The expectations in quality and artistry for wedding photographers have increased over the years with the influx of competition and increase in overall pricing. Not only are they expected to capture each moment and deliver great portraits, but they’re also expected to bring a high level of creativity under time constraints and less-than ideal lighting conditions. Unique, diverse compositions are a cornerstone to delivering work in-line with these high expectations.
The following article goes over common compositions in wedding photography. They should not be thought of in terms of rules, as rules are generally restricting. These compositions should instead be thought of as guides to help you expand your repertoire of shots and serve as a baseline from which you apply your own vision and creativity.
Images provided courtesy of Lin and Jirsa, Los Angeles Wedding Photographers
When you encounter a scene with near perfect symmetry in the background, a symmetrical composition is often the most powerful. A few notes about this composition. Any slight shift in your angle can throw off the symmetry of the scene. Using the focal points while looking through the lens as a guide can help you balance and adjust your symmetrical composition. Also, the pose of your subjects should be somewhat symmetrical. Here are a couple of examples:
Utilizing reflections, whether it be a mirror, a table, even a puddle of water is a great way to add creativity to your wedding photography compositions. See the examples below:
There are plenty of opportunities to capture rows at weddings. Whether it’s a row of bridesmaids, a row of tables at the reception, a row of beer bottles at cocktail hour, or a row of bouquets, shooting down a line will often create interesting compositions.
4) Intentional Misfocus
Focusing on an person, sign, or other object is a great way to highlight an aspect of significance in your compositions. For example, use this composition to show where the couple is by focusing on the sign of the venue. Or use it to place the subjects in the moment by focusing on a key element in the scene, such as their getaway car.
Shooting through objects is a great way to add creativity to your compositions. Not only does it place your subjects in the environment, but it also adds intimacy to the scene by taking the photographer out of the scene and in a “spying” position.
6) Wide Shots
When you have a gorgeous sunset or an amazing building, it’s important to capture the beauty and grandeur by using wide compositions.
Finding existing frames in a scene provides a sense of balance to your compositions. Whether it’s an archway, a mirror or a window, these frames are a sign of a well-thought-out, well- executed composition.
8) Close Ups
Getting close-up in your compositions can add a sense of intimacy to the images. It’s also a great way to crop out any junk in unattractive scenes.
9) Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is one of the most common rules you’ll hear in photography. While it may be a little over-hyped, it’s still a good guide to follow when applicable to ensure you’re not always centering your subjects or centering your landscapes.
10) Right in Half
Use this type of composition when you want to place equal weight on the subjects and the background. If you have a gorgeous blue sky or an interesting structure, but you don’t want to go ultra wide to lose focus on the subjects, this is a great option.
Photography is a subjective art with few, if any, rules that should be followed all of the time. However, some photographers use that notion as free reign to snap away aimlessly, without thinking through their compositions. Though there aren’t “rules” for compositions, there are general guidelines that enhance the artistry, creativity, and power of your images. Following the guides above and branching off from them purposefully will help in these regards.