Tag Archives: wedding photography tips

Why Visit Wedding Venues Beforehand

This week I visited the venue for a function I will be shooting in 2 weeks time. I’m really looking forward to the function. It is for a lovely couple at a beautiful location on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. The venue is a vineyard which has a well presented functions area, lots of grape vines, a rural outlook, and 4 wheel drive access to a private beach. It was a long drive for me to visit so, why visit wedding venues beforehand? The answer is obvious – to get the best result for my client!

Wedding photography

This venue had a private beach with 4WD only access. It was great to visit and plan shots here.

But when I am visiting, what am I looking for? Here’s the top 5 things I want to achieve:


  1. To know where the best shots will be made. I don’t make it up as I go when shooting weddings or events. I like to visit beforehand to understand what the possibilities at the venue are, and to develop a shot plan. To do this, I walk around the venue, both indoor and outdoor areas, and imagine the possibilities. I also ask the people at the venue where they think the best photo spots are, and then I ask ‘what are the undiscovered photo opportunities here?’. It’s amazing the insight the venue’s staff can give you.
  2. To develop a wet weather plan. Most of the weddings I shoot are in spring, summer and autumn and are likely to have outdoor opportunities for making images. I plan for both good and bad weather. When the weather is bad, you will see how well prepared the photographer is!

    outdoor function area

    All function spaces are different and visiting in advance lets me plan.

  3. To check out the function area. When it comes to functions and speeches I like to know how the room will be laid out and any strengths or limitations of the space. From this I will develop a plan for where I intend to operate from, and where I would like my second shooter positioned.
  4. To best prepare myself for the day. This only comes with experience, but I have learnt that I work best when I am working to a plan. I like to think through the photographic options and plan the timings. Knowing I have that plan in my head let’s me relax and enjoy the time with my clients and their guests. So, one of the key reasons for why visit wedding venues beforehand is actually for me. I know that I will do a better job for my client if I’ve visited and planned.
  5. To meet the venue staff. Staff at venues are a wealth of information. They can make suggestions, tell you about images previously made at their venue, show you shots made there, and add their own suggestions. I take the time to listen to their input as I’m planning the day. In the event of bad weather, having an existing relationship with the staff can be a huge help. They will often go out of their way to help show off their venue in the best possible way even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Beach

I take images on my smart phone to help with planning each shot and thinking through the timings.

They are the top 5 reasons for me as to why visit wedding venues beforehand. And so when do I visit? I know lots of photographers who wait until the day before the wedding or event. To me this is a risky option. You never know if you are going to be unwell, have an urgent last minute job to do, or have another emergency come up. I like to visit the venue 2 weeks before the wedding or event. And I try to visit at the same time of day that I’ll be shooting the key images. That gives me a better understanding of exactly where the sun will be, and how I can make best use of the natural light.

I hope Why Visit Wedding Venues Beforehand has been helpful to you. Best wishes with your weddings and events.

5 Tips for a More Effective Workflow

An effective workflow is the difference between efficiently completing one job and moving on to the next, and being tied to your computer seemingly not able to complete the current job. As a Melbourne wedding photographer, I am proud of the efficient work flow that I have built. It is working for me and my business, and also for my clients. As we are in the middle of the summer wedding season here in Australia, I have challenged myself to further improve my workflow. Here are 5 tips for a more effective workflow.

workflow tips

An efficient workflow is particularly important in wedding photography

Tip #1 – Don’t overshoot – too many images can be a killer for your work flow. This does get easier with experience, but once you have the shots you need there is no value in generating 20 more of the same subject. Or 30 more, or 40 more. For example, when shooting a wedding I want a small number of good shots of the wedding rings. I want more than one image of the rings so that I have some options when I am putting together the clients album – but I don’t want lots and lots of them. When I have 4-5 good images, I stop. There is no point in having an additional 25 ring images to work my way through in post production. Get the shots you need and move on. Don’t overshoot. Too many images can be a hindrance to your workflow.

