6 Tips to Heighten Your Wedding Photo Creativity

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We asked a group of highly regarded wedding photographers for thoughtful tips on how to expand, sharpen, and maintain their creative approach to wedding photography. After getting a lot of great insight, we narrowed the pile down to six tips to pass along to you.

1. Workshops/Mentoring

No matter what you do for a living, there is often a tendency to think that you have reached the peak of your game and that your skills can no longer be sharpened. Experts will always disagree with that notion, and so do the wedding photographers with whom we spoke. Many of them said that one way they keep the creative edge was to attend photography workshops. Westchester, New York’s Jesse Rinka says, “No matter what level you may be at in your career, there is always room to grow. It’s important to have an open mind at all times. Attending a workshop can instill within you new ideas and new ways of thinking. Be willing to learn and accept that there are more ways than just your own to achieve stunning results.” Also, look for one-on-one mentoring sessions with workshop instructors—sometimes offered as an add-on bonus to a workshop.

Additionally, many schools offer classes in new software and tools for photographers to discover online.

2. Experiment: Gear

Let us be clear about one thing: a live wedding is NOT the time for you to try out some new lighting gear, lens, or remote trigger. You need to practice with the new stuff in the comfort of your own home or studio before using it, when you are getting paid to get good results.

However, many wedding pros recommend changing lenses or acquiring new gear to improve the final results. The experiment might be to just swap your wide-angle shot for a telephoto and see how that changes your perspective. Wedding shooter Lori Waltenbury, from Ontario, Canada, says, “Experiment on your own time, go out for a walk with your camera, try new angles, try new techniques. My favorite new thing is shooting with textured glass covering a portion of my lens!” 

3. Experiment: Shooting

Changing up your gear may inspire a different approach to your photography, but you can always make creative strides with the gear you already have. San Diego Photographer Sarah Williams suggests setting your camera’s LCD to review your images in monochrome while you shoot color RAW files to allow you to see light and contrast differently in the image. Of course, verify your settings at home to make sure you are saving color images. She also recommends changing your physical perspective at the venue by not standing where everyone else is standing while using your surroundings to shoot through or incorporate inanimate objects in the scene. Short in stature? Warren, Ohio wedding pro Nicki Hufford brings a stool to her shoots to change her perspective.

Eric McCallister, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, suggests that you can, “Challenge yourself to shoot something just for yourself on the wedding day. If there's a specific style of portrait you admire—maybe a classic shot of George Clooney adjusting his bow tie, for example—take five minutes with your groom and make it happen. Try to shoot one or two images that push you to try something outside of your repertoire.”

Andre Reichmann, from New York City, says, “Be bold. Don’t be afraid to ask to borrow an ice cream truck for a great photo op.”

4. Second Shooter

Do you have a free weekend? Many wedding photographers suggest that you should take a break from being the primary shooter at a venue and join another photographer to work an event as the second shooter. They emphasize that other wedding shooters are NOT the enemy and that everyone can learn from others. Rinka says, “Some of my favorite images have come from working as a second photographer. This will also give you a chance to network with another photographer in the industry and by doing so, you may end up making connections that not only may lead to more work/referrals but also, by combining the minds of two creatives, you may end up learning some new techniques that you can put to use to enhance your own business. “

McCallister adds that you should work with other photographers whose work you admire. “I find it invaluable to observe how others work, bounce ideas off of them, and at the end of the day, look through their files. It's always eye-opening to "look through" someone else's lens who was watching the same scene unfold.”

5. Other Sources of Inspiration

All artists, not just wedding photographers, can fill their creative wells with inspiration from other sources of art and photography. San Diego wedding photographer Alex Oat says that she often scans non-wedding periodicals like “Interview Magazine, Vogue, W, etc.” New York City wedding photographer Ryan Brenizer states, “You are what you eat—look at a LOT of good photography. Not just current wedding photographers but also old masters. Pinterest is a surprisingly good place to find work of popular photographers from any era and just obsessing over news-feed photos can teach a lot about the grammar of photojournalism.”

6. Side Projects / Contests

Shooting similar subject matter repetitively can leave an artist a bit burned out and their work stale. How do you avoid this? Jesse Rinka suggests tackling a 365-day or 52-week Project where you create one unique and creative image every day, or every week, for a year. “Forcing yourself to come up with a unique and creative idea each day is a great exercise and although each day’s photo might not be something you are totally satisfied with, you will not believe how much you are actually learning just through trial and error,” he says.

Discussion 27

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Hey Todd! Awesome list, love it. I've been shooting for 10 years and totally understand that it can get repetitive, so that's for the inspiration. If there are any beginner wedding photographers out there, I wrote a really cool article discussing (in my opinion) the Top 5 MOST IMPORTANT wedding photography tips that you need to know and implement before shooting your first wedding! Might be worth a read for any beginners out there :)

http://weddings.epicphotography.com.au/top-5-most-important-wedding-photography-tips-you-need-to-know-before-photographing-your-first-wedding/ 

Thanks again Todd! Love your articles :)

Thanks, Chris! I am glad you enjoyed the article(s). Thanks for the link, too!

