The hardest part is deciding to begin. After that you just make it happen.








  During your meeting with clients, you should always ask whether their ceremony will be taking place indoors or outdoors. You should also tell them to check with the person who is officiating the ceremony (e.g. Minister) and ask them if there will be any moments during the ceremony that you will not be allowed to take photos. The last thing you want to happen during the ceremony is for someone to tell you to stop taking photos - yes, this has happened. For example, some may not want you taking photos during the prayers. It shouldn’t matter to you, but if the couples want you to take photos during that time then they need to reach an agreement and inform you beforehand. 

  If the ceremony is happening indoors and you need to use flashes, you must test your lighting setup beforehand. Ideally this can be done during this first hour. If that’s not possible, tell the couple you need time to do that ​before the ceremony begins​. It should take you 10-15 minutes, if you are familiar with using your flashes. 


  Things to say to the clients during your meeting: 

  ● They must talk to the person who is officiating their ceremony and let you know, in advance, of any times when you are not allowed to take photos. 

  ● If the ceremony is indoors then they need to give you enough time to set up and test your lights before it begins. 

  ● Once the Bride has walked down the aisle, the Groomsmen and Bridesmaids should sit down. If they stand beside the Bride & Groom for the entire ceremony it limits the angles you can take photos from. Some ceremony areas don’t have a lot of space, so the more space you have the better. 

  ● When they’re putting the rings on, don’t cover them with their fingers, instead hold the ring on the sides so that it can be seen in the photos. 







  ● Tell them to make their first kiss last a long time - the longer the better. It will give you time to take a few different photos rather than just one. When the first kiss lasts longer than the guests were it expecting it to they usually cheer and clap and it really helps to create a good atmosphere and to break the ice. 

  And, they must hold each other as they are kissing. 

  ● Have someone make an announcement, just before or after the ceremony, to inform the guests as to what is going to happen next (e.g. signing, confetti, group shot, family photos, etc). If they don't, as soon as the ceremony is done, the guest will all wander off in different directions. Trying to get everyone back together for the group and family photos wastes a lot of time. 

  At this point, the sun may be going down and there will be a limited amount of time to get everything done. The last thing you want to be doing is standing around waiting for everyone to be gathered together. 

  ● If the ceremony is outdoors, they must ​never​ be facing directly towards the sun. The sun casts shadows, makes people frown, and melts makeup. They must turn away from the sun as much as possible so that you can shoot from the shaded side. This is something you can also mention to Groom just before the ceremony is about to take place. And, at that time, you can discuss it with the Groom and the person who is officiating the ceremony to agree on exactly where the Bride & Groom will be standing throughout the ceremony. It is up to them if they want to follow your advice, but make it clear to them what you recommend for the best photo results so they know that if they don’t follow your advice the photos won’t be as good. See photo examples at the end of the lesson for tips on how to position the couple away from the sun. 

  ● Ask them if they want mobile devices in their photos - often, the guests will lean into the aisle with their phones. If not, there needs to be an announcement made to tell the guests not to do that. Also, if they don’t want the guests to share their photos online, they must announce that too. 










  Guests taking photos 

  Nowadays, everyone has a camera on their phone. Imagine taking photos of the Bride walking down the aisle and guests leaning into your shot with phones and tablets - yes, it does happen. The latest smartphone may look great now but in a few years it will be outdated technology. ​ Do they want that in their photos?​ Probably not. If they don’t then they must make arrangements to inform the guests. You don’t want to be having to tell people to stop taking photos - that’s not your job - 

  they need to have someone monitoring that. Usually, it’s the MC’s duty. 

  The guests will upload and share their photos onto social media and these will be the first photos that the world gets to see of the wedding. If the clients don’t want that to happen then they need to have someone tell the guests. 

  If you are shooting indoors and guests are using flash photography it can sometimes ruin your photos. If that happens, go to MC and ask him/her to tell the guests not to use flash. 











  Walking down the aisle 

  Usually, the Groom will be standing at the end of the aisle and his Groomsmen will be standing next to him. The Bridesmaids will walk down first and then the Bride. 

  If you are photographing the wedding on you own then you are going to have to choose a good position so that you can get shots of the Bride walking down and the Groom’s reaction. This is where you should stand… 

  you will have a good view of the Bride and the Groom. 












