April 27, 2010

Tips For Capturing Weddings

Here's a wedding photography horror story:  
You ask a family member to capture your wedding day, because that relative is trying to start a business.  That relative expects a large payment from you, even though (in my opinion) the photos should be his/her gift to you.  You finally get a cd of your images... nearly three years later.  You go through the photos to find out that nothing has been retouched or resized.  Your special day has been marred with bad lighting and blurry images.

This scenario is true.  I recently had to retouch the images from that wedding.  The photos shown are not from the wedding being discussed.  I do not have the right to display those images, so I used some photos from weddings that I've shot in the past.

It was so hard for me to work on those images.  I don't only mean in the retouching sense.  It really broke my heart that these were the memories a couple would have of their special day.

I am not the world's greatest photographer or Photoshop master, but I do like to think that I know what I'm doing.  So, I wanted to provide just a few tips for those who are beginning to photograph weddings.

1.  Be prepared - This is such a big shoot.  You really have no idea.  So many things can happen.  Make sure that you have a 'shot list', extra (charged) batteries, blank memory cards, tripod, external flash, backup camera (a must), etc.  All of these things are so important.

2.  Know what the couple wants - Your 'specialty' might be black and white.  The couple might want some or only color shots.  My personal rule is to have every photo in color.  Make duplicates of some images and experiment.  Definitely do some black and white photos but also try different techniques (retro, saturated color, textures, vignette, etc.).  Also, keep the shots mostly traditional.  Not too many weird angle or "fun" shots.

3.  Shoot RAW and shoot everything - RAW is going to give you more information and is easier to manipulate later when editing.  Also, it's best to shoot every tiny detail about a wedding.  The couple will really appreciate it when they look through their photos.  I'm also a huge fan of candid photography.  I think it makes for some of the most memorable images. 

4.  Be aware of your surroundings and camera settings - You just captured the most beautiful shot of the couple... but you didn't notice someone's car in the background.  Make sure you know what's in your frame at all times.  Also, you have to be very aware of your settings when going between indoors and outdoors, light and shadow.  You may accidentally have too high of an ISO outdoors or lose details with super blown out highlights (I know some people think this is a style, but it doesn't look good at all).

Unfortunately, I see this all the time.  I see so many blurred and out of focus photos.  I also see harsh yellow and magenta skin tones.  And above all, it's best to stick to traditional shots for weddings.  The "silly" or "fun" shots are forgotten over time.  I love that people are trying to start their own businesses, but weddings are too important to mess up.  

These are just a few tips, but they're a huge help to beginners.