I've just recently shot my first wedding. It's a lot of work. My second shooter and I took about 3000 photos within a 12 hour period of time. You start when the bride gets ready in the morning and finish at the end of the reception (unless you have agreed to something else).
Bring at least 2 cameras, a second shooter, extra charged batteries and something to upload the photos to on-site.
I don't know if John Mueller has this anywhere else but this is some Wedding Advice from John Mueller ([link] is his FB):
For those who are considering or interested in photographing weddings, here are some Frequently Asked Questions I put together after my first 130 weddings. MOST of what is included here is my personal opinion based on experience.
Questions about photography (for the bride) before the wedding day How long do you hope to have a photographer for? What kind of product do you want (digital photos, DVD, Album, slideshow, etc) How should the photographer dress? How many in your bridal party? How many in your wedding? Will the bride & groom be getting ready elsewhere? Will the ceremony & reception be at the same location? Will a vendor meal be provided or time (1hr) allocated for dinner/meal?
Photography before the ceremony begins. If photographing a wedding alone, where should the photographer be for the ceremony? Probably near the front of the isle to capture the bridal party and bride coming down the isle. If that’s not an option, try to hide half-way down the isle, sticking out from the side to capture people down the isle. If that isn’t an option, at the back of the isle to get people as they come in AND to get a photo of the groom looking at the bride as she’s walking down the isle. How close should the photographer get to the podium/stage/area where they are getting married? - Probably ask the pastor/officiant what they are comfortable with. How many photos should I take? - Don't limit yourself, but don't overdo it. Probably 100 for the ceremony Should I stand in front of the guests to get up close? - If you need to get up close, hunch down the isle. Get your shot and hunch back down. Be respectful, but get your shot. By no means stand in front of anyone, especially in front for a prolonged amount of time. The church won’t let me go down the middle of the isle or get close to them or use flash. Now what?? - sucks. That's how most Catholic churches are. Hope you have a camera with really good High ISO and at least a 200mm 2.8 lens. Only shoot in RAW. Even if you can’t convert to .jpg now, later on you might. RAW gives you much more flexibility with your photos in terms of exposure and white balance.
Photographing the ceremony - Most important parts of the ceremony photos are probably (perhaps in order): Bride and father walking down the isle Groom seeing the bride for the first time The kiss Bride/Groom walking back down the isle hand-in-hand Rings going on Entire wedding party at once Bride photo, close-up, speaking the vows/staring at husband Groom photo, same as above Wide-angle of the entire wedding Bride & groom kissing just as they are done coming back down the isle (request they kiss one more time) Sand ceremony, and all other ceremonial photos Don’t be a distraction, but make sure you get the photos. Don’t’ stand in front of guests. Crouch down, but then pop-up to get the shot and then get back down or get out of the way. Respect the wishes of the bride/groom, pastor, and venue Don’t expect to be too creative with ceremony shots.
Photographing formals Hire/find/use someone else to wrangle/gather all people involved in the formal photos. If you do it, and need to yell, people will be mad at you, which will hinder you the rest of the day Start with any people who are less mobile, handicapped or involve young, easily-distracted children Hopefully have a list to work off of, otherwise, work with the largest group photo and peel away. Choose a side, bride or grooms, and then just work through them all, quickly Don’t let others take pictures over your shoulder or within 10-15ft of you, else members of the group will be looking at different cameras at the same time. Recognize when the bride/groom need a break. That’s a lot of smiling for some people, especially when they’re on an emotional high Whittle it down to just the bride & groom. Give them a few moments alone and then take them to 2 or 3 different spots to get some creative shots with them. Spend no more than 15 minutes. They want to hang with their friends too. Photographing the reception Photos of them entering as husband/wife for the first time Photos of their first dance Wide-angle shots showing everyone around them watching Close-up shots of just their heads and hopefully looking lovely at each other Full-body shots to see how they are dressed and their bodies together Toasts Other speeches The head table Photos with the bride & groom at all tables This can be hard because people don’t like to get photos taken while they’re eating Also hard because not everyone sits still and they might be out walking around. Plus this can take a LONG time if they get to talking Photos of cake cutting Photos of Bouquet Toss Photos of Garter Toss Macro photos of the rings, if not done before (I do this as they’re served dinner) Photos of the Money Dance (not every single dance, this could be dozens) Dancing, dancing, and more dancing. Groups of people together Candids of people talking/laughing Try to use bounce flash as often as possible for more flattering light. And don’t over-do it. People will get sick of you.
After the Wedding Try to get them at least 50-100 photos the next day. With Facebook, they’re going to want to upload a photo of them on their wedding day ASAP, so it might as well be one from the professional, with a link to their fan page. Referrals. Try to get all the photos edited and uploaded in 2 weeks while the moment is still fresh with them. They’ll appreciate it and… referrals. Follow up with them in 6mo to a year to just check in and see how they’re doing. Small chance they might be pregnant and that means… maternity photos, newborn photos, family sessions… Once they get their photos and they’re happy with your work, ask them, as a favor, to write you a positive feedback on Yelp, Weddingbug, Weddingwire, etc, etc. Or make a quick video of them at the end of their wedding, time permitting, singing your praises Backup your RAW photos.
