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It is safe to say that if you are a wedding photographer by trade, then you already have plenty of experience of photographing weddings and know what to do.
However, if you are just starting out on your wedding photography journey, or you are a keen photographer who has been asked to photograph a wedding for the first time, or if you are simply the designated photographer because you are the only one in the family with a decent camera then this article will explain how you photograph a wedding.
Acquiring the Equipment You'll Need
One of the first things to point out is that to photograph a wedding in as professional a way as possible, then it will need more than the equipment which you are likely to currently have.
You may have a high-quality camera, but if it only has one lens then the range of shots you can take is limited, and that is before we even get onto other equipment such as flash diffusers, and light stands.
If this is going to be a one-off, then we are not suggesting that you rush out and spend hundreds of dollars on equipment you'll barely use again. However, what you could do is enquire locally if there is a photography store which hires out equipment.
Alternatively, ask around if any of your family or friends know a professional photographer someone who might be willing to lend or hire out their equipment for the day.
Obviously, if you are planning to make wedding photography a significant part of your business then you are going to have to invest in this equipment at some point, and the best advice is to do it early on so that you have everything you need to get started properly.
Here is a list of what you'll need.
- Camera with a spare as a back up if your budget allows
- Flash diffuser
- Multiple lenses: telephoto, medium zoom, wide angle, macro (for close-ups of rings, etc.)
- Gimbal for action shots
- Memory cards
- Spare batteries
- Carrying bag/case
Planning is Everything
No matter how good your equipment is, how wonderful the happy couple looks, and how superb the weather is on the day, none of these come close to helping you photograph a wedding successfully as much as planning.
By planning how you are going to photograph the wedding properly, you will do more than anything to make it a success.
The first step is to meet with the couple who are getting married and ensure you have all the details of the place, time, etc., of their wedding ceremony, and the reception, especially if that is in a different location, which is often the case.
On a practical level, this ensures that you check the directions beforehand, in case you have not been there before. Assessing any parking restrictions, and how long it is going to take you to get there should avoid any last minute dramas
In terms of the photography, you'll want to agree with the couple which photographs they want, how many, which family members are to be photographed together, which group photographs they want and so on.
Having this all planned in advance will save you time on the day as you can literally read out the names of those who you need next.
On this point, it is a good tip to ask for photos of the main family members guests from the couple so you will be able to recognize them and call them all by name.
What Shots to Take
With pre-planning, you will already have a list of 'posed' images that you need to take of family and groups, and it is also likely that you have agreed to capture the couple's first kiss, their first dance and other significant moments during their wedding day.
What really makes a set of wedding photographs come to life are those images which are spontaneous.
Even before you start taking the main images, take a few of guests arriving before the ceremony or hugging as they greet each other. Look for reactions and emotions throughout the day, especially smiles and laughter.
Bear in mind the vast majority of the day is not going to be taken up by the formal ceremony but by the couple and the guests having a great time, so you want to capture that in full.
Children make great subjects for wedding albums so make sure you get them running around and playing.
Also, take plenty of candid shots when guests are not aware that they are being photographed.
This is a surefire way to capture lots of laughter and emotion which every wedding album should have.