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November 27, 2017

10 Tips for Shooting Ceremony Photos | Kingsbridge Education

Wedding photography is so much fun! If you’re a wedding photographer, you know what I mean! Hanging out with a group of girls half of the day, photographing pretty details and dresses, and celebrating love and happiness all day long! Not to mention the bride & groom portraits where you get to witness pure joy firsthand! Flowers, decorations, rings, stunning venues, it’s all a blast! One thing we don’t get too giddy about is perhaps the most important part of the day: ceremony photos.

You know what I mean. Will it be dark? Will there be space for me to stand? Are there house rules that will make me stay in the back? What if there’s a big spotlight on the couple but everything else is dark?! And what if I get Uncle Bob leaning into the aisle right when I need to get my shot? What if I miss the kiss?!??? We don’t get a lot of freedom during the ceremony, and we have to work with what’s there. I’m not gonna lie, even after shooting over 50 weddings, I still get nervous about the ceremony photos! However, I’ve learned a to do a few things to help prepare for ceremonies to ensure that I cover them as best as I possibly can! These are in no particular order, so keep reading until the end!

10 tips for shooting ceremony photos…

1. Have a second shooter

This is the best piece of advice I can give any photographer at a wedding ceremony or any bride planning a wedding. I don’t like to move around a whole lot during ceremonies because I don’t want to be a distraction, so having a second shooter ensures that we can get our different angles covered. I usually shoot in the back and the sides while my second shooter sits with the crowd near an isle or on the front row. This way we have both close shots and wide shots, and we can capture the processional and recessional from both directions! It’s also like an insurance policy! We both have key shots that we focus on: the bride coming down the aisle, the giving away of the bride, the exchange of the rings, and the kiss. If something happens and I don’t get a shot, I know that my second shooter will have one!

2. Talk to the coordinator and find out if there are any house rules

Most of the time, if a venue has house rules, you’ll find out before you get there because they will make sure you know the rules! However, it’s always a good idea to touch base with the coordinator and ask if there are any restrictions on your movements during the ceremony! If there is no venue coordinator, ask the bride sometime before the wedding. If it’s the day of the wedding and you don’t know, don’t go to the bride! Go to the bride’s mom or the maid of honor to find out!

3. Change your battery and card before the ceremony

Since the ceremony is the one part of the day where there aren’t do-overs, make sure you have a full battery and plenty of space on your card before you begin shooting! The worst thing would be if your card became full right before the kiss and the recessional!!

4. Remember, you don’t have to shoot continuously during the ceremony

If there is a message or sermon, you don’t have to be shooting during all of this time! I usually get all of my shots that I want at the beginning of the ceremony, and then I sit down for the rest of the message until the vows! No one needs 100 images of the same thing. I use this time to take a breather, regain my composure, and think about how I want to shoot the rest of the ceremony!

5. Talk to the bride about how the lighting during the ceremony will be!

We need light to make photographs. Sometimes brides just haven’t thought about this! If your bride wants an evening wedding only lit by candlelight, make sure you talk to her about what the images will look like! If she doesn’t want you to use flash, it’s your job to let her know that the images will be dark and probably grainy. Do not wait until the day of the wedding to find this out! All you have to do is ask! Most of the time, if you just let the bride know what the images will look like without flash, they’re okay with it! Or, they’ll reconsider the time of their ceremony!

6. If the ceremony is in a church, touch base with the person running the lights!

A lot of times I have the person running the lights at the church ask me how I want the lights to be! That’s awesome! Often, the bride doesn’t really know or hasn’t thought about how the lighting will be, and she doesn’t really care! If the light in the church is really uneven on the stage, simply ask someone if it can be changed! The worst that could happen is they would say no! If it can’t, then just do the best you can with what you have. If you’ve had a conversation already with the bride about needing good light to make good photographs, she’ll understand!

7. If you can’t use flash, don’t be afraid to bump up the ISO to capture important moments

Most clients don’t want a flash going off a hundred times during the ceremony. I get that! I often shoot without flash when shooting ceremony photos, or I’ll use flash only for big moments and capture the rest without flash. If the ceremony is dark and you need to bump up your ISO, it is okay! I would rather give a bride a grainy image of her dad giving her away than no image at all!

8. Spend some time going through each part of the ceremony in your head and how you want to capture it

I usually do this the day of the wedding after all of our portraits have been made. The bride usually goes into hiding about 45 minutes before the ceremony, and I use this time to make my game plan. Think about who will capture what moments and what angles and lenses you will want! One thing to remember when setting up your shot of the groom’s face when he sees his bride walking down the aisle is that the guests are going to stand up when she enters!!! If you can see the spot the groom will stand in an empty church, you may not be able to when the guests are standing! Be sure you find a spot where you can see him regardless of what the guests are doing.

9. Use two camera bodies with two different lenses, if possible

I always have both of my cameras ready to go with two different lenses when shooting ceremony photos so that I can quickly switch between the two! It really does take time changing out your lenses. For outdoor ceremonies, it’s usually my 50mm and my 85mm. For indoor ceremonies, it’s usually my 28-70mm and my 100mm because I know there may not be a lot of space to capture the shots I want! If the ceremony is indoors and it’s a large venue, I will rent a 70-200 for that ceremony so I can get a little closer on my shots!

10. Relax!

This is so important! Trust yourself and your abilities, and don’t worry too much about it. If you are super nervous, you may not have the freedom to be as creative as you would be if you were relaxed! Weddings can be unexpected, so it’s important to not sweat the small stuff! If you’ve talked with the bride and the coordinator, made your plan, and you’ve got your gear ready, there is nothing to worry about when shooting ceremony photos! You got this!

Happy shooting!

– Christi

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