Wedding Photography – 21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers
“Help me – I’m photographing my first Wedding!… Help me with some Wedding Photography Tips Please!”
It’s a question that’s been asked a few times in our forums over the last few months so while I’m not a Pro Wedding Photographer I thought it was time to share a few tips on the topic of Wedding Photography.
I’ll leave the technical tips of photographing a wedding to the pros – but as someone who has been asked to photograph numerous friends and family weddings – here are a few suggestions.
Wedding Photography Tips
1. Create a ‘Shot List’
One of the most helpful tips I’ve been given about Wedding Photography is to get the couple to think ahead about the shots that they’d like you to capture on the day and compile a list so that you can check them off. This is particularly helpful in the family shots. There’s nothing worse than getting the photos back and realizing you didn’t photograph the happy couple with grandma!
2. Wedding Photography Family Photo Coordinator
I find the family photo part of the day can be quite stressful. People are going everywhere, you’re unaware of the different family dynamics at play and people are in a ‘festive spirit’ (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic. Get the couple to nominate a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the ‘director’ of the shoot. They can round everyone up, help get them in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can get back to the party.
3. Scout the Location
Visit the locations of the different places that you’ll be shooting before the big day. While I’m sure most Pros don’t do this – I find it really helpful to know where we’re going, have an idea of a few positions for shots and to know how the light might come into play. On one or two weddings I even visited locations with the couples and took a few test shots (these made nice ‘engagement photos’).
4. In Wedding Photography Preparation is Key
So much can go wrong on the day – so you need to be well prepared. Have a backup plan (in case of bad weather), have batteries charged, memory cards blank, think about routes and time to get to places and get an itinerary of the full day so you know what’s happening next. If you can, attend the rehearsal of the ceremony where you’ll gather a lot of great information about possible positions to shoot from, the lighting, the order of the ceremony etc
5. Set expectations with the Couple
Show them your work/style. Find out what they are wanting to achieve, how many shots they want, what key things they want to be recorded, how the shots will be used (print etc). If you’re charging them for the event, make sure you have the agreement of price in place up front.
6. Turn off the sound on your Camera
Beeps during speeches, the kiss and vows don’t add to the event. Switch off sound before hand and keep it off.
7. Shoot the small details
Photograph rings, backs of dresses, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus etc – these help give the end album an extra dimension. Flick through a wedding magazine in a news stand for a little inspiration.
8. Use Two Cameras
Beg, borrow, hire or steal an extra camera for the day – set it up with a different lens. I try to shoot with one wide angle lens (great for candid shots and in tight spaces (particularly before the ceremony in the preparation stage of the day) and one longer lens (it can be handy to have something as large as 200mm if you can get your hands on one – I use a 70-200mm).
9. Consider a Second Wedding Photographer
Having a second backup photographer can be a great strategy. It means less moving around during ceremony and speeches, allows for one to capture the formal shots and the other to get candid shots. It also takes a little pressure off you being ‘the one’ to have to get every shot!
10. Be Bold but Not Obtrusive
Timidity won’t get you ‘the shot’ – sometimes you need to be bold to capture a moment. However timing is everything and thinking ahead to get in the right position for key moments are important so as not to disrupt the event. In a ceremony I try to move around at least 4-5 times but try to time this to coincide with songs, sermons or longer readings. During the formal shots be bold, know what you want and ask for it from the couple and their party. You’re driving the show at this point of the day and need to keep things moving.
11. Learn how to Use Diffused Light
The ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is key. You’ll find that in many churches that light is very low. If you’re allowed to use a flash (and some churches don’t allow it) think about whether bouncing the flash will work (remember if you bounce off a colored surface it will add a colored cast to the picture) or whether you might want to buy a flash diffuser to soften the light. If you can’t use a flash you’ll need to either use a fast lens at wide apertures and/or bump up the ISO. A lens with image stabilization might also help. Learn more about Using Flash Diffusers and Reflectors.
12. Shoot in RAW
I know that many readers feel that they don’t have the time for shooting in RAW (due to extra processing) but a wedding is one time that it can be particularly useful as it gives so much more flexibility to manipulate shots after taking them. Weddings can present photographers with tricky lighting which result in the need to manipulate exposure and white balance after the fact – RAW will help with this considerably.
13. Display Your Shots at the Reception
One of the great things about digital photography is the immediacy of it as a medium. One of the fun things I’ve seen more and more photographers doing recently is taking a computer to the reception, uploading shots taken earlier in the day and letting them rotate as a slideshow during the evening. This adds a fun element to the night.
14. Consider Your Backgrounds
One of the challenges of weddings is that there are often people going everywhere – including the backgrounds of your shots. Particularly with the formal shots scope out the area where they’ll be taken ahead of time looking for good backgrounds. Ideally you’ll be wanting uncluttered areas and shaded spots out of direct sunlight where there’s unlikely to be a wandering great aunt wander into the back of the shot. Read more on getting backgrounds right.
15. Don’t Discard Your ‘Mistakes’
The temptation with digital is to check images as you go and to delete those that don’t work immediately. The problem with this is that you might just be getting rid of some of the more interesting and useable images. Keep in mind that images can be cropped or manipulated later to give you some more arty/abstract looking shots that can add real interest to the end album.
16. Change Your Perspective
Get a little creative with your shots. While the majority of the images in the end album will probably be fairly ‘normal’ or formal poses – make sure you mix things up a little by taking shots from down low, up high, at wide angles etc.
17. Wedding Group Shots
One thing that I’ve done at every wedding that I’ve photographed is attempt to photograph everyone who is in attendance in the one shot. The way I’ve done this is to arrange for a place that I can get up high above everyone straight after the ceremony. This might mean getting tall ladder, using a balcony or even climbing on a roof. The beauty of getting up high is that you get everyone’s face in it and can fit a lot of people in the one shot. The key is to be able to get everyone to the place you want them to stand quickly and to be ready to get the shot without having everyone stand around for too long. I found the best way to get everyone to the spot is to get the bride and groom there and to have a couple of helpers to herd everyone in that direction. Read more on how to take Group Photos.
18. Fill Flash
When shooting outside after a ceremony or during the posed shots you’ll probably want to keep your flash attached to give a little fill in flash. I tend to dial it back a little (a stop or two) so that shots are not blown out – but particularly in backlit or midday shooting conditions where there can be a lot of shadow, fill in flash is a must. Read more about using Fill Flash.
19. Continuous Shooting Mode
Having the ability to shoot a lot of images fast is very handy on a wedding day so switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and use it. Sometimes it’s the shot you take a second after the formal or posed shot when everyone is relaxing that really captures the moment!
20. Expect the Unexpected
One more piece of advice that someone gave me on my own wedding day. ‘Things will Go Wrong – But They Can be the Best Parts of the Day’. In every wedding that I’ve participated in something tends to go wrong with the day. The best man can’t find the ring, the rain pours down just as the ceremony ends, the groom forgets to do up his fly, the flower girl decides to sit down in the middle of the aisle or the bride can’t remember her vows….
These moments can feel a little panicky at the time – but it’s these moments that can actually make a day and give the bride and groom memories. Attempt to capture them and you could end up with some fun images that sum up the day really well.
I still remember the first wedding I photographed where the bride and grooms car crashed into a Tram on the way to the park where we were going to take photos. The bride was in tears, the groom stressed out – but after we’d all calmed down people began to see some of the funny side of the moment and we even took a couple of shots before driving on to the park. They were among everyone’s favorites.
21. Have Fun
Weddings are about celebrating – they should be fun. The more fun you have as the photographer the more relaxed those you are photographing will be. Perhaps the best way to loosen people up is to smile as the photographer (warning: I always come home from photographing weddings with sore jaws and cheeks because of of my smiling strategy).
Want More Wedding Photography Tips? Check out these Wedding Photography Books:
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Some older comments
September 18, 2013 06:56 am
Really good tips! In this text - very important things about wedding photography. I like it!
September 10, 2013 06:46 pm
I am an amateur photographer, a very keen enthusiast. I did my first wedding when I turned up as a guest with my camera, where my youngest daughter was a flower girl, to find that the bride had sacked the photographer that morning (she had been an absolute cretin, and her presence was set to ruin the day) - could I do it, I was asked on the spot?
I was absolutely terrified! And totally unprepared. I'd not seen the church or reception venue, I hadn't checked batteries and memory cards, I needed to be in two places at once, and I was wearing very high heels.
After an initial flush of absolute panic, I settled into low-grade fear for the next 12 hours...and shot 2200 photos. The next day handed over a stick with 480 photos (reviewed and processed....I was a bit manic) that I thought were worth keeping. The bride's father, on reviewing the images, commented that it was just like re-living the night. I was so chuffed!!! And so relieved!! The bride was also very happy with the results....they came up beautifully...
I know I could have done a MUCH better job if I had the opportunity to follow these very useful tips - especially preparation and planning (and flat shoes) - and two cameras - I was switching between two lenses all night.
These are very handy tips that I heartily endorse!! And several people have commented that you have to love shooting people - with this I completely agree. If you love shooting birds and flowers and landscapes, perhaps don't put your hand up. But if you have a feel and lots of practise for capturing people, both formally and candidly, then don't be afraid to give this a good go......
September 9, 2013 09:10 pm
Do your homework....on wedding photographers
We booked a cowboy who advertised himself as a surrey wedding photographer Paul stott.
It did rain
And he used that as a bismal excuse for making errors on everything...including inside shots...
All pics apart from 10 were ruined.....we paid over £1000 for his services ( no album) just disc and obviously ruined a fairy tale wedding costing over£20.000
Be very very careful..taking on weddings you cannot do......do use Paul stott either...
September 8, 2013 09:10 pm
Great tips. It's especially important to scout out the location so you can plan your shots. Ask the staff at the venue where other pro photographers tend to take their shots as this can save time.
Also, building rapport with the guests is important. If they like you they'll look more natural in the shots.
August 31, 2013 12:33 pm
PS: I am amateur, but I know a good shot when I see one :-)
August 31, 2013 12:18 pm
I will shoot my second wedding this Sunday. My first was my sister's. The pro took shots @ the church, but didn't attend the reception, which I was unaware of. I brought my cameras along to take shots for both sides of the families, but never dreamed I would do "Part II" of the day on my own. Good thing because I was able to capture the 'relaxed, pressure over' parts of the day & focus on the little details. I hope my sister was happy & I hope to make my nephew & his new bride equally happy.
August 8, 2013 11:50 am
That's an awesome idea! I wont be at the ceremony - I've been invited to take photos of the ceremony but I'd feel a bit weird about it because the pro will already be there and I don't want to step on toes - but she's booked me in for family portraits (again not really my forte) which I'll give your shot a go, and then belly photos when she's pregnant again then new born photos. I think she's booking me years in advance before I go pro and while I'm still free! I'm onto her game.
August 6, 2013 09:51 pm
On of the best shots I have seen and also have been waiting to try. This shot is with a long lens. Wife's back against a brick wall. Husband, up close, touching. Arms outstretched towards camera, hands intertwined but the rings are showing. the focus is on the rings, lens wide ope so the DOF is very short. the couple comes out out of focus but noticeable and the rings on the clasped hands are sharp. Very kewl photo. Nice Book cover shot
August 6, 2013 09:22 pm
Oh Bobbee, that is just TOO funny!! I had an image of a guy between two bits of bread in a brown paper bag. I nearly snorted my coffee.
I've been trawling the net, getting ideas, and going off my own wedding, I know what NOT to take. Oh some shockers! Its hard to make hands look sexy.
And I've been practicing with stuff like someone holding a bouquet out in front, focusing on that, while the person is blurred out. Looks pretty cool actually. But I don't want to concentrate on the posed photos, because who has time for that? Although I get the feeling my friend will pose until the cows come home. We'll just see how the day pans out I guess!
I'll absolutely come back and tell you how the day went - and if I can work out how to post a photo I'll do that too ;)
August 6, 2013 02:53 am
Yes, throw up on you. While your taking pictures look and watch. You will see all sort of strange things going on. Like the ex-wife that showed up with her very drunk boyfriend who proceeded to try to corner EVERY female in the place and.................................Verry Funny till the bodyguard uncle, very big, carried the guy out like he was a bologna sandwich in a paper bag.
Just want you to enjoy your new opportunity and at the same time do well. You sound like you have it well in hand. Go pick yourself up a Wedding Mag and see the pictures in there great ideas. Good luck and ping back with your experience, Bad of good.
August 5, 2013 09:22 pm
Threw up on you? Would of made for an interesting photo op!
Luckily I'm only doing the pre wedding stuff, so I don't have the stress of getting "those" shots of the ceremony etc. I have photoshop, 4 years as a digital editor, a step ladder. So I got eye, height and masking LOL.
After talking with her tonight, what shes thinking is more along the lines of happy snaps, and was stoked when I suggested photos reflected in mirrors, shooting up and down, b&w ... she hadn't considered those.
If her expectations aren't too high I can't do much wrong!
I got some great shots in scary manual mode, so this is starting to be less daunting and more exciting. 6 weeks till the big day....
August 5, 2013 02:17 am
Thanks, but I don't need the advice. I have shot weddings, events and Sweet 16 Parties. Want to do a moving party? Try doing Sweet 16 parties where the kids are jumping around like caged animals and most of the adults are trying to consume enough alcohol to justify coming to the party. Makes for an interesting stretch of your abilities. After 100 or so Sweet 16 parties Weddings are cake walk.
As I said, slow down your mind and absorb what is going on. I tend to carry two cameras, D880 and a D700 on a holster. One with a 24-70 and the other a 70-200, respectively. Most of the shots are done with the 24-70 so I keep it on the D800. I also have a D200 in my Pelican Case if someone pushes me into a pool, Champagne Fountain or throws up on me.
One thing, remember the small things too, pictures of the rings together, shoes, cake, etc. Bring a collapsible step stool, 3 step with a high handle for you to lean against. Otherwise you will realize you need to get up high and will end up standing on a chair. Precarious.
I will slightly agree with Tamma, get some experience first, but not having that "fools rush in'.The shot list is nice but either you will quicly forget about it or not have time. The DJ or wedding coordinator will be pushing things. Make sure you introduce yourself to him/her and the DJ and keep an eye on them. More times that not, They sent someone after me when I was shooting family at the wedding to let me know they were just about to do 'X'. But don't count on that.
Enjoy yourself. And learn from your mistakes. Even the best photographer has isues and misses shots. We are only human.
August 4, 2013 11:39 pm
Hi Jess, Bobbee.
That is a very tricky stage where you go from I take some good photos to I want to shoot a wedding. Its fine that a client has seen your prior work and like it but they haven't seen your wedding style since you haven't done one before.
Also if you highly pose your portraits you won't have that opportunity in a wedding. If you must photograph a wedding practice photographing family events first. People in motion where lighting changes. That will prepare you to go with the flow and see how lighting changes and how to react. I see a lot of portrait photographers fail because they get too caught up figuring out their settings or don't do well with their subjects moving.
Practice, practice. Then of course learn Photoshop and light room or its equivalent. Once again a topic lots of newbies skip.
And later you want to take photos with prints or albums in mind. Anticipate a good double page spread, covers, etc.
Lots to think about.
Not being rude or negative, but challenging you.
If you love it, you'll want to learn every aspect. If you don't love it you'll claim how demanding it is and eventually give up.
Great comments on here.
August 4, 2013 10:38 pm
Hi Bobbee, I will, and take LOTS of photos. We are getting together to do up a shoot list, and I'm going to practice in various lighting as it's mostly indoors pre-wedding stuff. My 11 month old daughter is a great model for me, I've underexposed her, over exposed her, blurred her out, made her unfocused, and I've got a lot of bum shots as she's crawling away from me FAST. But, I've also learnt heaps, got some REALLY great shots worthy of putting on a canvas on my wall. All in all, I'm feeling better about not stuffing up too much, and making her photos cool, unique and fun.
To the other newbs to photography reading this: ignore the negative, trust yourself, have fun and remember it's not about who makes the most money, or who's done it the longest, or who has the best equipment, its who can express themselves the best through that one single perfect image. And you don't need 15 years experience to do that.
August 2, 2013 11:40 pm
Just pre-think about what you want to do and slow down.
August 2, 2013 11:06 pm
Andrea- I worked in glamour photography and you are SO right there! The neck is a contentious part of the body! Same with upper arms, if you can use shadow to halve someones arm, they'll love you for it!
August 2, 2013 11:02 pm
Jim, I think I love you! As a rookie that has just been asked to shoot her first wedding, I must say the negative 'leave it to the pro's' comment only cement my terror more. You are right in your comments, pro's shouldn't be threatened by the likes of people like me. Yes I will get aperture wrong, and I probably will use the wrong ISO, but the bride know's I'm only just finding my feet, but she's seen my photos which is why she has asked me. Their pro certainly will get those memorable shots, but hopefully I'll get those candid ones too. It's all learning!
The tips are wonderful. And I'll be following them. I need to trust I know how to drive my camera, and trust that my artistic eye will come out. All these negative comments do absolutely nothing for an amateur, all they do is instill doubt. It's not helpful.
July 30, 2013 12:43 am
Great tips thanks for posting this
July 23, 2013 03:43 am
Great tips. Good reminders of the basics.
July 13, 2013 04:26 am
@Andrea - these are amazing tips! I love that tongue one! I'm going to start using that in everyday :)
July 8, 2013 10:45 am
Try to remember when photographing women - of virtually any age - but particularly those over 30 - Never have them look DOWN to a camera lens. Always level, at least - but preferably LOOKING UP to the camera!! If you have a female subject that is sensitive about her neck, tell her to push her tongue up against the roof of her mouth for the shot. It will firm up her neck a bit. really!
July 3, 2013 07:02 am
If you're just starting out, it is important that you DO NOT shoot alone. Yes it will definitely make you nervous, but with another photographer with you (pro or amateur), you'll feel a lot more comfortable thinking that someone else is shooting from a different angle hence less missed moments. Do this until you are very confident that you could do the shoot alone. But then again, even professionals get backups.
June 21, 2013 07:58 pm
".......experience is something you don't get till after you need it.........."
Remember the day, look back once your past, and ask, how could I have done this better.
Google, look for a shot list and review it. That is your best sword right now. Also, slow down, relax, enjoy yourself and give yourself time to think. After that it is all about acquiring that 'experience' we talked about. Be confident, it emanates outward and people will follow and listen you.
June 19, 2013 09:12 am
I am doing my first wedding shoot tomorrow, i am 17 years old and only just started photography, she knows i am not professional and has seen my photography so far and loves it, i am really nervous. I am just hoping all goes well!
June 12, 2013 06:47 am
Prior to the photographs you will take of the wedding party on the big day, talk to both the bride and groom alone and determine if there are rivalries or old grudges or... between anyone that will be in the wedding party photo. If these two people who do not really like each other, (maybe a lot,) are inadvertantly placed next to each other, the photographic result may be less (much less) than desirable.
Reason being, those two good folks will probably be stressed because of it and have an unpleasant (maybe a lot) countenance about their facial features.
Hope this helps others, Randy Atchley
June 12, 2013 01:38 am
The best list for wedding photographers always from Daren. Scout the locations is something we've always try to do before we agree with the clients about the best locations to capture their moments of life. As you have mentioned preparation is the key, undertaking some warm up shots and always helps. But things like studying the location weather and even the people will greatly help to get the best shots and adjust our style to fit in with the clients happiness.
Will definitely share with our team at Studio Vimukthi and will have to read this again to get absorbed well :)
June 9, 2013 04:55 pm
Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. Keep it coming! =)
May 20, 2013 10:29 pm
Many thanks for this interesting post. I particularly liked number 3, scout the location. As a pro photographer I try now not to worry too much about checking out the location prior to the shoot and trust my instinct on the day to find the right shots for the couple. I used to always go and check out the location as it would be a great way to plan my shots before the big day. I also used to visit the location at a similar time to when I'd be there for the wedding ceremony so that I could see what the lighting would be like - and the direction of the lighting. Susie
April 27, 2013 07:24 am
Got a great camera from http://cameraroom.net and thanks to this article, I had great success with my first wedding shoot.
April 26, 2013 05:38 pm
I'm glad I have retired now after 40 years Pro Photography. Amateur (shamateur) photographers at weddings are a pain in the neck to the paid professional. Often distracting the attention of the person/group that the Pro has set-up /arranged . It does not worry me now, but my top tip would have been...Leave it to the Paid Professional.
April 11, 2013 01:28 am
Fantastic article. Found it really helpful. I'm a young photographer and have been asked to shoot a wedding which is something way out of my comfort zone. I had no idea where to start so this has been a great help. Will be sure to keep the tips in mind!
April 3, 2013 03:47 pm
Great article. I read this since im doing my first wedding in 15 days. Ive done lots of reading and lots of hobby photography. I will plan for the worst and hope for the best. I figure its the only way ill learn.
March 31, 2013 02:55 pm
I meant contact a wedding photographer, pick their brain and see if you can assist them.
I've known people try it and hate. Standing for 6 hrs alone can wear you out.
Low light situations can be frustrating.
Also, if you don't know how to effectively shoot in manual mode don't attempt a wedding.
If you only have a kit lens, don't shoot a wedding.
Love it, and you'll excel.
March 31, 2013 02:51 pm
My only comment is this, only do photography you enjoy and are passionate about.
If you have a nice camera and love nature photography or even new born photography, don't do a wedding just because you were asked.
People will always ask you because they know you like photography. But do what you enjoy and what you are good at.
In the end if you make a mistake it is the client that loses.
If you are serious about getting into weddings contract a local wedding photographer.
Learn from them first.
March 30, 2013 01:20 pm
Awesome advice! I wish I would have come across it when I first started out!
March 20, 2013 06:48 pm
Great advice for the amateur wedding photograher. I find that I do most of your tips while shooting a wedding and I could not think of more to add to your list.
March 1, 2013 09:49 pm
I have just flicked through this "forum",not enough time to read it all.Many helpful tips,most of them I have myself learnt over the years by first hand experience. As a photographer myself, ,I'd just like to add my comment.I, as many other photographers, for the last 30 years, have been paying shop rent, National Insuarance for myself, VAT, tax etc,earnt with my photographic buisniss,built up over years of hard work and sacrifices. Since the Digital Era overtook the world, anyone with a little cash can buy a camera and produce a "decent" photo.So, hey presto, everyone is "Doing Weddings".Of course, you all have the right to do as you please with your new camera bought with your honestly earnt cash.But what I would like to point out is,all of this "I'll do your Wedding", (for free maybe, or for a slight sum, cash in hand...),is taking away work from those who do photography for a living.All of you budding wedding photographers, have another font of income.We don't.