General Wedding Photography Questions
What kind of equipment should I have to photograph a wedding? Camera bodies: Canon or Nikon. No others. At LEAST a full frame camera and another one as a backup. For Canon at least a 5DMII and for Nikon a D700. Both of those are good in low light and quick to focus. Lenses: At least have 2.8 lenses from 17-200 and then hopefully a couple 1.4 or 1.2 primes in there. Also a fisheye and a macro At least two speed lights and applicable diffusers (Gary Fong, etc)
2. What software do I need? Adobe Lightroom is the way to go. Can edit quick and has features that Photoshop and no other software has Adobe Photoshop CS5 or 6 for fine-tuning images, blemish removal, etc 3. How much should I charge my clients? Charge what they will pay based on your experience and quality. Don’t under charge yourself. See reasons why Wedding Photographers are expensive below
4. Should I give discounts? Give discounts for anything you can think of. It’ll make you appear more friendly and willing to help them. EVERYone is on a budget. If they’re not and they hire you, then you probably don’t’ need this FAQ.
5.How should I create packages? Clients like options. Create about 4 or 5 packages based on these things:
How will I know when I’m a great wedding photographer? If you think you’re a great wedding photographer, then you’re not. The best wedding photographers realize that they’re always learning, always getting better and not incapable of making mistakes.
Why do wedding photographers charge so much? A typical portrait photoshoot, the photographer has much more control over the location, the clients and all other variables in the photoshoot. Typically they can get away with a single camera, a couple lenses and perhaps a flash. And if something bad happens, no big deal… just schedule it for another time. Weddings are completely opposite. The photographer has very little control over the location, time, people, backdrop, lighting, etc, YET they are required to be creative and photo-document the entire day including guests, details, etc. A wedding photographer has one chance to get the bride walking down the isle. One chance to capture the kiss, the first dance, the bouquet leaving her hands while tossing it, etc. You’re hiring a professional who has done several weddings and are not only technical experts with their camera, but also has a great understanding of light, of predicting one-of-a-kind moments, how to deal with a variety of people, how to conduct themselves professionally, how to interact with other vendors, and has backup equipment. Then for every hour that they’re photographing, they’re at least spending the same amount of time editing, uploading, processing, printing, etc the photos, and then taking requests from the clients for re-touching. An 8hr wedding can end up taking 25+ hours, which when divided to an hourly rate, is probably much less than other vendors. They also have the largest responsibility. Add all those things together and finding a professional, responsible, friendly, hard-working, creative photographer should cost a lot. Yes, there are less expensive ones out there, but a wedding deserves to be captured by someone you know will do it well.
Every photographer has their own price point. When asked, “what should I charge to photograph _______” the answer is always, “whatever people are willing to pay”. If their quality and creativeness and professionalism are worth $9,000 for 8hours, then that’s what they deserve. Obviously they wouldn’t be charging that much if they’re not getting it.
If you think a particular photographer over-charges, that’s fine. Hire someone else. But if the people you can afford don’t have the same quality, creative touch, etc.. guess what, those expensive ones are good for a reason. Not only does a professional wedding photographer have nice equipment, they have to pay for insurance, travel, software, and many other things a standard portrait photographer might not have to.
How many photos should be taken at a wedding? Any photographer that guarantees a certain amount of photos at a wedding is going to compromise quality in favor of quantity. Any client would much rather have 400 unique, high-quality photos than 1000 redundant, boring photos. Don’t sign off on ____ photos because that will either limit your creativity, or make you sloppy and just take random photos to fulfill a quota. Typically, an 8hr wedding, shooting 750-1000 photos is absolutely sufficient. And then the delivered product is about 500.
How long does it take to see our photos? In this day and age, there is NO reason to not have at least 100 photos available to the bride & groom within 2 days, if not sooner. Using a digital camera, processing in Adobe Lightroom and posting them in a gallery or other website within a couple days is absolutely possible. And with the majority of clients most likely using Facebook, the best photographers will make sure they have professional wedding photos to use as their profile photo/wedding gallery instead of guests camera phone photos. The rest of the wedding photos could take a couple weeks to process, but the bride & groom should at least get a taste of their wedding right away.
Is it important to hire a photographer who is the member of a professional photography organization like WPPI, PPA, etc? No. Just about anyone who pays the registration fee can be a member of these organizations. Unfortunately there is a HUGE influx of young, inexperienced “professional photographers” who, by having a DSLR camera and starting a blog can call them professional photographers and charge whatever they want. Even harder to do is weed-out those who appear to be experienced professionals and have got a few lucky shots to promote themselves. There is nothing wrong with just starting out and everyone has at some point, but their price point should reflect that. Ask not only for a list of all the weddings they’ve photographed in the past 3 or so years, but to look inside at least 2 or 3 galleries to make sure all their photos live up to those high standards. Also see how their work looks inside dark reception halls or churches. If their blog/website is 90% bride & groom shots, probably move on.
I found a photographer who does some incredible portrait work or conceptional work. Would they be a good wedding photographer? Probably not right away. Portrait photography and weddings are completely different. Portrait photographers are used to having complete control over the people, the lighting, the location and everything else. Weddings are events which the photographer has very little control over, so they’re subject to the light, location and actions of the people, not the other way around. That’s why experience is key here.
Okay, then how do I know I’m getting a professional photographer? You don’t. Unfortunately photography doesn’t require a license, degree or any sort of certifications. It’s an art. Anyone with a camera can call themselves a photographer. Look in previous responses for how to find someone with a wide variety of experience and technical expertise with their equipment.
