The Complete Guide to Wedding Photography

March 06

27 min. to read

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Success in wedding photography is the result of hard work. These wedding photography tips are intended to help you capture the best pictures.

Research and scout for lights, tools, try out various camera settings so you’re confident on the wedding day. Keep our wedding photography ideas and tips — and our videography beginner’s guide — at hand and the wedding day will go just fine.

Tips for beginners

1. Get advice from experts

Don’t rush into a wedding photoshoot if you haven’t done one before. Wedding preparations aren’t easy, even from your side.

First, youʼre photographing one of the most important days in a couple’s life. If you screw up, you’re likely to ruin the memories from the couple’s day, and they won't have good pictures to remember it by.

Second, your name is everything in photography. Your photos are your brand. So if you spoil someoneʼs wedding, you’ll drag your name through the mud, and thereʼs no way to recover from that.

We suggest reaching out to experts to get some wedding photography tips. Ask if you can assist experienced photographers with a few wedding. They’ll be happy to have you unless they already have somebody else. They’ll get a backup and you’ll gain experience — a win-win.

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2. Have backups of everything

Photography in general and wedding photography in particular can get pricey very quickly, so if you have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), make sure you understand that.

You’ll need backups of everything from lenses and camera bodies to SD cards, batteries, and speedlights. Anything can happen, and you must have a backup camera at the wedding.

One way to avert failure is to rent gear that you canʼt afford just yet. There are a few benefits of renting over buying for beginners. For one, you can try out gear youʼve always wanted without investing $2,000 in a new lens. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars.

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3. Prepare a list of shots

You may think that having a list of shots is not your style — that you’re creative, keep an overall idea in mind, and donʼt need anyone telling you what to do.

We wish this were true. But often the pressure gets a little too much, and you can go blank. 

Weddings are overwhelming, and in the heat of the moment, you can quickly forget what images you needed to get. If you miss a crucial shot at a wedding, thereʼs no chance to reshoot; you either get that snap or you donʼt.

So be safe. It wonʼt take much time to create a list of shots. To minimize the effort, ask the couple for a list of family shots. This will save you loads of time on the wedding day. 

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4. Scout the location

On the wedding day, things usually get crazy and hasty decisions are made, and depending on how seriously the couple takes their schedule, you’d better be ready to act spontaneously. Perhaps they’ll decide to postpone the group photos, and you won’t have time to look for the best spot to capture them. You’ll be stuck choosing a location that’s within view and will have to settle for something that’s less than perfect.

To be ready, you can come early and investigate the wedding scene, looking for the best locations and visualizing where you would shoot the bride, the rings, the family, the friends, etc. You could even pay the venue a visit a few days or even weeks before the actual wedding to scout out the best spots. That way the wedding day should be hassle-free. You might even find yourself with some time to have a snack.

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5. Know your tools

Once the wedding festivities begin, you’ll have to quickly adjust the exposure for a variety of different lighting situations. Be ready to look at a scene and know for sure which camera adjustments are required to get the right exposure and be able to alter those settings in seconds when you move to the next scene.

Lighting

Lighting at a wedding is tricky. Inside it’s darker than outside, so how can you get the correct exposure? The best way is to scout beforehand, look for scenes with various light conditions, and learn settings to capture compelling images.

Off-camera flash

Off-camera flash is excellent to get different lights hitting the same scene from different angles. It’s also an excellent tool for wedding photography. Since off-camera flash works with a through-the-lens (TTL) metering system, it exposes the scene depending on the available light. 

This flash adds a touch of sparkle, known as a fill, when needed. It’s usually placed on a camera hotshoe or camera bracket, or even handheld for fast improvements. You can also sync many flash units at the same time.

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Radio flash transmitter

To use an off-camera lighting system, you need to connect it to your camera. A radio flash transmitter is activated either by infrared signals or radio waves.

Infrared flash is standard. However, if there’s something in between the transmitter and the receiver, the lights won’t fire. 

To avoid this problem, use a radio transmitter. This system guarantees a correctly exposed shot. Flashes triggered by a radio transmitter work and connect similarly to infrared flashes, as they transmit information to a flash unit that has a receiver attached to it. This ensures it fires every time, with the correct amount of light.

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Reflectors

You’ll probably need reflectors for wedding portraits. They’re great because they don’t need batteries or cables and they fold away into pockets. Reflectors are cheap, too, and can produce a dramatic effect on your photography. They redirect light back onto the scene.

Wedding photography styles

If you’re getting into wedding photography, you need to check out various wedding photography styles. Aside from giving you a chance to sharpen your skills, doing so will help you figure out your own style.

Traditional wedding photography

Look at wedding photo albums and you’ll see a lot of traditional shots. These are usually classic and posed, such as photos of couples with their families, shots of the couple’s first dance, and the first kiss as husband and wife. These are honestly the most important pictures of the day and hold timeless memories for the couple’s friends and family.

