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7 tips for your first wedding photo shoot

Photography / No Comment / February 1, 2015

Three weeks ago, I shot my first wedding. To be exact, I was present for the Nuptial Mass and Blessing that followed a private civil ceremony earlier in the day. Here are the lessons I draw from the experience. 

1.  Ensure you understand in advance what the couple wants

In my case, the bride and groom wanted to keep the event very low-key and hadn’t intended to engage a photographer, so my offer to capture some shots of their special day was a bonus. Their service was to take place by candlelight and they were keen that this would be represented in their photos.

2. Prepare thoroughly

I checked over my camera carefully and ensured I had spare memory cards and batteries – it’s so easy to overlook the basics.

3. Arrive in good time

Whilst I was in time for the service, being there a few minutes earlier would have enabled me to get some candid shots before it started. Unfortunately, other commitments detained me on this occasion.

4. Be clear with instructions to the party

With only 15 minutes between the end of the service and the start of their reception across the road, I had to work very quickly. At the bride’s suggestion, I started off with all present, then peeled off friends, more distant family and then nearest and dearest for a few shots of just her and groom. In this way, I avoided delays as people were summoned into the frame and then asked to step out of the frame once more.

5. Take multiple exposures per shot

Shooting in burst mode meant I had several exposures of the same frame. This enabled me later to layer them together in Photoshop and, where somebody was blinking or looking away, mask it out with data from another layer.

6. Post-process for optimum results

I had to use flash because on a January evening in candlelight, there is nowhere near enough light to get noise-free shots without it. The groom wears glasses and this meant ugly white reflections in every photo. Using a flash-free photo of him taken on a previous occasion, I took them out because it looked hugely distracting. The  Healing Brush tool also proved to be very effective at removing flash reflections on the skin of  other subjects.

7. Deliver the finished photos promptly and attractively

A fortnight after the big day, having reassured the bride in the meantime that the photos had come out well, I presented a couple of CDs, one for the couple and another for the bride’s parents. Her father, a retired Vicar, had in fact taken the service. On the CDs I had exported one set of images optimised for printing big if desired and another for standard prints or sharing on Facebook. As a small bonus, I added a square Facebook profile image. Rather than writing directly on the discs, I printed labels and a sleeve for the wallets. Even if no money is changing hands, it’s important to provide a good quality service.

I hope you find them useful. Feel free to share any tips of your own for the novice wedding photographer in the comments below.

Since the couple in question value their privacy, I don’t feel able to share photos of their special occasion in this post – but they were very pleased with them.

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