  If you have another photographer then ​you can photograph the Bride​ as she’s walking down and ​the 2nd photographer can photograph the Groom​… 















  Shooting the ceremony 

  When you shoot it is very important to be respectful. If you are using a lens that has any kind of zoom capabilities then it is not necessary to be close to the Bride & Groom. You should be able to get all the shots you need from just moving around on the outside. And, only step closer when they are putting the rings on. 

  You are there to document what is happening, you don’t want to be getting in the way of things. You will hear stories of photographers standing between the couple, and standing in front of the Groom and blocking his view of the Bride walking down the aisle - very awkward. 

  As mentioned in other lessons, there is no perfect way to photograph a wedding and no perfect shots. You can take a close-up photo of the first kiss or one from further away and they can both look great. As a photographer, you are there to tell the story. How you tell that story is up to you. For example, five directors could make a movie in five different ways and they could all be good. 












  Outdoor ceremony 

  If the ceremony is outside then chances are there may be bright sunlight. 

  Sometimes you may get shade from a tree, or a tent, but even then it is unlikely that there will be shade over absolutely everything. 

  The worst situation you could face with an outdoor ceremony is if the Bride & Groom is standing facing directly towards the sun. The sun makes them frown - 

  they'll look mad in their photos - and you get shadows on their faces, especially on their eyes. It also melts and ruins the makeup. To avoid this, explain it to the couple during your meeting and tell them that they at least need to stand side-on to the sun and ideally with their backs to the sun - anything is better than facing it. 


  Indoor ceremony 

  If the building is bright and light inside then you won’t need lights. If not, then you are going to need them. You will be shown how to use lights indoors later in this lesson. 










  Camera settings 

  This section is included in many of the lessons to help people who don’t yet know how to use their camera settings. 

  Many photographers will have different ways of shooting but, this will teach you, in a very basic way, how to use your camera settings. You may find other ways that you prefer but, this will assist you in getting started. 





  ● Shoot with your camera settings on ​ ‘auto white balance’. 

  ● Lenses and cameras should always be set to ​ ‘auto focus’.  

  ● Set your camera to focus using a ​ ‘single focus point’​. 










  It should look something like this through the viewfinder of your camera... 


  you can see the single focus point in the middle of the frame. 


  When taking a photo you will aim the focus point at the part of the subject you want to be in focus (e.g. the Bride’s face). You will squeeze the shutter-release button to lock the focus - but don’t press it down to take the photo yet. Now you can frame the shot and take the photo. The focus will still be set to what you initially locked it on. See examples below... 













  Here is a view through the viewfinder. The single focus point is aimed at the Groom (so that he will be in focus). The Bride is standing next to him, the same distance away, so she will also be in focus. The shutter-release button is then gently squeezed down to lock the focus. 



  Now that the focus is locked on the Groom and the shutter-release button is still held in - but not pressed down fully yet - you can move the camera around to frame the shot you want to take. 














  Now you can frame the photo as you want to take it and go ahead and press the shutter-release button down to take the photo. 

  You will notice here that the focus point is now on the background and not over the Groom, but because it is locked the focus doesn’t change when you take the photo. 















  Shoot with your camera on ​ ‘manual mode’ . ​ What this means is that you will manually select the settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) before taking a photo. If you have never done this, don’t worry, it will be explained simply. 

  Using manual mode should not be confused with manual focusing. Your lens and camera should still be set to auto-focus. 

  When you take a photo, all you are really doing with the settings is adjusting them so that the exposure is correct; the photo is not too dark or too bright. 














  A low aperture lets more light into the camera. So, if you want your photo to be brighter set it lower (e.g. 1.4) or if you want it darker set it higher (e.g. 5.6). 

  A low aperture will produce more depth of field (blurred background). A higher aperture will reduce that. 











  Shutter speed 

  A fast shutter speed will allow less light into the camera than a slow shutter speed. 

  If you want your photo to be brighter set a slower speed (e.g. 1/250). If you want it to be darker set a faster speed (e.g. 1/800). 

  If the subject is moving a slow shutter speed may make them appear blurry, whereas a faster shutter speed will snap that photo quicker and capture them as they move. So you never want to be too slow with the shutter speed at weddings. 

  Probably not slower than 1/250. 



  Setting your ISO higher will brighten your photo. This is used mostly when you are shooting in low-light conditions. However, the higher it goes the less sharp your photo will become and the quality of the image will decrease. All cameras produce different results so you really need to test it and check the photos on a computer afterwards to see the results. 

