Being able to capture natural looking photographs is one of the skills that differentiates the best wedding photographers from the crowd. Here is how to create emotions in your wedding photos.
Making sure you are a good fit is probably the most important factor in capturing candid images. If you are a documentary wedding photographer in the bride and groom are looking for a more traditional photographer, the results will be subpar. In general, photojournalists are not used to directing their subjects and they may appear in experienced in the client’s eyes.
You could be the best wedding photographer in the world. Still, if your style doesn’t match that of the client, they will not like the experience and their photographs.
At the beginning of your career, eager to build a portfolio, you will not pay much attention to this aspect. As a result, on the wedding day, sometimes, you will discover that my clients expected something else… something I could not offer.
In order for our subjects to be comfortable in front of our lens and open up, they need to trust us. That is why is very important to have preliminary consultations before the wedding day so that you know the couple’s personality. Also, that gives them a chance to know who you are.
It is crucial that you set expectations right from the get-go, so there is no surprise afterwards.
Few photographers realize that the typical bride and groom are not looking for a photographer. They are looking for a problem solver. As such, the artist becomes a trusted advisor to the client. The faster your couple realizes that he can help them solve problems on the big day, the higher your chances to be hired. Photographing a couple who trusts you is very important as they will not question your directions so you will save precious time. Often, we, professional photographers, ask our clients to do awkward things that we know look good in the pictures. If they trust us, it’s all good.
When I started photographing weddings, I would wear a formal suit and most of my photographs with look formal. It is a natural human reaction. The suit looks like a uniform, which is a symbol of authority. Since we were kids, we were taught to be respectful of authority figures. Stand straight in front of the teacher, don’t chew gum in the church, talk politely to the policeman, answer all your questions asked by the doctor and so on. As such, subject will feel intimidated by a photographer wearing a suit.
I’m not advocating you wearing a hoodie on the special day, though I have seen photographers do that. What I’m suggesting is where something nice but not extremely formal. Try to blend in, to match the appearance and mood of your subjects, and they will trust you. In a famous survey conducted by American Express, the shower strong correlation between trust and the type of attire one wears.
For thousands of years we have been programmed to trust people that look and dress like us and to avoid those who don’t. After all, often a member of the different tribe poses a serious threat to our own existence.
Be silly! That’s relaxes your subject and invites them to be silly as well and you will be able to take beautiful portraits.
Silly remarks are a sure way to inject some emotions in your wedding photographs. One of my favourite lines is to tell the groom how much you love him. Another one is to ask the bride to whisper her most favourite vegetables in her sexiest voice possible. That always triggers beautiful reactions.
Many of my colleagues are afraid they will be perceived as unprofessional if they act goofy, but that is totally not the case. By definition, the client feels intimidated in front of the camera and very vulnerable. Showing their funny side makes the photographers look more human. As such, the clients treat the photographer is a friend and are not afraid to be themselves during the photo shoot.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “those who fail to plan to fail.” I am a firm believer in planning and having a backup plan on the wedding day. What happens if it rains? If you don’t have a plan, you will be stressed out and your clients will panic as well. In most situations, our clients mimic our state of mind.
By having a plan, we show professionalism and confidence, which makes our clients trust us and be more relaxed.
One can be a master of creating candid moments and still not be able to capture them. A good knowledge of your camera is crucial here. That’s why I’m not an advocate of owning a plenty of gear, but rather two camera bodies and a few lenses. That allows you to make the equipment an extension of yourself and to focus on emotions rather than fumbling with your camera.
A good game you can play with your photography friends is to change each other’s camera settings and see how long it takes you to obtain the proper exposure. If you think about it, during the special event your often faced with challenging scenarios and speed is of the essence.
A novice wedding photographer is always in a reactive mode where, as a professional, more experienced artist learns to anticipate moments and capture them masterfully.
One of the biggest breakthroughs I had about photography was when I switched from zoom lenses to primes. Using a zoom makes one become lazy if you want, while the prime lenses punish you if you are not placed in the right spot to capture the frame. They help you develop a sixth sense that allows you to anticipate your subject’s next move so you can take that amazing photos.
In my first years as a photographer, I missed a lot of shots. Sadly, I didn’t have the courage to go to my subjects and asked them to repeat whatever they were doing. If you think about it, it is only normal for a human being sometimes make mistakes, so don’t worry! Your clients will be happy to know you want what’s best for them.
As a side note, in the past, during the wedding ceremony, I asked clients to repeat the first kiss a few times just to make sure I got it.
I’m never afraid to try new things on the wedding day, and that often surprises my couples. For example, once I asked the groom to kiss the bride. As he didn’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, I volunteered to show him how it’s done. Of course, the idea of the photographer kissing his bride was hilarious, and they both started laughing hysterically. I would not recommend doing this all asked the clients fully trust you.
One of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world once said that we are as good as our clients. What he really meant is that if our clients do not look comfortable in front of our camera, they will not allow us to capture genuine emotions. Also extremely important is to know which buttons to push. If your couple is very traditional and you want to achieve very edgy and sexy photographs, the bride and groom will dislike it and that will show in their photos.
Capturing genuine emotions takes a multitude of skills that can be developed over time. Use this article as a starting point in your wedding photography journey.