If you’ve ever been hired to shoot a wedding or another event, you know that there are a lot of shots to be taken, some that you want to take, many that the client wants you to take, and various other photos that come up along the way, like candid shots of guests, that really complete the memories of the day.
But given all the people at weddings and events and all the different responsibilities you have as a photographer, it can be easy to fall into the trap of composing your photos in the same way each and every time. To give some variety and spice to the final collection of photos, try these easy composition tips.
Look for Lines
Landscape photographers know this suggestion well as it helps direct the eye of the viewer deeper into the scene. But leading lines aren’t just for landscapes! If you’re photographing a wedding, use the lines created by the center aisle of the church as a vehicle for moving the viewer’s eye toward the front of the church where the couple is standing. If you’re photographing another type of event, like a charity race, use the lines painted on the track to accomplish the same feat. Whatever the event, look for opportunities to incorporate leading lines; your images will be the better for it.
Less Posing, More Candid Shots
Chances are, unless you’re working a black tie corporate event, your client will want fewer shots that are formally posed and more shots that capture genuine, candid moments from over the course of the event. These types of shots are easy to get if you bring along your zoom lens and work on capturing moments from afar - say, from across the dance floor at a wedding reception. It’s just human nature for people to tense up a little bit when they have a camera in their face, so composing your shots from afar can get you the candid moments you seek.
You can also take a different approach to candid shots by setting up an autonomous photo booth, like the T12 from EZPhotobooths. The photobooth is a breeze to use - it’s easy for one person to transport and set up - and takes just a few minutes to do so. The photobooth is made of aircraft grade aluminum, so it’s strong and will withstand usage but is lightweight as well. Just add a tablet, a DSLR, and a ringflash, and the event patrons can handle it from there! They simply stand in front of the booth, strike whatever pose they see fit, and you’ll have a vast collection of candid shots from which to choose. The best part is that while the EZPhotobooth does its job, you can do yours as well. It’s totally self-sufficient, so it’s like having a second shooter at each event you work.
Use a Shallow Depth of Field
Weddings and other events are notorious for having a lot going on in the background - from guests milling about to crazy lights from the DJ booth to tables, chairs, and other decorations that make for a pretty terrible photo background. The solution to these problems is to use a shallow depth of field by shooting wide open. A fast lens is a must for wedding and event photography, so use that to your advantage by shooting at f/2.8 or f/1.4, if your lens is so equipped. Not only will this enable you to shoot in less than ideal lighting conditions, but it will also give you the nice, blurry, bokeh-filled backgrounds that negate the problems listed above and help your subjects really shine in the frame.
Use Interesting Framing
If you really want to give your client some visually interesting shots, you’ll need to vary the ways in which you frame the shots you take. You’ll certainly need to get “traditional” shots, like portraits of the couple getting married, the CEO that’s speaking to the crowd, or the birthday boy or girl. But including shots that are non-traditional, like a toddler’s chubby legs as they walk around at their birthday party or the wedding couple holding hands as they walk away from the camera provide a different glimpse of the day, one that is perhaps more artistic and meaningful than even the more traditional shots you take.
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and when you’re a wedding and event photographer, that statement could not be more true. By varying the manner in which you compose your shots, you’ll give your clients a more realistic depiction of the day. Sure, more traditional shots are warranted, but the silly moments caught in the photobooth, the shots framed in an unusual manner, and the other images you can create using these tips will undoubtedly be among your client’s favorites.