I am extremely happy to be able to say I photographed my first wedding over the weekend!
My friend Jackie had booked this gig for us last year when she found out her sister-in-law’s mother was getting remarried. The only info I really had was that we were going to shoot this wedding together, it was a small wedding and it was the second marriage for both. So we knew it was going to be fairly low key. This turned out to be the perfect first job for us!
I have seriously never had more fun in my life. I could absolutely see myself doing this full time one day down the road. The whole mood of the day was happiness and joy and being able to capture that for this amazing, beautiful couple made me feel so happy and feel so honored! I learned a lot, and hopefully can take some of these lessons or thoughts and use them towards future weddings I may photograph.
In fact, another friend of mine has asked me to assist her in a few of her weddings for 2013 as her second photographer, so I’m really excited to get back to the wedding scene in a few weeks! I am always trying to better myself as a photographer, as this is something I take pretty seriously. I already know I will learn so much from her because she is such a talented photographer in all things.
So like I said, I did have some takeaways*. Most of these things I already follow or try to follow with any session I do, but weddings are pretty different! I’m sure I’ll be making a mental list of things to always keep in mind when asked to photograph a wedding, but here are some things I wanted to share! :)
- Have your gear prepped! I can not stress this enough. I always make sure my SD card is cleared before any session I have. I charge both my batteries, get my flash situated, have my camera bag packed with the lenses I need, props in order, tripod, etc. It’s so important to be prepared! I get everything packed, lined up and ready to go the night before.
- Have a backup! Since this wedding was a two-person job, my backup was my partner in crime. On the off chance something did happen to my camera, I knew she would be able to get the shots I couldn’t! Having a second camera body ready to go, though, definitely doesn’t hurt.
- BE EARLY. I’m always at least 15 minutes early for any session I have booked, but it’s essential for a wedding! This is their day, their time, their money. You definitely don’t want to be late. If they say “Meet us where we’re getting ready at 5.”, you get there at 4:45 or earlier.
- Remember you’re a vendor. You aren’t there as a guest. You are a vendor providing a service. Try to wear all black or muted colors so you blend in and don’t stand out. Also make sure you eat! You may be shooting for up to 10 hours in one day and you will be on your feet for the majority of the time. Make sure you dress comfortably with comfortable shoes, and eat something. It’s usually customary that the bride and groom offer you a seat and dinner at their wedding reception.
- Scope out the area beforehand. This was a bit harder for us, since it was such a low key wedding, but we did get to the city where the wedding was a few hours in advance so we scoped out the area then. If at all possible, make sure to check out the wedding venue (if it’s unfamiliar to you), reception area, possible photographing areas outside or down the road, a week or two in advance. It also helps to figure out the route and time to get to said location so you have an idea on that.
- Communicate. This seems like a no brainer, but it’s so important to communicate with the bride and groom. Make sure you have discussed their wants and needs or what their expectations are beforehand, if possible. It helps keeps flow during the day and also ensures they get the photos they absolutely must have. Keep open communication with the planner or who ever is in charge of making sure the night has good flow. You’ll want to know when the reception begins, when the first dance is, when the cake cutting is, etc. so you don’t miss any moment of it!
- Be in control. Yes, this is a wedding so it’s going to be somewhat chaotic at times, but you have to keep things rolling. We literally only had 40-45 minutes for photos between the time after the ceremony and the reception starting. So we had to keep things moving and ensure all the photos they wanted to have taken, were done. Family members were prepared to stand in and what not. The bride later thanked us for being in control since she found herself easily distracted by saying hi and hugging friends who would linger back after the ceremony.
- Don’t forget candids. This seems like a simple enough thing, but some of the most fun pictures I snapped were the ones of people talking during the reception, the bride dancing with her grand daughter, the bride and groom sneaking a kiss here and there, or people taking photos of other people with their smart phones. It definitely helped having a zoom lens where I could stand in the back of a room to be able to capture said moments.
- Have fun. Easier said than done, but if you’re at all stressed or worried, it will show in the pictures. Remain calm, have fun, keep things light!
I already know some things I want to definitely make sure of with future weddings. I also hope to have a bit more gear before the next one too. While I had rented a pretty awesome lens for the weekend, I definitely know which ones I want to add to my camera bag permanently so I’m starting to save up for those! I hope to get another camera body too.
The bottom line is I had so much fun. I can’t wait to share some of the photos. It will definitely take me a while to get through all these and then edit them, but that’s half the fun. Stay tuned!
*I’m not a professional wedding photographer (…yet ;)…), so these opinions and thoughts are my own! You will undoubtedly have your own routine, procedure or way of handling your photo sessions!