As a once-in-a-lifetime (ideally!) event, the wedding day is one that the newlyweds will remember fondly for the rest of their lives. The photographer at a wedding has a lot riding on getting the perfect shot, so there's a lot of pressure on them.
Even though photographing a wedding is perhaps the most difficult assignment a photographer will ever undertake, it also has the potential to be one of the most gratifying. With any luck, it could even pave the way to a successful and satisfying professional life.
Follow these guidelines if you've been requested to shoot a special event or are considering making photography your career.
Consider this: do you often fantasise about the experience of photographing a wedding? This article is dedicated to helping those who are just starting out in the world of photography. I can't wait to give you this rundown of the day's events from beginning to end; it includes everything from the enjoyable to the stressful to the preparation required, and it's simply an excellent synopsis of the day overall.
You only get one shot at a successful wedding, so you better make it count. Therefore, being well-organized and well-versed in your subject matter is essential.
So, let's set the scene: you scheduled the wedding a year ago, kept in close contact with the couple, held a pre-wedding meeting to go over the day-of schedule and other arrangements (I'll cover this in greater depth in a later piece), and now the big day is almost here: the wedding!
The pressure to get every shot perfect when photographing a wedding is high because there is only one opportunity to do so. Your images will serve as heirlooms for years to come as the happy couple looks back on this momentous occasion. As a result, taking portraits requires more forethought and expertise than most other types of photography. If you're just starting out as a wedding photographer, it's crucial that you plan everything out in advance and leave nothing to chance. Here, I'll provide you with some basic advice to help you get going.
Table of Contents
Meet the Couple
Prior to making any other preparations, you should first sit down with the couple and discuss their expectations and desires in terms of your wedding photography. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's actually one of the most effective methods for predicting which photographs a client would enjoy. Not two partners in a relationship will have the same needs.
Write a List
It is helpful to make a list of the most important wedding guests to photograph with the help of the newlyweds, so that everyone who should be in the group photographs actually is in the photos. They will not be pleased if they receive their images and notice that neither their parents nor their grandparents are in any of the group pics.
Check out the Locations
I suggest going there ahead of time to scout out the greatest photo ops. Additionally, this should assist reduce anxiety prior to the big day. You should show the pair around so they can give you their thoughts in person. It's a good idea to practise ahead of time by taking pictures in a variety of stances and settings to see what works best for the actual wedding.
Practice Before the Event
The secret to a flawless shot is plenty of pre-event practise. You're setting yourself up for failure if you go in without any background shooting portraits or weddings.
But I'm willing to bet that if you're reading this blog, you've already shot images of people before. So, expand on that knowledge by taking pictures of your loved ones while they are at your home. If this will be one of your first weddings to photograph, you can even bring along some friends to the venue before the big day.
Prepare Ahead of Time
It's disastrous to miss the perfect photo op because you didn't know where or when to take it. Therefore, it is recommended to keep a daily schedule handy. Consider carefully where you will stand to capture the best shots of the ceremony's most memorable moments. If the wedding will be held indoors, you should scope out the venue in advance to plan out your transitions between different roles. One ideal opportunity for this is during the dress rehearsal. If you ask the couple nicely, they will likely invite you to attend their wedding.
It can be quite helpful to have a second photographer present, or to ask the couple to pick one on their own. In the event of a catastrophic event, this will be a huge weight off your shoulders. For instance, if you're the primary photographer and you miss a crucial (or even minor) moment, your backup photographer will likely have captured it. One other perk is that you can outsource tasks to them, such as having them photograph solely the guests while you concentrate on the bride and groom.
Gathering the wedding party and guests for a group photo can be challenging if you don't know everyone there. Get the couple to choose a family member to be in charge of this responsibility.
Create a Photo Checklist
If you don't have much experience shooting weddings, it's a good idea to compile a list in advance of the major events and subjects you plan to cover. The couple's involvement is equally valuable in this situation. Walking down the aisle, the kiss, exchanging rings, cutting the cake, and dancing are just a few of the highlights that come to me when I think of a wedding. But don't just focus on the big picture; capture the bridesmaids' dresses, the rings, and the flower arrangements as well.
Have a Backup Plan
Without a contingency plan, the wedding day's weather can derail months of planning. When it rains on the big day, every photographer's worst nightmare comes true. However, with some advanced planning, you may turn the rain into an opportunity for some truly stunning photographs.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of bad weather:
- Do not forget the props! The duo would look great with a black or white umbrella, for instance.
