I remember when we were just getting started with weddings that I knew I wanted to get better, but I didn’t know what to do to improve our images. These are the things that I wish I had known when I started searching the internet for wedding photography suggestions. Check out these wedding photography tips that you can master to produce amazing images yourself.
So you probably already see the need to have a flash to fill in shadows and make sure you can see detail in faces, and here’s the next step. In photography, lighting does more than just provide illumination. Lighting can add dimension and interest. Unfortunately, a straight on flash isn’t going to add any depth to the picture. In fact, a straight on flash will actually flatten features giving you a bland image.
For an easy fix, you can bounce your on camera flash off a wall. By changing the direction of the light hitting your subject, you get rid of the flattening effect, and if done right, you can add a sense of depth to your images. Bounce off the cieling for a natural feel, or bounce off walls for a cool side light.
Even bouncing your on-camera flash has its limitations, though, and you’ll soon find yourself wanting more control. Adding additional off-camera strobes allows you to have lights coming in from multiple sources, and each light has a different purpose. Lighting is said to be one of the most creative parts of photography, and the sky is the limit with what you can do once you’re dealing with multiple light sources.
Shallow depth of field
If you want a quick way to set yourself apart from photographers who use point and shoot cameras, using a shallow depth of field is the quickest way to do it. Not only does a shallow depth of field look really cool, it also gives a sense of what’s important in the image based on what’s in focus. The out-of-focus parts of the picture blend together, and our eyes naturally move right to the part of the image that’s in focus.
There are 3 basic techniques to achieve a shallow depth of field. The first place to start is by lowering your aperture value down to a low number. Some lenses may only allow you to as low as 5.6, while others allow you to go to 4.0, 2.8, or even lower. The lower the number is, the more blurred out the background will be. The second thing to consider when trying to get a shallow depth of field is to extend your lens as much as you can. When you zoom, you get more blurred out background. You can also move in closer to the object you’re focusing on, which will also blur the background.
I can hear some of you right now – “I can do this same thing in Photoshop”. Please, if you’re wanting to look professional at all, don’t attempt this in Photoshop. People can usually spot digital blur pretty easily, and it makes you look like you’re an amateur. Do yourself a favor and blur out the background in your camera before the image ever gets to Photoshop.
Tell the story
Every wedding is different, and everyone’s wedding day has different stories playing out. Capturing little pieces of those stories is what makes your journalistic images charged with emotion. These are the moments that people are looking to capture by hiring a professional photographer. Don’t let them down because it is true that those moments can’t ever be brought back again.
Not only is it important to watch for emotion as it’s happening, the longer you shoot, you’ll start to look for certain times when emotion usually surfaces. As dad is just about to walk his daughter down the aisle, just before the doors open, there’s frequently a look from the bride to her dad, or a whisper, or a tear. Emotions come out differently for different people, so watch for it, and be sure to capture the emotion as it’s displayed.
Right after the bride and groom are announced for the first time and they have their first chance to look at each other, it’s often a great time to get some fantastic kissing shots. Even a shy couple may forget everything else going on around them and get caught up into the moment with each other.
The first dances have their share of tears and smiles too. You can usually count on the beginning of the song and the end of the song for some priceless moments. These are just a few of the times when emotions bubble over. The more you pay attention at weddings you shoot, the more you’ll find other must-capture moments yourself.
Shoot from interesting angles
Don’t you get bored of looking at pictures from the same perspective all the time? So do the bride and groom. Shoot in different locations and with different points of view, and you’ll be doing everyone a big favor by giving them more than the same old stuff to look at.
Not every “creative” angle that you think up is a brilliant idea. Some angles put on additional weight, and I can guarantee that even the most amazing image will never be cherished by a bride if it adds extra pounds. Experiment with different shooting locations, but when you’re going through your pictures, be honest enough with yourself about how the image turned out, and be willing to not include an image that doesn’t flatter the subject.
Know your camera
It’s an important skill to be able to “see” the shot before you click the shutter, but if you don’t know your gear, you may be frustrated by your inability to produce in your camera what you see in your mind. To make matters even worse, if you spend a lot of time trying to get a certain image, you can bet that you’ll have people asking about that image if it doesn’t make the cut. A wedding is a hard place to practice a new skill.
The best place to learn your gear is really before you need to shoot with it. Check out Youtube and other sites for tutorials on how to use your camera. If possible, pick the brain of other professionals. Read books. Then experiment at home and practice in a non-stressful environment.
Shoot with the final image in mind
Since the introduction of professional digital cameras and image editing software, there’s no longer an excuse for pictures that have not been retouched. This also opens new doors to allowing creative shooting options. What shows up on the back of your digital camera is not how the image has to look after you’ve edited it. It’s a good idea to decide in advance what kind of major changes you want to an image before shooting it.
Your camera probably won’t shoot a panoramic, but it takes only a simple crop in Photoshop to turn a normal image into a panorama. Is the lighting setting the wrong feel for the mood you’re going for in your image? It’s not cheating to adjust the color levels. Knowing the abilities and limitations of your image editing software should help you in choosing which shots to take, and which ones won’t work even with powerful editing software.
Get inspiration before the wedding
Like most artists, you probably have days when you can feel your creativity ready to move into action and days when you can’t think of a new pose to save your life. Some of the creativity triggers are out of our control, but there are plenty of things we can do to introduce a creative spark.
Have you noticed when you’re the most pumped up to take amazing pictures? For me, it’s right after I’ve listened to the best photographers at a photographer’s convention. Why would that be? Because their work and the presentation of their work inspires me. Give yourself a chance to be inspired before the wedding. We have a list of photographer websites that we regularly visit before shooting a wedding. Not only does this give us posing ideas, it usually gets us excited about doing something truly out of this world for the wedding pictures. Try it. I think it will work for you too.
What kinds of things do you do to get amazing images? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!