Wedding photography is a mixture of many other photographic genres. It incorporates portraiture, family and group photography, documentary, boudoir, event and close-up images.
It may even incorporate landscape if the location is particularly beautiful or important.
This is probably one of the most stressful areas to be a photographer. If you accidentally delete the photographs or lose the memory card, you are in big trouble.
Not only have you destroyed your reputation but you have ruined a very special day. A day that (hopefully) will not be re-created.
Saying that, if you can take great photographs brides and grooms are happy with, then you can charge a lot of money for this service. Especially if you have your own freelancing business.
Having all the knowledge to photograph weddings is transferrable. Downtimes could be used photographing portraits or events, for example.
In no way is this an easy or stressfree area of photography. A lot of time is spent trying to find and meet clients, listening to their wishes and wedding day plan.
A lot of time needs to be spent on practicing, working for free, researching inspiration, social media marketing and post-processing images. You’ll need even more time to apply for competitions and get your photographs in magazines if that is something you would like to do.
Camera equipment is very important for wedding photography. You need a DSLR or mirrorless system that can handle everything this type of event can throw at you.
There are many different styles and locations you will photograph. The camera will need to change at a moment’s notice. That means being able to work at a high ISO, a fast shutter speed and great focusing points.
Shooting in raw is a necessity, as this will give you more play when it comes to editing. Your system needs to be able to deal with different lenses too.
Also, having a backup camera (or two) will make sure that you are covered if something happens. Having three cameras isn’t unheard of, as two cameras can operate while one serves as a backup.
The two camera method is beneficial as one can sport a prime for portraits, and the other can host a zoom for unexpected moments. This saves time searching for and changing lenses.
Mirrorless cameras have come a long way in recent years, and as technology advances, more people find them useful. But shooting with DSLRs remains the standard for wedding photography.
This is our extensive list of what DSLRs are great for wedding photography.
Better to have a tripod and not need it than the alternative. For wedding photography, you will benefit greatly from having one around. In situations where a group photograph is taken, the tripod is a secure place to keep your camera.
It lets you use both hands when directing the excited family. Or tinkering with the flash units.
Also, it will keep the view perfectly still, getting the guests to pose in the frame, not trying to work around them. It reduces camera shake due to the mirror flick up.
More importantly, it will give your arms a rest while you go to find the bride and groom for their romantic shots.
There are a ton of accessories designed to make your photographic life easier. Some are a necessity, like camera bags, a lens cleaning kit and memory cards.
If you don’t have all these add-ons, you can still capture amazing shots. You’ll get them next time. I doubt many photographers are able to buy everything they would like outright. The purchases come in steps, as needed.
A wireless transmitter is a great addition to your camera and your workflow. The idea is that this little gadget will send your files wirelessly to a laptop or storage device.
If you have a laptop nearby, you can refer to the images on a big screen to make sure you captured the image correctly. Other guests will get a kick out of seeing the images pop up one by one.
The other great thing is you can use your laptop or storage device to save and backup your images.
Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could send images to a colleague working nearby, who edits as you shoot.
Imagine you hand the bride and groom a fully edited album at the end of the wedding day. All done and dusted.
Now, that’s an experience worth paying for.
Lenses are the most important pieces of kit you will need. It is completely possible to shoot a wedding with one lens (great example ), but that lens will need to be a zoom.
Ideally, you’ll want to have a few lenses to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
This article gives you 7 of the best lenses to use (ok, one is a drone) for a complete wedding package. Some you will use more than others.
But it is always better to have it and only use it once than missing the perspective and subsequent shot. This photographer uses a multitude of zooms and prime lenses, so he is never caught out.
There are a few important things you need to think of when conducting your wedding photography. The more kit you will use means the more accessories you will need.
If you use one or two cameras, how will you keep them close by? A shoulder strap is a great choice.
Having two cameras means more spare batteries and chargers too.
Using one or more Speedlites for lighting means that you need to think of where to put them and how to fire them off. A hot shoe extender or some sort of transmitter will be necessary.
