Weddings are joyous occasions for everyone involved – from the couple to the family and even the photographer. But planning a wedding takes a lot of work for all involved as well. We're going to take a look at both sides of the fence, offering tips for photographers on how to take excellent photos and couples on how to choose the right photographer.
Photographers: How to Take Great Wedding Photos
As a photographer, it's your job to capture the joy and beauty of the couple's big day. That's a tough task, especially when there is so much going on before, during and after the celebration. Here are some tips to help you take the best possible wedding photos.
Be Creative with Angles and Composition
Be creative with your compositions and angles when taking wedding photos. Of course, you'll need to get the shots the couple requests and the “usual" photos (i.e. family, wedding party, etc.), but be creative with the other photos you take, especially the candid ones.
Take a shot from underneath the wedding party as they give a toast while standing in a circle. Get a shot of the couple from above as they share a slice of cake. If you're taking photos of kids, get down on their level.
Watch Your Exposure
Unless the couple goes the non-traditional route, the bride will likely be wearing a white dress. As beautiful as the dress may be, the bright color makes it difficult to find the right exposure level. Too much and the dress will be washed out – you won't see much detail. Too little and the dress will be dull and gray.
It can be tough to find a balance. Your camera will see the white dress and think it's a “bright" spot in the photo. As a result, it will make the exposure on the dress too dark. You can compensate for this by boosting the exposure slightly. Take care not to go overboard. It's much easier to boost exposure slightly than reduce it in post-processing.
Know the Lighting Situation
You'll have little control over what time of day you shoot, but you can prepare ahead of time and figure out how to work with the lighting before the big day. Visit the venue at the same time of day you will be photographing to get an idea of what equipment you'll need to bring and whether you'll be able to realistically take any outdoor photos.
Chances are, natural lighting won't be optimal unless the couple is married later in the afternoon and the photos are taken just after they say “I do."
If you're shooting in the middle of the day, try taking solo shots of the bride backlit by the sun. The dress and the veil will glow, but you'll need to make sure that you have some fill light to bring out the details in her face.
Couples: Choosing the Right Photographer
As a couple, you want to hire the best photographer you can find. An experienced, talented professional will provide you with fantastic photos that capture all of the great moments of this special day. But as you know, finding a good photographer isn't easy – especially when DSLR cameras are so easy to get a hold of and affordable. Use the tips below to know what to look for when comparing photographers.
Check the Photographer's Portfolio
Just like any other artist, photographers have their own style, so pay attention to their portfolios.
- Do you like the angles they use?
- Do you like the composition of their photos?
- What about the lighting? Is it light and airy, or dark and moody?
Write down what you like and don't like about each portfolio. Once you have an idea of what style you prefer, you can narrow down your choices to the ones that mimic that style.
Arrange a Meeting
The photographer's portfolio is a great place to start, but it's equally important to make sure that you get along with the person behind the camera. Remember, this person will be following you around all day, so you want to at least like their personality and enjoy their company.
You also want to make sure that the photographer is open to including the shots you request. This is your big day, and the photographer should be willing to let you have a say in the photos taken.
Know What You're Getting
Wedding photos take quite a bit of time to process – sometimes 40 hours. It's not uncommon for it to take six to eight weeks to get the photos back. Know what you're getting.
- How many images will you receive?
- Will you be able to get prints made, or does the photographer retain the rights to the photos?
- Is retouching included, or can it be added for an additional fee?
- Will the images be high or low resolution?
One last tip: make sure that you start your photographer search early on, especially if you're getting married at the peak of wedding season. Great photographers book up early, so start looking as soon as possible. This will give you more time to shop around and compare portfolios.