15 Wedding Photography Tips

Shooting photography for a wedding is an awesome responsibility, but with planning and a few tips, it can also be fun.

  1. Get a contract that specifies the schedule, what the couple will receive, and any liabilities you will accept in the event that they are unhappy with the photos.
  2. If at all possible, cut your teeth by working as an assistant or second shooter for a seasoned pro. 
  3. If you have never shot a wedding, only accept the job if couple hadn't originally budgeted for a professional photographer. Meet with the couple to discuss their expectations. Ask for a shot list.
  4. Attend the rehearsal to get an idea of how the big day will proceed. It also gives you a chance to meet the extended family. Contact the ceremony facility and investigate their policies on flash photography. Many churches and temples allow flash during the processional and recessional, but not during the ceremony. The officiate may also have strong feelings about where photographers should stand during the ceremony.
  5. Dress appropriately. Dress like a guest and do not upstage the bride.
  6. Bring at least two of EVERYTHING: two camera bodies, at least two lenses, two flashes, and extra memory cards.  If you need it for the job, you need two, even if you have to rent it.
  7. Bring enough lenses to have good range.  You will need a wide -angle lens and a good telephoto or zoom lens.  If your lenses aren't fast or sharp enough, rent them. Know your equipment.  Read the manuals and know every function on your camera.  Know how to work with available light and how to use fill flash.
  8. Shoot RAW. This will give you much more flexibility during photo editing.
  9. Arrive well before the ceremony. This is your chance to get behind-the-scene shots of the bride and groom.  Remember, these are exciting, but tense moments for bride and groom, so hang back, and focus on candid shots.
  10. Shoot the details. The flowers, the shoes, the cake are all part of the big event and the story you are trying to tell.
  11. Turn off any sound on your camera for the ceremony. It is your job not only to capture the important moments but also to make sure no one notices you doing it.
  12. Most couples expect photographers to shoot traditional portraits along with photojournalistic candids. Try to get the boys and girls separately before the wedding.  After the ceremony and receiving line, corral the wedding party for group portraits. Start with the largest groups, whittling down the smallest combinations of families and friends so that people can hit the bar or buffet.
  13. Get photos of guests at their tables, but be respectful and avoid photographing people during meal courses. No one looks his or her best with a mouthful of salad. After the portraits, retreat to the background, but be sure to be available for any shots the couple or their parents might want.
  14. Make sure photos are ready when the couple returns from their honeymoon.
  15. If the couple is happy with their photos or album, ask for a testimonial. Referrals and testimonials are the lifeblood of your wedding photography business. 

Thank the couple for the opportunity before and after the wedding. 

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