Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Recipe for a Great Confetti Shot: Some Helpful tips for Couples & Photographers

Everyone has their favourite shot of the wedding day, photographer and couples alike. My personal favourite is the confetti photograph - notoriously tricky, quite adventurous and easy to mess-up trying to get 'the perfect version' of this shot... plus there's lots of running backwards blindly involved for the photographer so this is always the shot that gets my adrenaline going. Worries go through my brain like fireworks - 'What if absolutely none of them focus? What if I trip over? Am I annoying being in their path? and the ultimate... what if some awful act of misfortune freezes up my camera and the shutter just doesn't go off'? and yet, this is one of my absolute favourite parts of the wedding day. 

I'm a big fan of real laughter on the wedding day - no fake smiles here. You know, the big belly-laugh sorts of shots, the quirky giggles and secret smiles exchanged between couple, family & guests. There's no denying that the confetti tunnel is just undeniably fun and the shots you get are always 100% genuine, full of real, great, tickle-your-feet sort of laughter. And who doesn't love showers of pretty coloured paper/petals/whatever you plan to through? 

After doing this job that I love for a few years now, I've learned some things about confetti shots & factors that can really make a difference in the quality of the shots (Please note though that art is subjective & some things really are just down to personal taste - I'm not saying there is a right way or wrong way to make art) 
I've decided to break down what I've personally learned along my journey into two categories; tips for couples and tips for other photographers so that there's something helpful for everyone involved :) 

T I P S   F O R   C O U P L E S 

Make sure you've got stacks of confetti

If anything lets down a confetti shot, it's the lack of confetti. It's hard to get this right and who really wants to spend a ton of money on something that you're all just throwing up in the air? There's other ways to save money here - most of my couples made their own confetti, either by drying petals from family members gardens themselves to buying those nifty little shaped-hole-punchers and making hearts/stars/whatever your hearts desire is from biodegradable paper. Either way, more is more! If the guests have nice big chunky handfuls, it means a big old myriad of colour & fun in your photograph plus a magical journey through a tunnel of raining... um, confetti. 

Big chunky confetti comes out best in pictures 

Everyone has their preference & style which is obviously a personal thing, but if you want big & bold confetti, make sure you find some chunky & colourful stuff - big chunky flower petals are great, chunky biodegradable paper is great too! I think once I photographed hydrangea leaf confetti which is plentiful in the summer months and makes for big chunky confetti. I do however still love smaller shapes & pastel colours too ^_^ 

Try something unique 

One of my best friends got married last year and her confetti really was something to remember. It was neither big & bold nor colourful & chunky and kind of goes against everything I'm saying here BUT it was amazing. She created a DIY confetti of herbs & lavender sprigs so that it smelled of amazing autumn smells... cloves, lavender, cardamon... as a fun alternative to regular confetti, you could give your guests something truly sensational and throw seeds and herbs instead. I'm not all about the photos you know... everyone having the best time possible is pretty dang important to me too and having scented confetti really makes for a great guest experiences. 

Avoid Cones

I'm not sure if it's just me that finds this, but cones don't seem to be very effective confetti throwing mechanisms... they take a whole bunch of effort to put together when you can just pile the confetti into a basket and let people grab nice big handfuls. It's good for portioning out the confetti if you don't have a lot of it but it tends to create flying balls of confetti rather than a nice shower effect (unless you have a super light confetti). I'd recommend saving some effort and ditching cones - It's a good time saver on the whole and when you've got so much DIY already piled up for a wedding, every little bit of time saved helps :) 

Try to be eco aware - petals not plastic

This one's pretty self explanatory. Throwing confetti is kind of like a flash-mob of littering - albeit, very pretty litter. Try to use something that wont harm the earth :) Petals, biodegradable paper, seeds... 

 T I P S   F O R    P H O T O G R A P H E R S  

I'm sorry - I'm probably teaching grandma to suck eggs here and I'm worried that a lot of these tips are a bit basic and self explanatory but if you're a true beginner and you're not sure where to start, I hope these tips are helpful. We're all in this together after all. 

Tell the guests to aim high

Sometimes guests may just throw it right at the couple or even down to the ground... to get maximum confetti rain effect, they want to throw up in the air, nice and high and this will create a lovely waterfall of confetti (in theory - there's always one!) 

Put your camera on continuous shutter mode

I use continuous shutter to maximise my shots... who knows if my methods truly are the best methods? (I'm open to dispute!) however I like a nice big ole chunk of pictures to choose from. By putting on the continuous shutter and running backwards, the shutter will keep going off (in theory) and although focusing feels like a dance with chance (I keep it on auto focus for the confetti) it gives me plenty to choose from. Sometimes, the autofocus even surprises you and gives you a few shots like this! 

Try a variety of distances

I like to give my couples a nice variety of distances in their shots and not be up in their face all the time. My favourite shots however are the close ups (I love capturing their expressions) but to avoid them feeling as though they're going to trip over me, I start nice and far back, begin the train with some full shots getting the entirety of them in with plenty of the scene for atmosphere. I then let them get closer and closer to get some great expression shots before darting out of the tunnel to let them enjoy the rest of it without bother. Sometimes they surprise you with a squishy hug at the end so it's good to be ready in waiting for anything that may happen. 

The settings I typically use 

I'm going to be controversial here... I love soft focus and my style is probably known for it's softness quite often. I like to shoot the confetti trains on F 1.8, a high shutter speed depending on the lighting conditions and weather and an ISO that also fits the lighting conditions. Shooting on a shallow depth of field means I can get a nice smudgey bokeh effect with the confetti creating a dreamy feel. If you should on a wider D.O.F, you're going to get much more in focus with less hazy background and singular pieces of confetti in focus, and if that's your jam, there's nothing wrong with that. 

Make it as fun as possible

 The most important piece of advice of them all: MAKE IT FUN :D I always do my best to subvert that stereotype of fussy, bossy &  stern photographer. I want my couples & guests to have a fun experience with me so I do my best to keep it light hearted, keep a commentary going, get them laughing and feel comfortable. The confetti tunnel is a super fun part of the day and it's more important for them to really enjoy it than to create a regimented, strict set-up just to get a shot that looks great. They should be having a great time and your shot should reflect that, not visa versa. So don't be bossy here, be honest, keep it light hearted and get them ready and all geed up to pelt the couple with whatever pretty-litter they've been armed with. 

Please feel free to share any of your experiences below or ask any extra questions, we're all in this boat together and I love the idea of a community of photographers working together and not against each other. 

Until next time! 


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