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Summer light too harsh? Turn it to your advantage by making shadows a feature of your photograph
50 top tips for
The wedding season is upon us, so sharpen up your skills with some insider knowledge from the professionals. Karl Foster speaks to ﬁve of the UK’s leading wedding photographers, each of whom has wisdom borne of long experience
if possible only ambient light to accentuate the mood. such as pillars. keeping your subject in focus while making the background blurred – although you need to be sure you focus accurately. the foreground falls into place to create the perfect composition. He aims to capture spontaneous images that create an accurate portrayal of the wedding day. Frame the couple When taking pictures of the bride and groom with their bridal car. so you may have to work quickly to capture them. usin ﬁll-in. but not straight) while holding her bouquet. 10 Use a Strobeframe ﬂash bracket Attach your ﬂash unit to a Strobefra bracket to lift the ﬂash a few inches above the lens eliminating shadows on the subject. if it’s OK with them For ﬂattering images of a bride. similar to the way fashion models pose. however. Try slow-synch ﬂash If there are any interesting light patterns outside the church or register ofﬁce. And. say – to make the most of ambient lighting. Try panning with moving subjects while you ﬁre the ﬂash to freeze the subject and blur a distant background. ■ www. Remember. ask her to create an ‘S’ bend with her body.Techniq JOE D MILES THE SPONTANEOUS APPROACH 1 2 Use a wide aperture The use of the widest aperture that your lens permits (for a narrow depth of ﬁeld) can create a very appealing effect for wedding photography. ﬁtting in with and adapting to the occasion. try to move the coup or group into the shade for a better exposure. if you sort out the background. 7 Tilt the camera If you’re shooting a wedding on a day with very strong sunshine. that such patterns may come and go as the day progresses. or forced ﬂash to balance the scene. try as slow a shutter speed as possible – 1/15th to 1/25th second. be adventurous and align the composition lines at diagonals in the image to create impact. The frame works on a hinge mechanism and enables you to move the ﬂash for portrait shots or landscape form shots accordingly. This works on some shots very well – you don’t have to always keep the camera landscape or portrait format. 8 9 Find the shade Add some blur Try experimenting with pictures of the ﬁrst dance using a very slow shutter speed to g your images a sense of movement. Be aware. 3 4 Pose the bride Look for lines Try to make the most of strong architectural lines. for backdrops to your wedding photographs. 5 6 Use light patterns creatively If using ﬂash. Look through women’s magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan to see how the models pose to get an idea. or even jump inside the car.co. You’ll ﬁ the ﬁll ﬂash setting by cycling through the camera ﬂash modes. Camera tilt adds a sense of motion to an image. Scout out the venue beforehand to see which architectural elements might work best. His approach is to be amicable.uk Joe D Miles of ImageCapture is one of the photographers with Online Weddings and he uses digital cameras on assignment. try being creative by using the windows to frame them. As with all techniques don’t over do this – one or two images is ample. If possible. make sure she doesn’t have her arms bent (a slight bend is best. Again may need to increase the ISO sensitivity of the cam – although noise will become more obvious in dar indoor conditions. you can use them to add impact and drama to your images.onlineweddings. .
get out of the wind w you’re changing them to avoid dirt blowing into th camera body. MARK ROBINSON THE LONG LENS APPROACH Weddings don’t just happen in front of you. They know what’s actually happening. look at what they’re looking at. you’ll be looking at what your subjects can see. after all… 12 13 14 Pay attention to detail Listen for laughter Weddings are happy occasions. so you ears as well as your eyes to monitor the dynam the wedding party and move in on where the merriment’s taking place. There’s litt point in taking shots of people who don’t like bein front of the lens. However. After all. memories will come ﬂooding back. leave them alone. and yet when they see a detail shot. The high ISO settings used in low-light photography may induce noise into the photos. details may go unnoticed by the wedding guests. You’ll not be wasting any ﬁlm. With experienc you’ll get to recognise the signals that the cameragive out. They’ll not look comfortable and you could end up causing offence.■ www. but when aiming to capture the emotion of the event. as opposed to what should be. Shots in wh people look happy and relaxed work very well.markrobinson. Look around for other photo opportunities that may be behind you. however. Grain can add atmosphere and lack of ﬂash can keep attention from you. 15 050 Add grain . Often. which can give them a lot of character. face people into the w and get lots of movement. although he’s happy to work alongside a traditional photographer who c serve as a useful distraction. so an ear out for laughter. 18 19 Don’t be intrusive If someone doesn’t want their phot taken. Formal. so if you’re aiming to capture their memories of the day. 11 Look the other way 16 Try a telephoto Long lenses keep you out of the action as an observer. The last thing you want is for a ﬂash to distract the wedding guests. 20 Use the wind Wait a second Let other people take their photographs and then capture the subjects as they relax. relaxed and unworried about people taking pictures of them. Avoid crouching on your haunches. in order to stand a better chance of keeping the camera steady. people come across better in photos when they’re happy. 17 Make friends with the organisers If it’s windy. The organisers can tip you off about who’s going to be where and when. The brid dress in particular can look wonderfully dynamic w there’s a breeze – its lines will ﬂow out with the movement of air. employing long lenses to zoom in on action. Go low Try shooting from a low vantage point. Look for the small stuff as well as the big picture.uk Mark Robinson likes to remain unobtrusive at weddings. kneel down.co. They also create interesting perspective effects. drawing attention to yourself. So be aware of everything around you and don’t be afraid to photograph it. He works alone. or even lie down. If the ground is dry. posed shots are OK for the record. if you’re using a came with interchangeable lenses. which can add drama to photos. so it’s wise to consult them in order to be in the right place at the right time. Such a stance makes you unsteady and you may ﬁnd your shots ruined by camera shake. Be careful to avoid camera shake that can be induced when wielding such lenses – a sturdy tripod is a handy accessory in such situations.
