Pre wedding photo

Are you a beginner who is about to photograph your first wedding ever? Or, are you a seasoned pro shooter who could pick up a second job critiquing the moistness levels of wedding cakes from hundreds of different bakeries?

Regardless of your skill levels and experience, there is always room for learning new tricks and adding new, great images to your portfolio. We spoke to a handful of wedding photographers around North America to capture their thoughts on how to improve the art of shooting wedding photos.

1. Scouting

One of the most echoed and consistent advice we heard was: Scouting. Nearly every wedding pro we spoke to stressed this aspect of their imagery. Alex Oat, based in San Diego, California, keeps it simple by saying, “Scout it out! Know the venue, the light, the cool spots for photos.”

Westchester, New-York-based Jesse Rinka expands on this by stating, “During your consultation with the bride and groom, topics related to the types of locations and settings that they prefer to use for portraits should have been discussed. Your clients are paying you a decent amount of money for your knowledge, experience, and expertise. Put in the time and research ahead of their big day and be sure to review the options that you feel would work best for them based on their feedback. Have a plan A, B, and C in case of unexpected issues or inclement weather. Also be sure to check for requirements related to the need for having a permit. Typically, the clients are responsible for securing one if it is necessary, especially when there are fees involved, but knowing ahead of time the risks involved with having or not having one will put you ahead of the game.”

2. Know Your Gear

Another commonly held view among the wedding pros we spoke to was that shooters need to know their gear inside and out. The wedding day is NOT the time to experiment with new equipment, try out different settings, or figure out a wireless trigger.

Eric McCallister, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, said, “Don’t practice on your clients. New flashes? Sort them out the week before. Make sure they work, and have a plan for if they don’t. Sure, go ahead and try new poses, shoot a sunset or night portrait for the first time, but make sure your equipment is working the way you think it should, and at least have practiced at home.”

Rinka adds, “Realize that there is a big difference between simply having great gear and actually knowing how to use it. There is no lens or camera that will make up for lack of education or experience. Know your gear better than you know yourself and you will be able to adapt to the many unexpected changes that can occur on the wedding day.”

“Learn the basics inside and out before even trying to book a wedding,” says New-York-based Ryan Brenizer, “not just camera basics but also framing, lighting, and portraiture with lots of different body types. The better you are when you start, the more solid your overall branding will be, and the better for your couples.”

3. Lighting

The key to all photography. Without it, there would be no images, or life, for that matter. All photographers have different approaches to lighting, and there are infinite possibilities and options on how to control and manipulate the lighting in a scene—some provided by nature. Warren, Ohio-based shooter Nicki Hufford tells us, directly, “Learn off-camera flash (like yesterday).”

New York City pro wedding photographer, Vilson Lleshaj, says, “Use multiple light sources. Know and be good with available light, but know how to balance ambient light with artificial light.”

Closing out the topic, Lori Waltenbury, from Ontario, Canada, states, “Practice exposure! Bring your camera around with you everywhere and practice getting perfect exposures in a heartbeat! This will save you a significant amount of time editing and will help you avoid taking unsalvageable shots of important moments.”

4. Framing

Composition and framing come naturally to some. To others, it is a skill that must be learned and refined. There are some things to think about every time you depress the shutter release on the topic of framing. Jesse Rinka says, “Wedding days can be very fast paced; be extra careful and remind yourself to slow down when posing your subjects. Take a moment to scan the frame before you press the shutter and look for any distractions that could potentially ruin the photo. Nothing is worse than having everything perfect, only to later find out that there are tree branches or horizon lines cutting through your subject’s heads.”

Brighton, Massachusetts, shooter Zac Wolf shares this tip: “When shooting family formals, make sure to leave room to crop for an 8 x 10″. Early in my career, this was something I never thought of because I was never a wedding client, but then I had a client complain about the crop factor. Never again did I make this mistake and I always make sure to leave room for the crop in family formals since 8 x 10″ is the most popular large standard size.”

5. Backup: Files

Nearly every photographer we talked to emphasized file backup at length. San Diego, California shooter Sarah Williams says, “Back up your photos. Once isn’t enough. You should have a backup to your backup. Two onsite and also an offsite.”

