CAPTURE THE MOMENT

WEDDING PHOTO IDEAS & TIPS

You're not a professional photographer — yet. But your friends and family have noticed you take great photos. Before you're asked to photograph another wedding (and stay out of the way of a hired pro), sharpen your skills with some tips to help you go from enthusiast to expert.

USE THE DRESS

Because most wedding dresses are white, you've already got a life-sized reflector at your disposal for photos with the bride. Pay attention to how light is hitting the dress and use it to your advantage. You can position guests closer to the dress to help fill in shadows that fall on their faces. And if using the dress doesn't quite do the trick, you can also look for white walls, opt to wear a lighter color yourself, or bring along an actual reflector.

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Wedding dress on hanger

GET FAST GLASS

Many low-light situations, like wedding locations that don't allow flash photography, require a better, faster lens with incredible optical elements. As a general rule, any lens with a maximum aperture (your lens' lowest f-stop number) above f/2.8 will be too slow if you want professional-looking indoor shots. Make sure you're geared up for the best wedding pics possible with high-quality lenses, or fast glass.

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Kayakers

CHOOSE YOUR FORMAT

Deciding to capture a wedding in either high-resolution JPEG or RAW format can be a big decision. RAW images have more information than JPEGs, which allows for more editing options. This also means RAW images give you the flexibility to re-think your camera's settings, and the look of the images, after the event. Either way, both formats require serious storage, so make sure to pack plenty of memory cards.

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Wedding party

GET FLASHY

The right flash can give you ideal lighting to fill in shadows and get great effects for amazing wedding pics. If the bride, and the wedding venue, will allow flash photography, go beyond your camera's built-in lighting. If you're looking for more control, try flashes with swivel and tilt heads. Or, you can use a ring flash for dramatic reflections and evenly distributed light on the wedding party.

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Groom kissing bride

BOKEH MADE BETTER

Bokeh, or image blur that's pleasing to the eye, is your ticket to beautiful and creative wedding photography. Here are some photography tips from the professionals: Open up to the maximum aperture. You can also get closer to your subject or move your subjects farther away from the background. Another option is to use a longer focal length (especially if you want to capture a great landscape or architecture). And besides, it's just fun to say "bokeh."

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Bride holding flowers with groom

WEDDING SHOT THROWBACK

Ask the bride-to-be for her favorite photo from her mother's wedding (or from her grandmother's wedding). Pay attention to the lighting, composition and other details of the photo so you can re-create the shot. If you want to take the idea a step further, you can use photo editing software to show the old and new photos side by side. It'll make a great gift for the bride. And, it's sure to be something fun she can share online with friends and family.

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Bride and groom in car

HELP THEM SAY "THANK YOU"

Including an image of the happy couple has (almost) become required for wedding thank-you notes. If the bride and groom agree, help them set up their shot by bringing along pre-written cards that say "thank" and "you" (or whatever message they want). Then take their photo holding the cards on the actual wedding day for a special way to say thank you to their guests.

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Bride and groom in front of lighthouse, thank you card