13 Tips & Tricks for Better Wedding Photography

Recommended Reading

  1. Get a contract if you’re getting paid. If they aren’t paying you, they should not expect much; contrarily, if they’re paying you, they need to know exactly what to expect.
  2. Get the assistant. That’s so crucial. If these are friends of yours, choose the bossiest one, and preferably female; guys ordering people around can be painful, but women ordering at a wedding is apparently normal. She can be used to marshal people for the next shot, get the moving once the shot is done, and generally make the day go smoothly. Also, if you have a reflector for outside shooting, the assistant can hold the reflector. They can also straighten dresses, tuxes, ties and to help pose. Actually what runs the photographer ragged is the formal shots in the church. Tension can wasily build if you’re delaying another wedding party.
  3. Remember that the photographer is always in charge as long as there are photos to be taken. Be nice and be polite but do not let any high and mighty church consultant think she/he can run your business or DJ at the reception. More than likely you have been paid more than either one of them and probably both put together and if any thing goes awry it will be YOUR fault as long as you are there.
  4. DO NOT shoot from a written list. Start making a list to memorize but do not give the Bride, her mother, sister or anyone else a written list. If you do and there is 1 shot missing it is just going to cause grief.
  5. The early bird gets the worm. If at all possible try and do as many shots prior to the wedding, especially if the bride and groom don’t mind being seen by each other and family. These are shots no one else got and they really sum up all the tension and stress before the big moment.
  6. Try to keep family shots down to immediate family: Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters and their spouses, grandmother and grandfather…if the bride or groom demands nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles…then you have to do it.
  7. Keep it short. I try to keep most of my weddings down to 4 hours and around 120 – 150 photos. For a first time wedding shooter shot doubles or triples of everything just in case. Memory media is dirt cheap.
  8. Tell the other guest not to shoot their flash while you’re taking pictures. It can potentially ruin a great shot.
  9. Shoot each picture twice. Someone’s inevitably looking away in each frame; two gives you a better chance of getting it right. Just use the rapid-shot option.
  10. Have a flash that’s not the on-camera flash. If you can manage to swing a flash bracket for the flash, then that’s even more tasty. That way, you’ll have enough light (especially if you can’t swing for the high-end lens, you’ll need that extra light), and having the flash off-camera will make it look better. Get a diffuser for your flash, so it’s not extremely harsh.
  11. Find where you can and can’t take pictures. I know that some churches (synagogues, mosques, etc) don’t let you photograph inside for the ceremony, some churches frown on it, and some don’t care. So, find the church and the officiate, and see what they want.
  12. Research! Go to your local library or bookstore and study.

Find the Sweet Spot of a Len’s Aperture


Does f-stop matter when shooting subjects at a distance of infinity when there is a lot of light? What aperature should someone have when they are taking a picture of, say, a mountain in the distance and the foreground is already at the furthest focus distance? I tend to have a habit of opening my aperature as far as it will go so that I have more light and I can therefore use the fastest shutter and avoid camera shake. I’ve read that shooting with low f-stops gives poorer quality and that f8 is around ideal. Should I always instead be shooting at the highest f-stop allowable under my particular light conditions to get the highest quality shot? This is also considering that everything is at infinity and I’m not looking for a blurred depth of field effect.

I understand aperature in situations of low light or portraits when i want some of the photo blurred. I just dont know how to use it when everything is at infinity and there is enough light to shoot at most levels of aperature.

Continue reading “Find the Sweet Spot of a Len’s Aperture”

Backgrounds and Backdrops for Photography

A list of popular Background and Backdrop vendors for photography.
For raw muslins, some dyed ones and some canvas, check out http://chicagocanvas.com.

For painted canvas check out Silverlake.
Silverlake also has a forum where you can talk to the owner (Travis) and other people that are using the backgrounds, plus talk about photography in general.

Finally, don’t forget to check out Steve Kaeser for both types and even Backdrop support systems. They have one system that includes Black and White Muslin along with the support stand.

