8 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers

Not everyone can afford to hire a professional photographer to capture their special day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get quality pictures.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or asking a close friend with a camera, these tips will help any amateur photographer take professional quality photos.

Put together a ‘shot list’

Ask the bride and groom what moments they’d like to capture, like the first dance at the reception, or the reciting of the vows. This will help you get an idea of what you’ll need to prepare for the big day. Once you’ve gotten the list, use it in conjunction with the next step…

Scout the location out before the big day

This is especially important for bigger venues. Using the shot list you’ve put together you can scout the location to figure out the exact spots these events will occur. From here you can set up your camera settings to take into account environmental factors and take test shots, perhaps with a friend, to ensure that those settings produce the desired quality. You can even conceptualize at this stage, planning shots of your own in addition to the ones you were asked to take.

Know your equipment

Even if it’s just a cheap-o point and shoot digital camera, it pays to know how to operate it. Many times even cheap cameras can be used to take high quality photos with the right settings, and many cameras do have a plethora of lighting, exposure, and shutter speed settings buried in the menus. Knowing where they are and how to adjust them can mean the difference between a low-quality photo and a high quality one. And while we’re on the topic of equipment….

Carry backups!

You only get one chance at a wedding, so make sure your equipment doesn’t fail you. Operate on a “better safe than sorry” attitude and pack spares of everything. Lenses, batteries, memory cards, cameras, and whatever other equipment you’re going to need for the big day, that way if anything fails, you can pick up right away. Once you’ve got all the equipment out of the way you could go the extra mile and….

Bring a Friend

The old saying rings true, “two is better than one”. Get a trusted friend (or friends), preferably with his own gear to act as a second cameraman and help you out with photography at the wedding. Not only does this give you a great degree of redundancy, but it also allows you to cover multiple different angles at the reception, ensuring that there are plenty of photos to choose from when it comes time to make the final album.

Save images in RAW format

Although JPEG is decent enough for most uses, if you’re serious about taking good photos you’ll want to use RAW format instead. This format preserves all the color data, but uses absolutely no compression whatsoever. As a result, it produces extremely large files but they are guaranteed to be the highest quality that a camera can produce and are much easier to apply post-processing effects on.

Pay Attention to Details!

An eye for detail is one of the most valuable things that a photographer can have. It helps to capture every little detail in the photos you take, from the way the light bounces off the wedding rings to the smiles on guests faces, as these details turn great photos into priceless ones.

Go the extra mile

If you’re using digital cameras (and you should), take advantage of their ability to easily publish and display the finished work by showcasing the photos taken during the ceremony at the reception. This is extraordinarily easy to accomplish with a laptop and projector, and being able to see the photographs as quickly as they’re taken is sure to make the reception all the more special.