Tips on how to get the best photos at your wedding

Here are some suggestions & tips for you that will help you get the best out of your wedding photographer :)

  1. Invest in the right photographer
  2. Pay attention to detail
  3. Bring in a good makeup artist
  4. Have fun at your wedding!
  5. Learn to pose naturally
  6. Set expectations with your families
  7. Get involved in the ceremonies and rituals
  8. Create opportunities for your photographer
  9. Light can make or break an image - Choose the lighting carefully
  10. Comfortable ambiance

Each of these items are explained with more details & tips below.

Invest in the right photographer

The 2 key words here are - “invest" & “right"

Each photographer has his/her own unique style and approach. Some may create images which are more glamorous, some more journalistic, some more artistic etc. Ideally you need to select someone who’s approach you like and one who will compliment your sense of style. Its imperative that you take time to square in on the right photographer.

Good quality wedding photography is not cheap. It takes a lot of experience, niche skill, technical expertise, an artistic/aesthetic eye & expensive equipment to preserve your memories for life. Every photographer spends long hours shooting and many days editing your pictures to bring out the best moments of your wedding.

Your close friends and cousins might have taken great photos during their vacation but shooting a wedding isn’t quite the same. Would you ask your friend who makes great cupcakes and pasta at home to cater for your wedding??? Photography is very similar. Firstly you are putting tremendous pressure on them by entrusting the responsibility of creating a lifetime of memories on a non-professional. Secondly, by making them work on your big day, you are keeping them out of the celebrations and preventing them from having fun at your wedding. Definitely not you want right?

Your big day is not only a once in a lifetime event but also once in a lifetime opportunity to capture your best moments. it is not something you can take a chance at. Look at wedding photography as an investment and not an expense. The memories created on that one day are going to last a lifetime. So don’t compromise.

Pay attention to detail

Candid wedding photography is very much about minute details.

So unless a diya really looks pretty or the flowers are really fresh, the images aren’t going to be appealing.

A beautiful lamp in the foreground with some flowers and a colourful decor in the back, and then right in the middle is a plastic cover. Thats obviously not going to look good. Avoid wrapping articles in plastic covers and also don’t leave too many plastic covers on stage.

Flowers can be stored in bamboo baskets, earthern or brass plates rather than in polythene/plastic bags. Kunkum, Tumeric, Prasad, Betel Nuts/Leaves & Akshadai (Rice) can be stored in Dhonnai’s or wooden/earthenware cups rather than teacups made of paper or plastic. Preferably avoid using beetle nut packets, use the whole nuts in instead (to avoid the shining plastic). Please tell your priests about this earlier itself, so that he can come prepared. Nobody appreciates last minute instructions.

Summing up, every minute detail matters. If you’ve spent a lot time and effort on any specific detail, be sure to tell your photographer about it just so that he doesn’t miss it.

Bring in a good makeup artist

Be clear about the style you want and select a makeup artist who understands it. Every bride is unique and so is her taste. The makeup that you put on should compliment your looks & style, so its very important that you select an expert who know what looks good in a camera. Your big day is not a day to let your aunt/friend/cousin/mom’s friend or any other non-professional to experiment with your make up.

Trust me when I say bad makeup/hair can completely spoil your wedding celebrations.

Have fun at your wedding!

Here’s the big truth about wedding photos - The more fun you have at your wedding, the better the pictures will be.

This is something that many brides & grooms miss out on. Too much work makes jack & jill a dull couple. So remember to have fun. On your big day, don’t take up too many responsibilities. Thrust everything on your siblings/friends. The only thing you have to do is have a good time. Keep friends and family nearby. This will ensure a lot light & fun moments right through your wedding. Be yourselves & have loads of fun!

Learn to pose naturally

You’ve obviously seen more photographs of yourself than anybody else has. You know the best what angles you like yourself in. So learn to pose in those angles. Practice in front of a mirror. That way, when you strike a pose anytime in front of a camera, it will always be in an angle you like & looks best on you. Remember to tell your photographer if you particularly like/dislike any angle or side.

Set expectations with family

You might want some pictures in almost every attire you wear at your wedding. You might want pictures with every one of your close family & friends. You might want pictures around every prop that you carefully chose for your wedding. Basically you would want a lot of super awesome pictures and thats why you are investing in a good photographer and have also spent a lot of time/effort/money on the decor too.

But the super awesome pictures come only when there is time and opportunity to shoot. A lot of time, the couple’s families are either hurrying the couple so much that they get pretty tensed. You know you got be calm and collected to get some good pictures right?

