Wedding dresses tend to be white, which is something that causes problems with camera exposure. A white dress will look like a very bright object, which it is; but auto-adjusting cameras look at the total amount of light coming into a lens. A large white object is seen as a bright image, and an automatic camera will lower the overall light intensity in an effort to compensate. This will result in underexposed image.
When the bride is only one individual in a group photo this problems tend to be less significant. But there will always be wedding photos where the bride is the centre of attention. This can be difficult to photograph correctly as the images can be underexposed, and the details of the dress tend to be lost. Considering the time and effort that goes into any wedding dress this is not something that can be neglected.
For all the variations that occur in photos the human face will almost always require a natural look, unless you are deliberately going for an unusual effect. If you get the individuals face looking naturally right the rest of the image should fall into place. If you use a light meter you should use the face as a reference point.
A cheap automatic camera usually does a satisfactory job under normal conditions, but auto-adjust will tend to underexpose a bride in a white wedding dress. If you can adjust the camera’s exposure up by one increment that is often sufficient, but experiment, as every camera is different. Some auto-adjusting cameras give you several day/nigh/macro options. Finding the right option here can make all the difference to the final image.
More advanced digital cameras let you select the point in the image that you want to use as a reference point. As with light meters you should use the individuals face as the reference, and the camera should be able to make the necessary adjustments.
The light source is important in every photo. If you want to capture all the details of the bride’s dress, which do tend to have intricate detail, it is important to have the light working well for you. A good starting point is to angle the bride’s shoulder forward and towards the light source. This should provide light that is not too directs, allowing natural shadow and highlight to neatly reveal the dress details.
It was always possible to make some adjustment at the development stage of photography. Digital images have more options than ever with Photoshop. But even when mistakes can be corrected it is in your best interest to have unprocessed images that don’t require more of your time.