Many photographers have a certain style when it comes to photographing weddings, and that has a lot to do with their own personal tastes as artists. Having the right equipment can help you fulfill your style. Cameras, lighting, and lenses all work together to help make your style the way it is.
I love photographing weddings and having the freedom to change my technique at each event, and I feel the thing that changes my look the most is the lens that I choose to use. I have a selection of Sigma primes in my bag at all times, including the 35mm F1.4 | Art, 50mm F1.4 | Art, and 85mm F1.4 DG HSM.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | Being a professional photographer means paying attention to little details and fine-tuning them to make a better image. For this first photograph, I turned on the lamp in the background and placed the bouquet on the table for accent. I then placed the veil over the hanger so that it would be less distracting. To light the dress I chose to use a constant light so that the videographer and myself could shoot at the same time. I used the 35mm 1.4 set to aperture priority because that lens gives me the ability to shoot in a smaller room and I am still able to get a full-length shot. I am also able to blur any distracting elements in the background with the 1.4 aperture.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | The bride would like to have a picture for her new husband, so I suggest that she sits on the bed before she puts the dress on. This makes it feel almost like a boudoir shoot.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | I have the bride fix her earrings, hair, and veil for little detail shots. The most important thing is keeping the bride away from the background and using the lens at 1.4 to eliminate any distracting elements. By using constant lights instead of flash, we can quickly position the light where we need it to get our shot. The lights, bed frame, and bouquets frame your subject for a pleasing finished look.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | Here’s a look at a last minute photo in the hotel lobby. I chose to stick with a tungsten light in order to match the chandeliers. A very important point for this image is to keep my camera level to avoid distortion. Notice that the lines in the walls go straight up and down. I am still using the 35mm 1.4 at f1.4 to blur the background.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | This photo shows importance of having multiple primes. If I had kept using the 35mm like I did with the bride, then the entrance of the golf course would be very distracting in the top left corner. On the other hand, if I would have used the 85mm I would have compressed the background so much that there really wouldn’t any point of the groom being on a fountain since you wouldn’t be able see it. That is why I chose the 50mm, which is the best of both worlds. You still get the 1.4 aperture and you see just as much of the background as you need to tell the story.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | There is one big difference between portrait and fashion photographers: depth of field. Fashion photos like to use shallow DOF in order to make the model and clothes stand out. Portrait photographers like to shoot at f/8 and use the whole scene to tell their story. I choose which style I am going to use by getting a feel for the bride and groom. If a wedding is more traditional I generally use a larger f-stop whereas if the wedding is laid back and modern I like to have fun using shallow depth of field.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | I put the groom and his groomsmen in the open shade on the north side of the building. For this group shot I used the 24-105 because I had already changed it in getting ready for the ceremony. I shot at 24mm down low and close to them in order to get a hero type shot with the large pillars. Shooting up with a wide-angle lens makes for a very dramatic shot.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | Now we come to the ceremony. I am not in a large church where the 70-200 would be the ideal lens and I had to keep in mind I was the only shooter at this wedding. I couldn’t rely on a second shooter to get a wide while I get a close. I need a lens that can do everything, and that is where the 24-105 comes into play. I knew I had to zoom out as she was walking down the aisle in order to keep her fully within my frame. The focal range and quick autofocus abilities that this lens has makes it an ideal candidate for a smaller wedding.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | The ceremony and reception both took place at the golf course, so after the “I do’s,” we set out to find some cool locations on the course. We went out on a golf cart so there really wasn’t enough room to bring a camera bag, so this meant I needed a lens that would do it all; wide scenic shots and close personal shots. My choice was obvious; I would keep using the 24-105. This giant oak tree immediately caught my attention, so I placed the subjects in front of the tree yet slightly off center so it didn’t seem like it was growing out of their heads. Having the bride and groom walk towards me while looking at each other really makes for a beautiful image.
© 2015 James Schmelzer
© 2015 James Schmelzer
These two images above show what this lens can really do. I didn’t move from my position, zoomed in to 105 for the first image and then widened out to 24 for the second. There is such a difference between the two images just because of the lens and focal length. It really is incredible.
© 2015 James Schmelzer | The last image is of the groom dipping the bride. I like to keep the couple in front of the bridge instead of on it, so that the dress is not blocked. I framed them with the tree and used the leading lines on the bridge to focus all of your attention on the bride and groom.