by Mark Cleghorn Published 01/06/2009
The secret to successful wedding photography is keeping it simple as well as time management and covering your ass and not getting sued by making sure you shoot the 48 essential shots. In this two-part article I will show you what I class as my survival guide at a wedding, it's something that I have taught all the photographers that have ever worked for me, as well as the thousands who have been on my workshops.
Wedding photography can be a daunting prospect, especially in the early years of a career, however, even after shooting weddings for over 25 years my stomach juices still churn on the day of a wedding, which I believe helps me focus in on the event, instead of being complacent.
The 48-shot idea occurred to me back in 1990 when I began to train a photographer who was so worried about screwing a wedding up all the time, even though he was an excellent photographer, that he lost the fun edge to his images. So I came up with four sheets of 12 images on a contact sheet for him, to use at every wedding as a comfort blanket and a wedding survival guide.
Shot 1 –The Dress
My first shot is usually the dress by itself, however, there are other images to grab, such as the bride or a bridesmaid unwrapping the dress and hanging it up; these will add into the informal image selection at the same time. When setting up this shot I like to have the dress as near as possible to the main light source, usually a window as in this image. My meter reading is taken towards the light to maintain detail in the highlights. I only add flash when absolutely necessary to lift shadow detail.
Shot 2 - Details, General
Flowers, shoes, jewellery, champagne, garter, cards, tiara and presents – in other words if it does not move, shoot it. This will cover most of the special details of the bridal party for the day, allowing you time, later on, to concentrate on the fun stuff. A window again is the first option for the lighting but with the high ISO available on DSLRs now (especially on my Canon 5D MKII), I can shoot almost anywhere, making use of the natural room lighting and lamps to create a still-life set up for the items.
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