The number of wedding photographers in India is almost unfathomable. Weddings, being a seasonal affair, provide the enthusiast photographer an excellent avenue to cash in on his hobby.
However, wedding photography is not as easy as it seems and given the importance of the event almost suicidal to mess up. It is important, therefore, that wedding photographers make a lot of preparation in order to avoid pitfalls that are typical to this aspect of photography.
1. Ideally, the person engaging the wedding photographer should be the bride or bridegroom or their parents. It is important to understand their requirements and expectations before accepting the engagement. The photographer’s fee should also be outlined very clearly and if necessary, conﬁ rmation for the same should be obtained.
2. Preparing for the big day in advance is very important. If possible, the venue of the wedding should be visited to discover vantage points for photography as also any problems that may arise. Religious sensitivities of the wedding family also have to be taken into account. For instance, there may be some restrictions on photography during the wedding service. The size of the wedding venue along with the seating plan will give the photographer a good idea of what is required.
3. Getting ready with the equipment – Most, if not all, wedding photographers these days are equipped with D SLR cameras along with a battery of lenses. A Canon or Nikon D SLR along with ﬂ ash guns and a good standard zoom (say, a 24-105mm) should be adequate for most purposes. More importantly, the photographer should carry things like spare batteries, memory cards, and white balance cards in order to be equipped to cope with any situation. It would also be a wise thing to clean all the lenses and cover them with protective ﬁ lters before the event. A lens cleaning cloth should always be kept handy.
4. Background – Most Indian weddings have a ﬂ oral background. This can add or subtract to the picture depending on the angle of lighting etc. Whilst a lot can be done through editing software, it is better that you shoot the pictures initially in such a manner that offending or inadvertently appearing backgrounds are removed.
5. Usage of Flash – Most weddings in India take place at what are considered to be auspicious times. This can range, therefore, from any time in the morning to late evenings. Depending on the hour of the day and the venue, the photographer will have to be equipped with a variety of ﬂ ash guns or studio lights. Fill-in ﬂ ash can also be very useful when taking intimate portraits of the bridal couple. For evening weddings, the use of studio lights is recommended to achieve uniform lighting.
6. Avoiding Red Eye and Blinking – If shooting indoors, red eye can become a big issue and the effect of red eye is more prominent, the closer the camera to the ﬂ ash. The ﬂ ashgun should be set in the anti red eye mode, which works by ﬁ ring a series of pre-ﬂ ashes which gets human eyes’ pupil to reduce in size thereby avoiding the occurrence of red eye. Red eye, of course, can also be removed in photoshop so can blinking.
7. Timing - Most weddings have their special moments and the photographer has to be ready to capture them. A moment missed is a moment missed for ever. Moments like the ﬁ rst kiss or ﬁ rst dance needed to be captured the moment they occur and any delay on this front would not be acceptable.
8. Add to the event – Whilst the wedding couple is of prime importance, it is also important to get a ﬂ avor of the environment and the ambience of the event. It is, therefore, important to capture the reactions of the people present as also little details that serve as a reminder of the day.
9. Keep your exposure right – This means trusting your exposure meter. For this reason, never take a new camera to a wedding. You should know your camera inside out so as to feel comfortable using it. Important settings like ISO and white balance need to be determined in advance. Most brides dress in white. It is, therefore, important that the camera’s white balance is set correctly. It would be a good idea to take a spot meter reading from the bride’s sari or gown. Try and avoid high contrast scenes which may create burning out of highlights. The dynamic range of your camera should be clearly understood. It is also important to realize that dark shadows can be lifted a bit to reveal detail; burnt out highlights, however, are hopeless.
10. Post capture – Once the event is over, the pictures needed to be arranged in chronological order and set either in a photo album or a digital album. It would be a good idea to carry the album with you to the client along with your memo of fees.Remember, in wedding photography, advertising is not very effective; word of mouth recommendation works wonders. If you can keep your clients happy, you will have no shortage of work.