Understanding The Basics of Wedding Dance Photography
From the bride and groom’s first dance to parent dances and the guests on the open dance floor, pictures of people dancing always make for photographs that take the viewer back in time. Photos of your couple’s grandparents dancing will never fail to bring back a sense of nostalgia – a memory that only you can offer your couples. An image of their friend doing the splits in the middle of the dance floor will have them recall that story even years down the line. And this emotional connection that dance photos carry makes understanding the basics of wedding dance photography beneficial for your art and business. If that’s what you are looking for, check out our tips for catching people in action below!

5 Basic Wedding Dance Photography Tips

1. Get Familiar With the Timeline

Black and white photo of a bride and groom dancing on the dance floor at the wedding reception
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @trevorhooperphoto

One of the essential aspects of wedding dance photography is understanding the timeline. If you are familiar with the timeline, not only will you not miss out on any of the important dances, but you will most likely be able to manage your time better too. Moreover, make sure that the timeline you refer to is updated and in line with the one that the coordinator and the DJ or the band are using.

You could also try getting familiar with the duration of the dances. Coordinate with the bride and groom or the event coordinator to get a clear idea about it so that you have the time to take enough photographs of each dance. Talk to them about whether any of the dances are choreographed or if there are any special moments such as a jump shot or a twirl that you should look out for. The bottom line is that an updated timeline will help you put all the moving pieces together in an organized manner.

Suggested Read: How To Create Your Ultimate Wedding Photography Timeline

2. Don’t Hesitate to Get Close

As a wedding photographer, circling around the dance floor from a safe distance can get you a few good shots. However, the real magic happens when you get up close and place yourself in the middle of the dance floor. Sometimes, this can help you photograph some really lovely or amusing moments that you would have otherwise missed. Remember that the bridal party and guests are aware that you are there to photograph them and mostly appreciate being photographed. Who knows, they might even end up performing a really cool dance move just for the camera!

3. Photograph the Kids & the Grandparents

Infographic stating kids and grandparents on the dance floor can make for adorable dance photos

Some of the most priceless moments can sometimes be found in the expressions of the couple’s 85-year-old grandma and grandpa or in the cute dance moves of their little niece or nephew. Be on the lookout for such moments. They can make for adorable dance photographs and something that your couple will appreciate too.

4. Experiment With Slow Shutter Speed

A bird eye's view of a couple dancing at the center of a circle created by the bridesmaid and groomsmen
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @iqphoto

Slowing down your shutter speed can help you introduce blurred movement in the frame. Operating at a slower shutter speed allows your camera’s sensor to be exposed to light for a longer time. Thus, letting as much light in as possible while capturing the action taking place on the dance floor. However, for the camera to capture that magic, we suggest that you keep your camera still by using a tripod.

5. Get Creative With Lights

A bride and groom dancing during the open dance floor
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

The background lights or the glow sticks in the hands of the dance party can add some fun to a planned jump shot. Moreover, pair that with a slow shutter speed and drag, and voila! An awesome light-dragging effect. To incorporate this into your wedding dance photography workflow, we’d suggest that you talk to your couple about using props in advance. This way, there will be no surprises on the wedding day and you won’t have to waste time looking for props either. 

Keep Your Gear Safe

Keeping your gear and photography equipment safe is another thing to keep in mind while photographing wedding dances. While you may have to move around the room for dance photography, try to keep your equipment at a spot where you can easily keep an eye on it. If you have an assistant with you, you could take turns keeping watch. Usually, a good spot to consider would be behind the band or the DJ.

Infographic stating things happen in front of you. That's perhaps the most wonderful and mysterious aspect of photography. A quote by Annie Leibovitz

“Things happen in front of you. That’s perhaps the most wonderful and mysterious aspect of photography.” This is a quote by the photography legend Annie Leibovitz. We believe that such is the case with wedding dance photography as well. While our tips could help guide you through it, as much as you plan and prepare, the real magic sometimes lies in the unscripted moments. So be observant and besides capturing the classic moments that always occur during dances, try to develop the habit of anticipating unique moments as they are about to unfold. Also, remember that while it’s essential to get up close to your subjects for some dance shots, try not to get in people’s faces all the time. After all, they are there to have fun. So make sure you don’t make them feel uncomfortable or conscious. 

Further Read: Wedding Reception Shooting Tips: How To Photograph The Dances & Toasts

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips that could help you hone your wedding photography skills. We also look forward to reducing your post-production workload by taking editing off your plate. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, take a look at our pricing plans.

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