Stepping in to Wedding Photography - Digital Photography School

Stepping in to Wedding Photography

Wedding photography is a topic that many of our readers are interested in learning more about. Today Charles Clawson from blog.chaselliot.com shares some tips on getting into Wedding Photography.

Wedding Photography is unique among all other photography mediums. As a professional photographer you have free reign over an incredible event full of emotion, action and beauty. Being able to use your skills to capture these moments forever, and have them be cherished by your clients is an honor wedding photographers take very seriously. It isn’t for the faint of heart. The pressure is as high as the clients expectations, but it can be a very rewarding occupation. For these reasons, wedding photography is quite a competitive field.

wedding-photography.jpgImage by forbescreative

With camera equipment simultaneously rising in capabilities and dropping in prices, it means more and more photographers have been able to make the leap from enthusiast to professional. For those already established in the industry, they might resent the added competition and the downward pressure on prices, but for those photographers who have what it takes, now more than ever are opportunities to start the transition into becoming a true professional photographer. In this article I identify 5 things you can do now to prepare yourself to make the leap.

1. Analyzing the Aesthetics

Start comparing your pictures with those of established photographers. Professionals want their work to be seen and are constantly sharing their favorite images. Take advantage of this wonderful free source of knowledge. Scour both web and print sources and learn from the best. In analog style, I recommend starting a physical scrapbook of images you like. Get a few of the jumbo wedding magazines and start ripping it apart. Look for poses and techniques that you’d like to learn to duplicate. If you are more computer oriented, I find having a folder of great pictures I’ve stumbled on a valuable reference. Don’t worry if the pictures seem beyond your level. This will be a process and you’ll advance to higher levels in due time.

Things I look for in photographs:

  • Lighting – Pay attention to the quality (harsh/soft), angles, and colors of light used.
  • Posing – Posing can be a difficult skill to learn. Some will utilize actual posing more than others depending on your style. As a skill, it can be learned and there is nothing wrong with mimicking poses you’ve see in others work. Remember, artists have been duplicating the human figure for as long as there has been art, so chances are you aren’t stealing a style from anyone still living.
  • Capturing the “moment” – Look for the photographs that capture the beautiful simple moments of a wedding day. Often I shoot random happenings that otherwise seem unimpressive, but being able to take photographs that are natural and full of emotion make great and memorable pictures. As easy as this sounds, it takes a keen eye and a quick hand to avoid missing the fleeting moments. This is a must have skill as clients now increasingly seeking out that “wedding photo-journalist” style photography. A little harsh but still an informative read is this article from the well known WPJA on capturing “moments”.

2. Getting the Gear

Invest in high quality glass. Many photographers put excessive weight in the camera body, when the truth is, as a professional photographer you have to expect your camera body to be obsolete in as little as 3 years. Not a pleasant reality. The flip side of the coin is that a good lens will hold its value almost indefinitely. Some lenses have even been known to increase in value. Start slow but buy the good stuff. Your safest bet is to stick with the major manufactures and avoid zoom lenses with constantly varying apertures. Choose lenses that allow you to lock down the aperture to at least a wide f/2.8. Don’t pass out at the total price of your complete kit, instead, build it piece by piece.

3. Building your Portfolio…NOW!

Building a wedding portfolio can be a challenge. Many fine art photographers with incredible skill find it difficult to make the switch into wedding photography simply because their portfolio lacks wedding images. To move past this hurdle you may have to volunteer yourself as a wedding photographer for friends and family. Start getting word out of your ambitions and opportunities will come. If your invited to a wedding, don’t leave your camera at home. Another option is to attend a wedding photography workshop where live models are brought in (often in wedding gowns) for you to practice your techniques on. These are fine to use in your portfolio in the beginning but should be transitioned out as you build a quality gallery of your own unique shots. It’s important that early on you set up some sort of portfolio organization system, ideally with a star ratings. As your pictures improve so should your galleries. Since a photographer should always be improving, this means his public portfolio should never stay static. Save yourself searching through long forgotten events for good images and start organizing your favorites early on.

4. Maximizing your Web Presence

As you build a good portfolio, you need to make it accessible and get your services online. To do this, there is a mind boggling array of options, from completely free to fully custom designed sites. You can find pre-made website templates for photographers that require little changing for about $50 at Template Monster. For more expensive complete turnkey web solutions look to companies like BluDomain or BigFolio. DPS readers can easily add to this list. For a great album generator for showcasing your work I recommend starting with JAlbum. It’s open source, has some incredible skins and best of all it’s free. Other popular online galleries include Zenfolio, Pbase or even Apple’s iWeb.

5. Be Patient and use this Time Wisely

Generating a flow of clients is going to be a slow process. Use the time you have now to get a solid foundation for the busy days down the road. Create a solid package price list and breakdown. Search out vendors you’ll be dealing with for prints, albums and other products. Design some promotional materials you can provide to clients. Research bridal shows in your local markets and most important of all… keep shooting.

Update: Charles has added a second article to this series which is all about Choosing a Lens for Wedding Photography.

Read more Wedding Photography Posts from Our Archives:

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Chas Elliott is a freelance photographer in the Northern Virginia and DC area. See more of his work at www.chaselliott.com.

  • http://www.scottfillmer.com Scott Fillmer

    great article on wedding photography… I just did my first wedding shoot this summer and it was quite a challenge. Not sure if I will ever do another (not my favorite work) but it was much harder than I anticipated.

  • Jeremy Emken

    I have been a daily visitor to DPS for sometime now and thoroughly enjoy and utilize the tips and advise. I foresee this article being very helpful. I just shot my first wedding this last weekend and am going through the 1100+ pictures now. I am be no means a professional and had a lot of fun in the process. It IS challenging on many levels, but worth it in the end. The many wedding related articles (similar to this one) were invaluable in instilling confidence and instruction. Thanks again!

  • http://www.petelanglois.net Pete Langlois

    I’ll never shoot a wedding. I’m shooting what I want when I want to shoot. Great tip on buying high quality glass. Cheap glass can ruin a great image.

    Pete

    http://www.petelanglois.net

  • Manu

    It would have been good to have an advice on your recommended focals ?

  • http://megapixelicio.us Megapixelicious

    I agree with most of the content of the post but saying that a wedding photographer should not invest in the top of the line body is just wrong…

    It does not matter if the body is obsolete in 3 years because it is a tax right-off AND having the best gear allow you to take the best picture in any situation. That is why a lot of wedding photographers are switching from Canon to Nikon these days, the D3 is that good. Wedding photography is the most cash rewarding gig a photographer can get, so you have to have gear that match your skill.

    Another reason for high priced bodies, like the D3 is that they have insane high ISO performance and fast focusing speed. These two points are key in wedding photography unless you want to overflash everything, Gary Fong style.

