Wedding photography tips for beginners: How to avoid being an “Uncle Bob”

wedding photography tips for beginners
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We all love a good wedding. Beautiful locations, gorgeous dresses, stunning floral displays and reuniting with friends and family. A wedding is an occasion that just begs to be photographed! And although you might not be a pro photographer just yet, our wedding photography tips for beginners can help you get well on your way to capturing some gorgeous shots.

Most couples nowadays tend to book a professional wedding photographer, and there’s a term amongst the photography community that amateur photographers want to avoid falling into; Uncle Bob. An Uncle Bob is a friend or family member who is invited to the wedding as a guest, but nominates themselves the unofficial wedding photographer. They will usually turn up to the wedding with their own expensive photography equipment, and often get in the way of the professional photographer, ruining their shots and generally making their job much harder.

So if you’ve got a wedding coming up, make sure you don’t make an Uncle Bob of yourself! Read our photography tips for beginners before you pack your camera.

Amateur Wedding Photography Tips For Beginners

Ask Questions First, Shoot Later

Before you even think about co-ordinating your camera bag with your wedding outfit, ask the engaged couple for permission. “Unplugged” weddings are becoming increasingly popular, with many couples asking their guests to leave their phones, tablets and camerwedding photography tips for beginners: avoid being an uncle bobas at home. They may feel that taking photographs distracts guests from enjoying the wedding. So be respectful if the couple would rather you appreciate the wedding through your own eyes and not your lens.

Many churches and other venues also have strict policies on photography. In some cases photographers are only allowed to stand at the back or the front of the chapel. Some churches allow no photography inside the chapel at all. So avoid an awkward moment on the day, and make sure your camera is welcome in advance.

Leave Your Fancy Equipment At Home

Don’t be the faux-tographer! While many professional photographers don’t mind wedding guests taking their own pictures, almost all will draw the line at the guest who turns up with their own tripod, external lighting, and a selection of hefty lenses.

It’s important not to confuse the other guests. If you turn up with lots of expensive equipment, other guests may assume you’re the official photographer. They might pay more attention to posing for you than the person who’s actually paid to be there! Keeping your equipment to a minimum will avoid detracting attention from the real photographer, who has the couple’s requests to attend to.

Avoid The Accidental Photo Bomb

One of the most important wedding photography tips for beginners is to be aware of your own positioning. Don’t get so caught up in getting your shot that you block someone else’s. Nothing ruins the perfect picture like an extra camera lurking in the background! It’s understandable that you might want to capture the “big moments” too; the first kiss, or the bride walking down the aisle. But these moments only happen once, and will usually be at the very top of the professional photographer’s list. There’s many a time a professional photographer has despaired to find their perfect shot ruined thanks to Uncle Bob standing right behind the couple at a crucial moment.

The best way to avoid this is to simply be aware of the photographer at all times. Before you raise the camera to your face, check to see if you’re in their line of sight, and position yourself accordingly. Even if you’re sitting in your seat during the service, a shot of the bride walking down the aisle with her friends and family looking on can be ruined with faces hidden behind their own cameras.

This also applies to using a flash. If the lighting conditions aren’t great, especially during evening celebrations or in old churches with stained glass windows, a flash is going to be necessary for getting great pictures. However, the wedding photographer will be considering light while they set up and take every shot. An unexpected flash of light from your camera can disrupt their image.

Choose Your Photo Opportunities Wisely

Sometimes, it’s best not to photograph the big moments at all. The photographer will have met with the couple in advance, and discussed exactly what pictures they would like to have taken. So don’t worry too much about capturing the cake cutting or the first kiss as a married couple. The photographer’s got it covered! You don’t need to compete with them.

So what should you photograph instead?

Often at weddings, the newlyweds will spend some time alone with the photographer after the ceremony to pose for pictures. This is a great opportunity for you to shoot elsewhere around the location without getting in the photographer’s way. If your shutter finger is itching, why not explore the location for some picturesque spots to photograph? Alternatively, get some close-ups of the decor details and beautiful flower arrangements. It’s also a great time photograph your fellow wedding guests.

The great thing about being a wedding guest is that people are less likely to freeze into unnatural poses as soon as they spot you coming! They’re more likely to behave naturally, and this gives you a great opportunity to snap some candid moments. Look out for the flower girl sticking her nose up against a church window, the groomsmen having a cheeky swig from the hipflask, or the new mother-in-law gratefully taking her heels off for a few minutes.

Many people describe their wedding day as having flown by, or feel like they didn’t get enough time to spend with everybody at the wedding. So photographing these informal, unposed scenes can distil all those moments the couple might have missed in the excited blur of their big day.

Remember that every wedding guest is a person who is important to the couple in some way. The photographer is unlikely to be able to photograph everyone individually. So feel free to take some fun shots of people enjoying themselves. The newlyweds will love being able to look back at photographs of all of their friends and family having a great time on their special day.

One of the main things that sells a wedding photographer to their potential clients is their wedding portraits. Many photographers complain about putting their creative energy into posing, framing and lighting beautiful wedding portraits… only to have a guest with a camera shooting over their shoulder.

These portraits are often a chance for the photographer to work in their signature style, and develop more work for their portfolio or publication. They may even be selling their photographs individually to the couple after the day. So it’s unsurprising that they may not take too kindly to having their work copycatted. If they set up a beautiful shot and you snap away over their shoulder, you’re essentially stealing their work. If you really want to shoot the photographer’s set up, ask first! Otherwise respect their space, and find great shots for yourself.

Give The Newlyweds A Break

As previously mentioned, wedding days can be busy and hectic for couples. After spending the entire morning on their feet, and sometimes spending hours posing with the pro photographer, they might not be too thrilled about the idea of posing for even more pictures.

So why not look out for more candid shots? While the professional is busy posing bridesmaids, look out for the groom hugging his new mother-in-law, or crouch down for a sweet and spontaneous shot of the couple holding hands.

Similarly, remember that you’re the couples’ friend, and the photographer isn’t. You don’t need an artistic shot of them posing gracefully under the arbour, you can capture other shots the photographer can’t. An excited goofy grin at the camera, sharing a genuine laugh, or popping some silly dance moves long after the first dance is over. One take is all you need for a great candid shot full of personality.

These aren’t the shots the couple will ask their photographer for. Having them taken by you can help them remember their special day as the crazy, gorgeous and loved-up day it was.

Know When To Put Down The Camera

Remember that the couple have invited you because they want you to be a part of their big day. They want your face in their wedding pictures, not hidden by a camera. Taking your own pictures is a great way to remember the wedding day, but don’t forget to put the camera down and enjoy the day too.

Follow our photography tips for beginners, and you can get some great shots without stepping on the toes of the professional.

If you’d like to share your gorgeous pictures with the happy couple, turn them into a stunning gift with a CEWE PHOTOBOOK. They’ll love to see their big day from your unique creative perspective, beautifully printed.

If you’d like to make your gift extra special, take advantage of our Premium Wedding Photo Book Package. You can treat them to a hard cover CEWE PHOTOBOOK with embossed highlights, printed on photographic paper and all tucked up in a luxurious presentation box. All from just £49.99. It’s a beautiful way to say “thank you” for sharing their special day with you.


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