Ten Photography Tips
1 – Flash! Aaaahh...
Don’t rely on your camera to figure out when to turn flash on or off – using flash outdoors in bright sunlight can help reduce harsh unflattering shadows on your subjects, while turning it off during the indoor ceremony means you won’t distract the Bride and Groom, cause others to start using their flash, or be ejected from the ceremony as I have witnessed more than once! Some compact cameras have a pop-up flash which has adjustable power settings, I recommend experimenting with the settings and capabilities of your camera flash before the big day.
2 – Anticipate the moment
Wedding photography is all about waiting for the right moment to happen and capturing it. It’s better to take 10 great shots than 100 terrible ones, and you can get those great shots by waiting for the right moment. During the ceremony, catching the Bride and Groom looking at each other, or smiling back at their guests is better than 40 shots of the back of their heads. At church weddings, I tend to leave wide shots until the congregation sings a hymn – the noise coupled with distracted guests means I can change position if required, or go to upper floors of the church for dramatic wide shots.
3 – Don’t forget to be a guest
A wedding is one of the most special days in a persons’ life, and being invited as a guest is a huge honour. I personally feel that looking through a camera all day feels a little like watching it on TV – it helps me distance myself a little from the raw emotions of a wedding day, which is an advantage when the father of the bride is making a touching speech and I need to focus on photographing him, but possibly not what you want to experience as a guest! Of course you want to capture the wedding day as much as the professional photographer does, but don’t forget to put the camera down every now and then and truly immerse yourself in the day.
4 – Zoom with your feet
I’ve noticed that a lot of guests tend to take lots and lots of wide shots, and few close-up shots. Zooming in on your subjects can help eliminate distracting objects in the background (trees or lamppost sticking out from behind the heads of the Bride and Groom are classics) and give your photos more of an intimate feel. Don’t be afraid to get a little closer to the action, if not with your feet then with your camera zoom. You can also crop digital images using image editing software.
5 – Get creative
Most weddings have key sections that you want to photograph, such as the couple signing their marriage schedule, having their first dance, or cutting their cake. In between the key sections there are usually relaxed and informal parts where the couple and guests are eating canapés, greeting each other, chatting and laughing – a perfect time to get creative with your camera! Relish the chance to take photos from different angles and perspectives, while feeling sorry for the professional photographer who has the pressures of getting each shot perfect and sticking to a hectic schedule!
6 – Beauty in the details...
Couples on a tight budget often forgo a pro photographer, choosing to ask guests to take as many photos as possible instead and thanks to social media it’s never been easier to share photographs you’ve taken at a friend or relatives wedding. If you want yours to really stand out from the crowd, don’t forget to photograph the details – flowers, cars, shoes, cake, rings, favours, garter, jewellery, table plan, balloons, decorations, place names... the details of a wedding take a surprising amount of planning and expense, and the couple will thank you for capturing them, particularly as they don’t have much time to take them all in on the day, but will look back and remember the unique details through your photographs.
7 – Speaking of social media...
Remember to switch off your phone, particularly during a wedding ceremony. Ok, so nobody wants to be the one everyone glares at when your “Can’t Touch This” ringtone blares around the church, but there’s another reason for leaving your phone off. At a recent wedding, a bride was distraught to learn that as she was walking down the aisle a guest had captured, tagged and uploaded a phone photo to Facebook before she had even reached her husband to be. Respect that a wedding is a private and intimate celebration, and the couple may not want images of their day published online.
8 – Remember spares
Typical AA batteries don’t last long at weddings – if you want to avoid having your camera switch off just before the best man gives his speech or before the First Dance it’s a good idea to pack some spares, or invest in high-capacity rechargeable batteries. Don’t forget spare memory cards too! I take at least 6 sets of high-capacity rechargeable batteries (that’s 30 AA’s!) along with 20GB-worth of memory cards. I also take at least 1 back-up camera and several lenses just in case my main camera fails. I keep my eye on my battery levels and remaining shot count, making sure I change them between key sections of the wedding.
9 – Respect the pro
Wedding photography may seem easy at first, hanging out at weddings snapping photos of couples looking gorgeous and surrounded by friends and family wishing them best in a lavish venue, but the truth is it’s tougher than it looks! Try to remember that the hired photographer is there to provide the Bride and Groom with the images they have requested in the timeframe they have set, and they are paying a fair bit of cash for them to do so. A guest who insists on competing with or obstructing the photographer at every opportunity risks upsetting the Bride and Groom, and disrupting their schedule. Recently a Bride removed a camera from her Mother-in-law after she stood directly in front of me during the formal shots! I encourage you to approach the photographer and ask them if they mind you taking some photographs alongside them – most photographers would be surprised and pleased by you asking, and more likely to create photo opportunities for you as a result.
10 – Presentation, presentation, presentation
While the urge to upload photos to your favourite social media sites within hours of the wedding may be strong, I urge you to consider alternative ways to present your photos to the Bride and Groom. If they are going on honeymoon, perfect – this gives you a bit of time to do something really special with your photos. Whether you decide to put a photo-book or album together, or provide them with a digital photo frame with their images loaded on to it, the Bride and Groom will love the extra effort you have made for them.
You can get more tips from Kirsty and see some of her gorgeous photography on her website.