  It is usually advised to keep the ISO as low as possible at all times (100) when shooting in bright/light environments. However, even when the light is good, setting it at 200 can slightly brighten any areas of shadows. So, if you are finding that the shadow areas of your photos are too dark you can try that to brighten them a little. 












  Here’s a quick summary 

  When you are about to take a photo, the first thing you want to ask yourself is 

  ‘​ How much depth of field (blurred background) do I want to have?’. 


  If you want to have a lot then you may have your aperture set to 1.4. If so, that setting is also going to make the photo brighter because it is letting more light into the camera. Therefore you are probably going to have to make your shutter speed higher (e.g. 1/800) to darken the photo. 

  If you want to have less blur then you may have your aperture set to something like 5.6. If so, that setting is going to make the photo darker as less light will be going into the camera. Therefore you may have to reduce your shutter (e.g. 1/250) to make the photo brighter. Or you could instead increase the ISO to make it brighter. 

  But, basically, the ISO is mainly used as a backup to make your photo brighter when the area you are shooting in doesn’t have enough natural light. 


  Natural light VS flashes 

  This section is also included in many lessons for people who don’t yet know how to shoot in different lighting conditions. Again, this is just a guide. You may find your own ways of doing things but this will help you to get started. 

  In an ideal world a photographer would always have enough natural light to shoot. 

  But when you are doing weddings you never know what kind of room or building you are going to be working in and how much light they will have. Luckily for you, there’s a great technique that will allow you to be prepared for any situation. And, you can do it in a way that still looks natural. 








  Making flashes look natural 

  A lot of people think that flashes aren’t good, but they only think that if they have used them in the wrong way. Some people use a flash on the camera and point it straight at the subject. If you’ve ever done this you will have noticed that the light often looks harsh. Some people use different coloured filters or diffusers on the flashes to try to warm them or soften the light. You can do that if you are happy with the way it looks. It all depends on the style you have and what you are aiming to achieve. If you want your photos to look as natural as possible, like the actual moment looked, then you try the following technique... 


  Off-camera flashes 

  If you are using a flash on your camera then the expensive ones are better. But, for this method, the cheaper ones can be just as good as they have less functions (functions you won’t require). Google search ​ ‘Neewer TT560’​. They are very cheap. 

  You will also see they have good reviews. You can try using other brands of flashes, it is mostly personal preference. 


  Trigger set 

  To operate the flashes remotely, you will need a ​ ‘wireless flash trigger set’​. Google it and you will find them. Always check they have good reviews. 

  Basically, you attach the transmitter to the top of your camera (just like you would if you were putting a flash on it) and then you attach the receiver(s) to the flash(es). 

  There’s a frequency setting and you set it so that the transmitter and the receiver(s) have the same setting. The receivers lock onto the flashes. It is really easy and it will take you a short amount of time to get used to using them. 







  It happens very rarely but, if you find something is interfering with the signal and setting the flashes off, there must be something in the building using the same frequency. If that happens just change the frequency setting. 


  Rechargeable batteries 

  You don’t want to buy batteries every time you do a wedding, so use rechargeables (AA for the flashes and AAA for the recievers). The transmitters sometimes work with a different battery, you will have to check. 

  Buy a charger that charges a set of batteries in about an hour or less. Make sure the brand of the charger is the same as the batteries. And, one set of batteries for each item will last an entire wedding. 

  At any given time, you will use between 2 and 4 flashes (and an equal amount of receivers); 2 for a small room, and 4 for a large hall. 


  Light stands 

  You will also need stands for the flashes (they are cheap to buy), and you can screw the flashes/receivers onto the stands. Google search ​ ‘flash light stands’​ to find them. 

  If you are doing getting-ready photos in a small room, and you need flashes, you don’t have to use stands, just place the flashes on top of a chair, table, etc. 











  Don’t shy away from trying this method because the results are fantastic (see examples at the end of this lesson). Once you start using them you will never go back. Although you may get away without using flashes during the getting-ready photos (if it’s a bright room with lots of natural light) the reception will most likely be at night, so ​you will need them​. 

  Practise with them to get familiar with using them. You can do it in your house; set up two flashes in a room and try it out. 

  To practise in a larger area, similar to that of a reception venue, you can ask a venue if you can use the area to practise during the week, or ask at a school or church to use their hall; any room about the same size as a wedding venue will do. 




