Getting ready for your first wedding as a photographer? Everyone starts somewhere, but there is no better way to start than with some great advice from someone who has been there! Here are some of our top expert advice for first-time wedding photographers:
The most important piece of advice we can possibly give is don’t try to handle this first wedding, or almost any wedding, alone. A second shooter doesn’t just allow you to be in more than one place at a time, but provides you with a backup set of equipment in case anything goes wrong, and an extra set of hands when you need them.
In the future, you’ll develop a list of go-to seconds, but this go-around, it’s not a terrible idea to pair up with someone you trust who has experience. Weddings are both complex and high-stakes – there are no do-overs. Use your network to find someone you trust and with whom you have a good rapport; and definitely someone who is willing to support your first pass at wedding photography. You’ll never make a better decision.
Speaking of extra hands, the best way to learn the ways of weddings is to get real experience. Offer to act as a second shooter for other photographers to get some practical experience under your belt. Just be completely honest about your intentions when you do. The photography community is tight-knit and can have a very long memory. Better to be perceived as the honest newcomer than remembered as someone who took advantage of others’ trust.
Spend some time with them before the wedding and learn what makes them tick. An engagement session is a great opportunity to make sure everyone is comfortable and relaxed together before the wedding day.
Consult with your couple as well as the other vendors to find out the timing of all of the important events of the day. If a timeline isn’t available from a planner or the venue, make your own! Start with the very first images you’ll shoot, usually the getting ready photos and the bride putting on her bridal gown. Your contract will dictate what the end time should be, but often it is the grand exit.
Much of the time you will be shooting what is happening as it unfolds, but there will be times when you may need to schedule specific portrait opportunities. When you have a proposed timeline, run it by the other major players to make sure it fits in with the other million moving parts that weddings involve. Be a team player! Yours is one role of many that impact your couple’s wedding day memories, so it’s important that everyone is working towards a common goal.
Make sure you have directions to every important location, including where the couple will get ready, the ceremony site and the reception venue. Print out a copy if there is any chance your phone or vehicle GPS could fail. Check, double-check, and triple check your equipment. Bring extra memory cards and don’t leave chargers at home.
No detail is too small when it comes to a wedding, so go the extra mile with your organization system.
There is so much more to know about shooting weddings, but this advice should get you started! So, what is your biggest concern as a first-time wedding photographer?
Wendy is a super-connector with Azazie who helps businesses with building their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. Wendy frequently writes about the latest wedding trends for My Wedding Tips.