February 20, 2013 10:57 am
I just ran across this, great advice even in 2013! I was just asked advice from a new photographer about to shoot his first wedding in a few months. I will forward this post to him!
February 11, 2013 07:55 pm
A great start for any aspiring photographer is through a local college. I have taken several photography classes in which a wedding photography class was also offered and I chose to attend. The professor who taught my wedding photography class was a very experienced wedding photographer herself with many years of experience. We had many models act as the actual groom and bride and it was a very rewarding experience without the pressure of actually shooting a real bride and groom. Pictures can be seen here of the mock wedding. We had lots of models that would offer their services free and some were close friends of the students in the class.
February 10, 2013 06:25 pm
Great and impressive Views by all of you. I was looking for few tips for wedding photographers and thought to try google it. but reaching to the end of this forum has made me feel like writing the stuff. I have a point here, an amateur can do wedding photography if he has the confidence and seen a seniors done it. or in other words a person who has seen more wedding albums would know more what to click and what is required according to the clients. We in India have wedding photography done at $160 to $1800, we need to do every sort of apart we have more demand then supply in many D grade cities, due to more professionals migrating to the A grade cities. we need to teach new comers who can not only click but also design them. this is mostly started off by training them first on design and program, by this even a amateur gets to know about the important program, so my TIP for this forum is design things of your own which would make to understand your photo more deeply.
January 29, 2013 10:56 am
Great Article. I completely agree with all of the points. I would add don't over complicate shooting the wedding. Some of the best shots that I have were simple compositions with natural light. When in doubt stick to the basics.
January 7, 2013 10:34 am
Great advice! I think it's really important, though, that you show the prospective bride and groom previous pictures that you've taken, and be up front about what you will be providing to them. They only have that one day, and their desire to save money shouldn't be something they later regret because they didn't like your style or they wanted a high quality album or professional lab quality prints. And then if/when they still have you photographing their wedding, some of the stress is off, because they know what to expect from you.
January 6, 2013 06:21 pm
As you progress and become more confident in your photographic abilities, I would recommend participating in forums where you can submit your work for critique. It's one of the best ways to improve my skills. You need to have a thick skin, though, as the best critique won't be sugar-coated, but to the point. If you are far along in your wedding photography, the feedback will help you tweak your images. But, if you're just starting out, you will get a lot of feedback and accelerate your learning process. My favorite forum is called Abstract Canvas on Facebook. There, everyone is gracious and respectful, no matter the skill level. When you see a variety of images posted and read the constructive critique from others, you will learn to break down into the basic elements what it is that makes an image go from good to fantastic.
January 4, 2013 02:59 am
It's up to you.
I was at a wedding and the photographer was in casual clothing- jeans and t-shirt.
Personally I've gone for all black- t-shirt, black cords and comfortable black shoes.
It's comfortable but looks 'better than casual' I think.
You'll be in the clothes all day so comfort is very important i think.
January 4, 2013 02:13 am
Advice to photographers...ALWAYS DRESS THE PART !
If you are doing a wedding, then dress formal, but comfortable. I've seen photographers wear suits as though they were the groom and half way through the ceremony they were sweating profusely. Arms could not be lifted to hold the camera steady, and lots of time was spent wiping their brow. In the end the jacket had to come off revealing a gross-looking sweat drenched under shirt.
Try as much as possible to carry your equipment in an appropriate camera bag. Apart from looking more professional, they are designed to withstand some bounces and bruises that may occur as you chase the photo ops. Most bags are also compartmentalized and padded so your equipment does not rub together and get damaged, and it's easy to rest your hand on the exact piece of equipment you require at an instant instead of searching through a knapsack. People will also recognize the bag as carrying equipment and treat it as such, rather than a knapsack that might be mistaken to be holding other (less expensive) stuff.
January 3, 2013 06:33 pm
Is there a dress code for the photographer? I'm going to be the backup photographer in a big fancy wedding, and I'm not sure what to wear. The wedding starts at 7.00pm, and I'm afraid to look too casual but I don't want to use a dress.
Also what is better to take? A backpack that is confy but bulky or a camera bag where my monopod won't fit in.
I know this questions may seem too trivial since there are much more important things to consider in my first wedding as a photographer, but I believe that appearance matter a lot, specially in some circles.
Thanks for the post! The best I've read so far about amateur wedding photography.
January 2, 2013 05:55 am
Make sure your meal is included in your wages. You won't do your best work if your stomach is growling! Drink plenty also but no alcohol. Relax for 10 minutes but don't get so comfortable that you can't be up and ready for a shot in a moment's notice.
January 1, 2013 05:35 am
I've been "taking pictures" since I was 8 years old, I'm now 53. I had old Kodak instamatic with the pop-in 126 cartridge, graduated to my Moms 35mm yashica shortly thereafter. I've been on every yearbook staff and school newspaper since Jr. Hi through college and in my journalism classes, photography & darkroom were required courses. Through all that, I know I'm a pretty darn competent photographer with a few publishing credits to my name but since photography doesn't pay not one bill, I'd never consider myself a "pro". I've been asked to do weddings by friends who know me and I just cringe at the idea because i've seen the amount time you have to put in. Not just showing up, shoot and go, you have rehearsels, fittings and then some. But to each his own, I'd never disuade anyone from persuing their dreams, just be realistic, put me on the sidelines of a sporting event, I know the rules of engagement, put me in a church, not so much. Always have fun doing what you love.
December 23, 2012 11:54 pm
I can't believe people are saying keep away from weddings there stressful sorry to say guys but you mustn't have faith in your selves as a photographer I love doing weddings they are fun, they give you a chance to show the true love of two people to be chosen to tell their story through photographs is one of the most privileged shoots a photographer can ever share. I could do weddings everyday yes they are hard work exhausting but the rewards are so much more I would never tell another photographer not to do a wedding be confident honest and always consult the bridal couple in what they would like in there shots because at the end of the day it's their story you are telling be brave go out and have fun :)
December 3, 2012 06:58 pm
I would think that the word 'professional' comes to mean 'experienced'. Although it could relate to your ability to actually capture a good image.I certainly see marked improvement every year in my photography. this is one of those cases where you go back and look and say "OMG, what was I doing." So lets baseline, take Joe (or Joanne) Blow off the street, hand them a camera and say 'Go shoot that wedding.' What do you thing the outcome would be? You could role the dice on their ability to take a good picture. This would come down to their creative ability. But I would suspect they would miss alot of foul up many shots because they did not have basic concepts and/or did not understand the camera.So take any degree of these two concepts and this would be what people ar talking about. To add to your point. At what time do you actually become a 'professional? After your first sale? alot of bookings. Acceptance by the professional community? That you have been published? Won an award? Who knows?
December 3, 2012 09:23 am
What i don't understand is a lot of the responses saying "if you are not professional, stay away from weddings."
When it comes to photography, what is professional? My grandfather has been doing photography all of his life, and was among the first to transition from film to digital. He owned his own studio and did many weddings. The only thing is, his photos were rather plain, there wasn't much of an artistic touch to it. People went to him because he had a long history in photography. Then there are new photographers, some having a beautiful eye in perspective and artistic ways. They have the ability to capture stunning and dramatic photos, but people don't go to them because they are new and inexperienced. Sure some amateurs do suck, but do not give them a bad name because of those few.
November 7, 2012 04:03 am
Thanks so much for all the great tips! Feel free to check out my website at tandemflightphotography.com to let me know what you think about my work!
October 23, 2012 09:15 pm
(sorry if I'm flooding the comments...)
Just read this good article
October 22, 2012 10:39 am
Ive often found the best pictures at a wedding are the reportage used with a 70-300 mm lens, keep snapping and enjoy the day.
October 19, 2012 01:07 am
so I shot with the Canon 2 weekends ago, not my regular camera.
I have to say it went well, I had spend 2 evenings getting used to it, mainly how to change iso, focus area etc very quickly. Would I have been more comfortable with my Pentax- yes. But I still managed fine.
My main tip from this wedding is-
the bride and groom will give you a list of the group photos that they want.
Tell them you mightn't be able to get all the request but ask what are the most essentail photos.
then get these immediately after the ceremony while everyone is still there.
There was a few shots I didnt have but couldn't find the people at the reception.
I think it's nice to get some photos of the dining room when it's empty. Then when it's full take a photo from the same spot, showing the difference.
October 13, 2012 05:06 am
Great tips! For the dancing at the reception, I like wide angle lenses shot from a higher angle, with a slow shutter speed (maybe 1/4 of a second) to give those shots some blur and some life!
October 6, 2012 12:54 am
I certainly hope that the Bride and Groom are seasoned photographers and may think that the Cannon is a better camera. Oh wait, they cannot be, what self respecting and KNOWLEDGEABLE photographer would ask another photographer to shoot with an unknown camera. If you do not shoot with this camera regularly I would suggest you tell the Bride and Groom to walk down the isle unrecorded. If you look around at any write-up on photography the fist basic recommendation is to get an understanding of the camera. If it is a wedding, you need an in depth, expert knowledge of the camera with LOTS of practice. As things get rolling and the pressure is on only burned in experience will save you from memory lapse.This may go well, but there is alot to factor into this that will let it go ary. Hope your and expert at least in Photoshop.
October 6, 2012 12:28 am
I'm shooting my 2nd wedding tomorrow.
After doing 1 already this summer I'm now comfortable, confident and feel very able. Throw in the curve ball that the bride and groom want photos with a Canon 5DMark 2.
I've made them aware I'm not familiar with it but had a few days to get used to it. I'll also have my Pentax K-7 as secondary camera so will use that as well.
DON'T LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO SAY DON'T DO IT.
True it's a learning curve (but everything is) but just do your homework, make a shortlist, scout the ceremony and reception locations, look at wedding photos online and hopefyully you'll be fine.
October 5, 2012 07:36 am
Wedding vs Portfolio
Lets see, at a wedding the subjects are moving, quickly and erratically, and driven, usually by the MC who doesn't care a Rats A,,,,,,, about you. The are drunk and emotional. The lighting is completely out of your control as is the backgrounds. Did I mention DRUNK. Knowing all this, you will be good.
Plus, once EVERYONE gets comfortable with you, that means they are really drunk. They all want you to take pictures of them. The first wedding is an experience, good luck.
October 3, 2012 09:16 pm
I have been mostly taking profile pictures and they are great, everybody likes them, get many response, However I am still new with this, I have been doing it for 2 years only, and recently been asked by a friend to do some shoots for her wedding... I have told her this is not my field, but she said I would be a second photographer just because she isn't sure of the one that was booked, she haven't seen his portfolio...
I have agreed, as it cant get any worse than not having me at all. It will also be my first ever wedding to shoot, therefore these tips are very helpful, lets hope the practice will help me there, I am planning on reading some photography books specially for weddings, :) fingers crossed!
September 17, 2012 11:38 pm
This is from DigitalRev.com '5 Dos and Don'ts of Wedding Photography' http://www.digitalrev.com/article/5-dos-and-don-ts/Mzc3NjEzNzU_A
One of their tips is make a short list.
I downloaded a simple list app on my Iphone and made a list of shots to take. As you're busy, busy on the day it's helpful to have a quick look at it.
September 11, 2012 11:20 am
boy people were active today..
On price, figure 65-100 per hour.
On RAW, shooting raw does not change things, having the software to adjust it does.
On your girl friends daughters wedding, your not invited, you cannot shoot and attend, also, good way to loose a girl friend.
September 11, 2012 03:10 am
@Maddy: borrow a 2nd body if you can. If anyone you know (work, neighbor, friend of a friend, even rent one) I found it really helpful having 2 bodies, don't have to fumble & waste time swapping & missing photos. 70-200 can be intrusive at reception. (see my post a bit above for my reflections after shhooting my 1st wedding).
I didn't shoot in RAW or have a flash. You don't want to introduce something new that you're not used to. RAW is advised but slows camera & takes up a lot more memory.
@Mel: why are they asking you to shoot the events?
Is it to save money on a pro or cos they think you want to?
The way I look at it you have to take time off work (if working & during work time), you're not there as a guest until you stop photographing and have to do a lot of Post processing (PP)
A friend asked me to shoot his wedding said he'd pay me but neither of us knew how much.
I came up with a figure based on:
1. Time off work. If it's during the weekend you're still working/not having fun...
1 B. Time event takes
2. PP time
3. Printing costs
I ended up with a figure, he had one his his head, we met 1/2 way.
If you need/want to make yourself feel better about getting paid look at it this way- if your friend was a painter would you ask him to paint your room just because he's good at it? No.
@everyone- would people be willing to post up links to photos of the weddings they did, it's nice to see the results & afterthoughts. (I did in my earlier post, here again http://www.photoblog.ie/2012/07/31/love-me-tender/ )
Good luck everyone,
September 11, 2012 01:34 am
Every guest is shooting at weddings anyway theese days. So best idea for amateurs is: have fun, you`re one of many anyway. If you are a professional, you probably know more or less what to.
September 10, 2012 06:26 pm
Help please, Ive been asked once again to do some photo shoots for a family I know. I have already done an 80th Bday, a Deb ball, & a 21st Birthday party. Of cause I never charged a cent & always put all photos on to disc for them.
They want me to do a Dimond wedding anaversity , an 18th B/day, a Wedding & a formal. I explained that I would have to charge this time. But Im not sure what to charge. I was thinking of $250.00 for each one, which will total $1,000.00 all up for the four.
any advise please, the first one is this week end.
September 10, 2012 01:11 am
This is great advice! I did a wedding with my cousin ( I was the assistant) and got some ideas from her. Now I have a wedding coming up and this time I am alone. I am a little nervous because I just have one camera body. I have a 70-200 f.4 lens and a 50.mm as well as flash, back up battery etc. Just wondering if someone can explain how to shoot raw....I have never done this. IS it really necessary and how difficult is it to edit images later? I don't have a diffuser but am looking to borrow one. any ideas would be great. I would love to do this more often and need advice. This is what I have done so far...and I am wishing some real pros out there can give me advice about where I need to improve. Keep in mind that when I shot these images I did not have the lens I have now...so I believe the images will be better. Thanks for the great advice....very helpful.
September 9, 2012 11:23 pm
I am a mega amateur photographer that likes to take pictures of eagles, herons, egrets. I do this for fun, I take 100 pictures to get a couple of good ones. I use a Canon 40D and have a 100-400mm lens that I love. I get lucky sometimes and get a few good shots, I'm pretty lucky taking pictures of these birds in flight.
My girlfriend asked me the other day if I would be back up photographer for her daughters wedding. She's not getting warm feelings with her photographer... I want to thank you so very much for the information you have posted here. If I had time to read one/all of your books before this wedding, I certainly would.
I just wanted you to know there are those of us out here that really appreciate your suggestions and ideas. You just may help me get through this! I realize inside/people taking is way different than outside animals.
Thanks again, Kim
September 6, 2012 10:27 pm
I read 'shoot without filters' (and mind your lens). You can adde tones, effects in post processing (in RAW, even more).
the only filter I'd have on would be UV but I removed this for the wedding.
September 2, 2012 02:42 pm
I am about to purchase a canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8l IS II USM lens and need to consider to best filters to suit. I will be shooting portrait, indoor/outdoor sports and I have my first beach wedding. Appreciate any advise you can give
August 19, 2012 01:40 am
great perspective pa! love the angles and the detailes you focused on...
I have done half a dozen wedding for family and friends and they are stressful indeed. I let the couple know that i have done a few and that i will not charge what a pro charges but i will get some great memorable shots of their day...all wedding are different and i charge accordingly. I tend to charge too little as it seems the weddings i do people cant afford the big bucks but all in all everyone has been overjoyed by the pictures i do! I feel as if im doing them a favor and in return i make a little extra money !
August 18, 2012 03:53 am
These kinds of posts were a great resource for me when I first began shooting weddings. I think the best advice I could give would actually be about the relational aspects of photography.
1. Do an engagement shoot before the wedding.
This helps the couple to be comfortable with you and being in front of the camera. You are with them ALL DAY. If they don't like you and feel like they know you well, they will not smile pretty ;)
2. Beware the mama.
The bride and groom want one thing, but everyone else wants something different. If you can't please everyone, please the bride and groom. Ultimately, it is their day and they signed your contract (that should be #2 part B. Always have a contract).
3. Stick to the schedule, but don't stress.
Weddings run behind. This is normal. The wedding planner usually doesn't even have the ceremony begin until 10-15 minutes after the time on the invitation because guests are notoriously not on time. Maybe back in the day, this was not the case, but it is now... unfortunately. Your main job as the photographer is to get the amazing shots and then LET THEM EAT CAKE. Don't keep shooting because you have pretty people in pretty places. Just get what you need and get them to the reception.
If you're interested in my photography, check out http://herebyskye.com/
August 18, 2012 01:11 am
Thanks for this post! I am so glad that I read this! I am shooting my first wedding tomorrow. I feel more confident now. :)
August 14, 2012 07:55 pm
I posted a while back that I was asked by a friend to shoot his wedding. I did the gig, here's some of my photos- http://www.photoblog.ie/2012/07/31/love-me-tender/
The day was interesting, stressful, enjoyable, hard and an experience!
Obviously there's a learning curve, not easy to know where to position yourself during the ceremony (as you have to move around).
The main things I'd pass on are:
1. have 2 bodies with you.
This was you can catch shots without having to change lenses. At the reception I had a 30mm f1.4 and also 10mm f2.8 so could snap at people 'far away' I also have a 70-200 f.28 but found this too imposing for the recpetion.
2. Have a flash! The reception was indoors and even with my f1.4 lens it struggled at times.
3. Scout the location beforehand & look at other photographers that have shot there.
I copied some photos from other photographers (with permission).
Know where you're going to stand for all differnet parts of the ceremony)
At the reception I was worried that I wasn't getting the candid shots but after a while people mingled more and loosened up. I was stressed but am happy with the results. I'm doing another wedding in October and looking forward to it.
What helped me was the groom said the photos aren't the most important thing to them, if they were I'd have said no. But for anyone thinking or who has been asked I'd say-
1. make them aware that you're an amateur and haven't done this before so can't guarantee pro results.
2. If they're aware and still want you then do it. You've one life, it's a great experience and odds are it'll go well.
August 12, 2012 09:05 pm
Ahhhh, here I will agree with the 'doubters' out there. Photographing people is def not like shooting 'objects' and 'landscapes. They don't move, they don't blink, they are not unruly and certainly they don't have personalities, both good and more often bad. they don't get excited or cry even. plus when you are trying to coordinate several buildings or trees together you don't have to command their undivided attention. Plus, you shoot something that dos not have a heartbeat you don't have to worry about bringing the feeling of the moment into the frame. Then there is all the technical stuff of shooting while running at 60 MPH to keep up with the party and watching EVERYTHING to see if you can get some extra special moments. I would say find someone you know who is going to throw SOME kind of party and offer your services for free and try that. I do parties exclusively, it is quite different from shooting a bowl of fruit. I hope this gives you a view of what you will be up against. I am not saying you cannot do it but be prepared. Sort of like babysitting a room full of 12 year old boys and girls.
August 12, 2012 07:18 am
I've saved this to my favorites so I can go back over it when I have time. I've been asked to do a wedding. I don't do people...I do sunsets, old barns, old cemetaries, trees reflecting in water, etc etc....just the usual stuff. It scares me to death to undertake such an important occasion. I've got 7 months to prepare. I talked myself out of doing it once already. I have asked several people I know to let me practice photographing them and their kids. I sure hope I can have the confidence to go through with it. I also am going to practice where the wedding is going to take place....outside at a beautiful home. The bride fully understands how scared I am to do this for her. I will not be charging one dime for my time or anything. sigh......scary.
August 8, 2012 11:12 am
I've been doing the professional thing for a while, but have stuck mostly to family and newborn photography. I've recently been sought out to do two weddings, mostly because of word of mouth, and have found this article to be very helpful. I've been a second shooter a few times, but never had to be The Main Photographer Thanks Darren, for calming my fears!
July 29, 2012 08:41 pm
Ana, for lack of experience, the best thing you can remember, if you can, is, take a breath before each shot, mentally step back out of your emotional state and ask yourself, "is the composure and settings OK or can I tweek it a little better". And in a nutshell, post processing in Photoshopis very underrated by people who have not use it to save the day. One thing I like to tll my clients before the event is that they are paying me to record their event. I am at the beconing cal. I don't know all the intrinsic relationships of their family. So if there are people they want pictures with, Get used to calling my name out and get me on the spot to capture it. Ususally my midevent all I hear is Bobbee, Bobbee,Bobbee. Makes me tired but when I deliver the pictures they do love it. Good luck and I hope you have at least one layer of skin left at the toll of midnight. Remember, two things, have fun. While it is a job, there is no exclusion from you enjoying the event and if by the end of the night you are not exhausted and in pain, you did not do a good job. . Relax you will be great.
and above all, if you plan on taking 800 pictures at least end up with 1600, take two shots, vert / hoiz, each.
July 29, 2012 11:48 am
I am so grateful for the tips. I am a begginer photographer and tomorrow I will be taking wedding pictures. I never did before and I do not intend to keep doing. I am freaking out, but, as the bride told me, she cannot afford a pro or a beginner, so, I will do it for free. I know some bride can hate the photographer afterwards, but, I think that when they cannot afford paying, it really does not matter how their pictures of the big day came out, but, what matters he most is actually HAVING some pictures. Its better having sommething than nothing.
May 30, 2012 10:36 am
I've photographed a couple of weddings now, totally free of charge, to build up a portfolio and have learnt a lot very quickly. Fortunately both sets of clients have been very happy with the images I've given them, and the second 'free' wedding clients actually insisted on paying afterwards. My top tips are invest in a fast lens (f2.8 or better), meet your clients before the wedding day to discuss the types of shots they want and anything they consider essential, get to the venue early and chat to the staff there whilst trying out some test shots and angles, learn to pre-empt the camera settings you will need (including ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and flash exposure compensation), learn how to use manual mode and always shoot in it, use a decent flash diffuser and bounce where possible, remember it's your clients' wedding day so be fast, unobtrusive and very polite.
May 23, 2012 05:30 pm
Great article. Great tips for a beginner in wedding photography.
May 17, 2012 05:33 am
Wedding photography isn't as easy as people think because you have the client's needs in mind and you don't get to pick the location. You have to think fast.
May 16, 2012 06:11 pm
Good to see some of the comments since I've last read this.
The last wedding I did recently was probably the worst ever. Luckily, I did get the shots I was after, but EVERY guest had a camera and blasted away happily. I felt for the bride and groom. It was easy to see the frustration building up.