The more memory cards you have means they need to be stored somewhere. Having two is great for used and empty cards. Even more, if you are using two different camera systems.
Read our list of important accessories and see which you and your wedding photography could benefit from.
A camera bag is where you keep and store all your equipment. It needs to keep your apparatus separate and safe. These items should not become damaged from the outside world or anything else in the bag.
An important aspect to think of here is how far are you travelling with your camera gear?
If you need to fly to the location, then a really sturdy case is important. This means using a smaller bag for the portable kit at the location.
If the location isn’t so far away, a bag will help keep all your equipment together. It will house all the accessories you don’t need all the time.
A portable camera bag is a really great way to keep the kit, and weight, to its smallest. You will not all your equipment at the same time.
Photographing the couple in a romantic setting might only need you, your camera and a few lenses. This is where the portable bag comes into play.
A small bag, such as the Undfind One Bag is a great way to separate your larger kit into something smaller. Great for lenses and accessories you will only use for that section of the wedding.
Lightweight, foldable and professional. This bag is a great addition to your workflow and the way you photograph.
A lens cleaning kit is a valuable tool for making sure your camera’s important parts are kept clean. This is useful for smudges and dust on the lens, the mirror and sensor.
This great kit includes a cleaner bottle, lens cleaning pen, lens brush, air blower, cleaning sheets and lens cleaning cloths.
This is everything your camera is going to need to stay fresh, healthy and dust free. Just don’t go overboard and don’t clean unless you need to.
These are important, as they will be saving all of your beautiful images. At a wedding, your camera might be set to photograph in rapid succession.
This is called burst mode or continuous high speed mode. Photographing many images in a short space of time will put your card under stress and pressure.
You don’t want a slow memory card in these circumstances as the camera might stop and need time to go through the 15 images you just shot.
This locks your camera and renders it unusable while it thinks and works. This has the potential for you to miss that perfect moment, and ruin the moment.
This is the area you cant scrimp and save money on. Get the fastest, best memory cards and they will reward you and shower you with amazing images.
Drone photography is becoming more and more popular. The are many choices as the technology grows. Some even offer 4K video and very high-resolution images.
This is a great addition to photographing the surrounding area as a prelude to the wedding album.
There are rules and regulations you will need to follow. Insurance might be necessary for accidental damage. You will definitely need to register your drone with the FAA or relevant aviation association.
There are many places you can’t use a drone, and even have to ask for permission from those who own the property. Be smart and follow the rules first.
Lighting in a wedding is like any other event. Inside will be darker than outside, so how will you get a correct exposure? Huge lighting setups are not an option as they distract the wedding and get in the way.
Using lenses with a fast aperture means getting the most light out of the scene, and will give you a small depth of field.
Some areas, you might find you cant use any lights. The ceremony could be one of these areas. Generally, off-the-camera flashes such as Speedlites are fine, and many can be used simultaneously.
In other areas, reflectors might help bounce the light back into the image. Find out what you can and can’t do at the wedding and go from there.
This extensive article looks at lighting an entire wedding, going from the dressing to the end of the night reception (party!). There are many different locations throwing different temperatures at you. They will need some thought.
The best way is to scout beforehand, looking for light and settings to capture powerful images.
Natural light is a great way to illuminate your subject without too much gear. Windows are very handy as they add a soft, spread out feel. This light will also be abundant with the outside shots, where you might want to use reflectors.
Speedlites will help fill in dark areas, and freeze motion when people are dancing. Utilise the light, add where necessary.
Off-camera flash lighting is a great help to your wedding photography. They can work with a Through-The-Lens (TTL) metering system. This is where the flash will expose the scene depending on the available light.
This is a pretty smart way to add a touch of light, known as a fill when it is needed.
They can be placed on your camera’s hot-shoe, on a camera bracket, or even handheld for fast adjustments. You can even sync many flash units at the same time.
This is great for different lights hitting the same scene from different angles.