What does “Photojournalistic” really mean? True Photojournalists in no way affect the outcome of a photo. They do not use Photoshop/software to enhance/edit a photo in any way, and are purely capturing people in a raw situation without any interaction or influence. Thus, NO wedding photographer does 100% photojournalism. The moment a photographer talks to someone they’re photographing, or uses flash, or moves a trash can out of the way, or asks someone to smile, or “do that again”, or retouches a photo to remove a blemish… that is now fine art photojournalism. An expert wedding photographer combines the ability to take candid shots, but is crafty enough to do what is necessary to get those best photos. If that means de-cluttering things in a room, or opening a window for more light, or asking someone to quickly come together for a photo, or encouraging the bridesmaids to give a yell or adjusting the grooms tie, or telling the bride a hair is in her eye, or asking someone on the dance floor to do that move again… all those are techniques the photographer uses to get the best possible wedding photos. The photographer should interact with everyone to capture what they envision. If they’re not interacting with people, then they don’t have enough experience to know what it takes to get great wedding photos. As much as the photographer shouldn’t be a part of the wedding, they inevitably do because of their multiple interactions with guests will help garner quality shots from them being comfortable around them, and not that creepy guy with a big camera taking snapshots of them.
What are the best wedding photos? The best wedding photos are the photos that the bride/groom enjoy the most. That being said, they are often not the photos the photographer would choose. That is because the bride & groom have an emotional attachment to what happened at their wedding, compared to the photographer whose focus is on all the elements of a photo (lighting, backdrop, proper exposure, filling the frame, capturing emotions, details, etc). So even a photo that appears to be a throw-away snapshot could be their favorite photo because of what the contents of that photo means to them. Perhaps it was the way a guest was looking or some other random moment that anyone else in the world can’t see except for the bride & groom. Therefore, always include as many of the photos taken as possible, even if they don’t live-up to the high standards of everyone else.
My aunt/uncle/brother/friend is a photo buff, and will want to take pictures, too. Is this okay? It is fine for family and friends to photograph during the wedding, but not from the same angle that the photogrpher will be shooting from. Family and friends are welcome to shoot from either side, but not in front of or behind the photographer. In addition, no one should be taking photos and posting on their own blog, Facebook Fan Page or other commercial websites from the wedding the photographer is contracted for. The photographer booked for the wedding owns the exclusive rights for commercial publication and distribution of the photos, so anyone who is an “aspiring wedding photographer” should not post photos taken at a wedding they were not contracted for on their own blog/fan page. Conversely, an honest photographer would only promote photos they were contracted to photograph. It would be like taking snapshots of the Royal Wedding of Will & Kate from along their parade route and promote yourself as being hired to photograph the Royal Wedding.
What questions should I ask a prospective wedding photographer? Answer: There is no "one size fits all" answer to this question. This will be based upon what you are looking for in a wedding photographer. If I, as a wedding photographer, were going to hire a wedding photographer to photograph my wedding, these would be some of the questions I would ask (besides looking at quite a few sample photos to make sure I was happy with the style, and meeting with, or talking on the phone with, the photographer): What is your style of wedding photography? If they say "photojournalistic", I would ask them to define the word (when I use the term photojournalistic, I understand it to mean a primary emphasis on recording the events of the day without posing people or interfering in those events) If they are primarily a photojournalistic wedding photographer, I would make sure they are also capable of photographing formally posed photos as well. For me, I am primarily interested in photojournalistic coverage, but feel that some posed photos before and maybe after the ceremony are also important. How long does it usually take you to setup and photograph a group (very important in regards to scheduling)? What do you usually wear to a wedding? (I would also want to see a photo of them if I were hiring them without a face-to-face meeting or would personally want to meet them to make sure they present a well groomed, professional appearance) How long after the wedding will it be until we have our wedding proofs? Do you travel, and, if so, how do you work out the travel charges? What type of camera or camera systems do you use (medium format, 35mm, or digital
What are the advantages of hiring a professional? The main reason you hire a professional wedding photographer is because they have these things: Lots of experience photographing a wide-variety of weddings. Technical expertise with their professional-grade equipment. Fun, creative personality which connects well with family & guests Professional attitude and client-centric business model to make everyone happy. A professional wedding photographer has experience in all different indoor and outdoor venues, lighting situations and has equipment which is right for every job. And with experience comes better photos because they’ll know what to expect and when and make sure they’re in the right place at the right time to capture those once-in-a-lifetime photos. A bride/groom could potentially never talk with the photographer the entire day, and still get hundreds of amazing photos based on the experience and professionalism of the photographer.
How should the photographer dress for the wedding? Some old-school weddings require everyone to be in suit/tie or formal attire. While it’s nice to act professional, dressing too formal can limit what a photographer might be able to capture. If they’re wearing a $600 dress suit or formal dress, they will probably not want to lay down on the grass to get nice low-angle shots of the wedding, or climb in a tree to get over a crowd, or run around/sweat at all. Their photos may all be eye-level and less interested because they’re in a confined outfit. Don’t let them dress in shorts (unless it’s a beach wedding), but instead suggest business-casual. Something they feel comfortable getting a little dirty and creative in.
Shouldn't I be asking "What do I get and how much does it cost?" Even shopping for shoes or furniture you wouldn't ask that question until you find the style and quality you like. After you have looked through a photographer's portfolio - seeing candids, formals and illustrative pictures, you will know if this photographer has the technique, style and spirit to be the eyes through which you and your children will see your wedding day. Of course, you should determine if the photographer is within your budget, give or take a little, but what you really want from photography is memories and feeling. Look for an established and reliable photographer whose work moves you, whose technical quality is tops. If you find a photographer who makes you happy, you never will regret your investment, whatever the dollar cost. When we have invested in items that will be with us for the rest of our lives, our satisfaction has been highest when we have paid that extra bit for the best quality.
