These must have tips are sure to help you photograph your next wedding!
You've done it! You've been booked as the photographer for a wedding! Not only are you over the top excited that you have some money coming your way, you also just realized that you're responsible for capturing the most important day in someone's life! Your reputation is on the line and now you've begun to sweat.... lol yes, I've been there .. and I can help!
A friend from high school had posted on social media that he and his fiancé were willing to barter their services for wedding photography. I saw TONS of comments willing to do their photos in exchange but I had been photographing for only about 2 years and mostly families and children. I really needed to up my game and get some wedding photos into my portfolio.
(Of course I thought my images were the best ever taken at the time but couldn't understand why no one had hired me for their big day yet!) :::cough:: Moving on - I saw the different photographers competing for this opportunity and there were some amazing entries. (I stalked…) I figured what the hell, I've got nothing to lose (ya know, besides my dignity).. I'll post my website.
A few days later, I received a message from the groom telling me that he and his fiancé looked through all their options and loved my photos and would be honored for me to be their photographer! (Literally danced in my bathroom!) ... but that was quickly followed by a panic attack…
Holy crap, what if I mess this up?
Pinterest - "Most important wedding photography tips" ... blah blah lighting blah, I knew how to use my camera, I needed to know what mistakes other photographers made and to tell ME so I didn't do the same!
There were a few but nothing that gave me the juicy stuff, the tips that really mattered.. Sooo I decided to start a blog with the lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in my own experiences and hope to save you from doing the same! You will also be taking away some key tips that you'll easily be able to remember come the big day! Whether you’re planning to shoot your first wedding or have some experience under your belt, I guarantee you’ll learn something away from this post! Let's get in with it, shall we?
Five IMPORTANT Tips to remember for every wedding photographer!
5) Ask the officiant (or bride) for a copy of
the ceremony schedule
This is a written schedule of exactly what will be read during the ceremony. Read through it over and over, then take a highlighter and highlight words to set off red flags for you.. the signals that come right before they move onto the key points you'll need to be ready for.
For example: When the officiant says, "Please bow your heads to pray", you will already know that (in this wedding) the exchange of the rings is coming up after. (At this point, I usually get down low next to the person receiving the ring) When they conclude the prayer, you're already in position to pop up, get the ring exchange and duck back out to get other angles, then switch.
Knowing where to be and being there ahead of time is no-negotiable so this schedule will be a life saver!
4) Palms Up!
Nothing makes me panic more than the thought of not getting THE shot! Wanna know why? Because of that first wedding! Alongside each monumental part in the ceremony, one of the most memorable is obviously the exchange of rings.
Easy enough, right?
They put rings on each other, it can’t be that hard! WRONG! What I didn't know was that you could really mess that up by not telling your clients ahead of time how to position their hands!
When they are up in front of their family and friends, not to mention God, devoting their love to each other for eternity, they are anxious and will do whatever they can to get it over with quickly.
This is bad news for a photographer.
Tip #4 will help by giving you an easy tool to make sure you capture THE moment and not hanging your head in shame later!
In my experience, 9/10 of couples will present the ring to the rightful finger and slide it on - with their hands covering the ring! You can’t cut off the officiant and ask them to reposition so to get the shot you just go with it… Yes, you get the moment, but you haven't captured what they want and that is going to really impact your business.
I made that mistake and learned a valuable lesson, (one, I hope I'll save you from) and made sure it would never happen again.
I told the Bride and Groom at our pre-wedding consultation (I don't care if it's a phone call, DO THIS!) that I needed her and her soon-to-be husband to put each other's rings on with their palms facing upwards and slide them on with their fingertips; to show the ring as much as possible. Don't just tell them this, DEMONSTRATE it if you can! This sounds like such a non-issue but by doing this I have saved myself so many times and I proved to them I was a true professional.
Here are examples of tip #4!
3) The 10 Second Kiss
The kiss is the seal, the finale… everything comes down to this! Where are you going to be to get the best angles? You probably have been checking your camera every couple shots to make sure that your settings are still correct; adjusting and continuing.. (if not, I'll be the first to say I've forgotten to do this then later realized that the light changed enough for my images to be unusable, so - extra tip, CHECK after every few shots!)
Back on task, if you've been checking your images then you probably figured out your best angles, lighting, etc to capture this couple but the kiss is coming up. (If you listened to tip #5, you will know it's coming beforehand and can nail the settings ahead of time.)
Here it comes!!! .......
and therrrrre it goes....
They just pecked each other?! And you've missed it!
You were ready and they were quicker than your shutter!
Tip #3, Ask your couple to kiss for no less than 10 seconds... it doesn't have to be consecutive if they need to come up for air or to gaze into each other's eyes, but they better get back at it... (Yes, I've said that to a client lol) Holding a kiss for 10 seconds may seem like a long time but it goes by fast when… you know, Uncle Bob with his new DSLR camera jumps in front of you right at that moment and you need a second to relocate (or kick him! Did I just say that?) .. or the light changes at that moment and you have to adjust your settings quickly.
This tip will ensure that you get the shot every time and the couple will thank you for it! This tip also relieves some of the pressure from them; they have an excuse to really enjoy the moment!!
2) TAKE YOUR TIME…
Cliché’, yes, but seriously .. hear me out!
You already know the bride is stressed. She is anxious, nervous and excited. It's time to get the bridal party photos before the ceremony starts and the light is harsh, you haven't gotten your settings quite right and the Bride seems annoyed. Do you change it one more time and pray for a miracle? NO! She is going crazy at this moment, she's not upset with you, she's waiting to walk down the aisle and have this day live up to all her perfect expectations, but if you don't capture it that way, it's THEN that she won't forgive you for. The wedding is not going to start without her, I promise, so fix your settings the right way, adjust her veil, whatever you must do to make it perfect and don't worry if she's giving you a sour look, she's going to remember you were making it perfect for her and excepting nothing less after everything is said and done.
Take your time… just don’t take forever 😉
1) Be Invisible!
The number one complaint I’ve heard about other wedding photographers was that they blocked the entire wedding and/or were so distracting that it wasn’t enjoyable for anyone!
Wearing something inconspicuous can help ‘hide’ you, bright colors can be a distraction but aside from that I’m talking staying out of the ‘bigger picture’, here’s a few ways to do this..
- Stay low, pick your best angles and crouch, stand up for a few and get back down. Their guests will notice that you were very considerate of their view while also doing your job.
- Instead of walking in front of the bride and groom, walk on the backside of the officiant (if possible, in tight places, you’ll have no choice).
- Don’t over shoot. Your shutter is loud in a quiet ceremony. Use your shutter sparingly until you need to! (i.e. rings, kiss, walking up and down aisle, etc.)
- And my personal favorite – LOOK AROUND YOU before you move ANYWHERE .. know your surroundings… Nothing like picking up your foot, catching a metal baseboard heater, lifting it straight up and hearing it slam down in front of all the guests…. Yea, that really happened… all it takes is for one bridesmaid to extend her leg out and you’ve just face planted into the middle of a wedding, don’t be that photographer!
(This tip actually saved me from that happening)
Always look before you back up or walk forward..
walking while shooting can be pretty dangerous… to you and your business!
I hope you’ll take these tips with you to your next wedding and I’d love to hear your funny stories of your own wedding mishaps! Also share some of your tips on my new Facebook group exclusively for photographers, like yourself, looking to network with other Photographers that want to better themselves and their businesses! Here’s the link if you’d like to join and thanks for visiting!
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