14 tips for amateur wedding photographers
Wedding season is upon us — aka every season. No matter what time of the year it is, there’s always a wedding that needs a photographer. After all, photos are arguably the most important part of the day besides the ceremony itself. Photographs are the only tangible things the couple and their loved ones will look back on for years to come — no pressure or anything.
If you’re relatively new to the wedding photography scene, or if you’re looking for more inspiration, we’ve got you covered. Wedding photography can be intimidating, but with these tips, you’ll go into the day as confident in your abilities as possible.
Below, we assemble some of the best wedding photography tips we’ve come across to help you take the best wedding photos you can.
- Create a shot list and go over it with the couple
Going into the day of the wedding with a shot list that’s approved by the couple will make your day 100 times easier. Sit down with the couple and get an idea of what they want — what types of photos and where. Do they want “First Look” photos? What about family photos? Compiling this information from the couple will allow you to create a list that you can check off during the day, ensuring you don’t forget anything.
2. Scout the location a few weeks beforehand if possible
This tip is great if you can lump it in with number one. Make sure to get all the details from the couple about where their ceremony is, where their reception is, and where they might want to take photos. This gives you a chance to understand what backgrounds you’ll be working with, how the light might come into play, and backup plans for when things go wrong — this leads right into tip number
3. Prepare for anything
Anything can happen at a wedding — anything. This could be weather related, venue related, or during the ceremony. Bottom line is you have to prepare for anything. Have a back-up plan in place for outdoor photos in case it’s raining. Bring some umbrella props or scout out indoor locations near the ceremony or venue that could be substituted if need be. Discuss this with the couple so they can brainstorm other ideas, too! They might have ideas for props to incorporate in their shoot (like umbrellas or jackets, etc) in case something goes wrong.
4. Rent backup gear and an extra camera
Buying gear right off the bat if this is one of your first wedding shoots can be a huge investment. That’s why places like Lens Loft exist! We always recommend renting extra equipment — including another camera — in case something goes wrong or if you’re trying to get a different type of shot. Have another camera with a different lens so you can get multiple angles. For example, we recommend having a camera with a wide-angle lens for candid shots and in tight spaces — like during the ceremony when you’re trying to be inconspicuous. Have another camera with a longer lens, too, which will also be handy during the ceremony.
5. Remind the bridesmaids to smile!
Have a pep talk with the bridesmaids before the ceremony to remind them to constantly smile! It can be nerve wracking to walk down an aisle in front of a lot of people, but tell them to walk slowly and to smile. This will make photos look much better, and they’ll be super thankful for it. Remind them that they look great!
6. Don’t forget about the small details
The bride and groom put a ton of time into details that often go unnoticed — get close-up photos of the reception venue, place settings, and flowers before guests arrive, if possible. These details complete the story of a wedding. Get shots of the cake, flowers, rings, dress details, tie details, jewelry, hair, and more.
7. Designate one bridesmaid or groomsmen to help you gather everyone for group shots
Group shots can take up a ton of precious time if you’re constantly trying to corral everyone. The best people to help you in this situation are the people in the wedding. Ask to speak to a bridesmaid and groomsmen before the ceremony to designate them as your help during group photos. They’ll be able to pinpoint where everyone is or contact people if need be. This will help you save time so you can get as many photos as possible.
8. Golden hour is the best hour
If weather permits, Golden Hour is the best time to get some couple shots. Even if you already have shots with the couple, make sure to get more! There’s something so beautiful about the light just as the sun sets and you should definitely use it to your advantage.
To help you find the best time and location for your next shot, download the app Golden Hour One from the App Store. It’ll give you things like when golden hour is, the weather indexes, sunrise and sunset times, and more — it’s basically a personal assistant right from your pocket.
9. Shoot photos of the bride by herself
This is her day — take photos of her by herself at any chance you get. Get detail shots of the dress, her rings, her jewelry, hair, and more. There’s no doubt that she put hours and hours into her wedding, and she’ll want to remember everything. Ask her what shots she wants of herself, too, during the planning phase, and make sure to get candids of her getting ready, if possible!
10. Turn the sound off of your camera
This is particularly important during the ceremony and speeches. Make sure the sound is switched off before the ceremony starts so nothing is interrupted.
11. Learn how to use Diffused Light
Learning how to bounce a flash or diffuse it is key for wedding photography. In churches, especially, you’ll notice that light is very low (this might also be the case at the reception). Make sure to check if you can use a flash inside the church, and make sure to check if a bouncing flash will work or if you want to buy or rent a flash diffuser. If you can’t diffuse the flash, you’ll need to use a fast lens with wide apertures (or bump up the ISO).
12. Shoot in RAW
Shooting in RAW gives you the absolute best flexibility for photo editing. You’ll have a lot more control over things like white balance, exposure, and shadow. This is super helpful when there’s tricky types of lighting, or when the lighting is too dark. To be safe, always shoot weddings in RAW.
13. Don’t delete any photos
In the moment, you might think a photo is a mistake — but don’t you dare delete it! A photo you take on accident might end up being the couple’s favorite. Make sure to go over the RAW files with them before editing to see if there’s an unplanned shot in there that they love.
14. Use continuous shooting mode
This should be your go-to shooting mode because it helps you capture things as soon as they happen. Continuous shooting mode will give you the ability to shoot a lot of images very fast, which is extremely handy at a wedding. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to capture laughter, tears, and more emotions.
With these tips, you can go into shooting a wedding with confidence. If you need extra equipment for a wedding shoot, check out Lens Loft so you can get whatever you need to capture the perfect shot.