As wedding photographers like Ram Chary can tell you, getting great shots from a wedding is part luck and part careful planning and understanding of moments that – no matter how special to the bride and groom – are quite common to most weddings. Even though there will likely be a professional photographer at the next wedding you attend, that shouldn’t prevent you from taking pictures of your own to memorialize the day. Here are some tips to get some great pictures at your friends’ wedding (and make it look good in the process!)
Recognize emotional moments and be ready for them
There are some moments that can be anticipated which are likely to be emotionally charged – the first time the groom sees the bride walking down the aisle, the looks on the proud parents’ faces as their children share their first dance as newlyweds, and so on. If you are paying attention, you can anticipate these moments and be ready with the right lens, focus, and lighting. These pictures are so incredible because they capture a moment of pure unguarded emotion – don’t miss them because you were getting your camera set up.
Know the venue
Take a bit of time to research the venue so that you have a sense of the lighting conditions, the colors and textures, and the interesting settings. Whether you are going to plan particular shots or try to capture candid moments, having some sense of where interesting shots are likely to be captured can be a big asset.
Especially if you are a friend or family member, you will likely be familiar with the principals at a wedding. This can give you a real advantage over a hired photographer because you will know the relationships and backstories of the people involved. You will know, when a story about the first time the couple met is being told, who was there, or where the punch line is heading – and you can be ready to capture the faces of those people as the story unfolds.
Set the stage, within reason
Sometimes, having one of the subjects of a photo move slightly can make all the difference between a good photo and a great one. Don’t be shy about asking people to move to change their expression to compose the perfect picture. But remember, especially if there is a professional photographer at the event, there will be plenty of posed and otherwise staged photos being taken. Don’t let “perfectly posed” become the enemy of “heartfelt and spontaneous.”
Do respect the privacy of your subjects
As a friend, you may have more access to intimate parts of the day than a professional photographer may have. This can be an advantage in terms of capturing special moments. You may also stumble across difficult or tense moment. Remember above all to be true to the relationships you have with the couple, their friends, and their families by respecting their privacy and the spirit of the day. Don’t intrude, or forget that you are a friend first.
No doubt, the photographer will provide the new couple with professionally taken and perfected images of the day – but there is no doubt that the special photos that you are able to capture will become a much-cherished part of the album as well!