Tip #2 – Delete in camera – one very effective way to make sure the number of files you download to your computer is manageable is to delete images in camera as you go. At a wedding there are times when this is possible. They are normally the less hectic parts of the day like during the preparation. If I know I’ve ‘missed’ a shot I will delete it in camera rather than keep, download, review, and delete. I find this a very effective way to make sure only the best images make it to the post production phase of my workflow.

Tip #3 – Manage your clients expectations – one common ‘mistake’ I see from wedding photographers is not managing their clients expectations for the number of images which will be delivered to them. This is particularly the case if digital images are the only final product being delivered to the client. You don’t want to be in the situation of delivering 200 images when the bride was expecting 500. Have this discussion when you are finalizing the details of the shoot. If the client has unrealistic expectations talk to them about the “quality vs quantity” trade off.

Tip #4 – Be ruthless on the first cull – the big improvement I have made to my own workflow is being ruthless on the first cull. When I first sit down to review images, I now aim to halve the number of images on the first pass. Yes, I aim to delete one in every two images to quickly get to a manageable number of files. It’s possible. Be ruthless on the first cull.

Tip #5 – Keep to Task – The final tip is one which applies to me. It may not apply to you. When I am reviewing and deleting images I find it very easy to get distracted. I want to look at and edit the very best images from the shoot. This is counter productive and means the task of quickly moving to an appropriate number of files to edit gets delayed. Delays are not good for an efficient workflow. Keep to task.

Do you have some key tips to share from your own work flow? What are the improvements you’ve made? Or the pitfalls to avoid? Please add a comment on this post.

Thanks for reading 5 tips for a more effective workflow. I hope they have been useful to you. If you would like to receive regular emails from Beyond Here, add your email address in the sign up box on this page. Thank you.

 

Flash Batteries That Last

Over this weekend I fulfilled my role as a Melbourne wedding photographer, by shooting a wedding in Doncaster. It was a full day shoot, starting at 10.45am with preparation images, continuing through the ceremony, a garden location for couple and family images, and then the reception. My second shooter and I finished up just after 9pm. I carry backups for all key equipment – 2 camera bodies, 4 lenses, multiple memory cards, and lots of batteries. Recently I changed the brand of batteries I use and have found flash batteries that last.

Eneloop batteries

Eneloop batteries managed a 10 hour shoot without needing to be changed

The brand of batteries I use now is Eneloop. Prior to using these, I have used all the major battery brands. I predominantly use rechargeable batteries, but have also used the non rechargeable ones as well. That normally means changing flash batteries several times during the day to make sure I am not let down by the batteries recycling at a critical time and missing a key shot.

That has all changed with Eneloop batteries. I carry 2 flash units with 4 AA Eneloop batteries in each. (Because I use 2 flash units they are only working half as hard as a single unit might). I used the flashes intermittently throughout the 10 hour day, and extensively during the evening reception. I didn’t need to change batteries for that entire time and the flash was recycling just as fast at the end of the day as it was at the beginning. These are flash batteries that last.

Moving to Eneloop batteries has eliminated one additional thing to plan for on wedding days – changing flash batteries. While I will still carry backup batteries, I am not expecting to need them. This allows me to focus on the client, and making great images.
If you are looking for flash batteries that last – I recommend looking into Eneloop. I bought mine online, and have found they are available from all the major online retailers of batteries.

Disclosure – please note, that I recommend Eneloop batteries as I use them myself and have found them to be superior to the previous batteries I had been using. I don’t receive anything from Eneloop for promoting their products.

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8 Tips For Being A Great Second Shooter

Being a second shooter is a great way to start in wedding photography. There are many advantages to being a second shooter – primarily that the success of the assignment is not totally dependent on you. That makes it a lower stress entry point, and gives you the opportunity to learn your craft while assisting the primary photographer. Following posts on 6 Reasons To Work With A Second Shooter, and 7 Qualities To Look For In A Second Shooter, here are 8 Tips For Being A Great Second Shooter.

