This article was written by the award-winning studio Photography by Calin –

One of the most common questions we receive from new wedding photographers is what camera settings we used to create amazing photo albums. Truth be told, settings are less important than composition, emotions and so on. Here are the secrets of how to take perfect wedding photos.

1 Find the Best Light

In general, couples think that a good camera makes good wedding images, but nothing can be farther from the truth! Wedding photography has a few magic ingredients.

The first key ingredient in photography is light. In fact, there is no image without light and many artists completely disregard it. As such, the wedding photographer has to ensure the direction and quality of light is appropriate. The light has to be soft and the subject’s face should be turned towards the light. That has a slimming effect, sculpts the subject’s face and gives texture to the wedding dress.

A trick we use to find good light is to hold our hand upwards in about 1 foot in front of our face and look at the shadows between the fingers. Is the transition between the highlight and shadows abrupt? That indicates a harsh light, and you will need to move to a different location with better light. When the transition between the highlight and shadows is gradual, that is an indication the light is soft.

Congratulations, you found the best light possible! That is a great start to creating an award-winning wedding photo album.

2 Find a Beautiful Location

If you are able to find a great location, your backgrounds will help you create even more impactful photos. The background should enhance the subject and should not distract from it.

Do a quick check – does the background have too many lines? Are there any edges or corners? A busy background with heavy textures will distract from your subject. You can try to downplay this by tilting the camera up, thereby leading the viewer’s eyes to your subject.

You want to create images that are pleasing to look at. If done correctly, good background will help make your subjects pop out of the frame and connect with the viewer. A trick professionals use to improve composition is to have a rule of thirds grid on our LCD screen (you will find it in most new camera settings). Our goal is to have most of the action happening near one of these lines for a more dynamic composition.

3 Know Your Equipment

Knowing your equipment inside and out is very important. There is nothing worse than taking a photo during a wedding ceremony and finding out afterwards that it was out of focus… or missing a shot because your camera is too slow to focus.

Take the time to practice using your equipment and master the settings in order to be comfortable with them.

4 Refine the Camera Settings

Most photographers have very specific settings for different scenarios. Take the time to learn these before you start shooting professionally and make sure you know how to adjust them when they do not suit your needs.

5 Pose Your Subject

Posing is important since it conveys all the emotions and story you want to tell the viewer. Bad poses, bad angle, etc. will cause your subject to look stiff or awkward. So be sure to take the time to refine your posing technique and talk with your client about what they expect.

6 Inject Motion and Emotion

Here is a wedding photo idea with fantastic results: make your images dynamic by asking subjects to move. They will also feel more comfortable and give you the right emotions. The dramatic image is an important element of your portfolio and the photos you provide to the client.

The dramatic image has strong lines, good story-telling, great lighting, amazing angles, beautiful expressions, etc. To find these images, make sure you observe your surroundings when you are with the bride and groom during their portrait sessions and learn to identify scenarios that would work well for this type of photography on your own during your down time at weddings.

7 Know Your Subjects

This is probably one of the most important rules of all! As a professional, you must know your subject inside out. Ask the bride to provide you the names of the wedding party in advance so you have time to learn their names. Using their name will help you build a stronger relationship, lead to referals. Also, they will give you the movement and emotions that are on top of your wedding photography checklist.

Not only should you know their name and how they are related, but also their most common expressions. That will allow you to capture them at their best angles and in their natural light!

8 Find Inspiration

Inspiration is one of the most important things you need to find in order to become a good photographer. There are many ways to find inspiration, but you have to pay attention and stay tuned on any new trends that will help your style evolve. First, you could use classic works of arts such as paintings from old masters, but there is a wide variety of classic works of arts to choose from. You can also find inspiration with photography books or online sources. A great source of inspiration is a website called Fearless Photographers.

9 Look for Great Subjects

Learn how to find great subjects, and you will be able to take amazing photos. Is there a person or a subject that catches your attention? Take the time to watch and listen to them, and see what it would take to transform them into an interesting subject in front of your camera.

On the big day, children are amazing when it comes to giving you beautiful emotions you can capture. A candid moment immortalized is worth more than 1000 posed photos.

10 Take Your Time!

On the wedding day, don’t rush to take photos thinking that you will get better ones if you shoot more photos. That is what professionals call spray and pray. Capturing the perfect photo comes down to your skills, your preferences and what you are trying to convey.

If you rush, you can easily miss the perfect shot. Instead, relax and capture only the best moments that unfold in front of your eyes.

11 Practice Makes Perfect!

Photography is an art that takes practice to master. As such, you must practice all the techniques we mentioned in order to take great photos.

Of course, it takes more than that! It is also very important to think creatively and take a lot of photos so you can learn how to create great compositions.

12 Have a Shot List

Having a shot list is highly recommended. As a professional, you should know what shots you want to take, how many of each shot (to capture slightly different reactions and poses) and in which order.

It will help you plan your shoot so that all the shots you want to take will be captured. A shot list is a fallback plan in case you lack the inspiration to create beautiful photos.

13 Trust Your Eye

We all trust our own eyes, even if we are not a photographer. So why trust your eye when you are a professional? Because that is what professional photographers do!

Maybe when you start you won’t create photo wonders, but if you put the time and effort, that will change and composition will become a second nature.

14 Enjoy Yourself and Have Fun!

If you are not enjoying shooting photos, then you are going to be unhappy in your job. It is very important for any photographer to enjoy his job because he is engaging with his subject for a longer period of time than most others.


Congratulations, you’ve learned how to take the perfect wedding photos! We hope this helped clarify everything and please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.


Direction & Quality of Light: Your Key to Better Portrait Photography Anywhere by Neil van Niekerk

Jerry Ghionis Workshop