101 Wedding Photography Tips and Tricks that Will Blow Your Mind

This time we’re here to share with you some of our best wedding photography tips.

Over the years we have shot hundreds of weddings and Smart has been a great platform for us to share our knowledge with others.

The aim of this blog post is to provide you with ideas to consider when shooting a wedding. We don’t expect you to take these tips as gospel and always encourage you to find your own way.

We also realise that some of these wedding photography tips won’t necessarily be relevant to your style.

However, we hope we have covered enough topics that you will take something useful in to your next wedding.

Additionally if you haven’t yet shot your first wedding you could always sign up to our photography course as we have a dedicated wedding photography module.

Anyway enough with the chit chat.

The whole reason you’re here is to get some great wedding photography tips and tricks.

So let’s dive right in!

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Wedding Photography Tips: 101 Wedding Photography Tips That Will Blow Your Mind

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A guide to the Top Tips and Tricks to improve your wedding photography

As a wedding photographer you will have to juggle a number of different types of photography.

‘Wedding photographer’ is actually short for documentary, portrait, landscape, still life, family photographer (it isn’t but it should be!)

A wedding can be a stressful day for both the photographer and the couple being photographed but it doesn’t have to be that way.

NO WAY!

With this in mind we hope our wedding photography tricks can go some way to relieving any stresses you have about shooting a wedding.

Wedding photography can be very rewarding especially if you have happy couples.

wedding photo of bride and groom

Couple Having Fun by Brooke Cagle from Unsplash

Before the Wedding

Contract

A lot of planning goes in to making a wedding happen and unfortunately things can go wrong. Couples can break up, circumstances can change but having a contract legally protects you and should ensure you still receive payment. It is also a great way of laying out exactly what the couple receives from you on the day and in the final delivery.

Visit Beforehand

One of our wedding photography tips that divides opinion is to visit the venue beforehand. Whilst this can be beneficial to a beginner the more seasoned wedding photographer will say it’s a waste of time. The light won’t be the same, it might rain etc. However, it may aid a beginner in putting them at ease to visit the venue. They can formulate a lose plan in their head and it may give them confidence going in to the wedding.

Get the Quick Moments on the Schedule

We mentioned earlier in one of our wedding photography tips about having a running order of the day. In addition it is also a good idea to get the times of the quicker moments such as the cake cut, bouquet toss, confetti and sparklers. You don’t want these moments to happen whilst you are having a quick sandwich or have just nipped to the toilet. These moments are over in a flash so it is best to have the timings locked down if possible.

Props or No Props that is the Question

Bringing a few things along to a wedding like a nice hanger, ring boxes or an empty picture frame can all benefit the creativity of your photos. Usually there is enough going on at a wedding that they aren’t required. However, this is something you can discuss with the couple prior to the wedding.

Discuss Specific Shots with the Couple (A.k.a – The Shot List)

Don’t see a shot list as necessarily being a bad thing. Have some shots in mind that you and the couple have discussed prior to the wedding. This way you can discuss the feasibility of the ideas. Plus if they want a shot with Auntie Edna you will know to capture that specific photo. A shot list can be unnecessary for the things you know you will capture. But for the more obscure things a couple want photos of it can be a great thing.

Funky Sign by Ben Rosett from Unsplash

By Failing to Prepare, you are Preparing to Fail

This is probably one of the most important wedding photography tricks. Preparation is the key to success with weddings. Being one step ahead can give you an advantage and allow you to capture great moments throughout the day. Spare batteries, blank memory cards, running order with timings and a backup plan are all essentials to being as prepared as possible for every eventuality.

What is Included?

Getting this across to the couple well in advance is one of our top tips for wedding photographers. Even if you do there can still be dispute over what is included after the final delivery. However, you should have emails and a contract to look back on to see exactly what has been agreed. You should clearly state

  • how many edited images they will receive
  • how many hours you will shoot on the day
  • whether or not you include all photos taken on the day
  • do they get an album?
  • whether there are any travel cost involved

Do this and it could save you a lot of aggravation and awkwardness on or after the wedding day.

Couples Expectations

Sometimes this can be out of your control. However, you should aim to deliver photos to the standard to which you advertised when the couple booked. If you don’t display heart shaped group shots on your portfolio the couple shouldn’t expect you to do this. What they should expect to receive is exactly what you have laid out in your contract unless otherwise discussed.

bride and groom in the sun

Couple Kissing on a Bench in the Sun by Eric Alves from Unsplash

Names

Being on first name terms with the Chief Bridesmaid and the Best Man can be a great help. Get their numbers as well…No not like that! They will generally know a lot of the people at the wedding so can help out massively with the logistics of the day. Having their numbers can be great if you encounter any problems on the day.

Rent Backup Gear

Gear can be an expensive investment if you are just starting out in wedding photography. We’d always recommend taking some form of backup camera body to a wedding just in case. If you can’t afford a second body consider a less expensive model of camera. Or rent one. It might seem like you are taking money off your profits but this could quite literally save you if your main body were to fail on a wedding day.

Save Yourself Millions

Sort of…make sure you have good Public Liability insurance that will cover you for the wedding day should something go wrong. Some venues will actually ask for a copy of you Public Liability certificate before allowing you to take photos on their premises.

