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Hello new wedding photographers!
Welcome to the world of kisses, hugs, gorgeous couples... and also complicated timelines, stressed out coordinators, less-than-cooperative bridal parties, tipsy dancing, and more. It’s an exciting day to say the least. People ask me, “Isn’t it scary to shoot a wedding? That’s a lot of pressure!”
I’ve listed eleven tips that will make weddings not so intimidating! Confidence is key, my friends - get in a mindset that you are going to rock the wedding, and you probably will.
1) Get a list of family photos 2-4 weeks BEFORE the wedding.
Your couple should plan their groupings and which family members are included in the formal pictures. Also - never forget full lengths of the bride. Let her show off that dress, back and front - always get individuals of the couple.
2) Be the calm in the storm.
If something doesn’t go to plan on the day, you need to reassure the bride that everything is okay. Pimple? You can edit it out pretty easily. Raining? You brought your clear umbrella and are prepared with strobes to shoot the bridal party indoors. Overbearing mother? Lay low and focus on the bride + groom. If you are at all stressed, your couple will know.
3) Be prepared.
Bring way too many memory cards, way too many batteries, two flashes, two camera bodies, two or more lenses, bobby pins, safety pins, band aids, chapstick, an umbrella (or two), wooden dress hanger, reflector, aspirin, Tums, Command hook, etc. You will need them.
4) Dress appropriately.
When in doubt, ask your couple if your intended outfit is appropriate (black tie versus informal outdoor wedding). I do the bend test with my dresses - kneeling down the aisle, picking things up without bending my knees, any position I could be in without showing my backside. Dress like a guest, but one step more professional. Black is always in style. This goes for shoes, too - do NOT wear heels or uncomfortable shoes. I rock black crochet Toms - your comfort is priority. I have nearly cried at a reception limping from wearing low heels that weren’t super comfy. Do not do that to yourself.
5) Ask the couple to kiss twice
during their ceremony. So, if for some wild reason you miss the first kiss, you have a second one as a backup.
6) Get a list of all vendors before the wedding
And send them each a set of watermarked photos after the wedding to use for marketing. Good vendor relationships are invaluable. #networking
7) Be as helpful as you can.
I’ve put down my camera and helped lace up dresses, wiped down ceremony chairs after it rained with rags, brought flowers up to the bride’s room, snapped iPhone shots for guests, tied ties, and set up centerpieces at the reception. Be a human first and a photographer second, and your clients will appreciate that.
8) Don’t use your phone in front of your client
Unless you’re taking an epic bride selfie. #respect
If the bride offers you water or snacks in the getting ready room, take them. Stay hydrated all day and if it’s okay for you to grab an appetizer at cocktail hour, do it. Pack a few granola bars in case, because nothing is worse than a hangry photographer who probably won’t see food until 8:30pm. But… don’t drink alcohol. Even if your bride + groom offer, it’s best to kindly decline. Yes, you are at a killer party, but you are working. You are a business owner, and that can be a liability for you. Stick with water!
10) Be there when they need you, and invisible when they don’t.
Do not stand in front of the groom’s family during the ceremony. Kneel on the side of the aisle, or stand on the sides or behind the guests. Do not get a foot away from the bride and her father during their first dance to get a close shot. Use a telephoto lens instead. When a bride needs you to take a table shot with her college girlfriends, be there with a super smile! If the groom needs his boutonniere pinned on, help him out. A great wedding photographer is one that guests love to dance and laugh with, but never hinders their experience of the day.
11) Work quickly and efficiently.
Weddings are not the day to slow down and take your time - there is always a timeline, and wedding usually run a little late. Get all the photos you need by delegating and using your outside voice when directing the bridal party + family. I’ve been in situations where the sun is 90% set and I have 10 minutes before the B&G are being introduced in - I shoot shoot shoot with all different poses and actions and still end up with 50+ portraits of just the couple.