You may also be interested in the following articles.

Equipment for Wedding Photography

Portrait In The Studio

Candid Shots

Best Light for Portraits

Formats and focal lengths for Portraits

Wedding Photography For Beginners

Left Image:
Digital SLR,  Tamron 70-210mm f-2.8, 1/500 sec at f-2.8./p>

Wedding photography is both challenging and rewarding. It is also one of the best ways to enter the world of professional photography. Many pros started their careers in this field. Wedding photography can be a full time or part time job for those who want to make some extra money to support their expensive photography hobby.

Wedding photography however, is not for everyone. You must like doing wedding photography. You also need prior knowledge of designing your shots before taking any assignments. Weddings last only a few hours. There won't be any follow up sessions. Your clients rely on you to make them look good for images that will last them a life time. Wedding photography is not a hobby. It is a job. You must know exactly what you are doing and be dedicated to your work and clients.

Before you even begin to take any assignments, practice by taking pictures at parties family gatherings. The first step is to master your equipment and lighting. Don't be too concerned about poses yet. Start with a 35mm or digital SLR, a wide-angle and a telephoto lens. For professional wedding photography, you must use professional equipment. Don't bother with a 75-300mm f-4.5-5.6 zoom. First of all, this lens is slow for indoor photography. You'll need all the light you can get. Second, your clients will probably want larger than 8 x 10 prints. Possibly 11 x 14 and larger. For these types of print sizes, slow zooms are not adequate. You must purchase fast lenses such as 85mm f-1.4 or 70-210mm f-2.8 zooms. These lenses are excellent for low light and indoor shooting with flash and produce sharper results even at the widest aperture setting.

For practicing however, your slower 28-85mm or 75-300mm zooms are fine. You'll also need a powerful flash and a flash bracket. Flash brackets are attached to the bottom of the camera and are a third hand to hold the flash at different angles. This will also keep the flash off the hot shoe which will prevent red-eye as well as giving you more control over lighting and shadow control.

Practice by taking pictures of family and friends under different lighting conditions, both indoors and outdoors. The major key to successful images is to make people feel at ease. Nobody can be "themselves" in front of a camera. People tend to become self conscious in front of the camera. It is your job to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Find a nice setting and ask your friends to model for you. This is where things can get difficult. The reason is that you the photographer must design the picture. You are not photographing professional models, but ordinary people. How are they suppose to pose? Smile is a classic way of photographing people, but what else? You need to make sure every person is looking into the camera, unless you have a different design in mind. Pay close attention to the height of each individual. Taller people should be placed next together. The color of their clothing is important as well. Bright colors should be carefully placed somewhere in the frame where they don't distract or compete with the rest of the surrounding.

Take a close look at all the objects inside the frame. Make sure nothing distracting is included. To take the picture, choose the right lens and flash to remove shadows . Fill flash can reduce shadows around faces and other objects. Shoot both with and without flash even if available light is sufficient. Fill flash is a valuable tool for outdoor shots under heavy sunlight.

Even though you are not taking actual wedding pictures, this test will improve your skills and give you confidence for real wedding photography assignments. You'll also learn how well your equipment perform under  different conditions. Examine your test shots and learn from your mistakes. Is the problem you? Did you include too much or too little in the frame? Did you use your flash efficiently? Did you use the right f-stop?

The actual wedding photography is more challenging. You can not make too many mistakes. Have all your equipment ready. Two or three cameras including a 35mm SLR, a digital SLR, and a medium format are the best trio. You can give your clients several choices on how they want to receive their pictures. Whether they want large prints or digital photos for viewing on their computers, they'll be provided with these options. For very large prints, medium format negatives are simply unbeatable. A 6 megapixel SLR or 35mm SLR can not produce a 16 x 20 prints with clarity an detail of a 6 x6 or 6 x7 or even a 645 format.

