Constructive Critique For Wedding Decor Images

Participating in constructive critique, whether giving it or receiving it, is a great way to grow as a photographer. To close out the Photographing the Details Workshop, we’re going to look at several images shot and shared by photographers in training with Lin & Jirsa Photography. As we suggest doing when you are involved in critiquing images, look for what the photographer did right as well as what could have been done better.

Before taking any pictures of the decor, we recommend walking the scene and looking for interesting angles to find the best way to showcase the details. While a number of angles can be explored and tested, a number of them will not work out, which is really why they’re being tested in the first place.

In the case of the image above, the photographer wanted to see how the reception hall would look when highlighting an elaborate tabletop centerpiece in the foreground as well as a decorative tree in the background. The idea is novel, but the execution fell short in the skewed angle of the table and tilt of the room, as well as the abundance of the carpet shown in the frame. There are also too many heroes in the shot (centerpieces, the tree, candelabras, etc.).

Occasionally (actually quite often), post production can have a detrimental effect on the outcome of an image. It’s easy to overprocess an image, especially for exterior detail images when the temptation to crank the sharpness and contrast runs high. However you post process images, try to keep the effects somewhat subtle, and very importantly consistent and cohesive in terms of the overall set.

Compositionally, the image above leaves a bit too much negative space to the right, which seems to highlight only half of the ceremony site. There’s also a person’s shadow that is highly visible in the walkway. This could’ve been prevented in-camera or possibly removed in post.

When photographing details, definitely pay attention to detail! Sometimes, what we leave out is as important as what we leave in. Flash stands, exit signs, table numbers, salt & pepper shakers, all of these need to be carefully considered when setting up and framing a shot.

The angle from which an image is captured can also reveal details that could’ve otherwise been framed out, such as the empty space on the table in the foreground of the above image. If possible, take the time to get the best angle (and focal length) and remember to remove unnecessary objects.

The light that falls across a centerpiece should fall at such an angle as to reveal some shadow and depth to the object. If the light is not positioned far enough away from the camera (ideally at least 45-degrees to the left or right), then there’s a chance the light could look flat and make the centerpiece look less interesting.

Foreground elements can often be used to add depth to an image and draw focus to the intended subject. On occasion, however, they can prove distracting and appear to do little more than block a lot of the frame. This goes back to finding the best angle and setting up proper lighting. When the angle and lighting are so-so, so is the photo.

The hero, or main subject, of a photo should be evident. If a viewer is not lead to know where to look, he/she will likely stop viewing the photo and move onto the next image. When photographing tabletops and centerpieces, be sure to focus on the hero (the centerpiece, for example) and not block it with other elements on the table (such as the napkins shown in the image above). It’s also worth it to make adjustments to the layout if necessary to create a pleasing composition.

In summary, when photographing wedding decor, find the clear hero, be sure to frame the subjects intentionally from the best angle in the room, light them consistently and from an off-camera angle that reveals depth with shadows, and mind the details. When post producing the images, don’t over do it, and again, keep it consistent so that you will have a better chance at getting the images published.