Tips on Photographing “Joy” – Guest post by Paul Lucia

Intro by Skip Cohen

For me personally, the fun of a blog like this is getting to know more photographers/artists. Meet a soon to be good buddy, Paul Lucia.  I’ve personally never met Paul, but I love his work and thanks to Tamron USA, we were introduced in cyber space.  A couple of emails and phone calls later and *poof* here we are.

Paul’s post today is part of a daily double with a podcast as well. In both, Paul shares some terrific tips essentially reminding you to always bring your “A” game to a wedding, along with some great gear. I love his approach in this post, for example, you’re there to photograph “Joy”.  There it is, your ability to be a magician and turn the intangible into something tangible!  Plus, his pitfalls on weddings couldn’t be more on target!

Check out more of Paul’s work on his website at

Weddings are about one word, “Joy”.  As a photographer, your role is simple – capture the moments that best reflect that fleeting emotion.

Interestingly enough, given the standard formula weddings follow, and despite all the planning, timetables and production schedules, you will find each wedding evolves into its own set of dynamics.  These powerful forces can’t be controlled, nor should you wish to, for it presents the opportunity to seize images that are unique.  

Regardless of the chaos surrounding the moment, remember always search for “Joy”.  In one instance, I was photographing a bride when her mother walked in and an argument ensued.  I quietly moved and focused on the intricate details on the back of the wedding dress.  When the bride later viewed the images, she caught her breath and confided these were among her favorites.


When shooting weddings, the most difficult task begins before you pick up your camera; the need to establish rapport, and more importantly, gain the trust of your bride.  Possess confidence in your craft and the ability to instill that confidence, and your images will catapult from average to stellar.

Brides are usually not professional models, and as such do not possess the gift to instantly turn “it on and off”.  Add in the pressure of the bride being the center of attention, along with too much time between prep and ceremony to ponder any problems (real or imagined), and you have a recipe for anxiety and doubt.

Think of weddings as a theatrical event, with the bride being the star, and the groom being the co-star.  Everyone else is in supporting roles.  It’s up to you to learn who the players are, along with their significance to the production.

Insist on photographing: Save the Date, Engagement, Rehearsal Dinner, and if possible a Boudoir session.  There are two advantages: first, these are sessions you can control the elements (magic hour, venue, wardrobe, etc.), and will inevitably yield quality images.  This is how you will build trust and confidence in your bride.  The second advantage, you’ll gain insight into just who is important, solving the problem of who the players are.


My “go to” Tamron lenses are as follows: the 24-70 f2.8 Di VC.  It allows me to move around, grab full open shots, and details.  The 70-300 f4-5.6 Di VC is one of my favorites, and undoubtedly the best in its class.  With this lens I can sneak in and grab shots of those subjects avoiding the camera.  The 90 f2.8 is a must for bridal prep and post ceremony.  It’s intimate, flattering and crystal clear, lending itself to clean, crisp enlargements.    


  • No mater what has occurred, smile!  Never display concern over a glitch or problem. Remember, the bride and everyone else, absorb whatever emotion you express.  Convey happiness, you’ll get happiness.
  • Never present your client with a shot list.  This only leads to disappointment of images you failed to capture.
  • Never drink alcohol at the wedding, even if it doesn’t impair your ability.  It could impair someone’s perception of you.
  • Dress professional, it takes little effort and makes a difference.
  • Check your gear the night before. 
  • Hire someone as good or better than you.
Image copyright Paul Lucia. All rights reserved.

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