The backgrounds for your wedding photos are make or break. Having something too complicated can detract from your beautiful subjects. Having the wrong color in the background can do the same thing. Being in a setting that doesn’t make sense for your couple can also cause problems for your beautiful wedding photos. Here’s how to do wedding photography right!
A patterned background, even organic like this, doesn't distract from the subjects.
Here's the 5 key elements for wedding portrait backgrounds:
2. Be client focused
The best background for wedding photos is whatever your client wants. So the first thing you want to do is ask them what they like at your initial consultation. Urban? Nature? Plain? Colorful? Complicated? Grungy? Find out their style first, and then scout a location that will work with your schedule.
2. Proper setting
A wedding is typically a classy affair. Your clients are likely spending a lot of money on this event and want the photos to show it.
Find a location that shows off the best parts of the venue. In a building look for arches, high columns, ornate doorways or classic looking stairways. If it is an outdoor wedding, look for mature trees or well-manicured shrubs, hedges and lawns. If there are areas with flowers in bloom, that may also be a good spot.
Avoid shooting photos toward a parking lot or where you can see cars (or anything else for that matter), as this will date a photo. Some clients will have a very traditional wedding and will want a studio setting, just like their parents or grandparents. In that case, it’s best to go with a traditional setup.
3. Stick with simplicity
The easiest way to get good wedding photos is to choose a simple backdrop. A plain colored wall, a brick wall or a window curtain are all easy backdrops to work and won't take away from the subject as the focal point of the photos.
A simple backdrop will keep your couple front and center, ensuring that the wedding portraits are all about them, not the location they are posing in.
4. Be consistent
If you can’t find a simple backdrop, go with something that has a consistent texture, allowing the background to somewhat blend together.
This can be a number of things. If it’s a close background, it could be something like a hedge with many small leaves. It it’s a far background, it could be a forest with lots of trees. Either way, the background doesn’t have any distinguishing features because of the consistent amount of leaves or trees in each.
The key is to not have one tree popping up from behind the couple or a random piece of furniture that takes your attention away from the focal point of your wedding portraits—the couple.
The simple part of the background is in focus. The cluttered part is not.
5. Keep your distance
If you are having trouble finding a good backdrop that makes sense for your couple, you can look for a background that is a great distance from the couple and where you will be shooting. This will allow you to throw the background out of focus. With a wide enough aperture you can create a background with hardly any distinguishing features.
Depending on the distance between you and the couple and the background, using f/2.8 or wider will really be helpful in changing the look of your background. This is great for focusing on the couple and makes it an essential piece of equipment to bring to the wedding.
Want more wedding photography tips?
Check out the Craftsy courses Wedding Photography: The Romantic Portrait Session and Wedding Photography: Posing the Family.