Photographing a wedding is hard enough under any circumstances. You need to do an immense amount of planning beforehand, while also being open to spur-of-the-moment changes and ideas.
You need to have plenty of gear to make sure you get everything you want out of the event and keep your energy high so that you don’t miss out on anything.
But when you’re tasked with shooting a wedding by yourself, things quickly become even more difficult.
We talked with professional photographer Juliana Pessoa about how to photograph a wedding alone, something Pessoa has done many times.
Pessoa has been a professional photographer for many years, garnering many awards and a great deal of recognition for her work and has even delivered lectures at major photography conferences. She has a special talent for capturing the beauty and wonder of weddings, which made her the perfect person to give us some great tips and advice on the subject.
You’ll find the full interview below. If you’ve ever shot a wedding by yourself, feel free to share your experiences with us.
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Gear and more gear
If someone is shooting a wedding alone, how many cameras should they bring?
Pessoa: It depends on the way you like to shoot. I like to photograph with fixed lenses, so I’m always with two cameras. But when you’re photographing a wedding alone, you are the only one responsible for the images from that day. So I always bring two backup cameras with me just in case. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
What are some of the most versatile lens types for weddings and other large events?
Pessoa: I personally like to use fixed lenses, but you definitely would need two cameras. But if you’re a beginner or if you have one camera, the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm are definitely the ones to bring.
Is there a specific flash you tend to use to shoot weddings?
Pessoa: I usually use Canon flashes like the 600 RT, but if I’m shooting in a larger and darker place, I sometimes bring my ProPhoto flashes.
Working with the guests
Should a wedding photographer already have several poses in mind for the bride and groom?
Pessoa: I think that it’s ok to have some poses already in your mind, or if you have a signature pose, you could use that.
But I really believe in getting to know the couple and understanding them beforehand. So, I usually have a meeting with them before the wedding just to get a sense of their vibe. Sometimes a more outgoing couple prefers less classic poses than a more formal couple.
What are some of the most important moments that you always want to capture?
Pessoa: My work really focuses on emotions in a photojournalistic way. So for me, the moments where the couple is affectionate with each other or when they are having fun are the most important ones.
Is it helpful to stay relatively unnoticed during a reception? Do you get more naturalistic photos this way?
Pessoa: Of course! I tend to carry very light gear, so usually, the guests at the reception don’t even notice me. They dance and have fun without worrying about being photographed. It’s not intimidating.
I can get closer to the “action” without being noticed. I’m just like a friend with a point and shoot camera there, so they feel comfortable when I’m around.
Challenges of the trade
Is there ever a time during wedding festivities for the photographer to take a break, or should they stay involved the whole time?
Pessoa: Usually, I take a short break just to eat something when the couple is having a refresh or when they are eating. During the reception, I take short breaks while keeping the couple in my sights so I’m ready to go to them if I need to.
What is the most challenging part of photographing a wedding alone?
Pessoa: I think that the most challenging thing is to be able to be in a lot of places at once. Sometimes when the bride and groom are greeting the guests, they separate. It’s good to have a balance between the bride’s photos and the groom’s photos, so you have to run around the reception to get all the shots. Or sometimes, there’s something great happening on the dance floor and also at the guest tables. You have to be quick to be able to capture everything.
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Juliana Pessoa is an award-winning professional photographer.
For more information on Pessoa and her work, please visit the links below: