How I Got into Wedding Photography
I chose wedding photography because there were no other style of photography that identifies me. I’ve always told people that if you choose your own photography niche (i.e. Wedding Photography) and have fun with it, success will come to you. I believe that all professional photographers started as photography fans. In my case, I had the desire to find new challenges like meeting new people, going to new places, growing professionally, etc. Photography has helped me in all that and has become part of my life. It’s not just about living with a camera in your hands for your whole life, it’s about how to frame the scene so that it captures the moment. And all those moments have helped me prepare for wedding photography.
Finding the Inspiration
Inspiration is not something that is premeditated. I go to weddings not knowing what I’ll do, what will happen at the place of ceremony, and what sort of emotions and gestures I will see – sadness, joy, laughter. You won’t know happens until it happens. Every wedding has its own spontaneous moments and nothing is more inspiring than that.
Choosing a location
Choosing a location to shoot is one of the main tasks of wedding photography. People should not underestimate the amount of time it takes to find a good location so some location scouting should be done ahead of time. You can either choose a quiet location with few distractions or a busy urban environment – it all depends on the personality of the couple.
My Most Important Wedding Photography Tip
It’s very important to pay attention to the gesture – when they move their arms, tilt their head, or touch their face. When clients look at the final prints, they don’t remember the photo for what happened, but what is felt. For me, it’s important to see this feeling being reflected in the picture.
Remember to Keep Improving
The best way to improve your photography skill, as I have always told people, is to surround yourself with good and professional colleagues. When you do this, you form a network of people who share the good and bad things they’ve learnt in their job. I don’t have a clear reference in the world of photography but I can teach an amateur to be the same as the best professionals. Sometimes I see photographers who reach a fixed number of customers for the year and think they can relax. I think we should never relax. You should always be learning new photography and post-processing techniques. Look at the works from other photographers and find out what you can learn from their works.
Questions People Ask Me
Something that’s very interesting during a wedding is what the people ask.
- “Why don’t you use flash?”
- “Why did you photograph in this position?”
- “How do you get that tone and lighting effect in your photos?”
I think the answer to all those questions is that I’m paying critical attention to light during the shoot. The rest comes with improvisation. When I ask another professional, he will tell me that it is difficult to explain. It is like choosing what’s better or worse. For me, I just try to get photos that impact people’s heart.
A Typical Wedding Day
Each wedding is a different world and working hours in this is highly variable. I’ll explain how a “common” wedding in the country where I live and work.
Scroll through the timeline below to see the breakdown of a typical wedding day.
- Wake up a good breakfast and shower. It is important to get ready for the day with your five senses open.
- I often go to see the bride and groom on their wedding hours prior to hairdressing, last minute shopping, relaxing to a cold beer, etc.
- I hope my cards are formatted, batteries charged, and lenses cleaned.
- I'm consistently find strength to face the day.
- I do a last minute review of all the important things I've written. These are information related to the life of the bride and groom, the talk we had previously, siblings and parents, which people are important, etc. We all understand that every guest is important, but it's evident that the closest people have to be shown more in the photos. The bride and groom tend to give me an overview of their relationship with the important guests and give me.
- I go to the groom's house and present myself to the family. I don't hesitate to tell them that I will shoot whatever they wish, but just don't panic if you see me acting like a guest. Watch out! Know that I'm the person who's working and keep the space around me free. It's important to for me to get good photos.
- I go to the bride's house and do exactly the same thing I did in the groom's house. Here I have more time to craft out the details of my photos. Generally, the bride and bridesmaids' wedding accessories are more abundant than the men. Therefore, I have to be more careful when photographing. I photograph everything that happens. I also give equal importance to the photo of the bride's father drinking a can of soda in the kitchen and the photo of the bride putting on her shoes. My photos have to add up to tell a story. Another thing I do is stay 5 minutes after the bride is dressed and ready to go. I talk to her with confidence and motivate her to enjoy her time.
- At the ceremony, I usually try to cause as little disturbance as possible without running out of good angles for photos. Keep in mind that the guests want to see the bride and groom - not the back of a photographer.
- When the ceremony ends, my camera is only focused on the newlyweds by immortalizing the congratulatory moment from the crowd.
- I don't usually keep taking pictures all day long - it's rare. The wedding is a special day for the bride and groom where it feels like the shortest day for them. I rather be with the guest at the cocktail before dinner. To make up for these missed photographs, I usually do a post-wedding session after they return from their honeymoon. For now, I only have 15-20 minutes with them so I try to get a few photographs but in fun ways (ex. photo of the newlyweds relaxing to a cool drink).
- It's full of spontaneous moments at the cocktail. Laughter, hugs, talks, etc. This is the moment where the couple and their family take advantage of me for group photos.
- At the dinner, many events happen. Nothing is premeditated. Sometimes this means no dinner for the photographer but it's fine. You should always be photographing the newly married couple and all the important guests. First, try to find the children - they are the most tender part of the wedding and the newlyweds will appreciate photos of them. For the rest, try to go unnoticed for the candid photos. This is when you shoot the photojournalistic wedding photos.
- It's the start of the first dance for the newlyweds. When they're done, it's the party. I never have a set time to end work. I'm always looking at the couple and guests for opportunities to get funny photos. Here, the standard protocol no longer exists - it's a party! Right now is the time when you can be carefree with your photos. When I think I have enough material to choose from, I spend 5 minutes with the bride and groom to give them a warm hug, a thank you, and I tell them to enjoy their "Honeymoon".
Manuel Orero Galan
Manuel Orero Galan is a freelance photographer based in De Valencia, Spain. In the last three years, he has experienced an amazing change and became internationally recognized in the Wedding Photography industry. You can see more of Manuel’s work on his website.