Hearing that you are going to photograph your first wedding can trigger a wide range of emotions, ranging from excitement to apprehension and even dread. If you have already mastered your camera and gear, you can improve the quality of wedding photos.
This article summarizes the most important things you should do before, during and after an event. Spend the time, effort, and money necessary to invest in the right tools and improve the appearance of your image and your business.
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Before the nuptials
Preparing for an event well in advance is the best way for a photographer who wants to capture good photos. I spent weeks researching photography competitions online before shooting my first wedding. Read some books about wedding photography and join photography forums. You’ll be surprised at how much information is available for free. These ideas, along with the images that accompany them, can be used as a starting point for you to consider your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
Before the wedding, the couple to be married and the photographer must sign a standard agreement. It is not acceptable to lack this document. The contract must specify the costs and deliverables for the product or service being offered. It is important to have a model release so that images can be used for advertising. Consult an attorney to help you draft a standard agreement that will protect you.
At the time of signing the agreement, there are two more windows of opportunity for improvement. Let’s start by meeting the bride and groom. Talk to them to learn more about their backgrounds and so they can get to know you. They should be able relax and be themselves in front of you on the big day. If possible, include a low-cost/no-cost engagement session. It will put everyone at ease. It’s a good idea to give them advice on their wedding day at this stage.
You should also know the timetable. You can discuss the wedding schedule with the couple when you meet them. You would benefit from knowing what the couple expects from you. You should let them know when you would like them to be available so they can make plans. It’s the right time to bring up a wedding planner. It’s a good idea to have a friend or relative who is trusted act as “family ambassadors” on the wedding day. They can help you locate important relatives.
Checking your equipment is important, but not the only thing you should do. Double-check your equipment at least five or four days before you shoot.
A thorough equipment inspection includes checking that you have spares for everything. Use both flashes and camera bodies. If you do not already own them, renting them is a better option than buying. On your first senior picture attempt, the wind can blow your tripod and camera to the ground. All things can break at any time.
Be sure to have enough memory cards and battery power. Weddings are known to produce between two and three thousand photos. You should be prepared for your batteries to quickly drain when using flash. It’s better to use a variety of smaller memory cards than just one or two larger ones. Combining cards can help you reduce your losses if a card fails.
It is important to scout the wedding venue in advance so that you can determine the best shooting conditions. Does gelling the flash make a difference in achieving a good White Balance? It is rare to run a white balance test on the camera and take some test shots with and without flash only to find that different light sources cause dramatic colour shifts. When shooting inside an event, you will usually have to gel your flash to get it to match up with the lighting of the venue. By doing this, you can save yourself a lot more time and effort.
Before you leave, eat a small meal to prepare your body for the physical activity of the day. Pack cereals, energy bars or candy bars. You should bring water as a precaution.
If you suffer from headaches often, carry a pain reliever in your pocket or purse.
You might be able to blend in better if you wear the right clothes. Talking to the bride and groom about their hopes will help you get a better idea of the wedding day. Always wear comfortable shoes.
Get some insurance. What happens if you trip over your gear by accident?
As soon as you arrive, take some photos outside the venue. Weather, just like political climate in many countries, is subject to change at any moment. You can purchase some essential landscaping and construction materials without anyone knowing.
It is important to calibrate your camera’s white balance as soon as you enter a room. Silence the camera as you do not want to be distracted during the ceremony.
Bring along a fast lens. The faster the lens, the better. Poor lighting is a common problem in churches and reception rooms. Bring a lens with a high aperture. Rent one if you do not already own one.
Be sure to know all the details of the place you will be visiting. Flash is usually prohibited in houses of worship. However, you can ask.
Consider bringing along a friend. Do not be afraid to ask for their help with anything, from setting up photos to holding off-camera lighting. You should be aware of how much physical strain you can experience from working a 6-8 hour event. You can take better photos with the help of an assistant. This will reduce your workload and improve your photography.
You should first target the very young or very old if you want to take a short break from the bride and groom during the wedding pictures. Some may be tired and leave early.
If you are travelling alone, either leave your bag in a safe place or ask someone to carry it for you. If you are travelling alone, use a cablelock and hide your camera bag. It makes it easier for a potential thief to see your bag, which helps you prevent theft. You can’t just assume that the guests and event organizers are as relaxed as the couple.
Never format a memory-card at a party. Make frequent backups and avoid reformatting. Make sure to backup all your data before you format your computer.
You should photograph the newlyweds immediately after the wedding (or better yet, before). After a night of drinking and celebration, it will be harder to get everyone looking their best.
Photographers are often required to blend in and remain unnoticed. Blend in as much and as naturally as you can to capture people in their natural state (such as tears, laughter, or relief).