Fake it to Make It

Consider shooting a fake wedding couple in order to practice posing techniques or just to build up some portfolio images. It can be hard to get your feet on the ladder at the start and you need images in order to attract clients. Shooting couples who are friends is a great way to build confidence and experiment with new techniques without the pressures that come with a wedding.

Free Second Shooters

Getting to know the wedding photographers in your community can be a great way to make friends. But it can also be a great way to get second shooters for free. Providing you offer to swap services with them i.e. you second shoot for them for free and they second shoot for you for free.

Be Bat-Man or Bat-Woman

No we’re no advocating that you turn up to the wedding in your favourite caped crusader outfit. We’re talking batteries and lots of them. Battery life varies from camera to camera but we’d generally recommend three batteries per camera. We’d also advise bringing a charger to the wedding. This way you can charge one BAT whilst having two fresh BATS to destroy your enemies…i mean take photos.

Something to consider:

Smart is the world’s leading online photography course offering in-depth training, mentoring and classes to creatives of any skill level. With a dedicated wedding photography module it is sure to help you on your way to becoming a better wedding photographer. Smart’s one to one mentoring programme also puts you in touch with top wedding photographers whose industry knowledge is second to none.

For more information be sure to sign up to Smart today!

Remember when you Ran Out of Memory?

No me neither! Because our wedding photography tips and tricks have got you covered. Lots of modern cameras like the Canon 5D or the Nikon D750 have dual card slots meaning each image is recorded to two cards. This eats a way a lot of memory. So it’s an idea to have lots and lots of memory cards. Our preference is to have around 100gbs worth of memory cards per camera.

Rings by Alvin Mahmudov from Unsplash

Get Faster Memory

Because one of our best tips is to shoot in RAW we advise to get fast memory cards. RAW files are big and there is lots of data to store on your memory card. You should be looking at the ‘write’ speed measured in MB/s. BEWARE! The speed listed on the card is the transfer speed (the speed in which it transfers the files to your computer). Whilst it can be good to have a fast transfer speed what you want is a good write speed. 95MB/s is a good write speed and should easily handle a continuous burst of RAW photos.

Rehearsal

Much like visiting the venue attending the rehearsal is really for the beginner. It can be a great help to meet the officiant and go through exactly what will be happening on the day. This can put a beginner at ease and give them a little more time on the day.

Clothing

The formality of the occasion will generally dictate how smart of relax you can be with your clothing choice. Say for example the couple are getting married on a beach in Hawaii, the groom is wearing shorts and sandals, you would look pretty out of place in a three piece suit. There isn’t really a perfect answer for what to wear at a wedding. However, generally speaking if your keep your outfit quite smart with fairly neutral colours you shouldn’t attract too many complaints. Most of all you should make sure you are comfy and can manoeuvre your body. It is a long day so you don’t want to be restricted by overly formal clothes.

At the Wedding

Find a Cattle Herder/Sheep Dog (Crowd Controller)

Every wedding will require a bit of crowd control during the family group photos. This can be a stressful time for the photographer as you aren’t aware of the specific family dynamics. Sometimes you don’t know who Uncle John is. Plus he’s probably at the bar, the toilet or anywhere other than where he should be. One of our great wedding photography tips is to get the couple to nominate a family member or someone from the bridal party to organise the people. They can gather the guests for the photos and you can concentrate on taking the photos.

Location, Location, Location

Depending on the feasibility it can be an idea to check out the location ahead of the wedding. However, things change so it can sometimes be best to play this by ear. You could scout the location on the morning of the wedding. Equally you can wander around the venue when the couple are eating their food. Having an idea of where you are going to take the couple for their photos can drastically improve the end result. This is definitely one of our top tips for beginners.

Slow the Beeeeeep Down

A wedding photographers day can last up to 15+ hours so slow down. There is no need to rush. You will end up missing shots by running around like a mad man. Think about what you are doing. Compose your shots well. Check them. Move on. Don’t just spray and pray. Yes you might of taken 10 billion photos but that means hours of culling and the results are likely terrible.

wedding bouquet

Detail Shot of Bouquet by Brooke Cagle from Unsplash

Become a Silent Assassin

Some tip for weddings are simpler than others. If you want to be discreet and as unobtrusive as possible then put your camera in to silent shutter mode. This is particularly handy during the Ceremony especially if you are in close quarters with the couple. Some times it can feel a bit laggy and slow in comparison to full on continuous mode shooting. Therefore just adjust it to suit the situation.

Smile Bridesmaids SMILE!

As tips go this one is pretty simple but something most wedding photographers won’t do. Just have a quick word with the Bridesmaids before the ceremony and tell them to walk slowly and smile. They will thank you for it when they see the photos. Lots of the time Bridesmaid are nervous about walking down the aisle. All eyes are on them. Just remind them that they look great and not to worry as it will be over with in seconds.

Small Details = Whole Story

The small details that a couple have spent hours upon hours planning deserve to be photographed. Moreover, these details make for great photographs that you can use to tell the complete story of the wedding. It can sometimes be easy to forget to photograph these or the schedule might not allow it. But there is no doubt the couple will appreciate photos of things like flowers, rings, dress details, table settings etc.