Why shouldn’t I have my Uncle Bob photograph my wedding? He has a big camera. For two reasons: Your uncle Bob is your uncle, and should be having fun with the family and not being distracted doing work during a celebration. Since people know Uncle Bob, there is a better chance he will not be paying 100% attention to the entire wedding and may be favoring people he knows personally. Let the unbiased professional photographer cover the wedding equally and let Bob have fun with his family.
We're having a small wedding, with thirty people, and only wanted to spend $1,500 on pictures. What can we do? Regardless if a wedding has 600 guests or 10, the wedding photographer time, experience, equipment and personality are all the same. All those factors don’t change because of how many guests.
Should weddings during the off-season (ie not Summer) and on Friday, Sundays and other days during the week cost less? Depends on the photographer and their availablity. The trend lately has been for weddings in March and October when it’s cooler and typically less expensive. But again, this is up to the photographer and their schedule. They are still bringing the same amount of equipment, and doing the same amount of work, so why would they charge less? Is it a good idea to work from a “shot list” for a wedding? Should I print out a list of photos I like from Pinterest/blogs to give to the photographer so they can do the same shots at my wedding? Many photographers have a checklist of wedding photos that they give to a bride/groom prior to a wedding to fill out so they know what to photograph. They’re like requirements. But the problem with lists like this is two things: Not all photos on the list are possible. If certain people are missing from the wedding or are out wandering around, photos on the list can’t be taken. Thus, is the photographer at fault for not fulfilling what is on the list and in breach of his contract? Working off a list limits the creativity. If a photographer is spending time looking at a list compared to photographing what feels natural and creative, then why hire a photographer because of their portfolio? Their portfolio represents their take on weddings, not what a client wants. No one told Piccaso how to draw, and no one told Mozart what they wanted. Artists create based on how they see things, not the other way around. BUT, most photographers are gracious and willing to take input and suggestions for photos that are important. A modest checklist of the formal photos after the ceremony is a good idea in order to have an organized idea of which groups are to be photographed.
How will the photographer pose people during the formal photos? What if my Aunt Betty wants to help pose people to make them look nice/more formal?
On a typical wedding, the moments after the ceremony is done is the peak of emotions for everyone. Plus the guests/family are eager to hit the cocktail hour, so taking the extra time to pose people is somewhat difficult. Nitpicking every particular detail in the larger, formal family photos isn’t necessary as there will be dozens of family photos taken. It’s not 100% important to get every single detail right. If you can see each person, or each person’s head and they’re eyes are open, that’s what works. If they’re not smiling.. well that’s their fault. The photographer should have given them a countdown to prepare. If they’re looking somewhere else, again, that’s the guest’s fault. A good photographer will communicate how to look, where to look and when to smile. If guest get distracted, then unfortunately that is their fault. The photographer shouldn’t be taking 3,4,5+ photos of the same group. The photographer should have taken a few test shots for lighting and background first, and then just rotating in the groups and a couple snaps to make sure they got them all. No need to position hands/arms in a similar style or position feet, etc. If this was the 1920s and you got ONE photo of your wedding, then yes, all those details matter. But when you have 50 photos to get in 10 minutes and people are all over the place, be satisfied if everyone’s eyes are all open and go to the next one.
How much time will the photographer spend at my wedding? That is really up to you. You can have the photographer meet you where you are getting dressed, and keep taking pictures until you leave the reception. Or you may just want a few hours of photography, with a few formal photographs and some pictures of the ceremony. (If you choose a high quality professional, the price difference between short and full coverage will be small.) The better photos come before the wedding. Getting ready photos always beats late-night drunk dancing photos. But typically about 8hours.
What are proofs? Sixty years ago, photographers presented clients with proof pictures printed on special paper; images would last for a few weeks and then fade. Then for a few decades proofs were made with the same paper and chemistry as the finished prints, but without retouching, cropping or precise color and density correction. Now proofs are usually in digital form - on a website, CD, DVD, or a projection in the photographer's studio. Because some customers can scan photographs, printed proofs are a problem for the professional. Typically, now, you initially view the images on a computer or television screen. You then order from the screen and have photographic prints in your hand a few weeks later. Digital printing can be done on an inkjet or color laser, but the latest photographic papers from Kodak and Fuji have a life-span of over 100 years. Many inkjet prints will fade decades sooner that photographic prints. From the photographer's point of view, proofs are becoming a liability. Dishonest clients are scanning the proofs and making prints. Just as DVD manufacturers have made it difficult to copy their product, photographers will move towards proof presentations that protect the photographers' copyright. Online proofing is a great solution.
What about getting an album? Some photographers offer "Packages," each package having a set number of hours, images, and certain number of final pictures in an album. It might be better to get a package that includes an album that the photographer will assemble completely, because most of us never get around to putting our pictures in albums if we have to do it ourselves. Consider ordering parents' albums too. If your parents vision is less than perfect, they would really appreciate getting an album with large photographs so that the faces are easy to see!
