Sometimes overlooked, the wedding details at a wedding can be just as important to a couple as photographs of all the important moments throughout the day. And when you take into account the fact that many people make their own wedding details with friends or loved ones, these objects can be very personal to those who helped make them, and you’d do well to take extra measures in capturing how they add to the theme of the wedding. So, here are some tips for how to get the most from your detail shots at your next wedding shoot.
1. The Location
Well before you even get to the wedding venue, it's nice to start with a few photographs of the location where the bride and groom are getting ready. These wedding details will help tell the story of the day. The images below are from a Hollywood wedding, and the images are taken through the hotel windows.Try some wide angle landscape photographs that show the whole scene.
2. The wedding venue
As with most things in life, you’ll need to plan ahead a bit to give yourself time to photograph the wedding details, while there’s so many other things to photograph. Your best bet for photographing the wedding details will be to try to fit it in before the wedding starts (and before guests arrive). Don’t try to plan on getting these shots later in the night; you’ll most likely not end up with the spare time to do it, and it will be much more difficult to accomplish in a room full of guests.
2. Create your own arrangements
In some cases you’ll want to shoot the decorations as they are, or you may be unable to move them or re-arrange them yourself. However, whenever possible, you should try to arrange the details as you see fit for a given photograph. The key is to keep in mind how they were originally arranged, and return them to that placement afterwards. Often you’ll find the opportunity to do this, and you should take advantage of it as it allows you to do things like arrange decorations artistically, and even choose a more suitable shooting location with better natural light. Sometimes the wedding planner can be a great person to help you out with the wedding details, like setting up shots like below.
3. Lighting and camera settings
As much as possible, you’ll want to take these photographs without the assistance of a flash. Especially with table arrangements and centerpieces, using a flash can not only create difficult, harsh lighting situations, but can also add a lot of bright reflections in glass, silverware, and other place settings. So, without your flash, how do you tackle shooting table arrangements and other things that you can’t move into better light?
First, try shooting with your aperture at it’s widest setting. Not only will this bring more light to your camera’s sensor, but it will create a narrow depth of field that will keep the focus of the photograph on the objects you’re shooting. Now that you’ve set your aperture, start finding a comfortable shutter speed where you’ll get a good exposure without any blur from camera shake. As you do this, you may find that you need to increase your ISO setting to compensate for setting the shutter at a comfortable hand-held speed. Keep an eye on how high you set it; some conditions will definitely call for higher ISOs, and you can deal with the noise a bit in editing, but it’s a good idea to try to stay under 3200 if you can, obveously depending on what camera you have and it's iso capabilities. Try different angles to find the best light, if you are outside and the sun is mellow, shooting into the sun, can make magical images. If you are outside and it is too bright try shade if you can.
4. Give yourself options
The worst feeling for any photographer is when you get to editing your work and you realize that you just don’t have all the shots you needed to get. And with wedding detail shots, where sharp focus is key, it’s especially important to take multiple shots from multiple angles for each object or arrangement. So, give yourself as many options as you can, time-allowing. Get shots looking straight down, from the height of the table, etc. Take multiples of each shot you decide to take, checking your focus in between shots. Finally, take photographs both of the entirety of larger arrangements, and smaller details within those arrangements. This gives you the opportunity to show the decorations as they were presented to the guests (as one complete arrangement), and do your own framing of the smaller wedding details.
5. Shoot wedding details from above
Arial photographs of the details can be a great addition to your collection. Use a wide angle lens, this will help you to get everything in the frame and give the illusion that you are higher than you are. This is a great angle to add to your wedding details.
6. Small wedding details
Look for the small wedding details. You can use a low aperture to create bokeh, which will isolate small details in the frame. The small wedding details add to the overall collection of the day and help to tell the story. Be vigilant and look out for them throughout the day.
6. Fill the frame
You can fill the frame with wedding photography details, which can create a cool look. Mix between shooting close, filling the frame and shooting wide. Variety is key with wedding photography details.
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Photo credit: All images in this blog post by Lukas Griffin.