Travelling at The Speed of Light

Don’t stop me now. I’m having such a good time. I’m having a ballll. Ooops got a bit carried away there. Seriously a wedding is fast paced so you need to work at the speed of light. This mainly comes with experience of knowing what will happen and when. Following this sort of wedding photography tutorial will certainly help knowing exactly what to expect.

Keep Calm and… Eat Cake

I mean Carry On. Don’t let the pressure of the day overwhelm you. Yes this is an important day in the couples lives. And yes they have entrusted you to capture it. But there is no point in having a mental breakdown at the wedding. The couple will lose confidence in your ability and you will give a negative impression of the images being produced. Just breathe and stay calm on the outside even if you’re breaking down on the inside.

Low Flowers are Good Flowers

Bridesmaids and Brides will often ask how best to hold their flowers for the photos to look good. Tell them to aim for their belly buttons so that they have a nice shape with their arms. A common problem is that they hold them too high and then they look hunched up which isn’t very flattering.

Couple at Sunset by Everton Villa from Unsplash

Golden Hour

You may have already done a shoot with the couple just after the Ceremony and safely have some awesome shots. However, there is something special about the light just as the sun is setting and you should definitely exploit it. Learning to use the light at sunset will once again come with experience. Do you want to shoot with the sun on the couple? Or do you want to shoot back lit? Both methods can yield stunning mantel piece worthy photos.

Shoot Just the Bride

During the couples shoot it’s a great idea to get some shots of just the Bride on her own. She has probably spent a lot on hair and makeup to look especially beautiful for this big day. Not to mention the dress as well. Shoot a variety of different photos to add variance to your shoot. Brides also really like to see photos of the backs of their dresses so make sure you grab some.

Two can be Better than One

Whilst this isn’t one of our essential wedding photography tips it can be a useful one. Shooting with two camera bodies means you have at least two memory cards storing the photos of the day. If one card was to break you have a backup. Moreover, two camera bodies allows for speed on the day versus changing lenses on one camera body. If you have one camera set up with a 35mm lens and the other with an 85mm you can quickly get two different perspectives of the same scene.

Being Alone can be Lonely

Some wedding photographers work in duo’s and that can be great for relieving some of the pressure of the day. However, if you work alone it can be a great idea to hire a second shooter for the day. You can split up the shots of the day. One can take candid photos of guests whilst the other is working on the formal shots. This can be a great way to increase coverage and especially helpful at a larger wedding.

Free Advertising

So you’re at a wedding. More than likely there are a few unmarried couples at the wedding. One idea is to display some photos from earlier in the day. You can take your own computer and make a quick slideshow of say 20 images to play during the evening. The couple get to see some sneak previews of what you have captured. Meanwhile potential future couples have seen you in action and the results produced. Obviously ok this with the couple beforehand but it can be a win win for everyone.

Little Things Mean A Lot

Keep your eyes peeled for little displays of affection. A parent holding their daughters hand or a father shedding a tear. Couples love seeing photos in their collection that were spontaneous and unexpected.

hands

Little Moments by Caroline Veronez from Unsplash

Get Close

Standing at the front during the Ceremony can be a great place to capture intimate images of the couple exchanging vows, rings, kisses etc. Keep your movements to a minimum so you don’t attract more attention than the couple getting married. This angle gives you a unique perspective on the Ceremony. At the same time it allows you to capture emotional reactions of the wedding guests.

Use People

Create depth in your imagery by using crowds of people and focussing on the couple. For example, during the Ceremony photograph the couple through the members of the congregation. When the couple look back at the images is will be great to see it from the perspective of one of their guests.

Clean Backgrounds = Winning

A common mistake with amateur wedding photographers is busy photos with cluttered backgrounds. Some of the tips throughout this tutorial can instantly improve your images and this is one of them. If your backgrounds are as clean and clutter free as possible it gives the best chance for your photos to look great. When taking formals consider simple backdrops which will really allow you to focus on the couple or the group being photographed. Distractions in photos can often be resolved by simply getting a little bit lower with the camera. Natural features like bushes, trees etc also make fantastic backdrop as there is less concern about symmetry.

Pretend to be Property a Photographer

Not really! But if you are shooting at a gorgeous venue that’s the reason the bride and groom have booked it. Allow a bit of time to wander around the grounds and capture the venue from various angles. These photos can also be used to practice shots and imagine the couple within them. If you do a good job the venue might want to hire you to take advertising shots of their venue. Equally they might just recommend you to potential couples. You never know!

Quiz the Bride

Even if you don’t love the Brides dress, which I’m sure you will! Ask her what particular aspects of the dress she absolutely loves. A dress will always look better on the Bride than it will hanging up. But make sure to pay particular attention to capturing the intricate details. Also ask her if there is any other details she want special photos of such as broaches, hair pieces, shoes etc. It’s easy to overlook these details but they make for fantastic photos. They can also be great to tell the complete story of the wedding especially if the items have sentimental value to the Bride.

back of wedding dress

Wedding Dress from Behind by Sweet Ice Cream Photography from Unsplash

Slow Down

You don’t need to tell the couple to kiss slowly during the ceremony, whatever happens happens. But when you are taking formal photos of the couple ask them to slow their kissing down a little. This way you can grab some lovely intimate shots. They don’t need to eat each others faces off. But encouraging them to hold the kiss for a few seconds will yield great results.

