There’s a reason why so many families are willing to pay for a professional wedding photographer. Wedding photography can pose some serious challenges, even to seasoned photographers. You might think you’ve gotten a nice series of images, but when you see them on your laptop back at home, it can get a little disappointing. Why is wedding photography so hard?
There are a number of factors. You’re indoors most of the time, you’ve got family members running in a number of different directions, and you have to be really careful about using flash at the wrong times. Adding to this, you need to find the right times to move around without drawing attention to yourself. Timing and experience are crucial.
I can’t tell you how many rookie mistakes I made during my first wedding shoot. I didn’t research the venue. I didn’t bring enough backup gear. Worst of all, I just assumed that my one digital SLR with its built-in flash would suffice. When most of the pictures came back too dark, I realized just how hard it is to be a good wedding photographer.
1.) You’re indoors
Churches aren’t very well lit. It’s so dark inside that if you try to take pictures without using a flash, there’s a good chance they’ll turn out blurry. So a flash is almost a must. Unfortunately, most flashes that come with a point-and-shoot or basic digital SLR camera aren’t bright enough to illuminate your surroundings properly.
As a result, you end up inching ever closer to the bride and groom. Now when you take the picture, they look like deer in headlights. Most on-camera flashes make the center of the image really bright while the edges remain dark.
The only real solution to this problem is to try and bounce the light from the flash off of something. This will make it less intense, so your pictures look more natural. Once I got more experience, I bought a better flash that hooks into my hotshoe. I then pointed the flash up at the wall, and used the reflected light to take the picture. Trust me, it’s much better than just shooting head on.
People are tough to corral
Everyone wants to visit with everyone else during a wedding. While this is totally understandable, you’ve also got to do your job and get everyone together for all of the important shots. As the photographer, this can be tough to do. People don’t know who you are, so you can come off a little strange asking them to gather for a photo.
I stopped doing that a long time ago. Now I delegate a family member to organize everyone. That way, I can focus on setting up my shots instead of running around all the time. It’s not your job to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.
You have to be a little sneaky
Make sure you establish when it’s okay and not okay to use flash. Everyone is going to have different feelings on this. The truth is that you need a little bit of leverage while the bride and groom are saying their vows. If you don’t have the option to use your flash, you might miss the shot altogether (unless the bride and groom are saying their vows outdoors).
You’ll want to get a lot of different angles, and that can mean moving around during some fairly inappropriate times. I find that a lot of beginner photographers are worried about upsetting everyone, so they just stay in the same place during the entire ceremony. Now I’m not advocating making a scene or anything, but an experienced wedding photographer knows the right times to move around without being noticed.
There’s a lot going on at once
Most professional wedding photographers don’t do the entire event on their own. They have an assistant helping them out. During the reception, you can focus on the bride and groom while your assistant gets everyone else having a good time. The extra help makes wedding photography seem like it isn’t such a monumental challenge.
You’re too stressed. Relax and have fun
If you feel nervous and stressed out, other people around you will feel the same. I know I have a problem with just letting go. You have to do it when you’re photographing a wedding. The fact is you’re going to make mistakes and miss shots. But if you let that ruin your entire day, it won’t just show up on the shots you missed. Nobody else will be smiling either.
You’ve gotta be the leader here. Stay positive and upbeat no matter what happens - rain or shine. I can’t tell you how many wedding disasters I’ve seen unfold before me. I always take them in stride because that’s my job as a wedding photographer. I need to be the one to show everyone it’s okay. Your special day can go on, and we can all still have an awesome time.
Now smile for the camera!
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