Now we move on to the Ceremony, the most important part of the entire day. As with all of these training guides, we have to mention that you should always check with the lead shooter, as every photographer has a different method and approach.
As the bride and her father walk down the aisle, the lead shooter will either be in position 1A or 1B depending on the rules of the venue and the best angle. If he is in 1A, he will be crouching down to remain relatively unnoticed. In the meantime, the second shooter will be in 2A and 2B, switching back and forth between the bride walking from afar and the groom’s expression. As the bride passes up the second shooter, the most challenging part begins.
About half way up the aisle, the second shooter needs to move into 2C and grab the iconic shot of the groom’s expression over the bride’s shoulder. Wait until half way down the aisle so that the lead shooter has sufficient time to capture the bride and her father walking down the aisle before the second shooter gets into the background of the shot. After the second shooter captures that shot, stay in position for a while and snap away. Don’t move from that position until well after the father of the bride passes the bride off to the groom and everyone’s settled into place.
As the bride and her father move towards the lead shooter, the lead shooter steps to the side to either 3A or 3B for the “handoff” moment when the father shakes the hand of the groom and hugs his daughter.
The third shooter will likely be in 3A or 3B for the entire time capturing some photos of the bride walking down the aisle and some photos of the groom’s expressions. The third shooter’s main focus here is the “handoff” moment, as sometimes the lead shooter’s angle is blocked by something or someone. Of course, you always have the second shooter in 2C as backup as well for that moment.
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The exception for this 3rd shooter position happens if there’s a balcony. If there is access to the balcony, the third shooter would stay up there for the entire aisle portion of the ceremony or maybe even longer depending on the needs of the lead shooter.
Once the ceremony settles in, there are three main positions: 1. Center Aisle (2A), 2. Left Side (3A), and 3. Right Side (1A). As the second and third shooters, be sure to follow the lead and never double up on any of the three major positions. That means that if the lead is center aisle (2A, 2B, or 2C), then the second and third should be over in 1B/1A or 2B/2A. If the lead moves over to 1B/1A, whoever was in that spot switches. The idea here is that all three need to be covered at all times. Never move over to 1C unless you are the lead shooter. This is a very distracting and intrusive position and only the lead shooter should make that decision.
Note: At certain venues during certain times, there will be an amazing wide scenic shot from afar. This should be handled by the 3rd shooter, as the 1st and 2nd shooters need to be focusing on the important action.
Applying the Concept of the V
In our First Look Tutorial, we mentioned the concept of the “V,” and the same concept applies here as well. Think of your lead shooter as the top left or right tip of the letter V, with the couple as the center of the V, and you, the second or third shooter, as the other top tip of the V. So for example, if the lead is in 3A, the second and third should NOT be in 1B, as you will be in his or her shot. If you see a lead shooter move to 3A and you are standing in 1B, move over to 1A. The same idea applies to the other side as well. If the lead shooter is in 1A, do not be in 3B. Remember to ALWAYS be aware of where the lead shooter is.
For the first kiss, our studio likes to stack the center shot with one close up (1A) on a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II and one wide shot (2A) on a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II. The lead photographer capturing the close up shot is crouched down to avoid getting in the frame of the wide shot. The third shooter is getting a side angle of the first kiss (3A). As the bride and groom walk down the aisle, the lead photographer captures the expressions of the bride and groom and walks back with them as they exit the scene. After the Bride and Groom pass the back aisle, the second shooter jumps in and takes photos of the rest of the wedding party and family walking back down the aisle.
Note: Be sure to communicate with the videographer and understand what he or she is going to do for the first kiss. If he is going to use a glidecam and stay close to the bride and groom the entire time, the lead shooter will need to stick to a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and walk shoulder to shoulder with the videographer. Communication is key for getting what you need and maintaining and good relationship with the video team. We’ll cover this in a different article.
Alright, now that we’ve covered the Ceremony positions, angles and must-haves, let’s move on to Reception Details.