One of my favorite parts of shooting weddings is capturing details. Couples customize their wedding to reflect their personalities, so it’s important to capture these intricacies that say so much about them. Combining those personal details with the couples’ wedding rings is crucial to creating dynamic ring shots.
What you’ll need: a macro lens, rings, something from the wedding, off camera flash (with a modifier and light stand) or a video light. The number one mistake photographers make with ring shots is NOT using a macro lens. If you don’t have one, rent it!
Here are six simple tips for creating dynamic ring shots:
1. Wait until all the “major stuff” is over – the first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc. It might take time to get the shot you’re looking for, and you don’t want to sprint across the venue to get back to something important (cake cutting, for example), only to realize you left the rings where you were shooting them!
2. Choose a detail from the wedding. It could be a centerpiece, a wedding favor, or even something that hints at the wedding venue. If you’re struggling to think of ideas, you can always fall back on the bouquet, but I try to use something a little more dynamic. Shots of the rings on the bouquet can be beautiful, but I like to create something more personal for my client. If they’ve mentioned something important, don’t be afraid to ask to borrow it. For example, one of my brides was carrying her grandmother’s handkerchief, so I shot the rings on that.
3. Get that flash off your camera! The key to creating depth in the picture is NOT lighting the rings straight on. I use a speedlight on a light stand, with a shoot-through umbrella to soften the quality of the light. Feel free to experiment with modifiers to find one that creates the quality of light you’re looking for. As a starting point, I place the light at a 90 degree angle from myself to the ring to the light.
4. Before turning on the speedlight, get your camera settings ready. Most of the time, I DO NOT want any ambient light (unless there are pretty twinkly lights in the background). I’ll configure my settings so that a test shot is black, meaning there is no ambient light being let in. In a dark venue, I’ll generally bump the ISO down to around 400, with a shutter of 1/100 and an aperture of f4.
5. Set your flash to manual so you can completely control the intensity of the light. I start around 1/32, take a test shot, and see how that looks. Adjust accordingly so you’re not completely blowing out the diamond – you want to see some detail in that bling!
Side note: You can use a video light instead of a flash. You’ll just need an assistant to hold the light steady.
6. Arrange the rings so they look snazzy, and start shooting! Change things up – use a different prop, change the angle of the light, or stack the rings differently. Take your time and to get this right, this could be the difference between a show stopper and just another ring shot.
A note about aperture: Try not to shoot any wider than f4. While I’m a big fan of shooting wide open, when you’re shooting macro wide open, the area that’s in focus is a tiny sliver. You want to see detail in the rings, otherwise they’ll end up looking blurry.
Don’t wait until the wedding to try this out! Unlike shots of the couple or the venue, you have everything you need for this at home. You never want to be practicing at a wedding, so get the flow down on your own time. This way, at the wedding, you can concentrate on creating a dynamic shot that the couple will connect with and cherish.
About Kristen Schueler
Kristen Schueler is a New England born and raised photographer, currently based in the Boston area. Specializing in life’s sweetest moments, she captures everything from engagements to newborns. Her work has been featured prominently in magazines like Southern New England Weddings, internationally published books such as Untapped (Wiley & Sons, 2013), and the walls and wallets of proud families everywhere.