You’ve been taking photos for some time now and your friends and family have recommended you to all their colleagues and peers. Having a sound knowledge of using a camera and basic editing software, you feel ready for any challenge. An acquaintance of your friend reviews your portfolio online and approaches you with an offer. They would like you to be the photographer at their wedding. They trust you have sufficient experience and qualifications, based on the word-of-mouth review, as well as, all the interesting and well-composed images you have on your social platforms. The thing is, you’ve never photographed a wedding before. Here are some surefire tips to ensure you not only deliver impressive results but leave the wedding and all in attendance, smiling.
Preparation is key
Unlike sunsets, that occur every evening, a wedding is a once in a lifetime event. It is a special occasion that is filled with raw, heart-filling moments. You will be capturing real, personal and emotional memories. There are few opportunities to retake a shot and one has to be ready to capture these moments as they happen. As the wedding photographer, you will need to have the following in check before arriving at the event:
Sufficient and properly checked equipment and accessories
Additional batteries, spare camera, tripod, lenses, and cleaning materials must be brought with and in good working condition. There should be no reason for not being able to take photos on the day. Take several test photos before departing and again on arriving at the venue. Adequate storage for all the files, as well as, a remote backup (laptop or cloud) should be in place.
Know the venue and those in attendance
Take the time to familiarise yourself with the venue. The location of the wedding and ceremony should be researched beforehand, and perhaps visited if time allows. Know what sort of props, infrastructure or scenery surrounds the area, and how these can be incorporated into the photographs. Check out these wedding backdrops for more ideas.
Get a copy of the guest list and find out which ones are family or the most important. Know some of the guests’ names and their relationship to the bride and groom. This will be helpful in building a story in the wedding album. You don’t want to waste time taking dozens of photos of distant friends, but rather focus on those closest to the couple.
Understand the expectations of the bride and groom. Discuss what they have in mind.
Prior to the big day, talk with both the bride and groom. Ask them what sort of photos and memories they want capturing. How many photos and what sort of shots they want. Find out from the bride and groom what they intend to use the pictures for, and shoot accordingly. Show them an ideabook or let them provide you with things they’ve seen before; this helps visualize the scene. The above step helps prevent any miscommunications and helps meet the expectations more accurately.
Photograph wisely, don’t make it hard work.
Bring an assistance photographer along
Having somebody else with you allows for capturing the same scene from multiple angles simultaneously. It also allows for dividing the workload and splitting up the types of shots. One photographer can focus on the candid, fun shots that happen during the day; whilst the other can take the more formal, intimate ones of the bride and groom, and ceremony. Let’s say you were shooting a Greek wedding, then it would be wise to have somebody who is familiar with the customs. Or you could find a Greek wedding photographer and videographer, or any other photography enthusiast through an online community to help you.
Capture the smiles and small things
As a photographer, you have to get up close to where the action is happening. Be sure to move around and be bold, as the images really need to capture what you have in mind. Be respectful and unobtrusive, but don’t let that perfect shot slip away because you were too afraid to ask a guest or subject to move or adjust accordingly.
Look out for smiles, connections and other signs of affection and joy. Some of these moments happen quickly, so be on the lookout. You want to capture the first kiss, first dance and other important components of the wedding. Close-ups of the rings, wedding invitations, layouts, and decoration are important too.
Lastly, have fun and make sure others are too.
Weddings can be stressful at times, especially to those organizing or involved in it. As a photographer, your duty is to help those in front of the camera relax. Just a smile is often enough to help loosen the subject up and get them smiling too. Have fun and make photography look fun.