Butter Up the Officiant

This could save you a lot of aggravation, upset and possible humiliation. Speak with the Officiant before the Ceremony begins. Ask if they have any particular rules. Generally speaking a church officiant will be a little more strict than a non religious officiant. Some places only allow you to stand in certain places, whilst others don’t allow flash photography. Some don’t allow photography at all! If the officiant tells you this on the day of the wedding your best option is to instantly go and speak with the groom. Just explain to him that the officiant has told you that you aren’t allowed to take photographs during the service. This generally doesn’t happen as the couple have already met with the officiant but just be prepared that you might catch them in a bad mood.

Always the Bridesmaid Never the Bride?

Pretend that the wedding you are photographing is your own. What pictures would you treasure at the end of the day? Set out to capture them.

2 Actually Means 1 at Weddings

Getting your head around this simple maths problem can save you a lot of anguish on the day. If a couple have allocated 2 hours for photographs, that actually means 1 hour. Weddings are always behind schedule and the smallest of things can upset the rhythm of the day. Wedding co-ordinators will be eager to get the couple in at least 30 mins before they are schedule to sit down for food. So just bear that in mind when planning your time with the couple.

A Photograph of Everyone

This is one of our wedding photography tips that is simple and easy to execute at every wedding. No, no, no. We’re not suggesting you go around the wedding getting an individual portrait of everyone. Here we are talking about a giant group photo of all the guests at the wedding. The trick here is to get higher up than everyone else. This could involve bringing a ladder, hanging out of a window or photographing from a balcony. Getting higher than everyone else means you can see all their faces and you can also fit a lot of people in your shot. It can be useful to employ one of our previous tips  and get a member of the wedding party to help you herd the guests in to position.

Brides Bouquet by Pro Image Photography from Unsplash

Stick to the Rules

If you have been told to stand in a certain place or to not use flash you should stick to these rules. You don’t want the embarrassment of being told off mid ceremony or worse asked to leave. This would be a nightmare all around. So stick to the rules!

Expect the Unexpected

All the photography advice in the world can’t really prepare you for the unexpected things that can go wrong. Ultimately, this is going to come down to the experiences you have when you’ve shot a heck load of weddings. However, as long as it isn’t completely and utterly devastating you should embrace the unexpected. These are the parts of the day that will particularly stand out as memories for the couple.

Kids Can be Gold

Most of the time children are oblivious to any seriousness involved in a wedding day. Just let them do their thing and they will more than likely provide you with comedy gold. They will yawn in the ceremony, pick their noses during the speeches and dance like there is no tomorrow. If the children belong to the couple getting married all the more reason to photograph them. The couple will love these types of shots. Plus they are great black mail tools for the parents to use when they are older.

tip number 2 - photograph children for spontaneous shots

Fun as it is by Still Miracle Photography from Unsplash

A Wedding Should be Fun

Being a wedding photographer is so much more than just taking great photographs. If you look happy to be there then the couple will relax and feel comfortable with you around. These conditions generally produce the best environment for awesome wedding photos. Don’t get absolutely wrecked on the jagger bombs but chit chat with guests and enjoy the party. The day will seem much shorter if you’re having a good time.

Play On Awkwardness

Most couples will be a little awkward about having their photos taken. However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As long as your couple is laughing about how awkward it is you will get some great reaction shots. The beauty of photography is that the photo doesn’t know it was an awkward moment all it will see is laughter. Just play on it a little bit and get some great laughing shots. Make it more awkward if you want and get up close with a 24mm lens.

cute couple

Couple Laughing by Smart

Use Your Instincts

As mentioned before weddings are fast paced and can sometimes be unpredictable. If there is a break in the clouds and an epic sunset appears, seize that moment. Be spontaneous and pounce on opportunities that present themselves.

Why So Serious?

Your photos don’t have to be all serious, controlled or lifeless. Inject a bit of fun in to your photography by concentrating on people who are laughing their heads off. During the group shots make some jokes or tell the people to have a laugh with each other. Laughter will more often than not be photography gold so make sure you capture it.

After the Wedding

Black and White or Colour?

The beauty of shooting digital and especially in RAW is that you can convert your files to black and white at a later date. If you have trouble seeing contrast you can even shoot the whole wedding in black and white. This really simplifies the photography as you don’t get distracted by colour. You can then convert them to colour in post production. Black and White conversion can be particularly helpful with the unpredictable lighting you get as a wedding photographer. It isn’t a substitute for bad photography but I can definitely make and emotional photo pop.

simple editing in black and white

Photo by Photo Nic from Unsplash

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Or in this case your pictures are worth thousands of £/$/€ (depending on your currency). Once you have delivered your photos to the couple and they absolutely love them. Ask them if they know anyone else who is getting married and have they booked a photographer yet. Referrals are a great way to acquire bookings as their friends have often seen you working at the wedding. They also then get to see the end result in the form of the wedding photographs.

Express Delivery

You might have in your contract that the photos will be ready within 8 weeks. However, the quicker you can get the photos edited and delivered to your couple the happier they will be. It shows you care about their wedding. It is also a great reason for them to refer you to family and friends if you are going above and beyond their expectations.

