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How I photograph weddings

Authentic Wedding Day Storytelling

I’d like to share with you how I photograph a wedding. Keep in mind, this applies to my typical day of shooting 8-10 hours.

Documentary Wedding Photography is very difficult, but also rewarding. It’s very challenging work because you have to make split second decisions in order to catch a moment. You have to consider the camera angle, the light, and the right camera settings. I enjoy that challenge because I know the end result will bring decades of joy to the one’s I’m photographing.

I like to start early, 2-3 hours before the ceremony to get the getting ready photos of the ladies. I’ll take a couple of wide angle shots to describe the location and then move closer to document the action. I won’t do any posed pictures at this point because my goal is to capture the raw emotions that are taking place. If the guys are nearby, I’ll swing over to their room to get photos of ties being adjusted and coats put on. Usually, the guys are faster at getting ready so I’ll spend more time with the ladies. However, I recommend having a second photographer if the guys are getting ready in a different location.  A second photographer would be able to take those photos while I’m with the ladies. It shows a complete story, having everything documented.

kids getting read for the wedding while their grandpa watches.

the groom adjusts his tie while his son gets help getting ready.

The time getting ready might involve a first look. (a.k.a. reveal) Either the bride will get to see her groom all dressed up for the first time, or the bride’s father will see his daughter before he gives her away during the ceremony. I’ve seen both of these scenarios play out well with some beautiful moments. If there’s a first look, I like to position the groom or father facing me, while the bride walks up from behind and taps them on the shoulder to see their reactions. You can see my opinion on first looks HERE.

 A bride gets emotional as she greets her soon to be husbandA bride's father waits nervously to see his daughter as she walks behind him at a Denver wedding.

When the ceremony starts, I like to be positioned in the aisle to get shots of the bride and groom walking down towards the alter. Whenever I’m shooting inside a church and doing a catholic ceremony, I have to stand behind the last row where the guests are seated. That’s just one of the rules of a Catholic church. However, I try to be sneaky and move closer whenever possible. I have to remind myself that I’m there for the bride and groom, while trying to be respectful of the church. Most of the weddings that I’ve done have been outdoors, because we have beautiful scenery here in Colorado. I have more freedom when I’m working outside. I can pretty much go anywhere, although I try not to invade the bride and groom’s personal space. Most of the ceremonies that I shot, have been around 20 minutes. That means, I have to work quickly to make sure I catch everything. At the end of the ceremony, I’ll place myself in the aisle to grab that kiss photo, and the recessional photos from the bride and groom. I might get the parents reaction as they walk down the aisle, and then I’m off to catch the celebration between the bride and the bridal party.

A nervous bride walks down the aisle with her parents. A toddler, enjoys an outdoor weddingAn elderly woman walks down the aisle as the flower girlbride and groom celebrate their vows

I usually carry two camera bodies with 2 different focal lengths. Why don’t I just use a zoom? Prime lenses have better quality, and with my mirrorless cameras, I don’t have to worry much about the weight. Therefore, I’ll put a wide angle lens on one camera, while the other one has a telephoto lens. I move around quite a bit (if possible) to get different angles of coverage.

After the ceremony, I take all of the family photos. This is the only time that I’ll take them, with the rest of the day devoted to capturing moments. I average about 3 minutes per pose. I’ll shoot about 10 different groups and then we’re done. I want to move through this part quickly, so I can get back to capturing moments.

A large family poses for a formal wedding photo

During the cocktail hour, I’ll set up a flash on a stand for the reception. I really enjoy the dramatic look of a secondary light. I’ll usually only use one additional light besides my flash on my camera. I’ll place the light stand near the DJ booth or up against a wall somewhere so people don’t trip on it. I’ll then grab some photos of the guests mingling. I might take a few shots of the dining area if it’s a DIY wedding. I know that someone worked hard to create a personalized look for the bride and groom, so I don’t mind getting a few photos of the work that’s been done.

During the toasts, I’ll move around but I generally stay very close to the sweetheart table where the bride and groom are sitting. My goal is to get reactions of people from all the speeches, like laughter and tears. I’ll not only get the bride and groom’s reactions, but also the guests in the crowd, by looking for the emotions in the room.

A bride shows a smile at her husband during toastsThe parents of the bride laugh at a joke made during toasts

The dance photos are my favorite part of the day as I’m able to get in close to the action and capture the fun. I might even dance a little if I’m feeling the groove. I’ll also get some different camera angles by standing on chairs, or going up to the balcony to capture the action on the dance floor. Anything to get a higher view point and an overall scene is a nice touch. I also look for kids dancing because they know how to have a good time. After a couple of hours of dance coverage, I’m finished. Before I leave though, I’ll say goodbye to the bride and groom so they know that I’m leaving them for the night. My work isn’t done yet though, as I have lots of editing to do. I generally finish editing and delivering photos to couples 3-4 weeks after the wedding.

the father of the bride enjoys dancing with his daughter during a receptionA young man having a good time at the receptionA woman with dance moves at a receptionA groom and his mother hug during a reception

 

 

 

 

I’d like to share with you how I photograph a wedding. Keep in mind, this applies to my typical day of shooting 8-10 hours.

