Shooting weddings can be a daunting thought for a photographer. Even if you have strong camera skills and know your equipment well, capturing the emotion of a wedding day is a challenge. Every wedding is different, and there isn’t a formula to follow.
If you approach it the right way, you can take the pressure off yourself and actually enjoy photographing a wedding. It’s a happy occasion where everyone will expect to be photographed, and the venue is likely to make a great backdrop for pictures. So long as you act professionally and aren’t intrusive, the bride and groom and their guests will work with you to get the best shots possible. Weddings are a great opportunity to build your portfolio when you’re starting out as a professional photographer.
The following tips will guide you to success as a beginner in the world of wedding photography.
1) Learn from an expert
The best way to learn the foundations of wedding photography is to shadow an experienced professional. Many take on assistants to help them carry equipment and organize people on the day, and this is a great way to get some practical experience of weddings. As you progress, a photographer may also allow you to take some shots and become their second shooter. Being able to attend weddings without the pressure to deliver a full set of photographs helps you understand the best angles for shots, how to pose people and what’s really involved.
2) Know your equipment
It’s essential that a wedding photographer can operate his camera and equipment without a second thought. Your attention should be focussed on capturing spontaneous moments and using your creativity to record the atmosphere of the wedding day. If you have to think about the best camera settings for a shot the moment is often lost. If you upgrade your camera or invest in some new equipment, spend some time practicing with it before you take it to a wedding.
3) Get to know your couples before the day
Every couple has different expectations and needs when it comes to their wedding photographs. Some want a formal record of their wedding with traditional group style photographs. Others prefer a more candid record of the day capturing the fun side of their celebration. It’s important that a photographer meets or at least speaks to the bride and groom before the wedding day to understand how to approach it. Find out what they want from their photographer and be open and honest about your ability to deliver.
4) Prepare a shot list for every wedding
To ensure you get the shots the bride and groom want, always prepare a shot list for a wedding. Start with a list of the members of the family. For example, do both bride and groom have parents and grandparents attending? Inquire about brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and other close family. Shots of friends attending a wedding are also important. Sometimes a couple may ask for shots with different groups of friends or individual portraits. Always bear in mind the amount of time available on the day, and don’t agree to a long list of shots if you know it will mean rushing.
5) Visit the venue before every wedding
Wherever possible, a wedding photographer should always visit the venue of the ceremony before the wedding day. This allows you to look for areas for group photographs and portraits of the bride and groom and means you don’t have to deal with surprises. If there are large groups to photograph, is there a big enough space? Consider the angle of the sun for outdoor shots, and check the quality of lighting inside the wedding venue. Taking the time to visit the location in advance can make a big difference to the results you’ll get on the wedding day.
As a wedding photographer starting out, you may be anxious and worried about many things. If you know your camera and follow the tips in this article, you’ll be able to deliver pictures couples will treasure forever.