100 Steps to IYP – Lesson 13 – Weddings

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I was at a friend’s place the other day, going through his sister’s wedding album, and I realised that weddings happen to be a very common theme on which people often seek photography tips. After all, your wedding (or weddings ;) ) is one thing you will always want to remember, and will treasure for the rest of your life. And what better way than to immortalise those memories in the form of pictures.

Today I will make an effort to give you some tips that will help you capture wedding memories in the most perfect manner. Note that these tips are targeted mostly towards amateurs like me looking to make great pictures :) . The extra cash (if any ;) ) is an added bonus.

1. Have Backup! - Although you should always have spare batteries and extra memory, weddings are a one-time affair and you simply can’t afford to mess up. So, in addition to extra batteries and memory, get yourself an extra cam for the day! Understand, the people who’ve asked you to capture the wedding, whether they’re friends or clients, they are relying on you one hundred percent to capture beautiful memories that they will cherish forever. So be prepared for all possible equipment screw ups. And keep the memory cards and batteries in your pockets unless you plan to lug around your camera bag, which isn’t a good idea simply because it would hinder the photographic process. If possible, keep a backup drive with you and keep backing up images as your memory cards are used up. Also, if you can, get a friend or an assistant as a backup photographer who will take pictures simultaneously.

2. Do your homework properly. Since most weddings are inside churches where flashes are often prohibited, you must be prepared for handling the kind of lighting inside. If you’re not too sure about your indoor shooting, I would highly recommend that you pay a visit to the venue couple days before the wedding and take some practice shots. There is absolutely no excuse for bad exposure in wedding pictures.
Also, since all weddings are not the same, as in you might end up shooting a normal church wedding at one time, and a wedding on a boat in the sea at another, you need to research the wedding in as much detail as possible before D-day. Feel free to ask the couple about the various ceremonies etc. that will be involved and do some research on your own so that you have a good idea of what to expect when.

Photo by ronsho

Photo by Christine

(The little and the not so little details make for great pictures)

3. Capture all the right moments. This is what photography is all about – capturing the moment. The good news is that you can predict a lot of the capture-worthy moments  at weddings, like the vows, the toasts, the bride walking down the aisle, the kiss(es) and so on. When capturing a moment like a kiss, zooming in would be a good idea. Capture the smiles and the laughter, tears of happiness, the celebrations and the dancing, and everything that makes a wedding what it is – including the decorated venue pre-guests.

Photo by colinjcampbell

Photo – millzero.com

4. Do not be obtrusive. Move around but don’t do it in a way such that you hinder anything. It’s a common mistake, yes. But when it comes to the formal shots, like group photos, that is when you need to have it done your way. Again, you need to think of the backgrounds and locations you’ll be using, prior to the event, and make the shot the way you find best. Feel free to position the guests the way that looks best, but don’t take ages to do it.
Especially useful in such group shots is your LCD screen. Review the photos as you take them so that you don’t end up with someone who has their eyes closed or mouth open. If there’s a problem with a shot, quickly do another one. I’ve often seen professionals do this, and it really is important.

5. The right exposure is of utmost importance, and the bridal dress can make it a little tricky. Getting the details in the dress without screwing up the rest of image can be difficult at times. A bounced/diffused flash helps in this case. Expose for the dress and use a bounced flash to light the bride’s face.

Photo by shutupyourface

(The creative angle and composition makes this a good picture)

6. Get candid shots! Taking pictures while pretending not to is a great way to get some real fun shots. Casual, informal shots are always more interesting than posed shots. Shooting in the burst mode will help you get those secret shots.

Photo by cambiodefractal

(The smile and the energy adds ‘feel’ to the photograph)

A couple of other things you should keep in mind:

  • The bride and the groom are not the only people at the wedding. Take pictures of the guests as well.
  • Many people don’t like being photographed while they’re eating. Not just sitting at the table, but eating.
  • Although you know what to expect mostly, something unexpected will often come up. It can be a minor problem like the best man not being able to locate the ring, or a pleasant surprise like the groom doing something special for the bride. Be alert to the things happening around, and expect the unexpected.
  • Have a ‘representative’ from both sides who’ll help you coordinate with the guests especially for group photos.
  • Shoot in RAW, it really helps in post processing. At the same time, keep a note of your camera buffer. Once the buffer is full, you won’t be able to take any pictures until all the ones on the buffer are saved to the memory card. This can take long, and a lot can happen during that time.

Take lite, relax, and enjoy the celebrations as you capture them.

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