During the shoot
Shoot in JPEG
“I only shoot in JPEG for weddings,” notes James. “The speed at which I shoot, and my editing process afterwards, dictates this. JPEG means I can shoot at about 1,500 shots per hour, and there’s no way I could do that in raw format. So I use the finest, largest JPEG setting and set the pixel count to 8 million, which is fine. Nobody wants to print pictures big enough to cover a house!”
Look for neutral backgrounds
James often checks locations first thing, looking for areas within the ceremony grounds that have a neutral background. “It’s best to avoid photographing the bride and groom against the sky, because this presents too much of a dynamic range for your SLR to cope with. The church makes a perfect background because it’s neutral grey. Choose Evaluative or Matrix metering to get an even exposure.”
Pump up your ISO
“The way I shoot weddings is very rapid. Sometimes the bride and groom will do something you want to capture instantly, and you don’t want to be messing around with a slow shutter speed. I regularly shoot at ISO800, because it won’t change the quality that much and it gives you a much faster shutter speed.”
- Check out our guide to the Common mistakes at every shutter speed (and the best settings to use)
Bracket your exposure
Your DSLR will usually underexpose the bride’s white dress, making it appear grey. James’s advice is to try bracketing: “Your DSLR takes one shot at the correct exposure, one slightly overexposed and the other underexposed.
“For Gbenga to set bracketing on his 400D, he needs to go to the Menu, select AEB from the Camera2 tab and turn the input dial so the green bars are set to two thirds of a stop apart,” says James.
You can then choose the best-exposed photograph of the three. James also told Gbenga to switch to Continuous Shooting mode and that bracketing must be reset when he changes his lens or card.
Indoor shooting checklist
A professional photographer sticks to these rules during the ceremony, says James
- Set the ISO to 800
- Custom set the white balance (see right)
- Shoot handheld in Manual, no slower than 1/50 sec
- Use a fast prime lens with a wide aperture
Outdoor portrait photography checklist
James’s tips for when the couple leave the church…
- Set the ISO anywhere between 200 and 800
- Set the White Balance to Cloudy for better tones
- Shoot handheld in Av, usually at f/8 for sharpness
- Bracket shots 2/3 of a stop apart
- Use a 28-300mm lens for maximum versatility.