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Wedding photography is an interesting job. It’s an odd combination of stress and joy. One moment you can be ordering around people you’ve never met before, only to be dancing and joking with the very same people hours later. You can be practically a stranger involved in the most important day of people’s lives, however, leave feeling like part of the family.

Although rewarding, being a wedding photographer is tough. As it is the most important day of many people’s lives, it’s important to do a good job. Your first wedding photography experience can be a daunting one, however, with the right preparation and attitude, there’s no reason it can’t be a success. The team over at All Town Music, are here to show you how to photograph a successful wedding shoot. Be sure to expect plenty of mishaps and laughs along the way.

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here are our top 10 tips to photographing a wedding: 

  • Familiarise yourself with your equipment
  • Check out the location
  • Practice taking photos before the day
  • Try and get some wedding photography experience beforehand
  • Speak to the bride and groom beforehand
  • Make a note of a few classic wedding shots
  • Be clear of what you will charge for
  • Check with the venue where you can take photos from
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Be yourself and enjoy the occasion

1. Familiarise yourself with your equipment

If you’ve just landed your first wedding gig and are planning to purchase a brand new shiny camera for it, make sure you’re well practised with it before the big day. As well as the camera itself, this includes all the gear and accessories you plan to bring. Whether it’s memory cards, lenses, tripods or even your new camera, there’s nothing worse than being unable to figure out your equipment when you are meant to be shooting. This could seem unprofessional and might leave you feeling embarrassed. Before the big day, make sure you familiarise yourself with your equipment. 

Also, remember to bring plenty of spare equipment. Things which can run out like batteries and memory are essential. We recommend either bringing a spare memory card to swap out once it is full or to invest in a high-capacity memory card which will last you the longest. It may even be worth renting a spare camera, preparing for the worst-case scenario that your camera doesn’t work.

2. Check out the location

This may be easier than done, taking into consideration how far you may have to travel. If you are local or if you are travelling the day before, it is worth visiting the venue to visualise where you will be taking shots on the day.

If this isn’t possible, however, even researching the venue and seeing what you’re up against can help you prepare mentally. Even seeing what pictures other photographers have taken at the same venue, then picturing if you’d do anything the same or different.

Wedding location with old lamp light and rustic chalkboard sign | Photo: Sooz via Unsplash

Wedding location with old lamp light and rustic chalkboard sign | Photo: Sooz via Unsplash

3. Practice makes perfect

As well as familiarizing yourself with the technical features of your camera and equipment, it is beneficial to practice taking photos before the day.

Ask some friends or family members to do some classic wedding poses. Take pictures of them in different surroundings and from different angles and distances to get used to adjusting the camera’s features to adapt. It is also helpful to take these quickly to replicate the scenario on the wedding day.

4. Try and get some wedding photography experience

You can practice all you want with your camera. Taking pictures around your house and garden is one thing, but having to do so in an unfamiliar environment with dozens of strangers waiting for you is another.

If you can, try and help out an experienced wedding photographer a couple of times before your first wedding. This way you get to experience everything that comes with the day. Taking photos is only half of the job – other responsibilities include planning and preparing, dealing with the guests and overcoming difficulties quickly and calmly. Having previous experience and knowledge of the day in any amount of involvement can help, even if you’re just carrying all of their stuff around.

You also get the chance to pick their brains about any questions you have. Getting your foot in the door and getting your name out there has worked with a professional can help you find future work also.

Groom beside bride holding bouquet flowers | Photo: Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash

Groom beside bride holding bouquet flowers | Photo: Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash

5. Speak to the bride and groom beforehand 

As well as making note of any photos you’d like to take yourself, asking the bride and groom about any ‘must-have’ photos is beneficial.

For example, there might be a certain nostalgic pose they’d like to create with friends, or distant family member they don’t see anymore who they’d like a photograph with. Some couples like photos of materialistic items such as the cake, or the cake toppers. If you get some ideas from the bride and groom beforehand this will help on the day, as they are often occupied and don’t have long to chat. This way, the bride and groom can’t complain about any missed ‘must have’ shots. 

6.  Make a note of some classic wedding shots

You’ll begin to pick these up eventually once you’ve been photographing weddings for a while. However, for your first few shots, making a note of any classic poses you plan on taking does help.

For example, the bride and groom getting ready, parents, the best men and maids of honour etc. If there are any other unique pictures you want to take then making a note will make sure you remember. There is a lot going on and your first wedding shoot can be overwhelming, smaller details like this can be easy to forget.

Of course, spontaneity is key on wedding days too. If you think of any photos during the day you want to just go for it, sometimes these are the best ones.

Groom getting ready before wedding | Photo: Nick Karvounis via Unsplash

Groom getting ready before wedding | Photo: Nick Karvounis via Unsplash

7. Be clear of what you will charge for

Being a wedding photographer is demanding, it can also be expensive. It is important to be clear with the bride and groom beforehand exactly what they will be charged for. Things such as accommodation, travel, hours, prints, digital files. It’s up to you what you charge them for, however making this clear before the wedding day is essential to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

This way you can avoid any potentially bad reviews which could hamper your chances of finding future work and save your reputation.

8. Check with the venue where you can take photos from

Some venues can have certain areas where photography is and isn’t allowed, churches in particular. If you can check with the pastor or priest beforehand this can prevent a potentially awkward situation, where during the ceremony you’re yelled at for taking photos from where you shouldn’t have been.

Wedding aisle in old church | Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Wedding aisle in old church | Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

9. Expect the unexpected

As weddings are often such frantic, nervy occasions, it isn’t rare for a few minor mishaps to occur (especially if alcohol is involved). Whether it’s a drunk uncle photobombing or the maid of honour passing out after standing up for too long, there’s a good chance something will go wrong.

As long as it’s nothing too serious, just smile and carry on. Don’t let a minor bump in the road ruin a special occasion, for you and the bride and groom. Remember, if you start to panic and stress, this will rub off on the bride and the groom. So just stay calm, happy and confident.

10. Be yourself and enjoy the occasion

You may be nervous about your first wedding photography shoot, however, your nerves will be nothing compared to how the bride and groom will be feeling. It’s a happy occasion and everyone is there to have a good time. Just relax, be friendly and enjoy making a difference to someones special day. 

Groom and bride standing on narrow pathway | Photo: Analise Benevides via Unsplash

Groom and bride standing on narrow pathway | Photo: Analise Benevides via Unsplash

Now you are aware of how to photograph your first wedding, be sure to head to our website to find the best accessories for photography

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