    As for lens wedding shooters only need 3:
    - 24-70 2.8
    - 70-200 2.8
    - 85 1.2 or 50 1.4
    and if you want to be creative go with a super wide angle.

    And if you miss any of the first two lenses, you are just going to miss a lot of shots.

    Oh, also clean (or have someone do it) you sensor between every gig if it is dirty. Because cleaning up 2k shots the next day is not fun.

  • http://www.beyondmegapixels.com Lisa

    One thing though that might be worth mentioning is how beginners shouldn’t offer their services for free at the expense of a professional making a living. If you want to break into wedding photography, you can shoot as a second photographer for free instead of taking on entire weddings by yourself.

    For one thing, shooting weddings is not as easy as it might look to some, and for another, taking on that huge a responsibility when you’re not ready is not only cheating a pro from making a living but more importantly the clients out of good wedding photos.

    I’ve seen a lot of professional photographers cry murder when they hear of beginners taking potential clients away. While I understand both sides and their actions, it’s still not a good idea to piss off the established names in your local industry.

  • http://www.xltphoto.net xlt

    yes, being a wedding photographer is a challange. you’re responsible for capturing moments of one of the most important days of peoples lifes. young couples expectations are high – even if before wedding they say have none and all they need is just some photos.

  • Neil Wood

    Good article but i think it left out some very important points.

    If you are shooting professionally at a wedding, try to have spare EVERYTHING! Nothing worse on the bride and grooms big day than the photographer having to give up because of a problem with a camera or lens. Imagine trying to talk yourself out of that one.

    Camera bodies – this isnt the biggy that people make it out to be. Mid range DSLR’s in all manufacturers ranges will suffice. Even a Canon 400d with decent lenses will do weddings (I have seen the evidence). The lens choice is far more important

  • http://www.jbrides.com J Sandifer

    The wedding photography industry is one of the last cottage industries left in our great economy. You can certainly start on a shoestring and create something great in a short period of time…just don’t represent yourself as something you are not. I would agree with being an associate and 2nd shooter, these are the best ways to learn and earn the trust of experienced photographers. Best of luck!

  • Kena

    As a newlywed, I have to disagree with Lisa. I understand the economics of wedding photography, and why it’s so expensive, but that’s no reason to encourage what’s basically a monopoly.

    Of course, inexperienced photographers should be honest in presenting their work, and what kind of results a couple can expect. (And I don’t buy into the idea that brides and grooms can’t have realistic expectations) But if a pro cannot prove to me why his photos are worth what he’s asking for them, then he’s not doing his job properly.

    Personally, I saw very little difference between the portofolios of wedding photographers in the lower price points, and what a talented friend could shoot for free. And in the high cost brackets, the difference both in price and quality was so obvious that we couldn’t talk about unfair competition; it’s like a car maker complaining about bikes being cheaper.

  • http://www.photographik.org/ photographik

    Really good advice. I agree with J Sandifer about second shooting for awhile. The wedding industry is becoming increasingly saturated and a more difficult realm to “stand out” in. However, the cream always rises to the top. If you have skills, then you just have to get started and stay focused and energized. Like Charles said, build up your equipment inventory one piece at a time and your portfolio one image at a time. Take workshops, read articles, join forums, (and read DPS daily! :-)

    Further, a web presence is essential in this day and age. Brides are going to the Internet FIRST to find and review photographers’ online portfolios. If you don’t have an impressive looking website (that is easy to navigate), then they’ll click away quick.

    Cheers,

    Jesse

  • http://www.peterphun.com/blog Peter Phun

    Great tips in all but something that shouldn’t be overlooked is a contract of some sort especially if this is your first few weddings.

    As long as you are accepting payment, you need to protect yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s for $200 and you’re doing the couple a favor.

    In that contract what is equally important is that the couple agrees to allow you to use those images for self-promotion.

    If you don’t have that part in writing, you won’t have the right to post those images on your website, brochures or other marketing materials.

    Remember, you’re doing constantly building your portfolio as you shoot more and more weddings.

    For those starting out, you might be tempted to give everything away just to seal the deal. But keep in mind, the trouble with that is, when the couple recommends you to their friends, your asking price will come up.

    So consider starting the day earlier and ending later, working longer hours, than giving all the high resolution images away as part of your package.

    If you’re new you can use the practice and the more time you have, the less likely you will panic and miss something.

    If you ask for something insanely low, the couple may wonder why.

    Suggest brides read this article.

  • http://puremotif.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/fur-an-imaginary-portrait-of-diane-arbus/ rachel

    Peter Phun – thanks for those thoughts about the contract. This is an important oversite that I have made and I need to incorporate it in.

    I agree with Lisa in some respects. As a semi-amateur wedding photographer (i’ve shot 4 and have 2 more in the works), I know that I can’t justify charging what a professional charges. I stay in a lower price range and am very honest about my capabilities and limitations (very dark weddings, large group family protraits and too much posing, etc). So far the couples I’ve worked with have been very accepting of these limitations and very relaxed about the whole thing.

    My question for everyone is what do you think about getting more schooling for photography if you are really finding it is a passion for you? I took two basic courses in college, and it was always just a hobby for me. But more and more requests are coming in for me to do this as more then a hobby, but sometimes I don’t feel technically prepared and I want to have 100% confidence in myself. I haven’t found too many online – real accredited schools (although I love DPS – THANK YOU FOR THIS RESOURCE!!)

    Also – how crazy is it to have a canon and a nikon to shoot? there is a really great deal on a Canon Xsi on ritz camera right now… and the features of the self-sensor cleaning, 12 mp, and live view seem so great!! Does Nikon have anything to match this at this price point??

    http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/541162053.htm?bct=t1134

    thoughts?? (sorry two separate topics)

  • http://www.beyondmegapixels.com Lisa

    Kena, I actually agree with you, especially with these points:
    1. “if a pro cannot prove to me why his photos are worth what he’s asking for them, then he’s not doing his job properly.”
    2. “And in the high cost brackets, the difference both in price and quality was so obvious that we couldn’t talk about unfair competition; it’s like a car maker complaining about bikes being cheaper.”

    There are a lot of pro photographers just resting on their laurels and not improving. I know a lot of new wedding photographers who take better pictures than the old-timers. And it’s also wrong to expect newbies to charge as much because they don’t have the premium that experience affords the veterans.

    I was just saying things how I see them, and my advice to beginners is that they shouldn’t ruffle too many feathers going into this. Even though the older pros are competition, they’re still colleagues and both sides should do whatever they can to respect each other. But if the newbie is one of those people who think they’re “not there to make friends”, well then, it doesn’t matter.

  • http://www.peterphun.com/blog Peter Phun

    Rachel,
    Going to school is important to get the basics down but nothing beats using your camera daily and often.

