Learning how to shoot a wedding can be stressful for amateur wedding photographers. How should you photograph a pre-wedding party? What kind of poses do you envision for the bride and groom? Do you want to include a few single shots? Should every photo you snap include the happy couple? Knowing how to take wedding photos is a challenge. These easy wedding photography tips can teach you how to get the best shots on their big day.
This in-depth guide will cover Wedding Photography 101 and a variety of essential wedding photography suggestions. You’ll learn how to avoid making basic mistakes and end up with happy clients that will share your photographs with everyone!
What is Wedding Photography?
Wedding photography is a type of photography focused on taking pictures of weddings and related activities, like pre-wedding parties.
Depending on what your client requests, this could mean photographing the bride and groom before their big day. Some couples may want photos that re-stage their engagement to use in their wedding invitations. These pictures will be just as important as the ones you take on their actual wedding day.
During the actual wedding ceremony, photographers usually provide portrait photography for weddings. They also need to provide photography coverage throughout the day to capture the wedding ceremony and related events.
How to Take Wedding Photos?
1. Assist a Professional
Working with an experienced professional photographer is a great way to get started. They can teach you the do’s and don’ts and share important wedding photography tips.
Even before you start your wedding photography business, reach out to professionals already working in the field. You can ask for expert wedding photography advice and ideas. Some may even be willing to let you shadow them and gain some valuable hands-on wedding photography experience.
Working with a talented professional can teach you valuable wedding photography tips to use in your own business.
2. Make Sure You Are Covered by the Wedding Contract
Contracts are essential when you’re running your own business. A contract clearly defines what wedding services you are going to provide for your clients. Make sure to sit down with the bride and groom and discuss this as early as possible.
Make sure to include information such as what wedding photograph services they want, along with dates and times. Let them know what your fee is for each service and set up a payment schedule. Ask if there are services that they would like you to provide for them before the wedding.
Let them know the deadline for when they can expect to receive the final photographs. Set aside a reasonable amount of time that will allow you to work on editing the images as well.
This helps to protect both you and the couple if you have any disagreements later on. If a dispute arises that leads to litigation, it will be helpful to have this document. Before signing the contract, it’s helpful to have a standard questionnaire template to fall back on. Here’s an excellent example of a wedding photography questionnaire.
3. Photography Tool Preparation is Key
It’s essential to have the right type of camera and accessories for taking the best wedding pictures. A professional wedding photographer will often use a DSLR or mirrorless system to handle different styles and locations.
Make sure to have several lenses on hand for close-ups, poor lighting, and other situations that may arise. Having a fast shutter speed will help you capture every moment of the wedding event. It is also helpful to shoot in Raw, which can make the editing process a bit smoother.
Sometimes technical glitches happen. It’s crucial to make sure you bring along a spare camera or two. If the first one fails, you need to have another camera to continue to photograph the event.
You can also use two separate cameras at one event. Set up one camera for portraits and one camera with a zoom lens to capture unexpected events from afar. Having multiple cameras for different functions will save you time switching between lenses.
There are many different models available on the market. If you’re looking for the best camera for wedding photography, check our list to find the perfect fit for you.
There are numerous accessories out there that can assist you while you’re filming. Memory cards, camera bags, and lens cleaning kits are essential items in a photographer’s toolbox.
As a rookie photographer, you may not be able to afford all of them. Set up a budget and work within it to evaluate which items you need right away.
Photography reflectors and radio flash transmitters will help in areas with poor lighting. Wireless transmitters and drones will help you get unique and exciting shots from unusual angles.
Although having backups of your equipment is important, you need to acquire a high-quality camera first. There are many wedding photography accessories that you can add to your toolkit after you get started.
Take a look at wedding photography gear and consider renting instead of buying. Renting will allow you to test different products on the market before you commit to buying anything.
4. Photograph with a Partner
It can be challenging to cover every angle while also keeping track of all of your equipment. Another excellent wedding photography idea is asking a partner to help you document the wedding ceremony.