Tip 1 – Work Well With People. Creating a great client experience is not only about the images. The photographer also has a responsibility to treat the couple and guests with respect, and to make sure they enjoy the day. As a second shooter guests will ask how many weddings you shoot, what equipment you use, and a variety of other questions. It is important to treat them well so that their interaction with you is positive. It ensures everyone enjoys the day, and reflects well on you and the primary photographer.

Variety

Consciously creating different images will add variety for the client

Tip 2 – Think Ahead. A very good second shooter can anticipate shots and will prepare equipment in advance. Nothing is more impressive than to turn to call for a reflector, and seeing the second shooter there with one on hand ready to go. This takes time and practice, and requires a strong sense of teamwork with the primary photographer. If you want to be a great second shooter – think ahead.

Tip 3 – Clean Your Equipment. Images from the second shooter are important to the overall package delivered to the client. It is important that the equipment that both photographers are using is clean and will produce high quality images. Nothing will frustrate a primary photographer more than looking at the second shooters images and seeing every image effected by dust spots on the sensor. Take responsibility for making sure your equipment is clean and ready to produce the highest quality images possible.

Tip 4 – Be Predictable. Being predictable is about communicating with the primary photographer. Talk about where you will stand during the ceremony and what type of shots the primary photographer wants from you. Talk through the plan for the day and the role you will play. Talk to the primary photographer if you need to take a toilet break. At a recent wedding where I was a guest, the primary shooter turned to find the second shooter only to later discover he had gone to the car just at the moment he was needed. Don’t be that second shooter. Keep the primary photographer informed.

Tip 5 – Shoot Differently. The second shooter provides value to the primary photographer by providing different images to their own. Different angles, different styles, different images. Make the most of generating ‘different’ images by using different lenses. For example, if the primary shooter is using a 50mm lens, work with a 70-200mm. Consciously create different images by using different equipment than the primary photographer.

Tip 6 – Behave Professionally. As well as shooting images, the second shooter is representing the primary photographers’ business. You are there to get a job done – not to make friends or to join the party.

Tip 7 – Dress Appropriately. At a formal wedding it creates a very poor impression if the photographers are dressed casually. Imagine the bride and groom dressed beautifully, and the second shooter getting around in old jeans and worn shoes. This doesn’t create a good impression and doesn’t add to the clients enjoyment of the day. Make sure you understand the expectation of the bride and groom and dress appropriately.

Tip 8 – Be Reliable. To be a great second shooter you need to form a strong team with the primary photographer. If you want to quickly build trust, be reliable in everything you do. Arrive on time. Do what you say you are going to do. Know where all the equipment is. A second shooter who is reliable is a huge asset to a primary photographer.

Thanks for reading 8 Tips For Being A Great Second Shooter. If you can follow these tips you will have primary shooters regularly asking you to work with them.

7 Qualities To Look For In A Second Shooter

In a recent post on Beyond Here we looked at 6 Reasons To Work With A Second Shooter. A high quality second shooter is a major asset to a wedding photographer and so much more than just another camera. In this post we look at the 7 Qualities To Look For In A Second Shooter. I assume that your second shooter has photographic ability and can produce images which meet your expectations. In addition to that ability, here are 7 qualities to look for in a second shooter.

Quality 1 – Team Player. There will be times where a second shooter needs to do things that are not glamorous – like keeping guests occupied while wedding party formals are completed, or carrying bags to locations. These tasks are key to the smooth running of the wedding photography, and your second shooter needs to do what is required for the team to get a great result. Look for a team player.

