I'm obsessed with photographing the details at weddings. It's my absolute favorite, and the wedding rings are the topper on the metaphorical cake. I've featured wedding rings more than any other single item on my blog and Instagram, check out this blog post and this other post if you're so inclined, and they are honestly my favorite part of being wedding photographer. One of the most common things, regarding ring shots, I hear from other wedding photographers is they are stumped when it comes to creating unique and different images. During the hustle and bustle of a wedding it's often easier to recreate the same beautiful look you've done multiple times for your previous clients, but where is the fun in that?
I typically do ring shots either during bridal prep or the reception dinner, depending on the flow of the day. I try to get at least two or three different looks for each couple, including the "traditional" rings with the flowers, and a few non-traditional looks, (more about this towards the end of the post). The key is to experiment outside the box, and to incorporate elements personal to that couple. With each wedding I shoot, I try to do at least one "I don't think this will work but you never know" set up with the rings because it pushes me to be more creative and try new things.
If I'm shooting the rings during bridal prep, I typically include elements like the bride's perfume and other jewelry, shoes, garter, bouquet, etc. If we're in a hotel room, there will typically be great textural elements I can use such as the wood grain of a table, the fabric of a couch, etc. The best thing about ring shots is that you're capturing such a small physical space in the your image, so even if there is chaos going on around, you'd never be able to tell in the image.
During receptions, there are so many different ways to photograph wedding rings that are unique to that couple. Take a look at the table centerpieces, cake topper, decor in general, and look for any venue specific elements you can include. If the couple had a beautiful program or invitation, use that in an image. Because you're shooting such a small part of the overall environment, almost anything can be beautiful. Try something weird, something unique, something boring! Don't be afraid to explore, that is where creativity comes from!
Regardless of the way you photograph wedding rings, there are two "must-dos". Check if the rings are engraved, and wherever you photograph it, get close! Macro or not, I rarely shoot rings with a lens under 100mm. If you're shooting macro, your f-stop needs to be above f/8, (play around with it), or only millimeters in front of and behind the part of the ring you've focused on will be in focus! #lessonslearned This might result in you needing a tripod, off camera lighting, etc. Camera settings for the images in this post are included in the captions, just hover your mouse over the image to see how each photograph was captured.
The above images are all from the same wedding, and were taken during the reception, (you can click on an image to see it larger). The elements used to create three very different looks were just the table linens and the centerpieces, (slices of wood and decorative branches with gold berries). All images were shot with a 100mm lens with a 1:1 macro adapter.
In the first, I carefully balanced the rings among the gold berries with some positioned in the background, and some in the foreground. Shot at f/9, shutter speed 1/250th, ISO 100 with off camera flash. For the second image, I included more of the background, and shot at f/3.5, shutter speed of 1/250th, ISO 100 with off camera flash. You'll notice (if you click on the image to see it larger) that only the center diamond is in focus, giving the image a dreamy quality. Finally, the last image I kept simple using just the elements from the table linen, shot with the macro adapter at f/3.2, 1/250th of a second and ISO 100 with off camera flash, for another dreamy, out of focus (yet the center stone still in focus) look.
Three completely different images, all taken within minutes of each other with similar camera settings only two elements, the table linens and the centerpiece. These are images personal to this couple, besides the fact that these are their rings, because of the elements of their reception decor.
Go out, have fun, and practice with what you have at home! You don't need (extremely) expensive equipment. You just need an abundance of creativity, a little bit of technical knowledge, and light!