Master Class
The Wedding Day, Part III

Photos © 2001, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved

It's possible to overshoot the ceremony itself. What you really should be doing is capturing the highlights from various viewpoints. The concept of these pictures is to show the bride and groom what their wedding ceremony actually looked like. (#1)

The entire scene is definitely an important photograph. When the ceremony takes place in a location like this, you want to show the bride and groom the gazebo set against the clear sky, the line-up of elegant trees that lead your eye right up to the ceremony, and the magnificent palm tree swaying in the cool breezes from the ocean background.

Here, the groom is placing the ring on her finger. This is definitely one of the highlights, and you should get in as close as you can. (#2 below)


Of course, the other half of the ring exchange is great, too. Especially when you can see faces and feelings, as in this picture.(#3)

Speaking of expressions, check this one out! (#4)

The ceremony from another vantage point is a good idea. Here, I was able to back off and photograph from behind an overhanging tree limb. Lots of depth with the up-close green framing the ceremony within the gazebo. (#5)

The kiss. Should you take it, up close? (#6) (#7)

Include the whole scene? Why not both? Especially when you've got two photographers shooting from different vantage points.

Capturing Affection
This is a time during most weddings when a lot of photographers drop the ball. Immediately after the ceremony is when all the tension is finally released. So are the tears. But they're tears of joy! What a great moment to capture.


The bride and groom kiss and hug, hardly ever remembering what follows. Now is the time to step in and record these great moments. They are moments of a lifetime. (#8)

Of course, what usually happens is that you see one face and not the other. Not bad when you can capture emotion as in this previous picture. But it should also be followed closely with a picture like this, telling the bride and groom both, "Look around! I want to see both of your faces!" (#9)

Then, it's up to you what follows. All I know is that the more combinations of the participants you photograph together like that, the more you're going to sell. And the more everyone loves to see how they reacted at this highlight of the wedding day. Don't miss those shots! (#10) (#11)

Every image is going to sell, and most of them in multiple albums! Most of the time you're not going to be able to get these people together for these pictures up where the ceremony takes place, as we were able to do here. But you can certainly do that at the other end of the church aisle--if you speak to the bride and groom ahead of time.


The trick here is to have the parents follow back up the aisle right after the bride and groom. If the wedding party follows the bride and groom, followed finally by the parents and grandparents, chances are that they will never get the chance to be anywhere near the bride and groom. The trick also is to have the wedding party tell the bridal consultant and/or the church coordinator that it's their idea to have the parents come back up the aisle right after the bride and groom. Otherwise, they probably won't be inclined to make a "drastic" change like this if they think that it's the photographer's idea. Sad, but true! Believe me.

Photographs of people coming back up the aisle after the ceremony? Of course, especially the main people. These pictures quite often look a lot more relaxed and exciting than those taken as the people are nervously walking to the altar. (#12)


When possible I usually photograph the parents and the grandparents coming back up the aisle after the ceremony. I know from experience that you have to plan pictures like these before the ceremony. Otherwise, most of the time everyone comes back too closely together and they back up on one another and you just can't get all these pictures. I tell everyone to wait until the people before them get halfway back up the aisle before they begin their return.

PJ Or Helped Along A Little?
After the ceremony the officiant reassembled everyone to sign the official documents. I could have left them alone and just recorded what was taking place, but what I did was to arrange the small group so that the camera would see all of their faces. (#13)


I can tell you from experience that no one is going to buy a picture when all you see is the top of someone's head. They want to see faces! So, I quickly set up that picture and told everyone to keep their heads up high and just look down at the papers with their eyes. (#14)

There wasn't a meal served at this ceremony, but there was a cake to be cut, of course. My typical approach to the cake cutting is to pose it, so that it will appear as if it weren't posed.

I have the bride and groom put their faces together and lean forward toward the cake. I like to have the faces close to the cake, so that their faces and the cake will both get the same amount of illumination from the flash. The leaning forward also helps to give the photograph a sense of action, as well as more of an unposed look. (#15)

These, of course, are usually followed by cake-feeding pictures. In doing those I usually have the groom hold up a single piece of cake between the two of them. Then, I ask them both to put their faces together--as close to the piece of cake as they can--and to open their eyes and mouths wide and look at the camera. A cute shot and a sure-seller. Of course, you can also have individual cake feeding pictures, too, if you so choose.


Color Richness
For scenic pictures you usually want to get deep, rich color. The way to do this is to expose for bright sunshine when you're in an environment that's as brightly lit as this beach scene. (#16)

Here, my camera was either set on automatic to record the scene or I had the exposure cut way down to 1/250 at f/16. I can't remember which. The flash, of course, was set all the way up to f/16. If you don't have enough light on the flash to open up the shadows the picture will look washed-out when you're printing for detail in the faces.

Yes, I asked him to pick up his wife. I also asked her to point her toe. A small but nice touch to the picture. You could have them look at each other or look at the camera. One or the other.

Do one thing in particular, however. When you're getting a horizon line in a picture like this, be sure to pay particular attention to it. Get it level, or be prepared to straighten it in Photoshop. That's what I did for these. I found it too difficult to pay attention to keep the line straight while I was actually taking the pictures.


Also, try not to let the horizon line cut right through the middle of your subjects' heads. And, finally, try to keep the horizon line from cutting the picture right through the center. A little bit above or below the center of your pictures is much better. (#17)

When you have someone walking in your photographs as I've done here, allow a little extra space in front of them in the direction that they're walking. That way, it doesn't appear as if they're walking out of the photograph.

A moment's hesitation, a glance between the two of them and a couple of additional pictures€ (#18)

Notice, again, how I've kept their bodies at a 45 angle to each other and have their bodies connected to form a good base for the two profiles. Notice, too, how much nicer it is to have them almost kissing, rather than to have their lips actually connected.


A brief, stolen moment between them, but captured for posterity. (#19) (#20)

Wrapping Up A Perfect Day
I just had to get a few more pictures of the bride and groom. The wind had picked up. I saw that the camera was still recording images, regardless of how dark it had gotten. How about another full-length of the two of them, both up on the pier? (#21)

The final picture of this series was actually made just as the sun was going down below the horizon. I just blocked the sun with the couple, exposed for the still fairly-bright sky and placed the bride and groom in silhouette. I think that I actually set the automatic exposure on my Canon D30 camera to go one f/stop below normal exposure. Hence, the added color in the sky. (#22)

But that's another whole story, isn't it?

Yes, you can have big sales from little weddings. You just need to think about it a little. How many ways can you combine people in photographs and still keep it interesting?

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