Quality 2 – Strengths That Compliment The Primary Shooter.  Ideally your second shooter will have skills which compliment the primary shooter. One of my second shooters has a passion for shooting the macro details of a wedding. This is ideal. When we arrive I would rather speak with the bride and the bridal party and shoot preparation images. At that time my second shooter loves to shoot the details – jewellery, shoes, invitations, the dress etc. It is fantastic that my second shooter has strengths that compliment my own. Together we can deliver a great outcome for the client.

Wedding Rings

Ideally a second shooters strengths will compliment the primary shooter

Quality 3 – Thinking Ahead. A good second shooter will be able to think ahead and anticipate future shots. This can help the primary shooter, as the second shooter can have equipment ready or be in a position which makes the most of the opportunity. The ability to think ahead and anticipate shots is a key quality of a good second shooter.

Quality 4 – Quality Equipment. When the second shooter is using their own equipment it is important that the quality of images they produce are acceptable to the primary photographer. I use Canon full frame camera bodies and L series lenses, and prefer if my second shooter has similar equipment. Check that your second shooter has equipment which will produce quality images.

Quality 5 – Reliable. It almost goes without saying that being reliable is important. In the wedding photography industry it is easy to focus only on the creative and artistic outputs. Doing that overlooks personal qualities that make the job easier. A second shooter needs to be reliable.

Quality 6 – Good Communicator. Along with being reliable and a team player, an effective second shooter is also a good communicator. A strong primary / second shooter combination know what each other are doing and where each other are. It is not ok for the primary shooter to look for the second shooter and not be able to find them. Good communication skills are key.

Quality 7 – Gets on With People. The wedding day is filled with people and high emotions. A second shooter will interact with the wedding party and with guests. In those interactions they are representing the primary shooters business. Being able to get on with people is important to make sure the friends and family of the wedding couple have an enjoyable day. I look for second shooters that I know will represent my business well, and who will ensure that the guests enjoy the wedding day.

Thanks for reading ‘7 Qualities to Look for in a Second Shooter’. I hope it has been useful to you. You may be interested in Preparing for Wedding Photography Success and 7 Tips For Your First Wedding Photography Job.

6 Reasons To Work With A Second Shooter

When photographers start out shooting weddings, we tend to think it is all about our own creative vision. The client has hired us because they like our work, and hope we can produce lovely wedding images for them. Then, because its all about us, our images, and being ‘wedding photographers’, we choose to shoot our first wedding solo. Only after we have shot several weddings do we realize that it’s not about us – it is about meeting the needs of our client. We also realize that a second shooter can be so much more than just another camera capturing different angles. So if you are starting out – here are 6 reasons to work with a second shooter for your wedding photography.

Second Shooter

A second shooter can be much more than just an extra camera

Reason 1 – It Makes Looking After Your Client Easier. On wedding day there are invariably times when it is very handy to have someone to work with as a team. Commonly ‘Auntie’ goes walk-about at the time of the family formals. Your second shooter can find her while you carry on with the bridal party. Or while you are shooting one image, you can see another shot which will need a different lens. Your second shooter can put the lens on your second camera body, enabling you to quickly move on to the next shot. Having someone on hand to assist lets you focus on meeting you clients needs while they act as support.

Reason 2 – Different Photographers, Different Perspectives. A second shooter provides different angles on events of the day. If the primary shooter positions themselves at the front of the ceremony, the second shooter can add to the final images by being positioned at the back of the ceremony. This is just one example of the additional range of images which can be produced by having a second shooter.

Reason 3 – You Can’t Be Everywhere. As the primary photographer, you can’t be everywhere. As the bride walks up the aisle you can’t simultaneously be in front and behind her. Both shots can look great.  Partnering with a second shooter gives you more capability to capture key shots for your client than you can do alone.

Reason 4 – Wedding Photography is Hard Work. For any photographer, weddings are hard work. There is a lot happening and it is a long day. Sharing that workload with a second shooter helps to keep you fresh and ready to shoot another wedding tomorrow and another one next week. Going alone, leads to exhaustion. A second shooter is valuable to keep you fresh.