Eric McCallister shares these thoughts: “Take file management seriously. That includes the day of and after the wedding. I shoot duplicate files to dual cards and only large ones, so that I don’t ever have to take them out of the cameras. I’ve only lost files due to card failure when opening the camera card door too quickly or losing a card. If I don’t ever have to open the camera I believe I am less likely to corrupt a card, and certainly unlikely to lose one. Once you’re home, ensure that you have a redundant backup system where your files reside in multiple places. The cloud is a great option, but possibly less so for high-volume shooters (your uploads will never catch up). Oh, and be sure you’re backing up your Lightroom catalogs, too. It’s no fun to find out you have all of your files but none of your edits.”

Several pros suggested starting the card backup process as soon as time allows, even between the ceremony and the reception.

6. Backup: Gear

Cameras are mechanical things. Many of them are electronic. Mechanicals and electronics have limited life spans. They will eventually fail and the Law of Murphy tells us that the failure will not happen while out taking snapshots—your gear will fail at the worst possible moment. Pros need to be ready for this. Flagstaff, Arizona-based Jamelle Kelley incorporates her backup gear into the shooting rotation. “We like to shoot with multiple cameras instead of changing lenses throughout the day. The wedding day action happens fast and you can miss something by fussing with your camera.”

Vilson Lleshaj jokes that you should have backup gear, but adds, “There are always a few guests with good cameras these days, but you do not want to have to ask them to borrow their gear.”

In conclusion, Lori Waltenbury says, “I think this goes without saying, but know your gear inside and out. Know how to troubleshoot basic problems and have a strategy for WHEN, not if, things fail.”

7. Logistics

Logistics is sometimes overlooked by shooters, since the emphasis is on capturing images. Tucson, Arizona-based shooter Kim Cota-Robles has some tips to share about how to manage your gear at the venue. “If possible, set up a sort of ‘home base’ for yourself in the back of the venue (out of the way and view of guests) where you can possibly keep some of your heavier equipment when you’re not using it.”

She adds, “Bring two camera bags—one smaller and one much larger. The smaller one can be used during the ceremony without being intrusive, but the bigger one will house everything you need.”

8. Posing

There are often arts intertwined with the art of wedding photography, which come in the form of lighting, composition, location, and pose. Candid images are not posed, and group shots may only require basic adjustments, but when it comes to staging images with the bridal party, posing is as integral to the image as lighting and background. Alex Oat emphasizes this by stating, “Know how to pose—not everyone is a model or feels comfortable in front of the camera!”

New York City shooter Andre Reichmann adds, “Telling people how to pose is one of the most difficult things in the field but could really make a huge difference between bland and eclectic.”

9. Style

It is often said that every photograph you take, even non-selfies, is a self-portrait. Your photographic style defines your brand image. Versatility as a photographer is never a bad thing, but it might have negative effects on your wedding business. San Diego’s Sarah Williams says, “Keep your editing consistent. Find what you like and keep it that way. Showing different editing styles in your website is confusing to couples.”

“Be consistent,” adds Eric McCallister, “I know, kind of broad, but it’s important. As personal as our service is, from the client perspective you’re still a business and they want to know what to expect from you. From your Web presence to your in-person meetings, your message about who you are and what you do needs to be consistent. The processing of your images needs to be consistent. Your ongoing communications must be consistent. When clients know what to expect from you, you’re easy to work with and they can have confidence in their purchase.”

Regardless of your style, whether it’s formal, documentary, classic, or something else, it’s important to remember not to lose sight of the task at hand. Jamelle Kelley advises, “Be hip, fun, and creative, but don’t forget the traditional. We have what we call the “Gipper shot.” It’s important to get one traditional bride and groom smiling and looking at the camera photo. Every mother and grandmother is looking for this simple portrait.”

10. Presence

The last tip we’d like to share comes from Alex Oat.

“Be a ninja. The best wedding compliment is: ‘We didn’t remember you were there.’ When you’re invisible, sometimes you get the best shots!”
Bridal Portrait

The bridal portrait is a time-honored tradition that has regained popularity in recent years. If you are considering having a bridal portrait taken, read this fact sheet to learn the do’s and don’ts.

