A good wedding photographer is an essential part of any wedding plan, but it’s great to have some extra shots of your own as well. The photographer can’t be everywhere, and who knows what cute, funny or memorable moment you might capture if you take your own camera.
If you’re going to a wedding, why not spend a few minutes learning how to take some good photos? It takes a lot of time, practice and specialist equipment to truly become a skilled photographer, but these simple tips will go a long way towards improving your photography skills, and will help even a novice take some stunning shots.
Which Camera for Wedding Photography?
There’s an old saying that “a bad workman blames his tools”, and while that is true, it’s also true that if you have bad tools you can’t expect to get stunning results. Snapping photos on a camera phone won’t give you the kind of shot that a professional photographer would be able to get. Even an inexpensive ‘point and shoot’ dedicated camera will produce better results than the cameras on many phones.
If you want to reliably get good shots in a wide range of lighting conditions (the dim church, bright daylight outside, the party, artificial light in the reception, etc), then you will need a high quality dedicated camera. At the moment, it is hard to beat DSLR cameras for versatility and quality.
A DSLR camera is a ‘Digital Single Lens Reflex’ camera. This means it is a digital camera with a viewfinder that shows you exactly what you will see in the photograph. Before the days of digital viewfinders, this was a huge benefit. Today, it’s the other points that make a DSLR a good choice.
Compact cameras have a single lens, and you’re limited in terms of how you can zoom and the conditions that you can work in. DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, giving you more flexibility. They have bigger sensors so they can get the full benefit of increased megapixel ratings without the issue of “noise” on the photographs, and you access the zoom by turning the lens barrel yourself, instead of by using a dial that triggers a motor. This makes the zoom near instant and more responsive, so you won’t miss out on those ‘in the moment’ shots.
Which Lens for Weddings?
Figuring out what lens to use when is one of those things that photographers learn over time. It takes time and study to understand the technical features of different lenses, and practice to figure out which ones you should use when. If you don’t know about focal lengths or exposures, then browsing a catalogue to look for a new lens would be like reading a book in a foreign language.
For your first lens, while you’re just learning photography, you would be wise to go for something fairly versatile, like a 50mm f/1.2 – 1.4 lens. These cope well with a wide variety of lighting conditions, and even let you take good photos in low light without a flash, which is why top-quality photographers such as Jasmine Star choose them as their go-to lenses (http://blog.creativelive.com/best-lenses-for-wedding-photography-from-jasmine-star/?utm_variation=2DoJCp).
Once you’re ready to branch out and do soft-focus shots, dreamy scenes and macro shots of the ring, you’ll want to add a few more lenses to your collection. You can get an idea of the options that are available to you here (https://www.slrlounge.com/6-must-have-lenses-for-wedding-photography/).
Lenses can be expensive, so you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money on a huge collection of them, but a day to day lens, one for wide-angle photography and one for macro shots would be a good goal. You can expand your kit as you go, based on your interests. So if you are interested in sport photography then you might want to add a specialist lens for that later, for example.
Where to Stand When Taking Wedding Photos
Before the wedding, it’s a good idea to figure out what you’re going to want to take photos of. Remember, firstly, that you’re a guest so you don’t need to be running around and trying to capture everything. Be bold, and be willing to take the odd shot here and there during the formal bits, but don’t get in the way or interfere with the ceremony. If you can move around without interfering with the experience of the other guests, then do so.
There’s no need to just stand at the back and take shots straight on. Be willing to go to the side or even up to a balcony above the action if you can do so. That’s where the really interesting shots will come from.
But remember, you’re not there to work the wedding. You’re there as a guest, so enjoy the moment and have fun!