Jokes do help at times like this but can really backfire. It's a bit old, but channel 9 had a little dance called the channel 9 quickstep (really showing my age). You did this to feel better when extremely nervous or under pressure.
Anyhow, I told the bride to think about this if she got nervous when walking down the aisle. She did think about it,, burst out laughing and had to go back outside and start again. Not once but twice. Right out through the vows etc, she just couldn't keep a straight face. Boy, did I cop it later, but she still talks about it today. Shame we didn't have silliest home video back then. It was definiely a winner.
May 15, 2012 11:06 pm
I was in a wedding band for 25 years, so i know the pressure, i have been doing photography for a while and people are asking me to shoot there functions. i know a lot of pro photographers out there and 70% of them are not very good, i know i can do a lot better and i know all the formalities at weddings from experience with the band and you must understand that different nationalities have different customs so you must know what to shoot, over the years playing in a wedding band I've seen a lot of photographer/ video guys miss a lot of shots because they didn't understand the cultures out there and whats important to different nationalities . so to all you amateurs just remember if you stress you will stuff up guaranteed , Im confident so i know i will do a great job, i have the right equipment and more.....always shoot raw , take charge, be funny, learn all the main guests names, have a helper with camera and lighting/reflector , dress professionally, don't smoke, clean shaven, plenty of business cards and don't forget ITS NOT ROCKET SCiEncE , every thing you need to learn is on youtube, dedicate 2 hours everyday for practise if you can't do that then you shouldn't be a photographer....
May 12, 2012 12:26 am
Fantastic thread. I wanted to add a few things but since it has been going for a few years already I think pretty much everything has been taking care of. All of our photographers make sure that the day is pre-planned and rather than quietly hiding inside the crowd they make sure they connect to the bride and groom and their guests. If you can tell a few good jokes, that will also help.
May 9, 2012 04:31 pm
Some of the spelling on here is shocking!
I was starting to panic because I thought that my friends didn't have a photographer lined up at all for their wedding. I found this article because I was worried that I'd end up doing it with no experience whatsoever other than playing around on my own (with very successful results but no pressure). I was very relieved to find out that they do have a photographer lined up, however I will still take my camera (making sure not to get in the way) to get some shots at the reception :)
Thanks for the fantastic tips and all of the (positive) commentary!
May 7, 2012 04:37 am
Nice article. Wedding photography is something that you only have one shot at getting right, it’s important to be as well prepared as possible. A photographer needs to have at least one backup camera, if not more just in case something happens. I know a photographer that dropped his camera in a water fountain. You really have to be on your toes because there is so much going on.
May 4, 2012 10:35 am
Best article for wedding! I’ve shot over 200 weddings now, and thing that helped me, was having another camera with me.
April 28, 2012 03:43 am
Patrick miguel Blan is giving you some great advice. The Canon 5D is a great camera I recently purchased the 7D also another great camera. Getting familiar with the camera is key. You can do lots of configurations with the camera. However, I don't think you will be proficient with it by just renting it over the weekend. Go to canon's Digital learning center site to learn and don't forget Youtube. You can't practice too much. You don't want to blow a wedding. You may want to tag along with another photographer that is shooting prior the wedding you are doing. Learn the camera. Borrow lenses has a wedding photographers essential package. Everything you will need is in that package minus the camera body.
April 28, 2012 03:02 am
Hi Patrick ,the 5D mark ll is a great top of the line camera , although I don't own one I've used it several times,superb image quality and you look like a million buck .
the cons are you really need to be familiar with the controls if he's really pushing for you to use this camera
rent it for a weekend it shouldn't more then 60-100 it depends where you rent it and get familiar with the camera ,I haven't had a pentax camera in my hands and I don't know how different is from cannon but if you have all the lenses is really important that you feel comfortable with your camera ,remember you only got one shot there's no going back after you missed the key shot trying to figure out controls.
Another thing is editing software you probably will need Photoshop to edit the images or Adobe lightroom
April 27, 2012 04:44 pm
Here's VERY detailed advice by by Antony Hands- http://www.rokkorfiles.com/Wedding101-page1.html
I haven't read through it all yet but will. Covers everything
My wedding dilemma-
I'm going to be photographing a friend's wedding later this year (he's going to pay me for it).
He wants to rent a Canon 5d mark II and 24-105mm lens. He's rented this before for a work event and loved the camera. The plan would that this would be the main camera for me to use and my Pentax as a backup.
My obvious issue is that I'm not familiar and would only have an evening and morning to get used to it. I'm very familiar with my camera, where settings etc are. I also have a few lenses.
I have a Pentax K-7, Sigma 30mm f1.4, Tamron 17-50 f2.8, Sigma 70-200 f2.8 and Pentax 100mm f2.8 macro.
I've said to him straight out what I've mentioned above, think I'll have to say it's my camera or can't do it.
April 27, 2012 01:30 pm
Great Article. I've shot just over 30 weddings now, and one thing that really helped me, was having another person with me. In my case my wife to help with arranging people, and just talking to them. This would give me time to think about what I needed to do to get the shot set up. Wedding photography is very stressful when you are just starting out, because there are so many things you need to do, and it's all happening at a pretty fast pace. It does get easier and less stressful with every wedding you shoot.
April 27, 2012 10:00 am
I've been a wedding photographer for the last 8 years and is not joke when you say turn your camera shutter sound off,this simple tip separates professionals from aficionados in every situation .
if you're considering to venture in the wedding photography field be prepared to study every book and video you can find .
April 24, 2012 10:31 pm
I switched to wedding photography from studio photography a few years ago and have a great success. A key wedding photography tip I thought was overlooked in this article was have a curious and empathetic eye. To be a good at wedding photography you need to be creative, have excellent technical photography skills, be quick on your feet and have an appreciation for human nature.
April 18, 2012 10:21 pm
Nice Video series to watch. I think there are 8 total now.
April 18, 2012 09:26 am
Bouncing the flash off a reflector is a quick way to get a softer light using on-camera flash when ceilings or walls aren't available or suitable.
April 17, 2012 01:07 am
Creative have a free webinar covering post wedding photography activity. I won't be able to make it but it could be interesting, link: http://www.creativelive.com/courses/post-wedding-workflow-zach-and-jody
I have 2 weddings this summer (my first ones) and posted here already so it's not spam just in case anyone is thinking so.
April 16, 2012 04:00 pm
Pros and Cons on shot lists. Professionals say N/G. But others say they are great. I do like them BUT...........if you spend all your time looking at the shot list you MAY miss the really inportant pictures. This is where you take your comprehensive shot list (downloadable from the internet) and hand it to the bride and tell her to pick. After she has the list, look at it and figure out the ones YOU ARE NORMALLY GOING TO TAKE. Grab the remaining, and try to subdue her nature to pick every one, and get her to pick the 5-10 most important ones. You hand that list off to some Brides maid or realative that is reliable (the bride will pick this person) and have them group the people and you shoot them. You job is done, well the coordnation part. You still have to take a good picture. Don't forget the incidentals like flowers, rings, shoes, etc, etc, etc. A good macro lens helps. Good luck!!!!
April 16, 2012 01:49 am
I was asked recently to take the pictures at a wedding in July so I could really use your tips. I found them really helpful. Love the shot list idea. I actually created a shot list for the photographer to use for my own wedding.
April 11, 2012 11:51 pm
I have to drop a comment here, again!!!
I have always said that if you have the drive, the equiptment and knowledge go for it. I do stil stand by that. I must also comment that a good many people have said on this thread, go out and work with a professional photographer for 3-5 years to gain experience. Well I have to agree with that in part, You will learn what to do, you will learn setup and you will learn the business. What I think you SHOULD learn, but am questioning if you will actually get the chance, is to learn to take the right photos and slow down. I just did a rather large Super 16 party on Saturday, It ws a Quad 16 birthday, 2 brothers and two sisters. On top of that I had a Green Screen Booth going at this event for Favor Pictures. Spending over a day editing the pictures I was reflecting on what I had taken and past, earlier phtographs of parties. There was a suttle difference. I did realize that this was becuse my internal clock is slowing down and now I have no quams about stopping everyone in their tracks and ordering people around to get the shot I see through the mayhem. This certainly can come from arrogance but in my case I see more of it comeing from exerience and I am settling into what I know I can deliver. I more and more do not question my ability, but my equiptments capability of delivering what I see. This, again, in case the point has been lost by my babbiling, comes from all the parties where I have stood up in front of 80-120 people and directed, to 'get the shot'.So go do your engagements but during, if you can catch a breath, and certainly after, take a step back and do a Lessons Learned on every aspect of your process and make a mental note as to how to improve. If you cannot do that you will not go from the ugly bug to the beautful butterfly and impress people with your beautful colors!!
April 4, 2012 10:37 am
Gee thanks, I think?
Being from NY and just gutsy, I have done my share of business,
After hours joint at 17.
Auto mechanic shop after that,
30 year as a consultant with my own business.
Senior worldwide Middleware specialist.
and now Photography
All successful, all profitable. you certainly cannot prepare yourself for fickled customers.
You can learn to keep your foot on the gas and driving straight ahead and be courageous!!!
April 4, 2012 10:15 am
Bobbee, it is true that getting yourself out there is important, however once you step out of the circle of photography that is used to catering to price shopping, you will find that it is very difficult to win work based on price or even by being free. Professionalism, your talent and especially relationships are the key. But hey, you got yourself out there which is the first step to building relationships and for that you should be commended.
April 3, 2012 02:06 pm
I'm 14 years old with an eye for photography and my mom's friend asked me to photograph her wedding! This is an amazing opportunity for me and these tips really helped! Thanks!
March 29, 2012 09:16 am
There are some great tips here and even some experienced pro photographers could stand to brush up on some of these!
March 15, 2012 04:00 pm
Thanks for the tips. I especially resonate with the 'expect the unexpected' one. Weddings are all about planning, and yet the best moments come by surprise. I have found that that's where a truly professional photographer proves himself useful.
March 14, 2012 12:42 pm
So i like your comment about 'many for the price of one'. Maybe and maybe not.
I travel world wide alot. Naturally I get upgraded often. So I am sitting in 1C, before I got on the plane I notice these guys, slightly older, goofing around like slightly younger people. They were a little under the Irish Sun. It just so happens they are sitting behind me. The one joval guy, who is bragging and dropping names, and his friends, are the Production Manager and Production crew for the Black Eyed Peas. The 'Peas' hand a concert in Central Park that weekend and this was Thursday night and they were going in to set up. I pass them my card and apoligize for being pusshie, but I am sure he understands. After some chatting he sez that this would be nice but they have a photographer. So I sez to him, why would you have one photographer when you can have two for the same price. He was in that special place in his drinking where this statement registered an oddity in his lubricated crainal muscle, and sez 'What?'. So I tell him, get me a pass, clear me with security and let me shoot. I will give you my tiime and all the pictures on CD, if you like my work, call me or don't call me in the future, you have nothing to loose. Great deal right? Never called, but he does have my card. Unless he used it to take the appitizers they served us in First Class out from between his teeth and quickly deposited my card in the circular file system. You have to be in it to win it.
March 14, 2012 11:22 am
We hear too many Wedding Photography horror stories. The best way to assure great results from your wedding photographer is not use a photographer. Instead you should be using photographers, especially if you can a few for the price of one. Many of the better wedding photographers have interns that not only help set up shots but also take their own shots. We frequently find that the best more candid shots are coming from the interns, they're not occupied taking the required shots but instead can look for the candid gem.
March 14, 2012 01:43 am
I think what many people seem to be forgetting is that even Photography pro's have to rely on post-production work to have the best possible photos. Photoshop is used by most pro's! Without Photoshop even the Pros shots wouldn't be as outstanding as they look. Photo-retouching is a big part of it.
March 12, 2012 08:06 am
I commented on this Back in Sep2011, in my case I used 32GB (I would have used more if I had thought to video the speeches). DONT FORGET Spare batteries you will need them.
(Consider hiring a second camera and lenses if you dont already have them)
You also need to think are there other guests, family, friends who can help by taking general crowd shots/candids otherwise there wont be any photos of you at your sons wedding.
Good Luck Doug
(Ps my daughter-in- law and her Mum are still talking to me)
March 11, 2012 04:43 am
I have had friends that had children that I wanted to do their weddings for them. They thought it more important that I was attending than working the wedding. You being the father that is a much more important idea. Don't do the wedding!! Attend it like a father should and enjoy you kids very special day. If it is all about the money, hire that pushie guy and tell him to drive or walk there. I am sure you can find someone who would be willing to do it for less. Get someone to shoot the day for 5-7 hundred and deliver you the RAW and JPG images and do your own book. That is if it is stll about the money and only the money.
March 11, 2012 02:48 am
You are walking into a dimension where you have no idea what is oging to happen. You can find a great photographer for $2000 and that $2000 will make the difference between you having snapshots and professional shots. It will also be ridiculous for the mother or father of the groom to be hotographing the wedding. 200 people is not a small reception - you already have the wrong expectation. Shooting in RAW is absolutely not necessary, but if you do and you are planning to do a half decent job you will need at least 10 4GB CF cards. 200 people at even $30 a plate is $6000 in food - another $2000 is not gonna make a difference. YOU WILL end up with some nice shots and shots that people will say "are great" (mostly our of obligation) but it is the shots that your will miss due to your inexperience that will be the problem. Shots that only a experienced photographer can see, create or anticipate. Post production is also something that you should be concerned with - there is no way that "homemade" albums and prints can have the end result most brides are expecting. Lastly - you are shooting for "family" - never a good idea and your inlaws (all of them starting with your daughter in law) will resent you unless those photos are beautiful. Hire me - I will do it for $1500 plus a plane ticket - your photos will be amazing and you will be able to eat cake with your son!
March 11, 2012 01:13 am
My son will be married in June and they can't afford a pro. Since I photographed my daughter's private wedding ceremony, they asked me to photograph their wedding. It's tought to be Mother of the bride/groom and photographer and I tried to talk them into someone else. Long story short, I will be taking their wedding photos. My daughter's wedding was just immediately family, very casual and a simple restaurant dinner (no reception). My son's wedding, while small (200 guests), is formal and includes a reception. I'm so glad digital-photography-school.com has tips and forums to help me prepare. I'm reading everything I can.
The tip for shooting in RAW is great, but I know those files are larger. I currently have one 4GB compact flash, high speed memory card. How many should I have for the wedding if I plan to shoot RAW?
March 8, 2012 02:17 am
Maybe you need a better looking family?
March 8, 2012 01:53 am
I'm with Joan on the idea of not shooting family. Its great to take a camera to a wedding when you're a guest, but I've never shot my best stuff when shooting people I know.
This is a great list, and lets face it there are plenty of people who can't afford a pro, so it will be a great help for their friends who step in.
March 6, 2012 01:55 am
I recently received this email:
Hello. I came across a small biography about you while looking into cheap photographers. I currently work for a company that unfortunately does not care about the customer and now they are closing 346 of their studios including mine. I know quite a bit about the photography side of the business but am quickly learning there is a lot more to it than that. I'm a bit of an armature when it comes to the technicals of it. I am however very good at capturing the pictures that people seek. I would like to go into business for myself after the company closes my studio. I would like some assistance if you would. What type of software do you use to enhance your pictures? What type of pricing do you do? I want to offer my customers what they are use to seeing from me without sinking myself. Also what do you suggest lighting wise and backgrounds? I personally prefer black, white, and then a few seasonal things thrown in for backgrounds. As for a camera I was looking into a Canon Rebel T2i. Since I'm not exactly rich I'm also trying to start this as cheaply as possible. Any help you can give would be very greatly appreciated.
HERE IS MY REPLY:
I received your email tonight regarding your desire to start a photography business. I appreciate you asking so I think the least I can do is take a few moments to give you a few thoughts and advise.
Having a photography business is VERY difficult. Becoming a photographer is a process that takes years to develop. Learning "photography" (the art and the science) is a skill that takes time and patience. Doing a great job for your customer is incredibly difficult. You - are not ready and may never be. Who knows? But I can guarantee you that if you go about it as I think you want to, your chances of success are minimal if not impossible.
The greatest advise I can give you (much better than answering the questions in your email all of which, are irrelevant by the way) and if you truly care about "the customer" is to go work for a studio for at least five years, enroll in some professional schooling, read a lot, practice a lot and MAYBE THEN start thinking about becoming an independent photographer.
As of right now, the experience, skill, knowledge, business ability and equipment you have will not allow you to provide a good product or customer experience and you will not only erode your possibilities considerably but you will also erode the very industry that you seem to have an appreciation for.
I understand you want to believe that your work is up to par with customers' expectations - but that is your opinion. Photography is about beautiful images, but it is about a whole lot more. I will be glad to critique some of your images with total honesty if you would like. By the type of questions you asked me, I can tell you right now that you have a very long way to go - and you should make a plan that takes you there - or you can choose to become yet another cheap and inexperienced photographer like the many others that "started their own business" because they had an epiphany while listening to their favorite song.
Something that may seem as insignificant as the formatting, grammar and spelling of your email make it evident that you need so much more preparation and experience - I could hardly get through your email all the way.
All of this may not sound encouraging and it may be difficult for you to understand now but here are your two choices:
1. Go through the seeding, watering, fertilizing, de-weeding and growing process that make your harvest be ready in the right amount of time, and your harvest will be plentiful, healthy and delicious.
2. Plant your crop with just a few seeds, in low quality soil and then try to collect a harvest too early or without caring for it the right way and you will either yield weak products that are terrible and no one will want, but more than likely a harvest that you will lose all together.
March 6, 2012 01:42 am
At this time of year, watch the weather when scouting. I did one shooting outdoors in April, While the Bride and Groom were 'wired' and the moderate chill in the air did not bother them, the wedding party did not share their warmth. Treat everyone as babies and keep them warm and snug. Pictures will then actually have smiles in them!!
March 5, 2012 11:15 pm
I find the hardest individuals to shoot wedding or family wise are actually "family".
They usually want something for nothing and have no respect to you as the photographer at the event.... unless ... this is a topic of discussion at the time of making arrangements.
I have shot 3 weddings for nieces as the "hire" and one as a candid extra. I have said no to several family events for just this reason.
So, beware when saying yes to "family". Make sure that they know that you expect respect and make sure to act accordingly day of event. They will not have a forgiving attitude if their pictures don't turn out the way they want them to.
March 5, 2012 03:37 pm
Great write up, it definitely gives proper direction to anyone wanting to get their feet wet in wedding photography!
March 5, 2012 02:11 am
Thanks for the tips! I'm shooting my first wedding in a week. I have a bunch of my photography up in my cubicle at work, and my coworkers always compliment me on it. When one of my coworkers was asking around looking for an inexpensive photographer for her courthouse wedding, everyone pushed her my way. I made sure she knew I had never shot a wedding before, but she said that was fine, they aren't expecting much, just wanted someone who would know a little more about proper lighting and framing than relatives, and who had equipment slightly beyond point and shoot. It's just the couple and 2 witnesses at the courthouse, and about 40 people at the reception. So that takes some of the pressure off. I never would have agreed to do a full scale wedding with no experience. But I'm still doing as much prep work as I can. I'm scouting for locations for an outdoor shoot later today, for pics after the ceremony.
February 23, 2012 08:01 pm
Really good tips!
This is my second year as a wedding photographer and I am always curious at how others approach it.
Thanks a bunch!
February 11, 2012 01:05 am
Good article, thanks.
I'm doing two weddings for friends this year, I'm an amateur. Looknig forward to it but will be nervous as well.
I took photos unoffically at my cousins wedding a while back, was fun as there was no pressure
February 4, 2012 05:19 am
What a great set of tips, but what a shame there are so many negative and quite bullying comments underneath! I'm shooting my first wedding tomorrow, I'm not a professional, however, I have a decent camera and a good eye. I didn't try to convince the bride to go with a pro or say I'd do it for free, but she has seen my work and knows I'm not a pro and yet has still chosen to go with me. She knows I know the family and will be able to get the shots she needs because I know who is important to them. They will be more relaxed around me.
Its funny how the professional photographers I know feel so intimidated and angry that I get the jobs without having to scout for work, people like my photography so tell their friends. Should I be turning them down because Im not a pro and they are? I agree that just because you have a big camera doesn't mean you're a photographer, I have a bridge camera and a limited number of lenses, but I bet I still manage to get some great shots tomorrow. It's not always your tools, a lot of it is creativity!
To all the other non professionals out there....don't let these comments put you off! I could have easily chickened out if I'd read these some weeks back, but as someone above said .... No guts no glory!
If a couple have seen what you can do and trust you to go ahead....trust yourself!!
January 28, 2012 09:10 am
Great article. All great points for the first wedding, or 100th. I firmly believe in having lots of back ups... back up cameras, batteries, lights, and a second shooter.
Temecula Wedding Photographer Theresa Minnette
January 27, 2012 06:19 pm
F*ckin? awesome things here. I?m very satisfied to see your article. Thank you a lot and i'm looking ahead to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?
January 23, 2012 03:51 am
I followed this about 20 years ago when I first started doing wedding photography.
Great guide to get people started.
January 20, 2012 11:58 am
Thank you for your useful information on how to use Digital Camera in Photography.
January 20, 2012 11:38 am
A second shooter is a huge benefit. Feel expensive when you first start, but the results will more than pay for the cost of an extra hand.
January 20, 2012 11:07 am
I agree with a lot of your tips, make sure you gave two of everything to cover if equipment fails.
Weddings can be real a challenge but also very exciting. So enjoy the wedding day photography.
January 19, 2012 10:30 pm
Of toic but some sad news for the business.
January 19, 2012 05:58 am
Great advise, things happen very quickly at weddings, but remember, don't panic and take the time to "take a look at what you're looking at".
January 16, 2012 02:08 am
Great article. I remember looking for similar articles like this when I started wedding photography 10 years ago
January 14, 2012 07:52 am
Wow! After reading this article and the comments my whole perspective has changed. I guess their is no need for pro photographers any more. I charge way tooo much anyways. Guess I'll have get a real job that contributes to society.
January 8, 2012 06:30 pm
Thank you for this Article, eventhough this is not first time to take a shoot in a wedding event, but i still feel every moment in those event is always my first time so it keeps me always learning and learning, because i think photography art is not just an experienced you have, but also have a philosophy that a picture you have shoot in every moment is an image of expression of you and your object.
sorry for my bad english, greetings from indonesia
January 6, 2012 01:44 am
Seems the beginning of every year we start off with the same comment. Happy New Year.
