What Is Wedding Photography?
There are definitely some things that I believe you should understand first. So let’s talk about the progress before you start getting into wedding photography. First and foremost, you definitely need to understand the exposure triangle or how to get good exposure. Obviously, you don’t have a master of this. But if you’re still struggling on how to get good exposure in nearly any situation. You probably want to slow down on weddings and either second shoot or practice doing portraits or street photography or something of that sort. Again, people are paying you money to capture a special day. You sitting there messing around like. Don’t know how to get exposure. You need to at least understand it.
Next up is you have very comfortable with your camera. Again, you don’t need to know all the secrets in and outs of your camera, But if you don’t know how to get to places quickly and change your settings fast. You also need to practice on your camera a bit more before you start doing weddings. Again, wedding days fast-paced. And when there’s no time and someone’s asking you for something and you’re trying to make changes and you’re back there chiming on your camera because you don’t know what to do, no. You cannot do that at weddings. so you need to understand your camera.
Also, make sure you’re shooting in raw. This one is a given and I’m sure everyone has heard this before. The main reason that you’re shooting in raw is so that you have more flexibility in your edits. Now I will argue shooting in JPEG is possible. If you’re not able to shoot JPEG and raw and have the raw as backups. You need to just shoot raw. Never, never go into a wedding shooting only JPEG. And finally. Use a dual-camera setup or at least have a backup body. So you all have seen in my full wedding day videos that I use a dual camera strap system.
Have Two Cameras A Backup Wedding Photography
Have two cameras on the same body throughout the day. Now the main reason I do this is that I use prime lenses. But honestly, you should have a backup regardless. Basically, if one of my cameras gives up on me for whatever reason. Another camera ready to go. So even if you are shooting with zooms and you’re using one camera. Have another of that same body in a bag somewhere that you can go grab if something happens. So those are the progress. If you don’t have all of that down first, don’t get into weddings seriously. Take some time to practice. Do portrait with friends, do engagement sessions, do street photography.
Because honestly, in my opinion, street photography is probably one of the closest things to weddings. And if y’all want me to make a video about that. let me know in the comments below. So once you’ve hit this progress. Now let’s get into the seven tips I have for you for shooting your first wedding. Starting with the hands-down most important. Which is pre-wedding communication. Now you thinking, John, this has nothing to do with using my camera and all of that type of stuff. But again, you should already know how to the majority of that.
Make A Pre-wedding Communication
Your pre-wedding communication is absolute. most important parts of being a wedding photographer. If you’re not meeting with your couple multiple times. Not setting expectations with them. Not making sure they know what you’re about and how you like to approach photography. You’re setting yourself up for disaster. I meet with my couple at least three times: Pre-booking. In the middle, while we’re waiting for the wedding, and then right before the wedding, maybe like a week or so. This way, we can set expectations and just talk over the day and make sure that everything is in stone and they know what I want from them and I know what they want from me.
Seriously, if you’ve seen me scene wedding day videos. And you’re like, wow, how are his wedding so smooth? It’s because of pre-wedding communication. Generally for communication, I use HoneyBook because it keeps everything in one nice thread. You can see it here, we talk through everything, and if something comes up. I can just scroll back through the thread and see it right there. Got away from it just using email or Gmail or something of that sort because there’d be all these threads that everyone would start and I have to go through and search through things. so seriously, definitely check out Honey-Book. 50% off code in the description below for you all on your first year.
All your communication should definitely go through there. You can also ask them questions through questionnaires and line up everything so that your communication is smooth and you have a smooth wedding day. And speaking of using Honey-Book for sending questionnaires, you also need to write your own timelines. So this one that you didn’t think about at all because usually most photographers will just let the planner handle all that stuff. But in my opinion, you really, really need to write your own timelines so that everyone knows where you are and what you’re gonna be doing.
Write Your Timeline To Become Authority
If you have a planner for your wedding day. Make sure you don’t step on their toes at all. Write your timeline so that it fits within theirs and if there’s anything that conflicts with how you would handle the wedding days for photos. Talk with your planner about it. Again. Don’t fight with them, talk with them about it. See what they want. See what you can do and say hey. I like doing my wedding days like this. It works out for most of my couples. Can we adjust here and there? But always, always write your own timelines. Again, when you do this, you become the authority of the wedding day.
