As with previous episodes of Roundtable Critique, we are going to review an entire session and discuss ways to improve the images. Following along through these critiques should help you think critically when analyzing your own shots, which should, in turn, allow you to take even better images during future shoots.


In a given scene, keep the lighting consistent. If you decide to light a scene dramatically by lowering the ambient exposure in camera and adding flash to highlight your subject (whether your subject is a person or an object, like a wedding dress), then all of the images in that scene should be shot with the same lighting style. Otherwise, when designing an album spread or a cluster of wall art to feature the images side by side, they won’t fit together cohesively.

Also, when shooting against reflective surfaces, such as a picture frame, the background cannot be brighter than the reflective surface, or else you’ll see the background in the reflection.


When shooting portraits, especially of the bride, watch for the angles of the nose and chin, and be sure the bride’s nose does not break the plane of the face (as it will make her nose appear larger). Also, keep an eye out for flattering jawlines and cheekbones. Ask the bride to extend her chin forward if necessary to chisel the jawline, and you can adjust the angle of the face left or right, or up or down.


While shoot-throughs usually make for interesting compositional elements, they can also be misused, or at least not used to their potential. This can happen when the area of focus does not take up enough real estate within the frame, especially if the blurry portion basically reveals the entire scene and far outweighs the in-focus portion. Instead, it would be beneficial to crop tighter and reveal less of the out of focus scene, drawing our focus solely to the intended focal point. The exception to this occurs when using a lot of negative space to frame a subject.


Shooting from the shadows creates a nice highlight around the edge of the subject, and with a proper shoot through, you can create depth in the frame using the foreground elements to draw focus to the intended subject.


When shooting for story, we suggest capturing wide, medium, and tight angles in each scene; however, shooting for story does not mean focusing any less on maintaining artistry in your images. Lead by asking yourself, “What type of artistic shot do I want to get?” Then, slow down and figure out ways to frame the shot from multiple artistic angles.


Again, try to find foreground elements to add depth to your photos, and background elements as well. It’s a trick used often in cinema to add interest to scenes, and it also works well for still images. Here, the groomsmen and table create the foreground elements while the frame and wall in the background are far enough away to add another layer of depth.


Choose your scenes carefully and consider all of the angles you’ll use (or that your second and third shooters will use), and determine if the location will work. For example, if you’re scouting a spot for a first look, look for a place with decent lighting and clean backgrounds. It helps to discuss the first look location with the bride and groom before the wedding day. Ask them what they are looking for, or if they have particular requests. If you absolutely cannot help but shoot in a bad location, consider creative angles to conceal unwanted elements. If there are cars in the background, try shooting lower or using foreground elements to conceal them.

The same is true for grip and grins and family formals, though grip and grins are usually a little less formal. Choose the best possible background and frame out distracting elements.


Table shots are an important part of reception details. When framing table shots, make sure there’s a clear focal point or subject within the frame. If you’re focusing on flowers, make sure they’re not placed at the back of the table or in some other place that is not aesthetically pleasing. You should also keep in mind the idea of incorporating layers. Don’t isolate the tables completely. Instead, reveal the room to add depth to the scene.


You can use a bounce flash for safety shots, but we encourage you to try more action-oriented shots like the dance floor twist, or use off-camera flash to create more interesting, directional lighting.