Wedding photography is a difficult and exciting genre of photography. However, it can also be very confusing if you don’t have the right tools. In this article, I’m going to give you my 13 top tips for getting started as a wedding photographer. These are the things I think every beginner should know, and it will take some of the “fear” out of the process for you.
1 – Meet The Couple
First and foremost, meet with the couple and discuss their photography needs, including any special requests, before you even begin planning the event. This may seem obvious, but it’s a great way to find out what kinds of images your client prefers. There will never be a couple with the exact same needs twice!
2 – Write A List
It’s a good idea to make a list of the important wedding guests to photograph with the help of the happy couple, including who needs to be in the group photos. You’ll lose customers if they receive their photos and discover that none of them include their parents or grandparents.
3 – Research Your Locations
Where the ceremony and reception will take place should be clearly stated in your contract. Investigate the photography policies and lighting conditions at these locations using this data. Consider an in-person tour, or if the venues are too far away to make a pre-wedding visit, check them out online.
3.1 – Map Out Locations And Know Time Between Them
Planning ahead and allotting travel time can be extremely helpful if you need to cover multiple locations for a wedding. When moving from one location to another, keep traffic and unexpected delays in mind.
Use a GPS or Google Maps to see how long it will take to get from the place where you’ll be getting ready to the church and the reception venue, and back again. One thing you don’t want to do when hired to photograph a wedding is arrive late because you underestimated the travel time!
3.2 – Places Of Worship
Inquire about the photography policies of the locations you’re interested in visiting! It’s especially common for places of worship to have strict rules about when and where photographers are allowed to take pictures.
Make your clients aware of any restrictions well in advance of the big day. You can avoid disappointment later on if you let your clients know that their church does not allow photography during the wedding ceremony.
Even if you think the rules are ridiculous, don’t be afraid to ask venue directors if they’ll make an exception for you.
Your business’s reputation will live or die based on the recommendations of industry partners with whom you do business.
3.3 – Inside, Outside, & Green Ceilings
If it’s dark or there are no windows, even the most stunning locations can present unexpected challenges.
What are your plans for the ballroom with the painted green ceiling? How are you going to photograph the beach’s dance floor once the sun goes down? Where will the sun be when that lakeside ceremony takes place? If it rains, do you know how the couple will handle it – and are you ready for it?
If you plan ahead of time for location issues, you won’t be stressed out on the big day.
4 – Prepare Ahead Of Time
There’s nothing worse than not knowing where or when to take important photos and being completely unprepared. As a result, make sure you have a daily schedule handy. It’s critical to map out where you’ll stand for photos during key moments in the ceremony so that you’re prepared. Prepare ahead of time by scouting the venue (if it’s an indoor wedding) and figuring out how to get between the various positions you’ve selected. Rehearsals are an ideal time for you to do this. If you ask the couple, they’ll likely allow you to attend.
Another photographer, or asking the couple to find one, can be of great assistance. If something terrible happens, it will be a huge weight off your shoulders. There is a good chance that your backup photographer will have photos if you happen to miss an important (or even less important) moment. Another advantage is that you can delegate your work to others. For example, you could ask them to photograph only the guests while you concentrate on the bride and groom.
Getting everyone together for a group shot can be a challenge if you aren’t familiar with the couple’s family or guests. A good idea would be to have the couple appoint a member of their family to handle this particular task.
5 – Create A Workflow
Being a wedding photographer entails much more than simply documenting ceremonies and receptions. Bookings, e-mail, processing, and delivery of orders will eat up the vast majority of your time. Find ways to streamline your workflow if you’re the only one in charge of it.
Use A Studio Management Software
Automated messages can be sent to clients to ensure they receive responses, questionnaires, and contracts on time with studio management tools like those found in Táve.
You can also use studio management software to better organize your workflow. Most tools have a dashboard that allows you to create a timeline for your wedding photography. To help you prioritize your work, set deadlines for each task. Photographing weddings necessitates meeting strict deadlines.
6 – Have A Backup Plan
It’s possible that the weather will ruin your wedding plans if you don’t have a fallback plan. Rain is something that every photographer dreads on the big day, but if you prepare ahead of time, you can use it to your advantage and capture some stunning images.