  The photos you need for the ceremony 

  You always want to get a good mixture of photos. The ceremony is quite an emotional time and there’s usually laughter and tears. You should be going between the Bride & Groom and their guests. You should have the following... 

  ● Groom welcoming the guests. 

  ● A photo of the building (if indoors) or the ceremony area. 

  ● Groom standing with his Groomsmen waiting for his Bride. 

  ● Bridesmaids and then Bride walking down the aisle. 







  ● Groom’s reaction to the Bride walking down the aisle. 

  ● Father lifting the Bride’s veil. And then kissing or hugging her. This happens as soon as she has walked down the aisle, so be ready for it, and you may need to move position to get it. 

  ● Groom shaking Father-of-the-Bride’s hand. 

  ● Shots of Bride and Groom standing during the ceremony. Get a good variety. 

  ● A shot of the ceremony area. If they are praying, you can use that as an opportunity to quickly (and quietly) step away to take a large shot of the entire ceremony area (all the guests). 

  ● Get some photos of the guest. Ones in which they are laughing or crying are particularly nice to have. 

  ● Photos of their parents laughing, crying, etc. 

  ● Photos of them putting on the rings. 

  ● The first kiss. 

  ● Walking away down the aisle at the end. 

  ● Photos of them signing. You can stand back (documentary-style) and take photos as they are signing. At the end, if you don’t feel like you have a nice shot yet, ask them to pose (e.g. hold the pen, smile at the camera, etc). And, if they want it, do a shot of them with the person who conducted the ceremony and the witnesses who also signed. 

  ● After the signing, tell the Bride & Groom to give you a few minutes to go and make sure the guests are in position for throwing the confetti. Usually, the MC will have all the guests standing, forming a tunnel for the confetti throwing. If not, you can go out and tell the people where to stand. 











  Photo examples 

  Below you see examples of photos. If flashes were used then it will be mentioned and details of how they were set up will be provided. 











  You can see in the background that the sun was shining brightly on this day. 

  However, the couple arranged for a gazebos/tent to be over them and the guests, which provided shade, and because of that you can see how nice and even the light is on the bride. This is the ideal situation when shooting outdoors. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/6.3 

  Shutter speed: 1/400 sec 

  ISO: 200 










  On this day, the sun was shining bright up to the left behind them. Shooting from this side, the shaded side where the sun wasn’t shining on them, you can see how nice and even the light is. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/2.8 

  Shutter speed: 1/800 sec 

  ISO: 125 










  You can see here that the sun is shining on them. It really doesn’t look good; the light is too harsh and causes shadows. Luckily, they were advised to stand with their backs to the sun when possible and this was the only part of the ceremony when they were facing it. This is just an example to show you how facing the sun doesn’t look very nice. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/2.8 

  Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec 

  ISO: 100 












  Here you can see that there is a tree above them providing shade from the sun, but some sunlight is still getting through. It doesn’t look bad, in fact, it gives you a sense of where they are standing, but if it was any more than this it would be better to shoot from the other side. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/2.2 

  Shutter speed: 1/1250 sec 

  ISO: 200 













  Here you can see that the sun is hitting them from the left side. If it was anymore on his face it would be better to move to the other side. But, looking at the Groom’s face here, you can imagine how bad it would look if he was facing directly into the sun. In these kinds of situations it always best to shoot from the shaded side. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/1.8 

  Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec 

  ISO: 100 









  This photo was taken indoor using flashes and it looks really nice. Two flashes (on stands), one behind the photographer by the left wall (out of shot) and the other on the opposite side by the right wall. ​Always point flashes up​ because that way the light is spread evenly. And, the flash settings were about half power. If the ceiling is dark you may need to increase the power of the flashes. 

  You can see the room gets darker towards the back. If you wanted it to be brighter you could put one more flash towards the back of the room. If you do that you have to be careful not to have the flash in the back of your shot as it doesn’t usually look good. If the flash was in the background you could try to block it out using the couple. But, when possible, try to keep the flashes out of the frame/shot. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/2.2 

  Shutter speed: 1/160 sec 

  ISO: 640 




































  The only time you should step close to the couple is when they put the rings on, the rest of the time you can shoot from a distance; give them their space so they don’t really notice you’re there. When you move around do so slowly and quietly. The last thing the couple wants is for the attention to be on the photographer. And, always think before you move in case you bump into something or trip. 