Follow Up

A great way to keep your couple happy after the wedding is to send them a few preview images. They might be expecting this if you have discussed it in your contract but if they’re not it can be a great surprise. Just drop them an email telling them how much you enjoyed their wedding and give them some indication as to when the final images will be complete. This is a great way to keep them in the loop. Additionally they might share the images on Facebook or with family and friends which can be great for referrals.

shoot from different angles

Sunset Cliffs by TS Photography from Unsplash

Albums?

Do you sell albums? If not this can be a great way to increase your revenue as a wedding photographer. It is also a great tool to increase referrals from couples as they sit down and show their wedding album to family and friends.

Camera Settings

RAW is the Cure Baby

So whilst we aren’t advocates for fixing in post, the RAW format just generally gives greater flexibility in post production. You get a lot more control over things like white balance, exposure and shadow recovery than you would with a jpeg file. This is particularly helpful with weddings as the lighting is unchangeable (unless you use flash). The ability to manipulate these features after the fact is a great help to most wedding photographers.

Mistakes are Learning

The absolute beauty of digital photography is that you can shoot and shoot and shoot. It might be tempting to delete images that don’t work right away but just hold fire. There is plenty of time for culling in post production. You don’t need to add another job on the wedding day. Additionally you have to think that images can be manipulated in the editing, whether thats cropping or sharpening slightly. Another point is that your mistakes allow you to see where you went wrong and help you to improve.

1/250

One of our more simple wedding photography tricks but as a general rule we try to avoid our shutter speed going below 1/250 second. This will vary from person to person as to how steady there hand is but we also find that 1/250 is sufficient to freeze mild movement within the image.

Eu Natural

Unless you use flash you will need to learn to use natural light. It can sometimes be tricky to use but does provide the most natural looking photographs opposed to using flash. Try and avoid shooting in the mid day sun if possible and also look for shaded areas outdoors. These areas can provide cover so you avoid big shadows on faces and people aren’t squinting in the images.

Continuous Shooting Mode

Really this is the go to shooting mode for wedding photographers. Moments happen so quickly on a wedding day and Continuous Shooting Mode helps you capture them. Take the speeches as an example. This is a great time to capture laughter, tears and overall joy on the faces of the couple, their families and their friends. If you use One Shot you might capture a fantastic laugh but the person is mid blink. Or the person sitting next to them is picking their nose. However in Continuous Shooting Mode if you hold that shutter down and burst 5-10 images you can capture various different expressions of the same situation.

speeches wedding photo

Laughter in the Speeches by Smart

Sharp Group Shots

It can sometimes be hard to maintain sharpness in group photos especially if it is a large group with people standing behind each other. For large group shots we would recommend as small an aperture as possible without bumping the iso too high. Typically f/8 and above should ensure nice sharp group photographs.

Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t Make the Day About Photography

It can be hard at times to remember that you are at a wedding and NOT a photoshoot. If you make the wedding all about the photos and as behave like you are the most important person the couple won’t thank you for it. Some couples are extroverts and won’t mind but others may be more reserved. Just find some middle ground between them having a good time and you capturing what you need.

You Don’t Need to be a ****

If you’re scared to get in peoples faces with your camera then you’ll be missing out on some great shots. At the same time you need to be self aware and not too obtrusive. Again it’s all about the situation. Don’t be up in the couples grill in the Ceremony, you’ll probably get kicked out by the Officiant. But on the dance floor or during the formals it’s much more appropriate to have a little more swagger and to be more noticeable.

A Different Perspective

A common thing you will see from most wedding photographers is that all the shots are from eye level. Get creative with your positioning to take shots. Shoot from low down or high up. Get very close and also very wide. Different perspective will greatly increase the variance of your photos and make them more interesting to look at.

Shoot Uncle Bob

This guy (or girl) is coming to the wedding you are photographing. Make no bones about it Uncle Bob will be there. He/she is an amateur photographer who thinks they know better than the wedding photographer. You need to effectively deal with him/her without being rude and without offending the couple. Be firm but fair. If necessary have a word with the couple. Suggest that you and them get away from the crowd for a while so you can focus on some portraits of just them. At the end of the day let Uncle Bob enjoy taking his/her photos but don’t let it effect the results you are capturing. You’re couple will be much happier if you deal with this on the day and show that you are in charge of the photography. Rather than having loads of photos with Uncle Bob in them.

intimate couple shot

Couple in Love by Noah Hinton from Unsplash

Selective Colouring

Selective colouring is when you make a colour image black and white and then highlight the flowers for example in colour. Just don’t do it! END OF!

Longer Lens for Changed Expressions

Some couples are a little more awkward about having their photos taken than others. That’s a fact! But don’t let that stop you getting great photos. Just approach it a little differently. A great way to do this is to start off from a distance with a long lens and slowly walk your way in to the couple. This will give the couple a chance to relax. It might be the first time they’ve been able to talk to each other all day. Just let them talk and enjoy the moment for a minute or two.

Wedding Dresses are White Fool

The light meter in your camera is a fool. Actually, they are pretty damn clever but they get tricked by large areas of white and black. For example, the camera will compensate for a large area of the photo being white (the wedding dress). You set your exposure bang in the middle of the light meter and the photo is really dark. That’s because the white dress is tricking your camera. Dialing, in a bit of positive exposure compensation here can sort this problem out. But don’t go too far and blow the highlights as they are harder to recover in post production than shadows. What we like to do is just check on the LCD screen and keep monitoring it to achieve an accurate exposure.

