Knowing how to photograph a wedding well requires a great deal of responsibility and severe proficiency in photography. This subgenre of portraiture, along with high-end photojournalism, doesn’t allow for mistakes.
There is no room for wrong exposures and out of focus images because there is no second chance to capture a particular moment.
Despite these frightening facts, wedding photography can be an enriching experience for a photographer. It brings together many different elements and styles found in other genres, such as glamour, landscape and documentary photography. Some exceptionally creative photographers organise surreal photo shoots to give an individual fairytale touch to weddings, while others rely more on unique post-processing techniques.
You’ve made a vow to shoot somebody’s wedding, and your heart’s in the right place, but your approach is on shaky ground. Here are some things to expect when photographing your first wedding, along with gear that is best suited for creating everlasting memories. Keep these wedding photography tips and tricks up your sleeve before you shoot your first happily ever after. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
No matter these different approaches, one thing holds for sure – wedding photography has to be extraordinary!
It is very well known that every occasion or venue involves a different setup. The lighting, background, and shadow cannot remain the same for the particular camera settings. In this article, we are trying to share the best camera settings for wedding photography.
Some Camera Settings for Wedding Photography
There are Three fundamental Pillars of Photography:
- ISO: It is the adjustment of what settings work best for various lighting conditions. In modern photography, ISO measures the responsiveness of the image sensor. It is the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to a given amount of light.
- Shutter speed: Exaggerating the appearance of motion by holding the camera stable using a tripod for indoor wedding photography. Shutter speed is used for blurring motion and for altering the brightness of the image.
- Aperture: This setting affects the area over which light falls on the camera lens. It helps in achieving a blurred background effect with a focus on the object.
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Some camera settings for capturing the best wedding photos are:
- Choosing the right camera: As a professional photographer, you should know the importance of selecting the right camera. To get your shot like a professional, the lens has to be chosen correctly. A camera is a gadget, and it is your expertise that creates picture-perfect photos. Hence, the primary thing you need to consider is which camera is best suited for a wedding occasion.
- Adjusting manual settings: Manual setting adjustment is a must for capturing amazing shots. The central three manual locations include the shutter speed mode, ISO and the aperture priority mode, together known as the ‘exposure triangle’. These settings can be used to freeze the couple’s moments to capture the laughter, walk, dance, and other events.
- Depth of Field: In weddings, you need to focus on the couple and make the background blurred or hazy in many photos. This is the called depth of field and can be mastered with practice.
- Use of Flash: For taking an outdoor shot, you need not use camera flash; instead, learn the best use of utilising natural light. However, it would help if you used camera flash in indoor wedding photography to illuminate the scene.
- Using an off-camera lens: To capture the best picture in low light conditions in indoor photography, you should be focusing on using the correct lens. There is a diverse range of camera lenses to suit your purpose, like a separate lens for taking photos from a distance, for portrait sessions, for motion pictures. For first time wedding photographers, it is better to shoot a wedding with only one camera having one lens.
What is The Best Gear For Wedding Photography?
Full-frame camera (plus backup camera)
The most popular choices are Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D850 or Nikon D5, and mirrorless models Sony A7R III and Fujifilm X-Pro2.
It’s problematic shooting weddings with DX cameras because wedding halls are often poorly lit, and you need the bigger sensor to shoot without a flash or LED lamps. In addition to full-frame models, medium-format cameras such as Pentax 645Z or Hasselblad H5D-50c perform outstandingly well.
The best zoom and prime lenses for wedding photography
To have a great variety of shots, it’s good to alternate between zoom and prime lenses. As for the best lens for a wedding, the following lenses are highly esteemed among wedding photographers:
- Canon 35mm f/1.4L,
- Canon 85mm f/1.2L II,
- Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II,
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8,
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II,
- Nikon 24mm f/1.4G
Sigma art lenses are also trendy nowadays, such as Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART.
It’s next to impossible to shoot weddings with kit lenses due to their f-stop limitations and inferior quality.
Fisheye lenses are a nice extra feature to include in your wedding gear because they give a unique look to everything, even to most ordinary scenes. The barrel distortion toward the edges of the frame can have a rather artistic vibe.
Also, lenses like Nikon 16mm f/2.8 FX or Canon 8-15mm f/4 USM are ordinary. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Using flash at a wedding
On-camera or off-camera flashes are necessary when shooting weddings (but make sure you check first with the celebrant as a courtesy). While you don’t have to use them all the time, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid them. The best solution is to have a model that supports both TTL and manual mode.
