If you are letting family and friends know that you own a DSLR or advanced camera and you are available for taking wedding photos, chances are pretty high that you will find yourself being asked to photograph a wedding. Be realistic about your capabilities and photo experience before making any committment to shooting a wedding for money. Do not simply take on being a wedding photographer to help save money, especially if you feel pressured about doing so. Being honest with the Bride and Groom about your experience, expectations and confidence on being the main wedding photographer will prove an asset as everyone should know how to adjust/communicate during the experience.
It's crucial to know your camera and equipment inside out, with strong confidence in using it. A best case will have at least two decent cameras and a selection of lenses along with a couple of flashguns at your disposal... A wedding is far too important an event to be trying digital photography settings for the first time.
If being the main wedding photographer is not quite in your comfort zone, possibly take on the second photographer duties, shooting the wedding from alternative angles, different backgrounds, assist in getting more shots of attendees, action, etc. That is a great place to gain quality experience as even duplicating some of the wedding photographer's pro's shots will offer education.
Wedding Day Backgrounds
It's always going to prove an asset to view the wedding venue before the day so you can identify the perfect location for great and essential shots of the Bride and Groom as well as their families.
A great background always makes a huge difference in a photograph. Observe areas to improve on what may be seen as uninteresting. Hedges, flower gardens, trees, beaches, etc., can all be fantastic, but may also be improved upon if there is something like are church doorway, etc., to give context as well a creating a frame around the bride and groom. In addition, some times purposefully making the background blurred, will offer a better perspective on what the focus of the big day is.
Digital Photo Exposure
Probably first and foremost is to make sure your digital camera is setup to best preserve highlights in the wedding dress. The bride's dress is well-known to be of utmost importance and can indeed be difficult to photograph correctly. The most common mistake is to overexpose wedding shots of the bride's dress so it appears as a uniform mass of bright white with no detail. On the flip side, doing the opposite... underexposure, will make the wedding dress appear somewhat dark and grey, possibly even dirty. The digital photos of the bride's dress being slightly underexposed can be corrected post capture, but it can really only be a little or one may also lose details in the groom's suit.
Digital photo exposure is probably the one most important area where digital cameras offer a huge advantage over film cameras. Now one can check the photo's exposure immediately after taking the pic and adjust accordingly. A best case scenerio will be an exposure that produces an image with high detail throughout the full tonal range. Most DSLRs will also allow you to take a series of quick images with different exposures in succession. Your digital camera's histogram may be best set to produce images that have a peak towards the right end of the scale, but not a large peak at the very end.
Stop Squinting in the Sun!
While bright light is always the best case scenerio for shooting great clear wedding photography, some times the overhead sun can make it difficult to produce great portraits. Properly assessing the position of the sun as well as identifying a quality background is great, but no one will be happy with post production shots full of squinting eyes in every shot. Your wedding photos should be in a location that has some shade on very bright days or at least the possibility of having something there to help diffuse the sun.
Shooting in somewhat softer light will produce very flattering wedding photos with less harsh shadows, and of course, much less squinting!
No Eye Contact?
If in fact you are not the main wedding photographer, this may be the unfortunate result in many wedding photos you produce. No wedding couple is going to appreciate being called to look at you while the main photographer is supposed to be getting the shots that they are paying for, so bide your time. If you can't get the attention of the wedding couple during key points in the ceremony or throughout the day, at least try to capture as many intimate moments you can.
If you are the photographer that is being depended upon for that essential eye contact, make sure you are always ready to seize the moment. This will require far more attention to detail and behavior than one may think and truly is a large part of the expectation being paid for.
Be Polite, but Bold!
We all know being too shy will almost never get you 'the shot'. While no one wants to witness an obtrusive wedding photographer, sometimes you will need to be a little more bold to capture that great moment.
Every photographer with any level of experience will tell you timing is everything. Thinking ahead to anticipate key moments in the Big Day are important, both to capture properly as well as not to disrupt the wedding or event in any way. In the actual wedding ceremony, it may be a good idea to possibly capture 4-5 different angles. One can use breaks in songs, sermons or readings to make those subtle moves when required. When you know you are about to witness a formal wedding photography moment, be bold! Everyone understands that these moments need to be captured, so you should feel comfortable asking the couple and their wedding party for what you want. Obviously, you will need to know what you want and how to quickly ask for it, but if indeed you are the main wedding photographer, you are driving the show at this particular point in time that will be cherished for years to come.
Please feel free to contact us for wedding photography consulting, and of course, if you require a wedding photographer on your special day.
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