The ceremony can be the most nerve wracking part of a wedding day for a photographer. Tons of pressure to capture every important moment in a short time frame, no control over lighting and placement of subjects, no do-overs, and of course despite all that, the images have to look beautiful and dreamy and effortless.
Luckily, many of you are like me and thrive on a challenge, so here are 3 key ideas to think about that will allow you to tackle any ceremony with confidence and ease!
1. Anticipate moments
Find out as much as you can about the ceremony ahead of time; length, order of things, special or unusual additions. Then, make sure you can get to the ceremony site early so you can really take a few minutes to survey the area and make a plan. Put a lot of detail and thought into your plan. Look at things like the length of the aisle (it’s short so I’ll use a wide angle for the processional), direction and quality of light (hmmm…it’s overcast, so I don’t need a polarizer and I’ll avoid shooting from the shady area), position of ceremony items (there’s no space for me to stand near the Kiddush cups, so I’ll make sure I have my telephoto ready for that moment). Because of this careful preparation, you’ll be able to calmly and confidently be at the right place at the right time throughout the ceremony and you won’t miss a thing. Make sure you are in the aisle for the kiss so you can also get their “I can’t believe we did it!” faces right afterwards.
Make sure you have both a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens and try to get shots of each event with both perspectives. For example, a wide shot of the whole wedding during the ring exchange is nicely complimented by a close up of just their hands holding the rings. If you have two cameras, you can put one lens on each and switch back and forth. Move around as much as you can to get different angles and points of view…whole ceremony from the front, back, side as well as lots of tightly cropped details and faces. Get really low for some dramatic shots. Zoom way in and grab a shot of the groom’s tightly clutched vows or the flower girl’s shoes. At each ceremony, make sure to get the shots you need and then allow yourself to experiment a little with new angles, ideas, or techniques.
It’s very easy to be caught up in the ceremony and focused on the bride and groom, not wanting to miss anything important. However, some of the most emotional shots you can get are not the moments, but the reactions to the moments. Don’t forget to turn around and get the groom’s reaction as the bride walks down the aisle, the parents’ tears as they watch the vows, the loving look of the maid of honor as she beams at them, even the bored ring bearer making silly faces. These photos will mean so much to the couple when they see them later, because they only have eyes for each other during the ceremony and this will give them a chance to see it through the eyes of their loved ones as well.