An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

Tips on Getting Better Results with Wedding Photography


Some photographers will shoot an entire wedding with a 24-70mm zoom lens (full frame sensor) and get great results! Also, get a good flash unit! A flash diffuser will be needed to cut down on the glare and the shine from sometimes oily and perspiring faces.

My suggestion is to use a 24-70mm to cover those wide angle shots, and a 70-200mm lens for the shots from the back of the room or balcony of the proceedings. I also like a wide angle lens to get in as many people as possible, such as 17mm – 24mm lenses. 24-70mm will cover the majority of the pictures.

Most weddings are indoors so a good flash system and/or wider aperture f/2.8 lenses really come into play under these circumstances, for the churches which allow flash use. For an outdoor wedding, fill in flash is still very important, but consider the white balance setting on your camera. The white balance can be adjusted up for “shade” and help with those direct sun pictures that get the color washed out, and help out in the shade also. Shade photographs have one of the highest Kelvin temperatures and so a higher temperature white balance setting can really help out making people in direct sunlight look “warmer”.

Keep plenty of batteries for those flash units if you decide on portable units. Also, it is strongly advisable to use a battery pack to keep the camera running for the entire 500-1000 shot wedding.

The most important thing is fresh batteries, back up batteries, back up camera, and at least two flash units. One broken flash unit could ruin the wedding photography. There are a lot of different opinions on flash use with weddings. Quantum Q Flash is expensive but highly recommended by professionals. Sticking to the camera manufacturer allows you to use those flash units with newer camera models. Off brand flash units may not work with newer camera models. Consider having a flash set up for indoor group photos and of the bride and groom is to have two flash units, one to each side pointing at a reflective white umbrella, or a silver coated umbrella. Also have one on your camera with a diffuser. This will keep down the facial shine and also help eliminate the shadows. Canon and Nikon both offer excellent flash units.

Consider using smaller image size settings of the reception and the guests since these are not typically requested as enlargements.

I like to try and stay out of the way and be less distracting in the ceremony. This is called Photo Journalism. The photographer just documents what is happening. There are a few posed shots but mostly it is just recording the event itself. To avoid flash use have a “faster” or wider aperture lens and use high ISO speeds. Watch the white balance for interior lighting! Some digital cameras don’t work that good on “auto white balance”.

See the section on portraits.