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Wedding photography tips

Annabel Willams is well known for producing great wedding photographs. Here, she shares her knowledge with you.

|  Portraits and People
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Bride in black and white by Annabel Williams
Photograph by Annabel Willams.
Annabel Williams sees weddings as something which can be a fantastic experience for photographers but you need to be aware that, if you're doing them properly, they're exhausting and they require a huge amount of effort.
Don't just think you're popping out for a quick shoot on a Saturday afternoon!” explained Annabel.
In Annabel's eyes, to be a good wedding photographer you have to be a people person – relate to people easily and be a good organiser and director.
Many people say they want you to flit around and take snapshots in the background - until they get the photos - once they see shots with double chins, and haphazard grabbed shots, they will be disappointed if there are no artistic, directed shots, whatever they say!  You need to be able to direct without taking over, and this takes skill and experience.”
If you've never shot a wedding before, Annabel wouldn't recommend you simply go out there and book one. Instead, shoot in the background at a friends wedding and see what happens. After you've done this and feel a little more confident, offer to shoot a friend's wedding but make sure they know you're practising otherwise, if it doesn't work out, it will knock your confidence. Also, above anything else, make sure you're prepared because as with anything, this is key. Always plan and prepare for the day so you know you've done everything possible, and if something goes wrong, you can think on your feet because you are more prepared. This preparation will also mean you're more confident and that the nerves you have are the right ones (everyone has nerves before a wedding - it's a big day - it's like going on stage), not the worrying type because you know you're not prepared.
Bride and Groom by Annabel Williams
Photograph by Annabel Willams.
When the big day arrives, a plan, having your equipment ready for the day and talking to the other people involved so you all work together smoothly is a good way to start. Check every meticulous detail with the bride and groom and get a timetable worked out too so there's plenty of time for you to get the photographs you need.
Most brides expect to put the dress on 10 minutes before the ceremony!  If you can convince them to take more time over this you will have more time for great shots.  Plan out the day with them.  Check out where you'll shoot if it's raining - so you're ready.
Breaking the day down into sections - before the ceremony, during the ceremony and after the ceremony will make the day easier to handle and less stressful. Don't just turn up and snap away – have a plan. If you don't know the venue - go and check it out - walk round it. If it's a church and reception, plan your route and work out how long the drive will be.  The more organised you are the easier it will be. Don't spend time taking hundreds of group shots the couple want you to take either, instead, talk to them and suggest you do immediate family, and then take a couple of the huge group of everyone to keep them happy. A good plan will also mean you don't get in the way too much. Plan before hand where all the action will happen and where you will be to capture it all.
Use short amounts of time to do posed pictures - pre arrange a 15 minute section to do some fashion shots with the bride and groom if they want them; allocate another 10 minutes later in the day to do a few pre arranged groups - and then take candid shots in between.  Spacing out these shoots will mean that people don't get fed up of you!

Bride by Annabel Williams
Photograph by Annabel Willams.
A routine is always a good thing to have at a wedding, which has been planned, so that I can fit in candid shots throughout, and if I have time, and the couple are up for it, then I would perhaps do something different in a quiet moment later on - but this would usually have been prearranged with the couple, otherwise you may not know if they are the type of person that wants something different.  I will always take alternative shots for myself, but often if I am really inspired I need to find some time to do something alternative, as the pressures of the day can take over!  If just starting out however, you are going to need your wits about you just to get the normal shots done! But if you feel confident, have a go.
At the end of the day, the shots you take will depend on what the individual bride and groom want. Some ask Annabel to shoot in the background, others want a full blown fashion shoot – it all depends on they couples and the only way you can find out what the want is by talking to them. People spend a lot of time on their weddings and they pay particular attention to detail – so it's good to get shots of shoes, backs of dresses, flowers etc. Annabel always makes sure she has a fantastic picture of the bride before the wedding when she's most perfect – and before it rains.
When it comes to kit, Annabel uses two cameras, one with a long zoom lens and the other with a wider zoom lens. She takes a simple flash for shots in the dark (on the aisle or in the evening), but no reflectors as she likes to be as inobtrusive as possible.
If you've planned it all, then you should be able to enjoy it and have fun with the couple - weddings are hard work - you need to remember you're enjoying it!
Bride and Groom long shot by Annabel Williams
Photograph by Annabel Willams.

For a truly life changing way of thinking creatively - look at Annabel Williams' latest books - "99 Portrait Photo Ideas" or "99 Digital Photo Art Ideas" available from Annabel Williams' website.

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Henchard 15 2.7k 1 United Kingdom
5 Jul 2009 9:04PM
What a surprise more of the Annabel Williams self promotion

When the big day arrives, a plan, having your equipment ready for the day and talking to the other people involved so you all work together smoothly is a good way to start.

I'd never have thought of that; glad you told me.

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