Reason 5 – Back Up is Important. It is hard to plan for days when we are sick or injured. In reality it doesn’t happen very often and it is easy to think that planning for this is so unlikely that it is not necessary. That sentence should be a warning sign for you. If your client is relying on you, it is important not to let them down. Your reputation depends on it. Not only will a second shooter give you a variety of different images – if you have chosen your second shooter well, they can step up and take the primary position if you are sick or injured.

Reason 6 – Some Shots Need Help. It is reality that some shots need assistance. My clients regularly ask for a shot of all of the guests to be taken after the ceremony. When there are natural points of elevation this is quite straightforward. I can gather the bridal party and guests and use a vantage point to shoot down on the whole group. But when there isn’t a natural point of elevation – like a set of stairs or a second floor window – I use a ladder. This is where a second shooter becomes ladder carrying assistant! My second shooter can walk to the car, grab the ladder, and have it in place for the group shot – all while I am still shooting bridal party formals. Then when we move to the group shot, it can be set up and shot with minimal disruption to the flow of the day.

Thanks for reading 6 reasons to work with a second shooter for your wedding photography. A second shooter can be a key business partner and so much more than just another camera. What is your experience? Did you start shooting solo? Do you work with a second shooter now? What lessons would you like to share?

 

7 More Tips for Your First Wedding Photography Job

Are you starting out in wedding photography and need some pointers? I have recently written two posts for people beginning in wedding photography. If you’d like to read those posts you can find them here.

Readers of those posts have asked me to add more tips for new wedding photographers – so here are 7 more tips for your first wedding photography job.

Tip #1 – Use Multiple Lenses. If you are shooting a wedding for the very first time, you possibly don’t have a wide range of camera bodies and lenses. If that’s the case, keep in mind that your images are going to have a level of ‘sameness’ about them if you only use one lens. You can’t expect a single lens to create a broad range of image types. So if you have limited gear, make sure you have at least 2-3 lenses on hand and that you have experience using them.

Tip #2 – Keep Cool and Calm, Manage Yourself. At a wedding, you will be judged on your behavior and the way you ‘carry yourself’. Only afterwards will you be judged on the images you produce. Every now and then you hear a wedding photographer horror story where guests say the photographer was rude or inconsiderate. Keep cool and calm. If you’ve just shot 6 horrible images in a row, nobody needs to know that. Remain calm and relaxed, position yourself and your subject and shoot the images again. Don’t panic, you are allowed to have plenty of ‘duds’ for your few ‘winners’. Make sure you present a calm, confident demeanor to guests. Keep cool. Keep calm. Manage yourself.

Wedding photography

Manage your clients expectations. Make sure the bride knows where you’ll be and when

Tip #3 – Manage Your Clients Expectations. As well as managing yourself, you will be wise to manage your bride and grooms expectations. Agree with them in advance where you will be and when. And then be in the right place at the right time. I put special emphasis on making sure the bride knows what will happen to her wedding photos after the big day. I tell her how long it will be until I am in touch with her, and what I will need her to do then. Make sure she knows what the process and timeframe is. Then stick to the process and timeframe. Manage your clients expectations.

Tip #4 – Change Cameras Not Lenses. In Tip #1 I suggested you are going to need multiple lenses to create a variety of images. You should definitely have more than one camera body. There are two reasons this is critical. Firstly, if you only have one camera body you run the risk that if you have any technical fault with the camera, you will be standing watching the ceremony unable to take any images. So the first reason to have an extra camera body – it is insurance against anything going wrong. Secondly, with 2 cameras, you won’t need to be constantly changing lenses. Simply pick up your other camera body and shoot a different style of image. If you can’t justify buying a second camera body at this stage, borrow one from a friend. It is worth it. Change cameras, not lenses.

Wedding photography

Kids can offer you great candid moments.