I don't believe you can make blanket statements like this. When I stared I had no 'professional photographer' I could lean on. What I did have was 25 years of independent incorporated consultant experience, and was rather successful in the NYC area.. Now I work for one of the biggest IT firms in the world and am near the top of the consultant list. Not bragging, just trying to lay some foundation here. While I would totally agree that if you handed 'Joe Smoe' a camera he would be ill prepared to execute a wedding. Actually I would think after 10 weddings he/she, we must include Jane here, would not be capable of doing this. But if you look at individuals that bring to the table a long list of credentials in business, technical and people skills coupled with a high degree of knowledge of the device I would think that you could be more assured of a successful outcome. There is a good idea here that working with a professional is an added bonus, but in my 35 years of working with thousands of people and having close interaction with them, I find that there are few out there that can get the point across without screwing it up or confusing the apprentice. Alot of peope just cannot teach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So more times than not, the exercise is a failure. I do believe, as has been said here often, if you are honest with the client and yourself, the bar is set and the outcome 'may' be as expected and a happy ending or all. If the people do not want to take a chance, then they certainly could go with the 4-5 thousand dollar photographer and may or may not get the same results. Many professional photographer has said, when all things are equal, they experience issues just like everyone else. NO ONE IS PERFECT. Unless we are talking of me!! (LOL)
Oh, on the 'photographers experience' line of thought. It is also a required trait that one can do a Lesson Learned on themselves and improve their skills and procedures as they move along through engagements. There is ALWAYS room for 'How could I have done that better', no matter how good, or arrogant, one is.
January 5, 2012 11:32 pm
I've seen several very unhappy brides that chose to have a family friend shoot their wedding.
I've been a Pro for 12 years, and would rather shoot a wedding for FREE then let a bride use an amateur.
If you would like to shoot weddings professionally, you should work as an assistant to an experienced PRO for at least 10 weddings. Not only taking the photographs on wedding day (that is the easy part), but learning the 'business' of professional photography.
Warning: you are taking your life in your hands, if you try this with no experience. Forgetting your wedding anniversary is nothing, compared to an unhappy bride !
January 4, 2012 02:22 am
All of these things are not exclusive of a professional photographer. Except maybe the price remark. You will pay alot more for a professional photographer. They like everyone else and are not immuned from screwing up an assignment. You just pay more for it.
January 3, 2012 08:21 am
Tips for the bride. There are a lot of cheep photographers out there. Ask yourself how can he/she provide high quality work at such low prices?
1. Amateurs give you a CD. Why this is not a good choice. Every place you go to print your pictures uses different ink and paper not to mention calibration. Chances are the printed photos wont match what you see on the PC. A pro provides finished photos making sure the color is correct.
2. Your uncle Joe who has an impressive looking camera is not going to provide quality that a pro can even if the same camera was used by both.
3. A pro can interact with people, keep the flow and time of the wedding on tract and can make others comfortable. Yes, its a big deal it shows in the photos.
4. Remember after the guest are gone and the big day is over your left with only the pictures to share with friends and family. You spent a lot on the big day the photographer is not the place to skimp.
5. A pro has invested a lot of time and money on equipment, training, and hopefully developed a style you like. He puts in long hours before and after the wedding. He often scouts the location before the wedding day looking at the location, lighting, and prepares for the variations. He considers were the sun will be based on the time of the events during the day. He uses multiple camera's, has back-up cameras, he may even go as far as planning for a turn of weather, including wind. He is prepared for anything.
6. Remember a pro puts in more hours than just the time shooting. If you payed by the hour figure he is putting at least three times that in scouting your location(s). Time often a day or more in post production. Then in printing time.
7. How can a photographer shoot for dirt cheep? He cant! I know everyone has a budget and just like everything else don't expect champagne when you bought mad dog 20/20.
January 1, 2012 04:34 am
I seen a photographer who showed his pictures at the reception. i was doing the videography. i never thought about doing it myself.Now about getting your shots,You do have to be bold to be a photographer.To many times i may have not gotton my shot if i wasnt.
December 30, 2011 11:14 pm
I've noticed expert, amateur etc.
This is my own description. I believe photography is a bit like driving a car:
BEGINNER- Person introduced to a camera. Maybe 1 pic out of 100 is OK, possibly even to a professional standard, but they don't know why. Another term highly conscious incompetancy. Sort of like the 1st time behind the wheel of a car totally oblivious to all the mechanical fuctions & where the car should be on the road.
NOVICE- Pics getting a bit better. Maybe 3 out of 100 pics OK, but still don't know why. Improved level of unconscious incompetancy. Can reasonably drive an automatic & be consistant on the road or for manual, now knows what a clutch is for without tearing the gearbox apart. Drives at a pace to suit their ability. Very wise.
AMATEUR- Pics getting a bit better. Maybe 10 out of 100 pics OK, but starting to get a reaonable understand of why. Feels they can now be considered a proffesional. For driving, conscious competancy. Doesn't have to think through the process, but still selects the wrong gears occasionally. If it doesn't improve, then goes to automatic. ( Bit like the setting on the SLR under pressure?) For driving, also thinks they can control the car at whatever road speed. Also has the highest accident rate both with cars AND WEDDING disasters. Still loves to put down professionals.
PROFFESIONAL- Pics a lot better. Maybe 30 out of 100 pics OK, but can critique their own photos for self improvement. Feels they can now be considered an expert. For driving, conscious competancy. Less time to think through the process, but occasionally selects the wrong gears. ( Bit like the setting on the SLR under pressure, but using today's technology, smart enough to review each and every photo with sufficient people skills to request a re-take immediately). In the old days, we didn't have this ability with film. You have to know exactly what you were doing & hoped you were right. As a driver, knows what the car can do. Normally has a big sign on their back advertising they are proffessional and turns red when the flash doesn't work.
EXPERT- Pics consistant with good lighting, balance & fully converant with there equipment (unconscious competancy). Know's exactly how to create proper fill flash, excellent people skills & really blends into the wedding without being too noticed. Know's exactly what their camera is doing at all times and not seen replacing flash gun batteries at critical stages.
They also have insurance just in case something does go wrong. One good thing about an expert is you can really learn from them. For driving, is about equivalent to being a formula 1 standard. Every moment counts!
So judge yourself, be fair to your client & tell them so. Alternative, the law is quite clear. You could find out the hard way. Under "tort" you can be sued for negligence. All care and no responsibility doesn't work.
December 30, 2011 02:25 am
I shot my first wedding when I was 18, for a friend for whom photos were not a big deal at all. I told her I would do it for free, but after receiving the photos the bride and groom were so pleased with the results that they gave me $200 anyway. I've done 3 weddings since that one and have #5 next week and #6 in March. I would now charge $500 for a wedding and $50-70 for an engagement shoot. I only get business by word of mouth and hope to keep it that way.
My thoughts/advice for anyone thinking of getting into weddings:
Work well under extreme pressure?
Deal with unexpected problems? (They are in EVERY, SINGLE wedding you will ever do!)
Think creatively and be spontaneous?
Work well with people? So much of your success lies in your ability to make your subjects/models feel at ease in front of the camera!
Be organized? Being in the right place at the right time is key!
If you answered no to any of the above it will be hard for you to do well. If you answered yes to all of the above, be confident but be honest. Your value is closely tied to your experience. You will need to find ways to get experience without charging people a lot of money.
I enjoy weddings because they are special events, and it is fun to share it and observe it from behind the camera, but to be honest I also like them because I know it will be a day of running on adrenaline and running around like a chicken with my head chopped off and I have to admit I find that kind of fun now and then.
December 27, 2011 08:48 am
This is a great set of tips and the comments to follow are useful. I stumbled onto this magical interest in my life with the gift of my first digital camera. It was like my eyes were opened to the world. I enjoyed clicking away and have worn out 2 Kodak's and 3 Nikon's. If you shoot you will understand the amount of pictures that represents. My first wedding was quite by accident at my son's location wedding. The responsibility you assume as the photographer for that event is a serious task. If you are the type of person who can be prepared, stay on top of your game for a whole day and be prepared to think on your feet for a good 12 hours, then go for it.
I am very explicit with my initial interview with the bride and groom to let them know I am an amateur, I encourage them to price out professionals and compare, and I insist on an informal photography session with the bride and groom prior to their big day just to get some experience with interaction with them.
Prepare, prepare, prepare, then enjoy the day allowing you to do what you love most and yes, remember to keep that smile on your side of the camera as well.
December 23, 2011 12:16 am
Thanks a lot for your tips. This will definitely help me. :)
God bless you more and your family and friends.
December 22, 2011 10:59 am
We love the advice here. As wedding photographers, our biggest recommendation for fellow travelers (or anyone in business, really) would be to focus on the relationship you develop with the client. In our experience, everything flows outward from that relationship : D
December 12, 2011 02:02 pm
I love to take all kinds of pictures. I have recently started taking family portraits for my friends, printing the pictures and giving them to them for free. My son was killed in car accident on 6-22-11 and I cherish every picture I have of him. I just want my friends to have memories of their familys for life.
December 6, 2011 07:04 pm
I first read this article in 2008. After 3 years and countless wedding's, I remembered this article as I recommended it to someone who I spoke to at a wedding who was about to photograph their first. This article is a fantastic place to start. You will get more confidence as you go, you will make a few mistakes along the way but I now think that you learn the most through your mistakes. Keep expectations of your bride and groom in check with your ability and everyone will be fine, I still have to remind some clients that all the images they get will not be exactly like those on my website. Good luck and happy shooting.
December 3, 2011 05:30 am
I just want to say how much I love and appreciate this site! I have learned so much in short time; I literally spend hours researching photography because I want to learn so bad and I am so thankful for the comments of others, you help to feed my passion!
Thanks to all,
December 3, 2011 05:19 am
James, I appreciate your response to the post suggesting amateurs stay away from weddings unless they are a pro. I was offended by this because I have never done wedding photography, but for some reason I have a passion for it, and was going to seek out opportunities for it (still will). The reply can be very discouraging for people like myself. How else can anyone become proficient at anything except he or she step out and just do it? I hope the individual that made the comment understands the impact of his statement.
November 10, 2011 05:18 pm
On the whole these are good guidelines ... as an amateur you will be one step behind and always trying to catch up so always keep you camera in hand and ready. Things will happen when you not watching and least expect it. Oh yes and know your camera, so when you have to make a change it happens quickly.
Also think about different poses and the environment, you dont always need a beautiful environment to make a shot look good or even great.
Have a look : http://dsdphotography.co.za/teaser-megan-and-lee-fredericks-johannesburg-wedding/
November 3, 2011 04:02 am
I would add that for photographers it is all about the backup - Have backup equipment - Backup your images on and off site and have a backup plan in case of weather or illness! This article is a great starting point...
November 2, 2011 03:04 pm
Biggest Tip - look at what others are doing then create your own style and keep trying. Some think this means that your copy the best, a wise man once said there is nothing new under the sun so anything you do will be a copy. What you need to do though is to believe in yourself and express yourself and your photos in your own unique way
October 28, 2011 11:36 am
Nice story, I missed the mention of Puff the Magic Dragon. Must have read tooooo fast.
October 27, 2011 05:21 pm
A while back someone mentioned that there is no difference between a professional and amateur photographer. There is a great difference - IN ANY TYPE OF WORK, IF YOU ARE BEING PAID - YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL. NOT BEING PAID MAKES YOU AN AMATEUR, BY DEFINITION. ONE WORD THAT SEEMS TO ELUDE MOST OF US IS - EXPERT. AN EXPERT IS VERY GOOD AT WHAT HE DOES, WHETHER HE IS AN AMATEUR OR A PROFESSIONAL. THESE THREE WORDS HAVE BEEN THROWN AROUND AND SO TWISTED OUT OF SHAPE THAT NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW WHICH IS WHICH. YES ! GO LOOK IT UP AND THEN PLEASE JOIN ME IN AN EFFORT TO USE THESE CORRECTLY. HERE'S A HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION; Yesterday, I bought my very first SLR camera, my good friend Ryan, after seeing my camera assumed that I knew something about it - NOT ! He asked/ told me that I was going to photograph his wedding in 12 days. He didn't listen or accept my confession of being totally ignorant as to cameras and photography.
I figured out how to make the camera work and that was about it. I went, I took pictures. As soon as I took my very first picture, I became a NOVICE or a neophyte. I wasn't being paid, so that made me an amateur as well. Some day when I know what I am doing, I might be considered to be an EXPERT. An unpaid expert is an amateur, an expert being paid is a professional. Back at the wedding, Ryan approached me and said, "you're doing great, man." and then he stuffed two fifties into my shirt pocket and disappeared. NOW - on my very first day using and trying to learn about my camera and photography, I became a professional, I'm not an amateur any more. I am a clueless professional, but a professional still. Being a professional can come years before you even approach becoming an expert. Sorry about the novel; I hope every one got it, so, Please, let's start calling things what they really are ---- after all, photography may become your profession if not already. Correct terminology makes a very big difference. NO, I don't want to talk about the pictures !! Thanks and take care.
October 26, 2011 12:26 am
GO GET"R DONE, Dallas!!! By reading your post, it is obvious that you are more than ready to take on your 'first' wedding gig. Your friends are lucky to have you to document their special day!
October 25, 2011 07:01 am
Thanks a lot for the fabulous tips. Always nice to brush up on the basics!
October 23, 2011 01:22 am
Great list, very helpful! However, everyone's gotta start somewhere. The whole, "Don't even think about shooting unless you're a Professional Wedding Photographer" idea is presumptuous. I'm shooting my first wedding this weekend, but I feel completely prepared. I've been charging for senior pictures, newborn shoots, and engagement pictures for about three years now, and this fall I:
-drove 20 hours to assistant shoot two weddings (without pay) under the watchful eye of a photographer to
get the experience I wanted
-spent $400 on another fourteen-session photography course (despite the fact that I have been working
with two DSLRs and multiple prime lenses for the past three years)
-have done extensive test shooting at the chapel
-worked with the couple when I took their engagement pictures
-have met with the couple to discuss the wedding. They are friends of mine, approached me about doing
this wedding knowing full well that it would be my first, and we've written up a contract so we're all on the
But I'm not a "Professional Wedding Photographer." I'm a 21 year old full time (church work) student who is not looking to go into photography as a living. But I'm going to do a damn good job!
October 19, 2011 05:53 am
Wow, I think that this has covered everything and then some. I don't necessarily agree with everything that everyone posted, but that's what makes wedding photography cool, people do it differently, there are different styles and tastes.
One thing that is key to anyone who has been asked to photograph a wedding for someone. Ensure you can do a good job, if you can't be honest and let a professional do it. If you can then that's cool! We all started somewhere, I did some free weddings to get my portfolio and also to take the pressure off... my theory was, they would get what they paid for :) Fortunately, the photos were perfectly fine, sure, nothing like what I produce now, and when I look back again next year, I will say the same about this seasons shots.
October 19, 2011 05:53 am
thank you for the tips,now i'm starting my new job as part time photographer
i have created a video in youtube maybe you want to see my video
October 18, 2011 09:21 pm
Been rinking again I see..................LOL
October 17, 2011 06:47 pm
Its manege all product of life that enjoy a particular process to give every limited of business through a limited of functions of idea. leading a high quality of tools.
October 6, 2011 11:31 pm
Your tips are quite good & I've used most of these in the past.
I was a wedding photograher working freelance for most of the major companies between 1970 & 88 and worked in both Colour and Black & White.
Reallity is, anyone whom has a digital camera today believes they are a proffessional and can do the work of the experts. We even had those people years ago.
Quite frankly, they were the one's whom got in our way and really soiled a good day.
Being freelance, I also did the restaurant scene & felt that bad when I found out a propective bride was about to use "frends" and "experts" to the point I did the wedding for free on the condition if they liked my photo's on completion, then they would compensate me accordingly.
It is amazing, but every time I produced the album properly arranged and opened it in front of the parents whom by this stage had hundreds of snaps, mostly bad colour & composition (which helped sell mine), I never ended up broke.
Main conditions that applied:
1. When I was about to work, all other little snappy people to put down their cameras, not so much for the competition, but to make sure the composition and lighting was correct.
2. As you have stated, have 2 reliable family members whom can arrange the people for the photo's. You still balanced the photo in terms of colour (or B&W in those days) placement.
3. Photo's that I would take would be:
a. At the brides home
b. Groomsmen at the church
c. Formally during the cerimony after agreement with the minister including the standard shots of the certificate (before folding) etc
d. Directly outside at the entrance shooting from inside the church with an outward pose (All the guests were held back quite naturally for a few minutes. These were always the best composition and lighting with just the bride and groom
e. Arrange with the minister to escort the guests out the side door but give me a few mintutes at the entrance
f. Then the formal step shots where the assistance played the biggest part
After that, the shutter bugs could go to town, but I'd still keep an eye on the bride & groom. All that smiling does damage!!!
g. Formally at a pre-designated spot to the reception (Bridal party only & guests not made aware of this)
h. At the entrance to the reception (Thus no background guests)
i. When they sat down
j. At a pre-designated location for photos as arranged by the family reps (No longer than 30 minutes)
k. Informally pretending to cut the cake
Pack up and go home.
Total photo's taken 3 rolls of 35mm film and 2 rolls of 21/4 format (12 photo's per roll) so you had to know exactly what you were doing and how the light worked in your favour. Worst day lighting = the best photo's with correct diffused fill flash using manual camera operations at all times.
In terms of presentation, I did my own colour processing of the 21/4 & admit that correction techniques were applied at this stage plus did some of the traditional montages ie
- Putting the bride and groom into a glass of red wine
- Taking a low angle photo up the aisle with the minister with bride and groom facing each other. From there the church roof was removed to open sky or my favourite willow tree in the backyard. This always sold well.
In terms of colour between shutter bugs and professional, it was very easy to see the difference.
In summary, proffesionalism isn't just the picture taking. It's about balancing people at all times. It's there day & the quicker the photo's can be done, the better the time for the bride and groom.
Going to a few weddings recently, it looked like a nightmare with no control and hundreds of flashes and camera's everywhere. Buggered if I know why people let this happen.
As for myself, I've nearly retired from my day job (no, not a photgrapher, but an IT engineer), and about to get my son and daughter involved in how to manage the photography of a wedding properly. I will be giving them the books you mentioned as an Xmas present.
I have a few new idea's, but the old rules will still be applied. Give me good old B&W.. This is how you learn to take photos.
I don't like photo's of brides jumping in the air, record cover type photo's, wearing gum boots and very bizarre poses.
October 6, 2011 01:31 am
Thanks so much for your post! I feel SO MUCH BETTER about the wedding I'll be shooting next weekend. I will definitely use your tips and techniques as a guide for future shootings!
October 4, 2011 12:37 am
October 3, 2011 08:56 am
In all the contries i know of, the photographer holds all and any rights to his or her work... some contries like Norway he or she can even use this photos freely to advertise there business.... unless the customer/model informs him that she does not allow this...(most customers are unaware of this).
But it sounds a bit funny to me if the photographer said they keept all negativs/digital pictures and then delets them anyway....
I keep my pictures stored for a set time.(clearly pointed out in my contract with customer)
When the time comes for deleting I inform my customer 2 months before;
i.e DELETING notice last chance to order(this usually gives me an order 50% of the time)
I wonder about the seriousnes of this photographer
1. lakk of comunication
2.lakk of contract
and 3. photographing a proff??? not going to turn out good AT ALL....if it was a desent size proff, then scaning with a good scaner would probably give a resonable finish, depending on the papper type as well....ie luster finish will give unwanted artifacts in the final image
October 3, 2011 07:28 am
Katie, I believe that a photographer's only legal obligation is what is spelled out in the contract. Otherwise, the pictures are considered to be their intellectual property. There isn't any law or statute (that I'm aware of) requiring them to keep your negatives. It's like if you had commissioned an artist to create a portrait of you, and you had purchased one print. Then, two weeks later you came back to that artist to purchase another print, and he/she had destroyed the original work. They have the right to destroy the originals unless your contract restricts it. The only legal right you have is over how your image is displayed publicly. The photographer must have a signed model release from you to publish the photograph, and also possibly to compensate you. It only covers public use of the photograph, not private use or destruction of the original. I should mention that taking a picture of someone in public for photojournalistic purposes doesn't require a model release.
October 1, 2011 01:44 am
Oh this brings up alot of Pros and Cons.
I give my clients all pictures on CD. RAW, JPG and my modified versions.
This sort of cuts off their dependency on me. Bad....Good......who knows. I do know the customers like it. I tel them that if the want extended material come to me and I will work with them. If you are a photographer feeding your kids on your engagements you may not want to do this because yu need to hold 'something' so any additional requests above the contract will generate you funds.
Now as for the histroy, I have photo history, without actually looking, going back to 96'. I will NEVER delete a picture unless at editing time I think it is completely useless. I mean totally black and most of the times so blurry I think I was holding the camera during a secene from 2012. I cannot speak for other photographers but I certainly don't think a 'good' one would delete the originals. But, the 5 year statement triggers a connecting thought in my head. Normal burnable CD/DVD-DL's have an expected shelf life of 5 years. You cane get 'GOLD' certified ones, at a higher cost, that are certified at 100 years. But after the stated time the specical ink you burn to disenterates and then it bleeds and all is gone. I have seen it and have it happen to me. Not pretty.
So maybe the photographer ran into this and that is why they are gone.
October 1, 2011 01:34 am
Katie, if you are seeking a legal advice, consult your local lawyer. For me it sounds that photographer didn't do anything illegal, but then I don't know the legislation in your country. I'm afraid there's not much else that you can do than try to agree with photographer how to get your album done.
September 30, 2011 05:47 pm
Actually I think there was a simple contract, but I don't have. I remember it was very simple. She even asked me if she could print and display one of the pictures, so I know that type of thing was not included.
September 30, 2011 05:29 pm
I was married 9 years ago (2002) and had a photographer shoot the wedding. There was no contract but one thing I clearly remember the photographer saying was that she would never get rid of the negatives or originals. She said one couple had a fire and lost all of their pictures and they were able to come back and get them reprinted. Anyways she had a normal camera and her daughter had a digital. We didn't have the money to make a album at the time so we just got some of the proofs. 8 years later I went back to make the album, and she said that everything had been deleted after 5 years. Then she wanted to charge me more for her to take a picture of my proof to get it printed. Now my question is... is this normal or is she going against some photography law. Should I report her? Does she still have the "Rights" to my pictures or can I get them scanned and printed some where else? On her web site she boast of going all digital in 2002, and she told me she only kept the digital stuff... OK.... my wedding was also shot in digital and she still doesn't have the records. I talked to a very professional photographer friend and he says he never deletes any thing. You can imagine my frustration over not doing the wedding with a more honest and true person. But now I can't change the past... what do I do now?
