This guide is designed to make sure that the photos we capture are consistent with our service and style throughout the years.
The shots shown are what we call “safety shots”. We encourage creativity after the safety shot is captured. That way we always have a good photograph for albums.
In general these safety shots are sharp, in-focus, well composed, straight and exposed correctly. In some ways, it’s boring ie. “safe”. But our policy is to be safe than sorry.
Here’s what the second photographer focuses on:
We like to shoot rings with the 100mm against interesting textures. Within every wedding, no matter how dull a venue is, there is always interesting textures to be found. Model the ring shots below for safety.
Groom Getting Ready:
Below I’ll illustrate some examples of getting ready and what to aim for and what to avoid.
Below is an example of what to avoid:
right to left: the first image is decent, but doesn’t show the room. the second image is too backlit with the window light clashing with the white t-shirt.
Profiles of the groom aren’t ideal and the bed is messy. Always clear the room for a clean look.
Below are great examples of using natural light. The first one is back lit, but doesn’t clash with the dark colored suit and the leaves break up the window light.
The second is ideal placement of the groom. the window provides great natural exposure, expression is right, and composition is full.
Putting on the shoes:
These are shots to avoid:
It feels cramped and parts of him are cut off. This is a framing issue. Every photograph should feel intentional. If it’s a close up moment vs. a full body vs. medium shot.
These below are decent yet his legs are swallowed by the chair.
These are better because the legs are more defined and he looks taller. The angle is more pleasing and this framing should be aimed for every time.
If you do not have room, try your best to make the room you need!
Tying the laces and putting on shoes:
Grooms love to show off their socks and shoes. Even if the shoes are rentals, we’ll capture it for the client, we don’t necessarily have to showcase or blog everything we capture.
Here’s examples of decent shots, but not ideal. For any groom this pose and framing of the grooms outfit should look clean.
Issues: the first image the face is facing the camera and causing a double chin, with teeth showing and it clashes with the main subject of the shot.
The second image ok, but the suit can be pulled tighter down at the first button. I often would tell grooms to “look to the right, while I pull the lapels down to the first button”
Here’s the great examples of this shot done right. Clean, simple and backdrop is also pleasing. You can never go wrong with greenery.
Pinning the boutonnière should be captured like this:
Best man, groomsmen shots can be captured like this: Good composition, candid moments, no cut off fingers.
Guy group shots:
These are examples of shots to avoid. They are too cramped or un-balanced. As you experiment to “find your shot” please delete your unfavorable shots from the card as they take up unnecessary room and time for editing in post.
Group shots are a balance of the surrounding area and posing of the guys to create a balanced photo.
First shot: too cramped, arms of groomsmen on either side are too close.
Second shot: right side is empty and lacking
Simply adjusted, this group shot is well balanced. Also make sure everyone is in focus, with a 4.5 and higher aperture if you can manage it. Zoom in and be sure!
Model these images below for some excellent guy group shots and poses.
Groom with each groomsmen:
These shots below are usually never blogged, but very important. It’s safe to get a vertical of the whole body and then a medium shot, then lastly a horizontal medium shot.
Also it’s imperative that your camera is as level with their eyes as possible. Some grooms are very tall or taller than you, give yourself enough room so that you’re not shooting below their chin making them look bigger than they are.
Note: Medium shots are at least – just above the knee and never cut off any fingers.
Again, be sure that everyone is in focus: f3.5 at least.
It’s safe to keep these clean and simple first, then feel free to experiment with different ideas.
The first image is okay, but the plant cut off makes the image imbalanced, a horizontal shot would have been better.
The second and third images are ideal, simple and well balanced.
For every vertical shot, a horizontal shot should be shot as well. Cover all your bases. Once you have the safety shots milk your surrounding for every shot you can, that is your time to learn and play with light as you see fit. Otherwise, you’ll dampen your creativity over time.
Rule of thumb: always try to outdo yourself on every wedding. Serious photographers don’t need to be told this, but it couldn’t hurt to mention.
Usually the lead photographer may be off with the couple for some bride and groom portraits before the ceremony. This is your time to capture details of the ceremony site.
Always get the setting in a wide shot. If you can capture scenic/ aerial photos of the area that’s good too.
A safe rule of thumb when shooting the ceremony is start wide and then go in for the individual details.
Always shoot the floral arrangements vertically and horizontally. Make sure the background is free of speakers, exit signs, trashcans, or other unfavorable things.
Exhaust every shot. Wide to medium shots are ideal.
The chairs may be shot like this:
Other wedding details like sand ceremonies, unity details may be shot like this:
After the ceremony and family photos, the lead photographer may be off doing bride and groom portraits after the ceremony, which is your turn to the reception details and candids during the cocktail hour.
A technique we like to do is to post up in a good vantage point to see the guests, wait for the right moments and capture candids with a 70-200mm.
Learn who is immediately related and get more photos of them, obviously the couple will want photos of their family first. Generally capture the best moments, and everyone there, but family is priority.
Posed shots like these are great too.
You’ll need to capture the details of the reception untouched. Work with the wedding coordinator or whoever to get your shots. In this time you must take control of the situation and direct in times.
Place cards can be captured like this. f2.8 make sure to capture at least one name in focus.
The two below are decent, but not ideal.
This is ideal.
Details are captured like this:
Guest framed signings should be captured like this if it’s laying on a table.
Capturing table shots needs to free from speakers, trashcans, exit signs as much as possible.
This is not ideal and shouldn’t be kept. If you are not sure about what should be kept, don’t delete it and we will train you on what to look for.
This is more ideal, but it’s best to ask every service person to clear the room.
Details on the table may be shot like this. Your camera is almost level with the details.
Place settings are captured like this:
Individual details are captured like this:
The sweetheart table details, where the bride and groom sit, can be captured like this: Some will have their names engraved on their glasses, try to capture that as well. Don’t forget the front of the sweetheart table (examples further down).
Short centerpieces may be captured like this:
Taller centerpieces may be captured like this. However, try a horizontal shot as well.
Here’s another example of the sweetheart table, front and back.
Another place setting with plates.
For capturing simple favors, try to capture it like the first image. It’s fuller and more balanced than the second. The second would not be kept.
Cake shots can be captured like this: As with every detail, the whole thing first and then the close up details.
Important note: This may seem arbitrary to mention, but having a system ensures you’re consistent and don’t miss anything. You should always be conscious of what you’ve captured and how you captured it. That way if something goes wrong we can correct it, or better yet; you can.
The cake cutter is usually something special, if it is capture it like this:
More elaborate cake shots can be captured like this:
Then go in for the smaller details.
Always try to use the power of your camera and natural light before you use flash. And if you use flash learn to create a natural feel with it. Assistants are usually available to bring over a ring light if need be.
Heat lamps are sometimes unavoidable. However, when you shoot your details, try to position them in the best way.
The first image is not ideal, the second is better. But if you turn the second shot more to the right, you might be able to avoid it entirely. Do your best.
More examples of place settings.
Some table card details captured: