Digital Wedding Photography Tips


At first glance good digital wedding photography may seem to be a subject best left for the pros.

While that may be true, it is also possible for photography enthusiasts, amateurs, and of course, simply wedding guests who want to capture the special day, to take digital wedding photos like the pros.

An advantage to other people taking digital wedding photography is that you can capture the event from the perspective of a by-stander.

The hired photographer has an agenda which usually consists of a list of standard shots such as the bride getting out of the limousine upon her arrival to the ceremony, the groom shaking hands with the best man, or formal portraits in the garden. However, you do not have those restrictions.

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With this freedom of not having the responsibility of capturing every specific desired image, you can use the information below to record a unique perspective of the event, which you can then turn into a nice gift, (say for the couple’s first anniversary, for the parents of the bride and groom…)or simply as a special remembrance for yourself.  The digital wedding photography tips below are just some of many different styles and possibilities to capture these special moments in time.


Think of yourself as a storyteller.  First and foremost digital wedding photography is about telling a story.  It can be a form of photojournalism, and it can transcend into fine art.  It’s all about your eye.  How do you see this event?  Think of your “job” as telling a story to someone who was not able to be at the wedding (or any event, for that matter.)  What do you want to convey to the person who did not attend?  You are capturing the event, but you are capturing the small details that when put together make up the moments that what happened.  Your hands hold the tool that will record this event through your perspective.  Think about that.  If ten people followed these tips at the same event, ten different stories will have been told.  Tell yours.

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Realistic documentation or fantasy documentation? Decide from the beginning where you want to go with this project of capturing digital wedding photography.  What is your end result going to be?  Are your images going to be for your personal use?  Will they ultimately be a gift?  Do you want generic images for other uses?  (Such as taking images of the bouquets and using them as wall-art.)  copyright_R_Bannon_a3_bouquet Weddings give digital photographers a great opportunity to get creative.  There are a lot of textures at weddings – fabrics in the gowns of the bridal party as well as guests, flowers, food, displays (buffet, cake table…) Even guests dancing give the photographer many opportunities for documenting the event from a fantasy perspective.  By setting your camera to a slow shutter speed and then taking pictures of dancing, you will get streaky images that will have a strong feel of movement.  They may not be in sharp focus, but that’s not what fantasy is about.  Fantasy is about feeling, and telling a story from a different perspective.

Be an observer.  Often times when a main event is unfolding, there is another, more precious event happening.  When the crowd is focusing (no pun intended) on something, say, the bride enters the church – all of the sudden shutters start clicking, flashes start going off, and they are all focused on the subject.  It’s okay to grab that shot, the point of this tip, is to then quickly observe the crowd – just look around, try and blend, don’t be noticed.  What do you see?  You will be surprised at how many great digital photographic opportunities are right around you!  Is there a tear in the father-of-the-groom’s eye?  Is there a little three year old trying to run down the isle and Mom is holding her from the sprint?  These are the types of little digital wedding photography tips that can turn a mundane group of same-as-everyone-else’s photos, into a unique treasure.  So often these are the little noticed events that will become some of the most cherished memories.  After all, what I am telling you to record often becomes the visual record of the stories that get told long after the wedding day is over.

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Be different.  When everyone is taking pictures of the cake, try and take a picture of something different – something related to the cake.  This could be a detail of the cake, or the setting where the cake is.  Another good tip for being different would be to take a picture of the guest who is photographing the cake, for example.  Also, you can take a picture of the same subject, but from a different angle.  Looking at a common scene from a different perspective instantly gets your images noticed.  The viewer recognizes the familiar scene, but because you are presenting it from a different angle, or viewpoint, the viewer stops and notices it.  copyright B. Spring_a3_back_b_g

Listen.  What is being discussed about the wedding by the guests?  If guests are talking about Uncle Elmo who has put the centerpiece flower in his hair, get a shot of that.  You get the point.  Often the subject is handed to you by the other honored guests.  Listen. Act. Shoot.  a3_ribbon_flower_in_hair

Look for sentimental moments. Often people try to hide their emotion.  With this in mind, look for people who suddenly become quiet, or whose body language tells something is going on with them.  Observe their face – is there a tear in their eye?  Are they getting choked up, do they glow of love and pride?  These are the moments that are better captured with a telephoto lens.  Zoom in, take the shot.

Be Complete.  If you take a close-up shot, also take a wide-angle shot.  This puts the event in perspective.  The wider shot gives the close-up a reference point.

Look for funny moments. The spontaneous, mistakes, and comedy that inevitably happens during weddings make for great pictures.  Accidents happen.  Capturing them can be a little bit of like being in the right place at the right time, but you can stack the cards in your favor for capturing these moments by being observant, listening, and anticipating what might happen next.  After observing the crowd as the day goes on, certain individuals may start to emerge as having a greater chance of being the subject of these funny moments.  Keep an eye on them.  You know where I’m going with this…

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Don’t discount the formal shots.  If you are in a position to take some formal shots, by all means, go for it.  Here is a list of some of the more common traditional shots that a wedding photographer might take:

Bride alone, bride with her mother, bride with her maid of honor, groom alone, groom with best man, the bride & groom, bride with her attendants – couple with attendants, bride with siblings, groom with siblings, bride & groom with their siblings, bride with her family, groom with his family, bride and groom with each other’s family, bride and groom with both families… the list can go on-and-on.

