A lot of photographers get very frustrated with guests takings photographs at weddings, not us. We don’t mind at all. It is only natural that guests would want to capture an important day like a family member or friends, wedding themselves.
But how can you let your guests get great shots at your wedding while ensuring that we as your chosen wedding photographer are not impeded from getting ours as well? Fortunately, the two goals are not mutually exclusive. Hopefully these tips and techniques will help your wedding guests to kick their personal photos up a few notches, while ensuring that their efforts will not detract from the “official” photos produced by us.
10. USING FLASH AT A WEDDING
Do you know how to turn off the flash on your personal camera, or change its settings to best suit the lighting at a given moment? What about your guests? Encourage them to get to know their cameras if you know they’ll want to play shutterbug at your wedding. Direct flash can be very unflattering and if your guests insist on using it can cause issues with the photographs we will take as your professional photographer, which is why we never use direct flash. When we do use flash it will either part of an off camera lighting set up (flash on a stand with a light modifier) or bounced of a wall or ceiling to soften the light. Flash should especially never be used during the ceremony as it’s very distracting for you as a couple and this is one of the reasons a lot of Northern Ireland wedding venue’s do not allow flash photography. As a Northern Ireland Wedding Photographer we have invested 10’s of thousands of pounds in professional level equipment that allows us to shoot your ceremony even in dim lit venues without the need to have a flash going of every few seconds. For guests that are using an SLR type camera one of the cheapest lenses you can buy for your camera will be a 50mm prime lens. (Every manufacturer offers a cheap option for these) Using a lens like this during the ceremony means you won’t have to use flash and can still take great photographs without disrupting the ceremony or impacting on the photographs that we have been paid by your friend or family member to take.
9. SOFT LIGHTING WILL FLATTER YOUR SUBJECTS
It’s best to capture your subjects in a soft light. There’s a reason you notice how lovely your partner looks from across the table at a dimly lit restaurant. While you may think it has to do with the glass of wine you have been drinking, it has more to do with the lighting. Though you don’t want the light to be too low, a nice soft glow is ideal. Try to stay out of direct sunlight, sunset for example is the perfect time to capture people at their best.
8. DON’T COMPETE FOR SHOTS
At every wedding are some moments everyone wants to remember, but even as an amateur photographer, you don’t want to jostle someone and ruin their shot for the sake of your own! While you may want to capture these moments as badly as us, the bride and groom have made a significant investment in choosing us as there photographer. Try to be conscientious of us. Know where we are standing and how your presence may affect our work. If for example you are flashing away at the same subject as us, the light from your flash will disrupt our work. If you find yourself shoulder to shoulder with us, simply ask if you’re in the way. A little courtesy can go a long way.
7. RESPECT THE FORMAL PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHS
Although booking us as your wedding photographer means expecting a different style from a more traditional formal wedding photographer, the posed family photos are still an important part of the day. So as a guest, this is the time to step back and allow us the room we need. When it comes to the more formal photos, we will have promised the Bride and Groom that we will get those done as quickly as possible, so they can get back to their guests. If guests say “let me get in there and get a picture after you,” it drags out the time. Guests should recognize and respect the fact that the bride and groom will want to stay on schedule, and should adjust their own photo-taking agenda accordingly.
6. GET CLOSE TO YOUR SUBJECT
The problem I notice come up most with guest photographs is that people are not close enough to what they are trying to photograph. There are always plenty of opportunities throughout the day to get close to the couple when we are not shooting them. When you are standing way far away, you will take a shot, and then later on when reviewing your photographs you will find all this stuff in there that you didn’t want. This results in either a poorly composed photograph or having to heavily crop the picture later and losing a lot of image quality. Frequently guests try taking shots over our shoulders while we work this is especially common for those using mobile phones and tablets, this pretty much always results in a poor quality image for the quest. If you have an SLR camera with a kit lens you will need to get much closer than us as we will be using lenses with a longer focal length than you, this is even more important for those using phones or tablets. To get the best image simply wait until we have finished then ask the bride and groom if you can shoot them and GET CLOSER!!!!
5. ALWAYS BE READY FOR ANYTHING
Sometimes the best photographs involve a bit of luck. The pleasure of wedding photography especially is that you can’t plan everything. You just have to be there at the right in the moment. Plenty of surprises happen during EVERY Northern Ireland Wedding. Just keep your eyes open, try to anticipate what may happen next, and you’re bound to capture some of them!
4. STORY TELLING
A lot happens during the course of every wedding. There are countless moments to capture a “story.” Look for them. Place yourself in the mind of the storyteller, watching events as they unfold. Find the opportunities in which the Bride, Groom and their guests interact in interesting ways. For instance, a great photo may be of the Bride and Groom leading the guests in a particular dance or the ring bearer who’s losing their direction down the aisle. Be prepared to capture those moments that stand out.
3. CHANGING YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Try changing the level of the camera. Bend down, hold it up above you or off to the side. Change the vantage point and see what that does for your photograph. Changing around your perspective will always lead to a range of varied and interesting photographs.
2. RESPECT YOUR SURROUNDING AND US
Guests will often get caught up in the moment and forget that the purpose of the wedding is not for them to capture the perfect photograph. People can get aggressive and excited, wanting to photograph their friend or cousin. Look around, especially during the ceremony. If you feel like you want to step out into the action and take a photograph make sure you’re not getting in the way of most importantly the Bride and Groom or us as the photographer. It’s something you can check out with some easy, non-verbal communication.
1. HAVE FUN, BE CREATIVE
Pretty much always wedding photos taken by guests, end up as one straight shot after another of the Bride and Groom and the other folks present. I would suggest it would be much more fun to experiment. Try a different tactic than another photo of smiling faces, that’s what I do as part of my job all the time.
As a guest, taking photographs at a wedding should be about experimenting and enjoying yourself in equal measure. If the photograph makes you happy, it’s a good photograph!