Wedding ceremonies often take place during a 20-30 minute window of time leaving you with a limited time to capture moments as they unfold.

In order to help determine what the key moments are to focus on so that you never miss a wedding moment, we created Photographing the Ceremony, the fifth installment in our Wedding Workshop series. The training we go through will provide wedding photographers with the education necessary to be prepared for any ceremony scene and situation.

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In order to gain new perspectives on how to photograph wedding ceremonies, we asked 14 award-winning photographers in the SLR Lounge Community what tips they would give to those intimidated by short ceremonies and getting in the action and here’s what they had to say:

Nicole Chan

“One of my favorite perspectives is straight on at the couple’s parents/people sitting in the front row. I like using wider lenses to really create the feeling that I’m right up in the action and close to them! The secret sauce is timing. I try to find little stories happening. I love capturing hilarity (if there’s an especially funny officiant) or gushy criers (if there’s an especially emotional portion of the ceremony).”

See more from Nicole Chan on her Instagram & Website

Ning Wong

“Use your phone screen to create some cool reflections and patterns! If you’re tired of the same shot from the back of the church, try taking your phone out and holding it right below your lens. Angle your phone screen up and down to get the right reflection. Make sure you wipe your screen beforehand, so you can get a clean reflection.”

“Watch the kids – you never know what they are up to…usually something adorable!”

See more from Ning Wong on his Instagram & Website

Amii & Andy Kauth

“We like to change our perspective and use a variety of “tools” to put an artistic touch to our photographs, which our clients love (and love to print). Our advice? Get low … or even get underneath. We also love to get creative with a Prism.”


See more from Amii & Andy on their  Instagram & Website


“Shooting mostly Catholic church services, it’s super tough to get creative. Our best option is to think ahead and be daring! At times, we try to sacrifice the average shoot and go out on a limb and take a chance. It can be super stressful in the moment, but the dividends pay off if it works.”

See more from Seth and Beth on their Instagram & Website

Julia Goss

“One of my favorite parts of the ceremony in a church is communion. It’s the one time during the ceremony that no one is really watching the couple as guests are participating. They have a chance to chat and just focus on one another instead of worrying about all eyes on them. I always make sure I’m in a good spot with a long lens to get their interactions during this time as they tend to be my favorite moments.”

See more from Julia Goss on her Instagram & Website

Ashley Fisher

“I tell my couples to remember to look at each other while recessing. Sometimes only one of them does it, but I just love that look of adoration and pride when they come back down!”

See more from Ashley Fisher on her Instagram & Website

Brian Carter

“Many times I am able to view the ceremony from angles/locations that others cannot and I ALWAYS try to capitalize on these. I love when I show my couples a photo and they say, ‘where did you take this/where was this?’ In this photo I was on huge sailboat standing in the middle of the boat on a raised spot nobody else was allowed to go. I loved the way the wind was playing with the brides hair.”

“Do the opposite: Sometimes I think to myself, ‘what have I captured so far?’ – If I’ve shot wide, I start shooting telephoto, if I’ve shot the bride and groom in direct light, I try shooting them on the shaded side. In this example I laid on the ground with a 24mm to try and capture the scene of this wedding in the Redwoods.”

“Use the environment and look for unique opportunities for composition. Shoot through….something! This is a great way to remove details you don’t want. The officiant had a big podium and ugly notebook to the right of the bride I wanted to block out. I shot this photo through a wooden bench.”

“Try and integrate details that help tell the story of the wedding day!”

See more from Brian Carter on his FacebookWebsite

[REWIND: 12 Bridesmaid Posing Cues From 12 Extraordinary Wedding Photographers]

Christina Blanarovich

“Have an eye on family, as well as the bride and groom. The mother of the groom broke down with happy tears as the bride was walking down the aisle. After I shot the groom I quickly panned to Mom because I saw her out of the corner of my eye and got this priceless moment of her crying and Dad consoling her while smiling at his son.”

See more from Christina on her  Instagram & Website

Jason Vinson

“One thing that I have really been trying to work on is getting close. Almost every single ceremony image I see looks the same. That’s because almost every photographer sits at the back of the church taking images with a telephoto lens. And I get it. The church has rules and it’s the only place you could shoot from. What else could you do? The problem is that it’s so easy to get used to following these rules even when no one tells us we have to abide by them. You get used to hanging out at the back of the church, taking the 2 or 3 images you can get, and then playing around with Instagram stories until something interesting happens. But if no one tells us we need to stay in the back, we should fully take advantage. Not only that, but we should be proactive in talking to the church officials to gain the access we need. Even if they normally have a set rule, a lot of the times they will waive that rule with a simple conversation and explanation of what you are trying to do.”

“Once you have the access to get close though, it can feel really uncomfortable actually doing it. You feel like you are blocking guests and causing a scene. This is another reason why it’s hard to get close. We don’t want to be a distraction. We feel like all eyes are on us. But in reality, staying far away is actually doing our clients a disservice. Because if you think about it, we are not just shooting these images for them. We are also shooting these images for their future kids and their future grandkids. And where do you think your couples want their future kids to see their wedding from? Definitely not from the back of the church! If their kids were at the wedding, they would be front and center. That’s where you should be. This is also a great explanation to give to church officials to gain access.”

“This all said, there needs to be some grace in these actions. You being up close and personal won’t be a distraction. But you being up close and personal while constantly moving up, down, back, and forth will be. You have to be intentional and precise with your placement. Know when you want to be close and where you want to be. When it’s time, get in, get your shot, then get out. Don’t hang out for the entire wedding and don’t spend the entire wedding jumping to the front for every moment. Like anything in photography, don’t let it be the only tool on your belt that you use. But definitely use that tool when you can!”

See more from Jason on his Instagram & Website

Trevor Dayley

“Keep an eye open for watery eyes. When you see those you know a tear is coming soon. Make sure you have your drive mode set to continuous shooting and when you see the tear start to form hold the shutter down to fire off a series of shots before your subject is able to wipe the tear away. A telephoto lens like the 200mm is your friend in this situation as well.”

“As you move around to different spots, use back button focus to pre-focus your shots so in a moments notice when you see something worth capturing, like laughter or tears, you can pull the camera up, frame and shoot without having to waste time on focusing.

See more from Trevor on his Instagram & Website

[REWIND: 20 Posing And Directing Cues For Portraiture]

Stephane Lemaire

“I particularly like to line up the bride and her mom right after the couple get to the altar. It often is a nice composition and an opportunity to get powerful shots like that one where the bride’s mother was wiping off her tears. Those are the shots I am running after.”

See more from Stephane on his Instagram & Website

Justin Haugen

“I try to remember to do a panorama at every wedding ceremony. I love the look of a large scene captured by a telephoto lens. You get this wide angle view but with the compression of a telephoto. It’s very easy to do a handheld panorama by shooting vertically and moving your camera incrementally from left to right. I start by locking focus on the bride and groom and then I disengage autofocus and shoot in manual mode to keep the focus and exposure settings consistent frame to frame. Panoramas make for great wide canvases and are so easy to stitch together in Lightroom.”

See more from Justin on his Instagram & Website

Timothy Eyerich

“Use flash to create the light you want.”

“Use your smart phone as a reflection.”

See more from Timothy on his Instagram & Website

Pye Jirsa

“Give your second shooter the safe shot, you take the artistic risks. For example, I love using tilt-shift lenses to create a soft, dream-like look that works especially well with bright and airy images. It is a good idea to have a back-up shooter covering the action whenever you switch to a tilt-shift lens to ensure that you don’t miss any important moments.”

See more from Pye Jirsa on his Instagram & Website

Photographing The Ceremony

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