Wedding Photography and the First Dance
First dance is a "must get" shot but don’t get in the way
Wedding Photography and the First Dance. For me, the first dance is the most intimate part of the wedding day. The couple have normally had a drink or two and it all starts to sink in. Suddenly they start to realise that they are actually married.
Their favourite song is being played and they can become quite emotional and "detached" from their surroundings. A great time for wedding photography.
I use a good mid range zoom lens such as the 24-70mm. Anything longer and I need to stand well back which allows guests to get in the way! I try not to get too close but at the same time, try and get some detail shots.
Using a high resolution DSLR means you also have enough of a file size to be able to crop in tight for some nice details.
If using flash I always bounce from the ceiling if possible as not to disturb once again.
If the lighting around the couple is good, I try some arty looking shots. The following shots were taken using a very slow shutter speed with fill in flash. The long shutter speed allows the ambient light to burn onto the sensor and the fill in flash captures the couple nicely.
Slow things down
Try a shutter speed of around 1/20th/sec to 1 or 2 seconds, and aperture of say F8 with your speedlight set to auto or E-TTL etc. You could even try purposely moving the camera about during exposure to get some arty looking backgrounds.
Note: Bear in mind here that usually before the song ends, the dance floor fills with family and friends. The Bride is normally whisked off as the best man or father jumps in for an "excuse me". Get the shots you need quickly.
When the couple’s song has ended, the evening starts to liven up and more lively music gets played (unless the function is quite reserved). Once again, a great time for candid's such as Uncle Harry chasing the pretty bridesmaids around the dance floor!
I take quite a few shots here as getting photographs worthy of an album or slideshow are hard to get. People and smoke are normally constantly getting in your way. Composition and timing is increasingly difficult and the dance floor gets packed quickly.
Take time out to wander away from the action. Where are the elders? Usually sitting well away from the noise and are mostly welcoming when asked for a photograph. Take some action photos from a distance of everyone partying and keep your eyes on the couple as they let their hair down with friends.
Your work is done
There comes a point where you know that you are finally done for the day! Red eyes, blurred speech, stains, sweat and general tomfoolery take over. I must stop drinking at weddings…Boom! Boom!
Seriously, you normally know when the formalities are done and people just want to party. At this point I let the couple know that I am leaving. Unless they ask you for a quick couple of shots, I say my goodbyes and leave. This is normally anytime between 9pm and midnight but always be prepared to stay later.
On many occasions I have been asked to stay and have a few drinks. In my younger, single days I have, although always watching how much I drink. It is up to you whether you accept the invitation or not but as a general rule, I leave. Getting drunk and doing or saying anything untoward will kill your reputation.