This style requires the photographer to manage the wedding party for photos. So it’s essential for the photographer to be experienced and be comfortable with taking charge. But to get more memorable shots, don’t forget to capture real and spontaneous moments.

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Photojournalistic wedding photography

Another popular style is wedding photojournalism. Often associated with traditional wedding photography, this style looks like reportage and documentary film, where the photographer takes a more casual approach and tells the story of the day.

However, a lot of creativity is required for this photography style, not to mention some serious skill in quickly focusing, adjusting the camera, framing, and shooting the key moments as they unfold. Plus, photographers will have to work with a telephoto lens to instantly capture candid moments from a distance.

The results are real, lifelike images that evoke a flood of emotions.

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Wedding portraits

Portraiture indeed produces stunning images, more so when it’s of a blushing fiancée or a happy couple on their wedding day.

This style is considered formal wedding photography in that newlyweds are directed and posed for the camera. It’s wedding portraits that show the most emotion, and they’re usually the ones that the couple frames and displays in their home.

Critical moments for wedding portrait photography are after the bride finally has her makeup on, when the couple can privately pose for pictures with their parents, and the moments after tying the knot — these are the times for you to get the first wedding portraits.

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Fine art wedding photography

Fine art photography often gets blended with other styles of wedding photography. This style usually involves creative framing, lighting, composition, and post-production techniques. Photographers who do artistic wedding photography are always anticipating moments where they can use fine art techniques and capture unique images. 

There’s no real posing involved, although it’s become common for shooters to slightly change the posture of their subjects and the placement of items — mainly wedding paraphernalia like rings, bouquets, and outfits — to achieve their desired composition.

This style is similar to portrait photography in that it’s not commonly preferred as the only approach used for a wedding as it can significantly limit your results. However, if you’re going to be a secondary or tertiary shooter on a wedding photo team, you can execute this style with confidence, knowing there will be others securing other critical shots of the day, mainly traditional and photojournalistic.

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Fashion wedding photography

Considered a genre in itself, this wedding photography style focuses on showing off bridal fashion for commercial purposes. However, we’ve seen this style cross over to a lot of actual wedding and engagement photos in the past few years. With the use of lighting tools, fashion poses, and stylized backgrounds, fashion wedding photography gives photographers a chance to be artistic with their posed shots and for couples to be models for a day.

Even without experience in commercial photography, it’s pretty easy to try this style out. Look for inspiration in fashion magazines and find ways to dramatize your subjects and the clothes. It’s always a plus for couples if you can make them look extra stylish and glamorous on their wedding day!

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Aerial wedding photography

If you’re aspiring to be a modern wedding photographer, it helps to keep up with the latest trends. One photography style you may want to learn is aerial wedding photography. This one will obviously require more equipment, particularly a drone with a pretty decent HD camera.

Aerial shots are great for showing outdoor wedding locations or the couple in a remote area with beautiful scenes. Image composition is not as crucial, as bird’s-eye view shots are almost always exciting as long as you exclude elements that look out of place.

If you’re limited to indoor shots, you can always take photos from a staircase and still yield pretty great results. Grab these wedding photography tips and create an outstanding photoshoot.

Tips on wedding videography

According to statistics from Indeed, wedding videographers can make as much as $87,000 a year. That’s not so bad, considering a professional can choose his or her work hours and rates. If you ever decide to try yourself as a videographer, get acquainted with some of the basic rules of thumb.

1. Communicate with the couple, venue, and vendors

Before the wedding date, you should have a meeting with the couple. Get to know what they want in their video. Do they want you to capture specific moments? Will there be any surprises or a band you need to know about? Being ready to capture these moments will allow you to make your work flawless.

2. Stay fast while bringing as little gear as possible

On the morning of the wedding, the groom and his groomsmen hang out and the bride and bridesmaids prepare their hair and makeup. After that, you’ll be running back and forth until the wedding is over. So leave the heavy bag in the corner and carry what you need. 

3. Audio is crucial; have backups mics

There are no redos at weddings. If you fail to capture things as they unfold around you, then you’ve failed to do your job. It’s best to have several audio sources recording. Check whether your camera captures quality sound. If not, take care that external recorders are ready to use. It’s best to avoid putting a microphone on the bride; instead, fix a lavalier microphone on a waiter or the groom.

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4. Always take traditional wedding photos

You may want to experiment on the wedding day, but be sure you still get the traditional shots too. Experiments are a great way to help you define your style, but don’t forget that couples want to see their wedding rings, cake cutting, and first dance. Make sure you nail the essential things.

5. Be sure your camera is stable

Stabilization is vital. Whether you use a tripod, monopod, glidecam, slider, or shoulder rig, be sure that you can quickly switch between your support gear. By putting the same quick release plate on all of your equipment, you can quickly turn on the go.

6. Сapture enough B-roll

B-roll will be your best friend and worst enemy when editing. Not having enough will make your work much harder. It’s easy to remember to shoot exteriors of the wedding venue, but don’t forget that guests are coming to these venues. When the newlyweds watch their wedding video, they want to see their friends and family in attendance.

