My Wedding Photography Approach
Wedding ceremonies can be a challenge to photograph, requiring a delicate balancing act between being as discrete and unobtrusive as possible, while also capturing the beautiful and memorable pictures that my couples expect.
For church ceremonies, I will usually shoot with flash during the processional (and recessional), but then shoot with just the available light the rest of the time. I'll be at the first pew (nearest the altar) during the processional, and then for the rest of the ceremony I'll be off to the sides and at the rear of the church, sometimes moving about halfway up the center aisle for capturing certain key moments, such as the exchange of rings or the first kiss. This approach generally meets the approval of most churches, though some occasionally have more restrictive rules that require me to only shoot from the back of the church.
For ceremonies taking place in other locations, such as a hotel courtyard or ballroom, a park, or a dedicated event venue, I'll typically have to allow myself a bit more leeway in terms of movement and use of flash.While being unobtrusive is always my top priority, in many cases the setup for these ceremonies does require me to be a bit more visible than I ordinarily would be at a more spacious church.
Similarly, while the altar of most churches will usually be reasonably well-lit, lighting conditions in other indoor venues may dictate that I supplement it with my equipment. Photographing ceremonies outside at night almost always requires some use of flash, usually by employing strategically-positioned remote flashes on light stands.
Regardless of the venue, I always strive to achieve a balance between discretion and thoroughness, as well as the even more delicate balancing of capturing well-lit, pleasing photographs that also accurately represent the natural ambiance of the location and decor.
Formal Group Shots
If there is one common thing that I hear frequently from most of my couples, it's that they do not want to spend an excessive amount of time doing formal group photos. My goal is to finish these as quickly as possible so that you don't miss too much of your reception (or cocktail hour). Depending on the number of groupings, I usually expect these to take 15-20 minutes.
Another option to alleviate this potential source of wedding day stress is to have a first look, enabling us to get all of these shots done before the ceremony, which means afterward you can go right to the reception without delay.
While wedding ceremonies, especially in a church, require a stealthy approach, there is generally no such expectation during a reception, where the festive and chaotic atmosphere, loud music from the band or DJ, flashing lights, and guest activity will make my movements and use of flash generally unnoticeable.
Still, I prefer to candidly capture natural moments that occur during the course of the event. Obviously the dance floor is where most of the action takes place, and much of my coverage is focused in this area. But I do also periodically roam around the other areas of the venue in search of people mingling and talking.
And while the bulk of my wedding photography coverage is photojournalistic in nature, I am perfectly fine with brides, grooms, or guests seeking me out to request informal group shots (friends from college, co-workers, more distant relatives, etc.) during the reception.