For Photographers: Getting the right exposure settings

“Why do you do that thing with your hand out?” is a question I get all the time at weddings. We saved a few of these hand photos for you throughout this year to show you why…

As photographers who shoot entirely in Manual Mode on our cameras, it is really important that we have our settings how we want them prior to when we anticipate the need to take a photo. Of course we need to adjust throughout the entire day in response to different lighting situations, but we also have to make micro adjustments even in stable lighting situations. The most important thing for us to “nail” when it comes to exposure is always skin tone. Even if the rest of the photo is blown out, or way to dark, the person will look perfect, and thats really all we care about in almost every situation.

In order to set things up, I always use myself as the test subject. I know my skin tone pretty well obviously, so before I start taking photos in any new lighting situation, I take a photo of my hand. That way I can check and adjust so that when the bride walks down the aisle, or the couple enters the reception, I know my settings are good to go. All I have to concentrate on then is composition and emotions/moments. Not bad eh?

The funny thing is that as a photographer you feel like you are on stage the whole day. Whenever guests want to, they can just take a look at us and see what they think, while we perform for them in a way. I am always self-conscious of myself and if I appear to be tired or bored or grumpy or anything else. I want to be smiling and looking tireless, even when I want to collapse from doing squats for 8+ hours. The funny thing is, the “talk to the hand” move is pretty peculiar and makes us look nuts, but for the perfect exposure…. I have no problem looking like a crazy person… a crazy person who smiles, never gets tired, and nails exposure.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Hey there!

This is a photo of me in a burger bar in Stockholm Sweden. I am about to drink the best beer I have ever had. It's a pretty important photo of me. I just remember feeling filled with joy and so so glad to be alive. That's a good place to start on getting to know me.


I like to travel.

I like beer.

I like the person who was across the table from me. Any guesses who?

where we hang


All images in this blog, are taken by Bethany and Dan Photography unless stated otherwise. Feel free to repost or share images for non-commercial purpose, but please make sure to link back to this website and its original post. We like sharing but not stealing. Pretty standard.

Some links to products are Amazon affiliate links.