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Mistakes to avoid if you're the friend with a camera


  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
We’ve all been there. You have a camera and you’re pretty good with it. A friend asks you to help out with their wedding photos and you say yes. But being a friend with a camera isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

I say this because at every wedding I attend, I meet a lot friends with cameras and I see the same mistakes over and over again. So here are some tips for those amateur shutter bugs who end up being the go-to for their friend’s wedding.

First thing. Amateurs have trouble with composition. Poorly composed pictures happen largely due to inexperience.

Whenever you’re composing a picture, be decisive about it. Photographers who are wishy washy and can’t decide whether to make a full length portrait of a 3/4 length often end up doing something in between. If you can’t decide which one, then shoot both. But avoid the indecisive in-between picture. It’s the worst mistake you can make.

Not feeling comfortable taking someone’s picture is another mistake I see. And it’s often because the person being photographed is uncomfortable too. Just because they’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean you need to feel the same way.

Part of the job is to break the ice and get your subject to relax. Trying chatting with them up or better yet, photograph them when they’re focused on doing something else. I always ask my couples to focus on one another and in that way they forget about me.

Details are everything in a good wedding picture. Take stock through your viewfinder. Find the problem areas of the picture and don’t be afraid to stop and fix.

For instance, pay attention to posture. Most brides and grooms slouch. I’m told it’s a uniquely American habit. Keep their shoulders back. One foot in front of the other shapes the hips.

Try to avoid taking needless “grab pictures.” If you see a picture compose careful and wait. When your subject gives you their attention and time, take yours. Be more careful with your compositions and ideas.

Final thought, look for the light. Great back light plus dark backgrounds is my go to lighting key.

Happy shooting!
  • © Sean Cayton / All Rights Reserved
Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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