Even if the wedding ceremony and reception are indoors, take photos of the couple. Even if the reception is at midnight, sneak out to the outdoors to take pictures.
Take a group photo. It’s a great opportunity to get all the guests together in one picture. This is a good way to expand your clientele and make money from other wedding guests.
After the Wedding
It is important to get the photos processed as soon as you can after the event. It is admirable to keep the momentum of the event going. It will please everyone if photos can be uploaded quickly to a website.
You must stay in contact with the couple. Arrange a meeting with them so that they can look at the photos and discuss the purchase. It is important to provide excellent customer service before and after an occasion. Once you’ve gotten to know the couple you’ll be remembered when they need to update their family photos or take photos of their children.
Document your successes and failures. This information could be used to improve performance in the future.
What every wedding photographer absolutely needs
A Reliable Bag
There are 72 million camera bags on the market. There are many types of bags: cross-body bags and backpacks. Rolling suitcases can also be used. Some have only one or two lens and a single housing. Others may have up to eighty-four different lenses in sixteen or seventeen housings. It is possible to exaggerate the importance of a large and sturdy backpack that can hold all of what a great wedding photography requires, but it’s not done in any other manner.
You’ll be working with poor lighting at some point during your wedding. The dim, yellowish lighting that is typical in churches. The majority of reception halls have poor lighting, and there is often not enough artificial light for a person to focus on an item. Wedding photographers need cameras that work well in low-light conditions.
If you don’t have a camera capable of working in low light conditions, please, for the sake of God and all that is holy, rent one. Remember that those who trust you with their precious memories are giving the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
You may run into the same issue as before when visiting a church: a policy prohibiting photography inside the building. It is usually in the form of limiting your movement during the ceremony. You might not be able even to leave the back of the church if it were your life on stake. The couple would have looked like insects without a 70-200mm zoom lens.
The compression caused by the focal length of a zoom lens is a feature that some people find appealing. The tightening of aperture allows for the creation of bokeh without sacrificing clarity. The more beautiful the compression bokeh is, the closer you zoom in or the farther your subject is away from the background.
A Wide Angle Lens
Many photographers probably would not have considered this lens. Most first-time wedding photography used the Tamron 2470 mm, but they weren’t happy with it. Many of them sold their wide-angle lenses and were without one for many years. Photographers either took multiple shots and stitched them digitally together or moved a long distance away from their subject to get a wide shot.
What every wedding photographer needs at their fingertips
This is not just a fast-moving event that requires a long, focused shoot. The bride and groom will only have one shot to capture all the pictures they want.
Plan ahead. Experienced photographers share the essential items they always carry in their camera bags.
There are a few fundamentals we won’t cover. You should always have a variety of lenses and a flash.
Batteries, Filters and Storage
The key to a successful shoot is preparation, particularly for the parts of the wedding that do not involve the bride or groom. This may sound obvious, but some photographers have arrived at their first weddings underprepared.
Batteries are the first thing to look at. If you are like most people who use Sony cameras, you probably know that the battery life can be poor. Some photographers used to show up at the event with six batteries. After realizing that this wasn’t enough, they would bring ten.
This is a very high price. There are many alternatives that are much less expensive and are not affiliated with any specific brand. This four-pack Powerextra batteries, for example, costs less than one volley of Sony.
If you have a Canon or Nikon, you can get away with fewer batteries. Prepare for everything. If you’re short on cash, setting up a home charging station will allow you to avoid buying a lot of extra batteries.
Storage is no exception. Bring three times more stuff than you think you will need. How strictly you adhere to this rule will depend on the specifics of the shooting situation. You won’t require as much equipment if you are only going to film the ceremony. However, if you plan to stay all day you will need more.
If you can, shoot twice. You’ll have to find somewhere safe to store your laptop or external hard drive to be able to continuously upload photos throughout the day.
Don’t forget your filters. Bring along neutral density and circular filter selections, and put UV filters on each lens. Even if your research is thorough and you know the location inside out, lighting and weather conditions on the wedding day are not known. You’ll need to change filters quickly if you plan to take many photos outdoors.
It’s best to have some stepping rings on hand in case you want to use what you already own.
Some people find that gradient and color-correcting filters significantly affect performance. It could work well if the lighting is orange.
Cleaner and Blower
It’s a good idea, even if you are happy with the tried and true “huff your lens then wipe it with your shirt”, to bring along a cleaning cloth. This will keep your wedding clothes clean and protect the front element of your lens from scratches and smudges.
A “rocket blower” is also necessary. This handy tool can be used to remove dust from the sensor and mirror of your camera. It is a handy tool to have on hand in the event that you need it to clean a lens or replace it.