September 28, 2011 10:35 pm
While I would not push people to other sites, I like this thread, your questions maybe answered better in another forum or under a different thread. Here is a place I have recently been interracting with. People are nice and you do not get many negative replies.
As for adding pictures, there is a link right under the text box you type your message in.
September 28, 2011 09:42 pm
I am fairly new to this forum and web site and I am enjoying it very much. It's always nice to hear what others have to say and how they are growing and learning within the realm of photography. With the onset of the digital age, it seems that EVERYONE is a photographer! Even my kids' cell phones have captured many great shots!
I have two questions at the moment that I am hoping someone can help me out with.
#1 How can I upload a photo to be displayed next to my name when I leave a comment?
#2 I have been using my Nikon D70 for the past 7 years and have loved it from the start. I am looking to upgrade but would love to be able to use my existing compatible lenses (Sigma and Nikon). I have been looking at the Nikon 5100 but am still not sure what to do other than take a trip to my local camera shop to actually hold different models in my hands and ask questions. I would like to keep my cost under $1500 so that I can actually hold on to my D70 to use as a secondary camera. Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated so thanks ahead of time!
September 27, 2011 08:38 pm
very useful page, thank you!
September 27, 2011 12:52 am
One of the best comments I have seen here in a long while
September 25, 2011 11:26 pm
Enjoyed reading everyone's comments on shooting wedding photography. I especially like a comment I read that simply stated 'No guts, no glory.' Sure, there is a LOT of pressure as a wedding photographer but it is a happy and celebratory event. I learned the hard way over the years the following two things:
1. Clear and upfront communication with the bride and groom PRIOR to the event.
2. The importance of hiring an assistant (or two) with a clear assignment of their expected duties.
I started shooting weddings for family and friends about 7 years ago. My equipment lacked substance back in those days but I managed to capture the moments for the happy couples quite successfully. I was always completely honest with my clients in that I was not a professional but merely an enthusiastic amateur. My motivation has always been rooted from my own wedding 26 years ago. We had a 'friend of a friend' shoot photos for us and only ended up with a bunch of candids. Nice as they are, they are NOT what I wish I had to look back on now. No formal shots at all so there was never one of just us to frame and display in our home.
Of course the candids are fun to look back on and that is why I always hire an assistant to focus on that aspect entirely, while I get the more formal and traditional shots.
Had one experience shooting for a friend whose son was marrying. The bride(villa) , who never had time to meet with me prior to the event, did nothing but complain and express her disappointment at the job I did, even though I was quite pleased with my work. It ended up putting a great deal of stress on my friendship with my friend that has never been repaired. That is when I learned the high level of importance on meeting with the bride and groom PRIOR to the event to be made fully aware of their expectations. Since then, it is my practice to get the name of at least one 'go to' person (other than the bride and groom) who I can communicate with throughout the event.
My goal as a wedding photographer is to make the couple happy and fill their memory albums with timeless shots that capture the flavor of their very special day.
So, no guts no glory. You have to get out there and try in order to learn. It's a lot of work but also very satisfying in the end. I have gotten countless jobs by word of mouth and actually look forward to shooting weddings for many years to come.
Being ready for ANY job makes it run smoother. Trust yourself and your eye and just shoot shoot shoot! Confidence grows with each success. Good luck to all my fellow photographers!
September 24, 2011 06:58 am
check these pics: https://picasaweb.google.com/101735797579436196864/OurWeddingDay
September 16, 2011 11:56 pm
Your tips are awesome. As a wedding photographer in Charlotte NC i know a skilled wedding photographer is also a student there is always something new to learn or good tips to pick up. Thanks for sharing.
September 9, 2011 02:27 pm
I have to say, that I myself being a "pro" am a little annoyed by some of the comments telling amateurs not to photograph weddings! What the hell?? Were you just born with the god given gift to be an excellent photographer? I think not! You HAVE to start somewhere! And that is for ANY photographer! I have been doing photography most my life. I have got lucky a few times with it. Even was chosen to be the staff photographer in Rome for an assignment once. I would love to know what these other "pros" think makes someone professional and amateur! Is it the money? The camera? ... Let me tell you something, I LOVE photography. Have most my life. I can't tell you how many assignments I have shot for little or nothing just to gain the experience. It has got me to where I am today. (And the gig in ROME!) Camera? Well, as a few have mentioned, you can shoot with just about anything and get good to excellent results. I was once told by a fellow "pro" (and I use that term loosely) that I was not good enough to be his assistant because I had a Rebel XTi at the time... have since upgraded to a 60D. Yes there are SOME differences, but I feel that 85% of the results comes from the person's ability, creativity and drive.. So in my personal opinion, those out there saying to just stay away from weddings unless you are pro, well I think you are just jealous that someone with a cheaper camera can do a better job than you! Otherwise, why do you appear threatened!??
September 9, 2011 04:47 am
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September 6, 2011 11:35 am
@felicia,,,,,,i agree 100% with you
September 3, 2011 12:53 am
I think the more expensive professional wedding photographers tend to have a lot of animosity towards amateurs, especially with the ever-increasing growth of DSLR cameras. I've even received that same attitude from a professional photographer friend of mine who doesn't even shoot weddings. They are partly justified in their reasonings that just owning a camera doesn't make you a professional photographer. I can and will agree with that. However, often they come across as egotistical with that attitude. It's like they don't remember what it was like to be a brand new photographer starting out. You can't just jump in at the top, you have to work your way up the ladder of success.
Being totally honest with the clients about your skill level and quality of photographs is critical. You don't want to sell them on the quality of a $3000 photographer but then only deliver $500 quality work. However, having a "professional" tell you that you shouldn't take the pictures and recommend they go hire a professional is just rude. Not everyone has an open budget to spend whatever they'd like for a wedding. Especially in today's economy, brides are becoming more budget conscious and opting to go cheaper instead of breaking the bank. I did just last year. It doesn't mean they're cheap, don't care about the quality of their photos, or want sub-par work. It just means they're not willing to spend $2k plus for a photographer. There are photographers out there who are cheaper, extremely creative, and put out just as good a quality product as the "professionals". Maybe they're newer or maybe they just love doing it as a side job and don't rely on the income. Then there's the amateurs who can do the same quality of work or close to it for free.
Nothing says you have to have a high-end camera to shoot a wedding either. A T1i is perfectly sufficient for the job, or did you not see the link going around the web about a wedding completely shot on an iphone. I think a T1i outranks an iphone just slightly. Camera body is only about 15% of a good photograph. Lenses is another 15%, and photographer skill/knowledge makes up the other 70%.
I've been asked by my niece to be the photographer for her wedding next spring. I'm highly honored that she asked me. I think this article and others like it will be immensely helpful in preparing for an important shoot.
September 2, 2011 10:47 am
I can top that at the begining of last year my son phoned and at the end of a long natter said Ali and her Mum thought you could do the photos for our wedding. For rather obvious reasons I said that I wasn't good enough and whats more my camera (panasonic FZ30) couldn't cope with the light levels in the church.
Two months later I met her parents so we could have a belated celebration of our childrens engagement,
and took the opportunity to offer to pay for and organise a proffessional photographer. They were convinced that it would be nicer to keep it in the family. All I could think of was if I got it wrong there was going to be a huge list of people that would never speak to me again including my Mum who was looking forward to her first grandchilds wedding.
In the end I did take the photos and everyone was happy, even the ex-mother-in-law who sent a christmas card with a note saying how nice the photos were.
WHAT made it work . 1 visiting the church several times, taking photos of the B&G figuring out where to take the photos. Visiting the reception venue (the Bodleian Library) and the surrounding area to work out what was possible.
2. I bought a new camera (Nikon D5000) which I practised with until I was confident I wasn't going to have a major technical cock-up.
3. I went to the wedding rehersal a 200mile round trip and taking photos with different settings and talked to the vicar who was very helpful.
4.We sat down and discussed exactly what was wanted and what I could do, WE worked out the timings and realised that we would limit formals to immediate family and grandparents, with other groupings in a more relaxed manner at the reception venue.
5.PRINTING the PHOTOs . Ali set up an account on Photobox and included the details including password on cards which were given to all the guests and asked that the guests uploaded their best photos so she could include them in her wedding album. I spoke to any guests carrying cameras reminding them and saying I needed their help as I was an amateur and had only been using the camera for three months.
6. in testing my camera I dicovered that the highest ISO settings could be used for photos printed at 7x5 provided the face nearly filled the frame.
What surprised me was how quickly I went through memory cards (shooting fine JPEGS + RAW each picture = 15MB), I used nearly 30GB.
I used 2 batteries.
What shocked me was how long it took to review and apply basic edits to the photos, my ten year old computer didn't help with normal holiday photos I hadnt realised how slow it was and that it was struggling to run software that came with the camera.
What went wrong actually this is me being fussy and writing my own report "could have done better"
1.I wasn't bossy enough....I should have insisted the bride and groom did a fake cutting of the cake,
fortunately one of the other guests got a much better shot.
2.I didnt notice one of the younger bridesmaids wasnt smiling (I discovered later that a dentist had mentioned braces and so she was a little self conscious) she normally has a cheeky face that is full of life.
3.I should have taken a minute or two to organise the formal shots so they looked more asthetically pleasing ...mind you herding cats would have been easier..
4. I missed out on the nibbles and just about managed one glass of wine at dinner. (carry a small bottle of water and a light snack)
5. I foolishly assumed that my nephew and his brother-in-law who are keen photographers would bring their cameras. They didnt I should have asked when I thought about it.
Finally if you do go ahead reread that list at the top, make sure you work out all the problems in advance and know how you are going to muddle through. Felicias advice to do engagement photos as soon as possible is a brilliant idea. Approach this in a proffessional manner and it will be OK. Everyone is still talking to me my Daughter-in-law even credited a wedding photo on her blog as being taken by her "Fantastic Father-in-law" which cant be bad.
September 2, 2011 08:36 am
I am going to make a suggestion and it will be based on the type of wedding you are going to shoot. Put your flash on your camera and shoot alot of pictures in different conditions and get used to the different ways to use that flash with your camera (morning, high sun, cloudy, dusk, low-light, etc). Then take the flash off the camera and figure out how your camera triggers the flash off-camera and work on that (angles, bounce, fill, etc). Weddings are alot about fill, main and hair flashes.Well portraits too. Also your creativity to position and pose your subjects. DON'T BE AFRAID TO TAKE CONTROL AND BE BOSSY..........in a nice way. (this may be a challenge because these are your cousins and you don't have that impersonal seperation) You are in charge, not them. You listen, you adjust and you react to your instinct and their desires, then press the shutter release!! I do alot of parties and that flash has to be crowbar'd off my person by the end of the night. I carry 24 rechargable batteries with me when I do a party. I just brought a SB900 with the PD-9 power pack, I am also going to buy a spare battery craddle for to PD-9. I will really never have to swap batteries again. I also have a Nikon D700 with the additional Battery pack on the bottom. I never worry about my Cameras batteries. Now my flash. You run low, you will do it at a time when the quintessential shot needs to be taken, Trust me, I have been there alot!!!!!!!! It is all about Mr. Murphy!!!!! My Evil Twin Brother, and yours too.
PS bring a small step ladder. It is better than standing on a chair. You wil understand by the end of the night. Also buy a Wedding Mag. It will show you other peoples concepts on setup shots. You may be surprised and say, "I never thought of that. "Duplication is the greast compliment". Also the source of alot of law suites (lol)
September 2, 2011 07:12 am
@ Guillermo...so what if his cousin doesn't get the greatest pics in the world?? Who says his cousin wants the greatest pics in the world?? You're missing the main point of my post...not everyone loves photography as much as all of us posting here. I'd put good money on the fact that his cousin saw the pictures he's taken on facebook and that's good enough for the couple. Just because it's not good enough for you doesn't make it wrong. And last I checked, most pros consider it bad etiquette to "shadow" them during the day. Even pro's don't get all the perfect shots.... Katty, do as much research as you can before the wedding and try and shoot as many portrait photos as possible. I would highly suggest doing an "engagement" session soon with them so they can see how well you can shoot portraits and go from there. If they're happy then go for it, if they have reservations then suggest they hire another photographer and tell them you will take plenty of candid shots for them. Enjoy your hobby and if you can help family (im betting for free) then go for it. Do you research and practice, practice, practice!
September 1, 2011 02:34 am
Felicia ~ I'd love to chat w/ you. :) Send me a message ~ firstname.lastname@example.org if you see this
September 1, 2011 12:33 am
I am a stunch advocate of "If you think you can do it, and rely on your belief in your abilities, then do it." I have to say, that of all the snob-ie things that have been said about beginners 'go away' that last post really made alot of sence. Read it, understand what he is saying and after that if you and your cousin, client, friend still feel confident, than as was said 'go for it'. Heck, it WILL even make you stronger. Just remember shooting wildly and not adjusting and analyizing what you are doing and what is going on will not help you. Even professionals, at least not the REALLY high and mighty ones, will constantly review themselves and ask "Can I do this better?". Damn, that simple phrase should be applied to everything we do. Would end up with a much better world full of experts.
August 31, 2011 11:44 pm
Well - I have news for you. Your cousin is not going to have the greatest pictures in the world. What your cousin should do that many people don't do is hire an EXPERIENCED professional photographer (has nothing to do with price like Felicia refers to) but it does have to do with instinct, with knowing where to be and what to do, with having the right equipment -- not a T1I -- and most of all "the confidence" to do it right. THEN, your cousing should invite you to shoot ALONGSIDE the experienced photographer for other cool shots that you will probably get no doubt or other angles. IF you shoot it on your own without experience or the right equipment, or the confidence - your cousin will end up with mediocre photos - not because I am implying you are mediocre, but because you just don't know enough to do a good job. Photographers' biggest flaw is the lack of patience it takes to build your craft and experience and learn until you become ready to do a great job - VERY FEW AND ALMOST NONE are able to do this without the guidance of a seasoned professional who can critique and maintain your course. Now, if your cousing is saying: "I don't care what my pictures look like but I know you love photography and I don't want to pay $3500 would you do these for me?" THEN GO FOR IT!
August 31, 2011 12:08 pm
My cousin just asked me to be the photographer for her wedding. I got so STRESSED after learning it that I immediately researched for tips and thankfully I found your post. I am simply an amateur photographer and have almost no equipment required for a decent shooting. Your advice on having a back-up photographer seems super helpful. A shot list is also a wise tip.
August 31, 2011 03:51 am
I always see discussions like this on "wedding photography tips" links and it really bothers me when I have to read comments like, "only pro's should do weddings". The fact of the matter is that not everyone wants a pro...because not everyone cares, nor can everyone afford it. I have a t1i, a couple basic lenses and the knowledge I've learned over the past 18 months. I offer my services to my friends for free and I tell them you get what you pay for... I do my absolute best and it's always above and beyond their expectations. Not everyone needs $3000 pictures, because they don't care, not everyone has pictures all over their house like I do and that's ok. I'm there to make sure they can make an album for their parents, have an 8x10 on their wall and have something to post to facebook. Would I do a wedding for a bride with a 30k budget for the wedding, absolutely not. Will I help out a friend who has less than 5k for their whole wedding, not a problem. If you are crystal clear with the couple about your capabilities and show them exactly what they will be getting then I don't see what the big problem is. The couples that pay for <$500 photographers can't afford the 3k and above photographers anyway. We're not stealing your business so just be happy that people are into taking photos and want to help a couple have some nicer than point and shoot pictures on their wedding day. Everyone has to start somewhere. P.S: I was in my best friends wedding and she liked my pictures more than the ones from the $1700 pro they hired, titles don't mean everything.
August 27, 2011 06:57 am
I'm seeing a lot of validity on both sides in this *ongoing discussion*, and from my understanding, it seems that consumers need some level of protection from what some would call 'hacks', but what I see as inexperienced. Much of that protection would come in the form of seeing what the photog can produce under similar conditions, and that is up to the photog, and up to the consumer to ask.
Last night, I read a post by a person who charges for sessions as a professional, but didn't understand that the grain in photos was coming from an ISO setting of 1600. I've been using a dslr for about 4 and a half years now, and have only seen a sharp increase in ability to handle settings during the past year, when I really applied myself to learning and practice. This is an art and there is a skill to the craft that must be learned to produce consistently good images. If you can produce great images, understand the settings and how they all work together and know how to make adjustments for extreme conditions (which I consider a wedding to be), then I say go for it. People will or won't like your portfolio.
August 27, 2011 12:46 am
First, I believe your initial comparrisons are a little far fetched. Second, my side business is photography, my primary business is Information Technology. I am a senior Middleware Architect with 35 years of experience. In this industry there are certifications avaible for everything. I have never seen anyone ask for someones certification no less hire a person on that basis. The resume speaks for it's self and the interview caps it all. If you have experience and results that align with my requirements and you don't have three heads and four arms your hired.
Same with his photography thing you are all talking about. I have alot of experience in parties, events, portfolio shoots and yes weddings. Would I be qualified to do Charles and Kates wedding. Probably not. Which just goes to show, not every situation is cut and dry and can not be determined by some little piece of paper they change alot of money for and means little to people in the real world. Not that it did not give you a good base to build on, just from interviews with clients, their first question isn't................."show me your certification".
Start small, lean, charge a fair price and expald your abilities through education and experience. QED
August 26, 2011 11:56 pm
I think you are being a bit harsh on Guillermo. Please do not knock the schooled professional. It's all well and good that one has a passion for the art, however, if someone is so passionate then why not pursue the certification for it ? If you want your house built would you go to a qualified architect and builder, or to someone who loves to draw houses ? In a court of law, who would you prefer to defend you, someone who likes to watch LA Law, or a qualified lawyer ? Would you prefer someone who is very good with kids to teach your kids, or would you prefer a qualified teacher?
One of the main reasons for certification in most disciplines, is in itself to prevent customers from being exposed to chaos and mediocrity from service providers. It gives notice that someone was disciplined and dedicated enough to endure the schooling in order to pursue the art. The uncertified enthusiast devalues the profession and causes clients to settle for whatever they get rather than what they deserve.
You are correct that most people will not ask to see your certificates, but more likely ask to see your portfolio, however, one cannot neglect the fact that being certified gives the customer/client that added confidence in thinking that they will be satisfied with the service/product. It also suggests that it gives a potential client the added benefit of being compensated when they are not satisfied with the service/product. Proper schooling affords you the benefit of learning in a structured environment rather than from guess work.
I was an avid enthusiast with the camera before deciding to get certified. That decision made a world of difference to me. It enhanced my abilities, taught me about the psychology of photography and opened up avenues that were not available to me before.
It is always a personal choice whichever way someone chooses to develop their career, but the advice to beginners should never be to ignore being certified and learn by route, or trial and error, simply because they are passionate about it. If that happened in every profession, then you should not be too alarmed if a nurse decides to perform heart surgery on you because she is accustomed to being in the theater and pays attention when the doctors are doing it.
August 26, 2011 10:49 am
i think thats a bit disrespectful to be quite honest... i have no formal qualifications in photography and i havent been togging for no longer than 18months, but been a photographer is about having fun and been creative, and money cant buy you a creative mind... seeing the shot in your mind before you have taken it, or thinking 4 hours ahead when dusk falls and how the lighting will completely transform a mundane image... so yes your right about your heart and soul needs to be in it, photography is very personal to me now, and it saved my life, but please any budding amature photographers need not fall at the first hurdle of criticism from above, because been a professional photographer means your work is widely recognised for been outstanding work.you also can achieve this from promotin yourself on blogs,websites,newspapers,photographer fayers i.e (weddings), social networks etc.... so long as you can produce a portfolio of your work. nobody asks for a certificate of the last 20 years of you taking photos, they want to see something different,not something that a college or university teaches to thousends of its pupils every year,teaching you how to take the image they would take. anyone can take a picture, its how YOU interpret that image in your mind and capturing it. no disrespect but it is arrogant, if somebody has a talent and passion, no formal training is required, yet a very basic knowledge of a camera system and the rest will follow.
August 23, 2011 11:48 am
Just cruising, I am a photographer but more comfortable with the outdoors and definitely not crazy
about weddings but am doing my nieces this week-end and thought I would review "stuff".
Really liked your site and the straightforward information! Thanks
August 20, 2011 06:06 am
You ABSOLUTELY need education AND experience. I do not recommend someone photographing a wedding without AT LEAST three years of studio experience and a good knowledge of the science and art of photography - this is of course if your want to EARN the title of professional photographer and not be a hacker our whole life. Don't fall for these touchy-feely advise "do it if you love it" "do it if life is calling you to do it" - if that is the case, then you will become prepared. I may sound a little arrogant, but believe me, you will understand in 20 years.
August 20, 2011 02:43 am
You definitely need education for photography, it does require skills and can be learned with years but a solid career starts with a good foundation and for that you need to go to school.
August 14, 2011 07:42 pm
While I do an occasional wedding, I do get many engagements for Sweet 16, Bridal showers and Birthday Parties. Do not discont these on places to get you feet under you and get alot of experience dealing with crowds, people and the ordering of events and how ou react to them. You can also build your experience on what s really impotant and what is not.
While you may not make a living out there, this area is open and competitive on price. Think about how many people want pictures of little Suzie's Sweet 16 or Graduation Party and just don't feel like blowing $1,200 on a 4 hour engagement. Price the party as a fill n for ou empty hours and you will become popular in this area. I havea guy in my area that has his name 'OUT THERE' in my location. I am starting to creep up on him. I am establishing and getting the word out. I have mentioned this before, but I put tent cards out on all the setting with a URL to a gallery with the pictures. The people love it. Theother three sides of the cards are saturated with my information. So indirectly, every party, I am getting my name out to 40-80 people per party and they se my work. Plus if the order prints I get some change from that.
August 13, 2011 07:09 pm
Invest in good equipment as a professional photographer Prophoto wedding photography - I use 2x Nikon D3s body's with a Nikon 24-70 f2.8 and the other with a 70-200 f2.8 then I have a Nikon D700 with a 105 f2.8 macro for detail close up shots of the wedding rings, bride shoes or place settings etc. One of the most useful new innovations is a camera strap holster to attach both bodies and lenses called a BlackRapid strap it will attach two camera bodies for you to use safely without the lenses smashing into each other but allows you to slide each camera up while it is attached to the strap to use at eyelevel then drop it safely to your side so that you can then use the other camera body lens combination.