- Consider the sky your ally. If you place the pair in front of some dramatic clouds, you can get some great shots.
- Have the bride pack an extra pair of shoes just in case. No one wants the bride to trip over her own heels because the ground is too soft and muddy. Instruct them in advance to bring an extra pair.
- You should try to find other places to stay. You'll need to come up with a backup plan for photography if you have to reschedule because of weather. Find these in advance and maybe even ask the venue management if there are any suitable covered locations or rooms you can utilise.
Prepare Your Camera Gear
You'll want to have a backup camera setup on hand in case something goes wrong. It is also advisable to include an extra battery or memory card just in case. Not everyone can afford to buy all of this outright, but you may be able to borrow from a friend or rent the equipment you need for a small fee.
Here is some of the basic gear you'll need if you do not have it already:
- Good camera, ideally a digital single-lens reflex or a mirrorless camera with excellent features
- A range of lenses appropriate for many different situations
- A camera bag that can be carried around and quickly accessed to protect and organise your equipment.
- Diffused lighting for the event's formal photos
- Large capacity memory cards
- Additional power sources and battery packs
- Possible use of a tripod, albeit in many instances one is not required.
Wedding Photography Tips
Take your wedding ceremony and family images to the next level with the help of these expert wedding photography advice.
Assist a Professional
When shooting weddings, it's important to know what is and isn't acceptable practise. Learning the basics from a veteran photographer will help you avoid common mistakes.
If you're thinking about starting your own wedding photography business, you might want to get in touch with a pro first. They may let you tag along to weddings they are coordinating or offer you the chance to pick their brain.
Working with an established pro can give you invaluable on-the-job training that will serve you well in future productions. Depending on how experienced a photographer you already are, some of the advice presented here may seem obvious. However, it is usually instructive to examine the methods used by other experts in your industry.
Test Your Camera in Advance
Before you head out to shoot stunning wedding photos, you should double-check that all of your equipment is in good working order.
In addition to multiple lenses and an external light, you should carry a tripod to the wedding ceremony to steady your shots. Photographing a wedding indoors may necessitate additional lighting equipment. In most cases, a bounce can suffice in place of bulky lighting at outdoor ceremonies.
When in doubt, pack more supplies than you think you'll need. Do not miss a moment of the festivities, from the cocktails served at the cocktail hour to the exciting dancing on the dance floor, by remembering to bring along a few extra batteries and memory cards.
Pack Sufficient Accessories
Making excuses for your shortcomings as a photographer will not help your reputation. So remember to pack everything you'll need to take stunning wedding photos. You should bring a laptop if at all possible so that you can control your photo backups in real time. Future major technology mishaps, such as the loss of photo data, can be avoided with this precaution.
How much money will I need to launch a photography business? We have a manual to help you with it.
Photograph with a Partner
All of your photography gear is too heavy for you to carry on your own. If you want the best possible photos from the wedding, you'll probably need some assistance. It's possible that you'll need the help of a second professional photographer to handle tasks like setting up lights, shooting practise photos, and snatching up on overlooked moments. Of course you can't be in two places at once!
Make an offer to be the wedding photographer's helper in exchange for helping out at an upcoming event. Trading services with a professional photographer can help you save money and acquire quality shots at your wedding.
Pre-Plan the Shoot
Shooting is necessary, but planning is crucial. Plan on spending some more time on this aspect of the wedding pictures.
Photos of the bride and groom in various settings should be scheduled in advance. The pair will do as you say and trust your judgement, but they may have their own suggestions for photo opportunities.
In the photographs, the couple can be posed any you choose. During the pre-shoot planning phase, we suggest presenting your clients with a manual of poses. Include the couple's desired wedding photo poses in the contract they sign with you.
Your clients' ease in front of the camera will determine how much guidance you'll need to help get the greatest photo. Because of this, it's crucial to have patience with the newlyweds. Their level of satisfaction with the event is directly proportional to how much effort you put into making them feel at ease.
Keep in mind that referrals from satisfied customers are the best kind of advertising for a photography business. One of your clients will tell you that you're an exceptionally patient photographer.
Capture the Firsts
A well-lit black and white photograph of the happy couple's first dance.
Wedding days are significant occasions, and the couple wants to remember every second of it. The first kiss, first dance, and first glimpse are all significant firsts for a couple. You should enquire about any unique "first moments" your clients wish to have captured, as they may be arranging their own, atypical versions of these milestones.
