Renowned Australian wedding photographer Shelton Muller has been taking wedding photos professionally for more than 20 years. Here he reveals his personal top 10 wedding photpgraphy tips.
Summer is the season of looooooove. Professional wedding photographers find their weekends solidly booked through summer, taking time to reacquaint themselves with their families in the autumn and winter. You may find yourself asked to do some wedding photography in the coming months. Here are some tips to help you in this unnerving but highly rewarding endeavourâ€¦
1/ The Summer Sun.
Summer light is very harsh â€“ especially from mid morning to late afternoon, which is the time most wedding photography takes place. In this harsh light bridal dresses reflect highly and wash out, hard shadows form in the eyes and under the chin and grooms in ties and tuxedos sweat and die in the hot summer sun. Where possible look for softer lighting options â€“ under trees, naturally lit interiors and balconies, etc.
2/ Film and Flash
Avoid direct flash wherever possible. Flash is also a very harsh form of lighting and if used as a primary light source is extremely uncomplimentary. Use flash as a supplemental light source, mixed with sunlight or ambient indoor light. Naturally if the ambient light is so low that it prevents exposure, use flash, but diffuse it if possible. Set your camera at a higher ISO or use 400 ISO film for more successful ambient and indoor exposures.
3/ Light is the Key
Do not rely on posing alone to create a sense of romance or to beautify your pictures. Creative use of light is one of the most successful means by which a photographer can evoke and substantiate a sense of romance. Back lighting, rim lighting, window light and soft diffused daylight are powerful tools to beautify your wedding pictures.
Pose couples as comfortable and naturally as possible. Highly contrived and overly romantic poses seldom succeed, as they appear according to the manufacturerâ€™s specifications â€“ highly contrived and overly romantic! A careful study of professional wedding photography will usually reveal poses that are natural and yet intimate. A more casual approach to posing usually feels more comfortable to the bride and groom and can be more successful in its final appearance. Study the couple as they share moments together and examine ways that their natural interactions can be employed in your poses.
5/ Candid Photography
Some of the most successful wedding photographs are those that reveal the couple as they really are and the nature of their day as it really happened. These images are captured during interactions with each other and with friends and family. Have a second camera loaded with black and white film and grab these images while you are not busy with formal photographs.
Weddings are a one-off! Your equipment should be in perfect working order, clean and loaded with fresh batteries. Either way, ensure you have a backup camera body and spare batteries on hand. Ensure all lens optics are perfectly clean. Do not carry too much equipment. Three lenses â€“ a wide-angle, a general zoom lens and a portrait length lens should suffice.
Encourage the couple to leave you as much time as possible between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception. So many variables in the average wedding consume amounts of time brides and grooms rarely account for. Therefore, encourage at least two hours be devoted strictly to photography â€“ not including family photographs if possible. Much of this time may be consumed during the day by late arrivals (such as the bride herself!) and extended congratulations and family well wishing.
8/ Quality, not quantity.
Your job is to capture moments. While you will no doubt take upward of a hundred or so images of the wedding (maybe many more!) you need to concentrate on each image. Shooting machine-gun style will not ensure the most successful images. One beautiful photograph can be achieved in the time it takes to manage three unimpressive snapshots.
9/ Photographic Techniques.
Wedding photography requires you to be a portrait artist, a photojournalist, a group photographer, a landscape photographer, an architectural photographer, a fashion photographer and even a diplomat! Make sure you have a solid grounding in photographic technique, composition and metering before embarking on a more serious wedding photography venture.
While it is true you may be nervous and concerned over the images, enjoy the process. If you are enjoying yourself the couple will not notice your concerns and their relaxation and enjoyment will mean greater success to your photographs.
Shelton Muller’s own wedding photography can be seen at his website, www.photographybyshelton.com