Traditions are Different

If you are photographing a couple from a different culture or religion to yourself don’t be afraid to ask. Or at least do a little bit of research on some of the traditions involved. For example, a Jewish ceremony is vastly different to a Christian wedding. Sometimes they are also in different languages so it’s a good idea to know what will be happening and when.

Who Is Jamie?

Exactly! The couple doesn’t want hundreds of photos of the Groom’s Bestman’s Sister’s Son…Jamie do they?! Probably not. Whilst Jamie might be doing loads of cute things throughout the day it’s best to focus on photos of people the couple really want to see. If the couple has kids of their own then shoot away. But just grab a few of Jamie and then leave him be.

The Whole Dress

A rookie error is to shoot loads and loads of photos of the Bride but from only the waist up. Just make sure you are getting plenty of shots of the Bride full length as well. The Bride will of spent hours and hours agonising over her wedding dress. She will also spend lots and lots of money on acquiring it. So make sure you do it justice by capturing it in its entirety where possible.

Don’t Have a Nap

The wedding can take it’s toll on your body both mentally and physically. It is one of our top wedding photography tips is to seize the moment to relax when you can. This can generally happen when the wedding breakfast is being served. No one wants photographs of people stuffing their faces with food. So use this time to re-charge your batteries (not your actual batteries but you can if you want) relax and catch your breath. The resulting photos will definitely benefit from you taking a breather.

Couple Walking by Eric Alves from Unsplash

Lack of Experience

So if you want to shoot weddings you will have to break your duck somehow or another. But diving in at the deep end is not recommended. If you just got a new DSLR for Christmas chances are someone will know someone who is getting married. That’s just the way to world works for some reason. Before you have got to grips with how to actually use your camera you are thrown into the bear pit. Asked to shoot Auntie Jackie’s daughter’s wedding. And you aren’t prepared. Be honest with yourself about how good you are. It’s also an idea to be honest with the couple. Your best option in this situation is to begin your journey by second shooting for a photographer. This allows you to gain vital experience so that you can enter your first wedding full of confidence and more importantly ability.

Editing

Keeping your editing simple will mean that the photos you produce will last the test of time. You can’t make a terrible photo good no matter what preset you put on it. A good idea is to stick to one colour and one black and white style. This way your photos will be consistent and your style will become more recognisable. Try to avoid the latest trends and fashions and aim for a classic look that will stand the test of time.

Equipment

Happy Feet, Happy Photographer

Not the first thing you would think of when reading a blog post about wedding photography tips? But comfy shoes and socks can be a life saver for a wedding photographer. (Maybe not quite life savers) Listen! you’re going to be walking, running, jumping A LOT during a wedding day. Get some comfy shoes. Bring a spare pair just in case the first get wet. There’s also nothing quite like putting a new pair of socks on so bring some of them as well!

People Always Need Scissors

The number one question asked during the bridal preparations is ‘has anyone got any scissors’. Well maybe not. But it is way up there. Whether it is to remove a tag from the dress or sort out a broken nail you can instantly make friends with the bridal party by coming prepared.

Bring an Old Bedsheet…

WHHATTT! I hear you say. Well, do you want the bride to stand in a wet and muddy field? Then bring a white sheet with you. Some brides are more particular than others about how pristine they want their dress to remain. However, if you have a solution to keeping it clean they will be more inclined to explore. This will give you more control over the positioning of the couple. The sheet can simply be tucked under the dress and no one will ever know. It can also be used so that the couple can freely sit on a bench or wall with getting a muddy bum. No one wants a muddy bum.

First Aid Kit

As you learn on your journey as a wedding photographer you will notice that little things can come in very useful. Consider bringing the following and leaving in your car for emergencies

  • White umbrella’s in case it rains (no need to edit out horrible logos in post)
  • Wooden hanger for the dress
  • Ibruprofen
  • Tape
  • Insect repellent (The couple will love you for it)
  • Plasters (people get blisters on wedding days, FACT!)
  • Energy drinks
  • Energy bars

Bring a Tripod

Adding a tripod to your kit isn’t the most practical of wedding photography tips but hear me out. I’m not suggesting you go around the whole wedding using this. However, if you want to get creative later on at night with flash then a tripod is a necessity. You’ll be able to capture all manner of ambient light and even the stars in the night sky. Use a slow shutter speed and at the same time light the couple with your flash.

Food, Glorious Food, Hot Sausage and Mustard!

Probably not the first thing that springs to mind in the equipment section of our wedding tutorial? Didn’t think so! Some caterers are lovely. However, some will do whatever they can possibly do to get out of giving you any food even if it has been paid for by the couple getting married. It’s always a good idea to have a plan B when it comes to food. Keep some crisps, chocolate, energy drinks or anything edible in your car. A wedding zaps a lot of energy so stay hydrated and full of energy to avoid the dreaded wedding hangover the next day (yes wedding hangovers are real!)

Group Photos

Mix it Up a Bit

Try to add variance to your group shots by providing the couple with a few different shots. Shoot wide to include all the outfits of the people in the photo. Get in closer and ask them to talk to each other (this generally sparks a reaction of laughter). Providing a couple with a bit of variance to their group shots gives them more flexibility when choosing images for albums or to share online. Additionally, it will add to your overall deliverable opposed to just one shot of people standing, smiling at the camera.