I wonder how I ever lived without as I have been using it for a little while now.
August 11, 2011 10:22 pm
It seems as though the debate between amateurs and pros continue.
The consensus on the definition of a professional, is one who gets paid for a particular service provided. I believe in this instance, one must differentiate between a 'professional' and an 'expert'. The latter is not necessarily a professional, and also the professional is not necessarily an expert.
Be that as it may, I think that based on the comments regarding pros vs amateurs, suffice to say that each and everyone needs to examine their own work and compare it some of the experts and decide where your standard lies. Be honest with prospective clients about your ability and even go as far as to demonstrate your work in advance. You may want to discuss compensation in lieu of your skill level and production.
The 'pros' may have some avenue for recourse or compensation should they mess up someone's pics. Decide whether you, as an amateur, are willing to do the same, or will you just say "sorry, I'm not really good at this, but I'm passionate about it". Remember on both sides, you get one chance to impress the client.
August 11, 2011 07:19 pm
Sorry and maybe this does not have anthing to do with weddings, but it is a nice view from behind the lens and the professional photographer.
August 11, 2011 12:21 am
Wedding Photography is a tough business to get into but once you are successful the business has great rewards. Months back ago in a post one photographer said you should shoot as many weddings as you could for free to get the experience. I believe that to be good advice. But on the other hand one needs to earn money to live and buy the gear to do the job on a professional level. Getting started is like investing money in the stock market or starting to work in an organization just to get your foot into the door. Perseverance pays dividends. If you get knocked down on the way get up and keep on going.
August 10, 2011 04:38 pm
I can't agree with some of you.
How can person begin a professional wedding photography career without any start?
Everyone needs practice. And if person has photography education but any really experience in the same time, this person also will be only an amateur.
I think, if this amateur has low prices and a big wish to do something qualitative, that's great and he'll have own clients who will be very satisfied by his work.
Don't you think so?
August 10, 2011 11:39 am
I think it maybe a little unfair to group all professionals together because of a limited few. Yes there were some bad judgement statements made here but I don't think all agree with the few. I do photography and I get paid for it. Does that make me a professional? Some would say yes. Am I still learning, till the day I die. That is what stops me from saying I am a professional. There is always someone out there who can teach us something better. So relax, let the few rant and join the group and participate.
I carry many batteries with me for my flash. I am going to upgrade to the SB900 so I can get the P9 battery pack, but till then. I brought AA battery holders for the 20 or so batteries I carry to events. These are nice, keeps the batteries in place and i keep a spare to put the dead ones in so they don't get mixed up. Really KEWL little things. Each hold 12 batteries. Found them on Google.
August 10, 2011 06:33 am
I can`t believe it. I am an "amateur" and I came here to find tips. What did I find? A bunch of "pros" putting us beginners down and telling everyone to forget them and get a "pro".... Well, correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't everyone start SOMEWHERE? You "professionals" were "amateurs" at one point to. But hey, if putting down others gets you off, by all means ~ Continue!
Us amateurs will continue taking pictures because we love it, because it's our passion. And when we become the professionals we will strive to BE professional and polite, exactly how you are not. People like us for our sensible prices & our flexibility, and yes, our photography. They hired us for a reason, after all!
August 9, 2011 10:29 pm
What a great list! Lots of good advice and very thorough!. If I had to pick the single most important to me, it would be #1, the shot list.
August 6, 2011 05:13 am
all good advise
July 26, 2011 09:49 am
Cool tips really! I'm currently making a website about photography business and I'm incorporating some photography lessons too. Wedding photography is one of the sweetest photography business and learning how to do it is really cool. Cheers!
July 26, 2011 09:46 am
Thanks for these tips on how to photograph a wedding. I learned a lot!
July 11, 2011 03:43 am
Great Tutorial thanks for sharing
July 6, 2011 12:48 am
From what I've gathered, I think the main criticism comes from pros who know that there are people out there who think they are good, but they are not. There are people who have been using a dslr or slr for less than a year and are putting themselves out there as "pros" with little understanding of their cameras. Using the "P" setting on a camera is not acceptable for most weddings because lighting, action, etc. are going to make it difficult to get a well-focused, well-exposed shot. There has to be a certain level of competence with a camera to be able to shoot lots of people, indoors, in an environment that has lots going on at the same time. I had been using my camera for about 3 years before I worked wih someone else who did weddings. I did a few with him (until he quit doing it altogether). I was asked to photograph at a friend of my husband's wedding. I spent four months trying to talk them out of it, showing them almost all my photographs (including the not so great ones) and they REALLY did want just some pictures to remember the day, as neither one is really tied to photos for memories. I spent the next 6 months learning ALL that I could cram into my brain, and practicing. I initially agreed to do it for free as I am not a professional. I told them also that my shots may be crap shots, because I'm not a pro. They said they really didn't care, if they got snapshot-quality pics they would be happy. I read a long while ago that, until you can consistently get the shots you want to look how you want, you are still basically an amateur. I'm okay with that. I learn more every week, and I will get to where I want to be eventually. In the mean time, I work on my skills.
July 5, 2011 11:18 pm
Go girl... I agree that for a LOT less money you can achieve similar if not equal quality of the "pro" photographer...
I do feel for the professional photographer as I am a "professional" musician and for years I have been striving to "make it big" and or earn a good living from it and yet, these computer wiz kids come along and write a song in 30 seconds and its a hit... However, I have to understand that these are the times and I have to keep up with them (as amateurs if you like) and gracefully accept that there is a place for my music and also a place for theirs...
Its exactly the same in photography world apart from the professionals have yet to get rid of the chip they have on their shoulders and get over the fact that some amateurs are just as good as them and feel that they dont want to charge thousands of pounds for in essence what is just a photograph... The camera (if its decent enough) makes it look good which is a good start... If you have the eye for a good shot I can not see why you shouldnt make money from it.
People these days are struggling for money so lets help them out by charging less and giving more....
HUGE RESPECT TO THE AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHERS OUT THERE...
July 5, 2011 04:44 am
Wow-gladI found this site so that I could be so discouraged and left feeling worthless because I'm not a "pro". I was asked to do my husband's cousins wedding, a small affair with mostly family. I have taken this request very seriously and asked them repeatedly if they were sure because I do understand the importance of wedding pohotgraphy. All winter I have read books, practiced and made lists in preparations. The wedding is in 2 weeks. In an attempt to get a few more thoughts in, I found this great tip sheet. Until I read the arrogant, hateful and discouraging remarks left by so many professionals. Any day of the week I would put some of my shots up against so called professionals that at charge thouands of dollars. I only photograph things that mean something to me. I could never be a professional that shoots anything for the all mighty dollar. Whether you like it or not, my photos will outshine yours anyday of the week.
June 30, 2011 09:55 pm
See, now that's discouraging. It should be about the photography, not the money. Unless of course your trying to put diapers on ole little Johnny. Then it is still about the photography. Good luck on your shoot and not all the stuff here is bad, Most of it is actually great.
June 30, 2011 08:03 am
This was very helpful! Thanks so much :)
June 30, 2011 07:44 am
I have been doing wedding videography for the past 4 years, but have kept my photography to portraiture and other types of events. Just recently, an acquaintance who likes the quality of my photography work wants to refer me to a friend of hers whose having a small, intimate wedding and doesn't have the budget for a "Pro".
My first instinct is to say hell no, but it seems it's either me, or Uncle Larry.
I've read some comments on here that have been very discouraging, but I say fortune favors the bold! I'll be completely honest, so she knows what to expect and in the mean time, practice my butt off until then. Perhaps after I do a kick ass job, I can charge triple the amount on my next gig, and call myself a Pro.
June 23, 2011 08:00 pm
Utility belt, I like that. So as an assistant your code man will be 'Robin' or 'Boy Wonder'.
"Holy big wedding Batman!!" LOL
I have a belt. Camera is so heavy it was a real pain after 5 hours. Your wedding shoot will be longer. There is a harness that goes around the neck, chest and shoulders. This looks promising but I have not tried it yet. So that leaves holding. If you have a flash that takes a AUX battery, a battey pack is great. You can get upwards of 2K shots from that. Also, don't downplay diffusers. They are our friends.
Make a list of all the hings you want to drag with you for the day andthat day use the list to load up. You will hate yourself for forgetting anything. I had an assistant who showed up without his flash. The on-camera just did not cut it.
Attire, hummm, just dress nice, loose and comfortable. you don't want to be too over done. Remember, you will be moving around alot, scrambling and possibly laying on the floor. Something to remember. The shoot will be in three, four, possibly 5 shoots. The brides house, the wedding, the set up shots and the reception. The setup shots may be out dorrs in a park, some part of you WILL be touching the ground. Not a good time for shirt and tie outfit. It all depends, But comfortable and cleanare good to remember. I try to wear a jacket, But I run very hot, so I would be very wet afer an hour.
June 22, 2011 10:54 pm
I'm just getting into photography after borrowing a camera and taking it on a study abroad trip (to Oxford; it was amazing). After returning I immediately purchased a semi-pro DSLR (Nikon D90) and started teaching myself everything. Last night, through a friend's connection, I was able to secure an assistant photographer position (mostly unpaid, except for wedding shoots) and am trying to cram before the shoot in 2 weeks. This article is my first look at anything on wedding photography and I already feel more confident. I plan to get a book or 2 on technique, especially flashes. I do have a quick question: what do wedding photographers usually wear? I imagine myself in all black or something, but I want to be approachable. Any advise on this? Also, should I get a utility belt of some sort to hold batteries, lenses, etc? Thanks!
June 20, 2011 12:02 am
As I found this article I started out to read ALL the comments and failed. Nevertheless I have something to add to all those posts.
First of all, a million thanks for the advices provided, I wish I'd have had them way back when I shot my first and only wedding.
As many posters I'd recommend to pass it over to the "pros" who or whatever they may be.
It's NOT because they provide better photos (how should I know) or need the money (what doI care) but because of their distance to the couple involved.
It's mostly a bad idea to work for friends. And shooting their wedding could be a hard test for the friendship.
Sure, you can talk about everything with your friends and they probably love you and they seem to understand what's going on and they want to support you in your attempts to learn more about shooting weddings BUT they will only do so BEFORE the wedding. Once the event is over, emotions take over and all the things said afore are forgotten immediately. At this point, failing could end this friendship and I think it's important to be aware of this risk.
And there's a second point to avoid shooting weddings of friends, if you are the only photog at the wedding you hopefully get into "workmode" to avoid loosing your friends by providing top notch pics. If so, you're probably missing the fun part you could experience if you'd be a guest only.
So here's my advice (value=0.02$) bring your camera and shoot if you like, leave the official job to some pro and enjoy the party.
June 19, 2011 08:42 am
@Bobbee - some good points there regarding the time it actually takes to shoot and edit weddings.
Many people don't seem to realise when running a photography business, you'll only spend 5-10% of your time actually behind the camera - the rest is spent on editing and actually running the business. The downside is that you only actually get paid by your clients for the time you're shooting. For a reasonably successful wedding photographer, this might mean that you actually get paid for 30-40 days of the year.
For those of you contemplating a move into full-time photography, think of how much money you're earning now (or how much you think you need to survive) and divide it by 30. It will give you an idea of where you need to set your daily rate to maintain your standard of living.
Then add to that your travel & marketing costs. Make allowance for replacing and/or upgrading your equipment (what's the rated shutter life of the camera you use? for entry level cameras it's often 50-100,000, for pro-level cameras (their words not mine) you're looking a 300,000).
And, most importantly, don't forget to allow for taxes (you're planning on paying your taxes, right?) and insurances. You wouldn't want to have a guest trip over your camera bag or tripod and break a leg if you didn't have insurance. Additionally, many venues won't let you in if you don't carry liability insurance.
On top of all that, add enough to cover your superannuation and health insurance (unless you're planning to keep shooting weddings until you die).
Now ask yourself if it's realistic to charge $600 a wedding.
June 19, 2011 05:43 am
Pricing,pricing, pricing. The EVIL word that grips our heart with terror.
I hope other chime in on this.
Figure one day to shoot, one day to edit the photos to present the PROOFS and one, possibly two days to edit the pictures again and place them in a book. Then the book.
So, I do ALOT of parties, and the give and take on that is they get a CD and I charge for the night. I edit next day quickly nd deliver the next day. My prices have been slowly climbing. But I am cautious no to over charge. These are after al 'parties'. Ihave done weddings and also try not to rape people. Granted if you are putting McDonalds and beer in you belly on your photography you have to adjust. So start with the 4 day estimate, Factor in your time and adjust and go from there. Figure a min of at least 700-1000 to do the dhoot and get everything ready. Tell them you will give them suggestions on book placs and proces and they pay for the book and you do the work in setting it up. It is actually a good learning experience that you wil be prepared on your second wedding to adjust to.
Now, I want to hear others!! THIS IS A GOOD SUBJECT.
June 18, 2011 02:04 pm
I have on several occasions taken photos at weddings, and was given compliments that some of my photos were better than what the pros shot. (Sorry, I didn't know it was impolite to bring a professional camera, as it's the only one I have). People are constantly telling me I should do professional photography. I was just given my first wedding photography job, I made it clear I am a learning amateur, but how do I know what is good enough, and what should an amateur charge? I enjoyed reading the tips given above, and I was pleased with my final photos, but I'm hoping the bride and groom and their parents will be satisfied.
June 17, 2011 05:39 am
I love that the OP gave us a well thought out list of tips.
To the people on the thread going on and on about "leaving it to the pros" I would ask this:
Who decides what credentials are needed to make someone a pro?
For example, I have a Master's Degree in Design for Stage and Film. I worked for a year following graduate school for a photography studio where I apprenticed and learned to shoot headshots, which then evolved into other types of shots.
I have taught design courses at Florida State University as well as Pomona College in Los Angeles. I have worked on multiple films in many artistic capacities.
I don't, however, have a degree in photography specifically NOR do I make my living as a photographer.
Do you honestly mean to tell me that someone with a 2 year AA in photography who has opened a little hometown studio has more of a right to shoot a wedding than I do?
In photography, as we ALL know, you either "have the eye" or you don't. Technical skills are vital, yes, but those things don't have to be learned in a specific way or at a specific institution. Good artists are always looking to get better. Whether that means coursework or just spending a WHOLE lot of time playing around in Photoshop, it's anyone's guess.
So how can you possibly, with a straight face, say that because you charge someone $1500 or more to shoot their wedding and I only charge then $600, that somehow you are a better photographer?
The fact is, it comes down to the CLIENT'S needs and the photographer's eye and willingness to lend it.
June 15, 2011 01:23 pm
Relax. Your work is fine, and so is everyone else's here. That was the point of my response. Photography is subjective. There's no need to put down anyone's work. -Stu
June 15, 2011 07:41 am
@ stu ...lets see your work ....big talker
June 15, 2011 07:37 am
@ stu ....im just an amateur ...but if you click on my name you can see my work ...so go for it!
June 15, 2011 06:01 am
Stefen, Don't be too hard on yourself. While it is not productive to exchange insult with injury is is also an example of how people react in a place where there is supposed to be positive energy and there seemed to be an abundance of negative. I can understand the pros point of view in being protective of both their own position and the potential customer’s needs and the side of the beginner trying for that elusive foothold.
The answer to both is, as my dear ole dad said, once again, persevere. Beginners need to start small and work their way up. The big jobs only come to those who know they can do them and have the experience to do them. I am not taking about a friend’s wedding but that REAL expensive one with the high end DEMANDNG Bride and her EVIL penny pinching father. You know who that is, it is the 'Every Bride'. Well not really I just wanted to make a funny, but they are out there. The professionals should know that they have the name and they will get the gigs which call for the big name. People expect to get what they pay for and when they are charged alot as the big guys do they expect to get their money’s worth. This is what you guys bring to the table and the beginners cannot compete in this arena. So relax. Help them, The arse you save today maybe the one that gets you out of trouble down the line. We are all in need of networking.
It sometimes all comes down to integrity. I have recently gotten on the approved vendors list at a major Real Estate company. I did a photo shoot engagement for alot of properties one day on a short notice. I got it together and ran my behind off. Spend the entire next dy doing the contact sheets for the properties and uploading the High Res on the following day. They were very happy. So much they told me my bill, which was their stated fee, was grossly under billed. FIX IT. I had agreed on a price and was comfortable with it and the work I did. I said Thanks, but no thanks, we stand by our contract. That is what I normally would do and I am sure all of you will say I AM NUTS. But in this case I am sure I will hear from them many more times because they know they have someone they can trust. It's all about bending over backwards and delivering to you customers above expectations.
June 15, 2011 05:03 am
I apologize for my rude and inappropriate comment above. I respectfully ask for moderation to delete it as well as this one. Thank you in advance. I was sort of angry and not realizing what I wrote.
June 14, 2011 04:19 am
Colin, I tried clicking on your name to send you a private message, but since it wouldn't work I'll just post it here....I don't do that often because I hate to have to defend how I do certain things. I started out the same as you, and I've done 18 weddings in the last 3 years. And it says right on my website that I have never advertised for weddings because I don't have lighting equipment other thaqn my 430EXII & Lumiquest Quik Bounce.
I've had to cut back to only accepting 1 a month (and next year it will be 4-5 weeks) because I get too busy with families/children shoots to spend that much time editing. But so far *knock on wood*, every bride I've had has been happy. And each wedding has gotten me more contacts - the bridemaids' maternity, flower girl's birthday shoot, a cousin's wedding, someone else's engagement. It's a whole lot of work, even though I don't keep or edit every picture. I can normally go thru and get it down to about 325.
I don't know, I'm "friends" with a couple of really stuck up "pro's" on FB....One even actually posted a senior picture of a girl that she thought was a stupid pose and then made fun of it. (I don't want to make them important enough to delete) but they are constantly bashing people just starting out. I realize it's competitive, but for the most part there are plenty of people to go around. I don't believe that you should charge huge amounts for wedding photography unless you are confident that every single picture that you show them is going to be magazine quality. And if so, more power to you! :) But I'm not to that point yet, and I don't think I should be charging a thousand dollars more than I would make if I was working 40 hours a week and hauling my kids to daycare everyday.
It's the people who aren't to that point yet and still charge that much that bug me. Any career you choose, you don't start out at the top, you work your way up. Ok, I'm done ranting....And maybe I'll stop checking my email so I don't see the crappy replies that I usually don't invite by bringing attention to myself. :)
June 14, 2011 12:05 am
I think somebody said
"In a word, keep away from Weddings unless you are a fully competent Professional Wedding Photographer"??
Why? amateurs have to start somewhere, you dont get the experience and or become a competent wedding photographer without starting somewhere... As long as you let your clients know that you are a keen amateur and that your price reflects this they will not be expecting "pro-shots" and may even be surprised if they are great after you have told them that you are not a professional.
I have been taking pictures at weddings for over 4 years now and I started with an entry level Canon camera charging what I felt was appropriate for my skill set.
I think that some "professional" photographers feel that they have to scare their clients in to spending lots of money (4 figures some times) as they are scared that an amateur may just be able to fulfil the requirements of the bride and groom (who's budget is already stretched) - One photographer we interviewed (from a reputable company) for our wedding said that ALL amateur photographers are late, dont dress appropriately, dont get good shots and that they rip the customer off.... he said all this after turning up late while wearing ripped jeans showing us blurred photographs all whilst trying to charge us £1200 for the privilege.
I can understand that professional photographers may be upset by "newcomers" but surely it points out that they are overpriced for what the client actually gets and that the professionals over think the artistic side believing that this is where their value comes from.... pardon the pun but its black and white, and in the rare event that a bride and groom say, I want some really thought out arty shots and give you total artistic freedom to use your masters in photography, they are generally happy with some good quality shots of their special day at an affordable price with no restrictions on the image count or editing. After all its the bride and groom that make the shot look good.
Inevitably the shot that ends up on the mantle piece at home and at the respective in-laws is what "us photographers" like to call the boring group shot..... not the artistic through blinds/filters/upsidedown shot etc
Most of my clients do not want half the things which are sold to them by others and they want ALL the photographs not just ones that make the photographer look good.... Its their wedding and they should get every photograph taken, after all, what the heck am I going to do with photographs of somebody elses wedding? Apart from delete them..... I might as well give them all the pictures "warts and all" as there might be something
I and many of my friends have only looked at our "album" (which we paid a lot of money for) once or twice since being married. We have had more mileage in the digital photographs with the new medium of showing friends like Facebook...
The stone cold truth is people are more commonly using technology in their day to day lives. I am not saying it doesnt happen but not many people get their family round for a cup of tea to look through the wedding album any more. I think that rather than being bitter about it, existing photographers should offer a picture only service (including ALL the photographs) on CD and bring their costs down...
You dont see classical (professional) composers getting angry or bitter with the likes of the Arctic Monkeys (relative amateurs) no you dont, they just get on with it and understand that there is a place for everything and at the moment I am fully booked (and turning away work) as the conversation with the client at the moment due to the economy is more about how much it isnt going to cost them rather than how arty the shots are going to be etc.... And in my mind they customer is always right and until they turn round to me and ask for arty shots I will keep advising them to enjoy their day and not worry about their visa bill at the end of it....
I look forward to the "professionals" coming back with some bitter excuses about how well trained they are (when really we all know a lot of taking photographs is about having the eye for it) and that the true work comes together in the post production of the photographs
June 13, 2011 05:24 am
You know, my dad used to say that "if you cannot say something nice, don't say anything at all". I have been reading the negative material on this list and have been restrained in replying. I then think to myself that I have NEVER in my entire life let anyone tell me I cannot do something. In fact, I have been known to use as fuel comments of that nature to forge ahead and do what others said I could not. Fall yes, Get back up, yes. Isn't that what makes anyone great. It's not the susscees but the hardships that make us humble and human.
If you think you can, pleae do!! So, if you are onthis list and reading positively, the rest of os good peopleare here to work together.
Thanks to all therest of you who lend helping thoughts and to the person who started this thread. I have enjoyed it.
NOW, of course for the requirement. I have no association or do I benefit from this but while at the PDN Phot Expo in NYC athe Javits Center I brought a copy of PhotShop Cafe on disk, 64 Videos plus other stuff for under a hundred. Well worth the investment as there was alot of things that have helped my abilities in Photoshop. Now I have to go back a re-wtch them all. I have forgotten half the stuff.
June 12, 2011 11:43 pm
Ummm. Well, before so publicly bashing someone's work, maybe the last two commenters might consider posting a link to their work, which must be so much better, like head and shoulders above Ken's. The owner of this thread might also consider shutting it down from further comments. Frankly, this has turned into beating a dead horse.
