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Bridal Photography – Bride Getting Ready

This is what the Groom won’t see so capture it well!

The bridal photography at the start of the day is probably the most intimate you will get at the wedding, a very private time for the bride so be polite and professional at all times. You will usually have a full, chaotic house with parents, brothers, sisters and the bridal party all flapping about…don’t get in their way! Click for larger version...

Bridal Photography Silhouette
Bridal Photography Back of Dress
Bridal Photography With Horse
Bridal Photography Doing up Dress

If they are happy with it, just shoot away in a reportage style. Try and capture exactly what is happening. However, if things get heated, stop shooting, get out of the way and wait for things to get back on track.

This is a time that most Grooms rarely see and the bride will normally forget about. She has so much more on her mind that she will usually appreciate seeing these images if done tastefully and thoughtfully.

You may be asked to leave the room at some point where the bride gets changed. Before that happens, try and get shots of her having her hair and makeup done. Remember tofgt shots of the bridesmaids having a quick tipple or the mother helping out. Get shots of the dress and shoes before they go on. Get shots of the bouquets whist they are still fresh.

Once the bride is putting her dress on you are normally ok to get back in the room. One of the best shots if done right is the mother or chief bridesmaid tying or zipping up the back of the dress. Again, it is something the bride doesn’t see. Use mirrors if available and don’t be afraid to take control and move people to where it makes your job easier. They are expecting it.

Bridal Photography - Suggested Equipment and set up

Any suggestions in these sections of this wedding photography tips article are again my own preferences and recommendations. I am not saying they are right or wrong but simply what works for me. Each wedding photographer is different with respect to their bridal photography and will have or find their own techniques and equipment. These tips are purely meant as a starting point or guide for newcomers to wedding photography.

First of all…know your equipment inside and out. Know where all the buttons are and how to make rapid changes to any setting such as:

  • ISO
  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • check
    Flash Compensation
  • check
    Exposure Compensation
  • check
    White Balance (although I generally shoot auto with RAW)
  • check
    And so on…

Also remember what settings you have changed and remember to change them back.

ISO and Second Cameras

You may use ISO 250 for the bridal photography and bride getting ready shots but want to shoot 100 ISO for the groom waiting at the church shots. You may shoot ISO 800-1000 inside the church and then quickly change to ISO 100 again as they leave the church.

A second camera is good here as you don’t want to walk out into bright sunlight and shoot at 1000 ISO do you? Ahem… (Blushing)! This goes on all day so get used to knowing and constantly changing these settings or cameras.

When shooting indoors at any venue I try and use the best light possible. Lighting is everything and the bride will have spent months preparing for this and years dreaming of her big day. You will want to flatter her and make her look her best.

Note: Where I will try not to be biased toward any manufacturer or make/model, I use what I do for the results they give.

Bridal Photography - Shoot RAW

I can’t stress this enough…shoot weddings in RAW. If you don’t know RAW already, LEARN…NOW. You will thank me one day. Any minor cock-ups with exposure or white balance can be easily and quickly rectified with RAW. Shoot in JPEG mode and you are asking for trouble.

Bridal Photography - Cameras and Lenses

Note here I said cameras…plural. Always, always have a back up camera…or even better, two back ups. If one dies on you that is it…game over unless you are prepared.

I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV for most shots with a 24-70mm L f28 lens attached for most of the day. I also still use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 70-200mm lens attached for reportage/stealth/candid shots. Lastly, a Panasonic GH5 as back up, although I sometimes chop and change that order.

Apart from the two lenses above, I also use a Canon EF 50mm 1.4 for seriously low light situations. That "nifty fifty" is also great for pin-sharp portraits and I use a 16-35mm L f2.8 for church interiors. The 50mm is best used with a crop factor camera like the Canon EOS 7D MkII for best quality as the edges remain sharper due to the extreme edges being cut away. It's called shooting the sweet spot!

If you can afford it, prime lenses are best for quality but zooms are best for speedy, ever changing work.

Bridal Photography - ISO

I normally shoot between 100 and 1600 for indoor shots. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II gives incredible results in low light and mid to high ISO’s and the full frame gives me “room to breathe”.

I try to make the most of available window light for moody, natural shots which will mean a higher ISO, smaller aperture or slower shutter speed. When this is not possible, bounced or diffused flash is second best.

This bit is worth repeating here…

“…Also remember what settings you have changed and remember to change them back. You may use ISO 250 for the Bride getting ready shots but want to shoot 100 ISO for the groom waiting at the church shots. You may shoot ISO 800-1000 inside the church and then quickly change to ISO 100 again as they leave the church.

A second camera is good here as you don’t want to walk out into bright sunlight and shoot at 1000 ISO do you? Ahem… (Blushing)! This goes on all day so get used to knowing and constantly changing these settings or cameras…”

Bridal Photography - Flash

Bridal-Photography and Bounced Flash

I despise flash, or at least direct flash. You may as well get “Uncle Bob” to shoot the wedding with his shiny new DSLR with built in flash.

A much more flattering way of using flash indoors is to bounce or reflect it from a bright surface.

I use 2 x Canon 580EX II’s which produce more than enough power for most interior wedding photography. However, when bounced, remember that you will lose some output due to the extra distance the light has to travel, and you will need to compensate.

The easiest way to do this is to up your cameras FEC (flash exposure compensation) by 2 or 3 stops.

To get some really beautiful diffused and flattering light, I now use speedlight diffusers. A general flash and camera settings to start from indoors is something like:

  • Manual Exposure Metering
  • ISO 250
  • 80th/sec at F6.7 or 5.6
  • check
    Flash set to E-TTL (or auto)
  • check
    Bounced from ceiling with +2 flash exposure compensation

Give that a try and adjust any of the settings up or down accordingly but remember the effect of increasing/decreasing ISO or apertures/shutter speeds. It is good to practice at home first.

Light Leaks in the Viewfinder

Note: One useful thing that is handy to know is this. If you are using a tripod and you take your eye away from the viewfinder to take the shot, you will get possibly underexposed shots.

The light “leaking” in through the viewfinder will affect your metering and the camera will adjust accordingly. Either cover the viewfinder with your hand when firing or use the cameras built in cover. Some camera straps also have these covers so use them.

Once you have the shots you need, and if you have time, play a little. Try some close up shots through the veil or fun and funky shots. Always have in the back of your mind, ideas you can play around with in Photoshop later.

Always carry heaps of CF cards so you never run short. You can get these dead cheap now so no excuses. Don’t settle for poor makes either. Use Sandisk, Lexar or any other “more expensive” cards. They have spent millions on research to prevent malfunctions due to excessive use, heat, cold, dropping or general knocking about.

Don’t compromise cost for security when it comes to wedding or bridal photography!

Bridal Photography
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