In most of the wedding albums across the country, you can find a few staples: The bride coming down the aisle. The toasts. The first dance. Which is good, because that’s what most couples want to make sure is represented. But wedding photographers are charged with more than just capturing the same moments over and over again — part of their job is also telling the story of an individual couple.
Award-winning wedding photographer Susan Stripling encourages others to get creative when shooting weddings, looking for new ways to capture these important moments. Which isn’t to say you miss the major moments; it’s about balance.
“I’m trying to make beautiful things for actual, real-life people who have actually retained my services,” says Susan, “but I do want to tell the story in a way that’s different from other people.”
In her CreativeLive course, Creative Wedding Photography, Susan breaks down how to break out of a wedding rut and ensure that your wedding photographs are as unique as the couples you’re shooting.
Go for a different angle: “Sometimes, the scene unfolding in front of you is beautiful, but it would help to look at it from a different angle,” says Susan. Try crouching down to capture children, or climbing onto a nearby bench to capture something from above. It’s easy to get comfortable shooting from the same plane — so try something else, and don’t be afraid to ask your subjects to pose into it.
…Or a different time of day: Some wedding photographers pack it in when the best natural light dies down, but it’s worth it to stick around a little longer for some sultry nighttime shots.
Use what’s around you: If you feel like you’ve shot through all you can when it comes to moments like the toast (or, in this case, when the groomsmen got up to sing with the band), look for other ways to frame the shot, like through this water glass. Susan says she was going to use this opportunity to take a break and text, but instead, she started looking around — and it paid off. “You gotta take time and look for these things,” she advises.
Play with perspective: “Sometimes you want to go outside and shoot in, or go outside and shoot up. Sometimes it’s leaning around something. Look beyond the obvious,” says Susan. Does the venue have giant windows you can see into from the street? Go outside and shoot from the outside! Is the ring, or the centerpiece, or the groom’s tie especially detailed? Get close!
Double up: You’ve probably got a double-exposure setting on your camera. Use it! “I really like playing with multiple exposures in the camera. It’s another way to see a little bit differently, without faking it in post.”
The bottom line, says Susan, is to keep your eyes open to what might make a great, if not necessarily obvious, shot. Even imperfect locations, unusual lighting, and other factors often considered hinderances are part of the wedding’s story — and savvy wedding photographers just know where to look.