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Ten Rules That Guarantee Great Wedding Photographs!

Jun 24, 2008
Don't let anyone tell you that you have to have an expensive camera to take a great photograph. It helps to have some technology in your hand, but the majority of the most famous photographs in the world were shot with the most basic equipment. Even photographers with the most expensive equipment can walk away with poor photos so it's not the camera's fault.Even if you've never taken wedding photos before you can get great shots your first time out if you follow these ten rules:

Rule number one for getting great wedding photographs. Shoot lots of photos. Not 10 or 20 or 100. Shoot 1,000 or more. Buy two-gigabyte memory cards and an extra battery and shoot. You don't get brownie points or gold stars for leaving space on the card. Fill it up! Even if you're a really bad photographer with 1,000 photos in your camera (and the following tips!) you're bound to have at least 25 to 50 really, really good photos if not more. The odds are with you, so be strong and fire away!

Rule number two. Take pictures of faces and emotion.I can't repeat this enough. Shoot pictures of people's faces. Capture the emotions of the moment. Don't shoot butts. No one really wants to see photos of people's backs, bottoms or the back of their heads.Either move to where you can actually see the person's face or find something else to take pictures of. There are exceptions to this rule but in general, don't shoot until you can see their eyes! Vary the range to include chest and arms, but get in close.Use a telephoto lens or the zoom feature on your camera where possible or this may be harder than you think.

Rule number three. Take extreme close ups. The best photos are one where the viewer feels like they were standing right next to the subject. Whoever said it was poor form to cut off people's legs was wrong.Zoom in. Fill the frame of your viewfinder with the person's face or hands or even eyes. Take close-ups of the wedding details : the bride's shoes, the rings, flower petals and flowers. Is there a bee crawling in one of the flower arrangements? Take its picture. You never know what will turn out to be a compelling or intimate photo so don't limit yourself.Take pictures of anything that catches your eye!

Rule number four. Don't shoot "GAG" photos. That's what photojournalists call photos where people shake hands and grin at the camera: "Grip and Grin" or GAG for short. Unless you need a photo of someone and can't find a mug shot or high school yearbook there's really no reason to shoot these posed shots unless you aspire to be a studio or portrait photographer.Yes, you will need to shoot posed or formal photos of the wedding party and family, but when you're looking for a casual shot avoid the stiff pose. Joke with the groomsmen and ask them to pose or jump in the air or act silly. Don't just take a photo of everyone staring solemnly at the camera. Find an interesting setting for the formal poses - like sitting on a wall or on the low limbs of a tree or around a fountain. Add interest to the photo. Because people's tendency is to stop what they're doing and pose when someone approaches them with a camera, use the zoom feature on your camera or get a telephoto lens.

To capture the fun, romance, excitement or drama of a wedding however you must use a telephoto lens, be aware of what is going on around you and be able to snap candid shots of people laughing, dancing, hugging or going about their role as a wedding guest or as a member of the wedding party. When you first do this you may feel awkward or embarrassed like you're a peeping Tom. Society teaches us to be respectful, not to stare and to let people know we're watching them. But if you want to get that breath-taking photo you'll need to set your discomfort aside and become an observer. Those are the moments the bride and groom want you to capture because those are the shots that they want to remember from their wedding day.

Rule number five. Mix up your shots. Take some photos very close up. Fill the frame with an image of a hand holding the wedding rings. Now pull back and get a photo of the best man as his head is bent over as he looks at the wedding rings. Then maybe get a photo from a distance of him sitting in a chair with his elbows on his knees as he holds the rings up - all the while remembering he's not to be looking at you and grinning like a fool. The feeling the viewer should get is that he accidentally happened upon this scene himself. This is why you need to take hundreds of photos. You won't capture the moment or feeling with just a few shots. Take dozens. Shoot from down low, around your knees and aiming up at your subject.Shoot down, while standing on a low wall or chair (be safe!). Vary your angle. It's very rare that a shot at eye level is any good. People are used to that angle so vary it up some.

Rule number six. When you are shooting a formal wedding party shot you must have every one in the wedding party looking into the center of your lens, not at any other photographers. If ten people in your photo are looking in ten different directions you will lose any possible intimacy and sense of cohesion in the photo. So ask them all to look directly into your lens not just "look at me." Be specific. And take at least a dozen photos because the larger the group the more chances there are that someone will have their eyes closed, scrunch up their nose, blink, cough, look away or somehow botch the shot. Beat the odds. Take lots of photos. One of them will be perfect.

Rule number seven. Pay attention to your background.No one looks romantic with a pole sticking out of his or her head. Make sure any background objects are not creating a distracting visual with your subject. If you see a crumpled napkin or dirty plate in your viewfinder move around a bit until it is out of the frame or move it yourself.

Rule number eight. You can never go wrong taking photos of kids at a wedding. However, if they see you have a camera most will mug for you - ruining any candid shots. Try to catch them when they're doing something like playing with other kids, checking out their tux, tying their shoes, being bored. Shoot low
from their level,even if you have to get on your knees. Shooting from a kid's eye view enhances the entire feeling that these are little people in an adult world and adds to the charm of the photo.

Rule number nine. Take pictures of everyone. You never know whom the bride's old college roommate, long lost cousin, reclusive sister or co-worker might be. Taking photos of everyone you can ensures that everyone will be part of the happy couple's memories and photos of their wedding day.

Rule number ten. Don't say "Cheese". No one really smiles a real smile when you ask him or her to say cheese. Tell a joke or make fun of how awkward you feel or do or say something to get the folks staring at you to laugh. Then snap. The laughter will be real. The emotions will be real and you will have captured the fun of the moment.

Those are the ten basic rules for taking great wedding photos. But if you don't practice you won't get much out of them. If you have dreams of becoming a wedding photographer then follow these rules and go to lots of weddings and watch and learn from the professionals. Most are happy to share a tip or two with you but remember they were hired to shoot the wedding, not teach you how to use your camera. But most don't mind you watching so pay attention!

Finally, look at good wedding photos. Google "Wedding photographers" on the Internet and see the results of their best efforts. Strive to emulate it until you find your own style. But never give up. Even if you're only shooting one wedding for a friend you may find yourself hooked! Weddings can be great fun to shoot so enjoy!
About the Author
How to plan the Perfect Wedding visit http://www.theweddingxpert.com
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