See you next time!

sir,

i am still film so there is no way for me to check if my exposure is good or not.  i need your expert advise because i am in a situation wherein i would like to take a good portrait photo and my subject's face is at f11 1/60 and his shirt is at f8 1/15 according to my meter.  now, what would be your expert tip or advise for me?

thanks

andrew

 

Hilarious. I hope you haven't been waiting an hour next to your portrait subject for a response here. Certainly it's rhetorical!

I'm not sure what style you're trying for, Mr. Arevalo, but I normally don't shoot a portrait anywhere above f4. It also helps to get meter readings at the same aperture, so that you're comparing apples to apples when choosing a shutter speed.

Given the readings, I'd advise you to open up your aperture, overexpose the face 1 stop (the film can handle it). That should give you 1/500 sec. @ f2.8, or 1/250 sec. @ f4.0.

Hello Andrew and John,

Looks like John has some sound advice! 

Also, depending on the meter you are using, you can set the meter to give you a shutter speed for a constant aperture. This way, you can meter off different parts of your subject and then average the shutter speeds for a more balanced exposure. This will simplify your math and EV calculations.

Good luck!

thanks a lot for your professional opinion.  what i am trying to say about the zone system implemented by ansel adams.  and the scenario of f11 1/60 the amount of light that falls on the white's man face and the jacket is metered at f8 1/15.  so, taken from these examples there 3 variance of exposures.  that is all i am asking.

thanks again for your response.

andrew

Hi Andrew,

You have a 3-stop range to contend with here. You could certainly bracket the exposures by one stop above and a median exposure and hope that you get a good balance between the jacket and face.

I hope this helps! Thanks!

i think bracket shots are easily done in HDR in digital photography but it is hard to develop and print the over/under exposure in film.

thanks again for the response.

Hi Andrew,

Depending on your camera, you can set an exposure and then have the camera automatically bracket two other shots for you - one over and one under the baseline exposure. The camera will take three shots in quick succession at three different exposures.

Good luck!

thanks for the advise...

Andrew,

Thanks for reading!

Thank you for the information, it is priceless to me. I am starting to get into photography and there is more that it seems.  I pick up my first camera 25 years ago and since I am unable to work it has inspired me to get back into it. Thanks again for your insight to photo shooting.

Hi George,

Thanks for reading! I'll have to deflect your inspiration from this article back to those wedding photographers who shared their insight and work with B&H!

While I'm not a professional wedding photographer I've taken a lot of weddings.  I'm surprised though as to how many portfolios that I view from professionals that include photos of the back of the bride?  This begs for the question "Who is that young lady in a white dress?"  Why is this still popular?  I've even seen where the groom's face is made more predominate than the bride's face?  The wedding is all about the bride......plain and simple.  Photos should always be such that you can recognize who is in the photo and not just another person in a white dress.  

By the way I enjoyed reading your tips.  As stated you can never learn enough about photography.  

Good point, Bob! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  I agree with you and have just come from viewing a friends engaement images and was dubstruck by this exact thing. I wonder to myself if these photographers that feature the groom are women shooters as is the case for my friend?  Hard lesson after the fact, - dont get me wrong there are plenty of great groom moments worthy of framing, after all its two in a relationship - capturing the right balance is everything!

Thanks for reading and commenting, Kelly! 

I did a wedding in 1998 and the bride said, I never saw how the back of my dress looked. So every wedding that I did after that I always make sure to get at least one shot of the bride from behind

Good tip, David! Thanks for reading!

Last year I promised myself that I would create a drawing based on events each day for a year as Jesse Rinka suggests. It took some dedication but after 365 days I had a portfolio that I always enjoy returning to. Pick a theme and spend time exploring that theme with your camera over the long haul. 

Thanks for sharing, Jody! Congrats on finishing a 365 project!

gracias por el aritculo es muy util y me sirvio pára Aumentar la creatividad pára las fotografias y desde hoy voy a empesar con hacer toma distintas en cada evento 

edward,

Bienvenido! Gracias por leer el B&H blog! Buena suerte!

todas estas aclaraciones hacen parte de mi forma de pensar sobre la fotografia, por eso no soy egoista en mis exploraciones y alternativas que nos esta dando la fotografia digital porque hay colegas que no comparten sus alcances pero si estan a la espectativa de los demas, muchas gracias por compartir estas ideas......

carlos,

Gracias por leer y gracias por las amables palabras!

I love the idea of being the second photographer. I just need to know how to approach the main photographer. Do you have any suggestions?

Hey Geraldine,

I am not in the field, but, based on experiences I have had with other photographers, my advice would be to find a local wedding photographer whose work you admire and simply contact them and inquire about assisting. Be up-front with them by letting them know your goals and what you want the end result to be, and if they are receptive, great. If they are not, try someone else and remember the experience for when someone in the future asks you the same thing!

Feel free to mention the article to them and the photographers that took part in the piece.

Thanks for reading!