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How to Improve Your Wedding Photography

How to Enhance Your Wedding Photography Skills and Style

We’re going to talk about one of the most common mistakes I see brand new wedding photographers make and I’m going to share a tip that will allow your images to look better throughout every single part of the wedding day. Technically this is for beginners, but really as i think about it like this tip is for anybody. 

Being a wedding photographer I have to remind myself that this tip applies to me constantly. Sometimes new photographers are confused between pretty things and pretty light. Pretty things do not make good photos, pretty light makes great photos and a lot of times it’s like we get distracted. We see something pretty, we run to it, we don’t even take into consideration is that good light over there or is it just you know a white gazebo that everyone says take photos there. Is it really pretty though, is it in good light? If it’s not, we shouldn’t waste our time. This principle applies to every single part of the wedding day.

bride in shadow

I see photographers all the time that are like “i just can’t get my detail shots to look so consistent”. Well that’s because photographers are looking at a bridal suite and saying oh that’s a pretty little hutch or that’s a pretty little ottoman, or i’m going to use this countertop over here. And instead of finding one good spot with great light they try to shoot all over the place. 

Same thing for the bride getting in their inner dress. All you need is one little sliver of good light and a little decent backdrop. Sometimes photographers who don’t understand this concept when a bride says to them hey i want to use this in the brothel suite and this, and this, and this. And they give a whole list of all these pictures they want with pretty things. Photographers don’t have the confidence to say you know actually when I walk into the suite. And I’m saying this because this literally just happened to me a week ago. I got an email with about 15 different requests to use different parts of the brothel suite and I know that not every part of that bridal suite is going to be photogenic. What i need to do and what other photographers need to do is to be able to go to the bride and say you know what i’m going to walk through the bridal suite, i’m going to find the very best most flattering even photogenic light and i’m going to do majority of our photos right there. Because that’s going to ultimately produce what you want in your gallery. 

How to Improve Your Wedding Photography

As professional photographers we’ve got to know the difference between recognizing pretty things and pretty light, so this applies also to ceremonies and receptions. 

Sometimes you have a harsh light situation. But you find that if you go over to the side and the groom has a little bit of backlighting and you shoot there it’s actually really beautiful. Well it’s great how much you can shoot there, stay there as long as humanly possible. Get some of the groom, get some of the parents from that angle, get some of the bridesmaids from that angle, get some detail shots of the bouquets from that angle. Shoot a wider shot of everyone standing at the front of the altar from that angle. Use that location as much as possible. 

Now at a reception you could be just you. You find maybe one spot where you’re next to a neutral colored wall and you’re bouncing that light off and it’s really working well. Stay there as long as possible, shoot from that location as long as possible. You want to make sure you can see your client’s face right, you want to make sure that you can actually get a good angle of what you’re photographing. That is a key moment where you can think to yourself all right, very subtly, you should make an adjustment to move on to somewhere else or you could change maybe your position. Pay attention to why exactly this is not working. You could try to fix it very subtly. If you are in a place where you picked bad lighting and a bad setup then get out of that as soon as possible because you don’t want to stay there for 20 minutes just because you already set it all up. 

wedding photo

I literally could spend hours teaching you this but two tips really quick if you are indoors. For example you’re in a bridal suite and there are no windows at all, just a lot of lamps or overhead lighting. Without a pretty decent flash setup you’re not going to get good images there and if you’re a natural light photographer like me i don’t want to do a pretty significant flash setup, i want natural light. So I would take that bride and find one window, whether it’s in the foyer, whether it’s opening up the front door of the house or getting ready, I would find a way to get natural light. What i mean by that is if you’re standing next to a window and the the sun is literally, like the rays are hitting you in the face, like that’s not great light for a client to stand in but if you’re standing next to a window in this soft natural light it’s kind of like the window itself is in the shade that is a great setup. 

That’s a great spot to do all the bride getting ready putting your earrings on, putting your bracelet on, having mom step in and do a little zip. Another tip would be you want to find shade and want your clients to face their shadows because that means the harsh light of the sun is going to be hitting them on the back side of their head. This is a great concept to take and apply to your very next shoot, it will make a huge difference especially if you are a beginner. 

Katelyn James