How I approach wedding photography
for laid back couples
In this article, I talk about how I approach wedding photography. Keep in mind, this applies to my photography for an entire day of coverage.
Documentary wedding photography is very difficult, but also rewarding. It’s a challenge because I’m making split second decisions in order to catch moments. I have to consider the camera position, the light, and my camera settings. I enjoy that challenge because I know the end result will bring decades of joy to the people I’m photographing. The following is a timeline for my entire approach to weddings.
I like to start early, 2-3 hours before the ceremony to get some photos of the bride getting ready. I’ll stand back to get some wide shots that describe the location. Then I’ll move closer to document the action. Keep in mind, I don’t pose anyone other than taking family photos and a few of the couple, which is usually done after the ceremony. If the groom is nearby, I’ll get photos of him getting ready with his buddies without staying awhile. It’s because when it comes to getting ready, guys are always faster. I’ll spend most of my time with the bride telling the perspective from her point of view. Occasionally I’ll bring a second photographer if the groom isn’t within easy access to the bride. That way the story is told in real time with photos of the bride and groom in separate locations.
There are times when I’m asked to do a first look. My recommendation for doing it depends on the couple. You can read more about that here in this article.
When the ceremony starts I’ll stand either in the middle of the aisle or crouched below the alter, right in front. That way I’ll get clean shots of everyone walking towards me. Catholic weddings are a little different in that there’s stricter guidelines that photographers have to follow. However, ceremonies in Colorado usually take place somewhere outside which means I have more freedom to roam around. Keeping that in mind, ceremonies are sacred moments so I try to be discreet. Right after the ceremony concludes, I’ll stand in the middle of the aisle so I can photograph more clean looks of people coming towards me as they exit the area.
After the ceremony is family photos (a.k.a. formals). I average about 3 minutes per pose and try to limit the groups to 10 or less. I believe those photos are important keepsakes for the family, especially the grandparents.
Once the family photos are completed, I’ll take a few photos of the bride and groom alone. The point of this is not to create amazing photos but to give the couple a break from the chaos. That’s why I don’t offer a lot of posing instructions. I prefer to stand farther away and use my longer lens to grab some private moments of the couple interacting with each other. Sometimes I will give them advice like “whisper into each others ears and tell each other a dirty secret.” I want to keep it casual and fun while I get my shots.
The reception is my favorite part of the day as couples tend to relax knowing that all the formal requirements are over. Right before the grand entrance, I’ll set up an off camera flash near the dance floor. That’s to prepare for the dance photos later on. Before that however is dinner and toasts. I’ll make sure to refuel my body and grab some food when the guests are eating because who wants photos of people eating? During the toasts (I prefer to have the speakers talking next to the sweetheart table as it always makes for better photos) I’ll move around getting different camera angles, getting reactions from the guests and the couple. I’ll take a few photos of the speaker while looking for emotional moments involving laughter and tears.
The first dances are important so I make sure to get the safe and clean photos of the couple. After I know that I’ve nailed a few of them, I might take a few risks and try something different and creative. After all, I grow when I practice new ideas and techniques. When the open dancing begins I like to play around as well. I also look for kids dancing because they know how to have fun without caring about photos. After a couple of hours of dance coverage, and I feel satisfied with the photos is when I’m finished. I only need a few hours of dance photos because they all look identical after awhile. That’s it for my approach to wedding photography coverage. Please reach out here if you have any more questions.