Wedding Photography

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    Morgan Giesbrecht

    Hello fellow photographers!

    I was asked to shoot my cousin’s wedding this Saturday. This is my first wedding and I’m open to all the helpful tips I can get! 🙂 It will be an outdoor wedding in the afternoon with sunshine in the forecast. I was wondering if there are any wedding (or even event) photographers here on the forums that might have some advice?


    Logan Lamar

    That’s so awesome! Personally, I love wedding photography. It just makes me so happy!

    I remember you from ACTION at Christian Heritage (hi!), and so I know you’ve got a 70-200mm, a 50mm, and some training with event photography, so I’ll just dive in.

    I have unofficially shot three wedding receptions (no ceremonies, oddly), three conferences (once officially—remember?), two baptisms, an outdoor party, and a funeral—so that’s my experience.

    Ten tips in no particular order…
    1. It’s an outdoor wedding! LIGHT!!!! YES!!!! The last wedding reception I shot was in this really dark cabin in a state park, and so all of my pictures were yellowed, blurry, or noisy (fortunately, I was not the main photographer). But yours is outdoors, and in the afternoon. You might have to deal with a bit of harsh sunlight. Is the wedding in the shade (think a forest grove) or out in the open?
    2. If you’re the photographer, it down with your cousin and get a list of shots your cousin wants.
    3. If you have the time, shoot in RAW so you can edit afterwards. Don’t overdo your edits, but I would definitely at least shoot RAW+JPEG.
    4. Consider borrowing a wide angle lens to get those “establishing shot” type pictures; however, I think the 70-200mm is probably going to be your best friend for most of the event.
    5. Remember from ACTION: shoot for the eyes—get at least one, but ideally both.
    6. Anticipate where you need to be before you need to be there. This is so, so, so important, and this is where a list will be useful. Visualize the shot you want, and be ready to slip into position and shoot the key moments. Don’t be disruptive by any means, but I wouldn’t be afraid to move.
    7. On that note, dress professionally. You’d probably be okay with a white or black top with black pants or a black skirt. The key is not to disrupt others.
    8. Use continuous mode on your camera (especially because you’re shooting people). Again, don’t be annoying with it, but use it so the people you’re shooting can look good.
    9. If you’re thephotographer, recruit another one or two if you can. They can help you get the shots you either didn’t think to get or just get it from a different angle. Sometimes you’ll miss a shot you wanted to get—but they might have gotten it instead. Especially if you’re shooting candids at the reception, sometimes your second shooter will catch those “right place at the right time” moments.
    10. Use the lenspiration search bar and look up “wedding”. Read some articles! (like this one:

    Hope these completely unorganized tips were useful!

    Ezra Morley

    Good question! And you’ve already got some GREAT advice from @loganlamar, especially #1 and #6.

    I just did my third wedding last Saturday, so some of these tips are very fresh in my mind… 🙂

    1. Pay attention to your light. If the sun goes behind a cloud for a few minutes it can totally change the dynamics of the light. Watch your highlights, and try not to “blow out” the whites of wedding dresses and white shirts.
    2. Wind can also be quite problematic. As Logan said, continuous shooting might be helpful here as well, for making sure you get a keeper shot.
    3. Of course you’ll want to pay attention to your backgrounds as well. Obviously you don’t have much control over what is behind the subject, but changing your angle/perspective can go a long ways towards hiding that distracting pole sticking out of the ground. 🙂
    4. When doing “official” posed group photos of the family and bridal party, make sure you pay attention not just to creative poses, but symmetry. If everyone on one side is close together, and everyone on the other side is spread apart, the picture just feels like it is lacking something. (Maybe as a lady you won’t have any trouble with that, but this is one area I have to really work on myself…)
    5. Another area that I really have to work at is acting confident, and just jumping right in and organizing poses and telling everyone where to stand, etc… The bride put you in charge of getting good pictures, so you need to make sure you’re fulfilling your end of the bargain, especially if you’re being paid for your photos. People will look to you for what they need to do, so don’t be afraid to tell them what you need for this picture to turn out right.
    6. It’s probably too late for this tip, but keep it in your hat for next time; external flash can be a lifesaver in situations where there is not much light. I am a very firm believer in good light. If you don’t have enough ambient light, you’ve got to “make” some better light! For this last wedding, I had 3 speed-lights. I used one (bouncing off the ceiling) during the indoor ceremony and reception, and all 3 of them outdoors for the portraits afterwards. You might think I’m crazy for using flashes outdoors in full sunlight,* but I was SO glad I had them along!
      • Thanks to @jamesstaddon for recommending me these umbrellas for diffusers; they worked amazingly well! (You’ll probably need these mounts as well, for attaching your umbrella to a tripod/light stand.) If you don’t have a big budget for flashes, check out the Yongnuo 560 III. For less than $60 apiece they’re an absolute bargain!
    7. *I was using the flash/umbrella combo to fill in the shadows on faces, since the subjects were standing with their backs to the sun.
      Here’s an awful behind-the-scenes shot that shows what I was doing with the flashes.

    Morgan Giesbrecht

    Hi Logan,

    Thanks so much for your advise! Wedding photography does make me rather nervous…I think that’s because I do better with inanimate objects for subjects, or in other words, things that don’t move! 😉 But I am looking forward to the challenge!

