Guest Photographers Getting in the Way of your Shots
When I meet with a couple before the wedding, I will usually mention that they ask their guests to let me do my job and stay out of my path when I am shooting, but there is always that one person who is always in your way. I was shooting a wedding a couple of years ago, and the bride was coming down the stairs to make the big reveal. I was trying to get into a position for the best shot when her Aunt stepped right in front of me to get her photo. She did say ‘Excuse Me’ but it wasn’t a polite ‘Excuse Me’. I missed the natural, candid shot, but luckily the bride was cooperative and we did a quick replay so I could get my shot. If you encounter this, simply say ‘Excuse Me, but they are paying me to photograph these events so I would appreciate having space to do so’, or something along those lines. If it is a posed shot, I will set it up, ensure that I have a few good shots and then step aside so the guests can also get a few shots with their own cameras.
It is a Very Long Day
Shooting a Wedding can sometimes be stressful and tiring. Make sure you keep well hydrated and eat small snacks throughout the day or you will be going home with a headache. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Bring an extra set of clothing also. It may be the hottest day of the year, or the rainiest day of the year, but it is good to be prepared and comfortable.
Bad Ceremony Lighting
The lighting is usually not to be desired inside a Church or any other place of worship. It is usually very dim and the lighting is very warm. One way to help with what settings to use is to use a light meter. If you don’t have a light meter, there is an app for that. Flashes during the ceremony can be distracting and draws the attention from the newlyweds to you, which you don’t want! Some Churches and places of worship don’t like flash photography during the ceremony. The first thing you could try is using a 50mm 1.4 lens and shooting wide open. This will let the maximum amount of light in and make your photos brighter. Try not to reduce your shutter speed to anything less than 1/100 or you will get blurry photos. Instead, increase your ISO to the point where you know your camera can still give you quality images without a lot of noise. I try not to turn the ISO up past 1000, but that is my camera. Many cameras are wonderful in low light and the quality of the image is excellent at a high ISO. You just need to know your camera (you should know your camera inside and out before shooting a wedding).
If you absolutely need to use flash, try and bounce it and use a hot shoe flash, not the flash that comes with your camera. Try and bounce the flash off something white or neutral, otherwise you will get a color cast.
The Dark Reception
This can be as challenging as shooting the Ceremony in a dim lit Church, but using a flash is definitely encouraged here. Just be sure to diffuse it and/or bounce it.
Another suggestion is setting up an off camera flash to add some extra light on your subjects. You can back light, side light, create lens flare etc. You can be really creative with this. You could also use a strobe if you don’t have a slave flash.
If you don’t have an off camera flash, just follow the suggestions for the Ceremony lighting. Bump up your ISO to a point where you are comfortable you won’t have a lot of noise, and/or use a good lens with a wide aperture (1.4).
Large Group Photos
Fitting everyone into large group photos can be very challenging. Try getting up to a higher point than your subjects. A chair or ladder will work, or even going up to the top of a building. The top of a hill would also work if there are any around. This will ensure you get everyone in the photo. A good, wide angle lens will also do the trick.
Bright Sunshine/Too Much Light
Have your subjects face into the light, or if it is too bright to do that comfortably (you don’t want everyone squinting), use a fill flash to reduce the contrast on the face as well as any shadows. When shooting in full sunlight reduce your ISO to 100 or 200.
You are always going to face challenges when shooting Weddings whether it be your 1st or 500th. Every Wedding gives you new experiences and knowledge to use for next time. The best piece of advice I would give to anyone is if you aren’t comfortable enough to shoot a wedding by yourself, ask to assist another photographer on a wedding or be a 2nd shooter. This way you can learn the ins and outs. Even the best Wedding Photographers face challenges, but it is always important to stay calm, cool and collected. If you are stressed out or nervous, you can be sure the Bride and Groom will pick up on that!