Your First Wedding Photo Shoot: How To Prepare

Your First Wedding Photo Shoot: How To Prepare

Wedding photography can be an excellent way to make extra money or build a professional photography business from the ground up depending on your needs and preferences. Even in a difficult economy where family photos and art photography are known to be placed on the back burner, you will quickly find that there are no shortage of couples getting married who want high quality photos to help remember the occasion for all time.

Whether you’re a seasoned wedding photography professional or are new to the game and have your first big photo shoot coming up, there are a number of different  things that you’re going to want to keep in mind.  Remember that the wedding is going to move at its own pace and if youcan’t keep up due to issues with your equipment, your preparedness or some other factor that you didn’t account for, you could miss important spontaneous moments that can’t be recreated again.

Handling Guests

One of the big skills that you’ll need to hone as a wedding photographer is your ability to handle guests as effectively as possible. Remember that the guests aren’t the people who hired you to do your job – the bride and groom are. As a result, the needs of the bride and groom must be met at all costs and that “seriously funny” picture that the bride’s Uncle wants you to take will have to come later, if you have time to get to it at all.

Despite that, you’ll need to develop your people skills to understand exactly how to work with guests to keep things moving along smoothly. If you can fit in a few quick shots of family members while you’re waiting for the bride to get ready, do so. If you can’t, learn how to politely tell a family member or friend that they’re going to have to wait until later to get that photo they want. How you handle people will vary on a case by case basis, especially as the night goes on, so you’ll need to learn how to “read” the room accordingly.

Visit the Venue Before the Event

Another important consideration that you’ll need to make to help be as prepared as possible for a wedding photo shoot involves taking a trip out to the venue well in advance and getting a feel for the types of shots that you’ll need on the big day. Remember that no two wedding venues are created equally and one can vary wildly from the next in terms of size, layout and lighting. Lighting is especially important, as a dimly lit reception hall or ceremony location will mean that you need to bring additional equipment along with you on the big day that you may not have previously considered.

Contact the venue in question and schedule a few hours to visit and really get a feel for not only the layout but the overall feel of the building in question. Bring your lighting equipment with you and be prepared to set up a few C-stands and check for appropriate F-stop usage on the big day.  Large windows in a traditional wedding venue will essentially mean that your lighting conditions can change on a moment’s notice depending on the weather outside. If the room has floor to ceiling windows, a room can go from having bright, natural light to relying exclusively on overhead lights in seconds. If you aren’t prepared to quickly change your camera settings,you’ll soon find that most of the shots that you’re taking can’t be used.

Take light meter readings from a few key locations around the room and write down your findings on a piece of paper. Remember to note the conditions that those meter readings were taken during so that you can refer back to them on the big day. Instead of taking and retaking light meter readings while the wedding is actually going on, you can save yourself a great deal of time (and thus be prepared for the next portion of the event must faster) by having a chart to refer to of your findings.

Shot Lists

It can be helpful during a wedding to have a shot list that you’re working from of the big, “money shots” that you’re after. This is similar in practice to
shooting a short or feature film, where you would break each scene down into individual shots and check them off as you get the ones you’re satisfied with.

Break down the event by stages like “Before the Ceremony”, “During the Ceremony,” “Wedding Party Photos,” “Reception Introductions” and more. Make a list of the shots in those categories that you’re after and check them off as you actually get them. Doing so will allow you to move from one portion of the event to another much faster, which will mean that any delays won’t be due to the wedding photographer and will instead just be a part of the normally frantic pace that weddings usually have.


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About the author

I am a seasoned photographer with over 12 years experience in wedding and fashion photography. I am lucky to have travelled far and wide to clients, colleagues and friends' weddings over the past years. I love nature, outdoor life, animals, films and fashion.

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