Tell your immediate family clearly that you want time to take pictures. Be it informal group shots with your friends/family, posed couple portraits or candid pictures of you & your friends having fun. Don’t cramp too many events on the same day. Make sure you have time in-between ceremonies to relax, have fun so that you create great photo opportunities.

Get involved in the ceremonies and rituals

The pictures don’t look very appealing when you look bored & the entire weeding seems like you’ve been forced to participate in the ceremonies.

In typical indian weddings, the groom has a lot of activities to do/participate in. The bride sits beside him through most of it. It helps if the bride also gets involved in what the groom is doing rather than sit facing slightly away and meddling with her phone or frowning.

Create opportunities for your photographer

Interact with your spouse/fiance a *lot*. The more you interact, the more photo opportunities. The romantic look, the stares, the amused gaze, the little tear drop are few of the many moments during weddings that make wonderful memories. So don’t hesitate or be inhibited to emote. Be yourself. I'm sure you already know that sitting quitely through the wedding is not going to bring you any breathtaking pictures.

Light can make or break an image

And the light has to be soft and not cast any harsh shadows. The softer the light is, the better you will look. The colours will look better & so will your skin.

Ideally you want a venue that is lit uniformly & softly. Avoid having just one or two large sources of light. A number of smaller lights will give out much more soft light than 1 or 2 large sources.

To fix a badly lit location, you an use video lights placed behind large umbrella stands to produce a soft light. But this is only when good soft ambient lighting cannot be achieved at the venue.

Soft ambient light is the best. Talk to your photographer & decorator well ahead so that everyone understands what your requirements are.

Comfortable ambiance

Good aircon system, ventilation & an exhaust system for smoke from homam/yagna are pretty important as they have a fairly big impact on the mood of the photos.

Smoke will largely spoil photographs. If you are sitting in the middle of smoke, feeling hot, sweaty & stuffy, there’s very very less chance of getting happy cheerful photos. So a good aircon & ventilation system will continue to keep you comfortable & cheerful.

Backlit Portrait

Inspired by this portrait, here's my attempt at backlit portraits. Backlight

The only difference was that, in my case, there was *no* ambient light. And since I have only one speedlight (SB600) I had to reflect some light from the sb600 on the model's face. The technique is fairly simple. There is a powerful light source behind the subject that gives the backlight, there is another light source (or ambient light) that lits the subject. In my case I placed my SB600 behind the model. There was a white wall on camera right that reflected the light from the SB600 onto the model's face. The SB600 this provided both the backlight as well as the light that lit the model's face. Since it bounced off the wall, the light was soft. We shot in the terrace at night, so there was no other undesired light in the frame.

Backlight

Adding to that, here is some information about the post processing. I added some diffuse glow and a bit of gaussian blur to the image to add to the softness. The colors and light are natural however.

Edit: I forgot to add that I used a CactusV2S wireless trigger to trigger the SB600.

Creative Bokeh

I did a few experiments with bokeh a while back. Bokeh is japanese for "quality of blur". I suggest you first read the basics of bokeh here & then come back to this article where I will explain how you can play around with the shape of the bokeh.

I had an initial obsession for bokeh and shot these 2 pictures of my grandmom's pooja lights. bokehbokeh

I then shot a picture of my window's frame with the sun in the background.

7 blade diaphragm!

This picture kicked off a whole lot of questions in my mind. Why is bokeh in that shape? how does it form and so on...

I then read up the "optics" chapter from my high school physics text book to recollect how lenses worked, what the various terms like focal length or focal plane meant and so on.

We all have heard that More the blades in the diaphragm, silkier & smoother the bokeh. So does the shape of the diaphragm have something to do with the bokeh?? YES IT DOES!

The first question I tried to answer was "If the shape of the diaphragm indirectly meant shape of bokeh then why not play around with the shape of the diaphragm". I know I cant build my own lens, so that rules out the possibility of my own diaphragm. the only option was to make a diaphragm & place it over my lens'.

So here's what I did:

Took a fast lens (you could use a slower one too - it works!) open it wide.With a sheet of black cloth, paper, chart etc cut an aperture thats narrower than the lens' widest. This way keeping the aperture sheet in front of the lens will result in the lens's aperture changing to the one I cut.

Make sure you cut different shapes. Good luck!

Here are some of my experiments- Lover of art!

From Budha with love...

Ignite the passion!

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