Shooting Receptions on Film

We’ve all been there, right? The ceremony is over and you enter a dark reception hall filled with beautiful details that your clients planned out and designed for months! It’s your job to document them. Our friend Kati Rosado (who has been photographing weddings for 10 years AND just dropped a new course perfect for the Hybrid photographer!) is sharing her top tips for photographing reception décor. Let’s get started:

1. Photograph with variety in mind.

I recommend using a higher aperture for some solid wide shots of a table or the whole room to really make sure everything is in focus—use an aperture of 5.6 or greater for these. This also goes for photographing name cards, the details on the cake or any other fine details. Higher apertures ensure you get these details in focus. But don’t be afraid to get close and lower your aperture for some painterly images, too. The planner, designer and/or calligrapher will thank you for this variety!

2. Photograph the reception décor in both natural light and candle light.

This works best if the reception is outdoors or has great window light during the day. I always aim to get all the images I need in beautiful, natural light. But when the sun goes down and the candles are lit, the ambiance changes quite a bit. The candle-lit glow looks incredible on film and will really help transport your client right back to their reception.

3. Use a quality, reliable tripod.

Because we often shoot receptions in low light, we are going to need a good tripod. Unless, of course, you are a human tripod and can shoot at a shutter speed of 1 second via handheld—I know I can't! Look for a quality tripod made of metal, not plastic. Don't skimp on a good tripod—the sturdiness will help ensure your images are crisp.

BONUS TIP: The bottom of most quick-release plates (which mounts your camera to the tripod) have a ring that works for a variety of camera straps. This lets you leave your tripod contact plate on your camera at all times, making it quick and easy to attach it to your tripod when needed.

Looking to add more film into your workflow? Check out Kati’s new course, The Hybrid Photography 101 Course. This course has it all covering everything from equipment and metering to editing and so much more! This course will leave you feeling fully equipped to start incorporating more film into your craft. You’ll wish you started shooting film ages ago!

Kati Rosado / Contax645 / Fuji400H / Frontier SP3000.⁠