A bride and groom sat in a church, the bride is wiping her eyes.


Wedding photography etiquette: dos and don'ts for guests

Falling into the aisle, blocking the bride's big entrance, clicking the shutter at an emotional moment and spoiling the mood... wedding guests with cameras don't always get it right – but it doesn't have to be that way.

Guests can get shots just as powerful as the pros if they follow a few simple rules. Pro wedding photographer Markus Morawetz started out taking shots at friends' weddings. "I was going to leave my camera in the car, but the couple asked if I would take some snapshots on the side," he says. "It was important not to get in the way of the pro, but as a guest you have the advantage of being less stressed, and you can experiment with technique and style."

To help ensure you get it right on the big day, here are Markus' top five dos and don'ts – accompanied by shots taken by wedding guests.

Don't block the pro. Do use interesting angles.

"Try to get in as many details as possible, without getting in the way of the professional," says Markus. He suggests finding a different vantage point or angle. Taken by wedding guest Matthew Bowen. © Matthew Bowen

Stellan Jara, a humanist wedding celebrant (someone who conducts non-religious wedding ceremonies) based in England, says that at most ceremonies he officiates at, it's usually made clear at the start that taking photos is not allowed during the ceremony. "The couple wants friends and family to enjoy the moment, leaving the professional to take the shots," he explains.

According to Markus, that's not enough to stop some people spoiling the occasion. "You'd be amazed how many guests get up during the ceremony to take pictures from the aisle. I've had my shots blocked at the moment the bride enters, during the exchanging of rings and when the couple kiss," he recalls.

Markus advises shooting from unusual angles. The large 7.5cm Vari-Angle touchscreen with Touch and Drag AF on the Canon EOS M50 makes it easy to shoot from almost any vantage point, and over or around crowds. "Use your surroundings to frame your picture and give you a good backdrop," advises Markus. "If you still don't have a good view of the bride and groom, concentrate on the guests' emotions."

Don't divert attention. Do capture the emotion.

Taking shots during the speeches, the reception, or whenever the happy couple are distracted is a great way to capture natural candid images with real emotion. © Markus Morawetz

"Too many cameras can be unsettling, often because the subject doesn't know where to look," says Markus. Leave formal group shots to the pro and focus on capturing relaxed shots of clusters of guests behaving naturally. "Couples love photos of genuine moments and emotions: laughter, tears, cheering – whatever the day brings. Be part of the party, soak up those emotions and you'll be better placed to capture them," he adds.

Stellan agrees: "People are happiest near the food and drink, so head that way to get some casual group shots of guests having a good time."

"The Canon EOS M50 has a great autofocus, as well as features such as Face Detection," says Markus. It can also quickly connect to smart devices and social media, so you can view, share and post your shots instantly.

Don't follow the photographer. Do take intimate candid shots.

"Whether it's tears or hearty laughter, capturing real emotion is key for an unforgettable photo," says Markus. He suggests swapping formal group shots for relaxed, natural candids of the newlyweds and their guests. Taken by wedding guest Jonathan Tait. © Jonathan Tait

"If you know the couple well enough, you can get away with capturing any less than flattering – but memorable – moments and expressions, which the pro might refrain from shooting," says Stellan. Guests have a distinct advantage over pros when it comes to recognising unique mannerisms and quirks, which make for unforgettable candids and intimate portraits. A fast burst mode, such as the Canon EOS M50's 10fps, is perfect for these fleeting opportunities: you can capture a succession of frames and select the best later.

"Be mindful of the background and find the most beautiful angle of light, then use light and shadow to make your photo even more spectacular," says Markus. "If you stay relatively close to the couple, there will be plenty of great moments to capture."


Don't bother the happy couple. Do use a zoom or telephoto lens.

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"Always try to create a relaxed atmosphere when you're taking photos at a wedding," says Markus. "The couple should feel comfortable in front you, which will allow you to capture some wonderfully natural candids." Taken by wedding guest Jonathan Tait. © Jonathan Tait

"Everyone knows him – the uncle who spends ages taking pictures," laughs Markus. "He can be quite harmless but quickly turn into an obstacle. A telephoto lens gives you the opportunity to get close to the action from a distance, without bothering the bride and groom. It also allows you to concentrate on specific details and create a soft bokeh [the blur in out-of-focus areas] that beautifully isolates your subjects."

To lend context, or add a sense of drama, try swapping to a wide-angle lens to capture the couple within a landscape setting. The Canon EOS M50 is compatible with the compact EF-M lens range, as well as Canon's EF and EF-S lenses via a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS M. Its large, 24.1 APS-C size CMOS sensor means you can crop into images later and discard unwanted elements while retaining a high image quality. "If you're just starting out, I'd recommend a 50mm lens," says Markus. "It's affordable, yet delivers strong results with fantastic bokeh, and on a camera such as the Canon EOS M50 you'll get a slight tele effect too."

Don't copy the pro's set up. Do get creative after the pro leaves.

"Try to capture the mood of the evening after the professional photographer has left," says Markus. He advises guest photographers to take advantage of their closer relationship with the couple and their guests to achieve more revealing, informal group photos. Taken by wedding guest Faye Leppard. © Faye Leppard

"For me, party photos at the end of the day are the hardest aspect of wedding photography: dark, fast movement and ugly DJ lighting," says Markus. Although an external flash is one solution, it is not always the best option for intimate, romantic settings such as weddings. "My advice is to use as much available light as possible," he says.

Users will need a camera capable of powering out a high ISO while retaining good image quality. The Canon 90D offers ISO 100-25600, and can be expanded to ISO 51200 if the occasion arises. By working with a higher ISO, and shooting with a lens with a wide aperture such as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, photographers can shoot handheld, with slower shutter speeds, to create a variety of captivating and beautiful effects.

Written by Natalie Denton

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