Updated: Oct 18, 2022
The most important part of wedding photography is capturing once in a lifetime moments that can't be duplicated. A wedding can encompass so many different types of photography in one day so it is the ultimate of events.
During my experience as a photographer I've done weddings and learned a lot from them and want to help others who are just getting into wedding photography for the first time.
During a wedding you're capturing portraits, food, getting ready, clothing and rings (product photography), and the party time. There is so much going on that you have to adjust in so many ways such as lighting and composition. Not to mention that you may need to use flash in certain situations.
Wedding photography is an immersive experience for a photographer so preparation is key to ensure you can capture all these things that are going on.
Wedding Photography Tips for Beginners
Get a shot list from your clients
A shot list is an integral part of making sure you understand exactly what are can't miss shots for your clients. This is something you want to have planned out ahead of time so you can be on the same page.
Most of the shot list will be done during the photo time between the ceremony and reception. This is where you can get the wedding party and family members in one space to take photos. At this point you can coordinate and plan unlike when the ceremony and reception is going on.
As important as the shot list is, go with the flow of your couple. Sometimes they have ideas while you're following the list so don't be too rigid with the list but do remind them of what the list has so they don't forget what they wanted initially.
Scout your location
If possible, its a good idea to get familiar with the wedding location, venue, and key players before the big day. This will put you at ease knowing where to get great shots and address any logistics like how long it takes to travel to the wedding venue.
The last think you want is to show up and not have some idea of what the place looks like, any lighting challenges, etc. A good photographer can adjust no matter what but why not have a heads up on these things if you can.
Practice your camera settings and plans
You're going to want get use to changing settings on the fly as a professional photographer but knowing the ins and outs of your gear in a changing environment will be crucial. There are time when you want or need a shallow depth of field and other times when you want everything in focus. Different shots call for different requirements.
It is extremely important that you practice and create scenarios as much as you can. This will help you recognize what settings work in different situations and how to quickly dial them up when needed.
In any professional environment preparation is key. The last thing you want to do is have one camera or lens and it fails. You definitely want to have backup camera bodies and lenses and to ensure redundancy if possible.
I personally shoot with two cameras at a time so I already a built in fail safe but some photographers don't like using multiple cameras at a time.
Another thing to think of is extra batteries and charging solutions. A wedding can be a long day so you will definitely run need to swap batteries. Its a good idea to have a portable power bank and usb chargers if you can. It saved me once and I never looked back.
Turn your sound off on the camera
A wedding is an intimate event so anything you can do to minimize your noise is ideal. Your job is to document while making minimal impact on the day.
Most cameras have a silent mode or options to turn down the volume on the camera functions. The sounds you want off are the autofocus confirmation as well as the system sounds of going through menus and pressing buttons.
I typically always keep these sounds off unless I'm shooting a portrait session where disturbing others is not a problem.
Tell the story
In order to tell a great story you have to get a variety of shots. Remember to take wide and tight shots. Wide shots will allow you to see where you are and tight shots are good to show the emotions of the bride, groom, and guests.
Your wide shots should show the room, environment, and setup. Get the grand scheme of where you are. Your tighter shots/portraits will benefit from it by establishing where they were taken.
Get all the details
The bride and groom spent a lot of time preparing the venue and getting to look the way they want for a beautiful day. Make sure you document the details of the venue, the flowers, cake, decorations, etc. A wedding day can be a blur for the couple and often looking back is all they will have of some aspects. Make sure your photos are the central way they look back.
Interact with the guests
One of the best ways to get good photos is to interact with your guests as much as you possible can. When a person is comfortable with you they loosen up and you can get some great photos. This is especially true during the reception when its time to party.
Some of the best photos I've taken have come when I was in the midst of the party and getting some sort of emotion from the subject. Some people love the camera and want to be captured so get in there and document it.
When it gets dark use a flash
Some photographers want to be either natural light or flash only photographers. However, a good photographer knows when to use what is needed when its time.
If you rely on your fast lens without knowing the limitations of ISO it will have in dark situations you will end up with dark, shadowy images. This will force you to end up over-editing your photo to recover an underexposed image. Not to mention without a flash you're forcing your camera to use high ISO values.
Here's a great video about wedding poses by John Branch on Youtube.
There's no doubt that a wedding is a serious endeavor and shouldn't be taken lightly. However, no one wants to work with the ultra serious, stuffy, and uptight photographer. Bring some upbeat positive energy to the wedding so it can cascade to your clients.
If you're getting in to photography its because you love it, go out there and show them that you do. Let your art shine through with enthusiasm. It will make the day flow nicely and put your clients at ease.
Good luck on your wedding photography and feel free to reach out for any questions.
My name is Jason Logan. I'm a freelance photographer and content creator from Jersey City, NJ. I've done everything from weddings, events, food photography, product, portraits, and more. You can learn more about me and my work at www.jmtphotographymedia.com
You can reach out to me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.