    Your instructors in school can give you assignments which hopefully simulate a wedding scenario but absolutely nothing beats the hands-on experience.

    If you can get work as the 2nd photographer or assist another, I recommend doing that.

    As for cameras and all their sexy features like Live View, they aren’t very practical except when you are shooting tethered in the studio with an art director looking over your shoulders.

    On location, Live View drains battery power. Don’t be seduced by the bells and whistles of cameras.

    It’s better to stick with one camera manufacturer.

    You maintain compatibility with lenses and you’ll master your equipment faster especially in today’s menu-driven cameras. Remember everything is hidden behind layers and layers of menus.

    If you have to change say the ISO on a Nikon and a Canon in a hurry, you will have a tough time. In fact, it’s not unusual for some photographers to favor using the same exact model of cameras to make things easier.

  • Elaine

    I don’t think Rachel meant she was going to use both brands of cameras. She is looking at the Canon and wants to know if Nikon has something similar. Nikon D700 would be compatible. I would just look at what equipment you have and if you have Canon lens go with that if you have Nikon go with that. If you are buying for the first time compare. I have Nikon

  • http://www.chaselliott.com Chas Elliott

    Great comments! Thanks. I felt like this was such a large topic that so much had to be left out. I hope to take your suggestions and do a follow up article on specific things such as contracts, focal lengths, setting prices and much more.

    Chas

    http://www.chaselliott.com

  • 40DforME

    Greetings all, well there is plenty covered in this discussion and i kind of agree with most comments.

    I do believe though that one must charge what they think they are worth, no body should be free or should do things for the LOVE OF IT.

    I am new to photography, specially weddings. i canvassed my l0cal paper and found wedding photographers. i contacted them and offered my services as an assistant.

    2 photographers took me up and while the pay is average all i can say is that i am getting paid to learn on the job and i am loing it.

    I do not want to ravage this market by lowering prices, in the end this will effects all photographers, especially the ones starting out looking for a new career.

    My advice, respect this art, stick within your abilities with the willingness to learn and respect those who are willing to teach you, either directly or indirectly.

    Imagine what it feels like everytime some one moves in our turf with no respect for what we do, not a nice feeling! If it is legitimate competition then i say bring it on!

    I took the advice of many good photograpgers and invested in good lenses. I now have a good “WEDDING SET” thanks to some great advice.

    I would like to think that the good folk out there sharing their secrets arent regretting it and i for one say THANKS.

  • http://www.studiotampa.com Steve Wilson

    Rachel. Check out any local universities and community colleges. Most of them will have continuing education and night classes where you can get some great instruction on exposure basics, composition, lighting, etc. You will also get to meet a lot of people with the same interests. These classes will teach you a lot about the technical side of photography, so technical decisions become “muscle memory”, so you can concentrate on capturing the moment….

  • http://penny-wood.blogspot.com Penny

    I shot my first wedding and it WAS harder than I thought it would be, but it was an outside wedding at 6pm and it rained an hour before the wedding making it muggy and hot. It was not only what I thought it’d be, but it was all over the place, the wedding in the garden, then the groom wanted pictures by the waterfall which was not relayed to me, then we went to another garden for pictures, then to another place for snacks all before we went INSIDE…yeah I’m rethinking outside wedding especially when it’s the middle of summer in FLA. yeah!!!!! The article was great I’m taking away with alot of information that I know is very helpful. Oh, btw…she was my niece and I didn’t charge her anything what a mistake, we’ve done so many things for free and I won’t be doing that anymore..I’m not a professional, but if anyone asks me to do another wedding I’ll be paid for my services no matter what the circumstances.

  • linn

    I appreciate this article alot!

    I just did my first wedding two weeks back. Despite having prepared a lot, it was harder than I thought.

    I came prepared with two Sonys. One with a zoom and one with a portrait lens. No antishake will ever be able to balance out my trembling when the people started to walk into the church. Thankfully I was able to concentrate once I started.

    I was using my Sony A100 with a 50mm 1.4 lens. These are the photos that turned out the best. The other camera used was a Sony A700 with an 18-200 zoom and flash (not in the church).

    I had spoken with the couple before. We visited the chuch together before, as well as the festive location. The contract was in combination with a filmer, and the deal we did was they pay a smaller amount than a profi, if they are satisfied with the photos and want to purchase them.

    The tips here to work as assistant to a real profi are great. That is what I would have liked to do.

    If I ever do a second one – I will be less discrete and put more effort into doing the types of shots I know I do well (portraits and close-ups) and be more assertive…

  • http://www.abeautifuldayphotography.com daniel

    Do not fail to check out livebooks website. They look smashing.

  • http://www.patb-photography.co.uk/weddings/ Pat

    Great advise for anyone thinking of trying wedding photography. Of course as one gains experience they soon will realize this is just the tip of a very large iceberg!

    Wedding photography is very demanding as well as being very expensive to get set up – I’m only getting there after two years of re-investing every penny earned and then some.

    Also lots of good additional points in the follow up comments, such as having two of everything.

    One of the greatest changes I made this year was to use a tripod, which proved to be the best thing I ever did. Quality is greatly improved being able to make many shots that just would not be possible before. And the biggest revelation is that a tripod does not slow you down – it makes live easier and you can go through sequences of posed shots quicker!

  • http://www.beyondmegapixels.com Tips Photo

    Thanks for the great information.

  • http://superturnkeywebsites.com George

    Always good quality info from this site!

  • Pam

    Hi there,

    I have been reading the articles on wedding photography. My husband has been doing photography since his teenage years and he is now 45 and he made the switch to digital in 2001-2002. The digital processing is a constant learning experience. We have been doing that together. AND, I thought that weddings would be such a pleasant day to capture memories. Flowers, awesome lighting with candle light, champagne, all smiles, etc., Which my husband reminded me constantly of lighting as he was MANUALLY doing the math to double check his work. Math and photography? I just carry the second camera! But the purple popped!

    Our pictures are turning out beautiful, but the bride is unhappy. Some say she is just complaining so I won’t charge her for the wedding. To make matters worse this was a favor, and we work together during the day. I brought her 70 prints (which we have 373 more coming) and she did not show a single soul. Eyes were poppin and everything! My husband likes the rebel’s by canon and we have all the lenses, as Pat has said we reinvest everything into equipment. We have the EOS and then the XTi, both do really well, the difference between the EOS and the XTi is amazing in itself. And then of course as soon as we bought that camera not but a couple years later comes the 50D and Windows VIsta BLAH, we were just catching up! The wedding party was uncooperative and I was yelled at 3 times, wanted to cry. One lady said to me, “Gee, I guess I am just an endcap for the day.” I just tried to keep them in order. Wedding are VERY HARD and I now understand why they aren’t for the faint of heart. The grooms sister took over the photo shoot with her point and shoot, and we are pretty laxed with people wanting to shoot our poses, but they could not get a clear shot as I was beginning the posing for the next shots and they told me about it under no circumstances that I was in their way, which was said to me by the Groom through his clinched teeth. This caused a dramatic loss in photos of the Bride & Groom by themselves because the Church only gave us 30 minutes to get our shots and I am sick over it. It seemed that they were all more interested in taking pictures than having their pictures taken?

