While couples about to get married may differ with respect to personal style or what season in which to hold their wedding, most agree that having photo memories of their wedding is essential. That’s why a photographer is such an important part of the wedding planning process.

Although professional wedding portraits and albums are a key component to good memories, candid shots from you – the family and friends who attend the wedding – are some of the most cherished photos a couple can have. Here are some tips for capturing all the incredible moments of this important day.

• Familiarize yourself with the camera: Take some time to learn the ins and outs of your camera before you’re called upon to take pictures of the wedding. Learn the best way to zoom and focus, and find out if your camera has any special features, such as black and white capabilities or panoramic views. Also, don’t forget to charge or replace the batteries. For those with digital memory cards, purchase a new one with plenty of space so you can freely snap away.

• Tell a story: Start taking pictures before the wedding even occurs. If you’re a friend or a family member, capture the special events leading up to the wedding, such as dress fittings, choosing wedding rings, the bridal shower, or shots of the bachelor party. This way the photos can be put together to tell the entire story of the wedding, culminating with the big day.

• Go for the close-up: Stand no more than 4 to 6 feet from your subjects when snapping a picture. You want to be sure the couple is the central focus of the picture, not the distracting background items.

• Shoot candid shots: Posed pictures have their place, but candid shots can really capture the mood and excitement of the day. Snap away while everyone is dancing, when the couple isn’t looking, or if you see a special moment that others may not be aware of.

• Include pictures of party participants: The couple will have plenty of images of themselves and their wedding party in a photographer’s album. What they may be missing are the people who actually attended the wedding. Be sure to take plenty of pictures of the people who came together to share in this special day.

• Special surprise: Thanks to the immediate gratification that digital cameras provide, you can treat the happy couple to a preview of their wedding pictures even before the big day has ended. Use the time between the wedding ceremony and reception to have a few prints of the nuptials printed. Place them in a photo album and give this gift to the couple at the reception. (MS)

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