Have a wide-angle and a short telephoto attached to different cameras. Your flash mounted on a flash bracket should also be ready for use. Spend sometime alone with the bide and the groom for indoor and outdoor shots. Prior to shooting, go outside to find some good setting. Any foreground or background with interesting shapes and colors should be examined carefully. Trees and flowers for instance, as either a foreground or background are a classic way of outdoor wedding photography. If the wedding is taking place close to the beach, then you'll have a perfect background. You do not however, want to include too much. Too many objects will compete and interfere with the main subjects. The bride will be the focus of attention. Her beauty, elegance, and her wedding dress must standout, overpowering the image.

Start with single shots of the bride in a nice setting. Take some full body shots and include the surrounding areas. Her eyes must be in sharp focus. You must design her poses. This means how she looks into the camera, how she stands, the placement of her hands showing off her wedding ring. Design several shots and then switch to head and shoulder composition. This can be done by the bride facing the camera or side ways. In this type of shots, the eyes must be in absolute sharp focus. The background should be in shallow focus. This effect can easily be achieved with a short telephoto lens such as a 135mm f-2 or 70-210mm f-2.8 lens. Follow up by including the groom in the picture. Study their features and how they relate to each other. You should then design your shots based on how they look and feel about each other. The most natural way of taking pictures is to let the couple show their true feelings rather than what "classic" poses call for. The old way of "hold each other hands or look into each other eyes" are too boring and fake. Ask them what they find interesting or what they attracts them to each other. You can then focus on those qualities to capture their true feelings. I once photographed a friend's wedding. I wasn't the hired photographer, but happened to carry my camera with me. The photographer they had hired, took the usual boring wedding pictures. You know the type where the couple must look a certain way or act a certain type. I shot my images the way the couple were. Since I knew them, I photographed them the way they were in real life and showed how they felt about each other. Without trying to sound conceded, the couple disliked most of the pictures the hired photographer took and made a full album of all the shots I took of them. One of their favorites was blown to 11 x 14 and placed over their fire place. The image is of the couple holding each other outside. The wind is blowing in her hair while she holds on to her husband, naturally looking her in the eye. The image you see on top of this page was taken the same way by simply asking the bride a few questions about herself. She is fun loving and a little wild, so I let her go wild. The image is her and not somebody we see in bridal magazines.

Regardless of how you plan on working, you most likely have to use flash to control shadows and brighten the whole image. If you work with an assistant, you can use a large reflector to use natural light outdoors. Another way of controlling shadows and removing distracting background is a very fast flash sync of 1/500 sec or faster. You must be close to the subject for the flash light to illuminate the subject properly.

Besides the usual portraits, you need to shoot some detailed pictures of the bride's wedding dress, wedding ring as well as decorations such as flowers, wedding cake, and dinner table. The bride's wedding dress should be photographed from different angles. In this case, the dress is the main subject rather than the bride herself. This means the angle and design you choose must take the attention away from the bride and to the dress. This is an area where good wedding photographers are separated from the rest. The wedding ring should also be photographed close-up. This is usually done with a telephoto lens from a distance with the brides hands and perhaps part of her body showing.

Wedding photography is hard work. It is not a profession for everyone who owns a camera. you not only need knowledge of photography, but also need great knowledge of design. I strongly recommend you purchase several wedding photography books to learn more about various techniques used by different photographers and how each picture was taken. Study their techniques and try to develop your own unique vision.

 

Digital Wedding Photography

Book Description
"Digital Wedding Photography" offers readers an introduction to wedding photography, assuming that they have some familiarity with their cameras and computers but are not experts. It provides readers with information about the skills they will need to take great wedding photos in the digital age, including selecting the correct lenses and digital equipment, as well as the most appropriate digital imaging techniques. This book also looks at the various ways of presenting the material to the happy couple and their friends and relatives. It presents the material in a step-by-step format, ideal for photography topics. Weddings offer limited opportunity for aspiring photographers to prove and improve their skill. Preparation is everything and that?s exactly what this book focuses on.

Wedding Photography 101: The Complete Guide to Starting and Growing a Wedding Photography Business