Top Ten Wedding Photography Tips
We asked members of our talented staff who are actively involved in wedding and portrait photography to give us their favorite gear and tips to success. Here are the top ten responses that we received:
Jerry Smith-Vienna, VA
- Favorite Gear: I use the Calumet Pro Series Flash Diffuser for both weddings and simple portraiture. With the diffuser on, the flash set to TTL and at 45 degrees, 90 to 95% of your shots will come out looking great with little or no exposure corrections. Whether you are a novice wedding shooter or a pro, this technique is the simplest way to avoid shadows, red eye and produce a pleasing look. It also works great at events and banquets.
Christy Carr-San Francisco, CA
- Favorite Gear: For weddings, I love the Lensbaby Composer Pro. Try it for ring shots, flowers, and intimate post-ceremony portraits. The detail is amazing and the tilt effect is fantastic! For portraits, I like to use 35/50/85mm prime glass and a Profoto B4 with a beauty dish and grid. Amazing light! The combo gives a wow effect.
- Best Advice: Breathe in-between each shot, take your time and try not to over shoot. I still shoot like I did with film, so my average shots-per-wedding is around 600 to 700, where most other people I know end up with around 2000. To me that means they are not bothering to compose and wait. Good pictures are worth the wait, and you are being paid for that service!
Jennifer Fearrington- Vienna, VA | Portfolio
- Favorite Gear: My favorite piece of gear is my 24-70mm. Sure, I shoot a good amount of my portraits with a 80-200mm, but there are times where I don’t have the luxury of being 10+ feet away from the bride and groom. The 24-70mm is perfect for close quarters photography and for the reception, especially with my crop sensor camera.
- Best Advice: Carry a lint roller, some aspirin and a protein bar in your bag at all times for the bride and groom. Not only is it helpful to ease their tension by reinforcing that you are there to help them make this their special day, but you also help build their trust, which produces more intimate pictures.
Paulina Lesiak-Chicago, IL
- Favorite Gear: I love using a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for portraits. Its shallow depth of field is very pleasing to the eye.
- Best Advice: Be open to ideas and go with the flow. Planning is great as far as equipment is concerned, but getting too hung up on a structured shooting schedule can leave you with a lack of spontaneous and fun images which, to me, are always the best.
- Favorite Gear: I have two favorite pieces of equipment: an ExpoDisc for getting correct white balance and a Sekonic L-358 meter. Both of these tools are used regularly so that I can get correct color and exposure without having to rely on fixing them in the computer later.
- Best Advice: Don’t over shoot! Just because a digital camera can take lots of images that appear to be cost free, they are not. With every extra picture that is taken of the same subject/position, the photographer has to spend extra time editing out the unwanted shots. If only one or two shots are taken, the editing is easy. One of those shots will be the best, and only one shot needs removing.
Richard Newman- Pacific Grove, CA | Portfolio
- Favorite Gear: Love my Pico Dolly. It allows me to get action video shots with very little gear in my bag.
- Best Advice: Take two or three of everything. You never know when the kids are going to push your camera bag into the pool. You need to be ready!
Walter Malabehar- Chicago, IL | Portfolio
- Favorite Gear: After a decade of capturing weddings and with new styles developing, I believe every piece of equipment may be important to a wedding photographer. The one item I feel can be most important is having a durable equipment case to store your gear. I have been using a Calumet Rolling Case Plus for a few years, and it’s been one of the most important pieces to my workflow. I used to use multiple cases to store my equipment, but having one case is so much easier and more efficient. It’s not only durable weekend-after-weekend, but compact for traveling. It holds everything I use throughout my day, which includes two cameras, four lens, two speed-lights, three external battery packs, wireless triggers sets, a light meter and other essentials tools. The ability to have all my gear in one case has been a huge asset.
- Best Advice: The greatest advice I can give is to double-check your equipment several days before your event, and always have a backup system. And don’t forget to charge all of your batteries!
Kimberly Kunda-Philadelphia, PA | Portfolio
- Best Advice: When it comes to shooting portraits, my advice would be to plan ahead in terms of setting up some shots, but allow room for the spontaneous moments to happen. Posing can be great and can relax your subject, but often the best photos are those unplanned. I shoot primarily outdoors, and I prefer to shoot unscripted, but have found directing and posing my clients is a great way to start the shoot to get them comfortable having their pictures taken. And at the end of the day, the client enjoys both composed and candid images in their collection.
Bill Skinner- Chicago, IL
- Favorite Gear: The most useful, versatile, portable and inexpensive tool that you can use for both portraits and weddings is a Calumet ZipDisc. I love the 42” round translucent model because it gives you soft lighting wherever you need it. It’s perfect for head shots and for half-figure shots of couples. You can either have someone else hold it into position or you can mount it to a heavy-duty ZipDisc Holder that lets you adjust it to virtually any angle.
- Best Advice: The key to your success is combining your photo skills with your people skills, since you become the on-site counselor and psychiatrist.
Amber McFarlin- Chicago, IL
- Favorite Gear: I love using a 50mm lens so I can get close-ups of the little details of the dress, the ring and all of the things that people spend so much money on.
- Best Advice: Don’t get caught up in the chaos of the moment. Make sure that you take the time to capture the details.
We’ve shared our favorite tips and gear to use while shooting weddings and we’d love to hear yours! What has been the best advice you’ve been given or could give to someone starting out as a wedding photographer? Is there any equipment you rely on for a successful wedding shoot?