    So, my question is: When your equipment is on the mark, settings are good, pictures are good, your batteries are charged and you have managed to capture a few heartfelt moments (Mother of the Bride wiping a tear from her eye, as she had pinned the coursage on her mom), and the bride is unhappy what do you do? We were with them from 2:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. We left at 10:30 and they decided to do the bouquet toss and garter throw at 11:00 p.m. when the reception was over at 11:30! The jury is still out as to whether we will be taking on anymore weddings in 2010. We will finish our 5 this year as we are under contract with the couples we have signed up now, but I just don’t know.

    Oh, one last comment, I know my post was long, but I have not slept since May 9, 2009! The Bride did bring in all the point and shoot pics in to our work and showed them around with pride. I about fell through the floor, they were grainy, and because we were not allowed to use a flash in the ceremony, they were noisey and dark, but some parts of the picture had light, does that make sense? The pictures looked “thin” with no depth, lack of color, like smeared ink maybe, I guess. My husband can explain all that better than me, but I am telling you, I hope people do not think that was our work.

  • http://walstonphoto.com Royce

    In terms of equipment, the best dollars spent are on glass. It is very important to have fast glass f/2.8 or better especially for indoor settings. This also allows for a very nice shallow depth of field to enhance the atmosphere of the shot. All the tips are great especially updating your portfolio as you go. With the advance in off camera flash there is a big shift if style and look compared to wedding images in the recent past.

  • http://www.engagingimages.ca Wedding photographer in Toronto

    Wedding photography is unlike any other type of photography out there. First and foremost the photographer should understand the mechanics of photography (how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO work together) and be able to work under a variety of different lighting conditions.

    Wedding photography can start indoors, move outdoors, into bright sunshine, into shade, into mottled light and then back indoors under a mixture of different lights with potentially different light temperatures – all in the same day.

    ALWAYS have backup equipment – remember the motto: two is one…one is none. Always have at least 2 of everything.

    The best way to cut your teeth on Wedding Photography is to second shoot / assist an established pro for at least a season before accepting weddings of your own.

  • http://www.cstudiosphotography.com Amy Carruthers

    As a wedding photographer of 8 years, I can tell you that it’s misleading to tell an aspiring photographer “If you’re invited to a wedding, don’t leave your camera at home.”. Most professional wedding photographers go to great lengths to protect their brand and will not allow aspiring photographers (we all know who they are because they come to the wedding equipped with a mini-arsenal of cheap lenses and a giant shoulder bag of gear) to document any portion of the wedding and show it within their own portfolio. I actually have it in my contract that I am the sole professional photographer and that no other professional, or aspiring professional photographer, may take images of the day to market them in any way for the advancement of their own business. As a professional photographer, I have worked extremely hard to maintain my brand and book high-end, stylish weddings – I will not allow an amateur to come in, document it and misrepresent themselves within their portfolio as being more advanced in their career or level of weddings than they are.

  • http://www.peterboroughphotography.com Paul @peterboroughphotography.com

    I love wedding photography and would not do any other job in the world.

    Capturing great wedding photographs takes years of practice and sometimes you get those great shots that stick in your mind for ever. I have been a pro wedding photographer for over 20 years and still learns some new things every time i take photographs at the various wedding venues.

    Making sure you have insurance, various back ups, should you fall ill on the big day. Do you taking wedding pictures with a another photographer, can you cover the event on your own etc etc.

    Its a lot to take in and I wish everyone luck that goes into this fantastic line of work.

  • allan

    This was a great article for me. As a newbie to the world of photography, i find that every time i am out with my camera, i am enjoying shooting more and more. I just came back from a great vacation in maui and looking at the pictures I took they are getting better by the click. I have toyed with the idea of getting into wedding photography as i do find think the idea of capturing a couples special day a rewarding one if done right. I like the post about reaching out to local photographers to assist and will start that process. I just wanted to say thank you for everyones comments because both the pro’s and con’s bring value to the topic.

  • john

    I don’t know who ruffled Amy’s feathers, but no matter what contract she has, if I have been legitimately invited to a wedding as a guest I am free to take photos with whatever equipment I have spent my money on, whether it’s a disposable, point-and-shoot or a dslr camera. There’s nothing stopping me from taking photos of my friends and family, and because I took those photos with MY equipment, MY time, MY ideas and MY composition I am free to use them as I wish, including adding them to my portfolio to slowly find my feet in this very competitive business. I wouldn’t be misrepresenting anything, my ability will be reflected in the quality of my photos. Just do your job and be respectful of people starting up with whatever ‘cheap lenses’ they can afford. Not everyone can afford £10k worth of kit on day 1.

  • Lynn Clark

    I really appreciate this article.

    One tip I learned is to require, by contract, that there is a “photo coordinator” assigned by the wedding couple to help wrangle guests, keep the snotty ones in control, etc. This takes tremendous pressure off the high-strung brides of today, helps ensure that someone who knows who Aunt Martha is can get her to the group shot location for that photo, and means the photographer can do what s/he does best: take the picture.

    At my own wedding, I didn’t worry about the shots getting done, and when I got our photos back, the only photo missing (unfortunately) was me with my parents together out of a long list. And my friend who got to play the role had a great time.

    I have that requirement in my contract for all event photography. (I do mostly nonprofit events, but occasionally new weddings) and find, especially when it comes to getting pictures of the “big donors” it’s invaluable. If the organization doesn’t assign, then it specifies I am not liable.

  • R

    Equipment is important yes but to an extent. I’ve done Hollywood events for an organization where the main pro photog had a crap load of flash gear and two full frame canon bodies, lenses galore and his pictures still sucked. Be confident, practice, practice practice…I don’t think it’s a requirement that you shadow another photog unless you feel overwhelmed. Many people have done it on their own.

    you’re always improving as an artist so just shoot and don’t let anyone discourage you. I’m new to weddings but I was also a bride and I know how a wedding works..i have done high profile sporting events, Hollywood and corporate plus news events to feel pretty confident in myself. I also have over a decade of graphic design experience that helps me bring the best out of my pics… People forget that pricing your work doesn’t involve the coverage. I don’t care if you’ve done one or 2000 weddings, price yourself fairly. Its 30% photography and 70% post processing ….people are crazy if they think post processing isn’t factored into prices…telling amateurs to price themselves 1/2 as the pro is stupid.