co. j the rest of the attendees are meant to be doing. you didn’t ask the right questions at the consultation. they smile back. Don’t hide behind your camera.uk Andrew John’s tagline is ‘your wedding. use brollies. Be polite and don’t promise anything that you can’t deliver. The disorganised photographer will miss out on key moments. so make lots of eye contact. Get the couple walking with them. Sometimes it’s good to take pictures of strangers wishing them the best – take a look at wedding al on Andrew John’s website titled ‘beach burbo ban was supposed to be a clear beach. This helps you when you come to the organised photographs – people won’t keep coming up and getting in your way as they attempt to pass on their best wishes to the bride and groom. not yours. The more relaxed people are. you’ll develop numerous ways of making the unexpected play into your hands. give the couple time and space to be congratulated. 30 Enjoy yourself Wedding photography can be a lo fun. 21 Consult beforehand ■ www. portraits. 23 24 Give the couple space Pre-focus and compose your subject through the lens. While the couple are busy being congratulated. the better the shots will turn out. so exercise your problem-solving skills to the full. He’s won numerous photographic awards for his unique wedding photographs and for his other speciality. so it’s wise to have a clear idea of how they envisage the occasion. and can save your expensive digital camera from a soaking. how you’re going to get from A to B an where the wedding party will be and when. Y may ﬁnd that your photography improves as a res . but not if you’re fretting abou camera or the light. Relax and have a good time. They’ll be happily distracted and therefore more relaxed than when they feel they have to pose for the camera. they’ll laugh and you can then take more natural-looking photographs. They make excellent props.Techniq ANDREW JOHN THE CONSIDERED APPROACH Always have a pre-wedding consultation with the couple to get to know them and ﬁnd out what they want ﬁrst. he offers a service which enables people to view and buy images online. There’s always a way to get round a problem. When they do realise. wind. but when he go there it was packed with people! 26 27 Go with the ﬂow Manage your time Be candid Don’t ﬁght the rain. If you smile at people. 25 Compose subtly 28 29 Use the crowd If people are in the background in places. just let them be there. As with many pro wedding photographers. Someone with a big lump of technology permanently attached to their face can be off-putting and you’ll likely end up missing a lot of potentially excellent shots. Be aware of the sche of the day. 22 Smile a lot After the ceremony. then get their attention by talking or smiling at them – they won’t know you’re taking the photograph. your style’. which is unlikely to do it much good. so think laterally. If it’s raining. The unobtrusive photographer can have some of the best shots of the wedding day. It’s their day. Plan for rain You should always have enough tim you don’t. so don’t let it be you. you can go round and get some candid shots of the guests. kissing each other and so on. It’s handy to have a white one and a black one in your car. people and time.andrewjohnphotography. As you become more conﬁdent and experienced.
