7 Novel Wedding Photography Tips
7 Novel Wedding Photography Tips for beginners and the advice I'm about to give on the subject area of is enough to make most newbie wedding photographers groan.
These days with the growth of digital cameras and their affordability has come the inexorable growth of wedding photography ideas across the planet.
As recently as perhaps 20 years ago, every town up and down the land would have a photographer.
Generally speaking he or she would have a small shop with a studio out the back with a small lighting set up and various backdrops and drapes for those traditional stuffy studio family shots.
These photographers would also photograph weddings locally.
This would normally involve turning up to the church after the wedding, typically to capture 20-30 traditional group shots and then their work was done.
How the world has moved on since then.
These days the world of photography has improved a great deal thanks in part due to smaller, lightweight digital cameras, faster lenses and smaller lighter flashes.
The faster lenses allowed the photographer access to even the darkest church without interrupting the proceedings, something which would have been unthinkable only a generation earlier.
So what golden nuggets of advice can I offer to those budding photographers who are hoping to become wedding photographers of the future?
7 Novel Wedding Photography Tips kicks off with this one and I can't tell you the number of times I have been asked at wedding why I have two cameras.
If you want to become a professional wedding photographer and make a good living from your work, then wo cameras are essential for starters, at least.
Imagine one of your cameras fails?
You can't exactly suggest a re-shoot!
The wedding day cannot be repeated which means it is down to the wedding photography settings to get everything right on the day and that means two cameras minimum.
Some of the best wedding photographers are known to carry three or even four cameras at all times, two to shoot with continuously and the third and fourth as a back up if one or both of the other bodies fail.
Personally I think two cameras is plenty and so I do recommend having two with you.
If your budget doesn't stretch to two new bodies, then there's always eBay where you can always pick up a great second hand camera for a lot less than a new one would cost.
What else do you need?
At no.2 of my 7 Novel Wedding Photography Tips is this one.
A bag full of lenses. Most of the pros use prime lenses. A prime lens is fixed, i.e. not zoom.
If you want to zoom, you have to physically move your body forwards or backwards!
Zoom lenses are not as sharp as primes, hence the emphasis on the fixed lenses.
In my kit bag, I have a Canon 24mm (f1.4 ), Canon 35mm (f1.4), 50mm (f1.4), 85mm (f1.2) and the 135mm (f2).
I love my Canon lenses as they produce the best, creamy bokeh backgrounds.
I meant to say that I recently swapped my Canon 50mm (f1.2) to the Sigma Art Lens f1.4 which has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
It produces the most INSANE colours.
I really love it.
In terms of outdoor wedding photography tips, personally I love shooting wide open.
What does it mean to photograph wide open?
It means that the f stop is always set to the very west setting.
So on my f1.4 lenses, I'm wide open at f1.4...on my 85mm that is set to f1.2.
There is a caveat to all of this.
That caveat is the group shots.
You could shoot group shots at the lowest aperture but then you might find that not everyone's faces in the group are all sharp.
Some wedding photographers get away with it.
I've noticed a photographer who had a wedding featured in Vogue recently and most of the faces in the group were out of focus.
I actually thought it looked quite cool though I personally wouldn't shoot like this myself.
I think it's a good idea to close the camera down for those family pictures - ideally at least f3.5/f4.
I also own a pair of flash guns for each camera though I will avoid using the flash unless I absolutely have to.
Flash changes everything whereas natural, available light is much more beautiful in my opinion and cannot be beaten.
Though if you have to use flash, you need to understand how to use it to its best potential.
You can't simply point and shoot as the results will be disappointing.
You need to try and bounce if possible and you very much need to understand how to light properly which takes practice and skill.
If I am forced to use my flash, I make sure it is set to M for manual....another absolutely essential of my 7 Novel Wedding Photography Tips.
I normally stop the camera right down to around f7 @ 1/200 a second which produces lovely soft light, but of course a great deal depends on how far the subject is from the camera.
4. People skills
What a lot of people seem to overlook is that shooting wedding photography, you need to be good at dealing with people.
You need to like people. If you find people annoying or if you are easily wound up by dealing with the general public, walk away now.
This is one profession where you have to deal with the general public at close quarters and you need to like people and without that asset you are immediately in trouble.
You need to be warm, friendly, kind, sharing but above all patient.
Why is that?
Because as a wedding photographer you will find that you will be spending a lot of time hanging around, waiting for events to unfold and these things take time.