  • http://www.soulphotography.com Fiona

    How on earth can you enforce having no “ameture” photographers at a wedding. What a silly thing to be concerned about. Are you worried their pictures might be comparable to yours? Perhaps the bride and groom would be happy to have someone at the wedding that might be able to catch a moment you missed. If I was a bride I wouldn’t hire a photographer with such a silly contract.

    Great tips on here. I am currently working on my contract as I have several wedding clients this year. Also I am purchasing my own lenses as I have only done second shooting for weddings and used borrowed equipment. I am searching this site for info on what is best to start with. I am thinking a 70-200 and 17-55. I have bought a canon 7D and a 50mm so far. I want to spend around 5000 total. Any ideas?

    I love this industry…but you do get alot of cattiness from photographers who feel threatened by new comers. Some of the newer photographers I know are some of the best I have ever seen.

    My adivce…to each their own.

  • Jennifer

    This is an interesting convo. I agree with you Lisa, but I ask your opinion on what I should do in my situation. I’m not a new photographer. I’ve had my own photography business now for 3 years but worked with my father in law’s photography business for many years before that. I know my craft, so I’m not a newbie. However, I want to start getting into wedding photography.

    The problem I’m having is that I live in a military area where most of the photographers ARE newbies who charge very very little for their services. I haven’t found one wedding photographer here who has impressed me at all. They all look much less experienced than myself. Therefore, I haven’t found anybody I feel I would learn anything from by second shooting.

    I don’t want to just jump right into shooting weddings on my own. I want to second shoot. But the opportunity doesn’t seem there for me. So what should I do? I don’t want to ruffle feathers as you say, and I know it’s a big venture so I also don’t want to go into it unprepared.

  • Jennifer

    In response to what Amy said, and the responses that she got. I would like to add that I see both sides. I’ve attended weddings where the ameuter photographers she speaks of actually get in the way of the paid photographer. I think it’s okay to stand back and an observer and take your own images, but when you follow the photographer around (which happens a lot), and sit over their shoulder taking images of the formal poses that he/she set up, I think that’s invasive. There is no way to prevent other professional or amateur guests to bring their own camera’s, but if you are one of those people, I say just be respectful and stay out of the paid photographers way. I think that’s all Amy meant. And if you use the photos for your portfolio, don’t use photos of shots set up by the main photographer (formal shots specifically) because those aren’t your ideas.

  • Nadine

    Wonderful article!! exactly what I needed to know…In order to have the “first” wedding opportunity is it ok to offer your work as a second shooter to another photographer (I offer my services for free in order to get some experience). …it would be lovely to know how to start and have my first wedding experience!! thanks again..

Some older comments

  • Jennifer

    February 17, 2012 05:13 am

    In response to what Amy said, and the responses that she got. I would like to add that I see both sides. I've attended weddings where the ameuter photographers she speaks of actually get in the way of the paid photographer. I think it's okay to stand back and an observer and take your own images, but when you follow the photographer around (which happens a lot), and sit over their shoulder taking images of the formal poses that he/she set up, I think that's invasive. There is no way to prevent other professional or amateur guests to bring their own camera's, but if you are one of those people, I say just be respectful and stay out of the paid photographers way. I think that's all Amy meant. And if you use the photos for your portfolio, don't use photos of shots set up by the main photographer (formal shots specifically) because those aren't your ideas.

  • Jennifer

    February 17, 2012 05:07 am

    This is an interesting convo. I agree with you Lisa, but I ask your opinion on what I should do in my situation. I'm not a new photographer. I've had my own photography business now for 3 years but worked with my father in law's photography business for many years before that. I know my craft, so I'm not a newbie. However, I want to start getting into wedding photography.

    The problem I'm having is that I live in a military area where most of the photographers ARE newbies who charge very very little for their services. I haven't found one wedding photographer here who has impressed me at all. They all look much less experienced than myself. Therefore, I haven't found anybody I feel I would learn anything from by second shooting.

    I don't want to just jump right into shooting weddings on my own. I want to second shoot. But the opportunity doesn't seem there for me. So what should I do? I don't want to ruffle feathers as you say, and I know it's a big venture so I also don't want to go into it unprepared.

  • Fiona

    February 5, 2011 12:00 pm

    How on earth can you enforce having no "ameture" photographers at a wedding. What a silly thing to be concerned about. Are you worried their pictures might be comparable to yours? Perhaps the bride and groom would be happy to have someone at the wedding that might be able to catch a moment you missed. If I was a bride I wouldn't hire a photographer with such a silly contract.

    Great tips on here. I am currently working on my contract as I have several wedding clients this year. Also I am purchasing my own lenses as I have only done second shooting for weddings and used borrowed equipment. I am searching this site for info on what is best to start with. I am thinking a 70-200 and 17-55. I have bought a canon 7D and a 50mm so far. I want to spend around 5000 total. Any ideas?

    I love this industry...but you do get alot of cattiness from photographers who feel threatened by new comers. Some of the newer photographers I know are some of the best I have ever seen.

    My adivce...to each their own.

  • R

    September 11, 2010 12:25 pm

    Equipment is important yes but to an extent. I've done Hollywood events for an organization where the main pro photog had a crap load of flash gear and two full frame canon bodies, lenses galore and his pictures still sucked. Be confident, practice, practice practice...I don't think it's a requirement that you shadow another photog unless you feel overwhelmed. Many people have done it on their own.

    you're always improving as an artist so just shoot and don't let anyone discourage you. I'm new to weddings but I was also a bride and I know how a wedding works..i have done high profile sporting events, Hollywood and corporate plus news events to feel pretty confident in myself. I also have over a decade of graphic design experience that helps me bring the best out of my pics... People forget that pricing your work doesn't involve the coverage. I don't care if you've done one or 2000 weddings, price yourself fairly. Its 30% photography and 70% post processing ....people are crazy if they think post processing isn't factored into prices...telling amateurs to price themselves 1/2 as the pro is stupid.

  • Lynn Clark

    July 16, 2010 03:55 am

    I really appreciate this article.

    One tip I learned is to require, by contract, that there is a "photo coordinator" assigned by the wedding couple to help wrangle guests, keep the snotty ones in control, etc. This takes tremendous pressure off the high-strung brides of today, helps ensure that someone who knows who Aunt Martha is can get her to the group shot location for that photo, and means the photographer can do what s/he does best: take the picture.

    At my own wedding, I didn't worry about the shots getting done, and when I got our photos back, the only photo missing (unfortunately) was me with my parents together out of a long list. And my friend who got to play the role had a great time.

    I have that requirement in my contract for all event photography. (I do mostly nonprofit events, but occasionally new weddings) and find, especially when it comes to getting pictures of the "big donors" it's invaluable. If the organization doesn't assign, then it specifies I am not liable.