Bride and Her Siblings and The Groom and His Siblings

Chances are that these guys will be part of the wedding party so you will undoubtedly capture photos of them interacting. Parents will absolutely love photographs of all their children together so pay particular attention to capturing these groups.

Stress Free Family Photos

If the couple has requested family photos let them know how it is going to go. For example, say you will photograph the Brides family first. You will then ask the grooms family to join so you can photograph both families together. Finally, you will ask the Brides family to leave so you can capture the Grooms family. If everyone knows what is going on it makes the whole process a lot less stressful for you and the guests.

group photo

Group Shot Fun by Smart

Older Family Members

Couples will appreciate photos of them with older family members such as grandparents. These are the types of photos that will be cherished by the family of the couple and passed down through generations.

Size Does Matter…

Keeping the number of people in your group shots to a minimum will generally yield the best results. Between 5-10 per photo is ideal. Any more than that and it can get hard to make out peoples faces and difficult to see any emotions within the photographs.

Wedding Photography Shot List

If you have followed our tips from the start you will of discussed any group shots with the couple before the wedding. A good idea is to get these into a list on paper. Having a print out means you can have one copy and the person you have tasked with rounding people up can have a copy. This way you can simply tick them off as you make your way through the list.

Blinking Blinkers

Fire off lots of shots when photographing a group of people. This should generally avoid you having loads of photos of people with their eyes closed.

Keep track of the latest photography trends

Photography blogs are a great way to keep up to date on the latest trends within the wedding photography community. Whether you are looking for tips for beginners or advice for the seasoned pro, our round up on the best photography blogs is a good place to start.

Stand Out Tips for Beginners

We firmly believe that our ultimate tutorial on the best tips and tricks will help all photographers, no matter whether beginner or pro. However, that being said, beginner photographers should follow these two essential tips when shooting their first ever wedding.

Remain Calm

Being relaxed and calm in every situation will help you capture better photos as your bride, groom and wedding guests start to feel at ease. If a typical wedding day disaster starts to unfold, don’t panic. Relax, think about the situation and come to a simple but effective solution.

Enjoy Yourself

Shooting weddings is fun, end of story. If you enjoy the day then this will come across in your photos meaning everybody is happy. Smile, it’s a wedding!

Wedding Photography Tips from Pro’s

Laura Babb

Laura Babb of Babb Photo is an award winning photographer. She is based between Bath and London but photographs weddings all over the UK and abroad. Her approach is documentary but at the same time playful and profoundly real. She loves to shoot creatively in an attempt to make each shoot truly unique. Laura’s top wedding photography tips are all about light and this one stood out to us from her article ‘The Importance of Light and Planning Your Photography Around It’ she says –

“When I proudly tell my couples that I have an iphone app to tell me when it’s golden hour they often laugh at me, but it can be magical if you catch the right light. Because the weather is so variable in the UK and because I shoot a lot of urban weddings where buildings block the sunset, when I see beautiful golden hour light I can’t help but get a bit excited. If you can schedule at least 15 minutes of your portrait session to happen just before sunset, it will totally be worth it if the weather plays its part.”

Dan O Day

Dan O Day is considered among the best wedding photographers in the world. His photos are full of life and energy and when viewed together they tell a complete story of the wedding day. We found wedding photography tips about what gear Dan uses in an interview he did with Shot Kit where he says he likes to keep things simple –

“When shooting a wedding I try to keep my set up really simple. I find that the more toys to play around with takes time away from the thing I am most interested in documenting: the people. Generally I roll with 2 DSLR bodies, 2 lenses (Canon 50mm f/1.2L/Canon, 24mm f/1.4L) and a Pelican case full of cards in my pocket. I have other gear there on the day just in case but that’s pretty much it.”

As you can see you don’t need a ton of gear to be a great wedding photographer. Sometimes simplicity is best as restrictions can make you slow down and problem solve more. This generates more creativity which you can see is at an all time high with Dan’s work.

Hafenliebe Wedding Photography

Hafenliebe are a wedding photography collective based in the seaport city of Hamburg, Germany who love to shoot intimate weddings, destination weddings and elopements. Jessy and Bjorn from Hafenliebe have a few wedding photography tips for people just starting out which they shared in an interview on Looks Like Film, they said –

“look at photography, talk about photography, read about it, but mostly shoot, shoot, shoot. We found that also networking with other photographers can get you inspired, but the important thing is to not be just networking for the sake of networking, you should be really interested in the other person as well. Too often this exchange remains one-sided and so for one person it’s not so much of worth to be staying in touch with you. We think it’s also important to shoot for yourself and not just for your client so you can find your own voice and with time the perfect clients for you will cross your way and you will shoot for yourself, but get paid by them.”

Gabe McClintock

Gabe McClintock is one of the Worlds Best Wedding Photographers according to Junebug Weddings. In an Q&A with Junebug he gave some great wedding photography tips and had this to say on the subject of how he approaches portraits with a couple.

