In wedding photography there is no magic formula, so I'm sharing some tips that help me in my day to day life and that I hope will also help you improve your photos.
These tips are a little different from what you might be used to seeing, but I hope you still enjoy them.
1 - Master your equipment
Study your camera and read the manual. Yes, I’ll start with a tip that may seem basic but that I believe is essential for your growth. If you don’t know how to handle your camera, you will not be able to take advantage of the equipment and, with that, you may miss many wonderful opportunities, and even get a creative block. During the shooting you have to be concerned with creating and looking for the best images without having to worry if you are using the best focus option or if you are doing the photometry correctly. The better you master your equipment, the easier it will be when it comes to shooting and implementing an idea. This is also applicable to flash. If you still have doubts about this or other features on your camera, start studying right now.
Photography has to be like riding a bike, driving a car or speaking another language.
2 - Study lighting
If the meaning of photography is to draw with light, you need to understand light to know how to draw, right? The better you understand the light you have available, or know how to create the light for what you want to photograph, the more creative you will be.
You can study lighting and photography in a variety of ways. One of my favourites is through film. There are some films that I watch where I am more concerned with the photography than the film itself.
One film that changed the way I see cinema was “The Artist” by director Michel Hazanavicius. A black and white film with no lines is a great way to exercise your observation skills, since your attention will be focused mainly on the visuals as you don’t have to follow the character’s lines.
Try also watching dubbed films so that you don't get distracted by the subtitles. This way you can pay more attention to the photography, lighting, composition, etc.
3 - Ansel Adams’ special tip
There is a famous quote by Ansel Adams that is more than a tip. It is the foundation of everything you will create in your life.
“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
If you want to improve your photography keep an eye on everything you are consuming. Your present choices will be the outcome of your future, and that will be the basis of your creativity.
4 - Be curious and boost your creativity
Curiosity for me is a stimulant. I think one of the main characteristics of a good photographer is curiosity, as it is through curiosity that we stimulate our creativity.
I read this sentence once and I was very struck. This, I live by a lot in my work:
"Curiosity breeds boldness and challenges us to try..."
Turning this simple saying into a daily practice, when you're photographing, ask yourself:
What if I change the angle when taking this photo? What if I use another lens? What if I underexpose? What if I take a step back? There are so many “what ifs” that can arise that the more questions you ask, the more stimulated you will feel. Always question yourself! You need to be bold and not settle for the first option. Only in this way will you boost your creativity and try new things.
5 - Never stop photographing
Good photography comes with practice so never stop shooting. Don’t be that photographer that only shoots when he has his camera in his hand and is working.
When you’re without a camera, shoot with your eyes and use your imagination. This way you will start saving small reference frames in your memory that will help you when you have the camera in your hand and it's flash time.
Observation is essential to take a good photography. Also, take advantage of the fact that nowadays your smartphone is always at hand and use it to photograph moments that you find interesting.
6 - Draw inspiration from other photography areas
Wedding photography is one of the most difficult because it covers several areas of photography in one. Wedding photography is a mixture of architecture photography, photojournalism, shows, fashion, sports, product, lifestyle, etc. Wedding photographers are usually the most versatile photographers, precisely because they know how to deal with various situations and techniques.
So, my suggestion is that you don't just use wedding photography for inspiration. In fact, this should be the last type of photography you look at. Explore the other areas of photography; I’m sure it will inspire you and add much more value to your work.
7 - Think about the story you are going to tell
Wedding photography shouldn't just be about special, beautiful photos - you need to tell a story. What will separate a good photographer from an excellent photographer is consistency. Your clients are looking for a photographer who can be consistent, who can deliver a good story from start to finish, with beautiful and creative photos.
When you go to shoot your next wedding try to create an imaginary script. Think as if the wedding is a movie where you need to introduce the characters and the space, make transitions, share the story, etc.
A good wedding album is one that tells the story of the wedding.
8 - Find your style
It’s important that you create your own style, but keep in mind that you won’t do it overnight. Look at the photographers you like the most and pay attention to details, treatment colours, compositions, etc.
Try to extract from each one what you like the most and I’m sure that, little by little, you’ll create your own style.
9 - Curate
Quantity is not the same as quality. Remember that the next time you curate the photos you are going to deliver to your client. Your role is to choose the best photos among the thousands of shots you've taken. Delivering repeated photos or ones that don't add anything will only hurt the final result.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes: would you like to spend 2 hours looking at 3 thousand irrelevant photos or would you like to spend 30 minutes looking at 600 incredible shots?
Good photos are often lost in the middle of mediocre ones, remember that.
10 - Love what you do. Have fun!
Wedding photography is not an easy job. Besides working long hours, we have to give up our family weekends to be with other families. To be happy in this line of work you have to love what you do.
If you take this job as an obligation or are only considering the money, maybe it’s time to rethink your career path and look for new challenges.
When you are at a wedding, be present. Leave your problems aside and have fun! I’m sure the results of the photos will be a reflection of your feelings.