[Lessons Learned] Wedding Photography

Random Observation/Comment #418: Wedding photography is a different beast from event photography. There’s so much more to learn…

see lemons wedding photograph

Weddings are beautiful. You’re there for a ceremony celebrating the beginning to a (hopefully) everlasting bond of teamwork and friendship. The opportunity to record such an emotional event is certainly a privilege. While obviously stressful to get those perfect shots, I think there’s so much more to the profession of wedding photography than meets the eye.

Lessons learned:

  • Know your bride’s requests. Let’s be honest, the photos are really for her and the groom doesn’t really care. From what I’ve seen, the relationship with the bride will solidify the entire wedding. You want to have them trust your judgment and creativity. Cut them some slack because they’ll most probably be bossy and stressed out. You’ll want them on your side because that’ll make the whole process easier.
  • Know the full agenda and venue. As with all photography, know what you’re working with and get there early to scope out where you can do the extra photos. Logistically, you should be as clear with the schedule as the event organizer. Take into account the weather and where the sun will be during the main parts of the shoot. Map out where to stand and work with other photographers to cover all angles. Know who the main people you should capture and who you shouldn’t.
  • Know your equipment. Needless to say, you’ll need to know how to photograph and not have to spend 5 minutes adjusting your camera. The camera should be an extension of your eye. Make sure you have the right lenses and equipment for the job as well. A prime f/1.8 50mm, telephoto 28-135mm, and flash with extra batteries should cover you for 80% of your shots. Multiple bodies and SD cards will help with faster switching. Lighting may also be necessary for additional shots. These can be taken with poses before dinner and drinking.
  • Take charge and tell people how to pose. When I’m doing event photography, I rarely tell people to change their positioning because I want to focus on capturing the moment. In weddings, especially for posed shots, you can move them around and make use of your limited time. It’s actually a good thing to treat your subjects like little kids and give them the direction and motivation to crack a smile. This presence really separates the amateurs from the seasoned.
  • Keep things interesting. There are clearly the set 100 types of shots (dress, make-up, hugging, crying, laughing, drinking, altar kiss, first look, first dance, cake cut, cake feeding, old nana, etc.) you take at a wedding, but to keep it fun and spontaneous, it’s important to always look for the opportunities. Stay creative and have fun with it. The photographer’s mood also has a big affect on the resulting photos, so be happy (queue happy song).
  • Be friendly and interactive. Some people automatically label you as “the help”, which is technically true, but can be a painful experience. In fact, as a recommendation for the bride and groom, it’s probably a good idea to keep your photographer happy. The photographer will certainly do their darnedest to give you their best work and make you happy. The way business works, it’s certainly much more of a word of mouth gig, so really be flexible and reasonable on both sides.
  • Have a quick turn around time. It’s always important to have photos by Monday or Tuesday (if the wedding is on Saturday). Everyone wants to see photos and even if it’s a first glance of 70, it’s good to show it first and then give the other 300 or so later. I firmly believe in quality over quantity, but everyone likes to get their money’s worth.

I’ve often stayed away from shooting weddings because I’ve found it so stressful to capture every moment for the bride’s most important day. It’s daunting how every shot matters because if you miss a first look or ceremonial kiss shot, you’re out of luck. Some things just can’t be staged and you just need to be on point the entire time.

That being said, for a photographer, there was a certain level of excitement that reminded me of traveling to a new remote location. There are just so many stories to tell while you ninja through the wedding and capture the story in still memories.

~See Lemons Shoot Weddings