Wedding Photography Tips: Capturing the Scene Setters

Editor’s note: Here are key wedding photography tips from a very special guest author, Donna Newman. Ms. Newman is also a reviewer at Eyeist, the fabulous prize for our Wedding Still Life contest. Let these tips inspire your own wedding still life!

Tips by Donna Newman

Wedding photography is often thought of as the traditional portrait of a bride and groom. My challenge as a photographer has been to invoke emotion from the viewer and take it beyond stagnant portraits. The hallmark of my style has been to capture the fleeting moments that happen in a split second. While these images are the backbone of my work, one aspect that is often overlooked is what I call the “scene setters.”

© Donna Newman

Scene setter images help to frame the day and can tell a story as a stand-alone shot or set of images. They can really round out the clients’ photos and without these photos, the viewer doesn’t have a complete perspective of the event.

Photo tips

1. Wedding magazines love showcasing detail shots from the wedding, especially tight shots of details such as floral, paper products (invitations, programs, etc). Most of the weddings that I’ve had published expressly asked for these details and without them, they don’t get a second look.
Tip: Use the color scheme from the wedding to “frame” the paper products. For example, get an extra tablecloth or piece of fabric and use it to place the paper products on. This really helps the products to pop and the shot looks super clean.

© Donna Newman

2. Select fast lenses that will focus on specific parts of the product that you are shooting and blur out the background. This will help the product to become the prominent part of the shot.

© Donna Newman

3. Don’t be afraid to ask the client to make an effort in creating these clean details. I’ve often asked clients to order some great paper products that can personalize their day and enhance many detail shots from the wedding. Some couples have done banners, napkins, and signs to list a few.

© Donna Newman


Donna Newman has been the photographer of choice for some of the most exciting assignments including:

Howard Stern’s Wedding to Beth Ostrosky
Katherine Heigl’s Wedding to Josh Kelly
Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey’s Wedding to Cassandra Huysentruyt
Michelle Obama with Martha Stewart at Camp LeJeune’s Marine Base
Matt Lauer and his wife Annette
Rush Limbaugh’s Wedding to Kathryn Rogers
Ali Larter’s Wedding to Hayes MacArthur
Personally chosen by Martha Stewart to photograph the Today Show Wedding on NBC
Chris Bosh’s Wedding to Adrienne Williams

She is a regular guest on the Martha Stewart Sirius-XM show. Donna was the only American photographer recommended in Vogue magazine as an international destination wedding specialist.

She lives in Miami’s South Beach with her husband and business partner Ian and their two children Lauren and Carter.

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