Recently, my cousin wanted some wedding photography tips and how to go about taking better wedding reception photos. I’m sure many would experience a lot of difficulties especially going for wedding night photos assignment for the first time. The wedding photography tips is based on my own experience and may not be the best way to go around doing it. After all each wedding photographer would find out by themselves what would be the best way to go about doing proper wedding reception photography.
Most of us are not super rich; we don’t have so much money to splurge on the best photography equipment! So we have to start with cheaper equipment and work our way up to better photography equipment later.
My cousin who has just recently bought a Nikon D90 using a 18mm-105mm kit lens and a flash unit. Some of his friends suggested him to use a 50mm f1.4 lens. Sure you can get nice portrait photos out of it, but only if you are not in an event and if you have a second DSLR camera to spare. You don’t have time to switch lens if you decided you wanted to zoom in or have a wide angle view. So the best option is to have a lens that has to be versatile. Kit lens may not provide the best focus sharpness and clarity; however they are light and easy carry around and good for travel.
If your wedding reception photos assignment is provided free of charge and done as favour, you could probably stick back to the kit lens till you scrape up enough money to buy better lens.
Some photographers suggest that you use 18mm-70mm or 24mm-70mm. The less zoom the less distortion, and still have some zoom ability for close up shots. The wider angle is needed for group photos and for an overview wedding reception photo of the banquet.
Setting your DSLR
You may think you want to take it easy and use Program mode or Aperture priority mode in your digital SLR. Definitely a recipe for trouble. You can go ahead and try it. Your shots will come out blur most of the time. Why? Firstly in a banquet hall, there is insufficient lighting. Even if you coupled with your flash unit, and set an adequate ISO setting, the camera will choose a setting to allow for sufficient light for exposure. That means slow speed and big iris. More often than not, your wedding reception photos will turn out shaky from slow speed, and no clarity because of lack of depth of field.
The remedy: go to full Manual mode. Set your ISO to about 400 to 800, not too high or you will get very grainy shots which is not acceptable.
Speed about 180 to 250. This will avoid most camera shakes.
Aperture to about f7.5 to 9.0. This will widen your depth of field and provides clearer photos especially for group shot. So you lose out on bokeh artistry, but better to get clear shots first than trying to be fancy only to lose control of your depth of field.
That leaves you with only one setting to worry about, the flash unit. Let the flash unit do all the hard work in setting sufficient light. Bump up the power level +1 or all the way to +2. If the ceiling is too high to bounce, use a diffuser to soften the hot flash. Make sure you carry lots of battery spares!
And finally, always focus on the face first, using AE lock, recompose and then shoot. That way the facial features would be the sharpest.
After each shot, check your photo. Not good enough, quickly go for another shot.
Why this setting? Better to get clear photos and then later using photo software to edit or blur out details than getting a blur shot which would be near impossible to clean up later. If the shot is too shaky, it would only be good for thumbnail, useless to be included into a wedding photo album.
Hopefully the above wedding photography tips would get you on your way to your first wedding reception photo assignment. Happy shooting!