Go through our article here for all the information you will ever need.
To use these Speedlites or any off-camera lighting system, they need to connect to your camera. This is used either by infra-red signals or radio-waves.
Infra-red is standard. Yet if there is something in between the transmitter and the receiver, the lights won’t not fire. Problem.
To combat a problem like this, you will find that a radio transmitter/receiver works better. This system certifies a correctly exposed shot.
They work and connect in a similar way, as they work on transmitting the information to the flash unit that has a receiver attached to it. This ensures you are confident it fires every time, with the correct amount of light.
Reflectors are super useful for portraiture and wedding photography. They are great because they don’t need batteries or cables and they fold away into small, pockets.
They are pretty inexpensive too and can have dramatic effects on your photography.
Basically, they bounce and re-direct light back into the scene. They are great to add a fill light as if there is more than one light source.
They are flexible enough to bend and further shape the light and where it needs to go. Read this article and you might find yourself modifying them into shoot-through reflectors soon enough.
How To Shoot Weddings
Photographing weddings is a lot of hard work. It is also very time consuming when you look at all the aspects involved.
From finding and communicating with the happy couple to the handing over of the images, it is non-stop work over days. Even weeks.
It is very handy to see a workflow written down just to give you an example of all the steps involved in wedding photography.
This also helps you understand where your time goes. Which could help you explain why you charge $2000 dollars to capture such a special event.
This photograph checklist is a great way to help you see what images are expected from wedding photography. This list will help you know what to look for when it comes to researching and location scouting.
By all means, use this list or something similar on your shoot. Tick and cross off what has been captured, allowing your focus on the next image.
These tips are designed to help you capture the best images at the wedding. It starts by informing you that you need to know the couple.
The initial communication is important, as you will find out about their ideas and wishes. This day is all about them and what they want capturing.
Be assertive, get the shot without being over the top and in the way. You are not a guest, you are working, so focus on the day at hand.
Do as much research and scouting for light and settings as you need, so you are confident on the day. Read through a few more of our tips on how to ensure the day goes to plan. At least from your side.
Boudoir photography started as one of the incorporated styles inside wedding photography. Before the wedding, the bridge would gather her bridesmaids together to get ready for the big day.
This is a special time of female bonding. As the bride prepares, a photographer would capture her. These photographs are something intimate to be shared with the groom.
Boudoir photography is another part of the wedding photograph list if the bride wants it that is. So, cover your bases and immerse yourself in this world.
Capturing the small details is a very important area of wedding photography. The rings are the most important part of the ceremony. There are many ways photographers have captured these bands through the years.
Other details like close-ups of corsages, flowers and all the small parts that add flair to the wedding. Looking at the details of the clothing, for example, the shoes or even jewellery.
The small details add to the overall scene and are a nice way to break up the wider shots of the guests and the location.
Getting used to using natural light for portraits is a great benefit to your wedding photography. A lot of the images of the guests are photographed outside.
This is a great way to show the area, and something a little more natural than a room full of guests. Save those for the dance.
Natural light is great. It’s constant and adds a warm tone to the mood and image. People are happier so they photograph better. Prepare by scouting the locations beforehand and see where the light falls during that window of time.
Flicking through a wedding album, you will find that some of the images are black and white. Some images work better in black and white. The photographer might use this desaturation to break up the monotony of colour.
The black and white images help to cut distractions from unfavourable colours and show the viewer where to focus in the image. Textures and patterns are great to show off through this monotone.
This is one area that isn’t just specific to wedding photography, but all photography. Due to the faced paced and stressful nature, it would be easy to lose a card or accidentally format it while shooting.
That would be an absolute tragedy. Make sure you have enough cards to shoot the entire day with (plus extras just in case).
At the wedding, or when you get home, copy the files and back them up immediately. Make sure you have the correct files before you delete them for the next wedding.
Cloud storage s a great way to keep them secure, and you can set it up at the event for less hassle.
