This Article is About
wedding ceremony
walking down the aisle
unnecessary movements
rule of thumb
name of the game
bride and groom
brim
knees
How To Photograph A Wedding Ceremony
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In this article we'll cover the basics on how to photograph an indoor wedding ceremony. When photographing an indoor wedding, 99% of the time you're working in a low light situation. There are critical things to consider before putting yourself in this position. The name of the game with weddings is BE PREPARED! Here's what you should know.

Typically, the only time I use flash during a wedding is the procession - when the wedding party and bride or groom are walking down the aisle and then back up, when the ceremony is over. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, most churches will not allow flash at any other time in the ceremony. Two, during the ceremony I typically stay far enough back from the alter that to use flash is pointless and produces very unflattering light.

Let's go over these a bit. Plan on checking in with the church coordinator upon arrival. Going out of your way to show respect and concern for the church rules will benefit you in the long run - possibly even turning into future referrals. Most churches have photography restrictions of some sort. My guess as to the reason for these restrictions is because they've had rogue photographers that will do anything to get the shot - including getting up on the alter for a close up! Uggh! One of the best compliments I receive from couples is, "I didn't even know you were there." I love hearing this! It is important that you respect the sacrament that is taking place.

My goal is to not only be unobtrusive to the bride and groom but to the guests as well. As a general rule of thumb when I am in the aisle during the ceremony, I try to stay behind where the last guest is seated. This works out most of the time but not always. Occasionally I'll have a very long church full to the brim and I need to come up in the aisle some. In this situation, I will be down on my knees photographing - again to be less obtrusive. I also make a point of minimizing any unnecessary movements. So in order to be back this far, you need to be prepared with a long, fast lens. The lens I use most during the ceremony is an 80-200mm, 2.8. I typically keep this on a tripod during the ceremony to minimize any movement and because it does get heavy!

If the church has a balcony, I make sure to get up there for a few photographs but I don't want to be stuck up there during the key moments - ring exchange, kiss, unity candle, etc. So my normal routine is that after the drop off - dad gives away the bride - I high tail it upstairs, do a few overview shots and then come back down. I do the overview shots again on floor level and then come in close with my longer lens. If you're not familiar with different types of religious ceremonies, I encourage you to have a look at the ceremony program that most couples make. This will tell you the order of things and give you an idea of when that all important kiss is coming up!

Also, make sure you know where the unity candle is before the ceremony begins. Often it is off to the side of the alter. I've had many a wedding where the wedding party and or guests will be standing during the lighting of the unity candle - thereby blocking your shot! Be prepared to sneak up the aisle for a quick shot or be in the side aisle for a clear, unobstructed view.

Now I mentioned above that I typically do not use flash during the majority of the ceremony. There is always an exception to the rule. There are a few venues in my area - country clubs, vineyards etc., where the indoor ceremony is in front of a wall of huge windows and you have light blasting in. These typically do not have a long aisle so I will go in low to photograph and add some flash to counteract this blast of light. If not, the couple will be fuzzy around the edges or completely silhouetted.

Photographing an indoor wedding can be a bit more complicated than an outdoor wedding due to the restrictions and lighting conditions. Be prepared with the correct equipment to ensure you get those shots. A good photographer is able to capture everything while still respecting the church and it's rules.


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