In this new article series, professional and accredited photographer Gareth Christian (www.garethchristianphotography.com) shares his secrets to taking better photos. This month he’s helping you take better photos at weddings.
Tip 1. Use what you know to read the play
Weddings are personal events, though most will follow a familiar format. This gives you the opportunity to “read the play” and be ready to capture gold.
- Think about the shot you want.
- Look for clues about where and when it might be happening and the best position to capture it from.
For example, to capture a shot of the newlyweds in that ‘just married’ scenario where the guests are in the background and they are looking naturally happy, ask yourself:
‘When will they be “just married”?’ Right after the ceremony.
‘When will they look naturally happy?’ Walking back up the isle.
‘When will guests be in the background?’ Once they have walked past the last row of seating.
‘Where should I be to grab their attention and the shot?’ Just past the end of the aisle with the couple walking straight towards me.
Bingo. There’s your shot.
Tip 2. Get an original angle
Most wedding photos by guests are from eye level, so to really create something memorable score yourself an original angle. To do so, try these tips:
- Stand on a chair. This will include more background details, adding to the story in your image. Similarly, positioning yourself down low can add extra energy to your photos (and is a great tip whenr photographing kids).
- People being photographed tend to relax more without a photographer staring at them from the other side of a lens, so play with the self-timer on your camera. Place it on the ground or table and get a group of friends to lean in and over.
- Shoot from the hip, and I mean this literally. Hold your camera at hip level and just take photos without actually lining the shot up in the display. This technique frees you up from composing, and can actually deliver some surprisingly dynamic images.
Tip 3. Use details to tell a story
Seek out details about the bride and groom and include these in your photos. For example, if it’s a wet day ask the groom to use his jacket to shelter the bride in a photo, or maybe you could convince some guests or the wedding party to create a fun image by posing with a pile of umbrellas. Or, if the couple met in a library or share a love of reading, and the venue has a wall of books, take advantage of this as a background option.
Weddings are full of details that are unique to the bride and groom. Some are small and subtle, while others are large and obvious. All of these original aspects are so important in separating this wedding from all others; so if you can successfully describe who the bride and groom are via the pictures you take, you’ll definitely be invited back to the next family function!
Tip 4. Get group shots – but remember, friends and families are VIPs!
- Avoid using ‘Say Cheese’ as it provides you with reactions as if you asked them to ‘open your mouth’. Instead, simply say ‘smile’, or if you can get the group laughing during some casual banter, then even better.
- Use a countdown when taking the shot, so the group knows when to ‘work it’.
- Take a few shots, encouraging the group to express themselves more and more each time. If you feel comfortable, push for a bit more energy or request a new reaction from them in each pose. The results will be worth your persistence.
- Ask a larger group to stand and form a bunch rather than a line. This will create a ‘pyramid’ shape, which is more pleasing to the eye.
- Tip 5. Dealing with the Dark
The available light at weddings can sometimes be challenging, especially if you are relying on your automatic camera. So here are a few lesser known tips to help you get a better indoor or evening shot:
- Move your subject to the light. Shuffle them outside or towards a window and position them in front but to one side of the window. This will mean your subject is being bathed in soft light as they face towards the window.
- Learn how to turn your camera’s flash on and off, and take test shots in both modes so you can then decide what works best.
- If the flash needs to be used, stand a few metres back to avoid washing out any faces, and frame the shot with some light in the background. You can actually create an interesting depth by having wall lamps or dance floor lighting appearing subtly in the background.