It is best to keep your camera clean regularly, even if you wait until the wedding. It is frustrating to discover after taking 300 photos that there was a lot of dust in your viewfinder.
You forgot tissues when you went to a photoshoot, even though it is so obvious now. Most of your guests will cry at your wedding. If you keep tissues handy, you can always get the shot you need even when it is an emotional event.
It’s also a good way to get to know the guests. It’s difficult to be taken seriously at first as a wedding photogrpaher. It’s a small gesture but having tissues available in case of emergency is a good way to show your professionalism and preparedness.
Ties, plastic bags, and Grips
Open-air weddings are very difficult. The weather is constantly changing, so you can’t be sure. Even though professional cameras and lenses are weather-sealed, it is still wise to have some Ziplocs on hand just in case.
The bags are primarily used to protect the camera from the elements, but some people have also found other uses. Some events can be very boisterous. People will throw drinks at each other while dancing. They’ll be a great asset to you.
Plastic bags are not the only items you should have in your bag. Cords and spring clamps can also be useful. These are also useful in certain circumstances but still worth packing. Keep some cable ties or clamps in your bag, just in case.
Water, Deodorant Snacks and Mints
You might expect food when you shoot a wedding. Most photographers have never had a client not provide food. If you are like many photographers who would rather be behind the camera than in the kitchen then it is a good idea to pack some snacks.
Both protein bars and trail mixes are great choices. Avoid foods high in sugar and low in healthy fats. Although trail mix and bars contain sugar, the fat in them helps to prevent a sugar spike.
This guideline includes the beverage you choose. Bring nothing that will artificially boost your energy, such as energy bars or soda, since you will crash afterward. Some photographers only drink water to keep their energy and concentration levels high throughout the day. This can be done by using the top of a bottle that is shaped into a ring. It makes it easy to attach to my camera bag.
It is important to remember this, as you may perspire profusely. You’ll be moving around all day and, because weddings are usually held in warmer months, it’s likely that you will sweat. Bring deodorant or cologne to avoid being the stinker in the group.
You wouldn’t want to see me with bad breath when giving me instructions on shooting. Mints become a necessity as the day ends and you pose for photos. You probably pop some in your mouth throughout the day to maintain concentration.
It’s best to plan a full filming day whenever possible, even if that’s not always possible. The night before the wedding, you will sit down with your happy couple to go over the plan for the big event. You can then keep track of where and when you need to be.
You may have relied on your phone to keep track of your daily schedule, but after several battery failures you might want to consider a paper copy. This is a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything because you are pulled in so many directions. Knowing how much time you have to spare can also help you decide if you want to oblige relatives or friends who may ask for photos.
It’s also a good idea for you to keep a large number of business cards in your wallet. Even though business cards may seem like an outdated relic, they are still useful in a stressful situation such as a wedding.
You may discover, for example, an extended family member who has just had a child, or a best man or bridesmaid who is planning a marriage. You can show your work by using a QR code on a business card, if you also have a website.
Before, during and after the big event, here are some suggestions. You can take a variety of steps to improve your reputation, including talking to the couple who are getting married or signing a contract. You can ask a trusted friend or relative to act as “family ambassadors” in order to help you find missing family members. Get a large number of memory cards and batteries. It’s possible that something will go wrong when filming. So, it’s a good idea to test all the equipment at least four to five days before the shoot to ensure it is in good working order.
Bring a fast lens. Bring a lens with a high aperture. When you are going on a trip alone, lock your camera bag and keep it out of sight. Photographers are often required to operate under the radar. The happy couple’s pictures should be taken outdoors regardless of whether the reception and ceremony will take place indoors or outside.
A wedding photographer will need a heavy, sturdy backpack to transport all the equipment. The lighting in reception rooms is usually inadequate, which makes it hard to focus on objects. Wedding photographers should use equipment that captures clear images in dim light. Zoom in closer on your subject, and move it away from the background to achieve beautiful compression bokeh. Pack three times more gear than you think you will need for wedding photography.
Always keep a few spare lenses, a camera body, and a good flash on hand. By installing a charging station at home, you can avoid spending unnecessary money on extra batteries. Do not leave home without filters! Every lens comes with a UV filter as well as a neutral-density filter and a circular polarizer. If you use a cleaning cloth, you can avoid smudging or scratching the front element of your lenses.
It is important to have a “rocket-blower” on hand, which can be used for blowing out the mirror. It is essential to have water, deodorant and food on hand when photographing a wedding. Some photographers will simply drink water while shooting to maintain their energy. Bring nothing with caffeine or sugar that can give you an illusion of energy. A full day is best for shooting.
You should also stock up on cards. You should know how much time you have to decide whether you will comply with requests for photos.