Taking photographs at a wedding is a professional experience that many photographers dream of doing. Regardless of whether you want to be a professional photographer or not, weddings tend to be the best paid gigs in them all, and they allow the photographer to get some valuable experience with their camera, gear, and interesting shots. If you are looking for some tips on how to make yourself the best darn wedding photographer that ever walked the earth, here are some fantastic tips to make that happen. Remember that it doesn’t matter how good you are with a camera, if you aren’t a good professional in the business, you won’t be recommended.
1. Dress comfortably
This is critical. You need to be comfortable at every point during the wedding and reception, so make sure you dress respectfully for the occasion, but make sure you are in good sturdy shoes and won’t sweat to death in too many layers. Being comfortable will also make you more confident.
2. Don’t be afraid to get in weird positions for good shots, especially outdoors.
When shooting outdoors, especially, make sure you don’t limit your photo angle by looking good. By that, I mean you have to make sure you don’t sacrifice a good shot simply because you don’t want to get your pants dirty, etc. If in doubt, bring a drop cloth or something…seriously, get the shot!
3. Look for unique angles
Playing off the previous tip, try to find a different angle to take photos at the home of the bride/groom. Since these are familiar locations for the family, they’ll get a huge kick out of the fact that you shot from a unique way and got a really interesting photo in a location that was, otherwise, ordinary.
4. Find the balcony
At the church, make sure you search for the balcony. Since you won’t really be permitted to be near the front of the church during the ceremony, odds are that you can get a great shot of the different scenes from the balcony. There will be no heads in the way, and you will get a great chance to get candid shots of the guests of the wedding, too.
5. Have a backup for everything
Batteries, memory card, camera, clothing, etc. Everything must have a backup so that you aren’t caught in the lurch. If in doubt, even bring a second camera man along with you so that you can get two angles of the same shot, it’s a great idea that is cheap and gives you no end of benefits.
6. Use a shoot list
Make sure you talk with the bride and groom in the wedding planning and that both give you a list of photos that are absolutely necessary to have. This could include people, angles, anything they want. Then, make sure you get those shots no matter what. This is critical!
7. Take photos of everything and everywhere
Don’t be afraid to go a little (camera) trigger happy during the reception. You never know when you are going to get a great candid shot of the bride or groom and it could be the most prized shot of all. Make sure that you shoot in a way that makes you get everything, but doesn’t overwhelm you at the end. If you have 10 000 photos, you know you’ve gone too far!
8. Trust your gut
Make sure you take a photo/angle that matches your gut feeling for the shot. It’s important to make sure that you have the photos that make you feel like you’ve done your job right, because the couple hired you based on your portfolio, so your final product that you are giving to them should match the same quality and genre of the examples you showed them. This means you must do what your gut tells you unless it breaks a law or makes the bride/groom upset.
9. Run your own show
Don’t let that dreaded family member who “knows something about photography” tell you how to do your job. You’re reputation is on the line, and you can’t have him/her getting in the way of getting those great shots. So, run your own show and make sure that you are getting where you need to be and at the right time. A second photographer could help you in this regard too, serving as a decoy if need be.
10. Communicate with bride and groom
If you are able to, communicate with the bride or groom during the wedding to make sure that everything is going according to plan. Even better is if the bride and groom each name a proxy that you can approach to make sure everything is going okay without bothering the happy couple. This is the professional method and will help you get the best results from your shots throughout the day.
Remember that a wedding is a happy occasion but also a stressful one. Your first wedding gig will be tough and full of embarrassing moments, so you have to make sure that you are ready to take it on with all of the prep done beforehand that you possibly can. This will take some time, but it will lead you to all sorts of great shots and, most importantly, a happy couple at the end of the day. Since their recommendation is critical, you need to prioritize that.
Professional photographers of all kinds will tell the budding photographer that shooting weddings are pretty tough. This is true, but it can be mastered by following these tips to help you start off on the right foot. Not a complete list but a great first step, you’ll get a great shoot if you follow and personalize these tips to best serve you in your first wedding gig. Remember that no one gets it right the first time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. And, when in doubt, think to yourself, “If this was my wedding, what would I want?” It works pretty well in a pinch!