If the parents of the bride/groom is paying for the wedding, do I have to do what they say? Regardless of who is paying for the wedding, the photographers focus should be what is in the bride & groom’s best interest. To use an example, a mother of a bride, who was paying for the wedding, asked me to break away from the reception to photographer her and her old college friends in the hallway. It was just me shooting and since she was paying for me, I obliged. Just as I had them posed for the photo, the bride tossed her bouquet. I missed the bouquet toss. What should have happened was two things:
I should have told the mother that regardless of who was paying, I needed to focus on the events going on in the reception area and be ready for something like a bouquet toss. The DJ and myself should have had a better relationship so that he would have told me when to expect something like the bouquet toss, garter toss, cake cutting, grand entrance, etc.
In this situation, the bride asks where the photos of her bouquet toss were. My response was your mother pulled me aside for a photo. So now I’ve blown any chance of a referral, and if anything may get a potential negative online review. Express it in your contract that the photographer works in the best interest of the client, regardless of who pays.
Who chooses the pictures that go in the album? After looking at all the proof images, the bride and groom usually decide what goes in the album. The photographer may let you specify the sequence and size of the pictures, so that the album really shows the wedding the way you want to see it, with important images enlarged, and related candids grouped together. Some photographers will suggest a layout for your album or design the album with you, using proofs or computer images to show you what the final album will look like. You will benefit from the photographer's eye and feel for the wedding. You will probably let your parents decide what pictures go in their album. Since 2000, the Magazine Album (also called Template Album, Table-top Album, Storybook Album) uses digital techniques to put more than one image on a page. I recommend that you have your professional oversee design and production of the album, since complete wedding photography is the combination of images captured on the wedding day and the final design, cropping, color correction and special effects that complement the initial images.
What’s the deal with wedding albums? Wedding albums used to be the reason you hired a wedding photographer. Back in the day (that day was any day before 2003) you hired a photographer to photograph your wedding, then show you some proofs, then had them design your wedding album and perhaps a parent album, and that was it. NOW, with Facebook and digital images, wedding albums have become less popular and more expensive. They are more fantastic and beautiful and creative than ever, but can cost into the thousands of dollars for the client. Why? Because the high-end manufactures who create/print/bind them also demand a pretty penny. A 20 spread (ie 40 page) 12x12 leather magazine-style wedding album, embossed and professionally designed can cost the PHOTOGRAPHER $600 to make, and that’s before the 20+hours of designing it. That’s cost. So to make a profit they much sell it for much, much more. Most of the clients that book me are interested in an album, but I tell them to hire me for the wedding first, and then after they come back from their honeymoon, see their photos and catch their breath, we can sit down and discuss albums, prices, etc. Much more relaxed route and they don’t feel like I’m pressuring them into buying an album before even one photo is taken.
Who gets the best location – photographer or videographer? The battle of egos. Both videographer and photographer have jobs to do. Sometimes their position may conflict if they’re trying to get similar angles. Best practice is to talk before the wedding about their shooting style and where they typically stand for the ceremony & reception so there is no conflict as the wedding progresses.
Should a photographer charge for travel? Should they charge extra for destination weddings? Time is money. If your wedding is 3hrs away, then the photographer has every right to charge an additional 6hours of billable time. “But they’re not working, just driving” That’s true. But those are hours they’ve dedicated to getting to your wedding, when they could be at home, at the beach, or editing, or watching tv, or editing, or something else. Destination weddings are typically on a Saturday and the photographer is flown out on a Thursday (or so) and then only photograph the wedding on Saturday. Why should they charge extra? Well, because they’ve dedicated that entire 3-5 day period to the client. They can’t take on a Friday or Sunday wedding. They are away from their family and familiar surroundings, and perhaps without a rental car and their time is money too. It’s not unreasonable for them to charge $1000/day extra for personal expenses (food, rental car, gas, etc) while on travel for a client.
What technical details in sample photographs should I watch out for? Lighting quality is an important ingredient in superior photographs. The light in photographs should be natural and flattering, so that the pictures look three-dimensional. Overuse of on-camera flash can ruin wedding pictures. Watch out for flattened faces, harsh reflections off of cheeks and foreheads, and dark shadows directly behind or next to the subjects. With finesse, a fine photographer can work with almost any outdoor lighting situation without using flash. Look for a variety in subject size - a mix of distant, medium and close-up pictures. Even with groups, lighting and posing should be interesting. The well posed bridal portrait should minimize the subjects' flaws (weight problem, blemishes, etc.) and express who the subject is and how he/she/they feel. The dramatic and scenic wedding image, like the red convertible on the show-room floor, attracts everyone's attention, but most brides and their families, like most car buyers, want what suits them personally. You want pictures that tell the story simply, with immediate impact, and as if the photographer was not even there. It's like fixing your hair or applying make-up so that it looks natural.
How wedding photos should feel? The best way to describe wedding photos is this… they should make the client feel like they were a guest at their own wedding. So they should come off as natural, candid and beautiful. A guest notices the details of the cake, the beauty of the location and the emotions of the people. The photos should reflect that. They should be properly exposed, show good composition, a thorough knowledge of lighting and an impeccable eye for once in a lifetime photos.
Do I want film or digital capture? In this day and age, go with an all-digital photographer. Film has a higher risk and cost associated with it and you’ll want a photographer who is not only current with trends, but technology as well. Film does have a particular look to it, but perhaps ask a guest to use a film camera to capture some candids.