Set aside some time for these initial stages, and prepare in advance to get the greatest picture possible. These junctures come quickly, so planning ahead is essential.
If you want your first-moment shots to turn out great, you should set your camera to a fast shutter speed that will allow you to shoot numerous frames in rapid succession. In the editing phase, you'll have multiple options from which to pick the best shot.
Make an effort to capture these early stages from several vantage points. If the couple is making a big entrance, for instance, you might want to set up many cameras with a remote shutter to get shots from different angles.
Shoot the Reactions
Guests having a good time at a wedding are always a big hit in the newlyweds' wedding album. Make an effort to snap photos of your friends and family having a good time on the dance floor and at the reception meal as well. All of the loved ones who came to offer their support for your clients should have their reactions documented.
You can delegate this task to your assistant and get more done together. Put them in charge of capturing the guests' and the couple's "WOW!" reactions as you stick close to the newlyweds.
Instruct your companion to snap shots as rapidly as possible while covering as many faces as possible. It's a happy event that deserves to be documented so the happy couple can look back on it in the future.
Know the Guests
There are people from all walks of life at a wedding. People from all walks of life will gather to celebrate the newlyweds. Remember that the guests didn't employ you for the shoot, so while it's crucial to capture their happiness, they didn't pay you to do so.
To ensure that the couple's special visitors are recognised, it's important to talk about the guest list with them. You should make an effort to remember these people's names and make them feel at ease throughout the photo shoot because they are unique guests who deserve special treatment.
Guests that know the bride and groom well are always the most fun. You should plan on taking several great photographs of them with the pair and on their own because they are significant to the couple.
Capture a Group Photo
It might take all night if everyone who wants to has their picture taken with the newlyweds. It's safer to fire in clusters. If you don't, you won't have time to get the best images.
Work together effectively to manage these teams. So that you may concentrate on taking photographs, your helper may be responsible for tasks such as forming groups, rearranging furniture, and changing lighting.
Photographing a group can be challenging because it's hard to get everyone to look their best at the same moment. There are those who blink and those who can't quite focus. Thus, it is beneficial to take numerous additional images so that the best image may be selected for each group.
Look for Smiles
Where there's a grin, there's a moment worth capturing. A wedding album can be made more interesting by capturing the candid moments that occur throughout the ceremony and reception, such as children playing, guests whispering about a pivotal moment, or a group of friends laughing in the background.
You can't design or prepare these moments, because they're unique and original. You should be alert for such opportunities and snap away without hesitation if you spot one. These are the kinds of pictures that the couple will cherish forever.
Our wedding photography instructions for beginners is the most comprehensive piece you can find on this subject online. We spent a tremendous lot of time crafting this beast of a piece, and we hope you were able to find plenty of knowledge you can take to heart and utilise when you start to investigate wedding photography yourself.
It's impossible to feel fully confident in what you're doing without first gaining some practical experience, even if you have access to the best advice in the world. The process of coming up with novel difficulties almost guarantees that you will have some unanswered issues.
What a wealth of information for newbies! Hopefully, this essay has helped you think about or plan your next wedding photography assignment. Can we assume you have experience as a wedding photographer? Share in the comments any advise you have for novices seeking to create a reputation for themselves in the wedding photography profession. Your experiences can benefit others along the way!
FAQs About Wedding Shoot
Both Shutter Priority Mode and Aperture Priority Mode have their downfalls, which is why it's best to shoot your wedding photography on Manual Mode. Manual Mode allows you to set each camera value, which leaves nothing up to chance.
A pre wedding shoot is not an engagement session. Its a portrait session where the couple get dressed in their wedding atire and do their wedding portraits before the day. A post wedding session is not a trash the dress (unless they want to trash their dress!)
Photography rights at your wedding ceremony or reception venue. Wedding venue hire usually includes the rights to have your wedding photography on site. It's worth checking with your church or registry office if there are any other weddings on that day.
For weddings and hand-holding images, we'd recommend a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second or faster. A slower shutter speed is quite the opposite. With a slower shutter speed, you're allowing your camera's shutter to open and close at a slower rate. Which may or may not introduce motion blur.
A pre-wedding shoot takes place any time before a couple's wedding date—even the day before! These sessions are not focused on ring shots, proposal recreations, or getting a picture for a newspaper announcement.