How to Improve Your Wedding Photography

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Improve-Your-Wedding-PhotographyIn this post Christina N Dickson from ChristinaNichole Photography shares some tips on how to improve your wedding photography.

According to comprehensive wedding planning site, theknot.com, December and January are fifth and sixth most likely months to schedule a wedding date (at least in North America). No winter breaks for wedding photographers here! If weddings are to be found year round, anyone wanting to improve their wedding photography skills should dedicate some time to expand their skills during the off-times of their shooting.

One of the most helpful ways I have found to expanding the diversity and creativity of my wedding photography requires nothing more than a trip to the library, my laptop, and a few sheets of paper.

1. Check out the recent wedding magazines.

Take cues from the successful and world-renowned trend setting wedding photographers featured in wedding magazines. Here you will find out if the industry is going retro in editing style, minimalist in portraiture, or creative in detail shots. Decide if these trends will work in your own style, or be inspired by the styles of these successful photographers. [Extra Tip: Wedding magazines are also brilliant for checking out flattering portrait poses for brides].

2. Set up a blog-feed for your favorite photographers work.

Everyone needs a bit of inspiration now and again. So why not schedule yours? Use a program like newsfire to subscribe to different photographer’s blogs. Not only will you stay inspired, you can keep track of what styles seem to work with what couples, get fresh ideas and perspectives, and even get a boost of self-esteem when you see images similar to yours.

3. Take the inspiration and apply it.

Create a comprehensive shot list. Evaluate what you need to improve in your shots, what shots you need to add to the ones you normally get. Write down different techniques or styles you want to experiment with.

a. Create an “essentials” shot list: These shots should not simply be “bride with sister”, but the type of shot you want to create with those two people. This would include ideas like, “bridal party jumping into the air” or “father twirling his bride daughter” etc. This will get your creative juices flowing for those shots you would already capture.

b. Think of a “creative” shots list. These types of shots are ones that you don’t capture, but set up. Such as “couple extending engagement picture into foreground” or “bride’s shoes with lace and ribbons”, etc. These shots certainly won’t make or break the wedding album [you will face less consequences than missing the bride and groom coming back down the aisle]. However, if you want to set yourself apart from other photographers, this is certainly a list you want to develop.

c. Remember the “dream shots”. This shot list would look like your “perfect” wedding. Say, if the bride was willing to do anything in her dress, what is the one shot you would want to capture? What shots would you create if you set up the location, time of day etc, without a variety of variables? While it may be thought of as impractical, this list will truly open up your mind so that if and when that magical opportunity comes along, you know how to maximize it!

BTW, this step is for practice only. I would not suggest you use it on the field unless in abbreviated form.

Remember, with exercises like these, you can increase your wedding photography skills even when you aren’t actively shooting all the time. Keep your mind and imagination sharp, and your skills will follow!

Get more wedding photography tips on our Wedding Photography Tips page.

Read more from our category

Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

  • Good ideas. I don’t generally shoot weddings but still like the thought of creating the lists.

  • Couldn’t agree more with these 3 tips.

    I felt and still feel a little strange when I go into my local bookstore and peruse the wedding magazines. But hey, I’m studying my art.

    I also highly recommend getting google reader and adding your favourite blogs to it. You get updates instantly and you can also share your favourite posts with people that you have on your “friend” list.

    The last item is important as well. I call it R&D.

    Rob & Duplicate

    If I see an images that really strikes me, I will try to duplicate it at a later date. I found an images quite a few months ago where the couple made a heart with their arms. I tried to duplicate the idea on my last engagement shoot….it didn’t turn out, however we ended up with some other great shots surrounding this idea.

    Basically, don’t stop researching your art and crafting new ideas.


    Alan Nielsen
    Nine Live Photography
    http://www.ninelivephotography.ca

  • One thing I do with some couples is I ask them to send me links to photos they like (such as the look, the poses, etc). A lot of times I see the same basics, but in different approaches, also new challenges for myself.

    One of the best things I’ve found is to throw all of these on my iPod and look at when I’m donating blood, waiting at an office, bored, whatever, and just keep a scrap book of sorts going both of my own things and from others.

    A semi-obvious thing is to scout your locations first! Maybe because I’m slightly new to the wedding game and might be obvious to others, visting where a ceremony will be, the reception, etc, have truely helped me with my shooting. I can see potential angles, locations, trouble spots, locations for power, etc ahead of time and also make a good impression on the pastor/manager/etc, plus saying you’ve been there to a bride and groom really puts them at ease.

  • dee

    the shot list is a good idea- I spent days making mine then forgot to bring it with me when I shot my first wedding- our neighbors! Also took the tips that said to shoot in raw but didn’t realize how much larger the files were and ran out of space on my 2 GB card before the ceremony! Luckily I brought additional memory cards and film but had to scale back on what I wanted to do because I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.