What else should I look out for when I am looking at a photographer's samples? It is important that an album you see one wedding from start to finish, not just a collection of highlights from a dozen different weddings. If a photographer assembles and shows the best photos from several weddings in one album, you are not seeing an accurate representation of the results you might expect from your wedding. Any photographer can come up with a couple dozen photos that rock. But what about all those non-awesome, gallery photos? What about the other hundreds of photos from a wedding that aren’t going to make any wedding blogs or magazines? Can a photographer deliver quality from details, wide-angle venue shots, candids, formals, action shots, etc? Ask to see a few full weddings from a photographer to get an idea if they’re just as creative and professional for the rest of the photos. Pay particular attention to the lighting and if they’re using different angles and perspectives.
Black & White, sepia, color cut-outs, over-photoshop, faux vintage… A great wedding photographer will not rely on Photoshop to do their work for them. Yes, some photos may look more powerful with Black & White. And as of 2010, pretty much no one does sepia. And blowing every image out and adding a yellow tint to make it look vintage is also very 2011. Wedding photos shouldn’t be a fashion show, or a showcase for trying to make it to wedding blogs. The photos should be timeless, well-exposed and should be able to stand on their own without over-photoshopping or selectively blurring out parts of a photo to make it look like film.
I don't want any posed pictures at my wedding - okay? What if your parents want a nice picture to send out? What if your favorite aunt is late, then sits in a dark corner during the reception? Do you want her excluded from your images? Posed subjects in the visual arts is classic. Bad posing (stiff, pointless, uncomfortable, cheesy) is a staple of standard wedding photography. Most families want some posed images in their collection. If you think back to OLD OLD wedding photos, what are they?? Black & white photos of a group of people standing in front of a barn or wall, all holding still, looking straight ahead, not smiling for a static, boring family photo. Well that was fine in 1910, but today brides are much more creative. Even your parents wedding photos (the ones with the rounded corners) probably look old and outdated, but that’s how much wedding photography has come in the past decade. BUT, the majority of family members still like a nice, normal-looking photo where everyone is all looking forward and you can see people’s body, expression, etc. Think of your relatives and what kind of photos they would like printed and framed on the wall?
I’m cutting costs by doing an iPod wedding for music? Don’t expect good party photos. Why? A good DJ knows how to play music for the crowd. A iPod only knows how to play music, one song after another. A good DJ can interpret people and know how to play music that will get people dancing. Also, the DJ sets the schedule/pace for the reception. They can tell when things are slowing down, how to organize things and when to tell the bride/groom they need to change their schedule in order to keep the party going. This affects the photographer because they can only take great party photos when….. there’s a great party. If no one is dancing because the music just isn’t working, then the photographer can’t take awesome dance photos. Spend the money to find a DJ who can keep the party going.
What can I do to keep the photographer from running my wedding day? A professional wedding photographer should only be capturing what is happening, not creating it. They are covering an event, not creating a portrait session. There are a large amount of photos which are portraits and they have the control to make those happen, but they shouldn’t be in charge of the timeline or moving things around or affecting the overall feel of the wedding. That being said, most experienced professional photographers know the pace of a wedding and how things should be organized. They too can get frustrated when the schedule falls behind yet are required to get photos the bride/groom wants. So e receptive if the photographer makes suggestions. They are only going to work in your best interest since getting quality photos is only going to get them references down the road.
What if the bride & groom aren’t young/beautiful/fun? Not all wedding couple are 19yo models with an unlimited budget. Most are just everyday people who are in love and want a nice wedding. Not all brides have 2 years to create handmade vintage-like mason-jar filled treats and decorations with a perfect feel for that idyllic wedding that is sure to make the blogs. Sometimes you’re going to get that less-than-average couple, on a tight budget, getting married in a dark church followed by Conference Room B at the local Super 8 Motel off the Interstate. Focus on their love. On their personalities. They realize what they look like and where they are and shouldn’t expect you to create magic. Sometimes people don’t dance. Sometimes the bride takes 3 Valium before the wedding and is so sedated that their eyes don’t open evenly. A good wedding photographer is humble, gracious, supportive and enthusiastic to capture anyone at anytime and put a positive spin to life as well as their photos.
Suppose I want more copies in two years? Get the high-resolution digital files - which will either included or available for an extra fee. Since currently no electronic medium will last your lifetime, you will need to update the media on which you store your images. I have found it takes a professional color lab to produce great color prints from digital files, so owning the files does not guarantee that you are going to get the best wedding images at the best price. However, if you own the images you can use them on a website, email them, and make acceptable prints. Host the photos “in the cloud”. Many photographer offer online galleries for an indefinite amount of time, downloadable at any time (with a password). But if your photographer does make you pay for a DVD years down the road, its because keeping those photos in a safe place does have a cost associated with it.
Shouldn't my photographer have a designated back-up in case he/she is sick on my wedding day? That would be ideal, but consider the plight of the backup photographer who has to turn down weddings just in case she/he is needed for yours? Professionals are part of a network of photographers, and do have many people they can call in emergency. No doubt as your wedding approaches you will have many far more significant worries. Let your photographer manage this problem.
What about having two photographers? Some studios offer two-photographer coverage - where both professionals are taking pictures. One concentrates on the formals, the other on wedding photo journalism. Other studios emphasize the relationship aspect of photography: photographs grow out of a relationship and cooperation of subject and photographer. For this approach, a second photographer is not needed. Most brides don't want to be overwhelmed with thousands of images from their wedding day. One photographer can provide you with more than enough photos. Also consider… when you view a photographer’s website/portfolio, it represents their work, typically not their second-shooters work. NO two people will photograph the exact same, so if their creative approach and quality is what you are after, then perhaps only book them for the wedding. Not only that, but then the lead photographer typically has to edit the second shooters photos in addition to their own, driving up cost. Is it that important?
