Preparing To Photograph A Wedding

Being a wedding photographer is a multidimensional effort, starting with an introduction to the bride and groom, continuing through the moment you deliver your clients’ album(s), discs, etc., until often weeks later, when aunt Harriette orders last-minute prints from somewhere in Canada. It’s knowing your betrothed (clients) – their likes, dislikes, style, family and friends, etc. Photographing a wedding is proper planning: colors, location, time of day, lighting, length and nuances of the ceremony, reception area (distance to), and all the hows and whens. But, most importantly, it’s proper execution. Proper execution is a combination of four things: knowing your equipment, proper preparation, communication, and a willingness to improvise. Holding yourself to the aforementioned guidelines is crucial to separating yourself from Timmy The Timid Taker-of-Pictures (who calls himself a professional, but is really just a guy with a camera and big dreams), as well as from Mai Systyr Keri (whose photo of a cat impressed client 0 so much that they went with her, ’cause she’s affordable). If you’re here looking for some helpful tips, we hope that below you’ll find something that brings you a little closer to reaching your ultimate goal. (couples’ and wedding planners’ note: we travel!)
photo of a passionate bride
1. Wedding Photography Do’s

  • Be prepared for the first meet-and-greet – Have possible end results ready for discussion (this only requires your time, it doesn’t depend on a budget – no excuses.have samples ready; have a contract ready (or the next photographer might beat you to it); ask about bridal portraits, engagement portraits, and rehearsal dinner photos; also, we like to include our Wedding Detail Sheet.
  • Know your clients – Did they fill out the aforementioned detail sheet? What’s their style? Who/what’s important to them? What are their dislikes? You don’t want to shoot busy photos if your clients are minimalists!
  • Plan the details – Location, time of day (it affects the lighting)? Where is the reception (indoor or out)? Where will the bride and groom get ready (are you invited to the preparations)? Location for formal photos? Will you photograph the departure? How will you get from point A to point B to point C? How long will that take?
  • Detail the plans (wha-!?) – Bring more than you think you’ll need: extra lenses, batteries, lights, boundaries (as per the formals area), step stools, an undershirt…, note pad, PHONE NUMBERS
  • Plan for the worst – these people are trusting you with an important day of their lives. You don’t want to miss your assignment for lack of an umbrella. Got a spare point-and-shoot (what if you drop your camera)? List your non-guarantees in your contract! Also, be ready to politely take control of certain situations (which we’ll describe in “Dont’s”.
  • Find your go-to person. This is often a maid of honor, a mom or aunt…but there’s someone out there who knows the friends and family better than you. This helps.
  • Ask for privacy – After the wedding, either you or your go to person should confidently ask the addendants for privacy. Make it professional. Thank them for being there. And emphasize that it’s important for you to get the shots they paid your for, and that you want little distractions.
  • Communicate your important shots/needs. If you’re not sure when the cake is going to be cut, you’re not doing your job. If everyone seems confused, they’ll love for you to take the lead – do it. You will be revered and talked about (sometimes).
  • Be prepared to improvise. To be the best, you must be prepared to think under pressure. When that rain starts pouring down, and you thought to bring an umbrella – everyone is standing around waiting for someone to take the reigns. The camera will make memories if only you’ll take the lead.
  • Set up an email list, for results, and/or pass out cards. Business should continue beyond the wedding, unless you gave up your work, and left it at the mercy of the local one-hour photo.
  • Have fun! Take lots of candids. Shoot from various angles. Anticipate the goings-on.

Wedding Photography Don’ts

  • DON’T work for nothing. To do a wedding right takes time, skill, patience, and money. Read “How much should I charge,” from earlier.
  • DON’T give away the results to your photos as if they had nothing to do with all the labor you’re about to put in. Have packages, plans, ideas ready. Shooting the wedding is only half the work – if that.
  • DON’T work without a contract signed (and usually a down payment). Too much is at stake, and there are too many factors to consider.
  • DON’T leave your check list behind. You don’t want to get there, to realize that you left your batteries behind, or forgot your flash, or your extension cord, or…well, you get the point.
  • DON’T let yourself get pushed around. The newlyweds didn’t hire mom, they hired you – and they did it for a reason. Again, a contract can cover this without you having to be put in an awkward position.
  • DON’T miss an important shot because you were feeling shy or tired. Earn your money. Take control.
  • DON’T let sister, brother, aunt, and uncle all take photos from the lighting you set up for formals. Clear the area, ask for privacy, set up boundaries, something.
  • DON’T show up having not thought about the wedding dress. Consider your metering options, a possible fill flash, a bounced flash, etc. Our photographers, someday, might share some secrets with you…sssssh.
  • DON’T shoot the whole wedding from the same ol’ upright standing position. Bleh…uugh! YUK!
  • DON’T forget snacks and water! A quick pick-me-up will go along way during a long wedding!

Well, that’s all for now, folks! We wish you luck and prosperity. Have fun, be smart, be bold; and, therefore, be well. These photos were taken by Michael Shane Gordon.

photo of a happy newlywed

-Ric Torres

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