Last year I was honored to have a repeat client ask me to photograph her wedding – I was ecstatic! But between you and me and three thousand others, I had never photographed a wedding so after she asked, that excitement turned to nervousness. I mean, you only get ONE SHOT at a wedding. No do-overs. Not that I had to have any do-overs with a family portrait session but with a wedding, the p-r-e-s-s-u-r-e was ON.
I had been asked to capture weddings on numerous occasions prior to this one but didn’t have the confidence in my photography skills enough to agree. And even though the person asking assured me they were confident I could handle such a huge task, I personally wasn’t sure. I mean, that is a lot of pressure to only have one shot at getting the goods. No turning back. THIS IS IT!!
Do you see a running theme here? (Fear and self-doubt can be joy killers.)
So when I got the call about photographing my repeat client/friends’ wedding – and I had the confidence behind my skills – I absolutely said yes. And please know I did let my repeat client/friend know this little piece of information prior to finalizing (she could have changed her mind and that would have been A-OK.) But thankfully she said she trusted me enough in my skills to have me capture her big day. And by this time, I trusted myself as well.
Having said all that, I am so happy to have had the experience. I learned so much about my shooting style and what I should do differently next time (and in any session with clients), as well as shots I’m proud of and areas I need to work on (being a photographer is always a work in progress). I also thought it was the most fun and enlightening and ended the night saying – I looove weddings. Everyone is so happy and joyous! In my opinion, this is the best type of “session” if you are a portrait photographer. Yes, it is a ton of work with preparation, follow-up and planning but it is also the most rewarding.
I thought what better way to document my first wedding photography experience than to create a list for others who are debating taking on such a huge occasion for the first time. Hopefully, you will gain some insight for when you take the leap into the wedding photography world.
5. IT’S ALL IN WHO YOU KNOW.
Now, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. What this means is I would highly – H I G H L Y – recommend your first wedding be that of a friend or family member. Six months before this wedding, I was scheduled to photograph my out of state cousin’s wedding. Yes, I was nervous when I agreed to do it, but I also felt that since I knew half of everyone there I wouldn’t be as nervous. I wouldn’t be so focused on what people were going to think of me – if I stood in the wrong spot during the ceremony or cake cutting – (BTW, no one is worried about the photographer unless you are a complete annoyance and stand in the way the whole night. But chances are if you’ve been a photographer long enough you already know this “dance” and will have no issues crouching or stooping to get out of the line of sight.) It’s easier to jump into the wedding portrait world if you do it for someone you know and trust, as well as them trusting you. (Curious what happened with my cousin’s wedding? I ended up having to cancel due to an immediate family member’s surprise wedding on the very same day.)
4. HAVE HELP.
For me, this was a MUST. My assistant/hubby helped out and was my second shooter. I am forever grateful I decided to have a second shooter – even though he doesn’t have any formal training with camera functions, he’s got a great eye. Having him there helped calm my nerves but it also reassured that he would capture additional images of the ceremony. I placed my second shooter at the back of the room with a long zoom lens as I was at the front of the room getting the close ups during the vows. Placing him at the back of the room enabled him to capture this image of the Bride and her oldest son as they ascended the stairs for her formal entry to meet her Groom (Side note – this image has become one of my favorites. I re-edited it several months after the ceremony just to get this look. Step-by-step before and after post coming soon.)
3. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND GO GET IT!
I had a few months to prepare for her wedding, which meant I dove deep into Pinterest. (WooHoo Pinterest!) I made a mental note of the images I had to capture and also made note of the Bride’s must haves. Then, I knew which lenses to use and which lenses I needed. I rented 2 lenses to do the job of a few I knew couldn’t cut it from my currently owned lens line up. (Side note – RentGlass.com is based in Overland Park, Kansas and they are who I use 100% of the time when needing a special lens. They also carry camera bodies, flashes and other gear. Highly recommend them!) Disclaimer – I am a researcher by heart and I like to know – as best I can – what to expect ahead of time. Some may call it being a control freak but I call it precise planning. Some of you shooting your first wedding may feel better flying by the seat of your pants which is perfect, too, if that is your style! Do the best you can with what you know how to do. For me, constantly researching articles, poses and photos was another way to anticipate a need and calm my nerves.
2. WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING / SHOES
Being the researcher that I am I did look to see what other wedding photographers wore to weddings. Some two-shooter teams wore matching shirts with black pants. Some wore suits/dresses. Some wore jeans (which I don’t recommend!) I think it all depends on the venue and the “theme” the bride has chosen for her wedding for how fancy or casual you should go. **You should find all of this information out when you meet with the Bride a few months prior to the ceremony to go over details, timelines, as well as the Bride’s must have images.** I would be all for the matching shirts (this is a MUST whenever on a girls weekend trip! lol), however, I knew the assistant/hubby would not be. Now that I’ve been through my first wedding here is what I have come up with for this topic: wear something comfortable!! Comfortable shoes are a must. I think this is most important as you will be on your feet for 8-12 hours, at least. If you are most comfortable in heels – you are more woman than I. For me, it was flats (TOMS shoes are my most favorite flat ever), especially since I tend to squat, climb (because I’m height challenged), bend and stoop to get the shot. Your feet must be able to handle that burden or your will be suffering long after the ceremony is over. Also, dress in layers! You may get hot from all that climbing/stooping/dodging, but get cold soon after because venues typically crank up the air to keep guests comfortable. Make sure your clothing choice is a comfortable one. If you are constantly worried about how you look and/or pull on your clothes all night you will not be focused enough on getting the great images that you are paid to do.
1.HAVE FUN and DON’T FORGET THE SMALL STUFF
I totally recommend you stop every once and a while and capture small moments; children playing, loving glances between family members, embraces between guests. Those are special details that will mean something to the Bride and Groom that most photographers overlook. You are telling a story. A love story. One unique and special and sacred to two people and their loved ones. They put their hearts into creating this day and love goes into each detail big and small. You should do the same. I guarantee your Bride will love looking at the images you captured of her big day and see things she may not have seen while being caught up in the hustle and bustle of her big day. And that, my friends, is priceless.
Jenni Blake | JB Photo and Design is an on-location natural light photographer specializing in children photography | family photography | maternity photography | landscape photography | pet photography | and couples photography. JB Photo and Design serves the areas of Tonganoxie Kansas | Gardner Kansas | Lenexa Kansas | Overland Park Kansas | Spring Hill Kansas | Merriam Kansas | Shawnee Kansas | Olathe Kansas | Basehor Kansas | Linwood Kansas | Topeka Kansas | Lawrence Kansas | Kansas City | Paola Kansas | Baldwin City Kansas | Ottawa Kansas | Eudora Kansas | Prairie Village Kansas | Mission Kansas and Leawood Kansas, consisting of the counties of Johnson County Kansas | Douglas County Kansas | Leavenworth County Kansas | Wyandotte County Kansas and Miami County Kansas and surrounding areas.