I recently had the pleasure of shooting my first wedding for a friend. I loved the experience, but boy was I nervous! It took a lot of planning and effort but the results made the whole experience worthwhile. It can be very daunting being asked to take on such an important task for the first time, especially if it’s by someone you know. How do you prepare? Here are 6 essentials that will help ensure that you’re ready for the job.
1) Get to know your bride and groom beforehand
Getting to know your bride and groom will help you to build confidence and a rapour along with your knowledge, ensuring that you’re not racing around purely off guesswork. Who are the people you are going to shoot? What are they like? What makes them smile? What makes them nervous? What kind of photos do they want? Is there a location that they like? Many couples may be unsure of the kind of photos they want during their wedding day. Have a portfolio of wedding photo examples to show them and make a note of some essential photos they want. Do the same for potential locations if they are unsure about where to go for photographs also. Keep your notebook with you on the day so that you don’t forget to take those essential shots.
2) Get to know your location/s beforehand
Don’t wait until the day to try and familiarise yourself with your photographic environment/s. Have a look around the area before the day. Take test shots from different angles and perspectives. When you take them, make a note of the settings on your camera that produced the best results. Do you need a flash? Ask yourself if the ambient light works. Ambient light is any light that is readily available within your location, whether natural (e.g. outside light or window light) or artificial (Lamps, room lights or street lights). If possible, see if your clients would like to check out the location for some test shots or pre-wedding photos before the wedding day. It may also help to look at the work of other photographers who have photographed the area.
3) Be fully equipped
If you’re out shooting a wedding and your battery runs out, or even worse, your camera suddenly decides to stop working, what are you going to do? Run to the nearest camera store? What if the weather forecast is sunny and dry but it turns out to be grey, wet and windy? What will you do? You need to be fully equipped! Make sure you have a good number of spare batteries and some spare memory cards. Two cameras/camera bodies will make it less likely that you miss important moments if your main camera fails. Have you thought about umbrellas for your bride and groom in case it rains in an outdoor location? You also need water protection for your camera gear. If weather conditions are too bad and your bride and groom decide to have photos indoors, where will you go? Don’t forget your camera and lens cleaning equipment. Remember your list of important shots that your bride and groom want. Keep a spare copy of it in your car or bag in case the original list gets misplaced. Is there anything else you can think of? Add it to your own personal list.
4) Take some candid shots
As well as the formal shots, it’s good to document what people are naturally doing without realising that the camera is on them. Candid shots tell stories and capture some of the best moments of the event that formal shots simply can’t match.
5) Be confident
As I said in the beginning, I was very nervous! Some photographers have experienced as much nerves as the bride and groom! It’s good to have some nerves as it indicates that you care about doing the job properly. How do you avoid being so nervous that you fail? Confidence will help you. Do I mean that you have to go around being the loudest funniest person in the room? No. I mean that you should have confidence in your ability to capture a good scene. When it’s formal photo time, tell your bride, groom, best man, ushers, bridesmaids, family members and friends exactly what you want them to do. If a shot hasn’t come out right, don’t be afraid to try the photo again or a third time. Explain to your audience what you are doing. If their pose seems unnatural, encourage them to change positions. If they’ve asked you to do photographs for them, it’s because they trust your abilities. Practicing the shots you want and building on your teqnique will help you to build more confidence. Don’t wait until the night before the wedding to start thinking about what a wedding photographer does. Some things may go wrong or come about unexpectedly, many other things may go just as you planned. Don’t panic! That’s the way we learn things.Remember the basic principles of composition that you already know and apply them.
6) Get tips from more experienced photographers
To have the confidence to do things we sometimes need advice from others first. Speak to photographers that you already know if they have experience in shooting weddings. Don’t feel stupid if you don’t know certain things. Even the world’s top photographers had to start from scratch and learn through trial and error at some point. Ask questions. What if you don’t have a friend who is a photographer? Read books, look at free online articles, blogs, and even video tutorials which is one of my favourite ways to learn.
There are my 6 essential things to consider for wedding photography. I hope you liked reading this. What would you have as six essential points? Feel free to comment. Bye for now!