Tip #5 – Shoot Candids and Posed Images. When I speak to couples before the wedding, most of our discussions focus on the family formal pictures, the bridal party images, and the bride and groom images. We talk about style of image, location, and timings. We figure out the logistics of how to get between the locations. They are important discussions. When I present images to the bride and groom, more often than not, the ones that get the most emotional response are the candid images. Often it will be a moment, a hug, a facial expression. The couple normally can’t remember that exact moment until they see the image. Look for special moments and strong emotions. The mother of the bride crying, the bride embracing her grandmother, the grooms dad congratulating him with a bear hug. The raw emotion will be in the candid shots. Shoot both candid and posed images.

Tip #6 – Be Ready for Referral Opportunities. Weddings are a fantastic source of referrals for a photographer. At almost every wedding, I have people wanting to talk to me, either because they are photography enthusiasts or they have a photography need. Both can make for very interesting conversations. Take time to talk to people. Don’t brush them off because you are too busy or too stressed. Have your business cards in your shirt pocket, so if a wedding guest has a genuine photographic need, you can hand them a card and solve their problem. Be prepared. Weddings are a great source of referrals.

Wedding photography

Remember to congratulate the bride and groom

Tip #7 – Congratulate the Bride and Groom. What is the first thing you should do when you speak to the bride and groom after the ceremony? Is it to organize the family formals? Is it to ask where the best man is so he can assist you? Is it to ask what time the car will pick them up? No, it’s none of these! The first moment you get a chance, walk up to the bride and groom and say to them “Congratulations! That was a lovely ceremony.” It is a great thing to do and your clients will appreciate it. Human first, photographer second.

So there we are, 7 more tips for your first wedding photography job. Please let me know your comments by adding a comment to this post, or emailing me at craig@beyondhere.com.au And thanks to all the readers who emailed me after the first 7 tips.

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7 Tips for Your First Wedding Photography Job

Number 7Last weekend I photographed a lovely wedding in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Australia. I had a talented photographer assisting me – it was her first wedding photography job. Like all weddings, it was a challenging, exciting, and tiring day. We discussed many elements of shooting a wedding in the days prior, and on the day of the wedding. Today I condensed these into tips for your first wedding photography job. I listed all the tips and have come up with 28! But lets start with 7 tips for your first wedding photography job. Depending on reader feedback, I will add extra posts with additional tips.

Tip #1 – Expect a Long and Tiring Day. Wedding photography is often an all day event and you need to prepare for a long day. This weekend, we started at the bride’s house at 11am and left the reception just after 10.30pm. Expect a long day and pace yourself. Take something with you to eat. Drink plenty of water. Don’t expect the couple to provide everything for you. We took snacks and drinks in the car and had them as we travelled.

Tip #2 – Fit With the Couples Needs. I previously wrote a post called Preparing For Wedding Photography Success where I talked about the importance of knowing your client and what they want on their wedding day. You need to have prepared for this in advance. If the couple don’t like posed kissing shots – don’t ask them to pose and kiss. Fit in with what they want. If they want informal, documentary style wedding photography – that’s what you need to deliver. If formal family portraits are important to them – make sure you shoot formal family portraits. Deliver what the couple wants with your own unique approach.

Wedding

Surprise the bride and groom with a special image or print

Tip #3 – Know Where Your Gear Is. Weddings are busy. You will be carrying your gear and putting it down. Picking it up again, moving, putting it down again. It is critical to know where you gear is at all times. I carry a fairly small bag with all the equipment I expect to use in it. I have back up gear and additional equipment which I leave in the car. In my bag – each piece of equipment stays in one place. If I need additional batteries I know where they are. If I need a new memory card, I know where they are. If I need a different lens – it has its place and I know where to find it. Earlier this year I was at a wedding where the photographer was about to leave the bride’s house to go to the ceremony. He suddenly realized that he didn’t have his 70-200mm f2.8 lens with him. It wasn’t in his bag – he had left it in the bride’s house. The bride had locked the door when she left and the photographer couldn’t get back in. After several frantic phone calls, he got a key from a neighbor and was able to retrieve his lens. A happy ending to a very stressful few minutes. Once you have finished using a piece of equipment put it back in your bag – don’t leave it on the kitchen bench.