  • Similar to the iPod suggestion – I keep a whole bunch of “inspiration” shots on my iPhone and look at them to remind me right when I’m working with the couple at the wedding. They always love how I seem really prepared….it even helps the couple create the pose if I show them the picture.

  • If there is a pose I really want, I normally take a picture of it so that while I am working with the bride, I can pretend to look at previous photos while really studying one that I took earlier in the day (i.e.: magazine). 😀

  • Oh come on I was expecting something stupendous. This is all common sense and any photographer worth his or her bacon would know this.

  • OK Guy some of it is common sense for those who have been doing photography for awhile. A little bit of respect would go a long way.

    Of course have everything planned and meet with the couple and let them tell you what they would like to have in their wedding pictures. I have found that when you include the bride into the process they will be happier and you will get better pictures because they have begun to trust you

  • Your article could not have come at a better time. My dear Dad is getting married next month, December. He is 85 and she is 78. Thanks for the great tips.

  • Pat

    Great ideas for getting fresh ideas. It can also be encouraging to see how well you’re progressing towards the guys who are leading the field in their game.

  • bogart

    Unconventional shots make wedding photo great. A list of different pose would guide you during the actual shooting. Its really a big help to have a guide since it will help you not to missed a plan shot.

  • I’m learning a lot with these Darren… Thanks for all of it… more power to DPS.

  • Interesting site for wedding photograph.. its give a thumb up on SU!!

  • Frankly I am not sure I would have included the wedding image above in an artical on how to improve wedding photography. As a profeessional wedding shooter with over 500 weddings under my belt I am not even sure if would have even kept that shot…it’s way over exposed,to much lens flare and poor color saturation. Sure to the casual undiciplined photographer with little skill in exposure this may be nice. It probably would have better changed to black and white and called “high key” to cover up the truth.

  • PhaseChange

    OK, any more tips for skilled amateurs? I’ll be shooting most of the “official” photos at my son’s wedding. This will be informal, but I want to make sure I get some of the typicial formal poses. I’ve been into photography for 30+ years, and have a decent technical grounding, but admittedly have never explored lighting /posing for portraits.

    TIA

  • SomeWhiner

    The first thing I saw in this article is a horrible photograph where a *lens flare* is totally obstructing the view of the picture’s subjects, the *bride and groom* with an uninteresting blown-out background and a horrible 20 degree tilted angle which looks awful artistically.

  • Tea

    Ummm… yes I did all that before a wedding shoot. I must also agree from the couple comments above that it is a “common sense” of things to do before deciding to do the job. It says “How to Improve Your Wedding Photography” so I guess I expected something not quite a common sense. I still however appreciate the thought of sharing =) On the photo above, well…we all see things very differently sometimes and though I agree with Ben Michalski, I would probably not keep the shot either but I am hoping the pair liked it…especially the bride…because a wedding is all about the bride 😉

  • Lou

    To the critics of the flare shot… Would you say the same thing if it was David Beckstead that shot the image? My point, which does tie in with following the trend, is that photography is very much subjective. There are some who come from a more classical photographic background, which I have learned to greatly appreciate, and there are others who are more experimental, which I like as well.
    And at the end of the day, sure, we want to create powerful, striking images, but at the same time, we want to sell images and albums. So, my advice, take a classic photo and an experiemental shot during an engagement session or even when you first meet, and you will know how to adjust accordingly.

  • Booker

    sounds like there are a few disgruntled photographers who spend their time downing others because they cant make themselves better wedding photographers! maybe its not the best photo but the tips are still good for new togs and thats what photography school is about — new togs getting better.

    ben “profeessional wedding shooter with over 500 weddings under my belt” michalski is so smart and great but he expired his website lol

  • Ryan & Susan

    Booker Says:

    January 14th, 2010 at 1:18 am
    sounds like there are a few disgruntled photographers who spend their time downing others because they cant make themselves better wedding photographers! maybe its not the best photo but the tips are still good for new togs and thats what photography school is about — new togs getting better.

    ben “profeessional wedding shooter with over 500 weddings under my belt” michalski is so smart and great but he expired his website lol

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-improve-your-wedding-photography#comment-84061#ixzz0hd2RFlMu

    Per your out of line quote, about Ben Michalski, We just used Ben for our Wedding We actually found him on this site, and I wanted to come back,to let everyone know how great he was, Yes his site had expired so what, I guess if my father was very ill ,as They had been taking care of him that ,would be my first thing that I would take care of Family does come first.

  • booker

    ryan & susan thats sorry to hear his father was very ill hope they are OKAY

    can you post links to your great wedding photographs in an online gallery?

