These wedding photo tips are the culmination of my experience as a wedding photographer, shooting weddings all over the world.
Over the years, I have taken courses and attended workshops, gathering tons of helpful advice from some of the best wedding photographers in the world.
I don't say I know all of it – far from it! Photography of any kind is a continuous learning process – as such, I intend to add to this guide on a regular basis whenever I come across new tips that I think may help you.
Whether you're a newcomer to wedding photography or a seasoned pro, I'm confident you'll learn something here or be able to contribute your advice.
If you have any great ideas for wedding poses, tips on selecting gear, marketing tricks, or anything else related to this wonderful industry, be sure to leave a comment at the end – let's all help each other and grow together.
So, without further ado, here are the wedding photo tips to help you improve this year. Essential wedding photography tips for 2020 1. Before Wedding Be aware of what you're showing on your website Don't show anything on your website that you're not interested in shooting. If every blog post shows a picture of your shoes / rings / dresses, then every bride who sees and hires you will expect these photos as well.
Or, you're going to attract the type of bride that values these kinds of photos (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course!) Similarly, consider the fact that the weddings you show on your website will determine the clients that will eventually hire you. Do you want to shoot more ballroom weddings? Show them that. Want to shoot more farm marriages? Show them that.
If you do this consistently, you will see that you can influence the type of wedding you book.
SEO Before Social Media This is a bit of a broad topic to broach in a few lines, but it's enough to say that most of your time when setting up and running a photography website should be spent on SEO ... not on social media.
While sharing your social media work can definitely help with some exposure in the short term, you'll find it's an uphill battle – you'll quickly feel like a hamster on a wheel, constantly trying to produce new content to share ... and then have it evaporate into thin air moments later!
Social media is like a never-ending dash, while SEO is like a slow-paced marathon ... Spending time to get your SEO right from the start, then working on it bit by bit throughout the year will bring much more dividends and increase efficiency over time.
I share all of my best 'on-page' SEO tips here, and some more advanced 'off-page' strategies here – if you want a taster, check out this SEO guide for photographers.
Create a solid questionnaire Your client questionnaire is a powerful tool – with it, you not only get a ton of useful information about your clients and their wedding day needs, but it's also a great opportunity to start acquainting your clients with how you plan to cover their big day.
Check out this free wedding photo questionnaire template for examples of what you should be asking to get the most out of your time.
Learn names in front of the faces In the questionnaire, I ask for the names of the wedding party, moms and dads, and anyone else that is important.
I'm not great at remembering names, but I think it's important in our role as a photographer, so I make an effort to try and memorize them, or at least get acquainted with them before I get married (usually right before I get into the room).
If you're already familiar with the names, when you actually meet each person, you'll find it much easier to cement the name to your face – one tip is to say their name both when you shake your hand, and then again in the next 10 seconds As well as being useful to direct people when shooting family formals, being able to use the name of the VIP will make you remember. "The name of a person is that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language," Dale Carnegie said.
Wedding photographers need backups of their gear – you should know that already. Second cameras, flashes, memory cards – this is all industry standard.
What is not so standard, however, is that you have a backup lens of your preferred focal length.
For example, if you shoot a 35 mm and 85 mm prime lens combo, or even a 24-70 mm and 70-200 mm zoom combo, can you really shoot a whole wedding at a 70mm+ focal length if your other lens dies? I don't think ... if you can't afford another version of your main lens, I'd recommend every wedding photographer to have a nifty-fifty as a backup stacked in his camera bag.
Every brand has a cheap, sharp 50 mm f/1.8 or something like that, so be sure to cover your ass!
Keep it simple, stupid The best piece of advice I can give a beginner wedding photographer is to keep your gear selection to a bare minimum.
Yes, have backups of everything stashed in the vicinity, but keep what you're using to one lens and one camera wherever possible.
Personally, I like to further reduce complications with the use of prime lenses, but I also appreciate the advantages of zoom lenses. Be mindful of the hours you're offering his will depend heavily on your situation, and I encourage you to experiment, but I've had the most success in limiting my hours of coverage.
Offering 'all day' is fine, but be prepared for the brides to invite you to start a few hours before you have anything meaningful to photograph ... and stick around to the last minute, just because.
Brides don't need 100 photos of their makeup application. At the other end of the day, the dance floor is at its peak in the first 20 minutes – take photos of everyone going crazy, then pack up before it gets too messy!
It's important to tell the whole story of their day, but you can do this without being there for every minute!
Get a CRM before you get too busy If you're decent with the camera and you're marketing yourself properly (check More Brides for the methods that have brought me the most success), the first few weddings you're shooting should lead to a rapidly accumulating snowball of wedding enquiries. The first wedding I shot was published by a handful of popular wedding blogs, which led to my next couple of weddings being booked. However, I made the mistake of trying to use a clunky Excel sheet to manage my bookings ... no matter how few weddings you've booked, I recommend you invest in Client Relationship Management software ... before things get busy.
You can use the calm before the storm to find the right CMS (I recommend Studio Ninja), then take the time to set it up ready for the deluge of new clients coming in your way. Bride's Preparations Ask what's important This follows from my tip about not showing rings on your site if you don't intend to shoot them.
During her prep, I always ask my bride about any details she wants me to shoot.
Perhaps her mother has just given her a new set of earrings, or maybe her maid of honor has given her a new necklace ... If the bride doesn't mention her shoes, perfume, or whatever else you think all the brides want photos of, you don't have to shoot them – instead, you'll be free to shoot a lot more important things that are going on in the room.
What if they want the ring shot? The next tips will help ... Use light and shadow for details No matter how ugly the hotel room is, there's always a way to get some interesting details shot – just look for tough light, and with it, tough shadow.
Then align the details in the light, stop the exposure (underexpose so the shadows turn black) and get creative with the composition. Instant frame!
Two details at once Another fail-safe option for shooting the ring is to place it inside the bouquet, resting it on the center of the flower, for example.
This shot is pretty much guaranteed to be used in an album, and it covers two details at once.
Another option is to lay down the wedding dress and put the details on it for a shot that kills two birds.
Get close ... then get closer ... The bride's prep is a great time to experiment with getting close and personal.
It gives you a chance to build your trust nicely and early with the people you've just met, and it gives your bride & co a chance to get used to your proximity. Saying that you're actually shooting 'past' the subject when you're really close can sometimes help them understand why you're all up in their barbecue!
If you don't know, getting close means using a wide lens – I find 35 mm to be perfect, without distorting the scene.
You need to make the viewer feel that they're part of the picture.
Now is the time to experiment During the bride / groom prep, you will usually have a lot more time to experiment with shooting, and subjects will often be static.
Experiment with some off-camera flashes, some obscure camera angles, some double exposures — anything you might not have time to use later in the day.
Obviously, you were supposed to practice these techniques before the wedding, but it's fun to play around with something new in a 'real situation,' in the knowledge that it's a safe part of the day to do so. There are parts of the wedding day that I believe we as photographers should take control of, and this is one of them.
I always ask the brides if their parents have seen them in the dress before — usually the answer is no, so I'm going to tell moms and dads to wait with me outside the room while the bride slips on the dress.
When the bride is ready, I'm going to make a shot first, then call mom and dad in.
No fancy coat hanger, huh? Please use a bridesmaid!
If your bride wants a picture of the dress before they put it on and you can't find a nice place to hang it, just ask the bridesmaid to hold it up – get them to stand on the chair if necessary.
Including a bridesmaid or a mother in a shot gives a context, or crop a photo so that it's just their arm for a bit of weirdness.