June 12, 2011 11:15 pm
@ stefen ...well to be fair ....we cant bash so called pro photographers ...we learn by there mistakes ...i thank Ken for showing us his work ..helps me learn faster on what not to do ...so lets be nice and all get along
June 12, 2011 05:30 pm
comment deleted at the request of the poster
June 9, 2011 05:58 pm
This is a very useful guide, new photographers are definitely in a difficult posistion as experience is often key. I'm always on the lookout for new talent for assistants who want to learn the trade.
My advice would be just to build contacts up with well established wedding photographers and try seek advice/opportunities to help them out.
June 6, 2011 10:57 pm
Wow! What a great resource! My wife is looking at getting into wedding photography. She specializes in nature type shots but that's more of a hobby. She's now looking to do weddings so she can make a living out of it. Sites like these that really put in the hard work really help us amateurs! Thanks so much!
June 2, 2011 02:52 am
It gives you must greater control over the aspects which combine to create a picture. There are many anologies out there to shooting in RAW as opposed to JPG. Look one up. They are very insiteful.
June 1, 2011 12:48 am
As a Nashville wedding photographer, I don't know why people shoot RAW, it just adds to your work flow.
May 26, 2011 11:01 pm
Myself, a wedding photographer of India never ever shoot without RAW. I don't know why people bother about shooting in raw, specially when memory cards are not that expensive. Wedding is one occasion, which you can not afford to slip a frame just because it was under/over exposed, the white balancing was not correct and things like that.
May 23, 2011 10:15 pm
i would shoot in raw with bracketing if need be ....if your rushed ...you dont want to screw around with settings ...you might miss that one huge shot ....try editing a jpeg ...you will not get the same result .
May 23, 2011 08:14 pm
I pushed back on RAW for the longest time. My issue was the processing time. Most good cameras shoot both RAW and JPG at the same time. So that argument goes out the door. The granularity of what you can do with a RAW picture in Photoshop brings the question of yes or no to the point of throwing out JPG. Also, for processing time, just go to FILE/SCRIPTS and you can process all the RAW to JPG in a few minutes with three clicks. Just start it up and go have a beer/coffee/jog/Bing Bang Theory moment.
As for your focusing, this I never heard of or actually see on my D700, maybe you need a new camera, certainly the fastest memory card you can get our hands on that will fit in your camera. I have a D200 as backup and shoot exclusively with my D700. When I pick up the 200 now it feels like a toy and is incredibly slow. Going to give it to my kids and pick up another D700 body. Really love that D700.
May 22, 2011 08:59 pm
Thank for the tips.
I am not professional photographer but got some request from my really close friend to be his/her photo man for their coming wedding. I am just wondering where should I start. So, I search and end up on your blog now.
One question though, does it really need to Shoot in RAW? It seems to take a long time to process and quite difficult to put the focus on when we shoot in moving object backgrounds.
May 21, 2011 03:26 pm
Thanks that was really helpful! I have taken quite a few senior portraits, some family portraits, even maternity & engagement photos, but I have never shot a wedding so I'm really excited-but also nervous because I want everything to turn out just right! Everyone has to start some where and I feel much more confident since I read through your tips! Thank you! (:
May 19, 2011 02:14 am
It becomes pretty important to relax and have a good time creating the photo session. When you relax, you are comfortable with what you are doing. this in turn allows your creative side to side step the tendency to keep reminding yourself this is a one shot deal at capturing the story. You are already comfortable that you CAN!!! Then you can start creating interesting and different poses and shots. You can relax and in that situation your client relax and you connect. They will start responding to your suggestions even though they do not see your end-result vision. this is the trust building 'thingie'.
I had a party shoot last saturday and I was getting the subjects to react to my suggestions for 'different' pictures. They then started coming to me to take shots of their own ideas. The party was pretty busy, the results, they loved. Connection, relaxation and trust is key.
May 18, 2011 02:24 pm
This is a great article! I have applied some of the tips to my photography. Thanks!
May 16, 2011 08:17 am
i only have a verbal agreement
May 15, 2011 10:57 pm
Agreed on the contract. If you are doing this for a living it is a must. Then ou have the backing to go through with legal options. I on the other hand do this as a second job. I do not have the ime to fight people in court. I did have an incident where they gave me half of my money at the wedding and the disappeared. I havethe prints online with 'PROOF' splattered all over them and have the disks in had. 6 EMAILs and calls and nothing. I do price according to what I feel I can get. Much less than others. My business is growing and I am happy with the progress. a good note, I have gottem tied with a weddig hal and they give out my cards and information this helps. I also create an online gaalleryand at the occasion I put tent cards t each place setting pointing to the location of the pictures to be viewed next day. If you know SmugMug this iswere they are and there isa printing/merchandising interface here. So I get paid for prints witout lifiting a finger. The nice thing about the tent cards is I give the customer and guests an added benefit while not being tooooo tacky about be getting frre advertising, Three sides of thetentcards are all aboout me. Hey it works and everyone seems happy, Just did a Sweet 16 last night and I already have tons of hits. If you would like a copy of the test cards in PPT EMAIL me.
May 15, 2011 10:48 pm
well Shawna ...good for you ...your making the most of it with your hobby .....once you get ready ...have a huge ass portfolio ...you might one day charge for what you do...as for me ....im doing free model portfolios ....and i must say ....im doing much better pics than some so called pros out there ...its all in the way you present yourself ...im getting ready for the huge move in july ....i have been shooting free for the past 3 years ....its a hobby for now but i will keep it as a hobby even if i get payed ....once you think of it as work the fun is gone ....you are ok by me ...keep doing what you do and enjoy it
May 15, 2011 09:24 pm
I have done one wedding on my own ( a few with another photog) and I've used a "contract". It basically said that they were aware I am a student-level photographer, that they have seen my portfolio, and that they are aware that, though I will do my absolute best, I cannot guarantee magazine-like results. I do have and use flash, and I do have a back-up camera body and lenses in case something goes terrible.
And though it seems to be controversial, I don't charge for services as a photographer, based on advice from some professionals on another forum. I also don't advertise myself as a pro photographer. I refuse to undercut local pros, and will charge appropriately when I have the experience and skill to back it. I've been asked to do one more wedding, also a friend, also extremely laid back, as was the first-both are honestly happy with pictures similar to point-and-shoots'. The only charges I have are for any special lens I rent (but I don't charge for the insurance on it, that's for me!) and for any prints ordered (lab made, not by me either).
ok, have at me now!
May 15, 2011 06:36 pm
Though they are legally binding, the trouble with verbal agreements is that it's difficult, if not impossible to prove the details if the proverbial hits the fan.
My clients don't get past the booking phase without a signed agreement.
May 15, 2011 01:09 pm
I don’t have a contract myself but I do make it a practice to make a verbal agreement. Which is not usually binding? But, in the old days I used to give the customer a price of the package and ask for one third of the monies first. If I don’t get the money I don’t go ahead and do the job. Upon shooting the job I will ask for the second one third of the total. When I have completed the work I collect the balance. I consider myself an amateur and only do half a dozen weddings a year. So, please go to this link to get more details of a contract. Go to this site http://www.digital-photography-school.com/wedding-photography-agreement-contract-tips
Neal please not the details of a simple agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit known as consideration.
May 15, 2011 12:18 pm
What does your contract say? You have a contract, right?
May 15, 2011 01:44 am
New Photographers are caught in a catch 22 position. Our biggest problem is lack of experience. It’s good you got another photographer to go along with you. The best advice I can give you is to make friends with other Photographers good ones who are regionally recognized. I am in the process of doing so on FaceBook. Try to meet them in person and show them your work. Sometimes the really good ones will not give you what you are looking for in the line of advice or encouragement. Just put up with them until you find yourself in the position to give others advice. I have found that I learn the most when I try to teach someone to do something. You need to shoot lots of weddings. You may not be paid but you should have that settled before hand. The bottom line is you need to get the experience it may be better if you just show up and take pictures show them to your friends and look for good constructive criticism. Wedding Photography is a rough game you need thick skin to survive. The key to you success is perseverance.
May 15, 2011 01:43 am
New Photographers are caught in a catch 22 position. Our biggest problem is lack of experience. It’s good you got another photographer to go along with you. The best advice I can give you is to make friends with other Photographers good ones who are regionally recognized. I am in the process of doing so on FaceBook. Try to meet them in person and show them your work. Sometimes the really good ones will not give you what you are looking for in the line of advice or encouragement. Just put up with them until you find yourself in the position to give others advice. I have found that I learn the most when I try to teach someone to do something. You need to shoot lots of weddings. You may not be paid but you should have that settled before hand. The bottom line is you need to get the experience it may be better if you just show up and take pictures show them to your friends and look for good constructive criticism. Wedding Photography is a rough game you need thick skin to survive. The key to you success is perseverance.
May 15, 2011 01:42 am
New Photographers are caught in a catch 22 position. Our biggest problem is lack of experience. It’s good you got another photographer to go along with you. The best advice I can give you is to make friends with other Photographers good ones who are regionally recognized. I am in the process of doing so on FaceBook. Try to meet them in person and show them your work. Sometimes the really good ones will not give you what you are looking for in the line of advice or encouragement. Just put up with them until you find yourself in the position to give others advice. I have found that I learn the most when I try to teach someone to do something. You need to shoot lots of weddings. You may not be paid but you should have that settled before hand. The bottom line is you need to get the experience it may be better if you just show up and take pictures show them to your friends and look for good constructive criticism. Wedding Photography is a rough game you need thick skin to survive. The key to you success is perseverance.
May 14, 2011 07:41 pm
hi there thanks for some realy good tips.
im kinda new at phtotography iv worked in fine art for yrs but at the mo im in my 2nd yr at uni doing photography iv finished donig a wedding i got pushed in to doing by my best friend for her brother who's price was quite low to spend on a photographer i showed them my work and siad this will be my first wedding and that they should look around for a pro but still wanted me, i took a second photographer with me as back up the weding its self went fine the problems started after.
1st wen the day came to show them the photo's while putting the others photographers photo's on my laptop half of mine got missed placed i turned up saying sorry that not all were on here and that i still got the raw files and redun them i said i can drive to them in a weeks time to plan the book out with the other photos they said they didnt have time now and they want to put the book together themselfs and can i send them the photos by post. So trusting them i agree send out the photos they get lost in the post they blame me for, so i plan to drive the photo's to them which is over 2hours from me just to put it through there door
i didnt get any info back so 2 weeks after eamiled them they told me they didnt like the way i conducted my self and that they have to put the book together and they r not gana give me a penny i dont no wot to do now and dont want this to come between me and my bestfriend HELP!
May 13, 2011 10:12 am
May 10, 2011 04:49 pm
hi there, thanks for this interesting tips. big help for other photographers out there aw well as for d amateur one:)
May 9, 2011 11:25 pm
Good information. Always shoot a wedding with atleast 2 cameras and have a back up of everything. Most ceremonies that I shoot don't permit flash. Iwould recommend lenses that open to atleast f2.8. Useseveral small memory cards and don't fill the up to the max to help prevent data corruption. Don't
delete the images from your cards until they are
backed up twice after downloading. Learn to shoot manual for maximum creative control.
May 3, 2011 10:50 pm
Although not a professional I have done several wedding shoots for friend etc. sometimes the fact they know you is not always helpful, as they either tend to ignore your plea or talk over you.
I found using a whistle or clacker can get there attention anything that makes an obnormal noise, you can turn it into a comedy, which nearly always brightens the tediousness of the formal shots
April 29, 2011 07:02 am
Interesting comments by everyone!
April 26, 2011 02:54 am
I am sure there is truth in what is being said. I am always under the assumption that any person taking on a wedding has the basic qualifications for operating a camera and is ALSO, which is not being said here, an active, dynamic, personable, quick thinking person. I have talked to photographers before, plain and simple, they don't want you to infringe on any of there prospective clients. From the comment you just made I can certainly have sympathy. But that is why there are tons on there forums on the net where you can get lots of information and help with the occasional slap in the face and 'GO AWAY' remark.
I think I said this before, before I come out of the Telephone booth with my red and blue outfit and camera in hand I am a software architect for a big IT firm. I do Brokerage, Banking and medical insurance systems. That alone I think is MORE pressure than you can get at a wedding. So I do agree that experience doing weddings with someone else will get you some of this experience. I have it from a different area. I know how to step back and analyize and quickly apply solution. As for the camera end, I am 56 just yesterday, so my 'kid' years are behind me and have been shooting since 14. I guess this all adds up to experience which is what the other guy was talking about. But I agree with you, try to find it. So what is a girl, or guy in my case, to do.
Go for it!! But be careful.
April 25, 2011 09:16 pm
I do agree with Mr. Sheehan on this though (very nice site btw). I've had a digital SLR for about 5 years now and have soaked up as much knowledge as I can over the years. I was 'thrown under the bus' to photograph a wedding late last year (long story) and NOT ONCE did I present myself as a professional. We talked several times and I let them know I would 'just take pictures', so they didn't have many expectations of me. Luckily, I had been able to go with a friend to help him on two weddings and I got to see just how crazy things can get. I've been told my pics were quite good, but even after the wedding I was able to see many many areas for improvement and see how much I still have to learn. I see people who get a camera and immediately start printing business cards and doing weddings, and many of them don't seem to grasp exposure, use of light/flash, or posing basics. Compared to some, I would be considered quite educated in these things, and I am STILL learning more every day.
I get discouraged by the lack of support among photographers here in Dallas. Usually, when I (or typically someone else on a thread I'm stalking) expresses desire to learn more, we're met with scorn and told to basically go home and take more pics of flowers and trees. Not helpful.
April 25, 2011 09:12 am
hummm, somehow I missed the tip here. The others, keep it up, good reading. But it was interesting visiting your site.
April 25, 2011 06:09 am
I think it is great that you have provided a forum for pros and those wanting to act like a pro to begin to learn what they should do.
With the advent of digital photography it seems everyone with a digital camera now thunks they are a photographer. The same people would not consider themselves a writer just because they have a typewriter or computer, but a camera seem different. With little training or experience many people feel confident to present themselves as a professional wedding photographerand shoot someones wedding. Here they can at least be exposed to the thoughts of others like themselves and real pros who have no ax to grind and maybe learn some good tips.
April 24, 2011 03:28 pm
The tips is good for brides and photographer.
April 23, 2011 06:48 pm
Thanks a million for such a great help. These were all great tips.
April 23, 2011 05:23 am
Nice article, very useful to be reminded of the basics.
April 22, 2011 12:41 am
I'd ignore the title for this post. These are all good reminders for more than just the amateur.
It's amazing how many seasoned professionals forget or lose track of some of these common pointers when it comes to their wedding photography.
Thank you for posting this. It's good to get a reminder of even the basics from time to time.
April 20, 2011 09:12 pm
"pretentious"? You really think so? Hummm, maybe a few, but that is the way with everything. But certainly not all. Most of the posts here are sincere and helpful.
I like that last comment, very good Neil, while I don't make a living out of this yet, not sure if I ever will, your post hits home. First and formost you constantly have to worry about doing a job that everyone is happy about. God, it drives me crazy with butterflies that I am always going to miss something. So pretentious, not I, in my everyday profession of 30+ years where I am a to contributor and consultant, i still worry about delivery and get jitters going to an engagement. So i think if you do not approach anything, including a wedding, a sweet 16, a bridal shower, heck, shooting the monkey at the zoo you may miss. Objectivity is a great asset............along with some experience.
So to add my tip, I just brought a flip bracket and used it at a party I just shot. It has a telescoping arm to push the flash higher off the camera (sync cord required) reviewing the pictures I did notice the verticals were quite better and I did not have to mess with the flash positioning as no matter what position you have the camera in the flash is in-line and above the lens. I also hand a Gary Fong on the flash. "Tip end"
April 20, 2011 03:39 pm
Nothing like a bit of wild generalisation is there noamatuer?
The intent of the comments from those that make a living out of wedding photography is to point out that you really do need to know your way around your cameras (plural, please, please always plural) before you head out and call yourself a wedding photographer. For some people this might take only a short time, others might take years.
There are lots of "amateur" photographers who can out shoot the pros when they have plenty of time to compose, light, chimp and repeat the process until they get a great result.
Being able to nail the lighting, composition and exposure on the fly, first time, is what is important if you are going to ensure that you capture the once-in-a-lifetime moments that weddings are full of.
We all had to shoot our first wedding once - all that we ask is that you ask yourself (and answer truthfully) if you are really, absolutely ready to handle the all the situations that a wedding can throw at you. If you want to make a living in the industry, you need to be able to demonstrate that you can.
Stuff up a couple's big day and you'll be fighting very hard to salvage your reputation!
April 20, 2011 08:03 am
Quite a pretentious group "Wedding Photographers" are.
April 14, 2011 09:56 pm
Like the line from the 'Vacation' series Nevada movie "You can take all the damn pictures you want" but lets face it you are in it for the money. the experience and art stuff is what we like. MAKE SURE you cover yourself on the financial end. Figure out before hand what your time and expenses and however you feel about your self, pigmy or balloon head, make sure that your initial deposit covers this. The second payment is fluff and is good when and if it comes. I know you need a signed contract, but unless you are talking about THOUSANDS of dollars, back to balloon head, you may not go to court for it. So do yourself a favor and cover your a................................
What is it, 'Once bitten twice burned"?
April 14, 2011 05:47 am
good article and some great advice. Particularly useful for anyone starting out in the business.
As a certified professional photographer, I would think you have most of the bases covered here. However, to get wedding photography "right" takes some time and patience that I did not see you refer to. Practice, practice, practice is to professional photographers, what "location, location, location" is to a realtor (at least I think so).
Great read, hope you put more up on this. Helps many people see more of what it takes.
(lovely images too BTW).
April 5, 2011 01:41 pm
If you own a digital camera it dosnt mean you cans shoot. However There are those who can't afford a professional <a href="http://weddingstoryp or don't care that much about their wedding day pictures. So if you are asked to shoot somebodies wedding carefully concider all these fine tips and remind the couple that you are not a pro. Set the bar low for them and if you get a good shot you'll be a hero. Shoot a lot and sort later. Buy extra cards, you will run out. Shoot more pix!
April 1, 2011 10:32 am
Thanks for this post, im not a newby at weddings but its nice to read someone elses way of doing things.
March 30, 2011 10:17 pm
Andrea, that would be a great idea, but unfortunately, not very realistic now.....I've looked and shopped that option. No one wants a second without charging them for the privelege of shooting with them, probably due to inexperience. Most of the professional photogs in my area have hired seconds who are professional quality. Most also never respond when asked about shooting with them, even paying for the joy of doing so. It's a very closed society right now, unless you are willing to pay out hundreds in workshop fees and 300-600.00 for a day of shooting with them.
March 28, 2011 09:52 pm
Nice article. Negativity of the pros r understandable
March 28, 2011 07:50 am
Great article. One thing you can also do if you've never photographed a wedding is offer to second shoot with a professional for free. This way you can see how they work, where they stand, and practice shooting fast, but also creatively.
March 28, 2011 01:28 am
Really great tips. Very useful. Thanks for putting this together.
March 22, 2011 10:55 pm
DSP, I don't care what everyone else sez...........I like you!!!!
Ok, only kidding, yes, 'Here, Here and much more" Could not have said it better, although I tried.
Keep the positive suggestions coming everyone, You are never tooo old to learn.
BTW, my weekend wedding went well, have some lessons learned, like, ask your assistant what he/she thinks 'Table Shots' are when you ask them to shoot them while you chase the wedding party around". It suprised me that this wasn't a DUH!! Like I said Lessons Learned. Also, never be too over confident in your camera and where you think it's set to. But as you get more experience I have noticed with Photography and other things in life time tends to slow down in your mind because you have less to process to understand, Obviously because you have been down this road before. Like the saying goes...."Experience is somethng you don't get till after you need it"
But as I said, it went well and am waiting the Bride and Grooms remarks. Have a good day/week/month/year everyone!!!!
March 21, 2011 11:25 pm
I don't normally like getting involved in forum conversations but somehow I felt compelled here. Let me start by issuing this; everyone has a right to build their photographic platform in the best way they see fit and so Guillermo, this is in reply to your last message as I am puzzled by the strength of your reply. And not just yours I may add.
Having read and absorbed your words I thought I'd browse your portfolio. My expectations based on your diction was to find several images standing up to 'magazine cover material' but I have to say, I was not left with this. If this is not your strongest work then my sincere apologies. Perhaps you would like to enlighten the forum further (?).
To those starting out I would mention this. I have been shooting weddings for over 5 years. The first wedding I ever shot was not post 3/4/5 years experience working alongside a wedding photographer as an assistant/second shooter. It was not after years of photographic study with various qualifications to my name. And it certainly was not inspired by people telling me that I should leave wedding photography to the more experienced professionals. I had a passion, I knew my 5D MK2 inside out and I had a journalistic approach to photography. Oh and I had just sold my recruitment company of 8 years, so my taste buds for business were fairly well tuned.
Now, I have both gained and delivered substantial volumes of advice and tips from/for fellow professionals over this timeframe but my advice to those starting out is not to listen to the negativity of others. Find a style you would like to produce. Discover a photographer that inspires you. Mine were and still are North Carolina based James and Jenny of Visio Photography http://visiophotography.com/#
My further sentiment to fellow professional wedding photographers is this: if you haven't got anything encouraging to say to up and coming amateurs, then turn your attention back to your Mac and stop spreading negativity. We were not put on this Earth to tell people they couldn't fulfil their ambitions. If you're confident and proud enough of your own empire, you will never need to bring down another.
Towards the light.
March 21, 2011 08:50 am
DO NOT be lured by this "touchy-feely" advice because it is wrong. If you have not EARNED experience in wedding photography then you have no business doing it until you spend at least FIVE years alongside a professional that can teach you and show you what it is, how it's done and where you get to build a portfolio and an idea of your skills. You can not do it just because some of your aunts told you that a picture you took of a baby is cute - or because your went to "photography school". You need to LEARN photography, lighting, exposures, composition, time management , have tremendous people skills, be a good business administrator, have great equipment and know how to find and book business BEFORE you launch yourself into something you don't know anything about and let your inexperience possibly ruin people's memories.
In addition to all of that, you have to also be a true artist in order to CREATE beautiful photographs that are NOT SNAPSHOTS or "lucky shots". You have to be able to VISLUALIZE someone's wedding by assessing many variables and COMPOSE AND CREATE 800 images or more to create a story - out of these, at least 75 need to be magazine cover material. Are you ready to do that with your current expertise? You are not. Pay your dues - then go.
