So you want to be a wedding photographer! Fantastic. Whether you're looking to start a career or you just need to know enough to convince an ex-girlfriend you're the type of professional she should hire, even though she specifically asked you not to attend her wedding three weeks ago in a private message on Facebook, this guide can help.
A marriage is both the end of a life-chapter and the beginning of another chapter that isn't quite as interesting and the characters aren't as likable. Try to remember that. Remember all of that as you crouch in your suit before sunsets, immortalizing the day on film for you and your true love, and also that doctor guy she's marrying.
Tip #1 Focus!
Most cameras come equipped with the ability to focus on a single object and obscure the rest. Focus allows you to create a depth of field and really bring each picture to life! Using this feature properly can help draw the eye toward certain objects and away from others, allowing the photographer to ascribe his own value to everything in the picture.
In this photo, I've utilized the camera focus to concentrate on the most important object in frame. This is a useful tip when unsightly or disgustingly successful elements hog the background. By drawing attention to the subject, you demonstrate “priorities.” A good sense of “priorities,” it turns out, is admirable quality that women look for in men. In fact, a lack of “priorities” may even be a reason why two people, who were goddamn great together, split up in the first place, two and a half years ago.
Memories, as luck would have it, are faulty. So faulty in fact, that over time, photographs will crowd out memories of a wedding so completely that the bride and groom won't remember the event itself, but rather the pictures of the event. That means your job as photographer is a crucial one; you are writing (or righting) history!
I was able to capture this scene just seconds after a feral cat caught the newly released dove. Notice how I waited until the background was empty of feet to enhance the isolation of this omen. At the time, both sides of the family chuckled about the irony of the situation but no one will be chuckling years from now when the marriage is struggling from infidelity and alcoholism and the picture of a dead dove is the only memory of how nature aligned long ago to speak out against this unity.
Remember, a good photographer takes photographs that are a constant reminder of his presence; when you dust off the photo album and see one of his pictures, you automatically think of him every time. Every. Time. The secret is to keep the photos looking natural and candid while simultaneously adding your personal signature to each.
For this picture, I asked the newlyweds to sit on a bench away from the rest of the party and to concentrate on an object outside of frame. Then, before snapping the photo I shouted, “Pretend a giant manifestation of the rest of your life is coming to destroy you.” And Snap! I was able to catch the groom in a delicious mixture of confusion and anger, while also picking up the mild terror in the bride's eyes, or as I like to call them, broken face-windows that used to lead to a soul. By choreographing then capturing the right moments, each photo can be an excellent reminder of the man behind the camera and his signature style. In this case, my signature is spelled, “Impending Doom.”
A common mistake among photographers is centering the subjects in the middle of the frame. Instead, utilize The Rule of Thirds to make photos more dynamic and interesting. Just as it sounds, The Rule of Thirds composition divides a photo into thirds on a vertical and horizontal grid, then allows the most important elements in the photo to fall along the lines of that grid. If executed properly, the grid lines can also create natural paths for scissors when cutting extraneous people out of photos.
A prime example of this type of composition, the photo above highlights the most important elements on the bride and the most vulnerable killing points on the groom. A quick horizontal cut could easily remove his head from the picture or slice gracefully through his genitals. Both of these can be equally rewarding, so it really doesn't matter which you choose, just have fun!
Bonus Tip: Catch the Bride in Profile!
By setting the bride's focus away from the camera in this picture, I was able to display her profile, exposing the striking angles of her body and catching just the right amount of shadow on the supple skin around her clavicles. The turn of her face highlights the perfect jaw structure and the brilliant white teeth, as she smiles a smile the photographer hasn't seen in a long time. The type of smile that feels like a destination. So, turning the bride slightly away from camera will… I'm pretty sure she's lost weight too. Yeah. God, she looks good. She makes a beautiful bride. It shouldn't be that asshole there, it should be me. I've changed, I'm a professional goddamn photographer now, I have ambition.
C'mon man, get it together. Don't let her have this, this is exactly what she wants. Look, just stay calm, it's like any other day. The sun's out, there's a breeze. Anything could happen today. Hey, maybe you'll meet a great girl. Maybe the wind will topple the reception tent and crush everyone. Maybe the groom forgot to put on sunscreen and he'll get melanoma. Oh shit, you forgot sunscreen this morning didn't you? Jesus, after you put it out and everything. You. You're just a giant child trying to function as an adult. You'll never be a doctor, you'll never be anything. You don't even know what you're doing with this camera. Your whole life is bullshit. You insufferable waste of space. You have to get out of here.
A great wedding photographer always knows when to bow out and let the families celebrate the momentous occasion together. Remember that you are here to capture the story, not to live it with the guests. At a certain point the photographer's job is over, there is nothing more he can do. It can be a sad moment, but I find that locking myself in the car with my head on the steering wheel helps. Just experiment and you'll find your own way that works! If you choose, you can always leave disposable cameras for the wedding guests to take pictures in your absence. Or, you can leave your own camera, but always be certain to include a note so that the bride and groom can return it to you after the wedding! Here's a note I like to use: