Wedding Photography Guide for Amateurs provides information for amateur photographers interested in taking pictures at a wedding. Wedding photographers need to be equipped the knowledge and know how to use their cameras to compose and expose pictures properly, but they also have a masterful understand of how to arranage groups of people for appealing on the spot portrait photography.
A foot stool - Shoot from below or above eye level, never at eye level gray card wide zoom
Every picture taken at the wedding should have the following considerations. Different angles, half body, full body, 3/4 body, tilt camera, alter composition, vertical shots, and horizontal shots. Good backdrops for outdoor pictures: Greens (grass and trees are always good), arches, water, beach, trees, in a doorway, brick building, pathways, roads, long rows of columns, steps, clock towers, white wedding chairs, fountains. Remember to lay the end of the bride's dress out and use bokeh effects.
Equipment will vary from photographer to photographer, however in general one should carry a SLR with a hot shoe mounted flash unit. Lenses to consider are in the range from 17mm to 70mm. In certain cases a longer lens may come in handy for shots during the cermony where the photogrpaher is limited in mobility.
Lighting, specifically flash photography is an art one needs to master for good wedding photography. Depending on the time of day optimal lighting conditions may or may not exist. The day of the wedding will deliver a variety of enivoronments.
Depending the hours of the day this will vary in difficulty. The best time for take pictures is either sunrise of sunset, but this will not always coinicide with the time you will be taking pictures at the wedding. The best technique to to situate people facing the setting sun. This will provide good light. In general you should use fill flash to avoid shadows in your subject's faces.
Shots inside a church, the banquet room, dressing rooms will require flash or lenses with low f values.
Bride Preparation Shots
These shots should be a mixed variety of solo bride shots getting ready and shots of her bridesmaids helping her get ready by doing things for her. In many situations the photographer will ask a bridemaid to help her do something the bride might otherwise not need help with.
- Putting on a necklace
- Looking out a window
- Putting on the veil
- Putting on an earing
- Zipping her dress
- Sitting on the couch
- Fastening her shoe
- Shot of shoes without bride
- Shot of dress hanging or laying on something without bride
- Leaning head over a chair
- Looking in a mirror. Either straight on or from an angle.
Groom Preparation Shots
Guys don't typcially need help getting ready, however the photographer can get a few shots with someone helping him doing a few things.
- Best man adjusting tie
- Helping to put on his cufflinks
- Putting on boutonniere
- Side picture of his boutonniere, part of his neck and shoulder.
These shots are always limited to the freedom the photographer is given during the ceremony. Some churches will not allow flashes to go off, will limit the distance to the couple, or will simply disallow any shots during the cermony. Due to the quick nature of the event photographers are limited by the shots and angles they can capture. For example, it is hard to get a shot of the couple walking up the aisle from both in front and behind. Many photogrpahers might request to reenact ceremony events.
- Shot of the groomsmen lined up from behind or side view
- Shot of the bridesmaids lined up holding the bouquets
- A wide angle shot of the churh or location of the ceremony, possibly elevated, during the ceremony.
- Looking down the aisle from the back of the ceremony
- Looking down the aisle as they walk up
- The couple holding hands
- The couple looking at each other
- Removing of the veil
- The kiss
Bride Solo Shots
- Standing straight holding bouquet with both hands in front of her.
- Standing straight but slightly looking to the side smiling.
- Standing perpendicular to the camera. Either holding bouquet with both hands in front, or arm bent at 90 degrees, looking at camera.
- Sitting holding bouquet in lap. From elevated position and/or looking from the side into the camera
- Standing diagonal, looking to the camera from elevated position
Groom Solo Shots
- Standing straight with both hands in pockets and jacket open
- Standing straight with one hand in pocket, other hand down the side of body and jacket closed.
- Standing straight looking to the side.
- Upper part of body and bottom half of face. Prompt smile, look slightly down.
Facing each other
Placement of limbs can vary here. Typically his hands go around her waist. Her bouquet should always be in her hand and part of the picture; usually held at a 90 degree angle on in the out hand. One of his hands can join hers holding the bouquet. In close shots she can hold the bouquet high so it can get in the shot. Brides other hand can be at his waist, under his arm reaching up his shoulder, around his neck. Holding hands is another option. Either close and high or far and away from each other. In some cases both sets of hands can be down.
- Looking at each other smiling
- Both looking at the camera
- Groom looking at bride, bride looking at the camera. Or the other way around.
- Groom looking straight, bride looking into the camera. Or the other way around.
- Veil over both heads; nose to nose smiling
- Him picking her up, she throws legs back with her arms around his neck.
- Kissing her hand
- Dipping her like dancing. Slight or all the way. Get close view.
Groom behind bride
In this positioning the grooms hands are typically placed around the waist of the bride.
- Both perpendicular to the camera, her facing, him kissing cheek.
- Both perpendicular to the camera, both facing.
- Groom shifts to one side to be in the shot from a frontal view.
- Groom directly behind, her hands on his.
- Bride and groom lean forward, groom mostly covered.
- Bride sitting on grooms lap with their hands joined. Can be totally seated or leaning.
- Leaning on an object
Side by side
The couples inner shoulders typically point towards each other. His inner hand is around her waist and his other hand is down at his side or on her stomach. Her inner hand is around his waist and the bouquet is in her other hand.
- Inner shoulders towards each other
- Holding hands side by side. Facing forward or walking away. Either looking at each other or straight.
- Holding hands shot from the side.
- Sitting down holding hands.
These shots rely on different angles, elevated shots, and/or the use of depth of field.
- Focus bouquet being held by the bride and blur the couple kissing in the background.
- Very close shot from the side of him kissing her hand
- Blur a tree branch foreground with them in focus in the background.
- Put them next to a tree whose vertical stature flows with their bodies.
- Try to get a sitting sun (orange colors) in the background. Make sure to use flash to expose both properly.
- Illuminate faces in a closeup with setting sun light.
Ring shots are fairly standard and are typcially taken with the couples hands on bouquet. The brides hand is placed atop the grooms. Both hands can be aligned in the same direction or they can be perpendicular. The best shots are taken with sufficient outdoor lighting. The couple can also extend their hands and have the backdrop of the picture be her white dress, his black suit, or both. Typcially his hand will be striaght and she will cross his hand displaying her ring.
Another choice for wedding ring pictures is an reenactment of the cermony with the couple placing the ring on their counterpart's finger. The best shots will be from a side view.
A more creative approach is with the couple extending their interlocked firsts and focus their rings with them blurred in the background.