A reader who is a keen amateur photographer and was attending a friend’s wedding as a Bridesmaid asked for some advice on wedding photography.
I will be attending a wedding on Saturday (as a Bridesmaid, so will be fairly intimately involved for most of the ceremony) I am hoping to try
and capture some informal shots during the wedding preparations (of the ushers
and bridesmaids – the bride and groom will be getting ready elsewhere
accompanied by their professional photographer) and also some shots during
the reception; once my Bridesmaid’s duties are complete!
I’m not very practiced at photographing people so I thought this would
provide a good opportunity to practice, and also potentially as a nice
momento for the bride and groom to have after the event (given that their
pro photographer isn’t staying for the reception).
I’ll be shooting with my Canon 350D using the kit lens (as it’s all I have
at present; my w/a lens is on loan to a friend). I do have an old hotshoe
flashgun which I could take in addition to the on-board flash if it’ll be
Given that I usually shoot landscapes, from a tripod, does anyone have any
useful hints and tips for photographing people, indoors and without a
tripod? I’m hoping to be able to capture a few informal, ‘candid’ B&W
of various people during the evening – is that being too ambitious?
Wedding photography is very demanding for anyone to undertake but at least when there is a professional wedding photographer on hand it takes the pressure off and you can enjoy yourself and may get a few nice shots in the process. Here are a few wedding photography tips that you may find helpful:
- Professional zoom lenses are incredibly expensive but are essential to get those professional looking wedding photos with a shallow depth of field and working in low light conditions. However a 50mm f/1.8 lens is remarkably cheap and can produce outstanding quality images. It will also be a great help in low light situation such as indoors but it is still worth keeping the zoom lens and flashgun.
- If you’re not confident in using the camera in manual mode stick with aperture priority shooting as wide as your lens will allow you to go. Program mode can work surprisingly well as it automatically keeps the aperture as wide as possible and can work very well indoors when using flash. Personally when it’s
too dark for hand-held candid shots I set the camera to either ISO400 or 800,
f/2.8 (go as wide as you can with your lens) and a shutter speed of 1/30s or
1/60s if I can get away with it. Use the flashgun.
Regarding your lens aperture; if you are using a kit zoom lens drop the aperture by 1/2 stop from
fully open to improve image quality, if using your new 50mm f/1.8 go for f/2
or 1.8 and enjoy 🙂
- When using flash indoors you will be able to control the exposure with the
flash compensation – remember that the basic camera exposure stays fixed at
a level you can handhold and will underexpose without a flash. By correctly
exposing subject and underexposing background you can get some dramatic
images. Typically you will find you will need between 0 and +1 stop
compensation on a Canon. It doesn’t matter what you set the camera to the
flash will determine how much flash to give you automatically, which can be
a real pain – you can only control it by trial and error (tip – check your
- Using a flashgun will often lead to flat images and/or horrible shadows
cast on wall behind the people if not used effectively. As your flashgun
will be connected directly to the camera your best strategy is to bounce it
off a wall to the side or behind you – yes behind you, the whole wall
becomes the area of your light source making it very soft. If using ETTL is
not working experiment with manual flash controls, this will give you
persistent results. Check out this site for all the information on using a
flashgun you’ll ever need:
- Take your tripod – this is your best tool to get quality pictures in low
light. You can practice a few posed shots – your friends will love the
- If using your zoom lens set your focus point to the centre one as that is
the most sensitive and is more likely to work in low light situations. It is always worth setting one specific point
to focus so you know what you are focusing on and the camera won’t get fooled into focusing on something else.