Wedding photographers are responsible for documenting the most important day in a couple’s life, there are no 2nd takes, no re-shoot, no “money back guarantee” could compensate for.
Think the pressure’s too much? It certainly could be, but proper preparation and learning the most basic wedding photography tips will help you to navigate the wedding day with more ease and confidence and when your experience grows, so will your success rate.
Most weddings follow a predictable order, and it’s important to know the flow of the wedding day in order to plan for photo opportunities.
Often, the bride and groom will get ready at separate places the morning of the wedding. Both will arrive at the ceremony venue separately and be directed to different rooms or suites, along with their bridesmaids and groomsmen.
After the ceremony, the couple will head to the reception, which is sometimes held at the same venue. During cocktail hour, the bride and groom will be in their bridal suite, spending time with each other and the bridal party.
At the beginning of the reception, the DJ or band will introduce the couple and the bridal party. The couple will have their first dance, followed by a dance between the bride and her father and the groom and his mother.
The Best Man and the Maid of Honor will give their toasts to the couple. While different courses are served, music will be played while guests dance. When dinner is served, the music will be more low key. Toward the end of the wedding, the bride and groom will cut the cake.
In general, that’s how most Western weddings goes and you must make appropriate changes and adjustments in other cultures and religious ceremonies as well, but there are a couple of pre-wedding day tasks you must do as a photographer that will help your success rate.
Being Prepared – Way Ahead of Time
A week or so before the wedding day, talk to the couple about the shots that they absolutely want and the ones they want to avoid. Ask where the bride and groom will be getting ready, where the ceremony will be held and where the reception venue is. Find out if the couple wants photos taken before the ceremony.
Preparation is key!
Visit the ceremony and reception venues in advance. Ensure that you have permission to take photos at both locations and find the best areas to shoot from.
Prepare for different types of lighting. If the wedding is outdoor, you’ll have natural light, unless it’s in the evening. Indoor weddings are usually dim, unless there are a lot of windows and the curtains aren’t drawn. Ask to visit a wedding in progress at the venue to get an idea for how the room will be lit.
Before Anyone Shows Up
On the day of the wedding, take photos of the empty ceremony and reception rooms before anyone arrives.
Don’t forget detail shots, either. Make sure to take pictures of the wedding cake, the wedding bands, the bride’s shoes and dress, decorations and centerpieces, the bouquets and any other notable details.
Compile a shot list, taking into account the wedding day schedule and the couple’s preferences, to help guide you.
More Photos of People!
Traditional wedding shots include several shots of the couple at all stages of the wedding day, shots of the bridal party and photos of the couple’s respective families. Interestingly, many new wedding photographers spend too much time shooting still-life and venues and not enough of people.
Take photos of the bridesmaids, the groomsmen, the entire bridal party together and the couple along with the bridal party. Take photos of each set of parents with their son or daughter, close family members with the couple and both families together. The best time to take these photos is during cocktail hour.
Take plenty pictures of the wedding guests as well as candid shots. While dinner’s being served and everyone’s sitting, head to each table to take photos. Instead of staying in one location for most of the night walk around the reception room, the bar and outside where guests may be milling around. Keep an eye out for funny and memorable moments.
Before stepping out of your door on the big day, check all of your equipment. You won’t have another chance to reshoot someone’s wedding day, and if your camera goes bust mid-reception, you’re in trouble. Bring plenty of memory and a backup system, such as a laptop.
Check Your Gear
Whenever possible throughout the day, load the photos from the camera’s memory card onto your computer. If something goes wrong with the memory card, you’ll know that you have all of the pictures safely stored.
Make sure that the batteries for your camera and flash are charged and bring backup batteries. Gently clean your camera lens to get rid of any dust and water spots. Take test shots to make sure that everything’s working properly, including the flash.
As your client base stabilizes and you find a certain ‘trend’ and repeating pattern with your clientelle, you can refine these pointers and help your assistants and co-shooters as well to help expand your business.
Do you have any great tips you want to share? Leave it in the comment section below!