  • john

    July 7, 2010 07:55 pm

    I don't know who ruffled Amy's feathers, but no matter what contract she has, if I have been legitimately invited to a wedding as a guest I am free to take photos with whatever equipment I have spent my money on, whether it's a disposable, point-and-shoot or a dslr camera. There's nothing stopping me from taking photos of my friends and family, and because I took those photos with MY equipment, MY time, MY ideas and MY composition I am free to use them as I wish, including adding them to my portfolio to slowly find my feet in this very competitive business. I wouldn't be misrepresenting anything, my ability will be reflected in the quality of my photos. Just do your job and be respectful of people starting up with whatever 'cheap lenses' they can afford. Not everyone can afford £10k worth of kit on day 1.

  • allan

    June 4, 2010 08:34 am

    This was a great article for me. As a newbie to the world of photography, i find that every time i am out with my camera, i am enjoying shooting more and more. I just came back from a great vacation in maui and looking at the pictures I took they are getting better by the click. I have toyed with the idea of getting into wedding photography as i do find think the idea of capturing a couples special day a rewarding one if done right. I like the post about reaching out to local photographers to assist and will start that process. I just wanted to say thank you for everyones comments because both the pro's and con's bring value to the topic.

  • Paul @peterboroughphotography.com

    June 1, 2010 10:13 am

    I love wedding photography and would not do any other job in the world.

    Capturing great wedding photographs takes years of practice and sometimes you get those great shots that stick in your mind for ever. I have been a pro wedding photographer for over 20 years and still learns some new things every time i take photographs at the various wedding venues.

    Making sure you have insurance, various back ups, should you fall ill on the big day. Do you taking wedding pictures with a another photographer, can you cover the event on your own etc etc.

    Its a lot to take in and I wish everyone luck that goes into this fantastic line of work.

  • Amy Carruthers

    April 23, 2010 08:35 pm

    As a wedding photographer of 8 years, I can tell you that it's misleading to tell an aspiring photographer "If you're invited to a wedding, don’t leave your camera at home.". Most professional wedding photographers go to great lengths to protect their brand and will not allow aspiring photographers (we all know who they are because they come to the wedding equipped with a mini-arsenal of cheap lenses and a giant shoulder bag of gear) to document any portion of the wedding and show it within their own portfolio. I actually have it in my contract that I am the sole professional photographer and that no other professional, or aspiring professional photographer, may take images of the day to market them in any way for the advancement of their own business. As a professional photographer, I have worked extremely hard to maintain my brand and book high-end, stylish weddings - I will not allow an amateur to come in, document it and misrepresent themselves within their portfolio as being more advanced in their career or level of weddings than they are.

  • Wedding photographer in Toronto

    September 5, 2009 11:27 am

    Wedding photography is unlike any other type of photography out there. First and foremost the photographer should understand the mechanics of photography (how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO work together) and be able to work under a variety of different lighting conditions.

    Wedding photography can start indoors, move outdoors, into bright sunshine, into shade, into mottled light and then back indoors under a mixture of different lights with potentially different light temperatures - all in the same day.

    ALWAYS have backup equipment - remember the motto: two is one...one is none. Always have at least 2 of everything.

    The best way to cut your teeth on Wedding Photography is to second shoot / assist an established pro for at least a season before accepting weddings of your own.

  • Royce

    August 13, 2009 05:43 am

    In terms of equipment, the best dollars spent are on glass. It is very important to have fast glass f/2.8 or better especially for indoor settings. This also allows for a very nice shallow depth of field to enhance the atmosphere of the shot. All the tips are great especially updating your portfolio as you go. With the advance in off camera flash there is a big shift if style and look compared to wedding images in the recent past.

  • Pam

    June 23, 2009 09:55 pm

    Hi there,

    I have been reading the articles on wedding photography. My husband has been doing photography since his teenage years and he is now 45 and he made the switch to digital in 2001-2002. The digital processing is a constant learning experience. We have been doing that together. AND, I thought that weddings would be such a pleasant day to capture memories. Flowers, awesome lighting with candle light, champagne, all smiles, etc., Which my husband reminded me constantly of lighting as he was MANUALLY doing the math to double check his work. Math and photography? I just carry the second camera! But the purple popped!

    Our pictures are turning out beautiful, but the bride is unhappy. Some say she is just complaining so I won't charge her for the wedding. To make matters worse this was a favor, and we work together during the day. I brought her 70 prints (which we have 373 more coming) and she did not show a single soul. Eyes were poppin and everything! My husband likes the rebel's by canon and we have all the lenses, as Pat has said we reinvest everything into equipment. We have the EOS and then the XTi, both do really well, the difference between the EOS and the XTi is amazing in itself. And then of course as soon as we bought that camera not but a couple years later comes the 50D and Windows VIsta BLAH, we were just catching up! The wedding party was uncooperative and I was yelled at 3 times, wanted to cry. One lady said to me, "Gee, I guess I am just an endcap for the day." I just tried to keep them in order. Wedding are VERY HARD and I now understand why they aren't for the faint of heart. The grooms sister took over the photo shoot with her point and shoot, and we are pretty laxed with people wanting to shoot our poses, but they could not get a clear shot as I was beginning the posing for the next shots and they told me about it under no circumstances that I was in their way, which was said to me by the Groom through his clinched teeth. This caused a dramatic loss in photos of the Bride & Groom by themselves because the Church only gave us 30 minutes to get our shots and I am sick over it. It seemed that they were all more interested in taking pictures than having their pictures taken?

    So, my question is: When your equipment is on the mark, settings are good, pictures are good, your batteries are charged and you have managed to capture a few heartfelt moments (Mother of the Bride wiping a tear from her eye, as she had pinned the coursage on her mom), and the bride is unhappy what do you do? We were with them from 2:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. We left at 10:30 and they decided to do the bouquet toss and garter throw at 11:00 p.m. when the reception was over at 11:30! The jury is still out as to whether we will be taking on anymore weddings in 2010. We will finish our 5 this year as we are under contract with the couples we have signed up now, but I just don't know.

    Oh, one last comment, I know my post was long, but I have not slept since May 9, 2009! The Bride did bring in all the point and shoot pics in to our work and showed them around with pride. I about fell through the floor, they were grainy, and because we were not allowed to use a flash in the ceremony, they were noisey and dark, but some parts of the picture had light, does that make sense? The pictures looked "thin" with no depth, lack of color, like smeared ink maybe, I guess. My husband can explain all that better than me, but I am telling you, I hope people do not think that was our work.

  • George

    March 25, 2009 10:06 am

    Always good quality info from this site!

  • Tips Photo

    February 6, 2009 04:25 pm

    Thanks for the great information.

  • Pat

    January 4, 2009 10:28 am

    Great advise for anyone thinking of trying wedding photography. Of course as one gains experience they soon will realize this is just the tip of a very large iceberg!

    Wedding photography is very demanding as well as being very expensive to get set up - I'm only getting there after two years of re-investing every penny earned and then some.

