Should You Do Wedding Photography on a Smartphone?

In the past, wedding photography has always been reserved strictly for photographers with traditional cameras. However, today’s smartphones are more than capable of taking high-quality wedding photos. In fact, some couples have even hired photographers to shoot their entire wedding with just a mobile phone!

wedding photography
Washington DC Bus Charter (Jessica Douglas)

Just for fun, estimate the average wedding photographer cost. Was your guess around $1000? I’m laughing. How about $2000? Now you’re getting closer. Shooting weddings on your smartphone actually allows you to charge a little less because the cost of the gear is more reasonable.

We know this is a lot to take in, but it’s the reality; affordable wedding photography is done on a cell phone.

Mobile Photography and Wedding Photographers

unplugged wedding photography
Wilkie Photography

Your smartphone is probably already equipped with the latest and greatest technology that will allow you to take incredible wedding photos. At the same time, think before you pull it out to snap a quick photo.

First off, while it’s kosher for you to shoot the wedding on your phone if you’re the photographer, doing it as a guest is a big no-no. The photographer is being paid a lot of money to do their job and you ruin their shots by having your phone sticking into the aisle. You were also invited to the wedding to enjoy the ceremony; do it.

What You Need to Photograph Weddings

mobile wedding photographer
Envira Gallery

If you’re the hired pro though, consider using a tripod. The benefits are especially evident if you’re shooting any portraits or other photos that may require a steady hand. Using a tripod will ensure your photos are as sharp as possible. Be sure to check out our list of the best smartphone tripods on the market.

While you’re at it, you should probably invest in a smartphone camera remote. Tapping that shutter button on your phone can introduce just enough shake to ruin a great wedding photo.

Shutter remotes will eliminate that shake and fit discretely in your palm. Plus, you can actually join in the photos, rather than watching everything from behind a camera.

Depending on your style of wedding photography, you might also want to consider buying a new lens. Sure, the lenses on your smartphone are great, but some lenses from Sandmarc or Moment can take your content to the next level.

Most smartphone photographers also prefer to use third-party camera apps, rather than the ones that came on their mobile phones. There’s nothing wrong with using your phone’s camera app, but third-party apps tend to give you more control over your settings. You’ll be able to better control your camera’s shutter speed, depth of field, and ISO.

Wedding Photography Tips

Before we get into any tips, we should highlight one rule in the industry – do whatever you can to make the bride happy. I repeat the happiness of the bride is the single most important part of your job.

And, if you’re interested, we’ve interviewed a successful wedding photographer before!

Tip #1 – Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

wedding camera bag
Alberto e Alessandra

The most important aspect of smartphone wedding photography is preparation. Make sure you understand how your camera app, settings, and gear work before the big day. You’re being paid a lot of money, so don’t waste your customer’s cash by messing with settings that should’ve been set-up.

Otherwise, you risk missing out on great photos because you’re too busy fiddling. Consider asking the couple if you can photograph the wedding rehearsal to give you an opportunity both to test everything out settings wise and aquaint yourself with the family dynamics.

Tip #2 – Let Light Be Your Friend

lighting wedding photography

It’s also crucial that you make sure you’re shooting in good lighting and adjust your settings accordingly. You don’t want to look back on your photos after the wedding only to realize the bride’s dress and face are washed out and overexposed.

If you’re shooting in low-light situations, such as the reception after the wedding, you may want to read our guide for low-light photography. If you don’t want to read the whole guide, then here’s the short of it – shoot in manual mode, capture RAW files, and underexpose. If you do this, then you’ll have optimal post-processing power.

Tip #3 – Keep It Simple, Stupid

flat lay wedding photography
Joy Michelle Photography

There’s usually a lot going on at weddings, so it can be hard to pay attention to everything at once. Getting photos with good composition can be difficult if you’re more focused on what your subjects are doing.

Try turning on the grid feature on your camera app. It can help ensure that your images are straight and composed the way you want them. If you like to compose your photos according to the rule of thirds, for example, a grid can help you do just that. The grid is also great for aligning pesky leading lines in your shots.

