When it comes to wedding and lifestyle photography, there’s no replacement for experience. But as you’re gaining that experience, some useful photography tips and best practices can shorten your learning curve. These five secrets will help you capture many great moments and memories for you and your subjects.
#1: Start with a script
A lifestyle or wedding photography shoot is a lot like scripting a movie. Planning your vision involves having a list of shots planned out ahead of time. Be prepared with a shot list and/or poses that you’re pretty confident will work.
When it comes to high-pressure shoots like weddings, getting the posed shots completed first will help you deliver a more complete gallery from the shoot, with all of the most important moments captured. With the posed shots out of the way, you’ll have more time to get creative with timely portraits and candid opportunities.
Planning ahead also helps ensure you bring the right lights with you. You’ll know ahead of time what lighting equipment you should bring as well, whether it’s taking the Profoto camera flash or the off-camera Amaran LED light, for example.
Wedding photography tip: Because wedding dresses can be finicky to deal with, leave the bride standing in place when you can, just moving her head and shoulders, or turn her upper body, while the groom and wedding party move around her.
#2: Start in the Comfort Zone
An important thing to remember is that not everyone is comfortable with being in front of the camera. This applies to about 99% of us who feel really uncomfortable as soon as the camera is pointed at us. For those who are not comfortable, especially for romantic or intimate photoshoots, it’s your job as the photographer to build an environment that makes your subject(s) feel comfortable.
Start your sessions with the subjects’ backs to the camera, and/or with the camera farther away. They’ll feel less self-conscious and will get comfortable with your style before you get closer shots. It can help your subjects get used to being in front of the camera.
Planning a wedding is often a high-stress time for couples. An engagement photo shoot should be an opportunity for them to fall back in love again. You can facilitate this by giving them space to breathe and be together without even realizing that you’re there.
Lifestyle photography tip: Always pay attention to the shoulders. If a person is tense their shoulders may hunch up, making them look awkward and rigid in the photos. When their shoulder is fully dropped, that’s how you know someone is now comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera.
#3: Don’t be afraid to zoom
Zoom lenses can make shoots more comfortable for your subjects. And they can save you time since you can capture a close-up, three-quarter shot and even a wider shot, all without changing lenses.
Wedding photography tip: Don’t forget the hands! In three-quarter or pullback shots, people might seem more relaxed with their hands in their pockets. But it can create unsightly bulges; encourage just the four fingers in the pockets, or hooking a thumb, to keep straighter lines. And which out for fists, that can indicate anger or frustration, or stiff flat fingers or “penguin hands”, which can indicate tension.
#4: Open the lines of communication
To create the sense of intimacy in a couple, ask them to whisper in each other’s ears — a favourite thing about each other, or an inside joke or a memory from their first date, or even something naughty. Try to use those moments to create that authenticity of the relationship that they have together.
To create some great moments through the lens for couples, poses like face-to-face, kiss on the cheek, heart-to-heart type photos make for great initial poses. And remember, in many cases, an “almost-kiss” is better than a kiss — have your subjects push out their lips and brush them against the other, not smash their faces into one another; capture that moment just before they touch, to bring out the anticipation.
And for family photos, a “dad joke” or a shared experience like a family vacation can help put everyone in the right frame of mind and relax them.
Lifestyle photography tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your subjects to “soften” their smile, either. Not everyone is comfortable smiling; some people have photo-smiles that don’t look natural. Don’t force people to smile, but don’t be afraid to ask them to soften their smile either. Asking your subject to exhale a deep breath before the snap can help them look more natural.
#5: Let your let shine in
The difference between a good photo and a great photo is lighting. The less you have to worry about lighting, the more you can focus on the subjects, and the happier they’ll be — and the better your photos will be. Master your lighting kit, set it up once, and you’re good to go for your whole shoot and you’ll have consistency throughout your edits.
Lighting is everything and when you spend the time investing in lighting, it compounds and makes a big difference on every shoot.
If you’re looking to level up your lighting game, here are some lighting recommendations for your next lifestyle or wedding shoot.
The Profoto A10 Air is a TTL flash that fits through a smart magnetic mount with natural light spread and smooth fall off for your lifestyle shorts. With a 90-degree tilt and 360-degree rotation, you can shape the light how you would like.
This versatile Profoto camera flash provides 3250 Lumens of continuous light and flash. Create the image you want with total confidence in your light.
This Godox LED Light is a portable, easy to set up, continuous light source perfect for indoor or outdoor shoots, featuring eight preset lighting FX to add some creativity to your lifestyle shoots.
This Amaran LED light is a great all-in-one lightweight option, with wireless Bluetooth control, ultrabright cutting edge LED output, natural colors with a 95+ (out of 100) on the Television Lighting Consistency Index.
When it comes to having a picture-perfect lifestyle or wedding photography shoot, pre-planning your shoot, making your subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera, increasing the communication between your subjects and nailing the lighting will add up to some amazing photos that you and your client will love for years to come.
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The content from this article originally appeared in Henry’s & Profoto’s ‘Posing Couples’ online event with speaker, Tracie Maglosky. To view a recording of the event, click here.