Beginner Tips for the Aspiring Wedding Photographer

“I’m shooting my first wedding and I’m freaking out!! Do you have any pointers?”

This quote has to be one of the most common that I’ve come across in my photography career. Taking the dive into wedding photography can be daunting, and it comes with a lot of stress. Unhappy brides, hundreds of people, and unforeseen weather conditions can all add up to big problems on the big day. Below are some tips that I have learned along the way. I hope they will help you on your first wedding shoot and ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible.

"Untitled" captured by Ksenia Ashihmina. (Click image to see more from Ksenia Ashihmina.)

photo by Ksenia Ashihmina

Preparation is Key

Things can and will go wrong at every wedding! No two weddings will ever be alike. The bride may be running exceptionally late, relatives could be arguing, or friends might be in meltdown mode. The one big thing that will save you at every wedding is preparation. An earlier session with the couple at the venue to scope out nice locations close by and make sure that the lighting works well will save you time and time again. Also, asking the bride and groom for three key photos that they want from the wedding means that you can concentrate on these favorite shots, and if worse comes to worst, the couple will still have their most cherished photos.

The Swan Principle

The Swan Principle will serve you very well in years to come as you continue to grow and expand your knowledge in the wedding photography field. Have you ever noticed how a swan in water looks so elegant and calm, with not a worry in the world? Under the water a swan’s legs are going a million miles an hour, thrashing around to keep the swan in one spot. This is optimal for every photographer whilst shooting a wedding. The bride and groom will already have enough stress, and the last thing that should contribute to that stress is the photographer. No matter how stressed you are on the wedding day, your only job should be to appear calm and look after the bride and make sure she is as happy and as comfortable as possible.

Present Your Personality

There are so many photographers in the world these days. With such a big choice, the couple-to-be doesn’t want a stuffy, creepy photographer standing in the corner pushing the shutter button and stealing pieces of their souls. A beginner photographer can fall into the trap of wanting to act too formal on his or her first shoot and get rigid behind the camera. The bride and groom should already know that this is your first wedding and despite this should have high expectations for their wedding photography. Always remember to talk to people, be bubbly and outgoing, and remember that you are offering a service. Your service ensures that the bride and groom get amazing, heartfelt images that truly reflect the memories of this wondrous day. The only way that you are going to achieve this is by making the couple comfortable with the camera, so that when those emotions start pouring out they are thinking about the moment and that moment only.

Too Obtrusive or Not Confident Enough? Creating the Right Balance

There will be times when you’re shooting a wedding when you will need to be bold and outgoing. You must take control of the situation in order to get great photos and to reassure the couple that they are in good hands. Then there is the opposite situation, when it will be best to stand back and let the emotions of the day flourish while you get creative and capture some amazing memories. Both of these styles will have to be adapted to during the day in order to get the full story. The best advice I can give is to be confident and bold when it comes to all of your posed images, while letting things go along at their own pace in the preparation stage, when all parties are getting ready and drinks are flowing. The last thing that you want to do when the bride and her family are getting emotional about this momentous day is to get up in their faces and ruin the moment. When the bride looks back on these photos she wants to remember the memory of that exact moment, rather than what the photographer was doing at the time. Your camera should always be at the ready and you should be trying to anticipate what is going to happen next.

"Wed" captured by Olesia Kliots. (Click image to see more from Olesia Kliots.)

“Wed” by Olesia Kliots

As you gain more knowledge you will begin to have more understanding of the day and start to find patterns in each wedding. Your photos will become more refined and consistent.

I hope these tips have served you well and give you more confidence going into your first exciting, demanding wedding.

About the Author
Steve Tognazzini is a professional wedding photographer based on the Gold Coast.

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