“The best thing you can do for your couples is to allow them to be awkward at first. I think a lot of couples see the images of our clients in these poses and moments and think that they will never be like that or look like that. But what most of them forget is that it took time to get these. They didn’t see the build up to these moments or the silly, awkward moments before or after the image we chose to share.”

“I will place my couples in a location that I want them to be in and “pose” them but always letting them know that the “pose” is simply a starting point and to make it their own. Remembering that they are not mannequins and can move. Additionally, most of the images I share online show my couples connecting: being with each other, holding each other. So I often get hired by couples who are comfortable in their own skin and are not overly shy with their partners.”

Jonas Peterson

Jonas Peterson has been on the wedding photography scene for a long time. With blog posts on his website along going back as far as 2008 it’s clear to see why he is highly regarded within the industry. We get the sense that with Jonas’s work it is all about the story. We found this quote from an interview he did with Norwegian Wedding Blog where he says –

“I believe in people’s individuality and connection. Everyone loves differently and everyone’s story deserves to be told. I try to tell the story I’m presented, not faking things, but instead seeing the beauty in everyone and shooting my story that way.” he later goes on to say “I started shooting wedding because I thought wedding photography was awful, I wanted to see if I could do it differently. And that was always my compass. When the word of “my style” spread it more and more became norm, but the world is a big place and cultures are different. I always adapt, but I stay true to what I believe in.”

Candice Cusic

Candice Cusic is a Chicago based wedding and family photographer. She believes that the best images are moment-driven and that you don’t need a hundred photographs of the couple smiling for the camera. In a recent audio interview with Nine Dots she was giving her wedding photography tips and had  this to say when asked ‘do you believe there in enough work for everyone?’ She says –

“As long as you are authentic and as long as you are yourself you will find work. If you shoot and try to copy others and you don’t have your own clear style you might have a difficult time getting bookings.”

Pranjal Kumar

CandidShutters aim is to capture all things beautiful. They are a passionate team of wedding photographers and cinematographers that love to capture and preserve the most beautiful of emotions. They are based in India and it is a really great to hear wedding photography tips from different cultures and whether there are any differences in priorities. However, Pranjal from CandidShutter’s tip is universal and all about being authentic and true to yourself, he had this to say –

“The key is developing and following one’s own style. One should not try and copy others but develop their own style and try and create a niche segment around it with their expertise in that field. This way the increasing competition does not affect one’s business. Good branding is an important aspect as well. So developing a niche style and promoting your business around that style is the key to survival and growth for every wedding photographer.”

Chrisman Studios

Chrisman Studios is a boutique of four photographers and one videographer that specializes in creative documentary wedding photography and films. Ben Chrisman had this to say in an interview with A Photographers Guide to Body Language

“I always tell a couple a few things:1. Do something with both hands (groom). 2. If you kiss her, really kiss her because the camera can tell if you’re faking it. 3. There are no rules. We can do anything we want. So just have fun, remember to smile and everything will turn out great.”

Forged in the North

Forged in the North are a photography team based in Brooklyn, New York. Any wedding photography tips from these guys are worth savouring and we found this one from an interview with Photography Magazine where they said –

“The passion definitely has to be there. More than that, you have to really want it, especially in the beginning. Go out of your way to do shoots for free. Not just any shoots, but “portfolio worthy” ones. Take control – style it, creative direct it, own it. Admit and learn from your mistakes. And finally, only show your very best work. You will be judged by your worst shot”

Dylan Howell

Dylan Howell is a wedding photographer based in Portland, Oregon. He concentrates on telling adventurous love stories all around the world. His aim is to balance the beauty of nature and real emotion in each frame. His biggest tips are –

“shoot more, ask yourself if you could deliver your SOOC, shoot with your phone, shoot with film point and shoots, and look at a lot of photography / cinema.”

Aaron Storry

Aaron Storry is an international multi-award winning professional wedding photographer from Northhamptonshire. As well as all the camera gear he brings to a wedding here is a list of additional items he brings as mentioned in an interview he did with WedInspire:

  • At least 8 Spare batteries
  • Rocket blower
  • Mini Manfrotto tripod (for the Tascam or very long shutter portraits)
  • 2 additional 5D3 batteries and a charger
  • Synthetic chamois leather in case it rains
  • Swiss Army Knife (valuable asset for everything from bridal prep to dress malfunctions)
  • A couple of lighters (great for sparklers)
  • A pack of microfibre cloths
  • Fairy lights
  • Think Tank cable management pouch
  • iPhone cable are USB charging point
  • A lens pen

Be Helpful to Other Photographers

photo of bride getting out of car

Photo by Cayton Heath from Unsplash

Sharing is Caring

At Smart we encourage learning so it would be really helpful if you could share this blog post on your photography blog, facebook, twitter or pinterest.

This way we can spread the word of our wedding photography tips and help more people improve their wedding photography.

Additionally if you’re a wedding photographer and believe we have missed off some vital wedding photography tips just let us know in the comments below. We can then add them to the list.

Unsplash

Unless otherwise stated all the photos in this blog post were sourced from Unsplash.

Unsplash is a great website where a community of photographers upload creative commons zero photos. Photographs on Unsplash are free to use and you can do whatever you want with them.

This is a great resource if you are wanting to make composite images or try out different editing techniques in photoshop, see examples here.


Further Reading

Check out more photography related posts on our blog

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