    Also lots of good additional points in the follow up comments, such as having two of everything.

    One of the greatest changes I made this year was to use a tripod, which proved to be the best thing I ever did. Quality is greatly improved being able to make many shots that just would not be possible before. And the biggest revelation is that a tripod does not slow you down - it makes live easier and you can go through sequences of posed shots quicker!

  • daniel

    September 5, 2008 11:38 am

    Do not fail to check out livebooks website. They look smashing.

  • linn

    September 4, 2008 05:12 am

    I appreciate this article alot!

    I just did my first wedding two weeks back. Despite having prepared a lot, it was harder than I thought.

    I came prepared with two Sonys. One with a zoom and one with a portrait lens. No antishake will ever be able to balance out my trembling when the people started to walk into the church. Thankfully I was able to concentrate once I started.

    I was using my Sony A100 with a 50mm 1.4 lens. These are the photos that turned out the best. The other camera used was a Sony A700 with an 18-200 zoom and flash (not in the church).

    I had spoken with the couple before. We visited the chuch together before, as well as the festive location. The contract was in combination with a filmer, and the deal we did was they pay a smaller amount than a profi, if they are satisfied with the photos and want to purchase them.

    The tips here to work as assistant to a real profi are great. That is what I would have liked to do.

    If I ever do a second one - I will be less discrete and put more effort into doing the types of shots I know I do well (portraits and close-ups) and be more assertive...

  • Penny

    August 31, 2008 10:21 am

    I shot my first wedding and it WAS harder than I thought it would be, but it was an outside wedding at 6pm and it rained an hour before the wedding making it muggy and hot. It was not only what I thought it'd be, but it was all over the place, the wedding in the garden, then the groom wanted pictures by the waterfall which was not relayed to me, then we went to another garden for pictures, then to another place for snacks all before we went INSIDE...yeah I'm rethinking outside wedding especially when it's the middle of summer in FLA. yeah!!!!! The article was great I'm taking away with alot of information that I know is very helpful. Oh, btw...she was my niece and I didn't charge her anything what a mistake, we've done so many things for free and I won't be doing that anymore..I'm not a professional, but if anyone asks me to do another wedding I'll be paid for my services no matter what the circumstances.

  • Steve Wilson

    August 26, 2008 03:24 am

    Rachel. Check out any local universities and community colleges. Most of them will have continuing education and night classes where you can get some great instruction on exposure basics, composition, lighting, etc. You will also get to meet a lot of people with the same interests. These classes will teach you a lot about the technical side of photography, so technical decisions become "muscle memory", so you can concentrate on capturing the moment....

  • 40DforME

    August 22, 2008 09:19 pm

    Greetings all, well there is plenty covered in this discussion and i kind of agree with most comments.

    I do believe though that one must charge what they think they are worth, no body should be free or should do things for the LOVE OF IT.

    I am new to photography, specially weddings. i canvassed my l0cal paper and found wedding photographers. i contacted them and offered my services as an assistant.

    2 photographers took me up and while the pay is average all i can say is that i am getting paid to learn on the job and i am loing it.

    I do not want to ravage this market by lowering prices, in the end this will effects all photographers, especially the ones starting out looking for a new career.

    My advice, respect this art, stick within your abilities with the willingness to learn and respect those who are willing to teach you, either directly or indirectly.

    Imagine what it feels like everytime some one moves in our turf with no respect for what we do, not a nice feeling! If it is legitimate competition then i say bring it on!

    I took the advice of many good photograpgers and invested in good lenses. I now have a good "WEDDING SET" thanks to some great advice.

    I would like to think that the good folk out there sharing their secrets arent regretting it and i for one say THANKS.

  • Chas Elliott

    August 22, 2008 02:46 pm

    Great comments! Thanks. I felt like this was such a large topic that so much had to be left out. I hope to take your suggestions and do a follow up article on specific things such as contracts, focal lengths, setting prices and much more.

    Chas

    www.chaselliott.com

  • Elaine

    August 22, 2008 03:26 am

    I don't think Rachel meant she was going to use both brands of cameras. She is looking at the Canon and wants to know if Nikon has something similar. Nikon D700 would be compatible. I would just look at what equipment you have and if you have Canon lens go with that if you have Nikon go with that. If you are buying for the first time compare. I have Nikon

  • Peter Phun

    August 22, 2008 01:10 am

    Rachel,
    Going to school is important to get the basics down but nothing beats using your camera daily and often.

    Your instructors in school can give you assignments which hopefully simulate a wedding scenario but absolutely nothing beats the hands-on experience.

    If you can get work as the 2nd photographer or assist another, I recommend doing that.

    As for cameras and all their sexy features like Live View, they aren't very practical except when you are shooting tethered in the studio with an art director looking over your shoulders.

    On location, Live View drains battery power. Don't be seduced by the bells and whistles of cameras.

    It's better to stick with one camera manufacturer.

    You maintain compatibility with lenses and you'll master your equipment faster especially in today's menu-driven cameras. Remember everything is hidden behind layers and layers of menus.

    If you have to change say the ISO on a Nikon and a Canon in a hurry, you will have a tough time. In fact, it's not unusual for some photographers to favor using the same exact model of cameras to make things easier.

  • Lisa

    August 22, 2008 12:40 am

    Kena, I actually agree with you, especially with these points:
    1. "if a pro cannot prove to me why his photos are worth what he’s asking for them, then he’s not doing his job properly."
    2. "And in the high cost brackets, the difference both in price and quality was so obvious that we couldn’t talk about unfair competition; it’s like a car maker complaining about bikes being cheaper."

    There are a lot of pro photographers just resting on their laurels and not improving. I know a lot of new wedding photographers who take better pictures than the old-timers. And it's also wrong to expect newbies to charge as much because they don't have the premium that experience affords the veterans.

    I was just saying things how I see them, and my advice to beginners is that they shouldn't ruffle too many feathers going into this. Even though the older pros are competition, they're still colleagues and both sides should do whatever they can to respect each other. But if the newbie is one of those people who think they're "not there to make friends", well then, it doesn't matter.

  • rachel

    August 22, 2008 12:30 am

    Peter Phun - thanks for those thoughts about the contract. This is an important oversite that I have made and I need to incorporate it in.

    I agree with Lisa in some respects. As a semi-amateur wedding photographer (i've shot 4 and have 2 more in the works), I know that I can't justify charging what a professional charges. I stay in a lower price range and am very honest about my capabilities and limitations (very dark weddings, large group family protraits and too much posing, etc). So far the couples I've worked with have been very accepting of these limitations and very relaxed about the whole thing.