How To Pose Wedding Photography
What holds true when posing women does not follow when posing men. The keywords for how women want to look could be cute and pretty. This is what photographers look for when focusing on the women.
With men, they want to be seen as strong, tough, cool and tall. So how do we show these things?
Well, the lenses and the perspective of the photograph play a part. Big noses can be made smaller by using a larger focal length lens.
Balding heads benefit from a lower angle. The two things that should be focused on when photographing a man is the ‘V’ frame and jawline.
The ‘V’ frame comes down to broad shoulders and a small waist. The jawline should be angular and defined for ultimate manliness. These can be extenuated with clever uses of positioning and camera angles.
Posing women across all types of photography is very similar. Unless you feel like breaking rules and want to try something very outrageous and specific. When it comes to portraits of any kind, communication is key.
You need to build up the trust between you and the subject to make them feel comfortable. This is how you photograph great moods, expressions and the tone of the image.
Start with the easier photographs, and move towards the more difficult photographs as the shoot progresses.
Visual instructions are very important. The model might not understand photographic terms and might get agitated if she feels confused. Be clear, kind and understanding.
Posing couples as part of the wedding photography session is a great way to break up images of single portraits of the guests.
The bride and groom, the parents of the engaged or even the children together can have a powerful impact. They also help to keep the theme of togetherness which is what weddings are all about.
When it comes to photographing them, see how they fit together. Do you want to show love and tenderness? Then holding hands, holding each other or kissing are great examples to show that mood.
The children could be having fun or friends could be having a laugh together. Think of the atmosphere you want to show, which show differ from the other couple photographs.
The families as part of the wedding photography is going to be small groups of people. The bride, groom and their baby or children. The bride and her parents, then with her siblings or extended family.
The same goes for the groom. The rule of thumb here is immediate, close and rest of the relatives.
You will find that these family groups will gravitate together, and it is just a matter of keeping check of who you are photographing.
Kick people in and out of the photograph as necessary.
Group photography has a very specific model to follow. Shorter people at the bottom, taller at the top.
A triangle is something you want to aim for, where the tallest should be right in the middle, falling to the shortest on the side. This provides a nice shape where the viewer’s eyes follow the lines of people to the top and bounce around.
Something like this needs practise, patience, time and assertiveness. It is difficult to keep a group entertained for a few minutes to set up the shot. Be confident and be funny if you need to be, especially when you take the photograph.
Wedding Photography Business
Running your own wedding photography business can be very lucrative. It doesn’t have to be a business, even working as a freelance photographer can really be beneficial.
There is a lot of work involved, and you will find that there are certain things and people you will need.
A list of contacts that can help you, assistant, accountants and even photographic retouchers are possibilities.
Here are a few articles on what you may need to help get you started.
Wedding photography is stressful and fast-paced, but after a few, you will feel comfortable and sink into the role well.
There are many plus sides to being a wedding photographer, such as you are your own boss. You can turn away clients if you feel that you don’t share the same vision or ideas.
You will learn a great deal. How to photograph and work under pressure, how to organise yourself and becoming assertive in knowing what to look for.
Plus, you get to go to the most important day of people’s lives and revel in their happiness. Imagine their faces when you provide them with the images.
Insurance for you as a wedding photographer can really be beneficial. What if you lose money on a cancelled wedding due to weather? What about that lens that the drunk uncle accidentally damaged when dancing the funky chicken?
Situations like these are covered by insurance to make sure you can keep working and photographing.
The three types you need to know about are General Liability Insurance, Business Owner’s Policy and Errors and Omissions Insurance. You will find all the information for these in our article.
A contract is a great piece of legislation designed to protect you and the couple. It makes sure everyone is on the same page and nothing is lost in communication.
The contract should have the information of both parties, dates and times as applicable. It should have photographers fee, the schedule for payment and what is expected of both sides.
If a problem arises, then you can point out the discrepancies in the contract, and hire a lawyer if need be.
As a wedding photographer, you will want to promote yourself as much as possible. This means posting photographs regularly on social media such as facebook and twitter.
