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5 Wedding Photography Composition Tips

Daniel Lowe and his wife Cindy photograph weddings as Orange Turtle Photography in sunny San Diego. Check out more of their work at their blog.

Get the first kiss. The first dance is coming up. How do I pose the couple so they don’t look so awkward? What should I set my aperture at for group photos? All of these thoughts and more run through my mind when shooting a wedding. With so many things to think about, it’s easy to forget about composition.

Composition is the core of any photo and should never be forgotten even when you’re struggling to get a clean shot of the first kiss or trying to deal with 30 family members waiting for a group photo. We talk about composition quite a bit when it comes to photography, but it’s difficult to bring composition into a real fast paced wedding. Here are a few easy ways to get great composition while at a wedding.

1. Shove ‘em to the side

We all know the rule of thirds right? At a wedding it’s so fast paced that we often don’t have time to perfectly compose each shot for the rule of thirds. So what can we do? Just don’t compose in the center! Throw the bride and groom during the first dance on one side of the frame. The groom is putting on his tie? Put him in the corner of photo. Bride looking into the mirror? Put her at the bottom. Don’t worry about hitting the third of the frame exactly, just don’t put them somewhere other than the center.

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2. Follow the lines

If you see a bunch of lines going in the same direction, follow them. There’s usually something good to shoot at the end of those lines. If you’re posing the couple, put the couple right at the end of those lines. The center aisle is always a converging line leading to the couple. Use those lines.

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3. Shoot wide open

It can be dangerous to shoot wide open all the time, but it can also help you with your composition. Why? If you have an SLR and are able to turn your aperture all the to the lowest F-number possible, you will get more blur in your photos. Whatever you focus on will be clear, but everything else will be blurry. The best part is that you can just set your camera for f2.8 or even f1.4 and then just focus on hitting the shot. You cannot see the cluttered ballroom in this photo:

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4. Peek a boo shoot!

Hide in the bushes and shoot. Peek around a corner and take your shot. Peer over someone’s shoulder and take the shot. By doing this you frame your photo and give it depth and mystery. It’s sometimes difficult to find depth in a hectic wedding, so create it. Jump behind something and shoot away! I took this shot through some branches giving it a third dimension and some magic.

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5. Two people one portrait

Give your portraits context by including a bit of another person in the photo. This is especially true for bride and grooms. Take a photo of the bride while her face is leaning on the groom’s chest. Weddings are all about the relationships and it’s great when we can show the relationship in the portrait even when we’re taking a portrait of just one person.

For example, in this photo, the subject is the groom, but I’ve sliced off a bit of the bride to give him some context.

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Each one of these composition tips takes some practice and getting used to, but once you’ve mastered them, you’ll find yourself doing them naturally. You’ll probably still worry about missing the first kiss, but at least you won’t have to worry about framing it correctly.

See more of Daniel’s wedding photography at his blog.

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