Capturing Magical Wedding Moment: Tips on equipment and techniques

Having an idea of what you have to do, where you need to be, and when you need to be there, is just the first part of capturing stunning wedding photos—a more important factor is the gear you will need to capture it. Below is a list of essential equipment you will need:

 

Camera

Use a camera that will allow you to take high quality photos in any lighting condition. Of course the lighting condition will depend on the location—is it an indoor or an outdoor wedding? At the end of the day, the many brands and types of camera each has its own strength and weakness. What’s important, whether it can handle the tough and varied lighting conditions of the location and complements your style.

While we’re on the topic of cameras, a second camera body (and possibly even a third), as back-up, is ideal. In particular, if you shoot only prime lenses, having two cameras with you during a wedding will give you much greater flexibility.

It’s also a good idea to use a camera harness, so you can switch between cameras quickly.

Lens

Variety is important for a great wedding album, so you should choose a range of lenses that will allow you to cover the range from landscape shots to close-up portraits.

When you’re making your lens selection, bear in mind that couples want natural-looking photos that capture the raw emotions on their special day, and you can nail that with a wide or ultra-wide angle lens. These type of lenses have a couple of characteristics that will really give your photos a candid feel.

Firstly, using a wide angle or ultra-wide angle lens will let you capture the context of a shot. A portrait of a bride laughing can be beautiful, but a wide shot which shows the bride laughing at her dog who has just skidded across the floor will make her laugh all over again.

Secondly, a wide angle shot places the viewer “in” the shot, amongst the action. One caveat to this is that a wide angle shot taken of a subject across a room runs the risk of minimizing your subject—and the wider you go, the more pronounced this will be. You need to be gutsy and get close to the action.

 A lens around the 25-35mm mark is a staple for a lot of wedding photographers because it allows capturing a whole scene or venue in a single frame. Incidentally, if you have an ultra-wide lens, something in the 12-24mm range (depending on the size of your sensor), then you can start getting some really creative shots. Ultra-wide lenses will cause some distortion to the image, but work it in your favor by getting close to your subject and putting the viewer right in the middle of the action.

Accessories

Add plenty of spare batteries and chargers to your camera bag. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, a few spare batteries should suffice. For mirror less shooters though—stock up. Have at least one battery for every two hours that your shooting, plus a few more. 

If you will have access to power during the reception, you can recharge during the night, but it’s better to cover yourself with enough battery power for the entire wedding just in case.

 You will also need core and back-up memory cards. As a rough guide, having a total of 100GB storage between all of your cameras and spares should be more than enough for the most trigger-happy photographers. 

A wedding day can take you from unflattering bedroom lights during the preparation to an outdoor ceremony in full sunlight to a poorly-lit reception, so when it comes to lighting, at least one off-camera flash with spare batteries will be helpful if lighting gets low, especially at the reception. Light shapers, such as a reflector, sunlight diffuser and flash diffuser, will also help get the best shots in every situation.

now that you’ve geared up let’s get all hands on deck:

 

Family Portraits are a mammoth task

It’s hard to corral a big group of people into a photo, and it’s even harder when it’s your crazy family. The timing isn’t great either. If you do them before the ceremony you are going to want to get it over with as soon as possible so you can get to your damn wedding already. If you do them during cocktail hour, you’re going to wish you were at cocktail hour. 

But trust me when I say they matter. Because while you hired your photographer for their rad artistic vision, your parents are probably only going to frame a few photos from your wedding, and my hunch is that it’s not going to be the artsy ones of you walking through sunset. 

So give yourself permission to be a little bit grumpy during family portraits (They suck! And that’s okay), and know that they’ll be over soon enough, and that they’re worth it in the end. If that doesn’t cut it, tuck a flask into your purse and sip champagne during the breaks. (

Editor’s note: the above photo being the rare exception. I think they were possibly even having fun.)

Know the guests you are capturing

Most photographers will try really hard to get to know your family during your wedding, but unless someone is in your family portraits, or did a reading or gave a toast, we don’t know your Great Aunt Mille who helped raised you from your grandmother you never talk to, from your third grade teacher who your mom made you invite.

 So if it’s really important that someone you love makes it into the final delivery of images, make sure to let your photographer know. Include the person on a shot list if you have one, and have someone at the wedding point the VIPs out to your photographer. And of course, you can always grab your photographer and say, “Hey, can you take a photo of Aunt Millie and me?!” In which case, the answer is always yes. Because Aunt Millie seems really cool and I like her sequined jacket.

Backdrops over details. 

If photography is one of your top priorities and you have to choose, backdrops give you more bang for your buck than details (at least when it comes to photos). The wedding industry (and blogs, particularly) have done a good job of convincing couples that all you’ll see at a wedding is the details. And while details definitely can add to the overall feel of the event (if you decide to care about them), big-ticket items get a lot more play in your photos. 

So if you have to choose between really cool details, and, say, a killer ceremony backdrop, that ceremony backdrop will get way more airtime in your wedding photos than napkin rings or programs. This is particularly true when it comes to the ceremony. Depending on the space, there aren’t a whole lot of places your photographer can go during the ceremony, so a backdrop ends up doing a lot of the work of making your pictures interesting. 

And if you can’t seem to capture perfect backdrop a hireling a professional clipping path service provider can solve that.

Varity lights are magical add on

If you’re getting married in a simple space, or have an outdoor nighttime reception, or if your decor budget just isn’t huge, but you really care about photography, cafe lights (also known as globe lights or market lights) are one of the best wedding-related investments you can make.

 (Bonus: they’re still pretty, even after the wedding. Garden parties for everyone!) Cafe lights aren’t crazy expensive— A few strands can go a really long way toward making your pictures look amazing, partly because they add visual interest to your photos, but also because with enough of them, you can create just enough of a warm glow to not need flash.

It’s not that hair and makeup is particularly time consuming (though it can be), it’s just that between your sister asking you four times which pair of shoes you prefer and your mom double checking how you like your bouquet and then you having to ask your makeup artist to tone down the eye shadow a bit, lots of little interruptions can add up to being half an hour or an hour behind schedule. Plan ahead, and build in an hour of buffer time into your schedule. The absolute worst thing that happens is you end up finishing early and get to enjoy some quiet time with your best friends.

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About Christian Tudor

professional photographer, main editor at Academy of Photography and owner and principal photographer of Tudor Photography