Assistants can help manage lights, take test shots, and ensure that you’re covering every angle of the big day.
Ask a professional wedding photographer to be your assistant in exchange for assisting them at their next event. Networking with your colleagues is a great idea and will help you stay within budget.
Having the perspective of another experienced professional will also help you capture great shots that you may otherwise miss.
5. Create a ‘Shot List’
Generating a shot list is one of the greatest wedding photography tips for beginners. Work with the couple to create a photo list of shots they’d like you to get on their big day.
When you shoot photography for weddings, there are often a large number of guests. The bride and groom may like portraits with individual family members. Preparing a shot list ahead of time will guarantee that no member of the family is forgotten!
Having a wedding photo list will help mark you as a true professional wedding photographer.
6. Pre-Plan the Shoot With The Couple
Some couples may have a pre-determined list of locations and wedding photo styles they want to capture. Others may ask for your advice. Set aside time with the bride and groom and set expectations for what you’re going to capture.
Depending on the venue, you’ll most likely deal with both indoor and outdoor wedding photography. It’s important to discuss this with your client and prepare your equipment ahead of time.
While you’re planning the shot, it may also be helpful to have a manual of wedding poses on hand. Review each pose together with the bride and groom to see which style feels natural to them.
Remember, some couples may feel uncomfortable around cameras. Don’t be afraid to encourage and instruct them to make sure you get the best shots. Be patient, but direct. They’ll thank you for it later!
7. Location Scouting
Never count on a wedding day going exactly as planned.
Sometimes a member of the wedding party might experience a last-minute delay. Due to inclement weather, certain events may be postponed or rescheduled. Your client might ask to move up group photographs to accommodate a family member that needs to leave early.
Arriving early and being flexible with your time is essential here. Walk around the wedding venue if you haven’t been there before. Start scouting places to capture the best wedding photographs as early as you can.
Plan in advance where you will stage the group photographs. Will it be in the same location that you shoot smaller details, such as the rings or the dress? Gathering as much information as possible and arriving prepared will help you navigate any last-minute scheduling changes.
8. Consider Your Backgrounds
Weddings can be hectic events. The larger the wedding, the more people are going to be in attendance. Guests milling about and socializing in the background can make it challenging to get a clear shot.
Pro wedding photographers know to look for a spot with a good background. Try to find an area that isn’t near an open doorway where guests may be entering or leaving. Try to keep any distractions in the background to a minimum. If you’re shooting outside, make sure your clients aren’t staring directly into the sun.
If getting a clear shot seems to be a challenge, try setting up a wedding photo booth. Photo booths make it easier for you to take high-quality pictures in a more relaxed setting.
As any professional photographer knows, lighting can be tricky. It’s vital to provide the right level of exposure to get the clearest shot possible.
Studio lighting can be bulky and is generally not ideal for wedding venues. Large photography equipment can get in the way of guests, block doorways, and distract from the venue’s décor.
Fortunately, there are a few easy wedding photography ideas and tips to get around this. Use a lens with a fast aperture. A high aperture rate allows for the maximum amount of light to enter a shot. It also narrows the depth of field to get a sharp photograph. Off-the-camera flashes, such as Speedlites, are another way to add more light to a dark setting. Discuss this option with the bride and groom beforehand. Some flashes can be an unwelcome distraction to the wedding party.
10. Display Your Shots at the Reception
One of the best wedding photography tips we can provide is to stand out from other professional wedding photographers.
If you are particularly technologically savvy, you can use the digital photos you shot earlier in the day at the reception. Upload the shots into a rotating slideshow and let them play for the guests at the reception. This will add another fun element to the event.
Setting up wedding photo props is also another great way to stand apart from other photographers. Talk over any potential photo prop ideas with your clients ahead of time. They may have specific ideas they would like you to stage, especially for themed weddings.
