Fundamentals of Photography for Wedding Portraiture

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wedding portrait of bride with flowers

How To Capture Beautiful Moments that Delight Your Wedding Clients

When most people think of wedding photography, they think of the candid and posed shots taken throughout the day of the wedding. But this isn’t the only type of wedding photographer there is.

Wedding portraiture is a great style for capturing the special details and most beautiful aspects of a wedding. Understanding the fundamentals of photography and capturing great wedding portraits ensures a wedding album is well-rounded and that the happy couple will love the end result.

What you need know about the fundamentals of photography for wedding portraits?

Portraits are often one of the best-loved and most challenging types of photos for photographers to take. This is true even for the most experienced professional photographers.

Portraiture can be tricky and knowing a few of the tricks in advance ensures you get the best possible pics on a couple’s big day.

Focus on the Eyes of Your Subject

One of the first techniques you’ll want to master is working with eyes. Getting the eyes of your subject into perfect focus is the key to great portrait photography, especially when you are taking traditional portraits. This should be the first skill you practice because it’s the one that if you miss, it will ruin the entire picture.

You could have a photograph in which every aspect is blurry and out of focus, but if the eyes are perfect, people will love the photograph.

To make sure your subject’s eyes are in focus, you must consider depth of field. Blurring the background of the picture helps to bring the eyes into focus, so you’ll want to shoot at a wider aperture.

You can experiment and see what works best, but as far as the fundamentals of photography go, this is where you want to begin.

Master the Backgrounds

bride and groom in front of church

You have plenty of options when shooting wedding portraits and choosing your backgrounds. The thing that some photographers forget is how important the backgrounds are in portraiture.

In the past, backgrounds were always plain. But there is no need for this to be the case anymore. Be creative. Indoors you can use colors, textures, and other things that apply to the wedding. Outdoors your options are even more endless.

Consider the Focal Length when Shooting

It’s important to be aware of the effect of focal length on your subject when shooting wedding portraiture. Most photographers use lenses between 50 mm and 85 mm, but they aren’t your only option.

Try different focal lengths to experiment with the effects and see what works the best for you. Your goal is to get as little distortion as possible and make sure the foreground and backgrounds aren’t compressed.

Wide angled lenses can create fun effects, but not everyone wants avant-garde when it comes to their wedding photos.

Make Sure Your Light is Soft

Soft shadows are the effect you are going for with portraiture. The last thing you want is harsh shadows on a bride’s face when shooting her portrait. This goes for natural or artificial lighting.

The best way to get ideal lighting is to shoot in softer lighting conditions, which tends to be outdoors in the morning or afternoon. If you are shooting these photos on the day of the wedding, you might need to be flexible so you can accommodate the perfect lighting and the events of the wedding day.

Softer lighting creates softer shadows, especially on the face. Even if you are taking portraits indoors, try your best to use natural lighting by positioning the subject near a window.

If you don’t have enough natural lighting, you can increase the ISO to make up for it. It’s also possible to use a reflector to get the effect you want.

Remember, you have a little more time to work with portrait photography than you do with a lot of the rest of the shots on the wedding day.

You’re able to stage a perfect portrait shot using fundamentals of photography, unlike when you are trying to capture a fleeting moment of the big day. This gives you a lot more control of the outcome.

Flash or No Flash?

professional dslr camera on desk

You’re also going to need to figure out whether you’ll be using artificial lighting.

In many weddings, you’ll use a combination of natural and artificial lighting depending on what you’re shooting and where that event is taking place.

For example, the getting ready photos early in the day are more likely to require flash than the shots at the outdoor ceremony or reception.

Photographers who shoot regularly tend to shy away from flash because it results in such harsh light and shadows. But there are occasions in which you’ll have no choice but to use flash.

If you must do so, make sure you are diffusing the harsh lighting. Use a card to bounce the light so it’s less direct or create a diffuser box to accomplish the same thing.

It’s not ideal for shooting a wedding, but you can usually pull it off with no photography assistant when you’re dealing with portrait photographs.

The goal is to avoid harsh lighting as much as possible, no matter what approach you take or what tools you use.

Following the Rules

If you’ve spent any time at all studying photography and taking pictures as a hobby or professionally, you’ve heard the rules. Many people have even studied the rules and know them like the back of their hands.

Conventional portrait taking rules can be helpful, especially when you are new to photographyor new to this style. But just because there are rules doesn’t mean you must follow them at all times.

The goal is to make sure you get the pictures that you are most comfortable with and that the wedding couple love. If this means breaking the rules of portrait photography, so be it.

Ultimately, you want everyone happy with the final product on their wedding day and this often means breaking the so-called rules of portrait taking.

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