Top Tips for Wedding Photography Beginners

You just booked your first wedding.

Now what?

Maybe you’re feeling a little nervous – worried about lighting the reception, posing a slightly-awkward couple, or choosing the right lens for the ceremony.

We’re not going to help you with any of that. Time, experience, and experimentation will earn you your style and technique.

To rock your first wedding, there’s one thing you must do: prepare for chaos. These top tips for wedding photography beginners will help you do just that!

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Photo by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO

With the right prep, you’ll manage even the craziest celebration with class – and create beautiful photographs despite the challenges.


TIP #1: MAKE IT LEGAL

If you haven’t already, make your booking legit with a signed contract and paid retainer. You can do both through ShootProof, using an attorney-drafted contract template from ShootProof’s Marketplace and the Invoices feature.

If you’ve already collected a signed contract and retainer: congratulations! Level up!


TIP #2: DEVELOP YOUR SHOT LIST

This is not your client’s shot list!

This is the list of photographs you want to take before the day is over. What do you expect of yourself?

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Photo by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO

Develop a well-curated list of no more than 25 “must-haves” – and memorize it. Making these photographs should be second-nature.

If you’re constantly referring to a piece of paper while photographing the wedding, you’ll be distracted and miss real moments. But if you have a gut-sense of what you want to capture – and what you should be capturing – you’ll be fully present and wholly invested in the creative process.


TIP #3: ORGANIZE YOUR GEAR

Do you have the gear you need to make the photographs you plan to make? Maybe you want to make macro photographs of the couple’s rings, but don’t own a macro lens. Plan ahead to purchase or rent one!

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Photo by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO

To try before you buy, consider these rental solutions:

Aperturent
Lensrentals
Lens Pro To Go
Capture Integration
Borrow Lenses

Make sure each piece of equipment has a secure, designated space in a bag on the wedding day. Number your bags and pack them consistently to prevent misplacing items or leaving anything behind.

BACKUP EQUIPMENT

Have plenty of memory cards (or film), batteries, and backup equipment. Even the latest and greatest camera can fail when you least expect it. Be prepared with a second camera and lens(es). Make sure this backup gear is accessible while you’re shooting – not hidden away in the back of your car. That won’t do you any good if your camera zonks out midway through the ceremony!


TIP #4: RESEARCH YOUR LOCATIONS

Your contract should detail where the ceremony and reception are taking place. Use this information to research photography policies and lighting conditions in these venues. Do an in-person walkthrough if possible, or preview the locations online if the venues are too far away for a pre-wedding visit.

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Photo by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO

PLACES OF WORSHIP

Ask venues about their photography policies! Places of worship, in particular, often have strict rules about when – and from where – you can photograph.

Communicate any restrictions to your clients well before the wedding day. If your clients’ church doesn’t allow photography during the wedding ceremony, for example, setting your clients’ expectations will prevent disappointment later.

Don’t hesitate to ask venue directors if they’ll bend the rules for you (It never hurts to ask!), but always respect their final policy, even if it seems silly to you. Your reputation will thrive or die on the word of industry vendors who work with you.

INSIDE, OUTSIDE, & GREEN CEILINGS

Even beautiful venues can pose unexpected challenges – especially after the sun sets, or if there are no windows!

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Photo by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO

How will you handle that ballroom with the green-painted ceiling? How will you photograph that dance floor on the beach once night falls? Do you know where the sun will be during that lakeside ceremony? What is the couple’s rain plan – and are you prepared for it?

Anticipate location challenges before they arise, and you won’t be panicking on the wedding day.


TIP #5: HIRE AN ASSISTANT

No, not a second shooter (though you may have one of those, too). Hire an assistant.

Your photo assistant can:

  • Carry and/or guard your gear
  • Help set up equipment if you’re using lights or tripods
  • Smooth trains, fluff hair, and re-pin boutonnieres
  • Bring you a bottle of water so you don’t pass out

If nothing else, a second pair of hands can feel life-saving when you’re in the midst of a hectic wedding.

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Photo by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO

ASSISTANT ETIQUETTE

  • When listing an assisting job, clearly state when, where, how long, and how much you can pay.
  • Make it clear that you are hiring an assistant – not a second shooter.
  • Leave nothing to chance! Tell your assistant what you expect them to wear. No jeans? All black? A suit and tie? Be specific. Your assistant represents your brand while they’re with you.

TIP #6: PREPARE YOUR EMERGENCY KIT

An emergency kit can help streamline the photography process and enhance your clients’ experience!

Bobby pins, a stain stick, a small sewing kit, and baby wipes will handle most minor crises.

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Photo by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO

Larger emergency kits may contain rain ponchos, first aid kits, bug spray, crochet needles (for dress buttons), makeup basics, spare bow ties, lighters, a list of emergency phone numbers (backup vendors and photographers), and more. Your imagination is the limit!

Don’t overburden yourself but pack what makes you feel prepared and comfortable. Your assistant can help you manage this extra bag!


TIP #7: BE REAL

Forget what the magazines say. Forget the hype and the pomp and the circumstance.

Brides and grooms and their families are just human beings full of feelings. Throughout the wedding process, treat them with respect and humor and empathy.

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All Photos by EM + STEVE POGOZELSKI of POGO PHOTO | Find them on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM

Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. And don’t try to make your clients be someone they’re not.

Clients will love you, refer you, and hire you again – not only because you make lovely photographs, but because you are a lovely human to work with.


While you’re busy supporting your clients, ShootProof is busy supporting YOU! Join us now!

 


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