So if you're impatient, either start meditating or find another career because wedding photography will not be for you.
Fifth on my list of 7 Novel Wedding Photography Tips, is to not underestimate the importance of insurance, specifically Limited Liability.
If one of the guests were to fall over your camera bag and break their leg or indeed worse, you are responsible and without insurance you will be cleaned out.
The UK like much of the world has become extremely litigious so don't even attempt to shoot a single wedding without insurance because that is as dangerous as driving without insurance.
A lot of the luxury wedding venues London now ask to see my Limited Liability Insurance before the wedding.
My guess is that without insurance, I wouldn't be allowed to take pictures there.
I think that's fair enough.
6. Weekend work
How much do you like your lie in on a Saturday?
How much do you enjoy pottering about the house whilst having a lazy, late breakfast?
Maybe watching a bit of telly in your dressing gown before finally jumping in the shower, getting dolled up ready to go out on the lash with your mates on the Saturday night?
If that's your idea of a nice relaxing Saturday then a career as a wedding photographer might not be for you.
I work nearly every single Saturday from April until October and I miss out on all the above.
Am I bothered? Not in the slightest.
I don't view what I do as work.
It is my career, my passion and one of the great loves of my life.
I have to pinch myself when I look around at some of the weddings I go to and think "Wow, I'm being paid to do something which I absolutely love".
It's a dream ticket and I never once begrudge my Saturdays when I am in the middle of nowhere surrounded by 200+ strangers.
I love what I do and that is all that counts for me.
Whereas if you think you may find it hard to give up every Saturday for potentially six months, I would think very carefully about this career.
Where to begin here?
For a long time now, I have subscribed to the Adobe Creative Suite (recently re-branded as Adobe Creative Cloud).
Subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud gives me unlimited access to all of Adobes products which is a godsend.
As a wedding photographer, I use Adobe Lightroom almost everyday.
I only break open Adobe Photoshop if there's a problem with a photo....ie. needing to remove an unwanted carrier bag that I'd missed in camera.
That kind of thing!
I try not to use Photoshop if I can help it, because I want to try and keep things as real as possible.
I also use Adobe Acrobat for my contracts and paperwork though I may retire this soon as everyone now prefer Cloud based solutions.
Other software I use as a photographer includes Photo Mechanic for my culling, and for my coffee table wedding albums layouts I use Rapid Album Designer which is incredible.
For my slideshows, I use SmartSlides.
There's a lot of other stuff which I run my website on but I think that might be going too in-depth for this article so I will hold off on that as there's a lot of ground to cover including hosting, SEO and general domain name stuff.
If you're a newbie wedding photographer and would like more information, please use my Contact Page to reach out and I will help you with that if needed.
To sum up on my 7 Novel Wedding Photography Tips, wedding photography is incredibly rewarding and if you are any good it will be a platform to earn a good living too.
Though it is not a profession for the feint of heart. It is full on hard yakka. It can mentally and physically draining.
Most weddings I end up leaving the house before 8am and I am not home before midnight, sometimes it's 1am or even 2am.
But it's a magical feeling when I process the images and I see the wonder unfold before my eyes, you remember why it is that I chose to pursue a career as a wedding photographer.
For me, unquestionably photography has become the most beautifully rewarding career that I have ever known.
So what about indoor wedding photography tips for couples?
That's an article for another day!
I promise, it is on my list of things to do at some point.
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Hi Jay. Thank you for such a great photography tips page. I was thinking of trading in my Nikon 28-70 f2.8 lens for a 28mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.8 prime lens. These are possibly sharper and better in lower light but of course i’ll be switching lenses more often as I only have one Nikon D4 body (i do have back up gear). Do you find yourself changing lenses alot using primes and does getting the sensor dusty/dirty worry you? Thanks!
Great to hear from you.
Personally I can’t get enough of the prime lenses.
These days I don’t use any zooms at all, opting for the pin sharpness of my primes.
I’ve not used the 28mm, though the 1.8 is appealing for sure.
Everything in my bag these days is either 1.2 or 1.4….apart from the 135 (f2.0) and the 45mm t/s lens which is 2.8.
I work with two bodies so don’t have to change my lenses too often.
When I’m shooting weddings, one body will have either the 24mm or the 35mm pretty much all day while the other will have the 135 or 85L 1.2.
As for dust, sadly it’s all too inevitable when changing lenses, especially when out in the field, which is why I always send my bodies to Fixation for a sensor clean once a year.