This past weekend it was my friends’ wedding, and they asked me to do their wedding photography. This was quite a daunting request as I have previously mainly focused on wildlife, and I find humans a very difficult subject. With humans, you can control your subject, so pros know how to eliminate the faintest of shadows, or put in fake ones. A good photographer can give excellent instructions to their models. And people get impatient, or there might be time pressure. Being my friends, I couldn’t say no, nor would I want to.
Wedding photography can be an extremely lucrative business, and a lot of people try and do it in their spare time as a decent source of income (but equally a lot of people avoid it, and not just because it means attending weddings). However, the business is dragged down by people who try and beat the competition by doing it for a minimal price of £200 per wedding. Factor in days of preparation (shot lists, location scouting, potentially a second cameraperson for big weddings, post-processing, and wedding album design for some); this quickly doesn’t seem so lucrative after all. Other competition the good photographers have to contend with is relatives (every person knows someone who knows their way around a dSLR) and photographers who aren’t great but when judged by the untrained eye look OK.
Before embarking on the assignment I spoke to one or two people who do it regularly during wedding season. I’d also just finished designing a wedding album. Here are tips I’ve managed to pick up:
- Always shoot for an album. This means have detail shots that will look great as backgrounds on paper, against which other photos can be aligned. Blurry shots may look OK small but when blown up they do not. Remember your white balance and other camera settings if using more than one camera – the differences can ruin a good photo album.
- Have more than one camera with different lenses because you do not want to be switching from telephoto to wide angle. Best telephoto lens: 50-200mm f/2.8 lens – this allows you to get close-ups without being conspicuous.
- Have a shot list. If two families come together from different parts of the world it will be unlikely some of these people will be in the same room again in the near future.
- Scout out your location and have a weather-proof plan B. I was very lucky because the whole week it had been clear and the day before the wedding it was pouring down with rain enough to clear up for the day of the wedding again.
- Think about your time limits. If you are doing a civil service wedding (like mine) it will be over before you know it. Also, if you are planning to take time to do portrait shots, make sure this time the bride/groom spend away from their family is factored in.
Below is a quickly-processed selection of my attempt.