When diving headfirst into shooting a wedding, being prepared beforehand is extremely important. You wouldn’t fly a plane without doing proper preparation beforehand, right?
1) Build a bond with the couple
So it goes if you go into shooting a wedding without knowing the style of the couple and making them aware of your personal style as a photographer.
Get everything into the clear at the forefront. This way, there will be no surprises along the way and the couple will confidently put their trust in YOU to capture their wedding day pictures.
2) Preview the wedding and reception venue
A prepared photographer will make sure to know where it is they will be shooting wedding pictures and reception photos. It helps to know what the location looks like before you shoot there so that you not only bring the right camera equipment, but are able to brainstorm and consider different shots before the actual wedding day begins.
3) Assemble a wedding photography shot list
There are typically traditional pictures that every couple wishes to have taken on their wedding day. A simple Google search of “wedding photography shot list” will bring up a slew of different websites listing the must-have pictures taken during the course of the wedding day. It’s also a good idea to ask the couple if there are any special or creative shots they might like. Unless you have a killer memory, say that of an elephant, it would probably be a good idea to print out a list of each photo you want to take. Check them off as you go to make sure you don’t miss one. These wedding pictures cannot be recreated, so make sure to get them all!
4) Appoint a DR (Designated Relative)
It is no secret that a wedding day equals pure insanity. There are family members running around everywhere, taking care of last minute details, and quite often, finding something to drink (and this many times involves alcohol!). Because it is so difficult for you, a person not related to the family, to track down each relative for the family photo, designate ONE person to do this job. Make sure it is someone who is authoritative, knowledgeable, and better yet, sober.
5) 2nd photographer equals 2nd camera equals more pictures
Many wedding photographers offer to provide two photographers for the day of the wedding. This helps to capture shots you may not have seen or may not be in a place to shoot. During the wedding ceremony, there is only so much time to take pictures. Your two feet also only move so quickly. If you can afford to hire a second photographer, just do it. It alleviate some stress on you getting all the pictures you want to get and will also give you some security knowing you have two sets of pictures to go through after the wedding day is over.
6) Shoot in RAW
Although RAW files take up much more memory space than jpeg files do, as the photographer, you have the liberty to manipulate what the image will look like afterwards much more than with a jpeg. Balancing your exposure and the brightness when shooting in RAW will allow for much more detail to be present after the editing process.
7) Confident vs. Cocky
Because time is of the essence during the wedding day, it is up to you to make sure you move as quickly and as frequently as necessary to get the shots you want. Sometimes you will be in people’s way, others you won’t. Make sure you know when is appropriate. During the ceremony, if the couple is okay with it, jump right up front and take those photos. While shooting family pictures, be assertive and give direction. However, know when there is time to lay back and take a moment to breathe. It’s all about timing.
8} Employ a fill flash
When shooting a wedding, your subject is the most important thing in your camera lens. Because there are often shadows cast on the subjects (especially during midday and outdoor shoots), using a fill flash can help to increase contrast and make your subject pop out from the background. It places more emphasis on what is being photographed.
9) Catch an entire group photo
A quick and easy way to document most everyone who attended the wedding is to take an entire group photo. Because the guest list and wedding party might be large, finding a location high above will often help to capture every person’s face. You can get atop of a balcony or even say, the choir area of a church, gather everyone below, and take a few quick shots of the group looking up at you. The key is to get everyone in the shot and make it quick (and painless).
10) Set to continuous shooting mode
Also known as “burst mode,” this format of shooting helps to catch the moment of relaxation of the subject. The most personality usually comes out of a person after they have stopped actually posing for the camera. So shooting in this mode might get a couple laughing at each other, making crazy faces across the room, or even a person deep in thought, after the initial “posed” picture has been taken.
11) Be flexible and enjoy the day
There are always going to be things that seem to go “wrong” during a wedding day photo session. Someone may lose the ring, a bridesmaid may trip down the isle, it could even being to downpour during the middle of a ceremony. The thing is to be prepared for these type of “mishaps!” After all, it is just LIFE. And usually, the unexpected in life makes for the best pictures! They’ll create memories that are only specific to that couple’s special wedding day and you are the lucky photographer that caught it. Have fun in the unexpected and make the best of everything you shoot! Keep smiling and they will too.
About the Author:
Callie Colleen Smith can provide more information about wedding photography, family pictures, engagement, or modeling headshots. Smith is an assistant photographer that works with Shane Messer and Raychle Searfoss at Shane and Raychle Photography in Nashville, TN and Louisville, KY.
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