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  • Writer's pictureAli Menard

Wedding Photography: Key Things to Remember

In my last two blog posts, I talked about photographing my brother’s wedding and how to remove unwanted objects from pictures. Just recently a friend of mine asked if I had any tips for her because she was about to photograph her first wedding as a second shooter. So, I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss what tips I have for first-time wedding photographers. What are some things to look out for when photographing a wedding? If you are new to photographing weddings, take a breath and read through this blog for some valuable guidance.

Don’t be afraid to click away!

After framing your shot, feel free to capture multiple pictures without hesitation. Experiment by zooming in for a series of shots, then zoom out for another set. Building a collection of multiple shots provides you with diverse options to choose from, which is always beneficial. Until you compare perspectives side by side, you never know which is going to be the more visually appealing. An additional technique to consider is when you find a pose you especially like, encourage the couple to maintain it while capturing shots from various angles.

Follow the schedule and don’t go over on time slots

Typically, every aspect of weddings is meticulously planned down to the minute. If you’re allocated a 45-minute time slot for family pictures following the ceremony, make sure to adhere to that timeframe. Exceeding the allotted time by a few minutes, say up to 5 minutes, might be acceptable, but anything beyond that could be considered excessive and could potentially disrupt the flow of the rest of the day. With this in mind, resist the urge to rush. Take your time but remain mindful of the allocated timeframe.

Request a list of family members and groups

Make it a point to request the bride and groom to provide you with a comprehensive list of all the family members who need to be photographed, along with a detailed list of the specific family groupings to be captured. This approach allows you to methodically work through the list, checking off each family member or group as you capture the pictures. You also eliminate concerns about unintentionally excluding any family members from the pictures.

Choose attire that is appropriate but comfortable

When photographing a wedding, it’s essential to strike a balance between comfort and appropriate attire. While certain brides may request you be dressed in proper wedding attire to blend in seamlessly, others may be more flexible. Regardless of their preference for your attire, don’t show up in sweatpants no matter how tempting. If wedding attire is requested, choose something comfortable, ensuring it doesn’t lead to constant adjustments or discomfort throughout the event. Prioritize both professionalism and your own ease when selecting your outfit.

Bear in mind that you’ll be on your feet for 8 to 10 hours, so comfortable shoes are non-negotiable. While the allure of a stylish pair of sandals or heels may be tempting to match your outfit, I strongly advise against it. Trust me, it is a regrettable idea, opt for comfort. You will thank me later.


Have a backup battery and SD card

Consider this: Your battery is expected to last all day. But what if it doesn’t? Do you want to risk reaching the end of the reception only to have your battery die right before the sparkler send-off? Probably not. While the idea of conserving battery life by turning your camera off when not in use might cross your mind, not a recommended idea. What if a genuinely adorable candid moment unfolds between the bride and groom and you miss it because you forgot your camera was off? Having a backup battery gives you peace of mind ensuring none of those scenarios happen.

You might be tempted to believe that one SD card is sufficient. Depending on its size, you could be right, but do you truly want to take that risk? Likely not. During the course of a typical wedding, even if you’re the second shooter, you could capture anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 photos. Considering most cameras shoot in both raw and JPEG, meaning you have two copies of each picture, the storage requirements are more significant than you might realize.

Check if the church has rules or guidelines for photographers

Surprisingly, many churches, particularly Catholic ones, have strict rules about where photographers are permitted to stand during the ceremony. For instance, some churches may only allow you to stand in the center aisle for the first kiss. Restrictions could extend to the use of flash or limitations on video shooting. Being aware of these guidelines in advance will significantly facilitate your job, especially when working with a partner or alongside a videographer.

Visit the wedding venue before the day of the wedding

This advice goes hand in hand with the last one. If you’ve been given specific rules for the church ceremony, scouting the venue beforehand allows you to plan how to capture key moments within those parameters. If the ceremony is outdoors, visit during the scheduled time to observe the lighting conditions. For instance, in a barn setting, which tends to be darker and may lack natural lighting, you might need to prepare for flash or artificial lighting.

I always inquire with the bride and groom about joining the dress rehearsal. While seeing the venue beforehand is beneficial, being present during the rehearsal provides an advantage in capturing the flow of the ceremony and key moments more effectively. Observing the arrangement of the groomsmen, the entrance of the bridesmaids, the seating of the parents, and understanding the timing of the ceremony are all highly beneficial.

Remember the bride and groom are the boss and ultimately you are there to serve them

The bride and groom’s wedding day is one of the most significant moments for them and it is not uncommon for a family member to attempt to assume a leadership role. Your responsibility goes beyond just taking pictures; it involves ensuring the happiness of the bride and groom. If a family member is causing delays or attempting to dictate your work, gently remind them of the time constraints and ask for their cooperation. If someone is missing, delegate the task of finding them to finding them, take as many pictures as you can without them and then circle back when they return. Additionally, reassure the bride that recreating a picture she saw on Pinterest is not a bother; your role is to serve their needs and make their day as enjoyable as possible.

Whether you are the main photographer or the second shooter, adhere to these guidelines for a seamless day. Plan meticulously, have contingency plans, and be ready for unexpected turns. Don’t assume reaching the reception guarantees smooth sailing. While the reception tends to be less stressful, relaxing too soon might not be the best idea. You never know when unexpected mishaps like a groomsman accidentally knocking over the cake is going to happen. Nonetheless, such moments often result in memorable and unique photos.

To quote a TV character, “…make the plan, execute the plan, expect the plan to go off the rails, throw away the plan.”


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