TTL mode is beneficial for wedding photographers since they move around a lot and don’t have enough time to change settings for every shot they take.
The most common flashes for wedding photography are Canon 600EX-RT, Nikon SB-910, Godox TT350 and Yongnuo YN-622.
Portable continuous lighting
Flash is not the only option for wedding photographers who need to cope with poorly lit venues.
Portable LED lamps are becoming more common these days since they are highly reliable, and it’s easy to control and change their strength and direction.
The only issue is that some models have short battery life. The most popular LEDs are Lowell GL-1 Power LED, Yongnuo YN-160 Video Light and Westcott Ice Light.
The easiest way to improve the quality of light from the camera mounted flash is to bounce the light off of a ceiling or wall.
However, wedding photography is quite demanding, and it requires a soft light to achieve those truly flattering portraits. Diffusers such as the splendid Gary Fong (Lightsphere) or a typical Omni-bounce are widely used among wedding photographers.
A drone may be the latest fad among wedding photographers and videographers. However, high-end clients usually expect to have a couple of aerial shots at their wedding, so it’s not a bad idea to invest in drone technology.
DJI Mavic Pro is a great choice but make sure you research first.
There are a few other gadgets to have in mind when shooting weddings. If you’re using multiple flash setups, you’ll need wireless radio triggers to sync your flashes.
Furthermore, for those who don’t have any photo assistants, it’s advisable to carry tripods, monopods and super clamps because they can hold anything in place securely.
Finally, things like a heavy-duty camera backpack, extra memory cards, and extra batteries are a must because accidents happen, and it’s good to be prepared for any troublesome experience.
Photographing Wedding: Tips and Techniques Built to Last
It’s essential to consider your gear list first so that you can practice using it. Even a new lens on a familiar camera can throw you off without a dress rehearsal. The happy couple has been planning this event for at least a year, so you must have a plan for at least a month in the making. Starting to think about hiring a wedding photographer? Check out our range of Mornington Peninsula wedding photography here.
Cameras to Consider for Your First Wedding or Engagement Shoot
Consider bringing two camera bodies. You’ll keep dust out of your camera when you’re not switching out lenses, plus you’ll be able to get the shot much faster with different lenses already mounted onto cameras. If the worst happens and your camera seizes up, the spare will save the day.
Next, know that lighting won’t be ideal. Indoor spaces will be dark, and some of them don’t allow flash lighting. Choose a camera with very high ISO capabilities. You may be shooting at an ISO of at least 3200 up to 12,800 and beyond.
Choose a camera with quiet shutter options. Canon’s 5D Mark III has a silent shutter mode as well as a quiet video mode. Nikon’s D800 also sports a calm manner and gives you “beep” volume control. Sony’s a7S has an entirely silent mode and mirrorless cameras, in general, tend to be quieter than DSLRs. Many other cameras have similar modes, usually in the “shooting modes” menu or dial. Find out if your camera has this mode. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Lastly, it’s wise to use camera bodies with dual memory card slots. You can set slot A as your primary and slot B to mirror the contents of A. If you suffer a card failure or randomly lose it, you still have your extra space and card. Cameras with dual slots include (but not limited to):
- Canon 5D Mark III (1 CF, 1 SD)
- Canon 1D X (2 x CF)
- Canon 1D X Mark II (1 CF, 1 CFast)
- Nikon D810 (1 CF, 1 SD)
- Nikon D4s (1 CF, 1 XQD)
- Nikon D5 (2 x CF)
- Nikon D7200 (2 x SD)
- Fuji X-Pro 2 (2 x SD)
Committing Your Skills
Getting back to basics will both calm your nerves and increase your confidence before the big day. Here are some photography, 101 tips and techniques that are built to last.
What Shutter Speed to Use
For hand-held shots, use a shutter speed that is faster than the reciprocal of the lens’ focal length. Using a 200mm telephoto, for example, requires a 1/200th of second shutter speed or fast to prevent unwanted blur. A 50mm would require faster than 1/50th of a second. If you’re getting motion blur, remember this rule.
What Aperture to Use
The shallow depth of field portraits tends to be more flattering. Choose an aperture at f/4 or broader and focus on your subject’s eyes.
What Mode to Shoot In
Consider shooting in Aperture Priority Mode (Av – where you control the f/stop and the camera does the rest) or Shutter Priority Mode (Tv – where you control the shutter speed and the camera does the rest) rather than in fully Auto or fully manual mode. It will give you enough control to be artistic or better learn the camera but not so much power that you’re messing with settings and missing the action.
