- Don’t Forget Your Shot List
- Visit the Locations Before the Shoot
- Bring Two Cameras
- Don’t Be Shy
- Practice Using Different Kinds of Light
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
- Give the Couple High-Quality Prints
Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash
Getting into the wedding photography business is stressful, especially because of imposter syndrome. You’re trying to exude confidence in the middle of one of your scariest moments - being responsible for recording the biggest day of someone’s life without yet being a professional.
If you, like I once did, need some wedding photography tips because you’re trying to learn how to photograph a wedding alone for the first time, don’t worry. Here’s a short list of wedding photography tips for beginners, so all you need to worry about is wowing the happy couple.
Table of Contents
Don’t Forget Your Shot List
photo by GaudiLab via iStock
After you’ve booked your first client and after you’ve rewatched your favorite wedding photography tutorial for the fifth time, you’re going to need to devise a shot list (and then remember to pack it, because we’ve all made that mistake...).
You can make your own, but I wouldn’t because there are so many free wedding shot lists online. The only reason you should make your own is if, as an example, you’re photographing a couple getting married in a hot air balloon or movie theatre or something equally as extravagant and unexpected.
Because, as it turns out, you can just modify wedding shot lists that someone else put the work into.
My favorite wedding photography shot list actually comes from The Knot, because it’s a website geared towards the bride and not photographers.
This may be a good time to include this tidbit: definitely get input from the couple about what shots are essential for their big day. It is about them, after all!
Visit the Locations Before the Shoot
photo by Hreni via iStock
You do not want to get to the location and realize you thought you had power outlets for your lights when you don’t.
You also don’t want to get to the location and realize you’re not going to have much natural light when you thought you were, or that you should probably be wearing hiking boots instead of the ballet flats you thought looked cuter before the 14-hour day.
You’re going to have enough to worry about as it is, so you want to minimize the possibility of surprises when it comes to the venue.
Map out where you can sit, stand, and kneel to get shots during the ceremony such that you aren’t too much of a nuisance to the members of the audience. Determine where you can position yourself to get those all-important shots of the couple exiting the venue for the first time as a married couple. Think about ideal spots to take photos of the wedding party, where you have good light, a nice background, and so forth.
The more you plan, the better off you’ll be, so take the time to explore the different shoot locations and you’ll be much more prepared come the big day.
Bring Two Cameras
photo by Volodymyr Shtun via iStock
Back in the day, I read plenty of wedding photography tutorials, and many of them omitted this little nugget: bring two cameras.
For starters, the last thing you want is to be snapping away and have your camera malfunction. Having a second camera protects against that horror.
Additionally, having a second camera means you can have a different lens on it which enables you to get varied shots without having to constantly swap out lenses.
Many wedding photographers will have one camera body with a zoom lens, like a 24-70mm, that they use for rapid-fire shots during the ceremony and reception and another camera with a prime lens, like an 85mm, for posed portraits.
Then, invest in a camera harness so you can have both cameras on your person at all times to get the shots you need.
If you don’t own multiple cameras or multiple lenses, beg, borrow, or rent the gear you need. Whatever the case, don’t go into a wedding with just one camera and lens!
Don’t Be Shy
photo by pixdeluxe via iStock
You can’t be shy. People will get in your way, and unless you’re in the mood to write an expose on why everyone should stop using iPhones at weddings like this photographer did, you’re going to need to learn how to politely move them.
Since boldness isn’t exactly a trait you can learn overnight, this tip isn’t included in a lot of wedding photography tips for beginners listicles.
But, I think it’s important because there are helpful, and ridiculous, tip lists for how to overcome shyness.
Remember that you’ve been asked to record lasting memories for someone, and you can’t do that if you’re hiding in the back of the room!
Practice Using Different Kinds of Light
photo by pastorscott via iStock
Churches have the worst light of any edifice in the world and it’s truly a shame we decided that’s where almost all weddings should take place.
But, since I’m probably not going to reverse thousands of years of tradition with this blog post, I can at least teach you how to overcome this awful predicament.
The first option is to bounce your flash. You’ll need to scout the church beforehand to ensure there is a light-colored wall for you to bounce your flash off of, because if you bounce your flash off a colored surface it will tint all your photos with that color. Learn more about how to bounce light in the video below by Adorama:
If there isn’t a white wall anywhere, consider purchasing a diffuser to soften the light. Doing minimizes the harsh look that flashes create for a much more pleasing look.
This, however, doesn’t work for all churches because some of them don’t allow camera flashes at all.
If they don’t allow flash, you’ll need to work in manual mode and adjust the camera settings to brighten your images. Boosting the ISO makes the camera’s sensor more sensitive to light, and brightens the photos, though it also introduces digital noise.
You can also open the aperture of the lens to let in more light, but doing so also reduces the depth of field in the photo.
Slowing down the shutter speed is another option, though if you do, be sure you use a tripod and that you don’t slow it down too much, otherwise movement in the shot might be blurred.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Photo by Mr.Autthaporn Pradidpong on Unsplash
Yes, most of the photos that will end up on your couple’s wall will be more traditional wedding poses.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and get some photos from different angles. Get above the couple; get below the couple. Capture candid moments. The collection of images you create will weave a story of the day, and having different types of images will make that story more special.
The chances are they will love at least one non-traditional print, and that’s worth all the effort!
Give the Couple High-Quality Prints
photo by Kostyazar via iStock
Once the big day is over, and once you’ll never need to Google “wedding photography tips for beginners” ever again, you still need to deliver quality photos for your couple.
And, no matter how incredible your editing capabilities are, it’s always more impressive to show up with a high-quality gorgeous print of their favorite photos.
This type of wow factor photo delivery method is the type of thing that will get you recommended by that couple in the future.
I always use CanvasHQ for my wedding photography canvas prints because their customer service representatives actually care about the quality of their work (and your work too).
They stopped one of my photos before it went to print because it was slightly off-center, which I’ve never had happen with any other canvas printing company.
They hand build each canvas. They also only use high-quality ink that won’t run or fade in inclement storage conditions. Plus, they nearly always have a deal on their website for up to 30% off their original prices.
And, canvas prints are one of those wedding photography package add-ons that you can charge more for to increase your own profit.
It’s just a smart idea to work with vendors like CanvasHQ that allow you to offer professional products without actually being a professional.
When it’s all said and done, you want your images to last, and canvas will do that for generations! See what your photos look like as a large format canvas print.