general philosophy to keep in mind


Photograph with intention & purpose.

While it's totally cool to overshoot (I'd rather that my 2nds have more than enough shots than not enough to work with), it's important to keep in mind the intention of your shots.


Will this shot help tell the story of the wedding day?

Is there meaning behind this particular detail or shot?


Lighting also plays a role. A well-lit photograph is important - always - but can also tell a bit more about the wedding day and the mood.


After thinking of the purpose and making sure the lighting is great, then think of ways to capture the shot and don't be afraid to get a little creative! Now, don't go super duper crazy and no need to overthink too much about taking funky and cool angles. A lot of the time, simplicity is enough such as changing your angle from a straight shot to pivoting to the left or right. We'll get into everything mentioned above with the visuals below.


Settings

We'll go over specific settings throughout the guide, but here are some settings that I keep at a constant (for the most part):

Aperture:

In general, my aperture stays between f1.8 and f2.4 to keep a shallow depth of field (blurred background, focused foreground/subject for portrait-like shots).

Any wider (below 1.8), the edges, and even the subject, can get too fuzzy, so try not to go below 1.8 unless it's intentional and wanna get artsy :)

For wide/landscape shots, especially a straight shot of the ceremony space, a smaller aperture - anywhere between f4 - f11 - helps make the scene crisp.

Shutter Speed:

Make sure it's faster than 1/125 or 1/250 (if you've got shaky hands) to avoid motion blur.

White Balance:

Auto white balance is perfectly okay - gives you less to mess with. But if you're the Kelvin-shooter type (like me, sometimes), I like it on the warmer side (between 6000K - 6500K).

Exposure:

In general, neutral or slightly underexposed.

For photos that are backlit, I properly expose (or slightly underexpose) the shadows because if I expose for the highlights, the shadows get too dark and then they get grainy when editing in post.

For photos that are directly lit, underexpose a bit for the highlights/whites so they don't get blown out.

Shooting Mode:

I go between Manual and Aperture Priority (Av), but feel free to use what you're used to.

Focusing Mode:

I use single point AF, but feel free to use whatever you're used to.

getting ready | people

In addition to the usual shots, make sure to also capture fun candids of the bride/groom/wedding party having a good time! No need to focus too much on getting formal group photos here - there will be time allocated to do those later on.

Settings

ISO: anywhere between 400 - 1250 depending on the lighting.

I'm not afraid of messing with grain, so feel free to go up to 2000 ISO if you have to.

getting ready | details


This goes beyond the typical dress/shoes/jewelry/cufflinks/etc. shots. Also capture details that tells more about the couple and their day. This could range from personalized gifts that their wedding party got, the MUAs set up, a bottle of champagne they're drinking, or a personal dessert platter that was delivered to them. Okay, that last one was super specific because it was an unexpected part of the day that actually happened (you'll see it in the photos below) lol but you get the idea.

Settings

ISO: anywhere between 400 - 1250 depending on the lighting.

I'm not afraid of messing with grain, so feel free to go up to 2000 ISO if you have to.

Venue | details


from Wide, medium, to tight shots

Settings

ISO: anywhere between 100 - 400 if it's not too overcast.

Aperture: can be closed down between f4 - f8 to make the scenery crisp. But don't forget to open it back up!

ceremony | details


WIDE SHOTS

Settings

ISO: anywhere between 100 - 400 if it's not too overcast.

Aperture: can be closed down between f4 - f8 to make the scenery crisp. But don't forget to open it back up!

MEDIUM SHOTS

Settings

ISO: anywhere between 100 - 400 if it's not too overcast.

TIGHT SHOTS

Settings

ISO: anywhere between 100 - 400 if it's not too overcast.

ceremony


Guests arriving

Before the ceremony when people start entering the space, capture candids - sometimes fun things happen :)

Settings

ISO: anywhere between 100 - 400 if it's not too overcast.

processional

I usually have my 2nds capture the processional where they have a clear view of where everyone is coming out. I preferably like medium shots here, but feel free to go wide. If you have two bodies, one can have the 35mm and the other with the 50mm.


When the bride goes down the aisle, capture wide and medium shots from behind.


Settings

ISO: anywhere between 100 - 400 if it's not too overcast.

Aperture: opened back up between f1.8 - f2.2

throughout the ceremony

Mainly focus on the guests and reactions especially of the parents, bridal party and grandparents, and alternate angles + wide shots of the ceremony space.

Preferred: wide (24 or 35) and zoom (50 or 85)

vows

Focus on the groom and guests who are within your view.

exchange of rings and first kiss

We'll be at the aisle together and I'll have the 2nd capture the wider shots.

Below is a wide vs medium shot (what I will capture).

Recessional

Capture wide shots and the bridal party exiting

(below is one example of a medium vs wide shot of the bride/groom exiting for comparison)

portraits | groom, bridal party, family

Stick to vertical shots, unless the group is super wide, then shoot horizontally.


I assign 2nds to take photos of the groom/bride #2 and their side of the wedding party.

Groom photos: capture wide, medium, and tight. They deserve a buncha photos too! :)

Bridal Party: Formal and fun shots.


Family photos will be assigned if the couple wants to do some family photos separately.

cocktail hour & reception Details

During this time, I'm either taking the family photos or bridge & groom photos, which doesn't give me too much time to capture reception details and cocktail hour.

There is where 2nds come to the rescue!!

Cocktail hour: Capture a mix of candid (70% candid) + grab & grins (30% looking at the camera) + details (such as cocktail hour food/drinks)

Reception details: (you guessed it!) Wide, medium, tight shots.

Reception details | Wide shots

reception details | medium

Reception details | tight