11 Prized Tips For Wedding Day Photography

When diving headfirst into shooting a wedding, being prepared beforehand is extremely important. You wouldn’t fly a plane without doing proper preparation beforehand, right?

1) Build a bond with the couple

So it goes if you go into shooting a wedding without knowing the style of the couple and making them aware of your personal style as a photographer.

wedding photography great tips

Photo by Ryan G. Smith; ISO 250, f/2.0, 1/160-second exposure.

Get everything into the clear at the forefront. This way, there will be no surprises along the way and the couple will confidently put their trust in YOU to capture their wedding day pictures.

2) Preview the wedding and reception venue

A prepared photographer will make sure to know where it is they will be shooting wedding pictures and reception photos. It helps to know what the location looks like before you shoot there so that you not only bring the right camera equipment, but are able to brainstorm and consider different shots before the actual wedding day begins.

3) Assemble a wedding photography shot list

There are typically traditional pictures that every couple wishes to have taken on their wedding day. A simple Google search of “wedding photography shot list” will bring up a slew of different websites listing the must-have pictures taken during the course of the wedding day. It’s also a good idea to ask the couple if there are any special or creative shots they might like. Unless you have a killer memory, say that of an elephant, it would probably be a good idea to print out a list of each photo you want to take. Check them off as you go to make sure you don’t miss one. These wedding pictures cannot be recreated, so make sure to get them all!

4) Appoint a DR (Designated Relative)

It is no secret that a wedding day equals pure insanity. There are family members running around everywhere, taking care of last minute details, and quite often, finding something to drink (and this many times involves alcohol!). Because it is so difficult for you, a person not related to the family, to track down each relative for the family photo, designate ONE person to do this job. Make sure it is someone who is authoritative, knowledgeable, and better yet, sober.

5) 2nd photographer equals 2nd camera equals more pictures

Many wedding photographers offer to provide two photographers for the day of the wedding. This helps to capture shots you may not have seen or may not be in a place to shoot. During the wedding ceremony, there is only so much time to take pictures. Your two feet also only move so quickly. If you can afford to hire a second photographer, just do it. It alleviate some stress on you getting all the pictures you want to get and will also give you some security knowing you have two sets of pictures to go through after the wedding day is over.

6) Shoot in RAW

Although RAW files take up much more memory space than jpeg files do, as the photographer, you have the liberty to manipulate what the image will look like afterwards much more than with a jpeg. Balancing your exposure and the brightness when shooting in RAW will allow for much more detail to be present after the editing process.

7) Confident vs. Cocky

Because time is of the essence during the wedding day, it is up to you to make sure you move as quickly and as frequently as necessary to get the shots you want. Sometimes you will be in people’s way, others you won’t. Make sure you know when is appropriate. During the ceremony, if the couple is okay with it, jump right up front and take those photos. While shooting family pictures, be assertive and give direction. However, know when there is time to lay back and take a moment to breathe. It’s all about timing.

what to know wedding photography

Photo by Charles Haynes; ISO 640, f/5.0, 1/250-second exposure.

8} Employ a fill flash

When shooting a wedding, your subject is the most important thing in your camera lens. Because there are often shadows cast on the subjects (especially during midday and outdoor shoots), using a fill flash can help to increase contrast and make your subject pop out from the background. It places more emphasis on what is being photographed.

9) Catch an entire group photo

A quick and easy way to document most everyone who attended the wedding is to take an entire group photo. Because the guest list and wedding party might be large, finding a location high above will often help to capture every person’s face. You can get atop of a balcony or even say, the choir area of a church, gather everyone below, and take a few quick shots of the group looking up at you. The key is to get everyone in the shot and make it quick (and painless).

10) Set to continuous shooting mode

Also known as “burst mode,” this format of shooting helps to catch the moment of relaxation of the subject. The most personality usually comes out of a person after they have stopped actually posing for the camera. So shooting in this mode might get a couple laughing at each other, making crazy faces across the room, or even a person deep in thought, after the initial “posed” picture has been taken.

best wedding photography tips

Photo by Ryan G. Smith; ISO 100, f/2.0, 1/320-second exposure.

11) Be flexible and enjoy the day

There are always going to be things that seem to go “wrong” during a wedding day photo session. Someone may lose the ring, a bridesmaid may trip down the isle, it could even being to downpour during the middle of a ceremony. The thing is to be prepared for these type of “mishaps!” After all, it is just LIFE. And usually, the unexpected in life makes for the best pictures! They’ll create memories that are only specific to that couple’s special wedding day and you are the lucky photographer that caught it. Have fun in the unexpected and make the best of everything you shoot! Keep smiling and they will too.