Here are some suggestions for making the most of inclement weather:
+ Include a few accessories in your presentation. You could, for instance, present the couple with a black or white umbrella to add contrast.
+ Take advantage of the vastness of space by making use of the stars. If you can, try to get the couple in front of some ominous clouds for a dramatic effect.
+ Make certain that the bride has a pair of extra shoes with her. You don’t want your bride to sink in her heels if the ground is muddy and soft. As a result, let them know in advance that they should bring a spare pair.
+ See if you can find an alternate location. If your plans are hampered by bad weather, you’ll have to come up with some new locations to photograph if the original ones aren’t suitable. Do your research and see if the venue has any sheltered areas or rooms you can use in advance.
7 – Prepare Your Camera Gear
You’ll need a few pieces of backup equipment in case something goes wrong with your primary camera. Memory cards and batteries are the same way – always have a backup on hand. If you don’t have the money to buy all of this, ask a friend to lend you theirs or look into renting it for a small fee.
If you don’t already have it, here’s what you’ll need:
+ Good camera, preferably DSLR or mirrorless camera with higher level of technological development
+ Lens options for a wide range of situations
+ A camera bag allows you to carry all of your equipment with you at all times and still have quick and easy access to it.
+ The ceremony and indoor shots will require a flash with a diffuser.
+ Large-capacity memory cards
+ Chargers and batteries on hand
+ A tripod would be ideal, but it’s not always necessary.
8 – Use The Right Camera Settings
8.1 – Shoot In RAW
A RAW file is a collection of compressed and uncompressed data. Unprocessed RAW data have a lack of contrast and appear flat. They resemble a negative from a camera!
Because RAW files capture a scene’s full dynamic range, editing your photos in RAW gives you more freedom and options. Because the file’s visual information is preserved, you have complete control over the image’s sharpness, brightness, contrast, shadows, and hue.
8.2 – Use Varying Shutter Speeds
For wedding photography, starting with a fast shutter speed is a good idea because you’ll capture a lot of movement. To begin, use a shutter speed of no less than 1/200 sec.
Try using the camera’s shutter priority mode next if you want to capture the most fleeting moments. Use a 1/500-second shutter speed to capture action. You can play with the settings to get better results when capturing things like laughter, dancing, and twirling.
8.3 – Experiment With A Range Of Apertures
When it comes to photography, the aperture determines which parts of the image are sharp and in focus. A ballroom’s grandeur can only be conveyed if everything in the scene is sharply focused. In that case, an f/8 or even f/16 aperture would be appropriate.
High apertures can be used to blur out the background when photographing people or small details. If this is the case, try an f/2/8 or f/4 aperture.
Lower f-stops, on the other hand, isolate the subject, making it the entire focal point of the photograph. For this reason, the best apertures for bridal portraits are between f/1.8 and f/2.8. Increase the amount of light while decreasing the amount of unwanted distractions by doing so.
8.4 – Adjust Your ISO
Another wedding photography tip for newbies: shoot at an ISO of no higher than 1000 to minimize digital artifacts. Even in low-light situations, you can always raise the ISO if necessary. Do you want candlelight to have a moody feel to it? Consider increasing the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to ISO 3200. You have access to the entire ISO range, so make the most of it and try something new!
If you’re photographing an indoor wedding, keep your ISO between 400 and 800 for beautiful, grain-free portraits. There is a risk of getting more digital noise if you increase the volume (though, this depends on your camera, so try a few options).
9 – Pre-Plan The Shoot
The planning stage of your shoot is just as critical as the actual shooting. Give this part of your wedding photography preparations some extra attention.
Plan ahead of time to get several shots of the bride and groom in various settings. When it comes to photo ops, the couple will follow your directions and defer to your expertise.
It’s entirely up to you how you want to photograph the couple. As you plan the shoot with your clients, show them a manual of poses. Choose the poses you both want for your wedding photos, then include them in the contract you both sign.
You may need to give your clients additional instruction to get the best shot depending on how comfortable they are in front of the camera. To be patient with a newlywed couple is crucial. They will have a better time if you make them feel at ease.
