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Tips for the wedding photographer

First, be sure you are cut out to be a wedding photographer


Taking the bridal couple to a secluded setting, away from the wedding guests, is often effective in achieving relaxed-looking, elegant poses.
Taking the bridal couple to a secluded setting, away from the wedding guests, is often effective in achieving relaxed-looking, elegant poses.

ALL RIGHT! HERE’S YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

(1) Your primary subject will probably be wearing white, frequently against a dark background and in poor ambient light. Worse, her partner will probably be dressed in a contrasting dark outfit.
(2) During the ceremony, you must appear to be invisible while nonetheless capturing critical moments as if you were five feet away, then afterwards you will be responsible to get and keep your subjects’ attention, even though they will be distracted frequently.
(3) You will be working in two, three and sometimes more locations, all on the same day. If you are outside, it could get stormy. If you’re inside, the rooms could be small and crowded, or so huge that it is almost impossible to organize some shots.
(4) Everything must be done in a tightly-scheduled, compacted time-frame, and there is no going back.
(5) You’ll be dealing with many total strangers, some of whom may interfere with your work, even asking you to stop so they can copy what you are doing, or criticizing your poses. Your concentration and timing may be thrown off.


(6) You will probably be asked to take unplanned, unexpected and sometimes difficult pictures.
(7) You will very likely be dealing with large groups, and as you get near the end, some people may become impatient.
(8) You only get one shot at it; the event can’t be repeated.
(9) You must remain cheery, happy and in full control, but you must work fast, and frequently switch from one scene to another, often with completely different people in each.
(10) Lighting and composition must be original and near-perfect. Everyone must look good, even though emotions will be running wild.
(11) You will probably have to shoot in two or three different styles, including candid shots on the go, often using both color and black-and-white film if you are shooting film. Not a problem for digital photographers.
(12) In spite of the foregoing hurdles, your pictures must all be first-class. They can’t be just good; they must be excellent, and your clients will be counting on them as the principal reminder of perhaps the most-significant event of their lives.

Expect the unexpected at a wedding, particularly if the bridal couple are lively and out-going.
Expect the unexpected at a wedding, particularly if the bridal couple are lively and out-going.

A quickly-captured pose of a perky flower girl is one of many unplanned pictures that will find a welcome place in the wedding album.
A quickly-captured pose of a perky flower girl is one of many unplanned pictures that will find a welcome place in the wedding album.

DO YOU WANT THE JOB?

If you say no, then you won’t be photographing many weddings, because that is what wedding photography can be like.

WEDDINGS ARE NOT FOR ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS

Some capable, experienced photographers will not take on a wedding photography assignment, while there are other professionals who concentrate exclusively on weddings. That is the way it should be, since weddings require the photographer to not only be technically competent, but to also have the attitude and temperament necessary for this demanding, “one kick-at-the-cat” type of work. The photographer who feels his or her personality and style are unsuited to taking wedding pictures is probably right, and should stay away. No matter how good a photographer you are, you can’t take high-quality wedding pictures if your heart isn’t in it.


WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?

Photographic competence and personal confidence are two essentials. The wedding photographer must also have a sense of artistry that can be called up at a moment’s notice, and the ability to quickly pose individuals, couples and groups in esthetically-pleasing, balanced arrangements, some of which may be formal and dignified, others that must look relaxed and intimate, others that must appear completely natural and candid, and others that must contain elements of fun.

It goes without saying that you should have appropriate, quality camera equipment and know how to use it properly. Just owning a camera and being able to take good pictures are not enough. In fact, if you have only one camera, you should not be the main wedding photographer. There is too much at stake if your camera should become unserviceable for any reason when you don’t have a suitable back-up available.

Weddings are about romance, and you must capture images that show the newlyweds' affection for each other.
Weddings are about romance, and you must capture images that show the newlyweds' affection for each other.

If you enjoy taking wedding pictures (and you must if you wish to be successful), then your pictures will show that joy, and your clients will be delighted with your work.
If you enjoy taking wedding pictures (and you must if you wish to be successful), then your pictures will show that joy, and your clients will be delighted with your work.

But, having two quality cameras is only the starting point. We discuss essential equipment and many other aspects of wedding photography in this section of PhotographyTips.com.

If you are thinking of becoming a wedding photographer, perhaps just for one wedding or as a career, we believe you will find our information, tips and pointers (start with the links below, at the bottom of the page) to be informative and helpful.


Further information...

Your personal appearance

Before the ceremony

Formal wedding portrait

Careers in photography
Related topics...

Tips on how much to charge

Photography wish list

Sample photography contract #1

Sample photography contract #2