About the Author:
Callie Colleen Smith can provide more information about wedding photography, family pictures, engagement, or modeling headshots. Smith is an assistant photographer that works with Shane Messer and Raychle Searfoss at Shane and Raychle Photography in Nashville, TN and Louisville, KY.

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22 responses to “11 Prized Tips For Wedding Day Photography”

  1. #8: Yeeessss…. a fill flash is better than no flash, but an off camera flash is far better than an on camera flash. On camera flashes yield flat, dimensionless subjects.

    Oh. #12: Carry back up equipment – back up camera bodies, back up flash cards, extra batteries, multiple lenses. Equipment doesn’t break very often, but it breaks more often than they get married.

  2. Having shot weddings for several years I must say this is good advise and I am following most of it thru experience and trial and error. Yes get a relative that knows everyone gather the family up for the group shots and the formals, as you do not want to be looking for Aunt Edith who you never met before in your life. Let someone else line the people up as your job is to shoot. This makes the photo sessions go fairly quickly. and yes have back up equipment – what He (Larry) said. Two cameras is a good idea – I carry one with a prime fast lens 50mm f / 1.4 and one with a zoom (mid range zoom or long) I like my 35-70mm and my 18-200mm.

  3. Grace Rowe says:

    This is great information to pass along to my clients, thank you for writing it!

  4. Jeff Koelpien says:

    Alot of great ideas in theory. Difficult to “enforce” on their day. It is a fine line between being demanding and “let’s stick with the plan we all came up with in rehersal”

  5. Reading this, I have even more respect for wedding photographers. Thankfully, I will be hiring a professional for my big day.

  6. I like the idea of creating a photo list. The photographer at our wedding was a friend, who did us favor. They took pics but nothing how we imagined.

  7. fiona says:

    what a happy couple and a perfect wedding !!!

  8. Cynthia Rose says:

    I think that if our photographer would have built a bond with my husband and myself, it would have made the experience that much better. I think that your rules of wedding photography should be seen by everyone, because they could make that special day so much more magical. I wonder how many photographers use these rules?

  9. Pink Genius says:

    A nice list of things to consider when doing on the day wedding photography.


  10. Good advice there and agree with the above. Back up camera gear is key!

  11. J Kara says:

    I really love the couple that is in the photo. As for the list, I think it is a great idea.

  12. Deanna says:

    Excellent tips. I have found that your #3 suggestion, “Assemble a Wedding Photography Shot List” has helped immensely. It gives me a plan to follow and through that I am able to come up with other ideas working off of that.

  13. kieran honan says:

    what a great few tips and ideas here, ill pass this along

  14. Wow, this is really great information. I am a professional wedding photographer and these tips are so useful!.
    Thanks for the good work!

  15. Paul (Wedding Officiant) says:

    Enjoyed so much to read this article. It helps to better understand, preparation is how important to get some good and memorable photos. I very much like the idea of pre-shoot of the couple to make them easier and comfortable. :)

  16. Flora Tyler says:

    Amazing wedding day photography tips. I like the idea of catch an entire group photo.
    Thanks for share!

  17. Cindy Tesler says:

    I thought you had an interesting tip to build a bond with the couple that you’re doing a photoshoot for. You also said that it’s a good idea to preview the wedding reception and venue so that you know what lighting areas are best. I think it’s a good idea to choose a wedding photographer that has a photo style that is like your own.

  18. Alice Jones says:

    I am looking for a photographer for my wedding so I decided to read through your article post at some techniques wedding photographers should have. I think documenting everyone at the wedding like in a group photo is something that I really want. Thank you for the inspiring photography ideas.

  19. I really like the idea to find a wedding photographer that forms a relationship with the couple. It seems like an excellent way to help the couple to feel much more calm and comfortable. I’d assume that that would be the best way to create pictures that are natural and comfortable.

  20. Lisa Maria says:

    Truly I read 11 tips for the wedding photographer. I also enjoy read your wedding pathography post. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  21. lukas says:

    Thanks for the share this was very helpful and i took away alot from this!

    Please more like this

  22. Interesting selection of tips. I certainly learned something new today. Thank you for sharing

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