Small Wedding Photography
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Having focused on being a landscape photographer for years, I've finally begun venturing into other genres of photography. But I have to admit, photographing weddings is no easy endeavor and I'm still learning as I go.
It's one thing to be out in nature with my camera gear and waiting patiently for the the right moment to take the photo of the scene before me. It's an entirely different ballgame when shooting a wedding. Things move fast, and I quickly learned that preparation is key. The first look, the dressing, the ceremony, the first kiss all happen in a split second. If you blink at the wrong time you could miss the shot. Knowing when these will happen is critical in getting the right photos of all the key moments for the couple and to capture those lasting memories.
But, very much like landscape photography, its all about preparation and planning. Spending time with the couple before the wedding has proved vital in gaining insights, knowledge and understanding of how the whole day will play out. This is why I often include a pre-wedding day portrait session with the couple. It gives me valuable time to get to know them, for them to get comfortable with me, and for us both to share thoughts, ideas, and details of the upcoming wedding day.
Now, I'm currently focusing on smaller weddings as I want to be sure to develop a system first, then build up to the larger weddings later. These smaller, more intimate groups often take some of the pressure off as they're working from a smaller budget, and are often looking to me for advice, guidance, and know-how along the way. For these smaller weddings, I've found that part of my job is to help them through the process based on my experience at other weddings and make suggestions they may not have considered.
I've also found that at times, my landscape photography has really lent well to my portrait and wedding photography as I put a lot of focus on composition, background elements, and what story I want the photo to tell. With that said, many of the photos that my past clients have enjoyed most are the candid, more intimate moments and not as much the planned shots. They all need the obvious shots, but more and more they're looking for honest, candid moments of laughter, dancing, and interactions between them and their guests.
I try to travel light to wedding day shoots; bringing only a 35mm, 50mm, and a 70-200mm lens to ensure I develop consistency in the "look" of my focal lengths and image styling while equally ensuring I can cover wide shots, intimate shots, and ones from a distance if needed. These lenses range from f1.2 to f2.8 as I need to make sure I can shoot in low light as many shots occur indoors and are also commonly during the evening or night times hours. So good light is always a challenge, and having faster lenses means I don't have to drop my shutter speed down as much. I also bring a speed light, and other portable lighting pieces to ensure I can add supplemental lighting when needed. That's it. I like to be able to carry it all in one shoulder bag so that the gear can stay with me, and I can make changes quickly on the fly as events happen around me.
Lastly, one of the things I'm still struggling with a little is how to minimize the impact of my presence throughout the day. Yes, there are times that interaction and vocal instructions to the bridal party and family are needed. But there's a lot of time in between when I try to cover a lot of ground, but do so without becoming a distraction to the couple or the guests. The last thing anyone wants is an intrusive photographer drawing constant attention away from the couple or the ceremony, and the fact that I'm tall doesn't help.
Although there are a number of commonalities from one wedding to the next, the dynamics of how those commonalities play out can often be quite different. The location, the number of guests, the venue, and the couple themselves often influence the need to change up techniques, planning, and shots. The key is to approach wedding photography like most other portrait photography - and be flexible.
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