11. Capture the Firsts
When you’re learning how to take wedding photos, keep in mind that this is a special day for the newlyweds. Some couples have been waiting for and planning out this day in extreme detail for a long time. It’s important to capture every moment and give them happy memories to look back on.
Some couples may want to capture milestones, such as their first kiss and their first dance as a new couple. They may also have their own customs that they want you to capture as well. Another vital wedding photography tip is to discuss this with them ahead of time. Create an open dialogue during the wedding planning process. Make sure they feel comfortable discussing any other moments they want photographed as they arise.
These moments often happen quickly. Set your camera to a high shutter speed to minimize delays between shots. Taking multiple pictures will give you the option of choosing the best one during the editing process.
If you have an assistant or additional equipment, it’s also helpful to capture different angles of these first moments. A great wedding photography suggestion is to set up multiple cameras with a remote shutter. Remote cameras capture the event from multiple perspectives and create more dynamic shots.
12. Shoot the Reactions
This is the bride and groom’s big day. That doesn’t mean they don’t want pictures of their friends and family having fun too!
Notice a group of friends having a great time on the dance floor? Did an older relative give a particularly moving speech during a reception dinner? Try to capture those moments! This could be a great job for an assistant while you stay focused on the happy couple!
13. Look for Smiles
Despite the stress that often precedes a wedding, it’s a happy occasion. People should be having a good time! Make sure to capture that. Old friends might be catching up after not seeing each other in a while. Kids may be playing with relatives they only get to see on holidays and special occasions. These are all moments that can help make a wedding feel more like a celebration.
A great wedding photography tip is to try to capture as many smiles as you can. These moments are unscripted and easy to miss. Try taking pictures of your friends having fun at your next social gathering. Practicing at home is a great tip to help you feel more comfortable capturing reactions in a more natural setting.
14. Capture a Group Photo
Almost everyone in the wedding party wants to get a picture taken with the wedding couple. Depending on how large the wedding party is, you may not have time to photograph every guest. Asking the bride and groom for a list of those expected to attend is an essential wedding photography tip.
Having a partner can help save you time. You can assign them the task of making sure to group individuals together for photographs. You can also let them adjust other small details, like fixing flyaway hairs.
Make sure to take several group shots. It can be challenging to get a large group of people to stand still for a long time. Some people may blink or fidget, which can ruin an otherwise perfect photograph. Take as many additional shots as you can and choose the best one.
15. Shoot the Small Details
One of the best wedding photography tips is that every moment counts! Photograph little things, like an arrangement of flowers on a table. Capture the intricate lace pattern on the back of a dress. Even smaller details like table settings and menus will help add another memory to the wedding album.
Wedding magazines often highlight small wedding details and can be a great source of inspiration. Ask the bride if she’d like you to photograph other parts of her outfit, like her shoes. She may also want a close-up photograph of her hairstyle. It never hurts to ask!
16. Expect the Unexpected
A famous wedding photographer once said, “Things will go wrong, but they can be the best parts of the day.”
No amount of planning will guarantee that an event will be flawless. The limo might not show up on time. A bridesmaid might tear a hole in her dress. Small mistakes can make the day feel even more special and provide valuable memories for years to come.
Although these moments are stressful at the time, they can bring back memories to laugh about in the future. Capture these moments to help the happy couple relive their special day for years to come.
Another helpful wedding photography tip is to bring a sewing kit and first aid kit with you. You never know when they might be needed. The couple will definitely appreciate it!
As you’ve read, there are many ways to go about photographing weddings. Always discuss with the bride and groom what they’re looking for. Remember that this is their big day, and they’re inviting you to partake in this celebration with them!
Reviewing these wedding photography tips before your next event is a great way to prepare for an upcoming wedding. These suggestions are full of helpful reminders that can give you the confidence you need to take great shots.
Remember that snapshots of the wedding aren’t just pictures in a frame. These photos provide the couple with heartwarming memories that they will treasure for years to come.