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Capturing Great Wedding Shots with a Not so Great Camera

written by: awilliamsku•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/30/2009

You don't need a professional photographer with an expensive camera to have unforgettable wedding photographs. Here are some tips and techniques that will help you capture great wedding photos without the need for an expensive digital camera or camera equipment.

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    If you are on a tight budget and can't afford a professional photographer for your wedding, don't lose hope just yet. You can still have amazing pictures of your special day with an amateur photographer and a basic digital camera.

    First, if your budget allows, find an 8+ megapixel camera. They usually cost between $150.00 and $300.00 and take very decent photographs. With an 8+ megapixel camera, you'll usually get 3x Optical Zoom, a 2.5-inch PureColor LCD II monitor, Face Detection, Blur Reduction, and quality good enough for 16x 22-inch prints. Cameras with these features are great because they can focus on the subject and blur the background, which is great for wedding photography. The best part, however, is you don't need to be a professional to use one.

    All you need for the perfect wedding photography is a camera and the following tips:

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    Usually, photographers find themselves taking outdoor wedding shots in the sun or inside with tons of artificial lights and candles. This makes it difficult to take pictures with natural color and lighting, especially if you have a not-so-professional camera. To take pictures with prefect lighting, do the following:

    • Take advantage of backlighting: An example of using backlighting would be if the bride and groom were walking away from the sun, and you stood in front of them and took a picture. Backlighting illuminates and gives a glow to your subject.
    • Side lighting: Side lighting is another effect where the position you stand controls the lighting of the photograph. Both natural and artificial lighting can create a "wow" factor when using the side lighting technique. Side light highlights details in photographs, bringing out face details, like smiles.
    • Notice shadows and use them to your advantage: Light is important to a photograph, but so are shadows. Shadows also add a mysterious and subtle feeling to your photographs, as well as help you figure out where lighting is.
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    Exposure directly correlates with the lighting, so you'll want to make sure the perfect amount of lighting is coming into the shutter. With wedding photography, you're probably not going to be using long exposures. There is no correct exposure, just the correct exposure for a certain shot. If your photos come out overexposed or underexposed, don't be discouraged; these exposures may bring an artistic touch to the photograph. Exposures longer than one second will bring in more light to your photographs. Try using between a f/8 and f/2 apertures when taking your shots, which are 1/30 seconds and 1/250 seconds. These tend to be a safe zone. Click here to learn more about exposure.

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    At weddings, people often try to pose for their pictures. The idea of wedding photography is to capture emotion and love during that special day. Even an amateur knows when to take pictures of emotion; when the couple is kissing, laughing, crying, smiling, and just being themselves. This makes your wedding photos extra special when you see them for the first time, and every time after that.

    If the camera your photographer is using has face detection, they should definitely take advantage of it. Not all cameras have it, but some have a feature where the faces are sharpened in case the background is blurry or the subjects are moving. Also, in-camera red eye editing is a great feature to have on your camera during the wedding as well. Most point and shoot digital cameras come standard with features like face detection and red eye editing, like the PowerShot SD1100 IS 8MP Digital Camera ($249.00).

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    Composition is very important in wedding photography. If every picture is just of the subject's face, which is blocked by bad lighting or table displays, the couple won't be pleased. What is great about composition is that it is universal for every camera, and can make any picture look great. Composition is easy to learn, this article will help get you started.

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    You don't need a professional with a $2,000 camera and an $800 lens to take amazing and unforgettable wedding photographs. Just grab your 8+ megapixel camera, a tripod, and one of your friends. Allow them to get used to using the camera and all of its features. All you need to take great wedding shots with an inexpensive point and shoot is good lighting, perfect exposure, real emotions, and composition.