How To Photograph A Wedding

I know a lot of aspiring wedding photographers look at my site and email me asking for advice. Photographing someone’s wedding is such an important job, you have to be able to give the couple a set of images they’ll be happy with regardless if it’s your first wedding or you 500th.  I won’t share all my secrets, but I thought I would talk the aspiring wedding photographer through how to photograph the wedding so they’ll get a set of images that will please the couple rather than leave them cold. I’ll skip over basics like watching your backgrounds, posing, composition, setting the iso, lenses and depth of field.

Be prepared 

Check your equipment several days before it’s no good leaving it till the night before only to scratch your favourite lens whilst cleaning it when its late to hire a replacement. Starting before the wedding it’s worth visiting the venues and working out things like where you’ll do any group photos where the light is going to be coming from. Following the sat nav only to find you’ve got the wrong postcode or the country lanes take twice as long as you thought they would is worth finding out before the day as you don’t want to be late. I’d recommend printing out the route from google maps just in case the sat nav goes wrong. Also make sure you’re cars in good order and has fuel, that the tyres haven’t got a nail sticking out waiting to pop on the way there.

Taking a camera with you when you look at the venue is also a good idea, take a couple of shoots just in case the weather is bad and they can’t be got on the day.

On the day itself 

See the day as chapters.

You should already have a list of photos the couple want, but some people are so disordered they won’t have got round to it so have your own in mind.

  • Introduce yourself, it’s amazing the difference a bit of small talk can make, I ask how the bride is feeling has she spoken to the groom and say how nice the flowers or dress look stuff like that. Try and be cheerful, never be insincere and always try and be helpful it really does help.
  • Take photos that set the scene and tells people where things happened, it might only be the brides parents home but if she grow up there it will always have special memories. A simple one of the front of the house will do, the name of the hotel a wide angle of the manor house that sort of thing.
  • Then the details dress, shoes any jewellery
  • Moving into the the people casual  photos work well but if there is some moments of laughter or emotion aim to capture those as well.
  • You may have a formal one of the bride or the bride and her dad so get that in there nice and early.
  • Once you have these you can get more arty look at the way the light comes through a champagne glass, shooting around objects or through doorways.
Moving into the church or venue do the same 
  • Introduce yourself to the groom go up and shake his hand ask how he is and so on.
  • Take photos that set the scene a wide angle of the church and one of the interior.
  • Get the details the stain glass windows flowers on the end of the church pews.
  • A posed image of the grooms and the grooms men
  • Then Casual images of guests arriving work but again look for emotion laughter and reactions.
  • Then look for your more artistic shoots that may not work.
  • As the bride arrives see it as another chapter where you again need to set the scene with something like a wide angle of the bridal car in front of the church, casual images and details. A little tip I’ll give you here is ask the driver of the car when he arrives to lower the brides window she’ll naturally learn forwards as the car arrives to see her bridesmaids and some lovely natural images can be had.
  • During the ceremony it’s much the same thing set the scene capture details and moments. Most ministers don’t like you to move around or use flash but you should be ok to stand in one place as long as you don’t make to much of a nuisance of yourself clicking away during the vowels.
  • Signing of the register often allows for some great moments with a wide angle lens.
Do the posed images as soon after the ceremony as you can. Start with the bride and groom, best man and brides maids, then both sets of parents,  families and then everyone, finish off with the confetti. I like to build a human tunnel for the bride and groom to walk through for the confetti it give you more chances of getting great images and extends the enjoyment for the bride and groom.
10-15 minutes is all you need for posed images of the couple.

 

The reception… seeing this as another chapter it’s easy to work out what you need to photograph, set the scene, details, informal people pictures, then get arty.
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Follow this approach and the bride and groom will have a set of images they should be pleased with. Remember the real key to great images is the message they convey. Wedding photos rather than be a load of single unconnected images should collectively tell the story of the day.