Wedding Photography: Behind the Scenes

The thought of a full day of wedding photography, with its many layers, can surely be overwhelming. And with that said check out this behind the scenes, wedding day tour to place your mind at ease.

There is no better way to learn wedding photography than placing yourself in the middle of it and being an organic part of the process. It is invaluable to actually live through the challenges of the day, and seeing first hand how they are handled. But central placement on a wedding day isn’t always feasible. For us visual learners, Taylor Jackson provides the next best thing. He displays an opportunity for a unique vantage point, showing off a first person perspective, from atop his Nikon camera body, throughout the wedding day.

Jackson is an experienced wedding photographer, which he displays in a calm fashion as he rolls through insightful commentary on his camera settings, lens choices, positioning for the best lighting, and composition. His insight is not only valuable but also quite enjoyable, while synced up with behind the scenes video, and accompanying still photos. Take a look for yourself which ingredients are mixed together to achieve a successful wedding day behind the camera. 

Derrick Ruf's picture

Derrick is a portrait photographer based out of Southeastern, Pa. All in on all things photography related, but his main passion being the photographic capture of us humans via ongoing portraiture work.

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Hi Derrick,

Thank you very much for this video. It is a fantastic look at how a pro-wedding photographer approaches the various moments of a wedding. And, the photos are great to boot. Doesn't have the washed out, muddy look that I see in so many wedding photos after they've been processed (I assume in some attempt to look "like film").

As someone who is working on getting into some more wedding photography (I have done some here and there but certainly would not call myself a wedding photographer.... portraits are most of what I do commercially), this was a great look into how someone like yourself approaches a wedding. I was particularly impressed with the shots from the 28mm, a focal length that I love for street photography but had never considered (at least not as one of my primary lenses) for wedding photography, but your shots are absolutely great. I've long been considering adding the Nikkor 28mm to my bag, and I think this sold me on it. Beautiful shots with that lens.

What camera were you shooting on? I'm guessing a D750 due to your comment about crop-mode being 10 or 11 MP. I have a D810 that I use primarily for studio work, landscapes, and astro, but am seriously considering either selling it and replacing it with a D750, or supplementing the 810 with a 750 once I can afford that. The 750 has much more impressive autofocus (particularly in low-light), and the lower megapixel count allows for a bit more latitude with handheld work (most of what I shoot with the 810 is on a tripod because even the slightest vibrations can cause IQ degradation).

Anyway, thank you for the video - my next lens purchases will definitely be the 28 and the 70-200.

Hey Matt I am happy to see you enjoyed Taylor’s video. I believe he is utilizing a D850, but I could be wrong as I am not a Nikon shooter. And I agree with you his 28mm images are great, I utilize a 35mm in much the same fashion as it’s a staple in my kit.

Oh sorry, Derrick - I mistakenly thought you made the video. Nonetheless, thank you for posting this (and thank you to Taylor for making it).

I don't think it is a D850 because crop mode (DX crop) on that camera would be like 19-20MP. He said 10-11, which would indicate a 24MP FX camera.

I have a 35mm Sigma Art, but I'm not super pleased with it as a portrait lens. It works great for landscapes and basically anything where I can use center-autofocus, but the outer AF points (that I would commonly use for portraiture) are very unreliable. I'm considering selling it and getting the Tamron SP 35mm, because I absolutely love love love my Tamron SP 85mm (I like it even more than the Nikkor 85 it replaced, and that lens was no slouch). I do wonder how much difference the Sigma dock could make. Probably worth it to try it out.

I’m with you, I had owned and did love the look of the 35mm Art, but on Canon I could never get consistent focus either, and had a very poor hit rate with it. The Tamron is for sure an interesting option, hopefully it will focus more consistently for you than the Sigma.

Very interesting video !
Thanks for sharing it.

Last time I did wedding photography, I still had to use film ! And, if proof needed, it's obvious how digital improved the photography process in this kind of situations (quick checking for light, number of shots available on a card,...) I'm not a dinosaur (or am I ?:-), but I moved to another field of photography.

It seems that weddings In US and Europe (where I live) are a bit different. It's a bit more chaotic and anarchic here. For example, bridesmaids and groomsmen (is that the proper word ?) very rarely wear the same outfit, making group photos more... colorful ! :-)

I have a question though : is it cultural out there to let the photographer work without interfering with everybody taking photos with smartphones, compact cameras or so ? Or are there specific instructions from the bride/groom ? Because here, even in this case, nobody respects this. And I couldn't imagine, for example, taking photos of the ceremony with a 70-200 without someone, at the crucial moment, jumping in the frame with a smartphone, not paying attention to the photographer. Usually, it's more like a press call here, and the closest gets the shot !

Anyway, great shots !
And I'm a fan of the 28mm too. I like to hang around in the streets with 2 cameras : one with a 28mm, one with a 85mm.

Great question, working with smartphone interference is very much a “thing” in the states as well. I have actually had guests become frustrated with me for politely asking them to move out of the shot.

I've worked on a handful of weddings as a second shooter with another photographer here (USA) and that photographer stipulates in her contract that guests are not to use their phones during the ceremony. The bride and groom (or someone) usually advises everyone of that and people respect it. During the reception and whatnot, people usually pull out their phones, but that's easily worked around.

No idea how most photographers handle this, though.

Hi Derrick,
Thanks for great video on your workday. I am curious, what type of videocamera did you use behind your camera. Would werry much like to do the same at my work to show, in-house how we work as medical photographers.

Ola Lundström
Medical Photographer
Stockholm / Sweden

Ola, don’t quote me on this but I believe Taylor mounts a GoPro to his camera hot shoe to capture the bts video.

Loads of great info here. Tango Yankee muh dude.

Many thanks for your very useful video Derrick! I see that you shoot all the time with open diafragma :) how you get all in focus and sharp, especially when it's a group, walking etc?