In this 4 part series I look at the 48 shots that I pretty much shoot on every wedding in one way or another. The shots are the back bone to the whole day and each of them can be developed into a short series or help develop further ideas or concepts to concentrate on for a short time during the day.
The wedding I have chosen is available to watch on The Photographer Academy website as it will allow you to see the flow and interaction to gaining the shot as well as how it then flows from one image to another.
The first 12 images are the basic introduction to the wedding, a bit like the first chapter in a book which outlines the plot and the characters and sets the scene for the rest of the book.
1 – The Dress
My emphasis for lighting the image has always been natural light where possible and hence it makes sense to start shooting near a large light source, the one element that will dominate the day – The Dress. The style of the dress will definitely shape and form much of what I will be shooting especially posing and lighting. I usually head straight for the biggest window as this will be enough light to wrap around the dress and bring illumination to the material and its texture. In dark locations or on winter weddings I might supplement the window light with some bounce flash to lift the shadow area detail.
2 – The Shoes
Right at the beginning of my career in the 1980’s a bride asked me to shoot her shoes before anything else as they were her new pride and joy, and when the groom saw the receipt of how much they were after the wedding she needed some proof how cool they were. This I never forgot and this one bride inspired me to make sure that on every wedding I shoot the shoes and other details that complete her look. A window shelf is a perfect place to position and shoot the shoes as the contrast and overall lighting will bring a more commercial style of image instead creating just another bland shot of shoes. I always make sure I shoot the label as well, especially when they are a major designer brand, which she will definitely want to flaunt on and after the wedding day.
3 – The Flowers
The bride’s bouquet and other flowers are the next shots as they complete the bride’s attire along with jewellery, head dress, lingerie etc. I try and keep to a basic routine and flow of images even though every wedding is different to ensure I complete my shot list. It is easy to get distracted when shooting details however a few minutes spent shooting these details can result in time saved at the end of the day especially when shooting more reportage.
Window light again forms the illumination of the flowers and as I want to shoot the overall as well as the close-ups I often use the box presentation that the flowers are delivered in. If the box is not appropriate I will remove them and use a table top to create a more graphic style of image.
4 – The Details
The last details are elements such as the invitations, instead of concentrating on the obvious shot of clear names and details I shoot more the sizzle than the steak, in other words the details and presentation. I prefer to use shallow depth of field for most of my detail shots, using the point of focus to control the viewer’s gaze by sharpness and lighting. The 24-105 lens is my perfect all around wedding lens as it allows me to go quickly from a wide editorial style of image to a close up portrait, or as in this case of the orders of service the details on the covers.
5 – The Bride in scene
Even though I would have already shot candid images of the Bride, the formals are still important as they make sure that she is as perfect as possible. Once more I always head for a large light source so it can light from head to toe. Due to the angle of the light coming through a window it is better to sit the bride down to help capture the main quality of the light on the face and torso. The metering is taken from the brides face toward the light source, the window this creates a perfect exposure on the brides face with the rest of the scene allowed to gradient as the natural spills around the scene.
6 – The Bride
Because I am using manual metering on camera I can quickly move from the scene shot to a close up with no technical changes however I usually add a white Lastolite Triflector from below the bride’s bust to enhance the face more as well as fill in any shadow areas. I like to shoot slightly down when shooting head shots as it allows the bride to gaze upward which naturally opens the eyes more creating a bigger impact and more pleasing portrait.
7 – The Bridesmaids
The bride and bridesmaids can be a difficult shot to get at times as the bridesmaids all seem to be doing different things and not concentrating on helping the bride getting ready as is their role on a wedding day. So one of the last shots I take before leaving the house is a variety of formal and informal groups with them. Once again using the large light source of the window I have been able to light them sufficiently. In this case I have opened up the window and I have stepped out a little into the garden to shoot backwards to allow them to stand closer to the aperture to capture more of the specular light.
8 – The Church
The interior of the church is an element I like to show off but at some churches I am not allowed to shoot during the service so grabbing a few atmospheric images as soon as I arrive is essential. I shoot mainly hand held so I usually have to up my ISO setting to allow me to capture a scene with a just enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake.
9 – The Boys
For the first few shots of the groom and his groomsmen I try and have natural animation so walking towards the church is a perfect way to get the first series of images. If I have arrived late or they have already arrived I am not afraid to restage this walking in shot.
10 – The Family
The most important part of any wedding for me is the family portraits even though the fun and passion of the bride and groom images is what everyone remembers. Why are they important? Well it is usually the only time when friends and family get together so it is an excuse to see each other and catch up but as a photographer they breed variety in candid images as well as great for reprint sales.
I tend to use a little bounce flash on camera to lighten the shadow areas especially under brims of hats or in open light as in this image.
11 – The Girls
I do and try and cover as many small groups prior to the ceremony as possible as this saves time later in the day, however with special people like the bridesmaids I try and shoot them in multiple locations during the day. Here I am using the top shade created from a tree to the left of the group to subtract the overhead light, this then will naturally create a new direction to the light which is more complimentary to the girls.
12- The Arrival
Showing and shooting the scene, especially as the bride arrives is a perfect way to add scale, story and styling to the wedding images. By shooting wide as well as in an area with a natural vignette, as here from the tree, the viewer is allowed to observe a timeless moment and one very few people get to observe on the wedding day.
You can watch the video of this wedding live on The Photographer Academy website: www.ThePhotographerAcademy.com