When I started photographing weddings about eleven years ago we were very much on the cusp of the digital photography revolution. (Well that statement makes me feel like I started in the dark ages!) Up until that point I had only shot on film and did so right from the beginning when I used to process films as a teenager up until the first few weddings that I photographed professionally. Similarly, at that time, the guests at weddings generally had small point and shoot film cameras with maybe the odd larger SLR thrown in for good measure. Fast forward to today and, at the average wedding, most guests are armed with mobile phone cameras, ipads, and many more have large all singing and dancing digital SLRs. The change is immense! – so much so that there is a growing trend for having “unplugged” weddings and real concerns that people are experiencing the important events of life through the lens of their iphones rather than in actual reality.
However, I’m not sure that all of this amazing technology has necessarily improved the quality of photography in general. It has become hugely more accessible, cheaper and cameras have advanced beyond the imagination of photographers say 15 years ago but it still takes a number of other elements, apart from a great camera, to take a great picture.
Weddings are a great opportunity to take all sorts of different styles of images. From family photographs to landscapes and even a bit of still life most photographers and will enjoy having a camera with them when they attend a wedding. So, I thought it would be a good idea to offer a few hints and tips to how it might be possible to improve the quality of your photography and to get some shots you will be proud of!
One of the main keys to a good day of photography is preparation. Ensure that your camera is fully functional, you have spare batteries and that you have ample film or memory cards for storage. It is also important that you know exactly where the wedding is taking place, what the timings of the day will be and where the bride and groom will be at any given time.
2) Be proactive not reactive.
Plan where you want to be as the day unfolds, try not to be caught out by events by trying to anticipate what will happen next and where the next shot will be coming from.
3) Pre visualise
Try to imagine what you photographs will look like before you take them. What are you trying to achieve? What is each image trying to say? Try to pre visualise as much as possible.
4) Don’t over shoot.
The temptation with a digital camera is to shot, shoot and shoot some more! This will not only use up a huge amount of battery power and memory but will also greatly increase the amount of time you spend editing after the wedding. Slow down, make each push of the shutter count.
5) Look for the unusual.
Of course you may well want to capture the bide and groom kissing and confetti being thrown but what’s happening elsewhere? What other parts of the story of the day are there to be photographed.
6) Don’t forget the details.
It is often the flowers and the table decorations or the front of the order of services that are individual and give the wedding it’s particular character and flavour. Look out for these things and record them.
7) Look out for fantastic light.
Generally try to avoid light that comes directly from over head, look for side lighting or shoot into the light to see what happens.
8) Wherever possible switch the flash off.
It’s rarely needed and most photographs look a lot better without it. Outside make sure that it isn’t firing automatically and inside try using a wide aperture and a high ISO setting and photographing by the available light.
9) Be consistent.
Try to photograph for a little bit throughout each part of the day. Keep working and keep thinking about where the best images are going to be at any given time. Whatever is happening and wherever you are there are always interesting images to be made – its just a case of looking for and imagining them.
10) Use the photographs.
After the wedding do something with the digital files! Make a book to give to the bride and groom or a slideshow, put some of the photographs into a frame or make a website or blog of the photographs. Whatever happens don’t just leave them sitting on your hard drive or on a memory card somewhere.