Wedding photography has a unique challenge that most other photography doesn’t; typically you only get one chance to get it right. The soon-to-be-married couple is relying upon you to create a photographic memory that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives. They put their trust in you to provide them with top quality photographs and the last thing you want to do is disappoint the newlyweds. The following tips for providing the best wedding photographs will help you fulfill your promise and their dream.
1. Know Your Gear – It is absolutely critical that you know your cameras, lenses and more importantly settings inside and out. Be familiar with the settings and what results you will get from each one. This goes hand in hand with having all the gear you could possibly need with you. If shooting outdoors be prepared for weather and lighting changes so no matter what happens you will have the appropriate equipment, cameras and lenses with you. It might be tempting to not bring certain items but if circumstances change such that those items suddenly become crucial to you getting the shots you want you will be very annoyed with yourself for not coming fully prepared for any and all eventualities. Always have a generous supply of batteries in case taking the wedding photographs takes longer than originally anticipated and planned for.
2. Keep Your Gear in Top Condition – It is often tempting when completing a long day of rounding people up for group photos, dealing with reluctant children (and adults for that matter), changing cameras, lenses and locations, to just want to stash your gear back in the car and head home to relax. Keeping all of your cameras and lenses in top working condition is essential to the success of your next wedding photography event. Failing to look after your gear may not only cost you when your gear fails but also could cost you your reputation. Take the time and effort necessary to take care of your equipment.
3. Scout the Location – This isn’t always possible but when it is it is always a good idea to scout the location prior to the day of the wedding. If the ceremony is to be held in a particular building getting an idea of the level of lighting before the actual day will help you arrive better prepared. Make sure that you see the building at around the same time of the day as you will be required to take photographs. If photographs are to be taken in a family member’s home ask for the opportunity to see it prior to the day. If allowed, you can assess which rooms will have the best lighting and get ideas for particular shots. Don’t forget to scout out the front and back gardens for possible shot locations too.
4. Make a List of Requested Photographs – As the wedding photographer it is your job to come up with suggestions for particular shots, but it is just as important to listen to the bride and groom to know what shots they would like for their wedding album. Make a list so that there can be no mistakes. Don’t trust your memory or assume that the bride and groom want the same photos as many others couples. While it is highly likely that after seeing examples of your work they will tell you which ones they would like taken of them they may have special family members they want included in certain shots, or a particular location for special shots of just the two of them. This is their day and it is your job to give them what they want, so write down their requests.
5. Create Several Photo File Backups – You get one chance to take the photographs and then the opportunity (for the most part) is lost forever. It is critical that immediately you are able to, back up all of the photo files to another source. In fact, then back up the back up. Ideally you will have at least 3 copies of the photographs, with 2 at your immediate disposal and a third off-site but quickly accessible. Backup copies can be kept on portable external hard drives, another computer and a cloud photo storage account. By ensuring you have several backup copies of the photographs you greatly reduce the chance that the photographs will be lost or damaged.
6. Be Professional – You have been hired to do a job. It is your responsibility, and your alone, to provide the bride and groom with a series of top quality photographs that can be mounted into an album that will last the couple their lifetime and beyond. You need to be friendly, courteous, attentive, but also have the ability to organize people for group shots. Do not drink or smoke while working. You are not there to socialize. Be professional; your reputation and livelihood depend upon it.
7. Have Business Cards Available – At many weddings there are engaged couples who may be on the hunt for a good wedding photographer. While not being ‘pushy’, if the opportunity arises have business cards to give out upon request.