You also need to pay attention to what’s happening behind your subjects. A great photo of the bride and groom can be ruined if the background is too cluttered or distracting. You can simplify the background by asking your subjects to pose in more minimalistic locations, or you can use features like portrait mode to help blur out the background and keep the focus where you want it.

Tip #4 – Weddings Have Action Too

Dance floor photography
International Wedding Photographer Of The Year Awards

You might also want to consider experimenting with burst mode, especially if you’re shooting a lot of action, such as dancing. Burst mode takes a series of photos in rapid succession, giving you plenty of options to choose from so you’ll never miss the perfect photo. Depending on the type of phone you have, you’ll likely need to either hold down the shutter button or activate burst mode before pressing the shutter.

As burst mode illustrates, the more photos you take, the better your chances are at capturing some spectacular wedding moments. Don’t be afraid to take more photos than you think are necessary. Sure, you’ll have a lot to sort through afterward, but it will be worth it when you end up with a number of great photos.

Tip #5 – Creating the Final Product

Finally, don’t forget to edit your wedding photos! Whether you’re photographing a wedding with a DSLR or a smartphone, editing your photos will take them from great to unforgettable. Here are some of the best photo and video editing apps available.

Be careful when editing wedding content however because chances are there’s a specific look that the couple is looking for. The above video does a great job of explaining how to get these aesthetics and why they’re preferable.

Wedding Photography Packages – What to Include?

Wedding Photography Packages
M Reed Photography

Note that the above graphic is from 2016! So, when constructing wedding photography packages don’t focus on cost.

The Minimum

When taking wedding photos, it’s important to remember that your photos should tell a story. Weddings tend to be full of emotion and it’s your job as a photographer to capture that emotion in your images. Make a plan for the event with the focus on storytelling.

Of course, you should always photograph the most important moments of the wedding. The bride walking down the aisle, the vows, and the first kiss are all unforgettable moments that can result in incredible photos. You might also try getting a close up of the couple’s wedding rings.

A Little More

Consider taking photos of the wedding day preparations. Showing the hard work that went into the event can help the couple remember how much they were looking forward to their big day. Photographing the bride getting ready, the flowers and decorations, or even the venue being set up can create interesting and touching photos.

While everyone’s focus tends to be on the bride and groom, don’t forget to photograph the guests! Couples love seeing how much their guests enjoyed their wedding, so be sure to capture all those smiling faces and expressive reactions.

One way to ensure you do this is by getting a copy of the schedule of events beforehand. In obtaining the schedule, you can capture the guests during the times you know you shouldn’t be focused on the bride and groom.

You should also be sure to take plenty of photos of the bride and groom’s family. Weddings are about the joining of two people and two families, so it’s important to capture the emotional moments of the families.

Are You a Professional Wedding Photographer?

Consider also including a wedding album for the bride and groom in the package. It’s a nice touch that won’t cut into your profits too much. While an online gallery is similar, it’s less personal. I personally like to do both.

Adding video to your wedding photography package is just going to take your work – and what you can charge for it – to a whole new level. Seriously, you can charge twice as much if you can manage to capture various types of content. Learn about how to go about doing that here.

If you find yourself struggling for wedding photo ideas, check out social media for a little inspiration. Adding your own unique touch to classic photo ideas can result in unique wedding photos that the bride and groom can treasure for a lifetime.

2 thoughts on “Should You Do Wedding Photography on a Smartphone?

  1. I can totally relate to the part where you mentioned that a lot can happen during a wedding and it will be hard to focus on a single scene. I attended my friend’s wedding the other week and I’m not sure if they’re able to catch every precious memory in the photos. If I were to have my own wedding, I’ll be sure to have photography sessions taken during the special event to ensure that we’ll have something to treasure later on.

    1. Zoe, thanks for sharing that applicable anecdote! Great idea as far as how to handle photography in your own wedding too. It may be a viable idea for all wedding photographers to try out moving forward 🙂

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