You don’t want your wedding day to run you. you want to run the wedding day. so that now when you have a timeline and the planner is on the same age as your timeline. everybody knows, okay, we’re doing these portraits here. we have this much time for that, now it’s time for family portraits, so on and so forth. Never just show up to your wedding days and be like. okay, guys, I’m gonna take photos. Don’t, don’t, you will run into headaches, really. Handle your wedding days and write your own timelines.
Having A List For Family wedding photography Portraits
This next tip is hugely important as well. which is having a list for your family portraits. So in my opinion, one of the most stressful parts of a wedding day is the family portrait time. Mainly because you have all these family members and you want to get them together. You don’t know who anybody is. And then there’s usually a mom or an aunt or a dad or somebody. Asking for 50 billion photos and 60,000 different combinations and it’s just too much. So, ask your couples for a list of the family photos. Basically, the way I do this is through HoneyBook, I send them a questionnaire with a shot list.
Now for me, shot lists are not specifically what photos they want. Because I want to still be able creative. It’s more so for special and important things that I may not know about. Again, I tell my couples, I’ve been doing weddings for seven years. I know to take pictures of the bouquet and the shoes and the dress and the first kiss. I know that stuff. So what I want to know from my couples is more so we have a special family heirloom or my grandma’s. Very important to me or make sure we get a shot with these cool shoes that we’re gonna change into at reception time.
That’s what’s on my shortlist and the family list. And when I ask for a family list. Totally detailed. It’s not just me and mom and dad, Their names, and I need every combination that you want. So, couple and parents, couple and both parents. Couples and aunts and godmothers and so on and make it a long list. This way when you get to family portrait time, there’s a list. No one can tell you all these extra combinations cause the couple’s already on your team. They’re like this is the list we want, we don’t want family photos to take forever, this is what we’re gonna do. You can give the list to your second photographer.
They can call out the names and because you have the names on your list as well. You’re not gonna run into any weird divorce parent-type situations because trust me. You don’t want there doing family portrait and be like okay mom, okay dad, and they’re divorced and yeah, it gets weird. Don’t do that. So again, your family portrait lists would be very specific. And I mean, I’m serious like bride and groom and mom, bride and mom, groom and dad. Like the list should just be totally listed out like that and should have their names. If y’all want to see this in action, definitely head over to my patron.
I have a whole video showing me doing behind-the-scenes family portraits. So definitely check that out, there’ll be a link in the description below. And since we’re talking about group portraits and family portraits, the next tip is to make sure that you stop down when you’re shooting groups. So if you’re new to photography stopping now, we’re talking about your f-stop or your aperture. Basically when you stop down your aperture. Things get sharper all the way through. your depth of field is not as shallow. So you’re gonna get sharper photos when people aren’t on the same plane of field.
Now again, the reason you want to do this in group photos is when you have people standing and they’re not standing exactly next to each other. If you’re shooting at F1, some people are gonna be out of focus. So make sure you’re stopping down to 2.8 or 3.2. Somewhere in that range just to keep things nice and sharp. Now, since I shoot Fuji film and its crop sensor and I shoot with the F2 lenses, many times I don’t really have to stop down too much. You can see in my photos here, most of these I’m shooting wide open at F2, but F2 on a crop sensor lens is more like 3.2 on a full-frame. So everything is nice and sharp and it looks good. but sometimes if I do have the available light, I’ll definitely stop down to 2.8 or 3.2. So.
Make sure every time you’re doing group portraits to stop down a bit. Now, a couple of portraits is fine. They’re normally gonna be close to each other. Their heads are gonna be closed. They’re gonna be kissing and loving and stuff. So you don’t need to stop down as much for that. But definitely, definitely for group photos. So this next tip is one that I’m pretty huge on. And honestly, a lot of people don’t think about it too much but don’t shoot in continuous auto-focus. Now the reason I say this is because I feel like today with our cameras being so amazing. that we depend on them a little too much. and then we’ll complain when the focus where you want it.