How to Pose Models for Photography

Not all books on lighting or photography are created equal. Here are resources, websites and tips on posing models for photography.

Books for Posing Models

There is one author that I’ve found that comes pretty close to covering it all in one book though. The author is J.J. Allen and I can’t recommend his two books enough. The first one is probably a tad better than the second one, but they are both excellent. J.J. writes in a style that is very informative but doesn’t lose you in techno-speak, nor talk to simple for those with some knowelege already. He gives good descriptions and examples that are on the same page so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth to view a diagram or example while reading about it. He’s one of those rare authors that knows what he’s talking about and how to say it.

His books are:

On the second one, there is another book out there of the same name, so if you get it, make sure it’s by J.J. Allen.

Some other books that I have bought, liked and used are:
How to Pose Models

And though a bit more technical, still one that is worth having on the shelf…

Websites for Posing Models

http://www.photocrack.com/pages/download/ModelPose15.html (zip download)
Wedding Pose Checklist

Continue reading “How to Pose Models for Photography”

Overcoming the Fear of Street Photography

For the beginner photographer, street photography can be intimidating. I’m personally quite nervous when I get out there. After reading this article by John Brownlow on overcoming your fears in Street Photography, though, I have a lot more tips and tricks for taking better street photos. I’ll be working on these.

As a big bonus, you’ll also find an Exposure Cheat Sheet so you can concentrate on taking pics.

And finally, be sure to read and look over his Portfolio. There are some great photos in there.

Protecting Photographs in Mylar Presentations

Question: “Normally I take all my photos and have them mounted. I have lots of the mylar protective sheets, and the paper backing is all acid free. They say it doesn’t lift ink, but I’ve found that it indeed does adhere to the photo and “bubble” up, causing serious marring on the photograph. Am I doing something wrong there maybe?Is there a way to prevent the sticking and bubbling with the Mylar?

Answer: I went to a crafts store and got a gloss matte fixative. I bought the Prismacolor brand, but there are also Grumbacher and Kryon brands as well as others I’m sure. I put one coat of the fixative on the photograph, let dry, and then it really does keep fingerprints and dust off of the print. I put in behind the protective mylar sheet, and NO STICKING OR BUBBLING!!!! The matte fixative completely protects the photo even better than I thought it would, and it does no harm to it either.It’s not the best in the world to use by itself, but in combination behind mylar sheets or flat on a mat board (as you suggest above), or anywhere else is a good idea just to protect the photograph. I also use other protectors, but I will switch to this one now as it also suits another purpose.”

How to Use a Light Meter and 18% Gray Card for Better Photos

ACE Camera Photography Magazine, Using a Light Meter and an 18% Gray Card for Better Photography

Many amateur photographers have never seen a gray card. Others have seen one but don’t understand the significance behind gray cards or the many uses they have in photography.

The last twenty years of increasingly automated cameras has made it easier for everyone to take good pictures, but the downside of auto-everything cameras is many photographers today don’t fully grasp how the light meter in their camera works, or when they need to manually intervene to get a properly exposed photograph. This article goes into detail about light meters, gray cards and all their potential uses.

It also includes a great table or cheat cheet on exposure adjustments for gray cards when using incident meters like the Gossen Scout 2.

Using Canon 300d Histogram to Check Exposure “In Camera”

Using Canon 300d Histogram to Check Exposure “In Camera”

A wonderful article posted by Kris Butler at ACDSystems provides insight into your camera’s Histogram and proper usage of it.

…by using your camera’s histogram feature you can take a big step towards your own masterpiece series. That’s because with your camera’s histogram, you can check exposure immediately after taking your photo and then reshoot if you interpret there may be a problem.

Here is a couple of general purpose introductions to reading and using histograms. “Using Histograms” and “Understanding Histograms

A histogram cheat sheet. “Cheat Sheet: Histogram Cracker

A DPChallenge thread discussing specific types of histograms and some of their uses. “histogram enlightenment

And, an article that puts the histogram to use for a specific purpose; maximizing the s/n ratio. “Expose (to the) Right