As wedding season kicks into high gear for the fall, let’s look at some tips to take awesome photos at your friend’s wedding. I interviewed several photographers who had tips for achieving great photos with your average camera, and some examples shots that would be better shot by the pros. We’ll look at some ways you can actually help those pros deliver fantastic photos to the bride and groom.
See the awesome photo above? That was shot by a happy guest at a wedding. As the exuberant bridal couple left for their honeymoon, dozens of friends and family were there to cheer them on.
Note the subtle detail on the bride’s dress? Nope, didn’t think so. That kind of detail can easily be missed on a high contrast photo (dark tuxedo next to white dress). Notice that even the detail on the white dress shirt in the foreground is lost. Yet, we can see all the detail on the tuxedo. The camera set the exposure for the dark areas of the photo: the tux and the room in the background. If you wanted to capture more detail on the bride’s dress with your point and shoot camera, you would have to lock the exposure on something lighter first. If you are running out of time before their exit you could aim the camera at the palm of your hand, press the AE-lock button (most cameras have this feature) and then re-aim at the bridal couple.
How else could you help? Well, Ed Spencer, of First Day Entertainment suggests going wild snapping your shutter at the cocktail hour. This is a time when most photographers are busy taking private shots of the bride and groom. The professional photographers will most likely not be available to capture the family moments at the cocktail hour… the joy as distant cousins reminisce for the first time since childhood… the sorority sisters sharing hugs and memories.
Don’t Forget the Gear
Atlanta wedding photographer Deborah Cruce, of Beedazzling Photography suggests trying your equipment out at home before the big day. Read and re-read your manual. Play with the different settings.
This is an example of a photo that would be better captured by a pro. Deborah snapped this shot using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens from the balcony of the church. That is a big lens to carry around. At that aperture she was able to get lots of light into the photo without having to slow the shutter speed to the point of blur. With a point and shoot, or DSLR camera with kit lens, this gorgeous couple would look rather tiny.
Be a Know-It-All
If you are really close to the bride and groom, you probably know many of the other friends and family. New York wedding photographer Alex Fischer suggests you can help gather guests together for small informal group shots during the reception.
Brad White, Monterrey California wedding photographer, of Luminesce Photography suggests using your photographic skills to capture those special moments at unique angles. As the photographer, he might capture the bride tossing the bouquet, while you might capture the catch. He might capture the first taste of cake by the bride and groom, while you peer over the cake and capture the tear in the eye of the mother of the groom.
He also offers this beautiful example of what you can capture with your own amateur camera. This bridal couple posed for a shot, while Brad snapped his shutter with a point and shoot.
Although the sky has gorgeous color and we see some details on the bride’s dress, all the detail in the tux is completely lost. It’s a nice shot, but check out what he was able to do with his pro camera:
Ah, now we can really see that dress and tux. And the couple does not look like they sprayed on a tan. Thank you for the perfect example of the differences between cameras, Brad.
Going the distance
Speaking of the differences, with your average consumer camera, you are better off getting in close during the ceremony. This photo by Virginia wedding photographer Neil Colton shows the detail achievable with a $5000 lens on a $6000 camera. This shot was taken on an island, across the lake from the wedding. Unless you were on a boat, this photo would have been pretty impossible without that equipment.
Neil offers some other ways in which guest photographers can be a big help at a wedding. Many brides cannot afford the services of the photographer for the entire reception. This is where you come in. The photographers often leave after the cake cutting or first dance. After getting your own groove on, you can capture the impromptu dance moves of the bride’s grandmother.
Formal Group Shots
You can also be a huge help to the photographer by not taking photos at certain key times. When the pro photographer is taking the formal shots they need everyone looking at the camera. If other people are also taking photos it can be distracting and can also detract from the lighting. You don’t want people to blink during the formal shots because Uncle Phil’s flash went off a 1/2 second before the photographer’s lights.
Sharing Those Photos
Now that you’ve taken those masterpiece photos… how are you going to share them with the bride and groom? Facebook… email… Snapfish… Flickr? Well, let’s examine those options. Facebook allows others to view the photos, but if they try to download them they get a nice 4kb jumble of bits and bytes. Email will take forever to send 50 3MB files one at a time. Snapfish will charge your friend $.25 per photo to download the files. And Flickr will limit you to 200 photos without a pro account.
Check out our new Guest Uploads feature at Storymix Media. For $19.99 you can upload and share an unlimited number of photo and video files. Multiple people can both upload and download without pesky passwords or signing in. And check out the new look on our weddings photo and video website while you’re at it.