Some photographers ask that no one else take pictures during the formal photography. Is that reasonable? Yes. If the photographer is trying to work quickly through a series of formal pictures, a snap-shooter might slow the process. A problem arises when there are several cameras aimed at a formal group - the subjects will be looking at different lenses. It’s not about the photographer protecting the copyright of the photos being taken. The diverted attention will ruin the professional's picture. Or, if the professional is using a light-sensing trigger device ("slave") on a second flash, other flashes will trigger this flash, ruining the pictures [that you are paying for] and wasting battery power. There are many other reasons why a professional might ask others to refrain from picture taking during formals. On the other hand, many guests find snapping a few pictures a pleasant part of attending weddings, so it should not be a big deal for your professional to be relaxed and let people snap away when formals are over. Ideally, guests should show respect for the bridal party and photographer and put down their cameras during the formal photos.
I want to make copies of my photos. Does my photographer really own the copyright of his/her pictures? Do I still have to pay the photographer if I make the copies myself at a copy shop? Yes and yes. According to federal law, images produced by a professional photographer are copyrighted the moment they are created. Federal law prohibits copying or reproducing copyrighted material without permission from the owner of the copyright, i.e., the photographer. If you copy or scan your photos, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you or your videographer transfer the proofs to videotape, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you don't feel comfortable paying for these copies, find a photographer whose work is so good that you are glad to pay. When I really appreciate something I purchase, like a fabulous meal, an antique, a good pair of shoes, or even medical care, I do not mind paying a premium for getting the highest quality. Look for the photographer who will provide you the satisfaction of paying for job well done.
I'm meeting a potential wedding client for the first time. I'm nervous. Do I ask them if I'm allowed to eat during their wedding?
If you're meeting them for the first time, have your laptop ready with photos to review showing your strengths with candids, lighting, and capturing personality. Try to keep the conversation on them; let them gloat about their wedding. Le ave your camera at home, bring your personality and professionalism. I've booked several weddings on the fact that I come off as a professional and not a ripped-jeans, long hair art student trying to evoke my creative/artistic/expressive side. As for eating at the reception, I insist on it, and typically at the same time as the bride and groom, but that's only because I need to be on their timetable. (and I always eat in a different room, and fast) If I'm eating last, and they get up to go around to the tables or start speeches, etc, then either I'm not going to eat or I'll miss the shots. If they don't have a meal or vendor meal for me, then I tell them by law I'm allowed at least 45 minutes to leave the wedding and get dinner elsewhere. But most brides assume you're going to eat if you're with them for 6+hours. I explain things like this to them at the meeting so they can see your experience in this as well as your dedication to getting the best shots. Bring a price list or at least some sample packages for them to choose/customize. Bloat the prices a little bit so you can give them a discount for.... (make it up.. referral, Christian, military/govt, friend, etc) and work to create a package that works for them. Obviously if they're going to meet you they like your work enough to book you, so now it's all about price, package, professionalism and the business side of things.
Possible Wedding Portraits (This is only a suggestion. I will not sign off on promising to complete all of these due to the fact that sometimes people run around and are hard to keep still. Plus with the schedule and pace of the wedding, it’s hard to get people to be still and pose.)
Wedding Photography Shots Before the Ceremony
___ Wedding dress lying over a chair ___ Zipping up or buttoning the wedding dress ___ Mother of the bride fastening the bride's necklace ___ The bride's garter ___ The bride's veil ___ A close up of the bride's shoes peeking out from under the dress ___ Bride looking into a mirror ___ Bride looking out window ___ Bride and bridesmaids putting on makeup ___ Bride pinning corsage/boutonniere on mother/father ___ Bride hugging parents ___ Bride touching up ___ Bride and parents leaving for ceremony ___ Groom tying tie ___ Groom looking into mirror ___ Bride looking out window ___ Groom pinning corsage/boutonniere on mother/father ___ Groom hugging parents ___ Bride and parents leaving for ceremony ____________________________________ other?
Wedding Photography Shots at the Ceremony
___ Outside of ceremony site ___ Guests walking into ceremony site ___ Bride and father entering ceremony site ___ Parents being seated ___ Grandparents being seated ___ Maid of honor walking down the aisle ___ Bridesmaids walking down the aisle ___ Flower girl and ring bearer walking down aisle ___ Groom waiting for bride ___ Ceremony musicians ___ Officiant ___ Altar or canopy during ceremony ___ Close up of bride, just before she makes her entrance ___ Bride and father walking down aisle ___ Groom seeing bride for first time ___ The back of bride and father walking down the aisle – with the groom waiting in the distance ___ Bride's father and Bride hugging at end of aisle ___ Shot of the audience from the bride and groom's point of view ___ The unity ceremony ___ Close up of bride and groom saying the vows ___ Wide shot of bride and groom saying the vows ___ Exchanging the rings ___ Close up of hands ___ The kiss ___ Bride & Groom walking up the aisle ___ Receiving line ___ Bride & Groom outside on steps ___ Guests throwing confetti/rose petals/birdseed ___ Bride & Groom hugging guests, laughing, getting congratulations ___ Bride & Groom getting in car ___ Bride & Groom in back seat ____________________________________ other?
