Wedding photography is not without its challenges. Extremely difficult. Unlike a film shoot, you can't ask the bride and groom to do a second take on the kiss because your ISO was at the wrong setting. A wedding requires dedication, coordination, and a great deal of preparation. Let's talk about ways to maintain your composure in the midst of a frenzy at a wedding.
It's not uncommon for wedding photographers to work in tandem with one another. Because of this, they are able to record every important moment and never miss a beat. However, photographers often face situations that require them to work independently. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
If a wedding photographer must work alone, how does he or she do it? We'll go over the various options and explain how a one-person photography team can pull off a wedding.
FAQs About Photography
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
To be successful as a wedding photographer for a company like Wire, where you often have to work alone, you will want to plan ahead. By thoroughly investigating the setting and conditions in advance, this strategy has the highest probability of resulting in a favourable outcome.
Among these preparations is a visit to the venue a few days before the event to inspect the lighting and visualise the final presentation. Take some time to plan your approach, both in terms of aesthetics and logistics, so that you can capture the best possible moments.
A lot of information is being presented.
Have a Checklist
Creating high-quality content that meets user expectations is much simpler when you have a checklist to refer to.
In the case of wedding photography, many freelancers have a to-do list and a wish list. They use a checklist to ensure that all of the wedding's details are perfect, and to keep themselves and the bride and groom on track as they work to achieve that goal. They have to do everything themselves because they don't have an assistant or a second member of the team to help out.
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In this respect, it is helpful to coordinate with the bride and groom and inform them that you are working the venue so cheaply that all requests must be submitted to you and that while you will get everything, it may not be done in the way they initially conceived or in a way that fits with their preconceived notions about the wedding photography process.
The Gear You Need
Making sure you have the proper instruments and other equipment is a crucial part of any performance's preparation. To have the confidence that you have everything you need to get the shot you want when it counts is a huge relief. This is what we consider to be the bare minimum for a camera bag:
- There are 2 digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs), one that is the primary and one that is the backup. When there is no time or place to set up lights, having a main camera with low-light capabilities can be crucial. The jam need not be of the highest quality, but it is useful to have if you plan to use a tripod for some of your shots while using the other camera for handheld ones.
- mounts for the GoPro camera.
- Back-up power sources. They are all under arrest. Never have enough of something.
- MicroSD cards. To repeat, there is never enough. The availability of storage space is crucial.
- Holding a handheld stabiliser.
- To record sound with an audio device.
- Lenses for cameras (our recommendation: a 35mm, a 50 mm, and a 70-200 mm).
- Built-in LED light for the camera.
Scouting Your Location
For the Photographer Working Alone: Tips on Capturing Beautiful Wedding Scenes
Use of a stock photo from Shutterstock.
Knowing your shooting location inside and out is essential for a wedding. Your wedding will have a ceremony site, a cocktail hour spot, and a reception hall. Lighting, space, and background noise can be adjusted in any of these locations. With the intention of being well-prepared:
- If possible, get there early and visit each location.
- Get to know the venue's layout and the best vantage points for viewing the main events.
- Get in touch with the wedding planner and ask for a rundown of the day's schedule and a tour of the venue.
While you're there, form a game plan for your shots. Write down a list of images you need for every location, and visualize a pathway to transition between positions. The best thing a wedding videographer can be is out of the way, so keep that in mind.
Pre-Wedding / B-Roll
Beginning your wedding video with some B-roll shot before the big day is a great way to set the tone and atmosphere. Look around the ceremony site early on to spot elements, such as flowers, scenery, or decorations with the couple's names on them, that would make for beautiful shots in a highlight reel.
You can use your 50mm lens, focus up, set up the shot, and even add a rack zoom if you like. It's also during this time that the slider will prove most useful. Due to the nature of your subject matter (static objects), the use of sliders can greatly enhance the quality of your shots.
Many people and things will need to be coordinated during the processional, making it a bit of a challenge. Aside from the obvious shot of the bride walking down the aisle, the GIF above shows how much fun it is to capture the groom's reaction as well. You've got your winning shot there, especially if the groom is crying. The happy, teary-eyed groom is universally adored.
Take out your backup camera, set up a tripod, and change to a 50mm lens before you see the happy couple getting ready to walk down the aisle. Put it in place on the left side of the room, focused on the groom, with a few of his best men to the right. As they won't be present during your setup, you'll need to find something offstage to use as a focus point.
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We are now in motion, so be sure to secure your stabiliser! Connect your camera's 35mm lens to the stabiliser and set up your tripod. Locate the green dot in the image above and focus the door camera there. Now, from that vantage point, you should take pictures of the entire wedding party entering, but when the bride arrives, you should take a steady picture of her coming in. Just for show, see if you can implement a rack focus.
You can get a great tracking shot of her walking up to the stage by following the green line once she passes you. The groom's reaction will be recorded by your other camera. Once the bride is in place, the stabiliser can be removed and the ceremony can begin.
The Ceremony / Kiss
At the very least, you should have a 70-200mm lens ready to attach to your main camera for the event. Because of the constant need for movement and the great shallow depth of field a zoom lens can provide, it is essential to have one on hand for this part of the wedding. If you'd like to continue recording, you can do so with a second camera; just make sure to check in on it every so often to ensure it's still functioning.