Tip #4 – Change Memory Cards and Batteries During Down Times. It looks really unprofessional to change your batteries or memory cards at a key moment in the wedding day – particularly during the ceremony. Change batteries and memory cards during the down times. For example, when you have shot all the ‘getting ready’ images and are driving to the ceremony – this is an ideal time to change batteries and memory cards. You don’t want to have a full memory card a moment before the couple are pronounced man and wife!

Tip #5 – Don’t Overshoot. It is an easy mistake for a beginner to make to overshoot – that is to take too many images. For example, when the bride is getting ready and doing her hair and make up, you need only a few key images. There is no point in having 50 shots of her hair being done if you are only going to use 1 in the album. Take the key shots you need. When you are confident you have an ‘A grade’ image, move on or take a quick break. Don’t overshoot.

Make Up

Don’t overshoot. Get your key shots and move on.

Plan sign

Plan your travel times and leave a buffer

Tip #6 – Plan Your Travel Times and Leave a Buffer. Travelling between locations can be very stressful if you don’t allow enough time. Last weekend, we started at the bride’s house, then traveled to where the groom was getting ready, went back to the bride’s house, and on to the venue for the ceremony and reception. They were all within fairly close proximity and so it was not too difficult. For a 30 minute drive I allow 40 minutes. Then a small delay in traffic or through road works are not enough to stress me out. Plan more time than you really need. Then you can check your shot list before you walk into the next venue.

Tip #7 – Surprise the Bride and Groom. I like to provide a positive surprise for the bride and groom to finish their wedding day. At the end of the day they will be feeling a sense of tiredness, relief, and excitement. I know some photographers who surprise them with a print. They take an image early in the day, and while the ceremony happens, they are having a print made. At the end of the reception the photographer presents it to them. I like to get home and pick a few key images. I quickly edit them and email them to the bride. She has a high quality image to show friends and family the next day. Often that image gets posted on social media the next day or carried on a smart phone and shown to friends and family during the honeymoon.

So there we are – 7 tips for your first wedding photography job. Please let me know your comments by adding a comment to this post, or emailing me at craig@beyondhere.com.au I have 21 more tips to follow!

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Preparing for Wedding Photography Success

Wedding photography can be challenging, exciting, stressful, exhilarating, and exhausting – all at once! I am shooting another wedding this weekend and have spent time making sure that I have everything in place to be able to perform at my best on the day. The more preparation I do before the wedding day, the less I have to worry about, and the better my images are. Rather than hoping for the best, I focus on preparing for wedding photography success. Here are some tips which might be useful to you.

Wedding Photography

Taking time to understand what your client is looking for is important

Sorry if you were hoping this would be a “what’s in the wedding photographer’s bag” type post. Instead, I’ve condensed my preparation into 7 checkpoints.

Checkpoint 1 – Do you really know your client?

Wedding Photography

Meeting your client face to face helps to establish a relationship and helps you understand what they are looking for

Where it is possible I like to meet face to face with my client at the time they are selecting a photographer. It gives me a chance to make a personal connection with the bride and groom, to understand the dynamic between the couple, and to focus on what is important to them in their wedding photography. The couple I am shooting for this coming weekend, I met over a year ago at their home. We spent time discussing the wedding day and what was important to them. They are ‘car people’ and even showed me around the vehicles in the garage (this was a good sign they were planning to book me!). In the last 2 months I have been in touch with them via email and phone to understand how the wedding planning was going. Last weekend I visited them to go through the timings for the day and to re-visit the notes I made a year ago. I now have a good understanding of what is important to them, and am looking forward to the wedding.