or you’ll look like an idiot. It uses up the batteries and takes your eye off the action. so shadow detail should be recoverable – it’ highlights which is where they tend to have proble Again. The classic way is to get three pictures of each moment. bounce your ﬂash off the ceiling and balance the exposure with the ambient light. For example. slow shutter (15th) and ﬁll-in ﬂash. a close up of the cake. edit the pictures then edit them again. This is best done on the computer afte you’ve resized the images. 39 Don’t let your came sharpen the shots No chimping Listen for stories Don’t ‘chimp’ after each shot (chimping is looking at the camera’s screen to check your pictures). Retouch any blemishes from their faces. always shoo RAW format. then use that knowledge to plan your shooting schedule. a medium shot of the couple cutting th cake and then a wide angle of the guests’ reactions. or a portable storage devi copy your images onto over dinner… 34 052 Bounce the ﬂash When shooting indoors. Tony is a fully qualiﬁed photojou regularly works for national broa newspapers and magazines. If possible. 35 36 37 Tell a story Adopt a photojournalistic approach – look for pictures th tell the story of the day. not necessarily taken at the same time. Turn off any automatic in-camera sharpening. Bounced ﬂash is far more diffuse. so you’ll need highcapacity memory cards. hen true expert at reportage photogr aims to be unobtrusive. 38 Edit ruthlessly 40 Underexpose in bright light In bright sunlight. Then edit the pictures again – only let people see the best shots.Technique Photo ■ www. They never look good and no one will thank you for it. There are typically numerous characters at the wedding. To make sure you get a good confetti shot. Take your own confetti 32 33 Avoid shooting when people are eating Don’t take pictures of people eating. take your own confetti. You may as well pack away the camera during the meal and have some food yourself while you wait for the speeches. not at the couple. each with something to say. which provide far more opportunities for good people shots. Remove any shots in which the bride and groom don’t look at their best. Just make sure the wind isn’t blowing towards you. being careful to delete only those that you can’t feasibly use. You’re better off reviewing the photos en masse occasionally. not hundreds of average ones. Digital cameras have excellent dynamic range. Frame the shot and throw the confetti high in the air. Try a small aperture (f11). . a shot of when they ﬁrst meet at the church could be very emotional. When you get back home. Think about the attendees and how they get on. try to retain the in the bride’s dress by underexposing by 1 EV and bringing the shot up to the correct exposure on the computer. so you won’t end up with those harsh shadows that are characteristic of amateur snaps. and so forth. When mingling with the guests listen out for someone telling a story. so let them warm up the crowd for you and be ready to capture their reactions.docuwedding. although the ﬁle sizes will be much larger than wh shooting with JPEG capture. shooting in RAW as opposed to JPEG really helps in this situation. capturin day without ordering people aro TONY @ DOCUWEDDING THE REPORTAGE APPROACH 31 Use your inside knowledge of the family to get shots If some relatives haven’t seen each other for 20 years. This transfers the data from the imag chip directly to memory without compressing it.
43 Soften your ﬂash 44 45 Avoid effects Keep away from too many digital effects on the camera. so get on a chair. People are automatically drawn to faces in a photo. Rest your camera on a tripod. The reﬂector helps to reduce the harsh shadows caused by strong. featuring a wide range of vibrant. place a diffuser over the ﬂash head. shoot in colour as normal and convert the shot in an image editor later. you can clearly see the effect and it’s better than ﬂash. during the ceremony itself. . otherwise you’ll introduce unwanted motion blur. Practice slow-sync ﬂash methods. directional light. The lines of a church’s interior can look spectacular when wide-angle lenses distort them. and the couple’s interaction while register is being signed. 42 Plan for key events Think beforehand at what points you’ll be able to capture emotional or funny images – for example. though. If you shoot with special effects. try high angles (or low ones) to get shots that are different from those taken by the rest of the guests. table or Make good use of the camera’s exposure lock – yours may have an AE-L button. They soften the ﬂash. Their photos are modern in style. If you want to create a sepia print. Most people will shoot from head height.or overexposed. 46 47 Go slow indoors 48 49 The best man’s spee Watch for reaction from the bride groom during the best man’s spee This can be the funniest point in the whole day. 50 Use a reﬂector Where possible. which is particularly handy when aiming to take ﬂattering portraits. spontaneous images. or the widestangle setting of your compact. windowsill to make your compositions stand out fr the rest. ■ 41 Find a position Try to get a position in the church about two or three rows back from the altar and to the side of the bride and groom.steveashtonphotography. Go wide on architecture Use wide-angle lenses.com Steve and his wife Stephanie pride themselves on customer care and have a contemporary approach. reducing those harsh shadows that can make photographs look amateurish. Use exposure lock Aim high Where possible. And make sure you turn the camera’s sound effects off so you don’t disturb people seated nearby. The camera’s ﬂash will ﬁre to illuminate foreground subjects and the shutter will stay open longer so that the background’s properly exposed. the couple’s reactio will be well worth capturing. you’ll not be able to turn the image into a standard colour shot afterwards. or even solarize the happy couple. Just avoid taking portraits with them – people’s faces will distort in a strange.com).stofen. When the inevita funny stories start coming out. bulbous way. which can transform interior shots. Sto-fen’s white plastic caps are affordable and great for helping ﬂash pictures (www. This is often the ﬁrst time they’ve spoken together on the day and their reactions can produce some wonderful images. to capture interesting ■ www. use a reﬂector and natural light. or it can be locked by half-depressing shutter – and take spot meter readings from faces ensure you get the correct exposure. so an eye on their faces as he talks.Techniq STEVE ASHTON THE CONTEMPORARY APPROACH graphic shapes. They’re cheap. You can capture some fantastic emotional images throughout the ceremony. so you do want them under. Never use direct ﬂash – as well as using an off-camera ﬂash bar.
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