Documentary Wedding Photography is very difficult, but also rewarding. It’s very challenging work because you have to make split second decisions in order to catch a moment. You have to consider the camera angle, the light, and the right camera settings. I enjoy that challenge because I know the end result will bring decades of joy to the one’s I’m photographing.

I like to start early, 2-3 hours before the ceremony to get the getting ready photos of the ladies. I’ll take a couple of wide angle shots to describe the location and then move closer to document the action. I won’t do any posed pictures at this point because my goal is to capture the raw emotions that are taking place. If the guys are nearby, I’ll swing over to their room to get photos of ties being adjusted and coats put on. Usually, the guys are faster at getting ready so I’ll spend more time with the ladies. However, I recommend having a second photographer if the guys are getting ready in a different location.  A second photographer would be able to take those photos while I’m with the ladies. It shows a complete story, having everything documented.

kids getting read for the wedding while their grandpa watches.

the groom adjusts his tie while his son gets help getting ready.

The time getting ready might involve a first look. (a.k.a. reveal) Either the bride will get to see her groom all dressed up for the first time, or the bride’s father will see his daughter before he gives her away during the ceremony. I’ve seen both of these scenarios play out well with some beautiful moments. If there’s a first look, I like to position the groom or father facing me, while the bride walks up from behind and taps them on the shoulder to see their reactions. You can see my opinion on first looks HERE.

 A bride gets emotional as she greets her soon to be husbandA bride's father waits nervously to see his daughter as she walks behind him at a Denver wedding.

When the ceremony starts, I like to be positioned in the aisle to get shots of the bride and groom walking down towards the alter. Whenever I’m shooting inside a church and doing a catholic ceremony, I have to stand behind the last row where the guests are seated. That’s just one of the rules of a Catholic church. However, I try to be sneaky and move closer whenever possible. I have to remind myself that I’m there for the bride and groom, while trying to be respectful of the church. Most of the weddings that I’ve done have been outdoors, because we have beautiful scenery here in Colorado. I have more freedom when I’m working outside. I can pretty much go anywhere, although I try not to invade the bride and groom’s personal space. Most of the ceremonies that I shot, have been around 20 minutes. That means, I have to work quickly to make sure I catch everything. At the end of the ceremony, I’ll place myself in the aisle to grab that kiss photo, and the recessional photos from the bride and groom. I might get the parents reaction as they walk down the aisle, and then I’m off to catch the celebration between the bride and the bridal party.

A nervous bride walks down the aisle with her parents. A toddler, enjoys an outdoor weddingAn elderly woman walks down the aisle as the flower girlbride and groom celebrate their vows

I usually carry two camera bodies with 2 different focal lengths. Why don’t I just use a zoom? Prime lenses have better quality, and with my mirrorless cameras, I don’t have to worry much about the weight. Therefore, I’ll put a wide angle lens on one camera, while the other one has a telephoto lens. I move around quite a bit (if possible) to get different angles of coverage.

After the ceremony, I take all of the family photos. This is the only time that I’ll take them, with the rest of the day devoted to capturing moments. I average about 3 minutes per pose. I’ll shoot about 10 different groups and then we’re done. I want to move through this part quickly, so I can get back to capturing moments.

A large family poses for a formal wedding photo

During the cocktail hour, I’ll set up a flash on a stand for the reception. I really enjoy the dramatic look of a secondary light. I’ll usually only use one additional light besides my flash on my camera. I’ll place the light stand near the DJ booth or up against a wall somewhere so people don’t trip on it. I’ll then grab some photos of the guests mingling. I might take a few shots of the dining area if it’s a DIY wedding. I know that someone worked hard to create a personalized look for the bride and groom, so I don’t mind getting a few photos of the work that’s been done.

During the toasts, I’ll move around but I generally stay very close to the sweetheart table where the bride and groom are sitting. My goal is to get reactions of people from all the speeches, like laughter and tears. I’ll not only get the bride and groom’s reactions, but also the guests in the crowd, by looking for the emotions in the room.

A bride shows a smile at her husband during toastsThe parents of the bride laugh at a joke made during toasts

The dance photos are my favorite part of the day as I’m able to get in close to the action and capture the fun. I might even dance a little if I’m feeling the groove. I’ll also get some different camera angles by standing on chairs, or going up to the balcony to capture the action on the dance floor. Anything to get a higher view point and an overall scene is a nice touch. I also look for kids dancing because they know how to have a good time. After a couple of hours of dance coverage, I’m finished. Before I leave though, I’ll say goodbye to the bride and groom so they know that I’m leaving them for the night. My work isn’t done yet though, as I have lots of editing to do. I generally finish editing and delivering photos to couples 3-4 weeks after the wedding.

the father of the bride enjoys dancing with his daughter during a receptionA young man having a good time at the receptionA woman with dance moves at a receptionA groom and his mother hug during a reception