    I remember you as well (in fact my brother and I were just talking about the CH conference the other day – fun memories!) and I have to ask (because it surprised me), how did you remember I had a 50mm? I mean, I don’t think I even used it!

    1. The wedding being outside is definitely something I’m happy about! Inside lighting is harder to compensate for. The reception itself is inside, so I’ll bring along my speedlite (which I have officially 2 minutes of experience with…I’ll need to practice before Saturday!) to help. The ceremony is in the shade – which isn’t too bad except that the fact that harsh sunlight overexposes half the picture in some places. So I’m praying for some clouds to diffuse the sunlight better!

    2. I’m working on this one currently. 🙂

    3. I have shot exclusively in RAW for over a year now, which probably explains my computer’s very full hard drive. I like the editing ability in RAW over JPEG. (I remember this was a serious object of debate at ACTION!)

    4. A wide angle lens is definitely on my list of items I’d like to add to my camera bag, but it hasn’t worked out yet. I don’t know of anyone with one I could borrow either. I remember at ACTION the 70-200mm was the primary lens I used so I’m thinking you’re right about it being the best option again.

    5. I’ll definitely be keeping this one in mind!

    6. I hadn’t thought about it this way, but I can see the immense value in this point. With no dress rehearsal, it will be a lot of “just before the moment” planning, but since I know the ceremony and formal picture locations well, I can try and do some of the visual work before hand.

    7. Good point!

    8. I’ll be sure to make sure I change the settings over.

    9. There is a second photographer (I think?)…who might be doing some candids, but it’s primarily me and my assistant (aka my aunt who holds everything I’m not using!).

    10. I’ve started this and have been looking through James’s portfolio as well as some others! That article in particular was of great help! Thank you!

    Thank you again for taking the time to pass along these helpful points; I appreciate it!


    Morgan Giesbrecht

    Thank you for your help, @buddingphotographer!

    1. Excellent point! I know there was a post here on the forums awhile back about WB and the wedding dress…I’ll have to remember to go and look at that, too.

    2. I checked the forecast and thankfully, the wind is supposed to be low that day; however, I am going to keep the camera in continuous mode as suggested.

    3. The background has been a topic discussed at great length around here. 🙂 I was able to put in input (from the photographer’s viewpoint) and get a decent background to work with to avoid unnecessary shadowing as much as possible. But I’ll definitely be paying attention to the background anyways and working with different angles.

    4. I appreciate your reminder on this one! It’s not a point I struggle with very often, but remembering to be conscious of it will be of help!

    5. I can definitely relate to this point because I know I struggle with it. I think that contributes to the reason why I work better with inanimate objects (one simply does not have to direct a flower or a mountain as to the correct angle in which to stand!). Since I’ll be on a time crunch trying to get pictures between the ceremony and reception, my aunt has agreed to be my assistant and help keep people/things organized.

    6. Actually, I have an external flash in my camera bag….but I’ve never used it beyond 2 minutes of playing around with lighting in my bedroom. I’ll bring it along since I know I’ll probably need it for the indoor reception later in the evening. Hmm…I never thought of using an external flash outside, but I can see by your set up how it would have helped with shadowing! Interestingly enough, I also have one of those umbrellas, but I have never used it, though I have used my double-sided reflector. I’ll bring both since I’ll have an extra set of hands to hold things if I need them!

    Thank you again for your help, Ezra! I know it will be a lot of work but thanks to you and Logan, I’m feeling better about the whole process now. 🙂

    Logan Lamar

    Let me wow you more… Canon 50mm 1.4 (probably USM). You pulled it out on Thursday, and I remembered it because I was in the market for another lens (I got the Canon “Power to Create kit” with a 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 and 50mm 1.8 the next month), and I thought it interesting you had a long lens (and a great one at that!) but no short ones. A lot of people with one lens have the opposite situation (18-55 kit lens without anything longer).

    This might be a bit late, but I don’t know I’d recommend using your speed lite if you have only a few minutes of practice. I’ve had mine for a year, and I still have not mastered it (tricky little creatures)! If you have more experience just working with available light, I’d stick with what you know.
    Anyway, may God bless your shutter and eye, and I hope you come away with a ton of great shots!


    Morgan Giesbrecht


    I am thoroughly amazed that you remembered that…you’re exactly right down to the USM. 🙂 A 18-55mm (or something in that range) would be my next purchase since 50mm with a full-frame camera doesn’t kindly lend itself to wide angle shots!

    Thanks for the tip! I did end up using the speedlite for part of reception due to the very, very dim lighting and a regular flash just wasn’t doing the job. It’s definitely a tricky thing to get used to, and I still have a lot of learn.

    I haven’t had the chance to download the photos onto my computer due to computer troubles, but I did look at the pictures on the camera a few days after the wedding (I didn’t touch my camera for days…I needed time to mentally recover first!) and they look a lot better than I thought they would. Thank you for the encouragement; I needed to hear it!


    Logan Lamar

    @morganwriter1gmail-comI think that’s one of the things about wedding photos… it’s so beautiful to begin with, and then to add our photography expertise on top of it just makes it even better.
    Glad to hear it sounds like you got some great shots!

    Morgan Giesbrecht


    Absolutely, when you can enjoy the beauty of what you are doing and learn/grow from the experience, it’s incredible!

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