Let’s say you’re at a wedding and circumstances force you to shoot solo. Not to worry! In this video, I’ll be walking through how to photograph the first look wedding moment completely on your own in 7 easy steps.

Video: How to Photograph the First Look Wedding Moment By Yourself

First look wedding photos capture the moment the bride and groom see each other for the first time. As photographers, our goal is to capture the spontaneous and raw emotion during that scene. We usually accomplish this by using multiple shooters from various angles and focal lengths. However, a situation might arise that forces you to capture this moment alone. Using the following 7 steps, you can learn how to handle this situation with ease.

For this video, I’ll be using the Canon EOS R5 with the RF 28-70mm f/2 lens. Let’s dive in.

Step #1: Choose Your Location

The goal of first look wedding moment is to capture raw and authentic emotion. To accomplish this, I prefer to find a clean and simple background. This helps draw more attention to the couple’s expressions. I also selected this location for the large opening on the side that provided beautiful bright light.

Ideally, you’ll choose the location in advance, so be sure to arrive early to scout the spot. Focus on a scene that helps focus the attention on your subject’s emotions.

Step #2: Use a Zoom Lens

first look wedding angles
A zoom lens provides a variety of angles.

Because you’re by yourself, you’ll be moving around. This is to cover the angles that other photographers will usually be capturing. With a zoom lens, you can close in on the expressions, then widen out to capture the overall scene. While it’s not impossible to capture the first look wedding scene with a prime, a zoom lens will give you a bigger variety of angles.

My go to choice of lens is the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 for its flexibility and versatility.

Related Reading: Why the Canon RF 28-70mm is My Favorite Lens

Step #3: Shoot in Manual Mode

When it comes time to dial in your settings, I recommend manual mode for the consistency and control. Maintaining consistent exposure settings will make post-production much easier. Also, shooting in auto mode or priority mode might result in undesired effects in your images. This includes blurry images from too slow of a shutter speed, excessive noise, or not enough bokeh.

In this series of first look wedding photos, my goal was to capture the expressions. However, they can happen quickly. To do this, I maintained a base shutter speed of at least 1/500 of a second. I also wanted a shallow depth of field at f/2 or f/2.8. Then, the ISO would be my last setting based on these visual elements. I had enough light to stay at ISO 50, however, don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO if needed.

Step #4: Position Your Subjects

Take extra care to get an authentic first look moment.

To capture a genuine reaction, it’s important to position your couple to prevent any peeks or premature glances. In this first look wedding scene, was limited in space. I placed the bride in the corner and guided the groom backwards to his position.

Step #5: Direct Your Subjects

Here, you’ll explain to your subjects where the camera will be to capture certain shots. If you’re looking for a profile shot in your groom, let him know not to turn past a certain point. You can instruct your bride to wait a moment before having the groom turn around to capture a shot of them side by side. Then, after you capture your key shots, give them the time to have their moment while you shoot around them.

Step #6: Cue the Action

first look wedding gallery

Now it’s time to capture the first look wedding moment. You can see in my example all the shots as well as the directions I provided in action. It’s important to know that your subjects may forget a direction or turn too far that way, etc. Be sure you’re able to adapt quickly and go with the moment.

Step #7: Be Ready to Move

first look wedding spontaneous shots
Be flexible to capture beautiful unplanned moments.

Give room for spontaneity. You just might capture some incredible shots you didn’t initially have planned. With the proper settings and lens, you’ll be ready to capture any unexpected moment.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. They key to capturing the first look wedding moment is to maintain control where you can. This includes your gear, settings, location, good planning, and clear and concise direction. By following these steps, you’ll be ready for any unexpected scenario where you find yourself photographing solo. For a complete guide on photographing wedding photography, check out the Complete Wedding Training System on SLR Lounge Premium. In addition, check out Visual Flow for presets as well as retouching tools for Lightroom.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!