    My question for everyone is what do you think about getting more schooling for photography if you are really finding it is a passion for you? I took two basic courses in college, and it was always just a hobby for me. But more and more requests are coming in for me to do this as more then a hobby, but sometimes I don't feel technically prepared and I want to have 100% confidence in myself. I haven't found too many online - real accredited schools (although I love DPS - THANK YOU FOR THIS RESOURCE!!)

    Also - how crazy is it to have a canon and a nikon to shoot? there is a really great deal on a Canon Xsi on ritz camera right now... and the features of the self-sensor cleaning, 12 mp, and live view seem so great!! Does Nikon have anything to match this at this price point??

    http://www.ritzcamera.com/product/541162053.htm?bct=t1134

    thoughts?? (sorry two separate topics)

  • Peter Phun

    August 21, 2008 02:33 pm

    Great tips in all but something that shouldn't be overlooked is a contract of some sort especially if this is your first few weddings.

    As long as you are accepting payment, you need to protect yourself. It doesn't matter if it's for $200 and you're doing the couple a favor.

    In that contract what is equally important is that the couple agrees to allow you to use those images for self-promotion.

    If you don't have that part in writing, you won't have the right to post those images on your website, brochures or other marketing materials.

    Remember, you're doing constantly building your portfolio as you shoot more and more weddings.

    For those starting out, you might be tempted to give everything away just to seal the deal. But keep in mind, the trouble with that is, when the couple recommends you to their friends, your asking price will come up.

    So consider starting the day earlier and ending later, working longer hours, than giving all the high resolution images away as part of your package.

    If you're new you can use the practice and the more time you have, the less likely you will panic and miss something.

    If you ask for something insanely low, the couple may wonder why.

    Suggest brides read this article.

  • photographik

    August 21, 2008 01:28 pm

    Really good advice. I agree with J Sandifer about second shooting for awhile. The wedding industry is becoming increasingly saturated and a more difficult realm to "stand out" in. However, the cream always rises to the top. If you have skills, then you just have to get started and stay focused and energized. Like Charles said, build up your equipment inventory one piece at a time and your portfolio one image at a time. Take workshops, read articles, join forums, (and read DPS daily! :-)

    Further, a web presence is essential in this day and age. Brides are going to the Internet FIRST to find and review photographers' online portfolios. If you don't have an impressive looking website (that is easy to navigate), then they'll click away quick.

    Cheers,

    Jesse

  • Kena

    August 21, 2008 03:20 am

    As a newlywed, I have to disagree with Lisa. I understand the economics of wedding photography, and why it's so expensive, but that's no reason to encourage what's basically a monopoly.

    Of course, inexperienced photographers should be honest in presenting their work, and what kind of results a couple can expect. (And I don't buy into the idea that brides and grooms can't have realistic expectations) But if a pro cannot prove to me why his photos are worth what he's asking for them, then he's not doing his job properly.

    Personally, I saw very little difference between the portofolios of wedding photographers in the lower price points, and what a talented friend could shoot for free. And in the high cost brackets, the difference both in price and quality was so obvious that we couldn't talk about unfair competition; it's like a car maker complaining about bikes being cheaper.

  • J Sandifer

    August 21, 2008 02:00 am

    The wedding photography industry is one of the last cottage industries left in our great economy. You can certainly start on a shoestring and create something great in a short period of time...just don't represent yourself as something you are not. I would agree with being an associate and 2nd shooter, these are the best ways to learn and earn the trust of experienced photographers. Best of luck!

  • Neil Wood

    August 20, 2008 11:46 pm

    Good article but i think it left out some very important points.

    If you are shooting professionally at a wedding, try to have spare EVERYTHING! Nothing worse on the bride and grooms big day than the photographer having to give up because of a problem with a camera or lens. Imagine trying to talk yourself out of that one.

    Camera bodies - this isnt the biggy that people make it out to be. Mid range DSLR's in all manufacturers ranges will suffice. Even a Canon 400d with decent lenses will do weddings (I have seen the evidence). The lens choice is far more important

  • xlt

    August 20, 2008 09:47 pm

    yes, being a wedding photographer is a challange. you're responsible for capturing moments of one of the most important days of peoples lifes. young couples expectations are high - even if before wedding they say have none and all they need is just some photos.

  • Lisa

    August 20, 2008 03:04 pm

    One thing though that might be worth mentioning is how beginners shouldn't offer their services for free at the expense of a professional making a living. If you want to break into wedding photography, you can shoot as a second photographer for free instead of taking on entire weddings by yourself.

    For one thing, shooting weddings is not as easy as it might look to some, and for another, taking on that huge a responsibility when you're not ready is not only cheating a pro from making a living but more importantly the clients out of good wedding photos.

    I've seen a lot of professional photographers cry murder when they hear of beginners taking potential clients away. While I understand both sides and their actions, it's still not a good idea to piss off the established names in your local industry.

  • Megapixelicious

    August 20, 2008 08:17 am

    I agree with most of the content of the post but saying that a wedding photographer should not invest in the top of the line body is just wrong...

    It does not matter if the body is obsolete in 3 years because it is a tax right-off AND having the best gear allow you to take the best picture in any situation. That is why a lot of wedding photographers are switching from Canon to Nikon these days, the D3 is that good. Wedding photography is the most cash rewarding gig a photographer can get, so you have to have gear that match your skill.

    Another reason for high priced bodies, like the D3 is that they have insane high ISO performance and fast focusing speed. These two points are key in wedding photography unless you want to overflash everything, Gary Fong style.

    As for lens wedding shooters only need 3:
    - 24-70 2.8
    - 70-200 2.8
    - 85 1.2 or 50 1.4
    and if you want to be creative go with a super wide angle.

    And if you miss any of the first two lenses, you are just going to miss a lot of shots.

    Oh, also clean (or have someone do it) you sensor between every gig if it is dirty. Because cleaning up 2k shots the next day is not fun.

  • Manu

    August 20, 2008 05:06 am

    It would have been good to have an advice on your recommended focals ?

  • Pete Langlois

    August 20, 2008 04:52 am

    I'll never shoot a wedding. I'm shooting what I want when I want to shoot. Great tip on buying high quality glass. Cheap glass can ruin a great image.

    Pete

    http://www.petelanglois.net

  • Jeremy Emken

    August 20, 2008 03:56 am

    I have been a daily visitor to DPS for sometime now and thoroughly enjoy and utilize the tips and advise. I foresee this article being very helpful. I just shot my first wedding this last weekend and am going through the 1100+ pictures now. I am be no means a professional and had a lot of fun in the process. It IS challenging on many levels, but worth it in the end. The many wedding related articles (similar to this one) were invaluable in instilling confidence and instruction. Thanks again!

  • Scott Fillmer

    August 20, 2008 02:37 am

    great article on wedding photography... I just did my first wedding shoot this summer and it was quite a challenge. Not sure if I will ever do another (not my favorite work) but it was much harder than I anticipated.

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