How to Get the Best Church Photos on Your Wedding Day
Dimly lit interiors and rules around photographing in churches and places of worship often make them more challenging to photograph than outdoor locations.
If you’re planning on a traditional church wedding, here are a few things you need to ask about and know to get the best wedding photos.
Church Wedding Timing and Accessibility
When interviewing your church, ask about timing and accessibility. Find out what events take place before and after your ceremony to determine your arrival/departure and time for family photos.
Can you obtain early access and finish getting read and/or change there? How much time is available after the ceremony before the next group arrives?
Get a clear understanding of any additional events and restrictions those events place on your day.
This also includes the lighting schedule (some churches turn off lights immediately after the ceremony to conserve energy costs) and the sprinkler/watering timing to ensure your guests stay dry during any outdoor formals.
Many churches consider specific areas off-limits to photographers. Often, these involve sacred areas or spaces reserved for the officiant. In extreme cases, church weddings may relegate photographers to shoot from an area in the back, rather than roaming freely in the aisles.
You may need to adjust your expectations accordingly for photos. For example, if the service requires you to look forward and your photographer’s restrictions mean no access ahead of you, they may only capture your side view or even the back of your head.
If the church contains a balcony, ask about availability. In some cases, churches only permit the organist or other musical members in this area. Or, they may allow the photographer in that space, but in one specific spot. Get the policy details in advance to determine the possibility of overhead shots.
Finally, some places of worship completely prohibit photography during the ceremony. LDS temples, for example, forbid wedding photography inside the building proper. Following the ceremony, however, each wedding couple may pose in front of the temple for family photographs for a prescribed number of minutes.
Overall, you and your photographer must respect the wishes of the church out of courtesy and consideration. Just as a reception venue lists policies, your church makes known its expectations during your wedding. Sometimes, this means compromising a little on some of the angles and scenes captured in your photographs.
Churches often consider additional lighting, such as flash, a distraction to the wedding service. For this reason, places of worship frequently prohibit flash photography during the ceremony.
Before and after the ceremony, however, church weddings typically allow flash, particularly during family formals. In any case, double-check the information packet from your church or send an email to your officiant to verify the policy.
Videographers may ask about the availability of a separate contained room for babies or children. When recording video, sometimes the audio picks up the sounds of crying which drowns out other speech. The option of a room where parents and children may go until things settle down helps with the overall quality of your recording and also removes the distraction from the congregation.
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
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