Tag Archives: wedding photography

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.

If you’d like to automatically receive a weekly update from Beyond Here please sign up by adding your email address at the top of this page. Thank you for reading 7 more tips for your first wedding photography job.

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!

If you’d like to automatically receive a weekly update from Beyond Here please sign up by adding your email address at the top of this page. Thank you for reading 7 tips for your first wedding photography job.

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!

The Benefits of the Off Season

Right now, in Melbourne, Australia, it is the middle of winter. After a reasonably mild June we have had a cold, grey, windy July. It is a quiet time for weddings, with most weddings being held in the warmer months between September and March. I don’t shoot many weddings at this time of year, so this post covers the benefits of the off season.

I am really glad that my wedding business is seasonal and that there is a quiet time of the year. I wonder what it must be like to be a wedding photographer in Hawaii where there are lots of weddings all year round. Would you ever get a break? How would you re-charge the batteries? How would you stay fresh?

Wedding

The wedding off season is a chance for photographers to recharge

I see lots of good things about having a slower time of year. Here are the key ones – the benefits of the off season.

Rest and recharge the batteries. During spring and summer it can feel like a never ending run of weddings to photograph, images to edit, deadlines to meet, and albums to deliver. It is an exciting time as you watch the brides eyes light up at her new album, and the mother of the bride burst into tears as she sees the large print of her daughter in her wedding dress for the first time. It is also a really busy and challenging time. The more successful you are, the busier you can be. The first benefit of the off season is the chance to rest up and plan for the season of weddings ahead. Life in the fast lane can be great, but life in the slow lane can be a welcome change.

Evaluate your work. Being less busy gives critical time to evaluate your work. How has it improved over this wedding season? Where does it still need to improve? What new edge can I bring for next year? The slower pace in winter gives crucial time to reflect and plan, and prepare for next seasons weddings.

Revise marketing materials. The winter wedding slowdown gives a great opportunity to assess marketing materials and to ask key questions. Does my marketing material reflect what I can bring to a bride and groom? Do they communicate how I am different to other photographers? Do they attract my target client? The off season is a great time to re-assess marketing materials and the marketing plan.

Fruit bat

The off season is a great time to shoot personal projects

Shoot personal projects. In the middle of summer, back to back wedding work makes it very difficult to tackle any other photography work or projects. One of the great benefits of the off season is to shoot personal projects. I love wildlife photography and find the time in the great outdoors to be refreshing and invigorating. This time of year gives me the chance to shoot wildlife projects.

Try new things. The off season is the time I try new things. When I am in the middle of wedding season and I have brides and grooms relying on me, I stick to equipment and techniques I know and have practiced many times. A wedding is the time to deliver a great client experience, not to experiment. Winter gives me the chance to try new styles, new equipment, and new post processing techniques. It’s the time to learn, and learning helps keep us fresh. Photography is a lifelong process of continual improvement and winter is a great time to improve.

Evaluate the business. In Australia, the end of the tax year is in the middle of winter. This is a great opportunity to connect the creative side of a photography business with the business side. How well is the business doing? Where could it do better? What can I learn from other photographers businesses? What can I learn from other creative businesses? The slowdown in client work is a great opportunity to assess whether I am meeting business goals, not just creative goals.

Books

Rest, relax and read in the off season

Read. I love to read and winter is the time that I read the most. Recently I have re-read two books about the business of photography which I highly recommend. They are VisionMongers by David Du Chemin, and The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan by Dane Sanders. Whether you already run a photography business or are considering it, these books are both well worth reading. Another of the benefits of the off season, is the chance to reflect and read, and to learn from others. It helps bring perspective and to open your mind to new approaches.

I love winter and the off season. It is also the time in Melbourne to get to the AFL football! So there you are – seven of the benefits of the off season. What do you like to do when client work is slow? Do you enjoy off season or would you prefer to be busy year round?

Better Backgrounds for Better Images

Better backgrounds

A clean background has added impact to the subject

This photo was selected as the file of the day on one of the wildlife photography communities I participate in on Google+. It is a female superb fairy wren. I took this shot yesterday afternoon in Melbourne, Australia. It has prompted me to write about what is the single biggest way to improve your photography – better backgrounds for better images.

This tip is applicable to nearly every type of photography – and on this post I have included sample images from weddings, wildlife, sports, and family portraits.

In all these types of photography, having a nice clean background has focused attention on the subject. There is nothing distracting or off putting, and the subject really stands out in the frame. So, let’s see some sample images, and discuss how to use better backgrounds for better images.

Better backgrounds

A clean, bright background focuses attention on the subject

This example is from a family portrait shoot. In any type of photography where you are setting up the shot, getting nice clean backgrounds is straight forward but requires the photographer to choose the type of background suitable to the shot. In this case, I was doing an outdoor family portrait session at a park. The child was wearing dark colors so I looked for a plain background which also had lighter colors. In this case, the background is a stone wall which formed part of a monument. It is a nice bright color which offsets the subject’s dark shirt, and provides a clean but textured background. At a park environment, also look for trees or nature scenes which would give clean backgrounds, or fences or building walls. These can all be effective.

Better backgrounds

An outdoor stairwell as a background for a wedding image

Ok, now for a wedding image. This image was taken at an inner city wedding. As you can see I have used an outdoor stair well as the background for this image. Weddings are particularly important to get clean backgrounds, as the focus needs to be on the couple, their relationship and the wedding day.

Again, with weddings you have time to plan these images in advance, and as long as the weather cooperates, it is a matter of following your plan. In this image the lack of color in the stairs also helps to focus attention on the bride and groom. (Interestingly, this image had more impact because of the colors than a similar black and white image.)

Even in inner city, busy environments with lots of people, it is possible to find clean backgrounds to support your images. Look for stairwells, doorways, arches, or architectural features – like walls. Better backgrounds for better images works for wedding photography too.

Freezing motion

Freezing motion in indoor lighting conditions will require higher ISO

The use of plain backgrounds in sports can be effective, but there are also times when a busy background works well in sports photography.

If you think about a basketball image, there is a time to have the player on there own, and also a time for the player to be seen against a background of a cheering crowd.

In sports photography, it is still possible to get clean backgrounds, but it also might be more effective to get a busy background of a cheering group of supporters.

Ok, so how do we put the lesson of better backgrounds for better images into action? To improve your photography with this technique it is a matter of consciously choosing what you would like for your background and then practicing. After a short period of time you will be subconsciously positioning yourself and your subject to achieve backgrounds which help your subjects stand out.

If you have found this post – better backgrounds for better images – useful, you may also like posts on:

Thanks for reading this post. Good luck with better backgrounds for better images.