Placing a wide-angle GoPro on the floral arch or arrangement behind the couple is a novel and effective method of ensuring their safety. In case you screw up with your primary or secondary camera, you'll still have something to work with in post. My wedding videos have been saved multiple times by this method, and it doesn't look too out of place.
Bring your main camera and a zoom lens to the ceremony and start snapping pictures as soon as it begins. Photograph the happy couple up close, the parents and relatives cheering them on from the audience, and the aisle in a medium shot. Follow the instructions on the shot list to capture the moments the bride and groom have requested.
You should check on your backup camera as the ceremony nears its conclusion and the kiss draws near, and then move to a position where you can get a good close-up shot of the couple. Hold the camera steady and focus precisely. Prepare yourself for some action following the kiss, such as the couple giggling (which is adorable) or the groom doing a fancy dip with his bride.
You have survived the day's most trying period; congratulations! Right about now is when the fun really begins. The announcements and speeches, the first dances, the cutting of the cake, the bouquet toss, and the exit are the five events that must be captured during this portion of the evening. Attach your camera to the stabiliser and snap on either a 35mm or 50mm lens (the choice will depend on the size of the reception hall). It's best to get some B-roll of the reception hall and some shots of guests talking and waving with the main camera during the slow beginning of the reception.
Your on-camera LED light should now be secured to the top of your equipment. It's better to have it there than to have to run and grab it from your bag if you end up needing it later on in the night, so keep it where it is.
Prepare yourselves for the entrance of the bride and groom at any moment. The schedule usually shifts or they are late. Take a picture of them entering the building as the DJ makes the happy announcement (which you should pick up with your audio recorder). A tracking shot from behind as the couple opens the doors, with applause and cheers from the crowd visible in the background, is a great photo opportunity if you can position yourself there before they enter.
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These are easy to understand. Arrange your main camera and tripod with a 70-200mm lens pointed in the direction of the stage where the speeches will be given, and begin recording. The sound is the most important aspect of this shot, so position your recorder close to a speaker, check the volume, and start recording. Assuming you've set up a tripod for your main camera, you can now grab your backup camera and 50mm lens to capture the happy couple's reactions. These could make great snippets of the speech to use in the final video.
One of the best times to use the stabiliser again is during the first dances. Get ready for the action with your 35mm lensed main camera. The moment the bride and groom start dancing, start taking wide shots of the room to give the event a sense of motion. Feel free to take up temporary residence wherever the lighting is best. Take advantage of the couple's stillness to get some intimate close-ups, as there are bound to be some endearing expressions of love captured.
If the father-daughter or mother-son dances are especially meaningful to the bride and groom, be sure to ask them.
As the saying goes, firing this shot is a piece of cake. If you only have a 50mm lens, shoot this one completely handheld. Try to sneak in a few pictures of the cake before the happy couple starts cutting into it.
Get some great close-ups of the knife slicing through the cake once the happy couple begins cutting it. Select a shoulder to shoot over once they've finished their slices. Groom's perspective is preferable because it allows for more natural responses from the bride (like the one in the GIF above). In the event that you're lucky, they'll throw the cake at each other and eat it together. What a wonderful custom! If the cake-smashing tradition is to be observed, a quick slide back will allow you to capture the reactions of the happy couple.
The Bouquet Toss
With so many guests participating in the bouquet toss, it's best to switch to your 35mm lens for a more inclusive shot. Take pictures of the guests as they gather around the spot where the bouquet will be tossed. The focus should then shift to the bride. After she throws the flowers into the air, follow their path as they float down through the crowd. Remember to always have a finger on the focus ring because you have no idea where that thing is headed. As soon as someone notices it, keep the camera on them for a full minute. Everything necessary for a memorable wedding video will be present: laughter, jumping, cheering, etc.
Bonus: If a child catches the bouquet, take a knee and get on their level for your shots. Their reactions are sure to be adorable.
As the evening winds down, the couple will exit the venue and make their way through the waiting crowd. The perfect condition is if everyone brings sparklers. As you can see in the animated GIF above, they make a great night light that emits a warm glow. For those who have forgotten to bring sparklers, you can always use the LED light that sits atop your toolkit as a substitute. Mount your 35mm lens on a stabiliser to your main camera and wait in front of the exit door. As soon as they leave, turn around and follow in their footsteps backwards. Look behind you every few seconds to make sure you're not going to trip, and use the line of people to your sides to help you find your way. Don't be that guy; trust me. After following them to the car, you can then leave.
This final piece of advice is easier to state than to implement. Yes, it's true that self-assurance can be hard to come by at times, especially when you're still developing your abilities.
To some extent, we felt like we were living the adage "Fake it till you make it!" during the first few years of our wedding photography business. The quote accurately describes many aspects of life. The right course of action may not always be obvious. There is a lot happening at a wedding, and it is always changing. You can only do what you can do, which is to trust in your knowledge and be flexible.
The more weddings you photograph, the less stressful the experience will become. You'll get the hang of things and find it much simpler to adapt as you begin to recognise the commonalities that crop up repeatedly.
If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
We've had to mature quite a bit as introverts to handle the social aspects of wedding photography, such as making sure we're communicating well, lending a hand when needed, and politely declining requests that get in the way of our work. Yet, we wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. Taking pictures at weddings is a fantastic experience.