To be a wedding photographer you need to be able to consistently take good wedding photos. You need to be able to nail everything from the first kiss to the newlywed couple’s sendoff in a way that delights your clients.
In this article, I will share tips I’ve developed over the years that can help you achieve a maximum “hit” rate in your wedding photography.
What makes a good wedding photo?
The first thing you should ask is “What makes a great wedding photo?” The answer to a question asked by a bride might differ from that of a photographer. Both answers are probably worth considering.
As photographers, composition is a major concern. Exposure and contrast are also important. If you ask a Bride, they’d probably rather have the perfect moments captured and photos that remind them how they felt. So are good wedding photos about being technically perfect or about having your clients love them?
Both. This article will discuss how to take great wedding photos on both technical and personal levels. Let’s get into how.
Be in the Moment and Look for Moments
If you want to consistently take good wedding photos you need to be present. Be in the moment and look for moments. Notice how your Bride is feeling, immerse yourself in her emotions, and use that to guide your photography.
Some of the best wedding photos capture an important moment in time and tell a story about what is happening. Many of these moments are easily predicted, such as when a bride walks down her aisle. Although you can never predict whether someone will laugh, cry, or smile on your wedding day you can be present and see the moments when you make memories.
Then, you can be in position to capture those memories and immortalize them in a photograph. To capture the essence of the moment, you need to immerse yourself. You’ll waste your time chasing the thought that “oh man, that would make a great photograph .”
Focus on the People
If love and hate people, product photography might be a better option than wedding photography. The hardest part about wedding photography is the people and the best part about wedding photography is the people. Serving your clients well will make you a better photographer.
By focusing your attention on people, you’ll be able to capture images that will make their day. You will do everything in your power to make sure they are happy. That will result in great photos even if you’re just getting started.
I remember my very first weddings as a friend when I was starting out in wedding photography. Even though I have a lot more experience now and people pay a lot more than my friends did back then, I still love some of those photos because I worked really hard to tell an important story for some incredible people which made for great photos.
We will discuss technical skills next, because they are important. But the reality is that a technically imperfect photo can still be a priceless possession for your couple. Remember that the best photo is one that you and your spouse love.
Start Simple & Build Your Technical Skill
The best way to take consistently good photographs is to use what you already know. When in doubt, return to the basics. Remember, we’re not talking about taking more creative photos at the moment (maybe in a future article), we’re talking about how to take good photos consistently.
Creative photos will require that you push the boundaries and take risks. You shouldn’t be afraid to take great photos. I’m not encouraging laziness but chances are if you’re a wedding photographer you have some basic photography skills that you can rely on to take good photos.
So start small. Focus on properly exposing your photos, focus on clean composition, and focus on making sure your subject is sharp. A sharp, properly exposed photograph with clean composition will make a great wedding photo.
Once you are able to ensure your subject is sharp, you may be able to use light to enhance your image or make it more professional. Or you might learn off-camera flash instead of relying solely on bounce flash. You can start with the basics, such as using proper settings on your camera, to take good pictures. Then, challenge yourself to improve them.
Understanding light is one of the best things that you can do to improve your photography. Light is an essential part of photography and will take your photos from amateur to professional just by turning around.
Last week, I went to a place where people wanted me to take pictures in front of bright views while they were under shade structures. I took the picture they wanted and then I walked to the other side of them and had them turn around to take one more. One of these photos would have meant dark faces against a well-exposed background, or properly exposed faces against a blurred background. Meanwhile, the other photo had the people covered in a beautiful soft light that made them look beautiful.
You can do a lot to improve your photography just by understanding light. You can do even more by learning how to add and manipulate light to a scene. Learning light will level up your photography skills and luckily there’s always more to learn.
Take and Deliver the Right Photos
As you’ve probably deduced by now, taking good wedding photos is partly about taking and delivering the right photos. You must choose photos you love to make sure your wedding photos are loved by your spouse.
I previously wrote an article on what photos should be taken on a wedding day. You don’t have to worry about capturing all the shots. This is more about identifying the best things to photograph.
Shooting the photos isn’t the end of the story. Your clients can also be affected by how you edit and distribute the photos. While I do want you to take great wedding photos, that does not mean you will stop taking bad ones.
You can even shoot bad photos. Just don’t deliver them. You can choose not to include any photos in your final gallery, which will allow you to deliver only high-quality photos to clients. You can read more about culling and the right number of photos you should give clients.
Are you concerned that you will not have enough photos to show your clients? Most of us overshoot and take more photos than our clients will ever possibly need. You may only need to score 10%, meaning if 1 out of every 10 photos you take needs to be good enough to deliver does that take the pressure off?
Understand the Wedding Formula
Taking and delivering the right photos comes down to one thing, understanding the wedding formula. Although weddings can be stressful and difficult, they also come with predictable outcomes. You can plan for what lies ahead if you are prepared.
Sit down and visualize the wedding day. You’ll first need to get ready. What do you need? Next, transition to the ceremony. This will allow you to mentally prepare.
Have a plan and think ahead about what lies ahead. You can take great photos if you prepare well.
Next Steps: Making Great
Photos. One of the goals I set for this article was encourage you to take great photos. I hope you found this article helpful and that it helped to reduce stress levels. Otherwise, follow my tips to stay in the moment, focus on the people, start simple, build your technical skills, understand light, deliver the right photos, and understand the wedding formula.
Next, I challenge to make your expectations great. Once you’re confident in your ability to please your clients you can push yourself to get more creative. Have fun shooting.
About the author: Brenda Bergreen is a Colorado wedding photographer, videographer, yoga teacher, and writer who works alongside her husband at Bergreen Photography. Their mission is love. They are committed to sharing adventurous stories and beautiful locations with their mission statement “love.”