Professional Wedding Photography Tips

If you’d like to shoot weddings like the pros, you need to take a few tips from them. They’ve learned the easiest way to do things and the most effective ways of getting stunning shots. Unless you want to learn from the school of hard knocks, take a few tips.

wedding photography tips

“wed” captured by Olesia Kliots

A wedding is the biggest day in the life of most couples and it needs to be perfect. You only get one chance; there are no retakes and once the day is over so is the opportunity. So, get it right first time and you’ll have a happy bridal couple, less stress, and more money in your bank account.

1. Create a shot list

This is absolutely vital and every pro uses one. It means good planning and will make your wedding run like clockwork. Meet with the bride and groom and find out which shots they would like. Then make some suggestions as to what extra ones will look great. Start with the wedding rehearsal which is also a good time for you to set up your cameras for the indoor shots. And of course end with the couple leaving for their honeymoon. In between, work out the sequence of shots all the way through the wedding. Before the big day email or deliver this to the couple for their final approval.

2. Create an equipment checklist

Even the pros need to make sure that they have every necessary piece of equipment in the bag. With the number of kit items it is impossible to remember everything so create a comprehensive checklist. Have it typed up and laminated and keep it in your bag for prechecks.

3. Lenses and cameras

Don’t change lenses, change cameras. This is a tough one, but if you’re going to make a real go at wedding photography you are going to need at least one extra camera. One you’ll use with your wide angle lens and the other will have a zoom with a range of say 70–200mm. There is no time to continually change lenses to get the important shots. Fifteen lens changes of two minutes will mean 30 minutes less photo time, which you cannot afford.

professional wedding photos

“Ann & Andrew” captured by Lena Bulgakova

4. Use flash outdoors

A lot of your photos will be taken indoors so flash is absolutely essential. It is a given and you have to use it on most occasions. But, there is a trick most wedding photographers use. Use flash outdoors as well. It may sound ridiculous with bright sunlight around but it will help you eliminate any harsh shadows around that would spoil those images. This is called fill in flash and should not be used on full power. If the flash seems too obvious, here’s a tip that will help. Set your flash exposure compensation to -1 and it will lower the power of the flash and make it more subtle.

5. Follow the bride

Stick to the bride like glue. Wherever she goes, you go. This is non-negotiable. Despite how the poor groom feels about it, people are here to see the bride, and after the shoot it’s photos of the bride people will buy, especially the parents. This is their little girl’s big day and they want lots of photos. Throughout the day you’ll find that she is the center of attention and a lot of the activity will involve her. Don’t forget the poor old groom, but don’t make him the central focus.

6. Have backups for everything

This is critical on the day as you only have one chance. Have extra batteries, memory cards and flash. Make sure that you have extra backup batteries for your camera, those little silver ones. As I said earlier, two cameras are essential so the one will act as a backup to the other.

wedding photo techniques

Photo captured by Evgeniy Lyaschuk

Wedding photography is not for the feint of heart. There is a major amount of stress that goes with it and you can’t have a meltdown in the middle of someone’s big day. Be prepared, stay focused, and plan for the worst. If you get these three things right, your day will be a success.

About the Author
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. His website can be found at

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3 responses to “Professional Wedding Photography Tips”

  1. Very good tips! Also very important and mistakes beginners make; make sure hands and arms are always visible…. just a beginners tip.

  2. bycostello says:

    kit list is not just for before you start.. it is before you leave too.. amount of stuff i’ve lost…

  3. Creating a shot list is a really good idea to keep things moving while doing your bridals. Everyone has a vision for what they would want to see for their wedding photos, so I think bringing examples of friends and family could help build that list. I’ll have to talk to my fiance and photographer and see what out best plan is. Thanks for the great advice!

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