13 Essential Tips For The Family Wedding Photographer
If you're looking for a wedding photographer on a budget and thinking about handing the job over to a friend or relative with a DSLR camera, send them a link to this page.
As a photography enthusiast they may think they are up to the job but, no matter how good they think they are with a camera, if they haven't thought the event through, it quite easily could be a day, not to remember. I have seen some terrible attempts at wedding photography while surfing around the internet, with some equally shocking attempts at rectifying it with photoshop.
Styles Of Wedding Photography
There are several different styles of wedding photography you can take, such as traditional, reportage, contemporary and artistic. Some photographers do a good job at the more complicated styles like contemporary and artistic, and some can just pull off the whole plethora of styles.
Mathew Quake for instance, who if you skip through his portfolio displays some fantastic examples of reportage wedding photography. And Paul Johnson who creates the artistic side of wedding photography faultlessly.
One thing you have to keep in mind when viewing this beautiful photography, is that the venues are also beautiful, and very much add to the whole photo. Try getting a result like that on a gray wet day at Lewisham Registry Office! Now there's a challenge!
So if you are about to embark on becoming a wedding photographer or doing it for a relative, here are some tips to help you on your way.
A First Attempt At Wedding Photography
My first attempt at wedding photography was a nervous one, understandably, after all i was about to photographically record a very important day in quite a few peoples lives!
I was asked by my sister to photograph her wedding, which was pretty cool of her, and i was very enthusiastic about it. She didn't seem to fussed about the style of photography, just as long as it was good. So to be on the safe side i went for traditional, with a little contemporary reportage in mind. For the photography i would use a Canon 50D DSLR and a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM.
A good few months up to the wedding I searched the internet for inspiration from other wedding photographers and memorised the different poses and styles i wanted to incorporate into my photography.
But all that soon went out the window, as i got caught out by the little things which just hadn't crossed my mind. So i will replay the day and point out those little things, which if i had thought about before hand, would have made life, as the family photographer, a bit easier.
- Before the day of the wedding, have a good chat to the wedding couple about the photographic day ahead.
I got off to a good start on the day of the wedding. I got up nice and early, and from the hotel, and on the way to my sisters, i stopped off at the registry office to have a quick scout around for possible places to take the group photos. It was an old building surrounded by grounds which offered several photographic backdrops. The main contender for this though was a huge tree which i thought would be a good place for the big group photo, and maybe something contemporary with the wedding couple.
- Where possible have a look around the wedding location for places to take the photography.
The first thing to catch me off guard was when we all arrived together at the registry office. After going through the proceedings the registrar, on noticing my camera and flash, told me there was no flash photography allowed during the ceremony. I hadn't thought of that, but it was ok as i could set the ISO a bit higher and just stomach the slight graininess of the images. However i did take it that there was to be no flash at all inside the registry office, which was not correct. Just during the ceremony.
- Always check where and when you can use flash photography. And pay attention to what's said.
So i adjusted the camera settings for indoors and got to work. I had trouble finding an angle to take the photo's of the ceremony from, and other than joining the registrar on the other side of the table, my options were a bit limited. I didn't want to be moving around too much, so i found the best angle i could and stuck with it. The photo's were ok though and with a little work in Adobe Lightroom, all was good.
- You're the photographer, really, its ok to move around a little bit. (Im just too polite)
Although working with the JPEG in Lightroom was ok, if i had used the RAW and JPEG setting on my camera, the information inside the RAW file, would have given me more control over the final images.
- Make sure you have good photo editing software.
- Learn how to work with RAW images.
After the ceremony we all went outside and waited for the bride and groom to come out from the reception office, everything moved along quite quickly as it was a brisk and windy day, and the wedding party wanted to get back inside, so I took the photos of the bride and groom along with the best man and the couples parents, but in the pace of the event i had forgot to adjust the camera settings for my new surroundings.
It was too late by the time i had realized, and although i had taken the first of the outside photos with a high ISO, i had at least adjusted the exposure. As a result the photo's appeared a little washed out, but again with some adjustments in Lightroom i managed to get a good result.
- Remember to check your camera settings when shooting in manual and your environment changes.
My kit! I had a couple of lenses, a bag and a tripod, and as i directed the party for the photography we moved about a bit. "Hang on! Wheres my bag gone? Oh no, i left the tripod over there, wait a minute i'll just go and get it." See where i'm going. If its a relatives wedding then commandeer a family member to act as an assistant, or take an assistant with you. This would have helped alot and enabled me to concentrate better on the photography.
- Only take the photography equipment you need.
- Have an assistant or commandeer a family member.
Another unforeseen problem i had was getting everyone to look in my direction. YOU are the photographer, but there are lots of family members and friends with their DSLR's and compacts all vying for the attention of the wedding couple. So you must be assertive, but not pushy, because if you're not going to be able to direct the wedding party, then you're in trouble.
- You are the photographer, direct the party.
- Let your personality shine through.
I didn't have this problem (i took along a bullwhip! Just kidding), however you can't always control the eyeballs of the wedding guests and i admit i swapped some faces in photoshop, which was unnoticeable in the finished photos, but it is seriously time consuming. So you might want to talk this over with your wedding couple. It is however a good idea to set the camera to continuous shoot mode (burst mode).
The big group photograph went well, but i did overlook the shadow that was cast by the tree. At the time it did not appear to be a problem until i actually got the images on to the computer, when i then realized that half of the group was in the shade while the other half were in the sunlight. Not to much of a problem, but again more time spent in Lightroom. If i had just moved them all back a bit and around to their right, it would have been spot on. Also as a family member (and an important one at that) i had to be in this photograph, another good reason to have an assistant. I was lucky though as the best mans wife was quite happy to press the shutter release.
- Watch out for those shadows.
So i got them all to behave and pose the way i wanted for the group photo's and in the process i do believe i created a new wedding pose called "leave the bride and groom where they are, and just split the families from the edges"
Yep, i didn't arrange the bride and groom to the centre of the photo, and it was a good job my sister was wearing white as they might have blended in with everyone else, but hey, the photographs came out just fine, and when i mentioned this to her at a later date, she hadn't even noticed. Thanks God!
- Have a clear plan as to how you want to arrange the bride, groom and wedding guests.
At the reception party things got a bit easier as we were all located inside a large function room. And i was able to relax a bit. The ambience and lighting of the room made it easier to take the photographs. Catching my sisters husband making his speech and telling an awful mother in law joke made for a great picture.
However while i was over by the the wedding cake (picking at the marzipan, not really!), my sister asked me to take photos of her and the groom cutting the cake. I obliged, but neither of us thought "hang on, cake cutting is part of the ceremony", but we got on with it anyway. Not that it didn't go unnoticed by my lovely niece giving us a bit of scowling in the background!
Afterwards i carried on taking pictures throughout the night using my 50mm f1/4 lens which is good in low light, and by which time i had just become a drunk man with a camera. But then it was my sisters wedding!
So there you go. Bear these things in mind and above all enjoy it, after all that is why you have a DSLR camera.