If we have this whole mentality of you need to shoot everything in manual and don’t shoot in auto. I think you should also apply that to your focusing as well. Now, obviously, I’m not talking about shooting full manual. But you should move around your focus point. In my opinion, especially on a wedding photography day. Do not depend on your continuous auto-focus, face auto-focus, eye auto-focus because of what will happen. Especially if you’re doing it during the ceremony. There’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of faces. Your camera has no idea what it’s focusing on.
So generally what I do is to single point auto-focus and I will move my focus square and or do focus and recompose. And I know everyone’s probably like focus and recompose? That’s like old school… It works, y’all, just do it. It works, it’s fast, and it’s never let me down. Whereas continuous auto-focus sometimes just has no idea what it’s doing. On that same note, however. If you do have your couple walking towards you or away from you. That’s a great place to use auto-focus. So generally during a wedding photography day. Those are the only times that I’m gonna use continuous auto-focus. I don’t use face auto-focus because again.
When people are walking away or towards you and there’s a lot of faces around. Auto-focus is gonna have no idea what it’s doing. But if you set your focus point to zone focus. So it’s a larger square in the center and then continuously auto-focus from there. You know it’s gonna be focusing exactly where you want it and it’s gonna catch your couple coming towards you or away from you. So that would be my tip for using auto-focus on a wedding photography day. For tip number six, this is very important to me. But make sure you’re paying attention to your background. Now, I love capturing moments.
Love being more photojournalist and just kind of capturing what’s happening on the day. But y’all, if you can move some stuff. Go ahead and just move it. I’ve seen too many people who just show up to wedding days. Take wedding photography as things are not moving things to make them look nice. So for instance. When you’re dealing with the getting ready section of the day. If your bride is in a spot and there’s all kinds of like water bottles and people’s clothes and dresses and bags and stuff. Either move her somewhere else or have them clean up the background.
You should always take your shots based on the best light and the best background. Again, if you’ve watched my full wedding day videos. You’ll see that I take the time to try to clean up the area around where I’m gonna be taking wedding photography. Because again, people are paying you lots of money for their weddings. They don’t want to see that stuff. And yeah, it may take away from the moment. But it really doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to control your wedding day and make choices and decisions and move things and tell your couples hey. This is gonna make things look better. Let’s clean up this room just a bit before we take photos.
No one’s gonna say no to you. So again. Don’t forget to do stuff like that because it’s easy to just jump in and be like oh. Something’s happening and taking wedding photography. And it’s fine when you do have a couple of photos like that with stuff in the background. But again, just make sure you’re cleaning up stuff when you can. And finally. Do not let anyone else run your wedding day. Now, what I mean by this is while you’re at a wedding and you’re the wedding photographer. everybody and I mean everybody, making suggestions to you about what you should do for your photos.
Where you should take your wedding photography. so on and so forth. And you don’t have to mean to anybody, but just let them know I know what I’m doing. I have this handled. it’s gonna be great. The best way to get this to work is again with the Prewedding communication with your couple. When you get the couple on your team and they understand what you’re doing and they trust you. It’s easier to have them be your guard for anything during the day. So for instance. There’s a lot of old-school classic-type shots that I just don’t take. And my couples are also like, yeah, no, we don’t like that stuff. So when mom or their planners like oh, it’d be so cool if you took this picture. The couple is like Nah, we’re good.
wedding photography is 80% customer service. And if you don’t think that’s the case, you need to reevaluate and look at wedding photography because it for you. Yes, that is true, wedding photography is 80% customer service, first. The other 20% is taking photos, but no one cares about what you’re doing. Your couple doesn’t, the planner doesn’t, the venue doesn’t, they just expect you to make magic. you must have that stuff down. You should already know how to take pictures because no one else will care.
They will take you to a dark room with no windows and expect you to make magic. Diana Ross | Endless Love So again, you need to know all of your stuff first, and then work on your customer service mainly. Let me know if you all have any other tips down below for any new photographers as well. If you’ve done weddings for a while, leave it down below, let’s share as much information as possible so that we can all be great wedding photographers.