Wedding photography is a highly specialized talent. Those wedding photographers who are successful in the business understand that their job involves more than being technically proficient and having an artful eye. To be a great wedding photographer involves a variety of skills.
There is so much going on before, during and after a wedding, you may feel you need to be in several places at once. Here are a few tips to put you in total control of your participation in such special events.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.”
This is so very relevant to a wedding photographer’s work. The time and effort you put into preparing for the wedding shoot will result in wedding photographs for the new couple to cherish after the wedding. These photos will be passed down through the ages, from generation to generation, as a historical visual diary to be treasured.
Meeting with the bride and groom
When you meet the bridge and groom, be open and welcoming. They may know what they want, but may not know all the right questions to ask.
• Discuss their desires. Do they want formal portraits, group shots, special shots? A photojournalistic style? Color and black and white photos?
• Ask where they are getting married, and where the reception will be. Some venues have strict rules regarding photography and you’ll want to tell that to the couple in case they are expecting specific photographs you won’t be allowed to take.
• Get a feel for the couple and make suggestions based on what you sense about them. Do they seem open to less conventional shots, or do they seem to want the traditional shots.
• Let them see your previous work. That will give them idea of what you are capable of creating.
Check out the wedding and reception location
Pay a visit to the church or wedding hall, as well as the reception site if possible. Note the lighting conditions and check out the angles from which you can take the best photographs. Getting acquainted with the wedding locations is an important part of your preparation and will save you time and stress on the day of the wedding.
Get your equipment organized
Once you have a good idea about what the couple wants, you will know the equipment you need to take. Gather the equipment you need in advance of the wedding day – camera lenses, filters, lens cleaners, batteries, chargers, digital and/or format cameras, additional memory cards, flash, tripods, and a portable drive.
Honing your other skills
There is always a lot of tension on the day of the wedding so you want to be sure not to contribute to it. Wedding photography involves the skill of a psychologist, the ability of a negotiator, the etiquette of Emily Post, and the art of being invisible.
• Be at each wedding locale on time. If you are photographing the bride at home before she leaves for the wedding, be early enough to set up your equipment.
If the bride-to-be seems nervous and flustered, or if there is palpable tension amongst family members, your calm presence and self-confidence will help settle things down. Gently direct the photo shoot and people will follow your lead.
• Arrive at the wedding ceremony venue before the guests and wedding party so that you can take photos of their arrival.
• Get to the reception site as soon as possible so you can photograph not only the guests arrival, but more importantly, the first public appearance of the newly married couple. Also, be ready when the bride and groom are about to leave the reception. You don’t want to miss any parting shots.
• When taking photographs, make sure you are not obtrusive. Don’t get in the way of people trying to see the bride and groom and don’t get in front of the bride and groom when they are trying to move around. Stay professional at all times.
• If taking group shots get your groups together quickly and don’t allow too much dilly-dallying of the subjects. Be kind but firm and get them in position quickly. The bride and groom want to enjoy the rest of their wedding and have group shots completed as soon as possible.
Above all, take good pictures! Get inspired and take those wonderful candid shots. Photograph not just the ambience, but the art and reality of the moment – the joy, the laughter, the tears, the silly things, and the love.