It’s been four years now since I wrote my original post “10 Things I Learned In My First Season as a Wedding Photographer“, so I thought now would be a perfect time for an update.
There are some major additions to this list, but I thought that I would start out with an update on the first 10 topics that I started within my first year. I’ll be adding to the list next week, so stay tuned!
If you want to see the original post from my first year, click here.
My research has gone from business basics to full-on immersive wedding photography workshops, articles, lighting, posing, layouts, gear…. The list goes on and on; I can never learn enough. If you come across a photographer that claims to be a master, run far far away.
Constant research and learning new gear and techniques gives the photographer the tools they need to succeed. One of my favorite resources is SLR Lounge, so if you’re looking to learn more, I highly recommend Pye and his classes.
I think one of my favorite things to work with now is multiple light setups. Being able to use artificial light efficiently gives me the ability to shoot anywhere at anytime. Not to mention you can control the drama in a scene, correctly expose while shooting against the sun (ow my eyes!) or even create light paintings around the couple.
There is ALWAYS room for growth and improvement. Keep pushing yourself to capture new and unique images while learning new techniques!
Back Yourself Up
This one almost stayed the same. Cards, hard drives, and people will all fail you at some point. I’ve had memory cards fail, that is why I shoot with cameras that allow me to write to two separate cards at the same time. I’ve had a hard drive fail on me this year, a week after I bought it. I keep RAW files on the SD cards until the wedding, engagement, or portrait session is delivered. Even then, everything is backed up online. Always a backup.
As for people, I have had some amazing ones that I work with, and I have had some not so amazing ones. This is the price of business. I now have contracts that I make even my closest friends sign before they help me out. This keeps business things business, and friends things separate.
Meet the Happy Couple and Scout the Location with Them.
Yes, yes, and yes. Keeping an open conversation with your clients is a MUST. After your initial consultation and the contract is signed, they are all yours. I try to stay available for my awesome clients as much as I can. It may take me an hour or two to get back, but I am there for them!
Scouting their wedding venue is a great way to get to know EXACTLY what they’re looking for in their wedding photography. Certain spots they loved about the site, layout for the day (to plan where you’re going to stash your lights), and even decor. It will give you a feel of the day and plan out some epic shots ahead of time!
Schedule and Shot List
I work closely with my couples and their schedule, most of the time I help dictate their wedding flow. It helps them decide which events are essential for me to capture, while others, not so much. Being able to help them out and choose the right wedding package to offer them can be a massive help to the couple and make them even more comfortable with you.
Shot lists are helpful when it comes to family formals and the basics of the wedding that you absolutely must have. However, there are times where that shot you had in your head just doesn’t work out. Weather changes, people disappear, and that dress is much hotter (and heavier) than it seems. When it comes to that dream of climbing up that cliff to that waterfall in your dress, you realize that you just can’t do it, and that’s ok, we can still make it work! I think one of my strengths is that I can adapt quickly to changes and come up with new ideas that you will love just as much.
So, photographers and clients, it’s important to stay flexible and TRUST each other. This is why building that relationship before the wedding day is such a huge thing.
Sweat the Small Stuff
There are so many details that go into weddings; you have to be paying attention to all of them. The brooch attached to the bride’s bouquet that belonged to her Grandmother, unique cufflinks worn by the groom that mean a lot to him, and the look from the groom as he sees his bride coming down the aisle. These are the things that the couple will want to remember forever, and this is why the details are so important to capture.
Be Patient and Watch for the Perfect Moments.
Every wedding is completely different. You may have shot over 100 weddings, but not one of them is going to be the same. Watch for the real, honest reactions from the family and guests. Tears during the ceremony smiles while dancing or even interactions with the other guests at the reception. Capturing the raw emotions during the day is a huge reward in itself.
On the other side, don’t stand around in one place waiting for that candid shot you had dreamed up in your head. You need to be patient for those, but you also don’t want to miss the other moments that are happening while you wait. Work the room, talk to the guests, and keep an eye on that shot, it will show its self sooner or later.
Make the Group Shots Fun and Unique
Some photographers pride themselves on creating the perfectly posed portraits and group shots. They’ll use the same techniques and layouts time after time; it can get boring. Feed off of your client’s energy and personality, let them create the perfect images, the ones that genuinely describe them.
My favorite way to do this is to get everyone arranged into a spot, and then let them do what they feel comfortable with. I’ll feed them hints like putting their weight on their back foot, creating a separation of the arms from the body for females, and most importantly, what to do with your hands. This gives them basic guidelines, but it also lets them show some personality and appear much less stiff in the images. Plus, no one expects to have fun during the formal portraits, unless you make it fun for them. I’ve had hugs from clients and their guests afterward for making it less awkward than they were anticipating.
Don’t Forget the Candids!
Confirm your departure.
Always check with your client before you leave. There may be some events that are running late or a formal image with a loved one that you weren’t able to photograph earlier. Staying a few extra minutes to capture those pictures will leave a lifetime impression on your client. Staying flexible and working with your clients is important, this is their day, you can always have them agree to add more hours to your contract during the wedding day. This is another reason why I only schedule 1 event a day, plans change, and being able to change with them will make you a rock star in the eyes of your couple.
Take a Deep Breath, Relax, and Edit, Edit, Edit.
This one should be updated to something like breath, have a drink, take a day off, and then edit. During the busy season, you’re going to need to schedule some time off, especially if you don’t want your spouse and children to hate you. We’ve made it a family tradition to take a week or two off in the summer and head to. To me, nothing is a better refresh than nature and family.
Every year you grow and learn so much more than you thought you would. I love being able to grow with my little company and to keep pushing myself to become both a better photographer and a better person.
So keep your head up and keep moving forward. I promise you, it’s worth it!
More additions to my education next week, so if you’re looking to get into wedding photography, make sure to follow the blog!