Photographing a wedding can be a daunting task. Unlike other photography jobs, you don’t get a retake. There’s only one chance to get everything right, and the stakes are high. This is even more true if you are an amateur or relatively new in your profession.
When done right, wedding pictures are touching, memorable, visually stunning, and on occasion humorous. The following twelve tips will help you to create wedding pictures that are unusual, charming, and a perfect fit for the couple.
1. Visit the Wedding and Reception Sites ahead of Time
Take some time to check out the wedding and reception venues before the wedding day. Take note of the lighting, and anything that could be a nice background for photos. If possible visit the locations as close to the time of the events as you can to get the most accurate view of things. Finally, take some preview shots. You can review them to identify any issues you may have to prepare for.
2. Work with the Couple to Get a Must have Shot List
Because they are so involved in wedding preparations, the couple may not realize the important role they play in ensuring all of the pictures they want are captured. After all, how would you know that it’s important to get a picture of cousin Todd and Great Grandma Mary together? Ask the couple to provide a short list of pictures they must absolutely have in their wedding album.
3. Ask to Speak to the Maid of Honour and Best Man
Once you’ve spoken to the couple, take a few minutes to bend the ears of the maid of honour and best man. They are usually the ideal folks to fill in any blanks the bride and groom may have left when making their shot list, and providing you with other information. The best man and maid of honour might also have some interesting shot ideas of their own to make the day even more special.
4. Get The Couple to Tell You Funny or Touching Stories About Their Courtship
The best wedding photos evoke special memories and positive emotions including happiness and sentimentality. The more you know about the couple and their courtship, the better able you’ll be to create and capture special photographs. You can even use the information to find touching or funny props to include in some of the pictures that you take.
5. Remind The Bride And Groom to Lookup During The Ceremony
This is a small yet very important detail. In many cases, the combination of nerves and reverence keep the couples eyes and heads tilted downwards. Remind the couple that if they look up during the ceremony you will be able to get some beautiful close-ups. At the very least get the bride to look up as she walks down the aisle. That gives you the opportunity to capture the look on her face at that moment.
6. Get a Family Member Assistant From Both Sides of The Union
You’ve got that shot list the couple provided to you. Now, it’s time to make those shots happen. Unless you have the mutual family trees memorized, you’re going to need some help. Ask the bride and groom to select a go to family member from each side to act as your designated helper.
They can assist you in finding and corralling family members for various pictures. Remind the couple that this is a perfect job for well-intentioned relatives that have busy-body tendencies. Be sure to give them plenty of time to select a family member. Remember that they are busy with wedding planning along with other things such as work, dissertation writing if they are students, and other tasks.
7. Use Your Imagination When Selecting Locations
Wedding photos should have an element of fun in them. They should represent a couple’s’ mutual interests, quirks, and stories. They don’t need to be traditionally ‘pretty’unless that’s what the couple insists upon. Fountains, gazebos, and historical buildings are beautiful backdrops. That doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to these traditional photo shoot locales.
Use your imagination, and get the soon to be married pair in on the action. Did the pair meet at a local diner? What a perfect backdrop for a couple of pictures between the wedding and the rehearsal! Are they sports fans? Get the wedding party to pose in front of a sports arena.
Some other things to consider are sculpture parks and childhood hangouts. For a real layer of artistic perspective see if the couple is willing to consider to pose somewhere simply for the visual effect. For example, in St. Louis, MO there is a wall covered in graffiti along the Mississippi riverfront. Once thought to be an eyesore, it has become a popular destination for wedding photographers to capture some really edgy shots.
8. Don’t Forget The Little Details
There are some very special photographs that you can capture that don’t involve the bride and groom. For example, you’ll want to capture a picture of the cake before it’s sliced, the wedding bands, the buffet before the guests get to it, the decorated cathedral before the shower, etc.
Don’t forget the customer service related details. Be friendly and engaging to all of the guests at the wedding. It’ll be much easier to get their cooperation in setting up shots. Respond promptly to phone calls and emails. Send the couple a thank you for allowing you to be their photographer. That’s a great way to earn a recommendation later on.
9. Know When to Move Around During The Ceremony
There’s a lot that happens during a wedding ceremony. That means a lot of opportunities to get some amazing pictures, if you can that is. Wedding ceremonies are often very carefully coordinated with participants often being expected to meet their marks as clearly as theatre actors.
On one hand, you don’t want to be an obtrusive presence. This is true for any ceremony, but especially if there is a religious, emotional, or spiritual element to the ceremony where reverence must be kept. The last thing you want is to be moving into position with your camera when a member of the wedding party is in the middle of a touching reading about the groom’s deceased father.
Ask the couple about their plans for the ceremony. If needed, send an email to the officiant. The more you know about the logistics of the ceremony the better you’ll be able to catch those great pictures without creating an awkward scene.
To a lesser extent, the same thing applies to the ceremony. Move strategically. You don’t want to bump into people on the dance floor, or in the buffet line.
10. Try Different Perspectives
Take a look at some of the work done by wedding photographers who have lots of experience. If their work is good, and they’ve got plenty of amazing shots in their portfolio, you’ll probably notice one thing. Chances are, they take photos from a variety of perspectives. They shoot from a variety of angles, down low shooting upwards, up high shooting downwards, and from various angles. By changing perspective, you can completely change up the look and feel of the shot.
As you know, wedding photography can be a lucrative business. If a friend or family member has recruited you for this job, it’s also a real honour. You can make the most of the opportunity by applying some of the dozen tips listed here. Your photographs are sure to be memorable and charming.