Posed Wedding Photography Before the Reception (These can also be taken before the ceremony)
___ Bride alone (full length) ___ Bride with Maid of Honor ___ Bride with bridesmaids ___ Groom with bridesmaids ___ Bride with parents ___ Bride & Groom together ___ Bride & Groom with parents ___ Bride & Groom with families ___ Bride & Groom with entire wedding party ___ Bride & Groom with flower girl and ring-bearer ___ Groom with parents ___ Groom with best man ___ Groom with groomsmen ___ Bride with groomsmen ____________________________________ other? During the Reception
___ Outside of reception site ___ Bride & Groom arriving ___ Bride & Groom greeting guests ___ Table centerpieces ___ Table setting ___ Bride & Groom's table (head table) ___ Musicians or DJ ___ Guest book ___ Place card table ___ Close-up of bride and groom's place card ___ Wedding cake ___ Groom's cake ___ Gift table ___ Decorations (specify which _________________________) ___ A shot of bride & groom with guests at each table ___ Bride with college alums ___ Groom with college alums ___ The buffet or, if having table service, a dinner serving ___ Bride & Groom's first dance ___ Bride & Father dancing ___ Groom & Mother dancing ___ Guests dancing ___ Bride & Groom cutting the cake ___ Bride & Groom feeding each other cake ___ Toasts (specify who is giving them: _____________________________________________________) ___ Bride & Groom drinking champagne ___ Signing the marriage license ___ Bride throwing bouquet ___ Groom retrieving garter ___ Groom tossing garter ___ Garter/Bouquet dance ___ The getaway car ___ Bride & Groom leaving party ___ Bride & Groom driving away ____________________________________ other? ____________________________________ other?
Much like you, I had NO EXPERIENCE when i did my first wedding. Actually, i had hardly done any actual portraits at all. Most of my work was of animals and the outdoors. However, the bride was essentially family to me and she asked me to do her wedding for cheap. I agreed, but i was going to do it for free because of my lack of experience. (They did end up paying for my gas to come to the event, but that was it). So i went in with no idea what i was doing and nervous as all get out; if that was bad enough, i found out that i was the ONLY photographer attending the wedding. Apparently, she had seen something in my work that i didn't even see. Lol. But i just did my best and they absolutely LOVED the photos. They were ecstatic! All i had was my Canon Rebel Eos Rebel Xs with a basic lens. Nothing special at all. So my advice is just to do your thing. Obviously, if they hired you then they like what they are capable of.
As far as what pictures you should take at a wedding, after two weddings, i still have no idea. xD Everyone is gonna have their own group photos that they want; i would just go for the typical ones (you can probably find a list online somewhere) then ASK the bride/groom before hand of any other photos they would like.
I have only ever shot weddings as a guest, but I have spoken to a lot of people online over the years about doing weddings and other professional photography (because it's something that interests me and I've frequented a lot of forums on the topic and read a huge amount on it). Most of the tips I would give you have already been covered but here are a couple of extras (both related to the photography itself rather than the business side).
Don't forget the still life shots - cake, bride's shoes, flower arrangements, car, maybe the makeup in the morning when the bride's getting ready, the RINGS, the programme thing (order of service), cake topper, place settings, etc.
One other tip: BRIDE!!! What I mean is that it's the bride you have to please, the bride you have to make beautiful, the bride you have to show having a wonderful time and give her some amazing photos to treasure for the rest of her life. Of course you need to get photos of the groom too but if you have a choice of one of the happy couple where the groom is pulling a funny face or one where the bride is, go for the one that the bride looks lovely every time (of course, one would hope you'd notice at the time and get another shot, but it doesn't always work that way). The only exception is blinking - never include a shot where someone is blinking in your final portfolio.
I work on commercial and artistic (gallery work) works and I have never done a wedding. Bizarre for someone at my level... but this is what I would do were I to start shooting weddings based on what I've heard from coworkers. I'll keep it short and simple:
1) I recommend asking the bride and groom what they want and expect. Make sure you get that. Get SPECIFICS from them. Don't let them say "everything". That way, you can make sure you at least get something they asked for, so even if it doesn't go well, they can still be happy getting things they wanted. If you don't get specifics, and get great shots, if it wasn't what they had in mind, they're still likely to be disappointed.
2) During the rehearsal, take photos to get meter read outs for specific areas, find out where you want to be to get the shot without looking confused the day of.
3) Don't get paid. If you don't know what you're doing, do it for free. Or just ask for a few bucks to cover your expenses, like gas to get there... That's it. If you can't PROMISE results, you shouldn't put yourself in the position to take money.
4) Equipment. If you go in with one memory card and one battery, you won't be shooting enough. Take a zillion pictures. Literally.
5) How to profit: This is just my sideways thinking. Don't charge for your service, but make yourself the middle man for an album, or prints. Make them sign a contract that if they want prints, or any physical copy of pictures they like, it has to come through you. This is a huge win for you and them. They don't have to pay you if they're disappointed, and if they're not, you can markup the print cost just a bit to profit. If you feel you did very well, you can also charge them a few cents per digital photo. For example, 200 photos on a CD for $5.00.
blackroseangel89: The most important thing outside of equipment, shot list or ANYTHING is a contract! And these points need to spelled out and signed off on by both the bride and groom:
1. You are in no way a professional with any specialized training or experience. You are just a friend helping out.
2. As you are not a professional, you make no garuntees on the outcome of the photos ----------------------------------------------- This is VERY important for you and i totally agree I too recommend not to accept payment.
Personally I think if you will be the only photographer there (or the wedding won't have any professional photographers) don't go for it, the risk is just too great if you don't have any experience and just one body not only that you screw up and they get angry but you can also get sued for your work (specially in US).
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