  • lou

    @booker: “Ryan & Susan” is obviously not Ryan or Susan… Self promotion in the 21st Century is a beautiful thing!

  • Ryan & Susan

    If you would like to be an arse about things sorry I have to work for a living, you can go to Smug Mug and search Ben Michalski, our pics are up on there, that he did for us, also He did give us all copy rights.When you see them you will see the real deal of who I am, Thanks.

  • Booker

    Ryan & Susan where are you?

    http://benmichalski.smugmug.com

  • Gripping blog post you have hereabouts. I hadn’t considered such.

  • very true Christina. If you are not learning and improving, then you will die very soon. Especially with the constant advancement in technology and processing field, photographers need to keep in touch with latest in the industry through blogs, mags, expos, etc.

  • Joe Bianchi

    Really nice tips. I am not a photographer but I like these shots.

    Here is the site which is more interesting about wedding celebrations.

    http://www.weddingsparklersrus.com/

Some Older Comments

  • KedR May 30, 2012 09:46 am

    very true Christina. If you are not learning and improving, then you will die very soon. Especially with the constant advancement in technology and processing field, photographers need to keep in touch with latest in the industry through blogs, mags, expos, etc.

  • Laila Boid July 27, 2011 10:15 am

    Gripping blog post you have hereabouts. I hadn't considered such.

  • Booker March 17, 2010 08:23 pm

    Ryan & Susan where are you?

    http://benmichalski.smugmug.com

  • Ryan & Susan March 11, 2010 01:59 pm

    If you would like to be an arse about things sorry I have to work for a living, you can go to Smug Mug and search Ben Michalski, our pics are up on there, that he did for us, also He did give us all copy rights.When you see them you will see the real deal of who I am, Thanks.

  • lou March 10, 2010 12:45 am

    @booker: "Ryan & Susan" is obviously not Ryan or Susan... Self promotion in the 21st Century is a beautiful thing!

  • booker March 9, 2010 10:54 am

    ryan & susan thats sorry to hear his father was very ill hope they are OKAY

    can you post links to your great wedding photographs in an online gallery?

  • Ryan & Susan March 9, 2010 08:59 am

    Booker Says:

    January 14th, 2010 at 1:18 am
    sounds like there are a few disgruntled photographers who spend their time downing others because they cant make themselves better wedding photographers! maybe its not the best photo but the tips are still good for new togs and thats what photography school is about — new togs getting better.

    ben “profeessional wedding shooter with over 500 weddings under my belt” michalski is so smart and great but he expired his website lol

    Read more: https://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-improve-your-wedding-photography#comment-84061#ixzz0hd2RFlMu

    Per your out of line quote, about Ben Michalski, We just used Ben for our Wedding We actually found him on this site, and I wanted to come back,to let everyone know how great he was, Yes his site had expired so what, I guess if my father was very ill ,as They had been taking care of him that ,would be my first thing that I would take care of Family does come first.

  • Booker January 14, 2010 01:18 am

    sounds like there are a few disgruntled photographers who spend their time downing others because they cant make themselves better wedding photographers! maybe its not the best photo but the tips are still good for new togs and thats what photography school is about -- new togs getting better.

    ben "profeessional wedding shooter with over 500 weddings under my belt" michalski is so smart and great but he expired his website lol

  • Lou October 20, 2009 05:19 pm

    To the critics of the flare shot... Would you say the same thing if it was David Beckstead that shot the image? My point, which does tie in with following the trend, is that photography is very much subjective. There are some who come from a more classical photographic background, which I have learned to greatly appreciate, and there are others who are more experimental, which I like as well.
    And at the end of the day, sure, we want to create powerful, striking images, but at the same time, we want to sell images and albums. So, my advice, take a classic photo and an experiemental shot during an engagement session or even when you first meet, and you will know how to adjust accordingly.

  • Tea June 19, 2009 03:51 am

    Ummm... yes I did all that before a wedding shoot. I must also agree from the couple comments above that it is a "common sense" of things to do before deciding to do the job. It says "How to Improve Your Wedding Photography" so I guess I expected something not quite a common sense. I still however appreciate the thought of sharing =) On the photo above, well...we all see things very differently sometimes and though I agree with Ben Michalski, I would probably not keep the shot either but I am hoping the pair liked it...especially the bride...because a wedding is all about the bride ;-)

  • SomeWhiner June 7, 2009 02:58 am

    The first thing I saw in this article is a horrible photograph where a *lens flare* is totally obstructing the view of the picture's subjects, the *bride and groom* with an uninteresting blown-out background and a horrible 20 degree tilted angle which looks awful artistically.