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7. Get ready for low-light situations

Evening ceremonies can be a nightmare for a wedding filmmaker. Indoor or outdoor, it will probably be dark. After dinner is served, the lights dim and the party begins. Prepare your own lights to help you take certain shots.

Wedding photo ideas

Wedding photography tips are useful, but do you have an exceptional idea for the shoot? These ideas can help you guide your creative thinking. Whether you’re stuck in wedding photoshoot ideas and don’t have enough time to get the preparations done on time, check out our list of wedding photography shots. Enjoy!

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1. Set your couple somewhere epic

You can make a breathtaking photoshoot in incredible natural environments. Of course, if the wedding venue allows. Try to scout the location thoroughly and find beautiful scenes. These kinds of wedding photos will be at the top of the pack.

2. Capture wedding symbols

A wedding is the union of two people in love, but it’s also meant to be a party. So take a moment to record symbols of the day that the bride and the groom won’t forget: wedding rings, hands in the air and feet on the dance floor, an embrace, applause, or a family cheer.

3. Play with shadows

Play with highlights and shadows to create unique pictures. Playing with shadows can make for dramatic images that look good in your wedding photography portfolio as well as in your client’s photo albums. 

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4. Pay attention to details

Capturing the most discreet wedding details will ensure that your photos live in the couple’s memory forever. Get really close up on features like the iridescent stones on the bride’s dress or the new rings.

5. Take action shots of lively wedding moments

This wedding photo idea always works. You just need to be in the right place at the right time. Depending on traditions and the size of the wedding, the most motion-filled moments vary. People dancing, fire performers, children playing games. Look around: A marriage celebration is always full of entertainment.

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6. Make use of texture and fabric

It can be challenging to shake up something as classic as the kissing couple wedding shot. Let the groom stand under the bride’s transparent white veil, enveloping the couple in their own wedding world for just a moment. 

7. Let the couple laugh

Posing is a tough job for any couple that isn’t used to modeling and looking perfect in front of the camera. So capture the natural moments by really getting to know every couple you work with. Crack a joke to loosen up wedding tensions and capture the joy of laughter.

8. Try a time-lapse effect

When shooting weddings with a large number of guests — or even a smaller wedding in an exciting venue — time-lapse images can be a unique way of capturing the spirit of the event.

9. Shift your perspective

To add interest to your group shots, try shooting from an unexpected angle. For this photo, Jo of Joasis Photography found a high vantage point to capture the entire crowd at Naomi and Jake’s London wedding. The result is a wedding photo that documents every detail of a crucial moment.

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Post-wedding workflow

1. Organize, edit, and view all your weddings photos in one place

Once the wedding photoshoot is done, it’s time for the post-production part. To make this process comfortable, try out the newly upgraded Luminar 3, with robust tools for organizing, browsing, and editing thousands of pictures.

luminar 3

Make Fantastic
Photos. Faster.


Conveniently load all your folders into the Library and get them automatically organized. Use stars, colors, and labels to pick your favorite images or to sort them just the way you like.


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2. Remove haze

The Dehaze filter in Luminar 3 helps to even out the light in hazy photos. It takes just a few steps to remove haze.  

3. Reduce noise

Digital noise often occurs in photos that were shot in low-light conditions. Wedding photographers can face plenty of situations when they need to shoot low-light scenes. To get rid of the annoying noise, try out the Denoise filter in Luminar 3, which effectively minimizes this flaw.

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4. Go black & white

You’ll definitely have some shots that are perfect for black and white conversion. With the B&W conversion filter in Luminar 3, you can turn your snaps into epic and dramatic photos in one click. 

5. Take advantage of the Erase tool

Wedding photoshoots as well as any photoshoot in general cannot be perfect, and you always run into multiple issues. The Erase tool in Luminar 3 gives you the option to remove unwanted objects from images completely. It’s an incredible tool for wedding shoots that don’t turn out as expected.

6. Blur photos to get a bokeh effect

The blur feature in Luminar 3 is a way to add additional effects to wedding images. Many wedding photographers use the blur feature to create a focal point, enhance the ambiance, and remove unwanted elements.

7. Crop photos

The Сrop tool in Luminar 3 can take an ordinary picture and turn it into something extraordinary. Among the photos in your wedding folder, some will have issues or unwanted elements in them. The great news is that those issues can often be eliminated by cropping.

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8. Use one-click Looks

In Luminar 3, Looks are a series of preset adjustments that make images look consistent. As a wedding photographer, you can create a unique style that tells the story of your brand. With the rich collections of Looks in Luminar 3, you can define this style, or take it to the next level.

Looks provide a basic set of adjustments you can make to your wedding shoots. To dive deep and go absolutely creative, feel free to try Luminar 3 and explore its limitless opportunities.

The Bottom Line

'For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till bad photographer do us part'. We wish all wedding photographers and newlyweds a happy celebration and tons of unforgettable photos!

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