Shooting the Wedding Reception

Wedding reception photography is about capturing moments for the couple, as well as documenting the events. Wedding reception photography can be a challenge since the lighting may not be as ideal, there are a lot of things going on (eating, drinking, dancing and speeches) and everyone is in a party mood.

Here are a few tips you can take note of to capture the best wedding reception shots:

  • Ask for a coordinator for family photos. You don’t know who Aunt Leila is or who else should be in the photo of the groom’s extended family. To help you keep things going and ensure that family photos are complete, ask the couple to assign a coordinator for the family photos. Ideally, you should have one from both the groom and the bride’s side so that they are familiar with the family members. They can be the one who will cue family members so that they are in line for the next photo. This way, taking the family photos go more quickly.
  • Have a shot list. This way, you don’t forget a shot. Your list should include:
    • The receiving line
    • The couple’s entrance
    • The tables and their occupants
    • Couples with the guests at the different tables
    • Dances (bride with her father and groom with his mom)
    • People shimmying it up at the dance floor
    • The band playing
    • The details of the reception (i.e. table décor and settings, the wedding cake, flowers, place cards, wedding favors, menus, sweetheart table, lighting, etc.)
    • The events of the reception. This includes the bouquet and garter toss, the cutting of the cake and the toasts given by the entourage.
    • Kids enjoying the dessert bar
    • The food and drinks. If dinner is served via a buffet, take pictures of the buffet and dessert tables before dinner has started.
  • Offer a photo booth. If you have the team, it will be good to include the photo booth in your package. This adds value to your deals. Have a number of props ready for the photo booth. For instance, have a number of empty vintage oval picture frames that they can hold up as guests strike a pose. Other props include fake mustaches, crazy wigs and short quotes.
  • Display your shots. If you took the couple’s pre-nuptial photos, the reception area would be a good opportunity to display these. You can stage your shots, which are professionally framed in antique wood picture frames or contemporary ones. This can be your “calling card” for future wedding photography gigs. The same goes for shots of the wedding ceremony.Ask if a projector can be used for shots you have taken earlier during the ceremony.
  • Study the lighting and prepare. Ideally, you should have made a site visit and studied which lighting tools you need. However, this may not be entirely possible so be sure to bring the necessities such as a nice flash, a handheld video light and diffuser. Also, remember that indoor and outdoor locations will need different lighting equipment. If you cannot scout the wedding reception venue, try to Google it to see the overall layout of the space.
  • Try to get some elevation. Stand on a chair, or if you can find one, use a stepladder. You can also add this in your photographer’s toolkit. The elevated angles can help you get those “cinematically sweeping” shots. 
8th May 2017

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