Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tips in shooting your first wedding

"Help! I've booked my first wedding! Please help me with any photography tips!"
We have all been there and have asked this question. It is both exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time. Even photographers who have been shooting wedding for years still may feel a little nervous before arriving to the ceremony and start the day. A million thoughts goes through ones head. How's the lighting in the church? The reception? Make sure you get all the formals. Make sure you take pictures of the details. What poses should I ask the bride and groom to do next? And so on and so forth......
Tip #1 - Know how to use your camera in different lighting conditions
The lighting conditions change in a wedding like you wouldn't believe.
Example: The bride and groom walking up the aisle in a church after the ceremony and then the church doors open, exposing them to brighter light as they exit. This is what I mean about a dramatic change in light. You were most likely using a high ISO, wider aperture, and lower shutter speeds to capture available light inside the church as they exit. Then the doors open. You know that they would be severely over-exposed if you left your settings the same. You only have a split second to think about changing your settings as the bride and groom are approaching you to exit.
The first thing I would do is increase my shutter speed, then change my aperture. It is alot easier for me to manipulate my shutter speed first. Since they are now exposed to brighter light, increase your shutter speed. You do not have to shoot wide open in bright light, so change your aperture as well and increase it. My final step is changing the ISO. When shooting outdoors, I usually keep my ISO in one setting, between 100 and 200, and just worry about my shutter speeds and f-stops.
Tip #2 - Have a shot list handy
I ask all my brides to fill out a form that lists the formal shots in order of importance. That way, in case we run out of time during formals, I at least have all the important shots. If I missed the bride and flower girl alone due to time constraints, I can always get that shot during the reception. It is alot harder to try to get the bride and groom's family together later in the day, so it is best to start out the formals with this type of shot and work your way down.
Make note of the important details the bride lists she wants shots of. This may include: Her something old, something new, something blue, and something borrowed. As you shoot more weddings, looking for these details to photograph will come naturally, so you may not need to have a details shot list handy with you all the time.
Tip #3 - Scout out the locations
If I know I will be shooting at a ceremony or reception location that I've never shot at before, I love to arrive a little early and scout out the locations. This makes me feel more prepared and I make mental notes as to which spots I would like to shoot at that location.
Tip #4 - Wear two hats
If the couple decided not to hire a wedding coordinator, be prepared to play a part of this roll. The bride and groom will be looking to you to tell them what to do next. This is especially true during the family formals. You will have to coordinate the groups and direct where you want everyone to be. If the bride is running late getting ready, you will have to politely step up and remind her that her Limo is waiting outside. You'll have to constantly keep track of the time to make sure things run smoothly and that you have snapped all the important details of the day.
Tip #5 - Be prepared
Make sure you have back up equipment and extra's of everything. Have an umbrella with you if you know the forecast predicts rain. You may need to step outside while shooting and you don't want your gear to get soaked and shut down on you. Be sure to get an itinerary or wedding agenda from the bride and groom so you know what's happening next. Have your route planned out if you are traveling from the ceremony to the reception. Have fresh batteries in your flashes before the reception. Have batteries and memory cards handy in case you run out during the first dances. You don't want to leave your gear on the other side of the room and have to run over to get what you need during the dances. Some photographers choose not to use tripods. But if you are in a really dark area that restricts the use of flash, and you lack a steady hand, that tripod is going to be your best friend.
There are so many more things to keep in mind but I can't list them all here. Feel free to contribute to this post. Most importantly, remember to have fun, smile and be confident :)


FRED0 said...

My name is Alfredo Ignacio P. I'm a brother from Barranquitas, PR & I LOVED this post!!! I'm shooting my first Wedding in May. I just became a fan on FB ;) Hope I just made your day lol :D.