When it comes to elegant spaces with incredible views, there is no shortage of wedding venues for couples to host their celebrations of love. From luxury wedding spots to breathtaking destination wedding venues around the world, the sky is the limit.
As a photographer, it’s likely that you have some experience shooting in a variety of venues, each one more beautiful than the last.
Still, no matter how many weddings you’ve shot, it can be a little difficult to take photos in an environment that you may not be comfortable in. This is particularly true with religious venues, such as synagogues, temples, and churches.
Photographers unfamiliar with different church traditions and requirements may be a little unsure of exactly how to take the best photos possible.
If you fall into that camp, check out our guide below on how to take wedding photos in a church.
How Do You Pose Couples’ Photos in a Church?
The answer to this question will vary from couple to couple, so it’s a good idea to communicate posing expectations with your clients beforehand.
If you’re unsure of the level of formality required at the church, the couple should be able to give you a better idea of cultural norms to guide their photo session.
While many churches tend to be more conservative and encourage their members to maintain modesty in photos, this is not always the case.
There are a growing number of more progressive churches that will be less restrictive when it comes to attire and physical affection, so it’s best to clear this up as early in the wedding planning process as possible.
In general, it’s best to go with what makes your clients most comfortable; after all, this is their wedding day. Find out the level of public displays of affection that they’re happy with, and use that to your advantage to provide them with a gallery that they’ll still be obsessed with 50 years from now.
How Do You Pose Family Photos in a Church?
When shooting a wedding ceremony in a church, it is important to plan ahead for family portraits in order to keep things moving efficiently. Thankfully, you should be able to work out the details of family photos with a brief consultation and a little research on the layout of the church.
One of the most important resources you can utilize for picture-perfect family portraits is a written list of guests who will be included. This will allow you to change poses quickly and call family members into and out of frame seamlessly.
When posing family photos at a church, you may want to keep things tasteful and elegant out of respect for their beliefs. Save the action shots for the wedding reception, and trust us, the bride and groom will thank you.
How Do You Take Wedding Photos in a Small Church?
If you’ve shot even a handful of weddings by this point, you probably know how difficult it is to take photos in a small, crowded environment. Churches are no exception to this rule, often bringing the same challenges that any intimate space would include.
We recommend scouting portrait locations well before the wedding so that you can quickly set up shop there upon your arrival.
Look for areas of the church that will provide you with adequate lighting and ample space for you to set up any photo or video equipment.
Since you can’t change the size of the building itself, you may have to get creative to make the space work for you and your clients.
Just be sure that you’ve got a clear path to move around, and don’t be afraid to hold a few portrait sessions outside the church!
What Settings Should I Use for Wedding Photography?
While we all have our favorite settings, this is going to depend heavily on the type of church that you’re shooting in. Varied interior and exterior lighting will have the greatest effect on the settings used during each ceremony.
Shooting in manual will give you the highest amount of control, of course, which is ideal during the wedding ceremony itself. While this will require a bit more focus and flexibility on your end, the breathtaking images you capture will be worth it.
Extending your DSLR’s ISO (within reason) will help to decrease the effects of ever-changing lighting pouring through those stained glass windows.
If you’re not quite comfortable with adjusting your ISO just yet, we’d encourage you to arrive early to get in some practice shots before checking in with your couple.
Can You Take Photos Inside a Church?
The short answer to this question is a resounding…yes! It’s not uncommon for couples to book both photographers and videographers to capture their love story, even those getting married in a religious setting.
As technology and visual media have progressed in the last few decades, more and more churches are including promotional videos, social media marketing, and live-streaming sermons; some even have full-time wedding photographers and videographers on staff.
They’re no strangers to the digital age, which means that you are welcome to capture as many photos as it takes to help couples celebrate their beautiful love stories.
Still, it’s always a good idea to check in with your clients – as well as any church leaders – to determine whether they have any restrictions or requirements for photographers shooting onsite.
While they may be happy to have you onsite, some churches have specific areas designated for media during their events.
Are There Any Restrictions Against Photography in Church?
While multi-media production teams are becoming more popular in churches, you will find that some are more restrictive when it comes to where and when you are able to shoot during the ceremony.
Many Catholic churches, in fact, ask that photographers stay out of aisles and provide the guests with plenty of space throughout the entire event in reverence of the spiritual union taking place.
Due to expectations surrounding modesty and purity, your gender may play a role in the areas that you have access to within the church.
For example, a male photographer may not be invited into the bridal suite for “getting ready” shots; this isn’t a necessary restriction across all churches, but definitely something you’ll want to determine as you develop your day-of timeline.
Who to Contact for Photography Questions?
If you’ve still got a few questions about the details of taking wedding photos in a church, the best point of contact is going to be your clients.
They are the only people who can tell you exactly how they want things done on their wedding day, so we’d recommend going to them first.
If the lovebirds have been swamped with wedding planning and you’d prefer not to add anything to their plate, you can always contact the church directly in order to finish your pre-wedding prep.
There are plenty of people on staff who should be able to give you a clear picture of their rules and regulations regarding wedding photography.
Most churches have a secretary who can answer general questions related to building hours and events policies, which will help you to determine how early you can arrive and which tools you can use on the property.
The church facilities manager should be able to tackle any production-related questions and give you a full tour of the grounds, as needed.