Wedding Photography Tips for Beginners
If you are just starting your wedding photography journey and you stand before shooting your first wedding I want you to know that I know what you’re feeling. That’s why I’ll give you tips that I’d like to read if I were you. Because I were you. Not long ago.
Don’t listen to people that your first wedding will be awful
They know nothing. Here is my first wedding I’ve ever made. Is it awful? I damned love it! And I was scared and excited as hell at the same time.
Your first wedding (or second, or third) won’t be awful. It’ll be beautiful. Just take a deep breath and keep reading.
I’m not a big fan of the shot lists, but if you’re just starting you don’t have habits that allow you to shoot everything in a very natural way. So prepare your shot list with moments that you HAVE TO shoot.
Bride’s make up portraits
Details such as: shoes, wedding rings, wedding dress, jewelry
Bride’s dress up
Groom’s dress up (optional)
First Look (optional)
Church from outside
Guests standing outside
Bride and groom entering church
Guests inside, especially parents
Putting a wedding ring on a finger
Parents during vows
Bride and groom leaving church
Bride and Groom sitting at the wedding table
Details of flowers, wedding table, LOVE word, decorations
Thanks for parents
It is very, very general shot list. I’ll divide it on pieces now and I’ll give you some tips and clues what to do step by step.
Before you leave home
Meet your couple
It’s so important to meet your couple before the wedding. Trust me, it’s so much different if you have already connection with them. You trust each other and your cooperation will be much more smoother and they will feel comfortable with your presence.
My way is to give a free engagement photo shoot.
It’s not that obvious. Check twice if the location is correct, because maybe there are two same addresses and you can come to different location!
My gear I use for weddings:
2x bodies: Canon 5D Mark III + Canon 6D + 2x lenses Sigma Art 1.4 35 + Sigma Art 1.4 85
No flashlights at all.
It doesn’t matter if you shoot Nikon, Canon or Sony. The only thing which matters (in my opinion) is full frame camera due to the fact that you can increase much more ISO in tough lighting conditions. It’s very important for me as I don’t use flashes even during the wedding party.
I shoot 90% photos using Canon 5D Mark III + Sigma A 1.4 35. I use the second camera only during the wedding ceremony.
I have 4 batteries (Only 1 original) and I take one charger. I have 4x 32GB CF cards, 1x 64GB CF card + 1x 64GB SD card + 4x 32GB SD cards. I mostly shoot ~10k photos during one wedding.
Charge your all batteries before leaving home and check if your all cards are clean.
I have also photography straps that I use only during the wedding ceremony.
It’s not absolutely must have to have 2x cameras to shoot weddings. 1x is perfectly ok, but keep in mind that having a back up camera is very reasonable approach, because if your first camera will break you won’t deliver photos to your clients…I don’t want to even imagine that scenario…
Clothes and hygiene
If you are a woman you can skip this one.
If you are a man:
Take a clean elegant clothes with you. I shoot preparations in t-shirt and then I change before the ceremony. Take some snacks and water. Your first meal will be probably at evening. Take mints. Your will be speaking with a lot of people. I recommend Halls (black ones). Take perfumes and antiperspirant with you. There is nothing worse than a stinky photographer :D
Don’t focus only on a bride and groom. Shoot everything around you. I shoot house from the outside, animals, garden, flowers, some souvenirs and important things for family. I shoot family members, kiddos, make up artist, her tools, grandpa watching TV, kitty laying on the coach and mother touching a wedding dress.
See my point?
I don’t arrange ANYTHING. I create the story as I see it.
While dressing up a bride I ask her to stand by the window (beautiful light) and then I shoot her from different angles. Shoot close ups with mother’s hands and her face. Once a bride is ready I shoot some portraits. I ask her to close eyes and think about the moment when her man proposed to her. She smiles or cries…
First Look. We do it mostly in a garden, but sometimes at home. I ask a groom to stand and close his eyes. A bride comes from behind and once he feels her hand on his shoulder he looks back. I shoot his emotional reaction. It is priceless. Every, single time.
Shoot church from outside and inside. Photograph some details and stained glasses. Focus on guests and your couple. Don’t wait until everyone is inside. Shoot interactions in front of the church.
Once your couple is coming to church my advise is to be in church 1 minute before them to adjust your exposure (if you shoot full manual as I do). Than I step back in front of them photographing them approaching an altar.
Here is the important TIP!
I shoot mostly using Live View mode. BUT! If I shoot moving subjects as a couple approaching an altar I use view finder and I shoot in AI Servo mode (In Nikon it should be Continuous Mode). AI Servo tracks movement and most of my moving photos should be in focus. Once they are in one place I change to Live View.
I use Silent Continuous Mode in church. I don’t want to distract anyone with my Kalasznikov.
Speak with a priest before a ceremony and ask if he has any wishes about photographing. He will appreciate it.
Remember that vows are the most important moment during the whole wedding. You have to know when it is (you can read in the internet about it). Usually a priest doesn’t have any problems with you closer presence during vows. And here is the important tip about vows:
I shoot a bride when groom speaks and vice versa. I want to capture emotional reaction the second person while listening.
Shoot the close up shoot while putting a wedding finger.
It’s not the end. Look back and photograph parents’ emotional reaction. They will be probably crying.
And…first kiss! <3
And here is the most tricky moments during the whole ceremony. Leaving the church. Your exposure will get crazy. I ask couples before a wedding to leave a church slower than usual.
I leave 30 seconds before them and I change my manual settings. And once they leave the church you Kalasznikov them in burst mode. Yupiii!
Wishes! Such an emotional moment.
Tip while wishes:
Photograph guests’ faces, not only a bride and groom’s.
Quick group photo and let’s go for a party!
Wedding ceremony Tips
About shooting wedding ceremony I need to write another article, because it’s so much to tell. Some general tips:
Remember a wedding ceremony’s schedule: when a cake is, when wedding funs are, thanks for parents etc.
Speak with DJ and ask him for a cooperation with lights, especially if you shoot without a flashlight as I do.
Shoot dancing people in AI Servo / Continuous mode.
Don’t shoot eating people.
Speak with people, make funny and stupid face looks to them and then shoot their laughs and smiles.
Dance and have fun with people.
Ask some couples if they don’t want the romantic photo. Tell them to relax, to hug and kiss. They will be thrilled once you will show them the photo. Trust me.
Don’t drink too much coffee.
Don’t drive home if you have more than 100km to travel.
Final 2 Tips:
80% of my photos are with family and guests, not with a bride and groom.
Ask your couple before a wedding , e.g. during an engagement photo shoot if there is something special or someone who they want to have in photos.
That’s it! Thank you for reading and being here <3
Your wedding will be awesome, trust me :)