Learn the ins and outs of professional wedding photography from the bests in the biz
Importance of Candids
While beautifully composed moments at the altar and attractively posed or semi-posed portraits are important components of a fully acomplished wedding album, the images that resonate—the ones that viewers linger over—are often the candid images that showcase memorable exchanges and implied narratives.
For Todd Laffler of Hunterdon County, NJ, (lafflerphotography.com), “Candids are king. When I’m trying to capture impactful candid moments, I think of myself as a hunter in camouflage, observing and waiting out my prey. It often takes keen observation, anticipation, and patience to capture a moment at its zenith.”
He continues, “One of my favorite times for candids during a full-mass, Catholic or Episcopalian service occurs during communion. At this time, after the bride and groom have received the Host, the focus turns away from them as the rest of the congregation takes communion. This is when I find loving, intense, and intimate moments between the two. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, I can be rewarded as they happily share a private moment in the middle of the ceremony, up near the altar.”
Sergio, a single-named wedding pro based in Tucson, AZ, (sergiophotographer.com) carries the hunting metaphor a little further: “Real moments are the most valuable prey of all. I think of such a moment as a mouse. I need to set a trap of light and composition, and then be patient. You don’t chase a mouse with a mouse trap; you set the bait and wait.”
The best candid pictures capture a moment, but they also imply a story or define the relationships among families and friends. “I don’t find it the least bit satisfying to make pretty, one-dimensional wedding pictures,” says Getzschman. “I challenge myself to make multidimensional images that suggest a context, convey a narrative, and offer insight into the relationships between my subjects.”
The Truth About Shot Lists
Even wedding warriors who deny it have a shot list imprinted somewhere along their strands of DNA. Their trick is to approach each wedding milestone (procession, vows, first kiss, recession, reception toasts, first dance, etc.) with a fresh eye.
For example, Laffler likes to “photograph the bride and groom entering the ballroom for the first time from behind with a wide-angle lens. This way, we can see all their guests’ reactions to them coming in.”
Of course, he can only do this if he has a second photographer working for him to cover the more typical vantage point, in front of the bride and groom.
Ron Antonelli agrees that one way to get creative with the usual wedding scenes is to capture them from unusual vantage points. “We sometimes mount a remote camera with a wide-angle lens to the chuppah [bridal canopy] during a Jewish ceremony and hide it so it can’t be seen. I fire the camera from anywhere, making photos that otherwise would have been impossible. It’s fun later on when our clients react on first seeing the shots. They had no idea we had taken them!”
Lippke also champions unusual points of view: “I love to shoot the first dance, for example, while crouching at the edge of the dance floor,” he says. “I position myself so that the couple are naturally backlit by the perimeter flood lights.”