The thought of photographing a wedding makes most photographers very nervous. Even experienced professional photographers feel anxiety at the responsibility of capturing the occasion. There are no second chances in wedding photography, so you have to get it right first time! However, if you take the right approach and follow these guidelines, you will be on your way to producing a very nice set of wedding photographs.
One of the most important things is to understand what the wedding couple actually want. Not all couples want an elaborate record of the day from start to finish. Many people don’t like the traditional formal style most wedding photographers produce. A couple may simply want an informal documentary style record of their special day.
Knowing who the key family members and guests are is key to successful wedding photography. If you don’t know the family personally, ask the couple to write a list for you. Seeing the people they love at the wedding is the best part of a wedding for many couples, so ensure you capture a record of everyone who attends. Key family members such as parents and siblings are usually the most important on the day, so make sure you know who they are and don’t miss anyone out! Having a list is a great place to start, and if you don’t know all the guests, don’t be afraid to ask the couple to point people out.
Don’t get too hung up on which cameras and lenses to use for a wedding. Keep it simple and use equipment you are familiar with so that you can concentrate on the content of pictures rather than technical aspects. Remember to carry spare batteries and chargers and be sure to have enough memory cards with you. It’s always worth giving lenses a wipe over in case they’ve picked up finger marks or other blemishes which may spoil photographs on the day.
The essence of a wedding is often in the little details. The couple will have spent many months making sure every detail is just right, so capture pictures for them to enjoy long after the day is over. Examples include flowers, the rings, table decorations and small features on bridesmaid dresses such as bows.
Before the day, ensure you have permission to take photographs of the wedding service if the couple want this. Always be discrete as you work, and try not to obscure other people. Although you may be the main photographer on the day, most guests will also want to take their own pictures.
A set of wedding photographs should really illustrate the story of the day. There are a number of key pictures which every couple will expect to see, and you should ensure these are covered. A wedding has many key moments which have deep meaning to different members of the wedding party. For example, the bride arriving at the church with her father is an image to last a lifetime. Shots of guests throwing confetti over the couple and of the bride and groom cutting the wedding cake are also not to be missed.
Every photographer has his own style, so don’t be afraid to add your own creative flair when photographing a wedding. So long as you capture the key moments of the day you can do this in your own unique way. Once you get over the initial nerves, photographing weddings can be a very enjoyable way for a photographer to push their creative capacity.