  • PhaseChange December 20, 2008 12:08 pm

    OK, any more tips for skilled amateurs? I'll be shooting most of the "official" photos at my son's wedding. This will be informal, but I want to make sure I get some of the typicial formal poses. I've been into photography for 30+ years, and have a decent technical grounding, but admittedly have never explored lighting /posing for portraits.

    TIA

  • ben michalski November 24, 2008 01:51 pm

    Frankly I am not sure I would have included the wedding image above in an artical on how to improve wedding photography. As a profeessional wedding shooter with over 500 weddings under my belt I am not even sure if would have even kept that shot...it's way over exposed,to much lens flare and poor color saturation. Sure to the casual undiciplined photographer with little skill in exposure this may be nice. It probably would have better changed to black and white and called "high key" to cover up the truth.

  • jasen November 22, 2008 08:09 am

    Interesting site for wedding photograph.. its give a thumb up on SU!!

  • Percy November 16, 2008 01:10 am

    I'm learning a lot with these Darren... Thanks for all of it... more power to DPS.

  • bogart November 12, 2008 09:41 am

    Unconventional shots make wedding photo great. A list of different pose would guide you during the actual shooting. Its really a big help to have a guide since it will help you not to missed a plan shot.

  • Pat November 10, 2008 08:21 pm

    Great ideas for getting fresh ideas. It can also be encouraging to see how well you're progressing towards the guys who are leading the field in their game.

  • Carol November 10, 2008 02:34 am

    Your article could not have come at a better time. My dear Dad is getting married next month, December. He is 85 and she is 78. Thanks for the great tips.

  • Will McLaurin November 8, 2008 04:01 pm

    OK Guy some of it is common sense for those who have been doing photography for awhile. A little bit of respect would go a long way.

    Of course have everything planned and meet with the couple and let them tell you what they would like to have in their wedding pictures. I have found that when you include the bride into the process they will be happier and you will get better pictures because they have begun to trust you

  • Guy McLaren November 8, 2008 01:32 am

    Oh come on I was expecting something stupendous. This is all common sense and any photographer worth his or her bacon would know this.

  • Lawrence @ Furious Photographers November 7, 2008 05:28 am

    If there is a pose I really want, I normally take a picture of it so that while I am working with the bride, I can pretend to look at previous photos while really studying one that I took earlier in the day (i.e.: magazine). :D

  • eric November 7, 2008 02:57 am

    Similar to the iPod suggestion - I keep a whole bunch of "inspiration" shots on my iPhone and look at them to remind me right when I'm working with the couple at the wedding. They always love how I seem really prepared....it even helps the couple create the pose if I show them the picture.

  • dee November 7, 2008 02:44 am

    the shot list is a good idea- I spent days making mine then forgot to bring it with me when I shot my first wedding- our neighbors! Also took the tips that said to shoot in raw but didn't realize how much larger the files were and ran out of space on my 2 GB card before the ceremony! Luckily I brought additional memory cards and film but had to scale back on what I wanted to do because I wasn't as prepared as I thought.

  • mainfr4me November 5, 2008 09:52 am

    One thing I do with some couples is I ask them to send me links to photos they like (such as the look, the poses, etc). A lot of times I see the same basics, but in different approaches, also new challenges for myself.

    One of the best things I've found is to throw all of these on my iPod and look at when I'm donating blood, waiting at an office, bored, whatever, and just keep a scrap book of sorts going both of my own things and from others.

    A semi-obvious thing is to scout your locations first! Maybe because I'm slightly new to the wedding game and might be obvious to others, visting where a ceremony will be, the reception, etc, have truely helped me with my shooting. I can see potential angles, locations, trouble spots, locations for power, etc ahead of time and also make a good impression on the pastor/manager/etc, plus saying you've been there to a bride and groom really puts them at ease.

  • Alan Nielsen November 5, 2008 05:36 am

    Couldn't agree more with these 3 tips.

    I felt and still feel a little strange when I go into my local bookstore and peruse the wedding magazines. But hey, I'm studying my art.

    I also highly recommend getting google reader and adding your favourite blogs to it. You get updates instantly and you can also share your favourite posts with people that you have on your "friend" list.

    The last item is important as well. I call it R&D.

    Rob & Duplicate

    If I see an images that really strikes me, I will try to duplicate it at a later date. I found an images quite a few months ago where the couple made a heart with their arms. I tried to duplicate the idea on my last engagement shoot....it didn't turn out, however we ended up with some other great shots surrounding this idea.

    Basically, don't stop researching your art and crafting new ideas.

    --
    Alan Nielsen
    Nine Live Photography
    http://www.ninelivephotography.ca

  • Rick November 5, 2008 03:13 am

    Good ideas. I don't generally shoot weddings but still like the thought of creating the lists.

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