Wedding photography is progressively becoming an everyman’s game. Whether that be down to cheaper, higher quality cameras with a large number of photog enthusiasts, or simply it starting to not be such a crucial task since every attendee comes armed with their latest camera phone! Either way, you might get the chance to shoot your first wedding, much like I had the opportunity to July of this year and so I wanted to share some much needed tips I wish I had thought about to begin with!
1. Do Your Research!!
This may sound obvious if you’ve never done it before, but the internet is chop full of great articles (much like this one) and imagery to show you different angles, styles, weather scenarios, use of different cameras/ lenses, poses, locations and so on! Instagram is a personal favourite as I can follow local and popular wedding photographers who do that job by trade, which I can then use as daily inspiration! Know your venue? You can probably search for pictures other photographers have shot there. Unsure about the kit you have? Ask these photographers questions! Not even sure about the agenda of your wedding? Find out! The more prepared you are for the day can only be a good thing.
2. Know Your Equipment
Again, another obvious tip right? Knowing your equipment can mean the difference between capturing that moment or missing in completely. It needs to be an extension of yourself. Wedding photography is all about capturing individual moments to encapsulate the entirety of the day. The below image required myself to spot the brides smile, have my camera in position with the settings & focal distance I desired and to take the picture within a matter of seconds or the moment will have gone. Certainly you will spend the entire day with the couple and still have as much time as you need to get those couple shots or group shots, but it’s these unstaged, natural shots ‘in the moment’ that really make a huge difference. Knowing your equipment means you know where the buttons are to quickly make that adjustment, or take advantage of anything your camera has to offer. My A7RII has face detection which I didn’t initially know about, so chances are 95% of all my shots were in focus. Hooray!
3. Be weary of F2.8.
Typically, everyone loves a bit of bokeh. F2.8 is the simplest, easiest way to get rich, smooth, creamy out of focus backgrounds with tack sharpness. I shoot nearly everything F2.8 whether video work or photography in any scenario. But what I didn’t consider was how this would impact hugely with wedding photography. Chances are, you’re rarely going to be shooting one individual. It’s going to be groups or couples or anything inbetween and the impact of F2.8 means you will be perfect sharpness of the one you’ve focussed on, but others may be out of focus since your focus plane will be so narrow. The below image is a small effect of this being shot at F2.8. I love this group image, which is one I still sent forward onto the couple, but the danger is the individuals at the back could have been extremely out of focus which may not be seen on your small LED screen. F4 aperture is ideal, but granted for those dark and dingy indoor shots, you may still need to choose F2.8. Use with caution!
4. Know the Wedding Agenda. All are unique.
Okay so this one was a real struggle for me. I had to cover this wedding with barely being to any before so I wasn’t fully aware of what would be happening and when. Even when I had a schedule in my hands, it still benefits of having knowledge how long parts will go on for. Are there hymns? Is there speeches? Readings and so on? I almost missed the first kiss due to not knowing when that moment was coming – I was too busy moving location for another shot. The shot below is how I managed to capture this, mainly due to knowledge of tip 2. Truth be told, this happened at many points during the day because of the scheduling running a bit over and so with the above tips, be flexible, be proactive and be reactive.
5. Evaluate your Equipment
Ask yourself, ‘Do I have what I need to cover this?’ Whether doing it for a favour or being paid, you should come away with photos that you make think,’ Oh my god they’re going to love these!!!’ After doing your research of the venue and what’s going on during the day, will you need F2.8 lenses or wider if in extremely dark locations? Will you be restricted on space and be wide angle lenses? Do you actually need a camera with faster FPS shooting to capture moments like the couple walking through confetti coming out of the church? Do you need faster memory cards so your camera doesn’t get clogged up so quickly when shooting loads? Asking questions is good + productive. As a full-time videographer and part-time photographer, I still needed to buy 1x flashgun, 1x dual camera harness, 2x 90mb/s memory cards to be confident about my equipment. Renting the odd thing isn’t as expensive as you may think and when it will impact on the biggest day of a couples life, no doubt you’ll be good with what you got.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, ‘An Introduction to Photographing Weddings: Beginners Guide’. I will be posting a similar one to editing wedding photos in the coming few weeks. You can view the full gallery of Andy & Sineads wedding at the Elmley Nature Reserve in Kent, here. I hope you found this useful.