Getting Great Wedding Photos

Most wedding photographers will create to a wide variety of styles and techniques drawn from other areas of photographic practice in order to fully capture all of the detail and joy of a wedding.

Wedding photography covers both photographs of the couple before marriage (for announcements, portrait displays, or thank you cards) as well as coverage of the wedding and reception also sometimes referred to as the wedding breakfast in non-US countries. It is a major commercial endeavor that supports the bulk of the efforts for many photography studios or independent photographers.

Bridal Portraits: Dan Doke with the Tamron 28-75mm Lens

  There are three primary approaches to wedding photography that are recognized today: Traditional Photojournalistic and Fashion-based. Traditional wedding photography provides for more classically posed images and a great deal of photographer control and interaction on the day of the wedding. Photojournalistic wedding photography takes its cue from editorial reporting styles and focuses more on candid and unposed images with little photographer interaction. These are extremes and many of today's photographers will fall somewhere in the middle of these styles.

The third style that is becoming more and more in demand is a fashion-based approach. In contemporary/fashion-based wedding photography, photojournalistic images of the events of the day are combined with posed images that are inspired by editorial fashion photography as would be found in magazines like Vogue or Vanity Fair.

1 of 4 Female wedding photographer on Morro Strand State Beach, Morro Bay, CA

This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License Author: Mike Baird

1 of 4 Female wedding photographer on Morro Strand State Beach, Morro Bay, CA

Camera Equipment:

Since each photographer has their own preferences,  let' start with the best quality first: 8x10 or 4x5 or view cameras. Those cameras are the oldest models on earth, however they are still widely used in commercial photography.

Large format

Large format cameras are stationary and must to be installed before use. The advantage of these cameras is the ability to record images on 4" x 5" or 8" x 10" negative size, which gives the ability to make huge enlargements. Images can be enlarged and mounted on billboards, buildings, freeways, etc.,. These cameras also use superb lenses, with guaranteed excellent contrast and sharpness.

Another advantage of this type of photo equipment is ability to manipulate with image during the actual shot by changing angle of the negative position therefore changing the light angle coming in. When used professionally, this equipment  creates heart-beating effects in your photographs. 4x5 cameras also known as large format cameras are rarely used for photographing weddings because of their huge sizes, installation and reloading time. They are many times less flexible than a 35mm, medium or digital camera.

A film sheet needs to be reloaded before each shot. This severely limits the use of the camera for only formal shots. The main use of this camera is in static commercial studio photography. Another disadvantage is the high cost per image shot. Imagine that every picture would cost around $20 and this is prior to any photographer fees.

Medium format

This format is smaller (2.25" x 2.25") than 4 x 5, but still produces relatively large film negatives. These type of cameras also have a wide variety of lenses available. Medium format cameras are still used by some wedding photographers.

The advantage of medium format is high resolution. Its 2.25" x 2.25" negative size is roughly three times larger than 35 mm negatives, and images up to 20 " x 30" can be made without loss of detail. Some professionals believe that the medium format creates much sharper and clearer photographs than 35mm, even when it comes to small images. Medium format cameras use twelve or twenty four exposure rolls of film. Reloading takes only a few minutes, depending on the camera model and the photographer's skills. While medium format cameras can be used in traditional wedding photography with excellent results, 35mm or 35mm DSLR equipment is now preferred by most wedding photographers.


Over the past decade, 35mm cameras have become increasingly popular among wedding photography as a result of significant improvements in film, camera and lens quality. These small, yet professional cameras are much more convenient to use and with much faster shooting.

35mm cameras are compact, fast and light, qualities that are of tremendous importance for event photography. Reloading can be done in seconds, and each roll of film holds up to 36 frames, which means that fewer shots will be missed while reloading. The lenses made for newer 35mm cameras are sharp and fast.

Detailed prints can be made up to 20" x 30" using the sharpest 35mm film, but most people never consider ordering images this large. Most photo albums accept a maximum photograph size of 8"x10". Coupled with 35mm low cost and flexibility, is the reason for the 35mm camera's use in wedding photography.


The recent and very powerful competitor in wedding photography is of course the 35mm digital camera. Just as negative size determines picture quality in film photography, size of the sensor, or number of pixels, determines the quality in digital photography. Digital camera sensor quality has improved dramatically, increasing from the 640 x 480 or 0.309 Megapixels cameras of just a few years ago to 40 Megapixels or even bigger sensor sizes today, yielding extremely sharp images that can be enlarged even to a wall sizes (depending upon the camera).

Digital photo equipment has many technological advantages over film cameras: Zero reloading time, no processing or scanning and perhaps the most important (unlike film) the photographer can set the sensitivity (ISO) on the fly.

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