Waiting for the moment – not overshooting when photographing a wedding.

One of the first questions potential clients often ask is how many photos they will receive after their wedding. They are often surprised when I tell them I usually give clients between 300 – 350 images. Many photographers offer clients over 700 images, but (as I  explain) if I placed 300 6×4 prints on the table in front of them, they would think that was plenty of images to tell the story of their wedding day.

The other side of that initial perception is that wedding photographers now take a lot more photos. The average is well over 1,000 a wedding, I even met one photographer who admitted to taking over 2,000 images – shots that will all need sifting through and editing afterward. In the ‘old days’ of film, taking a thousand photos at a wedding just wasn’t an option for the photographer. Aside from requiring lots of changes of film, there was the physical cost of developing every single photo. However, film is not as dead as many people think.

Riccis Valladares, an incredibly talented destination wedding photographer, has recently gone back to using film. Here’s an image of a full set of wedding photos…

If every shot costs you money you will take less photos. In digital photography the shot isn’t free either though, as it costs the photographer’s editing time. So how do you take less shots when photographing a wedding, but still produce a quality product? Simple: wait for the moment.

Waiting for the moment

That ‘perfect moment’ at a wedding is an absolute joy to photograph…

Capturing that moment doesn’t mean you have to take lots of shots. I shoot about 600 images a wedding and hand about 350 to my clients. Firstly, understand your equipment. Know exactly when your shutter clicks and don’t waste three shots to ‘make sure’, just shoot one at the right moment. Secondly don’t take a shot you know isn’t special. Look for framing, light, expression and colour and if you haven’t got at least two of those elements then you’ll be unlikely to keep the image once you get it up on the computer screen at home. Ideally every shot should be a composition of light and framing, with the expression and colour the final icing on the cake.

This photo was from one shot. Just as the bride and groom left the church I spotted the bride moving towards her husband, so I moved closer and across to try and frame the couple in the doorway, whilst watching the movement of the others behind. I took one shot as the bride and groom kissed, very aware that the bride’s father was in the background. The reason it’s a good photo is the combination of storytelling elements, combined with the framing. I knew I’d got the shot, and there was no need to take another one from that position, so I moved elsewhere to capture something else.

Being confident in the shots you have is key to taking less. If you know you’ve nailed a moment then back yourself to leave it at that moment, don’t give yourself more photos that you’ll just have to go through and delete later.

If you’re used to taking a lot of shots then shooting less will require a lot of discipline. I was lucky, as I come from a film background my tendency has always been to under, rather than overshoot. However, taking fewer photos is well worth the effort. It makes your photography more focused and will save you hours in post production.

I’d love some feedback on what you think of this post, if you’ve got any questions or thoughts do comment.

To see more of my work visit www.charlwoodphotography.com


About David Charlwood

I am a professional photographer, specialising in weddings, working across the UK, based in the South East. View all posts by David Charlwood

4 responses to “Waiting for the moment – not overshooting when photographing a wedding.

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