Weddings are great events for photographers. Everyone expects you to be taking photos and so will pay you less mind than normally. In addition people will be smiling, wearing nice clothes and trying to look their best. This is a great combination for the amateur photographer. Another bonus is that the great shots you take can be presented to the happy couple later as a gift that will be treasured.
Here are my tips to help you make your next set of wedding photographs the best you have ever taken.
1) Remember that you are not the official wedding photographer.
The official wedding photographer will have their own set of priorities and specific shots to take. This is both their strength and their weakness. While they are busy organising group shots of the brides family, you should be looking in the other direction to find out what else is going on.
Candid snaps of people laughing or kids playing rarely get taken by the official photographer, but are often the shots that the happy couple actually want to see. If you notice a guest is being silly, be ready with a fast shutter speed to capture facial expressions and odd poses.
2) Remember that these photographs are for you to keep as well.
Do remember to take at least a few shots of the happy couple though. This is where following the official photographer can reap dividends. They set up the shot for you, so don't be shy about using their skill to your advantage. But, as a matter of courtesey, don't get between their lens and the bride and groom. After all the official wedding photographer is being paid to produce great shots and you know how hard that can be.
3) Don't be afraid to get up close.
Most official photographers cannot afford to play with more experimental in-camera cropping because they have to produce good shots. This means they are unlikely to be tempted to play with tight crops. This leaves you in a position to take some shots that may or may not work. When they do, they are pure gold.
4) Don't wait until the ceremony starts to get your camera out of your bag.
Most people arrive up to an hour or two before the ceremony, leaving you plenty of time to take more relaxed shots of wedding preparations.
5) Don't forget about colour.
Most weddings have a lot of black (the groom's costume) and white (the wedding dress) elements, so look for compositions with other strong colour to add vibrancy. Such elements might include a bright sky, green lawn, or in this case a blue mother in law.