The Obvious Tips. Charge your camera(s) before the event.  Make sure your digital media cards are empty.  That means download any images that are currently on your camera’s memory card.  Bring extra batteries and digital media cards.  Do maintenance on the camera before the event, such as cleaning the lenses.

I hope these digital wedding photography tips help you to take better images of special events as well as your photography in general.

PS – Share your digital slr camera with a kid.  Kids feel special when you entrust them with a digital slr camera.  And it’s a real, “Bordum Buster” too.  Adults get a kick out of seeing a kid with a, “grown-up” camera and with the camera set to auto, some pretty cool pics can come out of it.  Children understand you are allowing them to use something valuable and they want to “pay you back” by taking care of it and making you proud.  But most important, by sharing your camera with a kid, you are encouraging and connecting with a child – what a great feeling.

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Thanks, Andy, for the suggestion. There are always more digital wedding photography tips to be shared.

    

11 Responses to “Digital Wedding Photography Tips”

  1. John Says:

    “An advantage to other people taking digital wedding photography is that you can capture the event from the perspective of a by-stander.”

    Another advantage is that you can usually get the original image file with no restrictions on what you want to do with it. A lot of professional photographers claim copyright to the pictures they take, and they may not give you the original files (or film if they’re still doing things the “old-fashioned” way).

    If you want to get reprints at some point, it’s a lot easier if you have the original files and don’t have to go back to your photographer (paying whatever they want to charge) to get copies.

  2. audre Says:

    These are great tips (especially for making a wedding fun to attend when you don’t know anyone besides the bride). I love the ideas about being an “observer” and “listening” for interesting shots. Thanks!

    audre

  3. Roey Says:

    John, Great point about the copyright issue – Thanks!

    Peace,

    Roey.

  4. Roey Says:

    Audre, Thanks for comment – how true!

    Peace,

    Roey.

  5. Andy Says:

    Very good tips!

    At a recent wedding I attended, they put out disposable cameras (one on each table) to let the guests take pictures. I don’t know if there’s a digital equivalent that is reasonable/feasible, but they ended up with quite a few imaginative, different, and interesting wedding pictures that they would not have had otherwise.

    Maybe handing the digital camera to a kid or two (with close supervision, of course!) could achieve similar shots.

    –Andy

  6. Roey Says:

    Thanks, Andy!

    Your comment about handing the digital camera over to a kid is actually near and dear to my heart. It’s amazing to see how children react to that. They can do a really good job, and just connecting the child with photography is such a wonderful feeling. They truly understand that what they have been handed to use is something valuable and the act of sharing is special. I hope everyone does this. Thanks for mentioning it!

    Peace,

    Roey.

    PS- I have a picture of my nephew at a wedding with my camera. I’ll dig it out and post it soon.
    -r*

  7. Andrew Seltz - The Go-To Guy! Says:

    Great suggestions for capturing the moment at a wedding.

    My brother’s inlaws spent a small fortune to hire a very well know photographer for his wedding – and to this day, the most cherished photos he and his wife have from their wedding came from images the guests took with the disposable cameras placed at each table.

    Each amateur knew the bride and groom (unlike the paid pro) and they chose the subjects for their pictures based on that.

    Great article.

    Andrew Seltz – The Go-To Guy!

  8. Roey Says:

    Thanks, Andrew!

    Your brother and sister-in-law are lucky to have such thoughtful, insightful friends and family using those disposable cameras. Sometimes the guests miss the boat with the purpose of those disposable cameras and the bride and groom end up with twenty copies of the same shot that the professional took, rather than the individual fleeting moments that happen during the reception, and the unique perspective each guest has from where they are in the room.

    Peace,

    Roey.

  9. Cindy McKie Says:

    Wonderful article and tips!

    My niece got married last winter in the Dominican Republic and my husband used my sister-in-law’s high end camera to take his own shots of the couple after the ceremony. They turned out better than the hired photographer’s did!

    I think all couples getting married should have a “back up” photographer in the crowd whenever possible. :)

  10. Roey Says:

    Cindy, thanks for the comment!

    So true… always have a backup.

    Peace,

    Roey.

  11. Chica and Jo Says:

    We love the idea of wedding guests taking and sharing digital photographs. A friend getting married saw the idea of distributing cards to her guests asking them to upload their photos to a shared account. She wanted to put the cards at her reception but was just going to toss them on the tables. We helped out by designing a cute box template to hold the cards: http://www.chicaandjo.com/photocards

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