wedding by nathaniel johnston Photo By Nathaniel Johnston

Photography is difficult. Good wedding photography is much more so no matter how nice your digital SLR cameras are, and if you are a novice, you will need all these tips, all your focus, and a great deal of practice and confidence to pull off good wedding photos. But the good news is that with a few DSLR lenses and a plan you can certainly take decent wedding photos, good enough to satisfy a friend or family member asking for a favor.


You need a plan. This is the most important strategy. Start by talking extensively with the couple about what they want, and if at all possible get examples from them about photos they love so they can explain what they love about them. If they prefer a certain type of lighting or angles, or they have very specific ideas about what detail shots they want, discussing this can help you build rapport that will help them feel satisfied, as well as actually focus on delivering what they want.

Strategizing is also the period in which you should visit the locations at the time of day that you’ll be there for the wedding so you can get a sense of light and what ankles offer the best shots of the essential action. Knowing where to be for the presenting of the bride and how the light will behave during cake cutting let you avoid mistakes that mean missing the perfect moment. Plus you can practice your exposures and focal lengths.

Your final strategy is practice. Get familiar with your gear in the conditions at the locations by taking a lot of photos. And if you have time, go crazy with practice before the wedding, especially focusing on shooting people being active and doing stuff in big groups so you can figure out how to move your shot and frame it for maximum effect.

Maybe have a friend come in a white dress so you can event practice different positions and angles. Planned creativity is a photographer’s best friend because it means that when it counts, you won’t be trying a technique for the first time, and it creates space for other instances of creativity.


The right gear is important. Pros suggest two cameras, one with a wide angle and one with a telephoto, because you don’t have time to change lenses you have to grab the other camera and keep shooting before the moment passes. They also emphasize a good off-body flash so you can always get enough light without washing out the subject. This also means practice.

Also be sure to pack tons of accessories like extra batteries and memory cards, something to wipe your camera and lenses in case wind kicks up dust, and anything you might need for the weather if events are happening outdoors.


On wedding day, it’s on you to get the shot without disrupting the wedding. Be firm but polite and unobtrusive. That means framing up the shot before hand and visualizing it, getting into position to snap a few frames, and then politely moving. You have to be confident and poised to you aren’t a bother but also don’t just demure yourself out of the best shots.

To aid your ability to not be rude, make your camera silent. Turn off sounds and anything else you’re carrying that could be a distraction, like a smartphone.

Also, during the wedding don’t be afraid to interact with the primary people and stage them for photos. Especially if you plan this with them beforehand, using a down moment during the party to take the new couple to an area you scout beforehand can yield some of the most powerful, intimate photos even if only by virtue of giving the newlyweds a moment of calm away from the chaos to celebrate their new union.

Skills and Techniques

The most important skills are getting the focus right, taking a ton of shots, and being willing to edit later. If you’re composition isn’t perfect but you captured all the essential details, you can crop it down to perfection in post.

To make this more effective, shoot in the RAW format. This lets you alter the white balance on a computer later so you can fix anything weird that happens when you change rooms or the lighting isn’t perfect.

Lastly, use your feet to change perspective and take a lot of photos. If you have 20 shots of every moment, you still will wish you had more. Switching perspective lets you get a new shot on important moments, change the relevance of personal details that might not be as obvious in the context of the entire wedding setting, and ensure you get all the important faces into good shots.

Digital SLR cameras and some practice and planning can be enough and you can do it. But you have to take these tips to heart and really have a strategy to keep your head above water as a novice photographer at a wedding.


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