Coming in to a beautifully decorated reception room can sometimes be overwhelming. What’s worse is if the wedding photographer only has 15 minutes to shoot everything — the pressure is totally on. So here are some wedding photography tips on how a photographer can get that perfect full room shot.
It’s not unusual that the reception room is a flurry of activities right before the doors are about to open to let the guests in — the candles are getting lit, the water glasses are being filled, the DJs are testing the mic, the florists are doing their last-minute touches on the dining tables. In short, everything’s getting finalized and many people are running around.
When walking into the reception room, it is best for the wedding photographer to start small (taking shots of place cards, giveaways, and menus, table settings, etc.) and work his way out to the big picture. However, that one full room shot should be taken as soon as possible just in case the guests start coming in. The first step is to talk to the coordinator or the banquet captain. The wedding photographer needs that one person to help him get as many people out of the room so he can take that one good, clean shot.
There are a couple of perspectives that should be taken with regards to the full room shot, and this is either a symmetrical shot or the foreground focus. A symmetrical shot is where the dance floor is used as the central point or the sweetheart table as the central anchor of the image. The foreground focus, on the other hand, uses foreground elements like the table with a nice centerpiece or the wedding cake.
To achieve a full room shot, it is best to approach it like landscape photography — the camera should be mounted on a tripod and set for maximum sharpness. The ISO should be set to the lowest possible setting and the shutter speed should be slowed all the way down to 30 seconds. The purpose of doing all these steps is to blur out movements from people milling around that the photographer can’t get rid of. The aperture selection is used to compensate the slower shutter and of course, to maximize detail.
Once the full room shot is done, the wedding photographer can now work on other things, which is why he should start small. Starting small buys him time to settle his thoughts from the chaos of activities that he had just left behind in the ceremony. It also buys him time to evaluate lighting situations and prepare on what he’ll need to work on the rest of the room. Using lenses with awesome compression like the 85mm, the 135mm, or the 70 to 200mm is great for detail shots, so whenever possible, these should be any wedding photographer’s lenses of choice.
Shooting for a wedding reception with a limited amount of time really puts pressure on any wedding photographer — seasoned or otherwise. But with the right lenses and knowledge of wedding photography techniques, getting that perfect full room shot is a piece of cake.