If you take photos as a hobby, sooner or later, someone is going to ask you to snap their wedding pics.
It’s undeniably a huge honor to be asked to document someone’s special day.
While it’s very rewarding, it can be challenging as well.
Shooting a wedding is a whole other animal.
You have to work with an unknown setting instead of your comfy studio.
There are tons of people to work with and a lot of commotion.
That being said, it’s an opportunity you should jump on as an amateur photographer.
You might be able to leverage a few wedding gigs into a career or at least a well-paid side hustle.
The wedding industry is growing by leaps and bounds with no signs of slowing down.
In fact, brides and grooms are willing to drop a collective $53.4 billion (with a B!) on wedding costs annually.
Photographers can take a slice of that home as well. Average cost to hire a pro for your wedding pics is roughly $2,320.
That figure has shown signs of increasing year over year, even quarter over quarter.
If you’re ready to get into this fun and potentially lucrative job, keep reading.
We’ve got all the tips and tricks that are going to make you stand out from the pack.
Don’t Knock The Pre-Game
What’s the famous saying? “Always be prepared.” Learn it and love it for wedding photography.
If you’re used to doing street photography, nature pics, or studio portraits, weddings are a whole different ball game.
Try to get access to the venue before hand and see what the layout it like.
This way you can see where it’s best to set up and what kind of shots you can take.
Get The Full Schedule
Of course, you’ll discuss what kind of wedding pics the happy couple wants up front, but for compelling candids, get your hands on the full schedule.
You’ll be on the list to take posed photos at certain times, but see how the day is going to flow and adjust accordingly.
There might be last minute changes of course, but you can always modify your approach as needed.
Try This Tripod Trick
OK, this one is weird but it works.
All good photogs have a trusty tripod that is practically a part of themselves.
What happens if that tripod breaks or gets accidentally left behind?
No worries – you can still set up steady shots.
Take a lampshade off of a lamp and screw the camera onto the lampshade holder.
The threads on the lampshade bolt and the bottom of your camera are practically the same.
This is kind of a weird trick that doesn’t come up that often, but you’ll be glad to have it in your back pocket if the need arises.
Don’t Miss Out On Small Details
Wedding pics often feature the happy couple, the wedding party, the family, etc.
What will make you stand out from the rest is getting those tiny, often overlooked details.
Snap pics of the ring, the vows, the “something borrowed, something blue, etc” that the bride is wearing.
It’s easy to gloss over the little things in the chaotic rush of such a big event. When the couple sees these in the photos, they’re going to appreciate it.
Bonus tip – if you want to take macro photos of small things, just detach your lens and hold it in front of the camera.
Four things to remember:
- It only works in manual mode
- 50 mm is the best focal length for this type of trick
- Focus up by moving closer or further away from the object
- Use your hand to manually open the aperture
You’re probably a little skeptical, but try it – it works.
Focus On The Feelings
You’re going to have your classic shots – first kiss, first dance, etc.
While you’re getting those pics, turn the camera to the family and friends to get their reactions.
Doing so adds an extra dimension to the event.
See if you can spot a particularly expressive person in the audience, too. They’ll have the best reactions and make the pics more memorable.
Add A Popular Special Effect For Next To Nothing
If you’re into photography, you know a trend that’s really exploded recently is the use of the bokeh lens.
Bokeh is a technique that produces multiple little points of light in your pics, making it look otherworldly and dream-like.
Sometimes bokeh lenses even come in little shapes, like hearts and stars.
You might think you need an expensive attachment to create this whimsical look, but you’re wrong.
All you need is simple black paper and a hole punch in your desired shape, available for purchase at any craft shop.
An Exacto knife will do in a pinch, too.
Here’s what to do: take your black paper and cut a shape roughly the size of your lens’ front element, usually around the size of a nickel.
Tape it or hold it to your lense.
This effect works best with a larger lens; 50mm f/1.8 is ideal.
Switch It Up
Asking the wedding party to pose at the scheduled time is appropriate and expected, but don’t be afraid to get creative.
Take your standard shots but then move around, try out different angles.
Heed this great advice for candids, too. When moments of great emotion prevent you from setting up a shot in a convenient way, move yourself to see what you get.
Wedding pics are too often run of the mill and boring; you’ll stand out if you can deliver really interesting photos along with the typical shots.
All About The Lighting
Reflectors are an essential piece of equipment for all photographers.
There are some great – and surprising – tricks you can use to make the most out of them.
For example, a regular pop up reflector makes a great plain white background.
When you’re out capturing wedding pics, even if the backgrounds are beautiful and the setting is gorgeous, you might want a clean shot.
Just use a plain pop up reflector behind the subject to create a white background.
This comes in really handy if you’re doing bridesmaids portraits or something like that.
While small, portable reflectors are wonderful for getting one on one shots, they’re pretty useless for full body photos.
Reflectors that large can be pretty pricey, but there’s a way to make one for less than $10.
This is a weird trick, but it works – purchase a big slab of silver insulation board and cover the back and sides with white duct tape.
That way you have both a silver side and a white side for whatever the situation calls for.
Get The Kids’ Attention
Getting the precious flower girl or the adorable ring bearer to sit still during your shots can be challenging.
Take the hassle out of struggling to keep their attention by putting a toy on your camera.
If your camera has a hotshoe, you can probably mount a toy or something bright and colorful that will draw their eyes where you want them.
In fact, Pez dispensers work really well for this trick; their base is essentially the same size.
Make sure you try it out before testing it in the field to make sure it will stay.
You’re guaranteed to have perfect pics of the kids if you use this technique.
Don’t Discard Any Wedding Pics
You might be tempted to immediately delete shots you think didn’t go as planned, but don’t.
When you’re back in your studio, you might tease out details you didn’t notice out in the field.
Plus, photo manipulation goes a long way to making the shots workable.
It’s way better to have too many shots than too little.
Take tons of pics – and make sure you have the battery and extra storage to support you, too.
A great tip for getting a lot of shots at once is to use the continuous shooting mode on your camera for the important moments.
Lots of little details unfold quicker than you can manually snap them.
Load up on your shots and err on the side of having too many than too few.
The Most Important Advice: Relax, Have Fun
Anything and everything can happen at a big event like a wedding.
Stay loose and limber to get the most out of your shots.
If it rains, don’t focus on what’s spoiled; see what you can make of it.
In fact, little hiccups and weird occurrences are the things that most often stick out in people’s minds and make the best memories.
Go with the flow to find photo opportunities that might usually be overlooked.
Each wedding is different; enjoy the chaos and the magic of the whole thing.
Going Beyond Wedding Pics
Taking photos at weddings can be an addictive and lucrative hobby.
If you’re ready to up your game, check out Start Photography.
It’s full of tips and tricks to make your portfolio stand out from the crowd.
You’ll learn how to nail the perfect portrait session or breath new life into standard wedding photography.
What tricks have you used to create jaw-dropping photos?