Ok, to be fair I’m not exactly the worlds’ greatest encyclopedia of knowledge on wedding photography… I’ve photographed at one wedding and videoed another so I can’t say I’m an expert. But what I can say is that both of these weddings were HUGE learning curves! And to celebrate that, here’s a list of what I’ve learnt:
(Side note: this isn’t a list of “top tips from an expert”. So please, please, PLEASE do your research before you agree to photograph a wedding… Know what you’re getting yourself in for!)
- People have expectations: Obviously. I mean, it’s a wedding; there are so many expectations about this day! But I guess what’s important to remember that before you agree to take on a photography job, be realistic about your expectations and other people’s expectations of you.Normally when people hire a wedding photographer, they have a set idea about the kind of photos they want. Sometimes they have a shot list or a style list that they want their photographer to stick to…. Which is absolutely fine, I mean even I know what kind of photos I will want at my future wedding one day! But before saying yes to a job, make sure you know what these expectations are and be honest about whether you can achieve them.As a side note, luckily the bride and I had very similar ideas about the photos I was going to take so it wasn’t a problem for me! But this brings me on to my next point:
- Be prepared for the pressure: Ah man, there’s a HUGE deal of pressure when photographing a wedding! Let me just put this into context a minute: YOU are responsible for capturing pretty much every minute of one of the most important days of a person’s life. If that’s not pressure then I don’t know what is!But that doesn’t mean it has to be scary. I worked with the bride and groom to come up with a key list of the main shots they wanted… These tend to be simple, normally requests along the lines of “I want some photos of my grandparents” or “I’d love some big group shots of us and our friends”. And everything else you get is a bonus! But that being said you’ll feel the pressure to photograph absolutely everything in sight in fear of missing it all.If you’re going to do that technique then make sure you have a good couple of extensive memory cards, especially on your first couple of weddings… But really, you just need to make sure you get the important shots that you agreed to get beforehand.And perfect your camera technique!! I cannot stress this enough: please know your camera. If you don’t know how your camera will work in different environments then it’s going to be a tricky day for you. I can only imagine how horrible it would be to realise that your photo’s are unusable due to the wrong settings on a camera.
- Extras are so important: Of course I’m talking about extra batteries, extra memory cards etc. But you know what really helped me out on the day? My 2nd photographer!I was worried about missing shots, so for a peace of mind I asked my very good friend (and excellent photographer) Grace to help me out for the day. Um, talk about double trouble! Thank god she was with me because when I was running around grabbing big group shots, she snapped ones of kids playing in the grounds, family bonding and laughter over drinks.
I mean look at this photo that Grace took! B-e-a-utiful. Sure, I could’ve got those shots after I did the main ones, but knowing that Grace was handling it took a lot of pressure off of me… And she kept me sane throughout the entire day. You could even say she was my Saving Grace 😉 (Yep, I went there).Another thing I’ve learnt about extras: a spare camera is a lifesaver. I managed to borrow another camera and I spent most of the day with the two of them looped around either side of my chest, each with a different lens on it. This allowed me to swap them around quicker for when I needed a different lens, which helped so much. Also I knew that if one camera died or malfunctioned at least I had a spare!
- Self-consciousness is a temporary thing: I made the decision to stand next to the registrar for the ceremony so that I could get decent shots. In an ideal world I would’ve moved around but this wasn’t an option in such a tiny room. So as a result, I got a little self-conscious especially when your camera clicks sounds so loud! But you get used to it and it’s so much more important to get a good shot then it is to not do anything just in case you’re “too loud” (because trust me, you’re not being too loud at all… It’s like when you’re eating crisps and you get paranoid that you’re annoying the entire room but really they’re not even bothered.)
- Practice your shouting: Oh my god, getting everyone together for group shots must have been the hardest thing ever. Let’s be real: when people are at a wedding and they’re catching up with old relatives, laughing with new friends or just drinking, they don’t want to listen to a photographer trying to snap a decent photo of them. It’s even harder when you don’t know their names! So shouting (politely) is the best way of grabbing their attention to get them to pose for a photo. This photo below shows how many people Grace and I had to try and organise:But this actually leads on to my biggest ever tip:
- Use other people’s knowledge: Or in other words, the best man and maid of honour need to become your new best friends. The likelihood is that they know most of the people at the wedding or in the wedding party (especially as the bride and groom are understandably a little too busy to help you out), so get them to round people up or point out who you need. Such a lifesaver when you’re looking for ‘Great Aunt Ethel’ in a sea of people in what looks like a scene of ‘Long Lost Relatives Re-united’.
- Have fun! C’mon, you’re at a WEDDING! Everyone else is having a fabulous time, so why shouldn’t you? There is downtime where you don’t have to be on the ball all day – as you have to eat and relax too! Grace and I took the opportunity to relax in the couple of hours before the evening guests arrived – to recharge cameras, have a drink and congratulate ourselves on how well we’re doing. It’s also someone’s big day and you get the privilege of sharing their excitement and nervous feelings with them – and if you’re not grateful for this opportunity then you’re in the wrong place.
(This is another one from Grace – and a rule which was very much ignored by all of the guests)
There we are: what I’ve learnt from photographing a wedding. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to photograph another one… If I do, I make sure I keep this list on hand as reminders 😉