Nov 23 2009

Stress Free Wedding Photography Tips

Published by at 7:09 am under General

Few photographers can stand up to the relentless stress of wedding photography. Of all photographic assignments, this is perhaps the most challenging, yet it can be survived by following some rules.

The Shooting List

Before you worry about your gear, you have to ascertain exactly what shots are wanted and needed. Some brides have worked this out already. Others may have a general idea that you should just ‘capture the mood and feeling of the joyous occasion. Now is the time to start worrying. Ask for a list of the photos.

A shooting list is best broken down into three broad groupings:

1. Prior to the Service
2. The Ceremony
3. Subsequent to the Service

Before the Service

These photos can comprise the following:

* The bride dressing
* The bride and friends
* The bride and her parents
* The groom and friends
* The groom and parents
* The wedding dress
* Getting into the limo
* Sitting in the limo
* Arriving at the church

A few of these can be candid photos. Some work better if you pose them.

The Ceremony

These photos depend on the venue and whether you are permitted to shoot the actual exchange of vows, etc. You may or may not be able to record the service – ask the bride to find out. You should try to get on the groom’s side with a clear view of the bride. The bride deserves most of your attention.

These shots should include:

* Medium shots of the bride and groom and celebrant.
* Allow enough space in the frame to show the bride and groom three-quarter length.
* Three quarter length to full length of the entire bridal party including the maids and groomsmen.
* Semi-close-ups (head and upper torso) of the bride and the groom together.
* The ring (close-up on the hands if you can zoom in fast otherwise go for the semi-close-up)
* The kiss (semi close-up)

Lighting plays a big part in the ceremony photos. Work out how to use the available light as flash is a no-no. You should ask to join the rehearsal so you can test the lighting before the big day. Make sure you use a tripod.

Most cameras have an option to mute the sound of the shutter – use it. Do that so you can shoot many frames without disturbing the event. The more the better. Set the camera to multiple frames and hold the shutter down at the important moments. More photos have been spoiled by a blink than any error by the photographer. Your defense is to overshoot during these high-points.

Now move quickly so you can take the newly weds as they move off from the altar. Now this is an important wedding photography tip: Plan your return route to the front door at the rehearsal.  When the new couple turn and move down the aisle, use your flash. See more on this under ‘Equipment’.

After the Service

Once more some of these can be candid and some should be posed. These should consist of:

* The bride and groom outside the church/venue with well-wishers
* The confetti moment (just hold the shutter down!)
* The bouquet
* Groups of bride and groom and all parents
* Getting into the limo
* Sitting in the limo
* The limo itself if it has been tricked up with cans and graffiti etc.

Following on-After the Ceremony

These usually need to be planned ahead. Take the happy couple to a park, a beach, some location you have scouted out beforehand. This is a good opportunity to take some posed photos of the dress. Time to relax and be natural – some great and touching photos can be captured here. Posed photos should be done first, then move off for shots with the zoom so they can be more spontaneous.

The reception is part of this phase. Guests may request photos, but make sure you preserve your battery for the list photos you have still yet to take.

Do not overlook the cake cutting. You should also cover the bridal table, early on before it becomes messy. Pictures of the service will most likely be the most popular and worth the most concentration of effort.

Stay on track at the reception and ask the bride or matron of honor to help you sort out which shots are vital and which are not.

The Completed Product

It is best to supply a Compact disk or DVD with the bad shots edited out. No one wants to see the duds, and they just make you look like an amateur. For added effect you can use video editing software to quickly make a slide show of the event in sequence. Images should retain sharpness and clarity when zoomed to A4 size – if not, don’t submit them. Make a CD of the best shots and you’re done.

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