10 – Capture A Group Photo
Almost everyone wants a photo with the newlyweds, which could take the entire evening! Group shooting is preferable. In any other case, you’ll be rushed and miss out on some of the most significant opportunities.
Utilize your partner’s assistance to efficiently manage these teams. Assigning groups, adjusting flyaway hairs, and adjusting other small details can be handled by your assistant so you can concentrate on taking pictures.
To get everyone to look great at the same time when photographing a group is difficult. Some people flutter their eyes, while others appear blurry. Take as many pictures as you can, so you can pick the best one for each group.
11 – Look for Smiles
When someone is smiling, there is a special moment that should be documented. The sound of children playing, guests whispering about a special moment, or friends laughing in the background are all examples of unscripted moments that can liven up a wedding album.
These moments are impossible to engineer or plan, due to their rarity and uniqueness. As a result, you’ll need to be alert for them and snap away when you see one! Photos like these will be cherished by the couple.
12 – Keep An Eye On The Post-Wedding Schedule
There will be more work to do after the shoot is over. In fact, the bulk of the work begins as soon as the shoot concludes!
12.1 – Create Image Backups
If you’re a photographer, you know how frustrating it can be to have all of your hard work erased because of a corrupted memory card. Make it a habit to save your photos as soon as you finish shooting them on your computer or external hard drive. To be on the safe side, print out two or three copies, and do it as soon as you get back home from the wedding.
12.2 – Quickly Eliminate Unwanted Photos
In photography, culling is the process of removing the bad photos from the good ones. It’s not about getting rid of old photos right away because you never know when you’ll need them again. The ultimate goal is to narrow down thousands of photos to a small number of favorites, which you can then share with the happy couple.
Photo Mechanic, which was created specifically for image culling, is the fastest way to accomplish this. You can then begin editing your photos in Lightroom by importing your final selections from the Develop module into a Lightroom Catalog.
12.3 – Use Editing Presets To Save Time
The post-wedding workflow’s editing phase is the most time consuming. The time it takes to edit one image can range from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on how much work you put into the editing process. Use presets to apply multiple settings to your photos at once to simplify the process.
Be aware that applying presets won’t make your photos magically better. The editing software will apply a configuration of settings if you use a preset, but you can then tweak or adjust those settings until you get the look or tones you desire. It is possible to improve the visual cohesion of your images by using presets.
12.4 – Teaser Trailers After The Break
Set a deadline of 24 to 48 hours after the wedding for posting sneak peeks on social media. Most of the time, these are just a few sample images that show the client what their final product will look like. Teasers, on the other hand, give them something to talk about with their loved ones.
It’s likely that the couple, their loved ones, and guests will still be buzzing from the event, which will make them eager to see the photos. You’ll likely gain new fans, likes, shares, and comments now.
12.5 – Meet Deadlines For Submitting Photos
Provide clients with their images as soon as agreed upon, even if it takes longer than expected. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to as much as three months for some wedding photographers. In terms of workflow, how long it takes to post-process and deliver will vary. Make sure the client is aware of this fact.
12.6 – Create An Online Wedding Photo Album Using Step
Providing your clients with the best image viewing experience is a key part of your job as a photographer. Customers can receive their photos in a professional, high-quality manner by uploading an online gallery. In addition, they can choose where to save and download their files now that they have this option available to them.
ShootProof’s wedding gallery makes it simple for couples (and their loved ones) to order prints or digital files after they’ve been uploaded. During the holidays or on their one-year anniversary, you can create and send email campaigns to entice them to purchase photos.
13 – There Are Some Final Hints To Consider
+ You should practice as a second photographer before going out on your own if you want to pursue wedding photography as a career.
+ See if there are any special requirements the couple has ahead of time, such as not using flash photography during the ceremony
+ Move around to get different perspectives on the wedding, but avoid being obtrusive or getting in the way of the happy couple.
+ Make sure no one is squinting in direct sunlight by checking your photos for people who are blinking.
+ When photographing a couple or a group, make sure everyone is looking at the camera and making eye contact, otherwise your subjects will appear disengaged.
+ The more pictures you have, the better your chances are of getting a good one, and the more options you’ll have when choosing from them.