How to take a Classic Wedding Photo
This photograph is beautifully composed keeping the couple together using a simple centred composition. Using just available light in a fully shaded area (not patchy) you can accomplish this shot with minimum equipment. However the subject is more pronounced with the background being completely out of focus, so a large aperture (f4 and below) is desirable.
1 x DSLR Camera
1 x Standard Lens and Telephoto Lens and (50mm and above focal length) also be sure to have an available minimum aperture of F4. This narrows your choice and adds to the price, however there are some cheap alternatives such as the 50mm f1.8 Prime lenses.
1 x Lens Hood to fit lens (Used to reduce flare when shooting outdoors particularly when skin tones are of importance)
1 x White Reflector and (60cm+) (Used for creating an additional light source, cheaper than a flash and very useful. It may mean that you need a helper or if you are lucky you can hold it in one hand while shooting with the other)
1 x happy couple
(Remember emotions can make or break an image, if the couple are having a bad day you may need to take a break or work you magic)
1. Combine camera, lens and attach the lens hood.
2. Keep the conversations flowing. This is exhausting but essential in creating a relaxed atmosphere.
3. Now compose the image and frame the couple in the centre (remember this is a portrait shot) still try to utilise the rule of thirds with minimal space surrounding the couple. You will see that although the couple are centred the bouquet is on the 1/3rds line. Be careful not to zoom in too tight or be too far away we still need to see facial expressions, be aware of your crop. Cropping at the hips is acceptable; further down the leg though is not complementary. Try having their heads touching but not squashed together.
4. Use the reflector to cast light from the sun to the dark side of the subjects face, under the chin or onto the subject itself. Its fun and you'll pick it up in no time.
5. Test and balance the exposure to match that of the couple as skin tones are highly important and background interest is minimal.
You can shoot this in aperture priority mode so that you can control the aperture, instead of the camera controlling the aperture.
You will need to set the camera onto f4 or below by using the aperture priority mode AV on Canon and A for Nikon. This will then let the camera decide the corresponding shutter speed for you, that's right you do not need to set the shutter speed, the camera will adjust that for you. When you look through the viewfinder you will see a setting at the bottom that looks like this:
F4.0 showing you the aperture
I.e.: 1/250 Showing the shutter speed. (This is one, two hundred and fiftieth of a second)
Note: If the speed drops below 1/70th you will need to increase the ISO or your subject will end up blurry due to the slow shutter speed.
6. Use the lowest possible ISO e.g. 100, this will improve the image quality. A setting of 100 is low, meaning the sensor will have a low sensitivity to light; this will affect your exposure, as the camera will now need more light to make the same exposure. So double check your shutter speed, as this will change whenever you are on Aperture Priority and adjust ISO settings.
Note: You'll notice that the ISO goes up to very high numbers like 3200! At 3200 the sensor is extremely sensitive to light, so much so that you can even take pictures in the dark. The side affect though is a phenomenon called noise, it's the fuzzy, blotchy effect you get that is not at all desirable or correctable in photoshop.
7. Take your time in completing the shot making sure to use the reflector correctly. Be clear when directing the couple on angles/expressions and most importantly be patient, it may take a few goes to get the image you are happy with.
8. The digital age is great, it means we don't have to worry about wasting film anymore. However don't just go crazy, pressing the shutter is an art. Have a look at what you shot, make changes if necessary and then go again. Having a routine like this will help your model relax and get into your rhythm.
9. Shoot like no one is watching™