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Wedding photography tutorial

How to shoot wedding

Behind the scenes of wedding photography

 

Today I will share with you some of my experience and teach you how to shoot a wedding

I like to do weddings a lot. It gives me a happy feeling knowing that I made a bit of difference and brought value in someone else’s life. I know the value increases in time and in 20 years they will look back and enjoy my pictures. Also I live for the people’s reaction of surprise, once they see their shots.

Challenge

Weddings are a good challenge as the shooting conditions are changing very fast. One second you shoot the bride getting ready in a room, and suddenly you need to move outside as the car has arrived and need to change the camera settings and the lenses. One moment you are in a church, and the next second you run after the couple outside, from low light to full sun within seconds. You need to be ready to change camera settings without thinking , otherwise you will miss the shot.

Weddings also are long days for the photographer. You are the only one person starting to work at the beginning and finishes at last.You are with the couple all day, not just one part, like any other wedding suppliers. The whole day revolves around you and you are the only person, sober!!! and making sure everything goes well. That is why I like to get involved and take action when necessary. If you wait for things to happen ,they won’t. Do not expect the couple to move people around for you to photograph them! as they are confused and overwhelmed what is happening to them already. You need to step up and make things happen, otherwise you will never get the shots you want.

Wedding Photography equipment

Let’s talk about equipment for a second

I am shooting with 2 cameras. I need to flexibility to move from one camera to another on the spot. I carry 2 camera 5d Mark 2, one with a wide lens, 24-70 mm 2.8.This is the main workhorse and I take 80 % of the pictures with it. Very good quality glass, very sharp.My second camera on my shoulder is the 70-200 mm 2.8. I need that for the distance, for the candid shots, close up portraits and for the nice blur.I use that mostly outside, during an outdoor ceremony, or the location shoot. I can move from on side to another without disturbing the ceremony, without being present – as a I am big guy difficult to miss.If indoors I change the second camera with the 50mm 1.4 for the low light conditions and the quality of the prime lens.For the ring shots and special angles portraits I use the macro 100mm 2.8.The depth of field is that narrow it is actually a challenge to get the shot. The back of the wedding ring with the inscriptions is in focus and the front is very blurry
I like to use this one also for few close ups, for the bride getting make up, focus on the eyes, and other small details, such as jewelry shots, earrings, details on the dress.

Wedding photography tips

The wedding day has 4 main parts:

  1. preparation
  2. ceremony
  3. location session
  4. reception

Bride and groom preparation photos

I usually start with the groom preparation and the bride. This is basically shooting inside the house indoors and mainly in low light conditions. I use the 24-70 lens for the wide aperture, and the 50 mm.
I am always looking for new angles to shoot, and try to get next the window to have the light at the back. Otherwise it is difficult. I also use the 50 mm for the very wide aperture. If it is to dark, I use the bounce flash off the ceiling to help, but I am trying to avoid it as much as possible.There is a list of shots you can get but it time you will get used to the shots you need to look for, such as bride getting ready, details of the dress, portraits of the participants, bride with the mother, bride next to the window, and many others.I have prepared a list of shots for anyone to download and placed the link below.
This list is just a guide, as you will never be able to get all of them all the time.
With bride or groom the shooting conditions are similar. I always invite the groom for few action shots with the boys outside and that always gives them a reason to laugh.
They will walk, jump, shout as they are already in the mood.
After the preparation, the cars are arriving and everyone goes to church. Few shots with the car, wide angles and tele photo are we are good to go.

Wedding ceremony photography

The ceremony in the church is a difficult task, mainly that most of the churches are poorly lit. Ceiling are very high making the bounce flash useless.
Since I never shoot with the flash towards the subject, which is a no-no for a professional photographer in my opinion, the only thing left to do is bum up the ISO.
This is where the quality of the camera and the lens shows. Shooting high ISO is a 2 way street. If it is above 800, I think the picture is to grainy and I don’t like it.
I shoot maximum 800 , mostly between 400 and 640 ad my cameras are doing a very good job. Also the wide aperture prime lenses come in play.

