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Photographing the speeches

HalefaHalefa Member
edited August 2011 in wedding photography
I've photographed some family events like birthdays, confirmation and one wedding. So, I've always been a guest, just with a camera. (The wedding was the biggest job, though.)

I always try to get a good shot of the speeches, even if it means, that I don't get any of the food. Sometimes, I move around a bit, so that the pictures don't look all the same, or because I don't have a seat with the perfect view.
Especially during the wedding, I sat quiet frontal to the couple. So I got a good picture with them and the parents holding a speech, but the perspective and especially the background weren't really pretty.
So in the beginning of the speeches I moved around a bit, took some pictures and then I sat down again, listening.

Later, my boyfriend (also photographing a bit, but not as ambitious as I am) told me, that I shouldn't take so many pictures and move around during the speeches, but rather stay on my seat and take the pictures from there. I moved very subtle and discreet, but it still disturbed too much.

What do you do? How do you move around during the reception in general and especially during the speeches?

Maybe I should mention, that it was a rather small reception with about 50-60 people. The tables were arranged like a horseshoe.


  • Photos of speeches or toasts run the risk of being as boring as the speeches sometimes are. The main thing that makes them interesting is the reactions -- which are clearest when the speaker and the couple (or "toastee") are in the same frame. Or two frames that you'll display together, one showing the speaker and the other showing the reactions.
    And of course keep looking (with finger on the shutter button) for those moments when the strong facial expressions bubble out.
    To get those moments of connection and reaction, it seems likely that you'll need to move around. Probably easiest with a long lens -- say 85mm or higher (but depending on the size of the hall). Maybe on a monopod, esp. if light levels are low.
    Then you could move side-to-side at the back of the hall, or come down one side or the other to get a side view of speaker and reactor(s) -- maybe the long view of the head table if there is one. (Two photographers, different angles, makes it easier to get what you're after.)
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    (Strange, I thought I had replied to this on my iPad a while back, but it appears like I never hit "post comment". Or something)

    When photographing the speeches, keep in mind the final number of images you're going to give the couple. You don't need to take a multitude of images of the person delivering the speech. You're most likely just going to give the couple 2 or perhaps 3 images of the person delivering the speech.

    One representative shot ...
    one shot with some kind of gesture ...
    and then perhaps a third shot with an animated gesture or expression.

    you don't need more than that.

    So often with the toasts and speeches, I shoot 4 or 5 images and check that I've nailed it, and then I hang back. No need for more. But I am ready to shoot reaction shots or something interesting happening.

    Therefore, I don't move around much.
    I use my 70-200 to shoot vertical images of the person delivering the toast,
    and then a few horizontal images with my 24-70 of the couple at the table. Reaction shots ... and clinking of glasses.

    But again, no need to machine-gun this.
  • BogdanBogdan Member
    edited August 2011
    I find some of our best shots are done doing the speeches. There's always the puzzled or the embarrassed or the laughing out loud moment and those make for quite compelling pictures most of times. I hang in close the head table after snapping a few good shots of the speaker and hunt for reactions while keeping a close look on both parents tables. With a little bit of practice you'll know who's more likely to make good subjects to shoot at speeches. My wife alternately covers the sides of the venue, hunting as well :) (love shooting with her, she always comes up with good stuff :))

    I'm never longer than 70mm (my style is close up).
  • Thank you for your answers. I think one of the problems was, that I was half-guest and half-photographer. And that I used my 28-75mm f/2.8 instead of the slow 70-200mm.
  • As Neil say's, a max of 2 or 3 shots required of the speaker, then, depending on who the speaker is talking about at his/her part of the speach then zoom in on the bride/groom/mother/father of the bride/bridesmaids etc for there reactions to the speaker. i.e crying, laughing and all the head in hands moments you don't want to miss.
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