Checkpoint 2 – Is the paperwork in order?

If you are thinking ‘what paperwork?’ you may need to do more preparation before launching your wedding photography career. It is ok to shoot your friends wedding without a contract, but for all other clients you will need a contract. Included are the terms and conditions of payment. My clients for this weekend have had a copy of their contract for over a year. They signed it at the time of the booking and paid in full 4 weeks ago. During the wedding I won’t be wondering if I am going to get paid. Don’t over look this checkpoint – it is key to preparing for wedding photography success and will go a long way to ensuring financial success as well as photographic success.

Checkpoint 3 – Have you visited the venues?

Wedding photography

Visiting the venue lets you plan your key shots

It is very important to have visited the venue for the wedding in advance. It gives you time to look around and plan for where your key shots will take place. At the venue I will be shooting at next weekend, they display a range of sample albums. Looking through them also gave me some great ideas which other photographers have used. I now feel well prepared – particularly to make the most of the short time between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. I know which camera body and which lens I will be using at each location on the property. I know the style of shot which will suit my client. I know where my assistant will be and what she will be doing.

Checkpoint 4 – Are the logistics sorted out?

By logistics, I mean some of the practicalities of the day. For next weekends wedding there is a small chapel at the bottom of the property, and the reception venue is several hundred metres away. Thinking through the logistics, I will park the car near the chapel, as I will need to grab the step ladder for the ‘all guest’ shot. Rather than driving and re-parking I will walk up to the reception venue. No stress, I know where the car is. Car parking is just one element of the logistics. The more you can consider in advance, the less stress you will have on the day. Less stress generally means better images and happier clients.

Checkpoint 5 – Do you know the wedding party’s names?

The wedding party aren’t directly your clients, but they are normally family or the best friends of the bride and groom. Often they are lifelong friends. Taking the time to learn their names and using them, is one small way to show the bride and groom that you care about them and their day. It is not hard. I am looking forward to meeting Spiro – the best man – this weekend. If I strike up a good relationship with him early on the day, I might ask him to help with ‘crowd control’ after the ceremony. Often the best man loves to play a key role and it helps deal with his nerves if he is making a speech at the reception.

Checkpoint 6 – Which are the key shots?

It is easy to think on a wedding day that they are all key shots. What I mean here is, which are the shots you plan in advance which you anticipate the bride and groom will print and hang on their walls at home? Which shots capture the venue, the couple, and the day all in one? Based on what you know is important to the couple, which shots are going to mean the most to them? For my couple this weekend it will involve the grooms vehicle and driving into the future together. There will also be shots of the wedding party, candid moments, the ceremony, the guests, family formals, and kids being kids – but I anticipate the ‘winning shots’ to involve the bride and groom and the car. It will show their love for one another, a beautiful venue, and their passion for motor vehicles.

Checkpoint 7 – What is the weather forecast?

Wedding Photography

Checking the weather forecast gives you time to plan indoor and outdoor shots

If your wedding involves shooting outdoors during any part of the day, you will need to consider in advance what the weather forecast is. You can’t rely on beautiful soft light from a bright cloudy day for every wedding you shoot. What is the plan if there is bright sunlight? Or pouring rain? Or both within a few hours? Have you spoken to the venue to ask their advice on wet weather options? Late August can bring some very changeable and cold weather in Melbourne, Australia. Fortunately the forecast for this weekend is sunny, clear and cool. It should mean flexibility to shoot both indoor and outdoor images throughout the day. (I hope it is the same for the wedding I am shooting the following weekend!!)

I am a strong believer in preparing for wedding photography success. The more elements I have planned for in advance, the more I will be able to focus on photography on the big day. You don’t have to use my checklist, but I encourage you to plan in advance. Having a system in place gives you the best chance to shoot great wedding images and enjoy yourself at the same time. Invest the time in preparing for wedding photography success!