Good for you! Here’s everything you need to get started, plus intel on how I got started.
The Number One Thing:
You are photographing a Once in a Lifetime Event.
You are responsible for the legacy of this day.
Once this day is over, you cannot go back and do it again.
Your priority is the couple, not your ego.
Got it? It’s a big freaking responsibility. Everything I say comes from the place of #1
I had my first wedding in September 2014 – a literal million years ago. A friend asked me to photograph her day and I panicked. I told her I’d miss things, screw things up, that I’d never done one before. She said it was either me or nothing. So I gave it a shot. It was tricky, I worked for 10 hours with no pay and in fact hired gear – so I paid to photograph my first! The thing is, I don’t regret any of those things as I came home buzzing – so excited to do it all over again in the future. Here was an event that had real emotions and I felt invited in and welcome. It was a heady mix and I have never looked back!
So Let’s Begin! I thought this week I would just cover Leading up to the Day!
So someone’s asked you to photograph their wedding, please be honest when they ask how much experience you have. Have you second shot a wedding? Have you been an Uncle Bob and held a camera up at a wedding? It’s so important to manage your couple’s expectations from the very beginning. If they’re comparing photos taken by a brilliant, experienced photographer and asking you to replicate the shots, be honest and let them know that you may not be able to pull that thing off.
How to prepare before the day:
Get to know your couple – Either through emails, a sit down coffee date, skype or an engagement shoot. Listen to what their priorities are, who is important to them, how they want their day to feel. Ask them how to name their fears about being in photos and any anxieties they have around your role in the day. Information and insight will always make your day together run better.
Have a Contract – Stipulate when your delivery time is, what will happen if you cannot make the day, cancellation clauses, etc. The Lawtographer or AIPP is a great place to start.
Visualise your Portrait locations – Check the wedding venue and imagine your portrait time. Use an app like Sunseeker to see where the light will be. Being prepared is the best plan if you’re nervous
Run Sheet Request – Ask them for a list of family portraits, location times, starting time, addresses for ceremony, reception, getting ready, etc. You cannot do your job unless you know where you’re going and when. You could use Google Drive for this or do it by hand
What gear are you using? You need two cameras – Each With TWO Memory Card Slots. Even if you shoot with only one camera, you need a spare one in case your camera breaks. It happens! Refer to point 1 – Do you want to explain to a couple that your camera is broken and you cannot photograph the rest of their day as you’re camera free?
So you have a camera – Great, but have you got two?
What happens if your camera breaks? Have you got a backup?
What if your memory card fails? Got a back up?
What if that drunk uncle knocks red wine into your camera bag, got a spare lens that’s going to cover a similar focal length?
If you don’t have the gear you think you will need – then either buy it, borrow it or rent it.
What I photograph with:
35mm (Main Lens used)
85mm (Second Lens used)
Nikon SB 900 Flash
Nikon SB 5000 Flash
3 million rechargeable Eneloop batteries
Also in my kit:
Cactus Off Camera Flash Triggers
70 – 200 – Especially handy for ceremonies
24mm – used for Dancefloor, some landscape photos and cramped group photos
50mm – my fave crutch. I think I could shoot all of a wedding on a 50 if everything else broke!
What I started with:
Nikon D7000 (crop sensor!)
1 x flash
– It was enough, but I very quickly added a 35!
If you are Borrowing or Hiring Gear for the day – make sure you familiarise yourself with it! Don’t turn up to a wedding without having used your gear before.
Make Sure all your gear is packed, charged and ready to go the day before!
Now, The Big One.
I – N – S – U – R – A – N – C – E
Now, I’m not a lawyer. I’m a friendly, fabulous photographer. However, the thing is, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not a fully fledged photographer yet, either. In fact, you may have another job. What happens if, whilst shooting, you injure yourself and you can’t go to your grown up job? What happens if someone at the wedding is injured because of your actions? You seriously need to look at insurance. There are public liability policies available for one off events. For your peace of mind and your couple – please don’t even hesitate to do it.
So, there’s the starter! If you have questions, comments, love or hate, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to hear how to improve things and add things along!