  Focal Length: 35mm 

  Aperture: f/3.2 

  Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec 

  ISO: 100 












  This couple was advised to stand with their backs to the sun. You can see at the side of the Groom’s face how bright the sun was that day and you can imagine how bad the photos would have looked if they were facing into it. As their photographer, all you can do is advise them what will be best for the photos. It is up to them if they want to follow your advice. If they don’t then you need to make them aware that the photos won’t be as nice. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/2.2 

  Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec 

  ISO: 100 












  Always be ready for unexpected moments and you will get nice shots you didn’t plan on getting. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/1.4 

  Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec 

  ISO: 125 















  It’s always nice to get photos of the guests laughing. Usually, the person conducting the ceremony will begin and end by saying something funny to lighten the mood, so always be ready for those moments. 

  Some photos just look better in black and white, it seems to bring out the emotion. 

  The reason for this is because you are not distracted by the colours and it helps you to focus on the moment. 

  Focal Length: 38mm 

  Aperture: f/3.5 

  Shutter speed: 1/400 sec 

  ISO: 400 












  You can see at this moment the sun is quite bright on the Bride. By stepping back and taking a bigger shot it looks really nice. If it was closer at this moment you would see that the Bride is squinting her eyes and she has shadows on her eyes from the sun. But, being further away it isn’t so obvious. Luckily, for the majority of this ceremony they had been advised beforehand to not to face the sun when possible, and they didn’t, but sometimes it is hard to avoid doing it. 

  Focal Length: 17mm 

  Aperture: f/4.5 

  Shutter speed: 1/400 sec 

  ISO: 200 









  Always try to step back and take a big shot of the area, especially if there’s nice scenery. It is always good to have a mixture of close-up and far away shots. The best time to do a shot like this is usually when they are praying or preaching, the rest of the time you want to be close by the Bride & Groom so you don’t miss any special moments. 

  Focal Length: 24mm 

  Aperture: f/2.8 

  Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec 

  ISO: 100 













  This shot was taken indoors. Two flashes (on stands) were used behind the photographer, one to the right of the table and one to the left, ​always pointing up​. 

  The light looks really nice and even. 

  Remember, you can always say ​ “Please, wait one minute for me to set up my lights”. 

  The couple will understand and want you to get a nice shot so they won’t mind waiting. Almost all weddings do the signing indoors and at the same location as the ceremony is taking place, so you should have your lights set up already and then you just need to move them into position, which is really quick to do. 

  Focal Length: 32mm 

  Aperture: f/3.5 

  Shutter speed: 1/250 sec 

  ISO: 800 












  On this day it was raining outside so the confetti-throwing took place indoors. Four flashes were set up, one in each corner of the large room, and it turned out really nice. Again, just asked the couple to wait until you set up the lights. They will understand and be happy to wait. ​The flashes are always pointing up​ to bounce the light off the ceiling. This produces the most even light. 

  It may not happen that you need to shoot the confetti-throwing indoors, but this is just an example to show you what is possible, so that you can be prepared. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/1.4 

  Shutter speed: 1/320 sec 

  ISO: 1600 











  This was outdoors. It was arranged for the confetti throwing to happen so that they were walking with the sun behind them and not towards it. And, you can see how nice and even the light is because this side of them is in the shade; no shadows or harsh light to deal with. 

  Focal Length: 50mm 

  Aperture: f/2.8 

  Shutter speed: 1/400 sec 

  ISO: 400 


  Lesson summary 

  If the ceremony is outside, make sure that before the ceremony begins to at least mention to the Groom, and the person conducting the ceremony as to where you would recommend for the Bride & Groom to stand so they are not facing into the sun. 

  If you are shooting indoors always request that you have enough time to set up and test your lights before the ceremony begins. Testing the lights in the ceremony area would ideally be done at the beginning of the day, but that’s not always possible if the locations are far apart. How long you will need for testing your lights will depend on the set up you are using and how familiar you are with doing it. But, 10-15 minutes should be enough. 

  When you are photographing a wedding ceremony you must always keep in mind what is going to happen next so that you don’t miss anything. 

  Remember, at this point of the day, it is your job to capture what is happening; shooting documentary-style should be your aim. You must never be in the way and you must be subtle in your approach; move around the area slowly and quietly. 

  As always, try to get a good variety of shots from various angles. And, although your focus is primarily on the Bride & Groom, be sure to get nice photos of the guests. 

  And lastly, take some tissues in case you get emotional during the ceremony :) 

  Congratulations! You have completed this lesson.