What Is a Bridal Portrait?

A bridal portrait is a formal picture of the bride in her wedding dress, taken a few days or weeks before the wedding in the photographer’s studio. Sometimes, a couple will choose to have a picture taken of the both of them in addition to, or instead of, a bridal portrait.

A bridal portrait can come in hand when it comes to including a photo of the bride in wedding announcements and wedding albums. If you are a bride who is not particularly photogenic or who is picky about how she looks in pictures, this is an opportunity to have a professional wedding photographer capture your beauty and get your best angle— without an impatient groom or family member rushing you. Years later, when your groom has your portrait on his desk, you will be glad you got the perfect picture to celebrate your look and dress for your big day.

When Is the Best Time to Get a Bridal Portrait Done?

The best time to get your bridal portrait done depends on your wedding announcements, wedding dress arrangements, and salon appointments. The first step recommended is to ask your local newspaper how far in advance photographs for wedding announcements are needed for submission if you are so indulged. The second step is to call your wedding dress salon to ensure that they will have your dress and accessories ready in time.

Finally, it is recommended to get your hair and makeup professionally done before the session. You can try to maximize your budget by combining the hair and makeup session with your hair trial, but only if you are confident in your hair stylist. With that said, if you are using a new stylist for the wedding, schedule a separate hair trial and kindly ask her to recreate your favorite look for the wedding portraits. This will help ensure that you enjoy the look for your bridal portrait that will match the actual look on your wedding day.

Additional Tips for the Bride on Picture Day

One key tip we have is to talk directly to your wedding photographer about getting your bridal portrait taken before the wedding, including the price. In doing so, you may be able to get a bridal portrait included in your overall package for wedding pictures. If you are able to get the bridal portrait included, ensure that the service is written into your wedding photography contract.
As a final tip, do not waste money on getting a separate floral bouquet. You certainly do not need a bouquet for the pictures, and luckily, most photographers have a silk flower prop bouquet that you can use.

Photos hold a special place in every wedding. They let you travel in time and cherish the most important day of your life. Here are a few tips to capture the best moments of your big day :

1 Background Work

Do your homework well in advance to get the best photographers on board. You must get this started at least eight to ten months before the wedding. Talk to recently wed couples about their photographer. You can also take a look at social media profiles and websites of various photography companies.

2 Shortlist and Set up a Meeting

Any photographer will upload only the best of the many shots taken at a wedding. Thus, you can not finalize just by looking at their social media accounts or websites. Shortlist your favorite photographers. Set up a meeting with them separately. Ask them to bring along the complete album of two or three weddings recently shot by them. This will help you to have a better idea about their photography.

3 Decide the Photographer

Most of the companies will have multiple photographers. Decide who among them will best suit your requirements. You can also have more than one photographer to make the task easy. Ask the company to send the same photographers for your wedding.

4 Candid Photographers

Candid photography is the latest trend observed in weddings. You can have one or more candid photographers to cover the event. Along with capturing the special moments between the bride and the groom they will also cover your family and friends. These photographs will be a surprise package when you look at them after the wedding.

5 Budget and Packages

All the photography firms have pre-decided packages depending on the number of photographers you hire, hours they spend in the wedding and so on. Compare the packages of all the shortlisted companies. Once you finalize on the package sign a contract or take a bill which includes details like the wedding date, venue, the name of the photographer you have selected, events to be covered and the final draft of the photos and videos you want to receive.

6 List the Required Shots

Go through as many wedding pictures as you can. Save the images of your personal favorite shots. Send them to your photographer to make sure they are captured in your wedding. Also, make a plan for the family pictures.

7 Pre Wedding Photoshoot

Include a pre-wedding photo shoot in your finalized package. You can have a destination or theme based photo shoot. Ask the photographer to carry the props you will require. This will give you a chance to bond well with the photographer.

8 Live the Moment

Live every moment of the wedding with all your energy. Flaunt your happiness and excitement. The same will reflect in all the photos. Make sure you give your photographers enough time to capture the best couple shots in the wedding venue.

Hope these tips will help you to choose the best wedding photographers. All the best for the new beginnings of your life!

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