The 50 mm 1.4 is very good, the 24-70 mm 2.8 is the minimum. A 50 mm or 85 mm 1.2 will be the best choices for this low light.
In terms of the shots, I am trying to move a lot again,back and forth,left and right, as much as the space allows and still be discreet without disturbing the ceremony
Once the ceremony is finished, the couples are greeted by family and friends and they a e bit of time to mingle. This is a good time for to 70-200 for the candid shots from as many angles as possible.
Now there is time for the group shot and as a photographer you need to step up to the task to organise people into a group.

It takes a good 10 minutes to do so and it is virtually impossible to get everyone perfect in the shot.
Get their attention from a higher spot if possible, on a bench, or a chair and ask them to focus on your camera. Taking few shots is safer than only one and also I always to ask them to give me a loud “hey”. This way they can have something to lough about and the picture gets better.
Obviously for this shot you need the widest lens you can afford A 16-35mm will do the job just fine
I shoot time priority at least 1/125 to be able to freeze the action.

Location photo session

The best moment of the day, from my perspective as a photographer is the location shoot. In between the ceremony and reception couples choose to go with me to a park, or on the beach, or wherever there we can find a nice landscape or background to have few artistic wedding photos done.
I like usually, greenery, water and sandstone. I am always looking for stairs, the older , the better.
I usually work with bride and groom and ask them to pose for me, run , play hug kiss and anything that can be done in order to get some nice shots.

Wedding photography tips and tricks

– Use the wide lens for landscape type of portrait where bride and groom are little in the picture, usually following the rule of thirds

– Use textured backgrounds such as empty wall, or green screen

– Use a hedge for the couple to show depth of field. Always spectacular and always with a wow reaction

– Create a sense of perspective shooting along footpaths

– Get the bride and groom to play and try to have fun. The more fun they have , the better picture you are going to get

– Have a range of poses in your mind, or on a piece of paper that you want to do. You will build up reflexes in time

– Change point of perspective by laying on the ground and shoot up, or climbing on a rock and shoot down

– Ask them to make faces, and act childish. They are in the mood for fun and they will do it

For the location shoot I have one camera with a wide lens and the other camera with a telephoto.

Shooting constantly will help you have enough photos to choose from, and increasing the chances to get the fantastic shots you are after.I shoot time aperture priority with 1/125 time set and let the camera choose the aperture. If it is getting dark, I bump up the ISO to 400 and above to make sure I still get the shot for a decent short time exposure

Wedding reception photos

The reception photos are pretty standard. There is always too dark for any camera to be used and that is why a flash is an absolute must.Since the conditions in the reception do not vary too much, I set my camera on manual, with the flash directed to the ceiling, and the bounce card lifted for the flash fill.
The images will be the same standard group shots and table shots. Also few close ups with the cake, cutlery and whatever arrangements can be photographed. This is the easiest from the lot as I do not have to change the settings any more.
Once I get my exposure right with 1/125 of a second, ISO 400 or close, and varying the aperture only depending on the ceiling height,I shoot all night long with flash on manual settings, to make sure I get the same amount of light. I usually set the flash on manual with 50%, and use also an additional battery pack to make sure it lasts for 4 hours and the Flash uses a lot of power .One trick I like to use is to do a long exposure zoom shot with a second curtain flash sync.What that means is I shoot images in motion, when there is dancing, with an long exposure like 1/4th of a second.I zoom in the same time and the exposure is showing the background and the light mood as there is plus traces of the movement. At the end of the exposure the flash triggers freezing only one moment creating this effect of a clear picture in the moment with movement traces. I am pretty happy with it

 Wedding photography workflow – Post production

Post production and the photo delivery will be part to a different video where I am going to talk about the digital workflow and what happens form the moment I get home, download the pictures on the computer, select, edit and process them to the final product that the client receives
I have found my methods through trial and error and they can be used or changed depending on each individual personality , style and level of equipment.
They are working for me as a system and I do not have to think about them any more as I have done so many weddings, it has all become a reflex.
I hope you enjoyed my video so far and please see the others as I am sharing my experience without any restraints

Till next time, I wish you happy shooting
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About Christian Tudor

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