Wedding photography competitions might help you get exposure, no to mention great awards and gifts. These images you might also want to submit to a magazine or two. Even sell them on a stock photography website.
To be able to use the images of the couple and guests from the wedding, they need to fill out a model release form. This allows you to use their image without any payment or repercussions.
For weddings, this is permanent as there is no lifespan. you will be able to share at your heart’s content.
Without these, organisations might not let you share or sell without a model release form. The person might also ask you to take the images down, or in extreme circumstances, prosecute you.
Knowing how to price your wedding photography is tricky. If you charge too low, you miss out on your worth and value as a photographer.
The couple might also see this as a lack of confidence in yourself and therefore your work. Too high, and people could go elsewhere. Right?
This article suggests that your pricing is just a random number. It has nothing to do with your camera, education or experience. It all comes down to confidence. Confidence that you can take the best photographs for that value.
People will spend what their budget is as they feel they are getting the best photographer for their budget. Here, more is more.
A really creative way to photograph people at weddings could be something really creative such as a photo booth. Something like this is relatively easy to set up and will work wonders at the reception.
The guests will be able to photograph themselves in a more relaxed manner than having a photographer in their face. Plus, everyone loves photo booths.
This is something you can leave for people to use on their own, while you are still shooting. This setup can be made out of old equipment, such as an older DSLR and laptop.
An LCD screen might be handy so people can see themselves and aflash unit. You could even plug an instant printer there and charge people for the photographs. Creative and fun.
The busier you become as a wedding photographer, the more time you will need. This time will be spent organising yourself, booking, arranging, shooting and post-processing.
As you gain more experience, you will photograph less. Your photographs will naturally become better and better.
This will give you more time to edit and organise yourself. Photographers even edit the images on downtime at the weddings themselves.
Another way to complete all this work fast and efficiently is to have an assistant. They will help you photograph and capture the less important, but time-consuming tasks.
They could even be sat in a corner of the reception somewhere, working on the images. These could be sent to them via a wireless transmitter.
Post-processing an image is almost just as import as how you photograph it. There are many things you can do with programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, but you cant fix terrible images.
They are more for getting the best out of the images you took, and are happy with.
This is the area where you enhance the colours, you pull out the detail from shadows and sharpen areas you want the viewers focus to fall on. Keep it subtle and dont over do it.
All the photography is over and all your business cards handed out. You are still reveling in the happy mood on the way home. What’s next?
Well, this is the editing and post-processing stage, when you need to ‘cull’ the bad photographs from the good ones. Selecting, moving and trying to keep hold of your ideas and flow can be difficult. Especially under pressure.
What you might benefit from is having a workflow. A step-to-step guide for yourself on how to turn those images into something really beautiful.
It will save you time and hassle and will make sure you have done everything correctly and in order.
Lightroom is a great post-processing software. Not only does it house all the images you take, it helps separate or connect them as necessary.
Lightroom is wonderful at using keywords, folders and collections. This no-nonsense program lets you adjust one or many images at once.
The program will even help you organise images into a book/album format. This allows you can see how they will work together for the final product.
Have a look at our article for an in-depth guide for your wedding photography needs.
Adobe Lightroom presets are a great way to edit your photographs fast. You upload them to your Lightroom preset folder, and they are free to use them as you wish. They adjust your image at the click of a button.
Exposure values, shadows and highlights are a few modifications that could change due to the preset. Others are more extensive, changing the tone and colours of an image to emanate a certain atmosphere.
Here are a few free presets for you to work with to get more from your images. If you need some help installing these presets, see our article here.
Wedding photography follows weddings in the way that trends set the standard. What is popular this year in colours, destinations and styles will be different next year.
The same goes for the photographers and the style of photographs that the couples want.
These could be simply desaturating the image. Turning the colour into black and white, or even sepia. Here is an article pointing out some of the trends popular with wedding photographers.
Like them or not, this is how some images have been processed for use in the real world.
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