In addition to the bride and groom portraits, bridal party photos, and detail photos, as the wedding photographer, you are also in charge of documenting the ceremony. However – ‘Where to stand as a photographer during the ceremony?’ – is a valid question whether you are a beginner or a longtime pro. The answer to this question is complex as there’s no single rule that can be applied to all weddings you photograph. A wedding ceremony may last from 15-30 minutes, but this might differ for weddings from different cultures. However, one rule will always apply: Try your best to not draw attention to yourself. While you might have to find your best spots depending on the venue, in this blog, we suggest five spots you could consider for wedding ceremony photography.
5 Spots to Consider When Taking Pictures During the Ceremony
1. Behind the Bride as She Enters
The moment when the bride walks down the aisle with her father is the first time the guests get to see her in all her bridal glory. And being behind the bride will allow you to capture their reactions! This is a key moment in the wedding ceremony, and therefore when you stand behind her, your position should allow you to capture her and the guests in the same composition. You could also include a glimpse of the groom as she begins to walk down the aisle (this may differ from wedding to wedding).
2. In Front of the Groom
Being in front of the groom will allow you to capture his reaction when he gets to see the bride walking down the aisle. This is the spot that will also enable you to take some amazing photographs of the bride from the front as she makes her way to the groom. This is an incredibly emotional moment for the bride and groom and their loved ones, so try your best to document those raw and emotional moments.
3. Opposite the Bride or Groom
When the bride and groom say their vows, you want to be close to capture their emotions. Whether you stand behind the officiant or another spot that’s close by, for this part of the ceremony, your aim should be to capture your couple as they proclaim their love for each other. Since this spot also puts you in front of the guests, try not to draw attention to yourself. From the moment they are sliding on the rings to when the rings are on their fingers, take the opportunity to take some classic photographs of the wedding rings. This is also a perfect spot to get some great photos when your couple has their ‘first official kiss’ as man and wife.
4. Behind the Officiant
If you are standing behind the officiant to really get in close, your aim should be to find a spot where you won’t be a distraction for the guests or even the bride and groom. As the officiant takes your couple through the ceremony, focus on taking pictures of your couple’s emotions at that moment. If you are in a grand venue, you could also take some sweeping architectural photos of the venue from this spot. You could also try including your couple in the architectural photographs. They almost always have a certain ‘Wow’ element to them.
5. Behind the Congregation
As the wedding photographer, you will keep moving and switching places throughout the ceremony. Another spot you could consider when you find yourself asking ‘Where to stand as a photographer during the ceremony?’ is behind the congregation. This position will allow you to capture the guests, your couple, and the venue in one composition. This spot is especially great for photographing in a venue with great lighting and dramatic interiors. Don’t worry if your couple is too far from you. Just try to include them in your shot, even if the venue or the guests are the focus of your composition. We’d suggest that you move away from the couple to try this position once you are done with all the spots mentioned above.
Suggested Read: How to Create Your Ultimate Wedding Photography Timeline
How to Prepare for Wedding Ceremony Photography
1. Discuss With Your Couple
One of the easiest ways to figure out where to stand as a photographer during the ceremony is to discuss it with your couple. Your couple may have their own ideas of how they want the ceremony to be documented, or they might even have certain ceremony photos that they want you to include in your shot list. By talking to them about this in advance, you can ensure that no moment is missed out. This moment won’t come again, so try to eliminate any chances of error on your part.
2. Visit the Venue in Advance
Visiting the venue in advance won’t just give you an idea about the location to avoid confusion on the wedding day, but it will also give you the leverage of knowing all the right photography spots and what kind of lighting you will be photographing in. Lighting plays a crucial role in how your photographs turn out, so having an idea about your venue’s lighting will help you understand whether you need extra lighting equipment and be better prepared for the wedding day. Exploring the venue in advance will also give you an idea about the photography rules of the place. This is especially helpful if you are photographing at a religious venue.
3. Draw Inspiration from Other Photographers
While they may be your competition, drawing inspiration from other wedding photographers’ work can also help you answer the big ‘Where to stand as a photographer during the ceremony’ question. You can check out their photos to see which spots work best for the different activities that are a part of the wedding ceremony. If there are any wedding photographers you admire and follow already, starting from their Instagram or website or any other platform where they share images might be a good idea.
4. Attend the Rehearsal
If your couple is organizing a rehearsal dinner, then ask them if you can be a part of it too. Attending the rehearsal will help you understand the different parts of the ceremony and if your couple plans to do something unique. You could observe what your couple is doing as they rehearse for the final day and make notes that would help you keep track during the wedding. This might also help you get a fair idea of the must-have images you need to focus on during the ceremony.
Further Read: Wedding Ceremony Photography Guide
Photographing the ceremony is an inevitable part of a wedding photographer’s job. As you photograph more weddings, you will figure out that moving around the venue as the ceremony takes place will help you document all the right moments from the right angles. Stay sharp and follow whatever is going on at the ceremony. From the moment the bride makes her entry to when the bride and groom make their grand exit, keep all the ceremony’s key moments as a checklist or make a mental note. Remember that there might be times when you have to photograph a wedding that’s not like the usual weddings you cover. Talk to your couples in advance and ask them about any unique moments that need to be photographed. This will, in turn, help you find the best spots to photograph those moments.
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