Positioning and the Sun
It’s counterintuitive to want to shoot into the sun but keeping the sun off your subject’s face will prevent squinting, and overly backlit photos produce a fun and summery feel for wedding photos. To shoot like this, you’ll need to leave your comfort zone of shooting in auto mode because the camera is too good at trying to keep entire scenes adequately exposed, which means your foreground (the subject) will be underexposed compared to the backlighting. You have to override the camera’s tendency to do this. A rapid way to override your camera’s settings is to use the exposure compensation dial to intentionally over or underexpose your scene accordingly to taste.
What Hours to Shoot During
The quality of light is better during the early morning and early evening hours, known as blue and golden hours. The blue hour is the hour preceding sunrise and the one following sunset, while the golden hour is the first and last hour of sunlight in a day. If the wedding (or pre-wedding) events happen to coincide with these times, seize the moment!
A little bit of preparation goes a long way. Don’t let lack of experience keep you from producing pictures of the heart. With the right equipment and some quality time bonding with it, you will be able to create a visual story with every moment.
How to Photograph a Wedding: Getting Technical
Avoiding wrong exposures
As we’ve already mentioned, there is no room for mistakes in wedding photography. The photos have to be shot in RAW because wedding albums are always edited in Lightroom, and Photoshop and JPEGs limit you in what you can change and add in post-processing.
To avoid wrong exposures, there are two handy tricks:
- Firstly, it’s unnecessary to shoot in manual mode all the time; aperture priority mode comes in handy when you need to walk around looking for special moments, but you don’t want to worry about your shutter speed.
- Secondly, using live view exposure preview can eliminate those test shots you need to take before nailing the right exposure. This can be a real life-saver if you don’t have time for test shots.
- One more thing to be careful about when shooting weddings (and especially when shooting a bride) is the highlight warning. Most cameras nowadays have this setting; the image’s overexposed areas will flash red on your LCD screen.
This usually happens when you shoot a bride outdoors in the sun, and it means you have to lower your exposure so that you don’t lose the fine details of her wedding dress. It’s always safer that your images are slightly underexposed than overexposed if you can’t get the perfect exposure.
Optimal aperture and shutter speed
While it’s hard to recommend the best combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO for wedding photography, there’s a specific range of settings that work well in the majority of cases.
The shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/80 prevents blurriness, while the aperture between f/1.8 and f/5.6 can accommodate various types of portraits. For example, the depth of field at f/2.8 is usually more than enough to have both the bride and groom in focus, while the aperture of f/5.6 works well with larger groups of people.
If the light conditions are reasonably good, ISO doesn’t have to be more than 400. Under any circumstances, raising ISO more than it’s necessary should be avoided.
Using Servo AF
Besides ideal exposures, the correct focus is something that every wedding photographer has to be extremely careful about. AI Servo AF is the perfect mode for shooting moving subjects at wedding venues. This AF mode is designed to capture moving subjects properly when the focusing distance keeps changing if you hold down the shutter button halfway. In contrast, in Servo AF mode, your issue will be focused continuously.
On-camera or off-camera Speedlight
Using an on-camera Speedlight gives minimal possibilities to wedding photographers. Yet, it can be used for outdoor portraits, combined with natural light. In such a case, Speedlight plays the role of a fill light, which usually works great.
If a Speedlight is used indoors, its head should be angled slightly sideways to get a directional bounce and avoid overly flat or washed out images. Off-camera flash is a much better option for weddings. Professional wedding photographers often carry 3-4 speedlights with them along with a few transceivers.
This approach’s main advantage is that there is no direct light hitting the subject; the light source is always slightly off on the side. This kind of setting can be used not only for portraits but also for details such as rings, shots, cakes and flowers.
The third option would be asking an assistant or second shooter to hold the off-camera flash at arm’s length away from the camera. While this is not always practical at crowded wedding venues, it can yield excellent results under the right circumstances.
Using rear curtain sync
It’s a good idea to change the default flash setting from front curtain sync to rear curtain sync when shooting weddings.
Rear-curtain sync tells the flash to go off at the end of the exposure, not at the beginning of it. This means that any motion blur will appear behind the subject instead of in front of it, making dancing scenes much more realistic.
Rejoice With Your Clients!
In addition to all these rules, there’s one thing no wedding photographer should ever forget. A wedding is a happy event and a great occasion for everyone (including photographers) to feel good and enjoy the abundance of positive emotions and small joys of life. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
If you shoot weddings while in a depressive or anxious mood, this will indeed affect your clients’ experience. Connecting with people around you in an emotional and not just in a strictly professional way will make the quality of your work and your own experience much more profound.