don’t Discard Your ‘Mistakes’

We all know that we keep an eye on our LCD screen as we are working and are always tempted to delete as we go. The problem is that you might just be getting rid of some of the most interesting and some very useable images. Remember that images can be cropped or later manipulated to give you some arty looking shots that can be very interesting.

Expect the Unexpected

Things will Go Wrong but, these times can be the best parts of the day. The best man loses the ring, it rains, the flower girl sits down in the middle of the aisle or the bride gets her dress snagged on something…. These moments can actually make the day and provide the bride and groom great memories. Try and capture them and you might end up with some fun images.

Have Fun

Weddings are celebrations they’re supposed to be fun. The more fun you have the more relaxed those you are photographing will be. The best way to loosen people up is to just smile.

Join us at one of our future wedding workshops to get more in depth with wedding photography instruction.

Mark Behrens

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