One of the first things wedding photographers usually capture on a wedding day is the details, which is true for both the bride and groom. If possible, we recommend shooting details (such as the shoes, dress/tux, jewelry, flowers, etc.) on the subject rather than isolated like products. This keeps the story flowing from getting hair and makeup done to putting on the dress and details and then posing for portraits. If your subject elects to have commercial style product shots taken of the details, and if it’s at all possible given time constraints, try to shoot both styles of detail images for later use when designing the album.
As is true with other genres of photography, including newborn, family, and engagement shoots, wedding photography benefits greatly when shot with storytelling in mind. Wide, medium, and tight angles help set up and move through each scene, focusing on the location, the subjects’ expressions, and the details.
Direction and Lighting
Direct each scene with intention and always light and pose your subjects with purpose. If you are photographing the back of a bride to feature her dress and figure, for example, follow through with great attention to detail to craft a flattering portrait. Make sure she pulls her shoulders back to accentuate muscle tone, and use subject placement and lighting to highlight such features, whether with natural light or a strobe. Getting the right angle with lighting can make the difference between a mediocre or a great shot.
Another thing to keep in mind with lighting is that your lighting technique should match the story and emotion of the image. In other words, editorial poses will likely look better with dramatic lighting while whimsical, candid poses usually look better with natural lighting.
If you are photographing the wedding but not post-producing it, then it is imperative that the vision for particular scenes be clearly communicated in terms of intended mood and style, especially when it comes to lighting.
Posing Large Groups
When posing large groups, start with your centerpiece (bride and groom) and then build out from there. Next, take the time to analyze how well the group is balanced in terms of subject placement (spacing and posing). It isn’t necessary to match each side with the same amount of people, which happens with odd numbered groups, but balance can be achieved with careful subject placement. Also, watch for connections between the subjects. It’s all or none, here. If half of the group is connected with either physical connection (placing a hand on the shoulder) or overlapping, and the other half is disconnected, the image will not look right. As is true in so many areas, consistency is key. Family formal portraits, which range in size from small to large groups, represent one of the most important parts of a wedding day, so it’s important to take the time and get it right.
Location, location, location. Don’t get stuck in the room. Often, we tend to stay in a location because we’re already there, but it can be rewarding to venture out. If you scout locations before you begin photographing them, you can limit the risks of leaving the room (if you start in a room to get prep and detail images) and finding nothing and instead take advantage of great locations and backgrounds. Of course, the extent to which you can do this significantly depends on time constraints.
In addition to following along with these tutorials, we recommend joining SLR Lounge community members at slrlounge.com/critique. You can search for particular genres by clicking on a featured tag or using the search feature. If you’re on Facebook, don’t miss live critique sessions on Mondays, and tune in on Fridays for live Awards Announcements, which you can learn more about here.