March 18, 2011 05:24 am
Really good article, some good tips for a beginner like me! I have been looking into getting involved with wedding photography as it is a massive industry where I live. I have always been quite intimidated by wedding photography as it is someone’s special day and messing it up would be horrible. I like how you say to just enjoy it, would probable be best to start with someone I know, as they will probably be more sympathetic towards me.
March 14, 2011 12:35 am
I have a wedding next weekend to shoot. It is my 4th wedding; I have 5-6 Sweet 16 Birthdays under my belt and numerous parties. I have since last year gotten hooked up with a wedding hall in my area. This was a major BOOST for my bookings. This is something you should try to do. I was shooting a party and the manager of the place liked the way I worked with people, she then liked my price. I worked her party and two things came back the next day she related to me. The guest said she did a wonderful job and where did you find that nice photographer. I painted a smile on my face which never came off and treated eveyone like they were considerate of my utmost attention. Now I am getting bookings like crazy. Next week’s included. You can never be to overly nice to people. I am reading a book on Wedding Photography now while I am up in the air every Monday and Thursday going to my engagement. One of the main themes in this book is be nice to your client and guests. So here is one big piece of advice far and above ability. If you are not a people person and don't go with the flow as far as personalities go, stay with stationary objects like flowers and buildings. Stay away from dogs though, they will figure you out and bite you too.
March 13, 2011 06:37 am
Remember why you are there. It's all about the important moments!
March 12, 2011 09:29 am
As an amateur photographer.....this topic (or more so, the comments) was both very educational and concerning. Don't we all have to start at the beginning? I love reading the tips and learning from other photographers (the pros and amateurs), but I don't think it's very fair to tell amateurs not to bother until we're pros. What exactly makes a "Pro" photographer may I ask? I've been doing photography for 5 years for friends, friends of friends and family and have just recently decided to make an honest effort to make a business of it because it is something that I LOVE to do. I know that I have a lot to learn, which is why I love reading the contents of this website. But I think we all deserve a shot.
Thank you Darren for all the insight and tips! They are great!
March 12, 2011 08:50 am
Wow, a lot of mixed comments! While i'm the first to admit i'm an amateur, i've been asked to photograph a friends wedding in May this year and yes, this is my first. I've explained to them that i'm an amateur, warned them there's a chance they won't get professional looking shots but because money was tight, they still wanted me (even after i showed them what i consider my best shots). I've done my homework; scouted the locations, talked to the couple and i've even scheduled an informal photo shoot so they can get used to me and my style and i can see what they expect of me and what its going to be like working with them on their day.
The only reasons i've agreed to do this is because they were desperate (!) and because on every occassion i've photographed (birthdays etc) i've had people (some friends and family and some complete strangers) tell me and i quote "I've got the talent and the temperment to do weddings".
While i know this isn't exactly the green light to branch out, and it doesn't make me pro, it has given me confidence to believe in what i'm doing. While i agree with some comments saying "leave it to the pros" i also say that some should take risks, otherwise you'll never know.
I'd love to hear what you think to my comment, good and bad! And i'll keep you posted on how it goes! x
March 11, 2011 02:52 pm
I found this post very useful. As an amateur with a passion for photography I increasingly find myself being "felt out" (pardon the insinuation!) for doing people's weddings. I have told three couples now that I am certainly no professional and that they would be best to hire someone with more experience, but have offered to do their pre-wedding shots (for photos to appear at the reception / in signing frames etc) as a gift. I have one couple who wont be dissuaded however, but at least their wedding is not until next year, they are both on their second marriages, and had only been planning to have disposable cameras, and to have someone take shots with their compact digital before I got my new toy so I suppose the pressure there isn't as great as it would normally be - they were never intending to hire a pro. That said there does seem to be a big misconception among people who aren't into photography that if you have a DSLR and know what aperture means you are the right person to photograph their wedding. Apart from showing people my crapper efforts (like when I left the ISO on 6400 at a night time bday party so all my portraits came out grainy) it can be hard to convince people to shell out extra for a more experienced photog!!!
In my own experience (from my own wedding and that of a friend) it can be useful to get a seating plan (I gave this to my photographer, Michal Kriesch of Sydney and not only did he take amazing photos but also got EVERY person at my wedding - I highly recommend him) to provide your bride and groom with the RAW files on DVD (so if you have done an abysmal job, they can potentially have the raw's reviewed by a pro - wont fix composition I know but might make some salvageable) and to have a big practice session before hand. A friend had a workmate take her photos and she claims that she didn't get a single usable image. I really think if she had tested him out beforehand she would have seen that he was not to her taste and found someone more suitable.
I am too lazy to spell check this so y'all will just have to put up with any spelling, gramatical or typing errors.
March 7, 2011 07:40 am
I also think that it is great that itis not up to the people here to decide if you should shoot a wedding or not. If you think you can do it and are honest with the B&G and they say yes, dive it. Just keep the price and your approach respectable.
March 7, 2011 04:38 am
for Guillermo the god of photography ...not all people want a 5000$ photographer for a few good pics ...as for the cheesy pics ...the posing part ...with the brides maids ...parent next to the bride ..grand parents ect....its not hip anymore ...some still like it and good for them ...but journalistic wedding shots are more fun too look at ..not boring...wont be collecting dust in a fancy hard cover leather book hidden in a closet ...yup 2000-5000 $ shot to hell ...people need to be able to say....all i want is a few great pics ...people laughing ...people having fun ...a few black and white shots ...parent having a laugh ect.....not worth the huge pressure of getting the best photographer money can get for a few shots of a real smile ...nothing fake or posed...dont fall into the trap of....YOU NEED THE BEST...YOU NED TOO PAY BIG MONEY ....YOU ARENT WORTHY OF A WEDDING IF YOU DONT TAKE AN EXPENSIVE PHOTOGRAPHER ....ive seen people get a few point and shoot disposable cameras ...place one on each table ...told people to take a few pics that where fun ...the best shots ive seen in a long time...they saved over 3000$ ...so ya ...will it change there wedding and cause a divorce? maybe ..but at least they can put a deposit on a lawyer
March 7, 2011 04:21 am
If you have never shot a wedding or have no experience shooting weddings - then you have no business shooting weddings! You are going to jack someone's weddings because of your dilutions of granture? DO NOT DO IT! Work under a professional for four to five years and PAY ATTENTION! You may take a good shot here and a good shot there but you will miss MANY shots that a professional knows how to look for.
LIST OF SHOTS? That is the sign that you either don't trust the experience of your photographer, or your photographer has no clue. A professional photographer has the basic shot list engraved in his brain!
PRICE? Cheap gets you cheap, unfortunately expensive doesn't always get you great. INSIST to look at MANY DIFFERENT examples of weddings from beginnning to end. Meet the photographer taht will photograph your wedding and inveterview the hell out of him/her, ask for a lot of referrals but DO NOT hire a rookie or "someone that took a course" - you are tossing a coin and FOR SURE they will miss many of the moments that could have been captured. Professional does not mean "good" EXPERIENCE is everything.
March 7, 2011 03:52 am
Interesting is a comment above. I have worn many hats in my life but always have been a senior IT architect. At one point I was running my own construction company and was doing bathrooms and kitchens. As I aid interesting at the start of this had much experience following in behind licensed, bonded contractors to clean up the mess they made when they took the money and ran. My point being here is that while you can pay a lot for a photographer with experience that is not to say here may not be issues with this approach either. Nothing is really guaranteed. How many classes I must have taken where the photographer presenting, revealed their own unique horror stories. We are all human, and we all do mistakes. Experience does count for a lot but Murphy has the unique ability of messing with everyone regardless of race, color, creed and the amount we know or charge. In the end experience does count but also the person personal self image is important. I for one have 30 plus years of being under pressure from multi-million dollar Brokerage and financial systems, having customer waiting for their bathrooms to be finished to demanding photo subjects. It is all about you, your composure and your ability to stay cool and above the mayhem.
In retrospect, I have never let anyone tell me cannot do something. If they do….well….”Fools Rush In”.
In consideration, I dropped this in MSWord and spell checked it for Reb. :-0
March 3, 2011 10:20 pm
The number of people commenting on this site who are unable to spell a word that's in the title of the feature is terrifying. How can someone trust you with a huge responsibility of shooting their wedding when you can't even be trusted with the tiny task of copying a word accurately?
March 3, 2011 10:17 am
I have been doing portraits for about 6 years now and have about 5 weddings under my belt. I do very good studio and planned shots, but weddings are a whole different beast. Lots of moving around, constantly changing light, and lots of people--many who just flatout don't like having their picture taken. Despite all that, it is something I would like to get into a bit more. I have charged for photo shoots- I do mostly children and families, but for the weddings I explained my level of experience and told them they could pay me what they thought the photos were worth. It is very important to be totally upfront about your experience if you are "asked" to step in as a photographer, but if the couple wants to take the chance you should take the opportunity to gain the experience. As an amateur I would encourage them to ask other family members to have their cameras out too. You want the experience, but its better to cover all the bases for such a big event.
March 3, 2011 07:04 am
Hi I have always had an interest in photography and have done a photography course too so I do have a qualification. You could pay top price and have crap photo's or hire an amateur photographer needing experience and get some great shots. If you don't want to take the risk on your big day then you have to pay thefull price. I have been asked to do a family wedding next year and need all the experience/tips I can get. I can take a good photo. I am hoping to do some studio portraits next year before the wedding - hire a studio with all the equipment.
If you know an amateur that takes good photo's and will be reasonably priced, plus have seen their work and willing to go with it then I don't see the harm in giving someone the experience. I have been more than honest with my photo's and qualifications. Just think about copyright with professional photographers and how much you will have to pay them for it or only have to go through them as the customer can't get them done normally due to copyright issues.
If you have strong feelings about not letting amaters near a wedding then that is your choice. I did see a programme once where this guy was supposidly a professional photographer and the photo's were totally crap - totally terrible and full of red eye.
March 1, 2011 05:26 am
always shoot in RAW too just in case it all goes wrong :)
February 21, 2011 03:58 pm
Great post. Very simple but to the point. Found very helpful, great job!
February 19, 2011 03:46 pm
The most important thing is to concentrate on your strengths as a photographer and delegate the rest to somebody else!
February 19, 2011 10:25 am
Typically I shoot indoors with a 24-77 f2.8 and a Nikon D700 set at f5.6, 1/80 sec @ 200 ISO. This is my default setting and I work up and down from there. Have a 70-200 and use the same method. I have my speed flash set to +3. I had two cameras and rely on my D700 most of the time. I have two speed flashes and my second is always on a tripod set in commander mode. I bring a stand with a black background. You never know when they will set the stage in front of a wall of mirrors. But you can work around this by knowing the mirror is there. I bring lots of fully charged batteries but I will be getting a battery pack soon. Good for about 2000 flashes. I will tell you, as soon as you start changing batteries something will happen that you would have liked to capture. I also religiously use a Gary Fong.
February 18, 2011 03:56 am
Great post. I think this is great advice for any level and a good reminder for people who do this for a living every weekend.
February 16, 2011 11:47 pm
I first read this response and thought, Wow, hard! After reading it a second time I do agree. Two of the biggest things you can bring to your shoot is an abudance of confidence and second, an ability to envision and get 'those' shots. With out the first your sbjects loose faith. Without the second, you loose the shoot. Both of these come from experience in totally different areas and are also a natural part of your person. So to be a little softer but along the same line, weddings are big, complicated and many times not cut and dry. I think the term is "Expect the unexpected'. Yes, be fair, realize who you are and decide if you can do it. Experience is something you don't get till after you need it. I shot many family weddings and portfolio shoots, on the cuff, before I thought I was even ready to stand there and direct. After each event I kept asking myself, "How could I have done that better. I for one am NEVER satisfied with my shots. You always have to hold yourself to a higher expectation. I remember a movie from Vegas whose title seems appropriate. "Fools rush in!' So to follow up on what was said before, get some EXPOSURE. (Pun intended. LOL). I hope this helps.
February 14, 2011 04:43 am
If you are that nervous that you have your "first wedding" and you are asking what to do - do the right thing and leave it to a professional instead of risking something that only gets one shot. Become someone's assistant for three or four years THEN you can start doing somet weddings. Finally - if you are not a NATURALLY ARTISTIC person then don't even pursue it. Wedding photography IS ABOUT ART not about shooting a bunch of shots of people eating cake - so be true to the art and become a wedding photographer ONLY if you can compose and more importantly INVISION beautiful wedding scenes.
February 14, 2011 03:51 am
Unfortunately I have to disagree with "a shot list". A shot list is the first sign that a wedding photographer has no experience. A shot list slows down the limited amount of time there usually is between ceremony and reception and it frustrates everyone. An "experienced" wedding photographer "knows" the shots, reads the opportunities, expects certain outcomes and delivers a beautiful story of your wedding. It is recommended to ask the bride and groom after each photo session (getting ready, formals, etc) if there are any special people or shots they would like to "add" to what you have already shot so you can have their input as well - but in the commotion of everything that is happening, your experience needs to be what delivers all the shots.
If you want a family member or friend to shoot your wedding, get ready for two things: A pile of snapshots with no rime or reason and likely the end of that friendship or relationship. If you hire a photographer that doesn't shoot at least 50 weddings (him/herself) each year - then get ready for anything.
I hope this helps.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
February 13, 2011 12:32 am
I like your last comment the most. I do alot of parties and I expect my legs to hurt and as one Class teacher pointed out, "that if you do not hurt by the end of the night you did not do our job", but I have been finding more and more my jaw hurts. I paint on the smile at the beginnning of the night and it does in deed work. People really respond to you smiling.
February 10, 2011 02:00 pm
Excellent advice. Expect the Unexpected is my favorite. Shooting beach weddings are a perfect example of when to expect the unexpected, between the weather changes, the tides rising, brides in barefeet, wind blowing sand everywhere...something unexpected surely is to be expected.
February 10, 2011 03:44 am
Actually great article. Very useful for wedding photographers. Thanks Darren !!!
February 6, 2011 03:13 pm
Great article! The tips and advice could also be used to train new employees and make checklists to insure everything goes smoothly. It's the attention to detail that truly separate a professional. I personally shoot weddings with a backup photographer and never had a problem in eight years (knock on wood)
February 3, 2011 11:15 pm
Great tips, thank you very much, was very interesting!
February 2, 2011 01:20 am
Reading these tips along with all the comments has been so helpful. I've been into photography for about 4 years and I would consider myself an advanced amateur. I know basics of lighting and how my camera works but I still have so much to learn. That's one thing I love about photography; there is an infinite amount of knowlege to absorb. Even the most talented professionals are constantly learning.
I mostly shoot landscapes and architecture but people have taken notice of my "eye" for composition and I have been asked to do a few weddings this year. My friends have their own photograph business and they have so much work that they asked me to help (and i get paid) with about 3 wedding this year. This is really a great opportunity for me to learn from people more expirienced with portrait work and wedding phtography. Maybe after a year of shadowing them I can start on my own? That's the dream anyway...My first one is next month and I am already nervous. It's a pretty big wedding at a swanky location with lots of people. I'm just glad I'm the assistant to 2 other people for this and they said my job would be to capture most of the stills (cake, rings, church architecture) The best advice I have been told is to fake it till you make it. Even if you are unsure of you abilities, pretend you are an incredible photographer and have confidence.
February 1, 2011 08:50 am
Great article! I remember reading this a few years ago when i started my photography business. They were great tips that helped me out a lot and looking over them, i still use most of them today.
January 31, 2011 05:04 pm
As a relative newbie as a wedding photographer (2.5 yrs) I have discovered that whilst good camera technique and sturdy editing skills are a must, far and away the most important factor in wedding photography is the service you offer and the manner in which you conduct yourself leading up to, during and after the wedding.
Most couples are not pretentious enough to consider themselves art critics and whilst artistic flair is needed remember that these shots are about capturing THEIR day. A Photograph may be special to you because you nailed exposure in a tricky backlit situation. But it will more than likely be even more important to the couple because Uncle Bill from Australia's in it. With this in mind, the differentiating factor with wedding photography - the thing which will make your clients happy (and win you more referrals!) is excellent service and all that this entails.
Service, service, service!
January 30, 2011 01:48 am
We hired a pro for our wedding and her shots were great but I can't believe we paid so much money and the only photo of my parents and I are in a huge group shot. Even with 2 pros there that is all I have of my parents and I. Very disappointed. I applaud people who refuse to pay huge sums of money. I loved photography for years and now have the equipment to start doing more paid work. I refuse to use the word pro, I'm upfront with people about my skill level and always show them my work. I shoot my first wedding on Feb.14th this year, they are very excited and so am I. Great tips! Thank you.
January 28, 2011 06:38 am
Regarding allowing an amateur to shoot your wedding - if you MUST, then get 2 or 3 amateurs to work it. I was a Mormon when I married and wasn't allowed pictures of the temple ceremony (Ridiculous) and got a friend to shoot the reception. His settings were messed up and every picture but one was blown to white. I have ONE single photo of my wedding day. Some can't afford a pro but if you have a few willing photog-type friends combining their efforts, you'll end up with a memorable capture of your day.
January 28, 2011 05:01 am
When I take a group shot I have trouble getting everyones faces in focus.
January 27, 2011 04:54 am
to previous post it was intended for steve daniels.....i left off the comment to dan the mans question...I APOLOGIZE DAN THE MAN.....to your question you should try bumping up your ISO and take a few test shots to make sure that you have it set the way you would like.
January 27, 2011 04:50 am
Dan the man,,,,,, I never insisted that any bride's perfect day should be ruined at the expense of an amateur photographers learning expense. I agree 100% that you should know what you are doing before jumping right in. However, the comment was made regarding those so-called "pro" photographers discrediting amateur photographers right off bat. I would not photograph a wedding if I did not know what I was doing. But everyone (even pros) had to do their first wedding at some point and am sure that they would not have appreciated someone telling them they should stay away from weddings unless they were professionals. Everyone has to do their "FIRST" shoot of everything at some point in their career. Yes not all amateurs do great work but who is to say who can and cannot do great work without seeing?
January 25, 2011 02:03 am
very nice web site ;-)
January 24, 2011 03:19 am
Really good article, some good tips for a beginner like me! I have been looking into getting involved with wedding photography as it is a massive industry where I live. I have always been quite intimidated by wedding photography as it is someone's special day and messing it up would be horrible. I like how you say to just enjoy it, would probable be best to start with someone I know, as they will probably be more sympathetic towards me.
January 21, 2011 01:15 pm
great comments on taking pictures as a wedding photographer.
January 20, 2011 09:49 pm
some fantastic comments and advice, can't stop reading!!
January 19, 2011 09:33 am
well to DAN THE MAN get a nifty 50 thats a 50mm prime lens ..its the cheapest way to go ....dont forget a tripod ...low shutter speed and use you ISO at at least 400...now with that said ....if you can afford a 50mm 1.2 it would be even better.....and as for STEVE DANIELS.....well ...to start ...ive seen pros do great work but not what the bride wants ...they want organic ...yet they only get the stupid cheesy posing stuff ....once they start saying how they feel ...the so called pro took a fit ...said ....HOW DARE YOU QUESTION THE WAY I WORK .....well guess what ..i took over ...me the little amateur ...and guess what ....they love my work and guess what else ..i did it for free ...it was my first of many to come ...im organic meaning i dont use phtoshop ...i try to keep it natural as much as possible and i even work for model agencies now ...now bad for a little amateur ...the thing is to practice ...shoot all the time ....anyone can shoot ...but only a few can take crap from people and try to work with it ....if people say you suck ...ask why ...try to improve ...im, no pro trust me ...but we as photographers need to have fun ...dont be afraid to try new things ...and enjoy it ...if its work ...then stop ...thats when you do crappy pictures
January 19, 2011 04:46 am
To Dan the man,
First use higher isso try 800
if you have it use a fast lens ( f1.8 or f1.4)
if you dont have a fast lens see about getting one F1.8 for canon and nikon are not too expensive.
if you are only able to use your kitt lens f4.5, then you will need to boost your isso to at least 800 (depending on your available natutal light)
Take a couple of test shots to see how high isso you need, so be there a little early to take your test pictures and set your camera up.
Some cameras generate noise at high isso,(well all do,some are worse than others) but your better of fixing camera noise than getting camera movment.
Make sure you have a shooting list, one less thing to think about on the day,
Hope it helped a bit
Don't forget, you can learn a lot, just by looking at other photografers work...if you follow this link you will goto smugmugs site, type wedding into the search for photos and you can not only see the work, but in most cases as you put the cursor over the picture you will see an informasjon symbol. click this and you will see all the settings they used and if they used flash or not
January 19, 2011 03:13 am
Mandy's comment is made purely from a photographer's (and her own) viewpoint. It seems she feels that brides who only get one chance to get great photographs owe all beginning wedding photographers the chance to "become a pro wedding photographer" at their expense. Sure, some people do amazing work their first time out, but most don't. Ridiculous to think that the wedding industry owes amateur photographers the right to learn at everyone's expense. There are TONS of ways for a photographer just starting out learn how to shoot weddings. I have trained dozens of new wedding photographers how to shoot weddings by having them assist me at weddings and be a second shooter. THAT's the best way to learn, not by ruining a bride's one chance at getting amazing photos.
January 18, 2011 10:25 pm
great post! Same could apply to wedding video too !!!!
January 15, 2011 07:18 pm
Hi I am Dan the man
Question for ya I have been invited to a wedding to take pictures, I am an amature for wedding photography and the church building has very low lighting and they ask for no flash. How do i get decent pictures with the low lighting?
January 13, 2011 05:14 pm
I don't understand how people expect you to become a pro wedding photographer unless you get out and learn.....Don't assume that everyone will mess up their first time and discredit all amateur photographers right off bat. Some peole do AMAZING work their first time shooting and are a natural. I say good luck, go for it and don't let anyone hold you back!
December 24, 2010 05:06 pm
I am starting my own wedding photography business and i found this article really helpful, all I say
let the pro's keep their breaking down comments for themselves. But that won't put me off Photography.
I'll give my all for it in the future thank agein great tips. Hannes.
December 17, 2010 10:07 pm
This is awesome, thank you!!! It helps me to feel refreshed and ready to do great things! I just really want to address pro photographers who have a problem with us guys trying to learn and become better at this! Keep to yourselves!!! If you are such a pro photographer and think nothing of the dudes that are still learning why are u even on this site????????????
Thank you again
It gives me confidence!
December 17, 2010 01:30 am
This is a great list. Even though I'm a pro shooter and wish everyone could afford and have a great photographer for their wedding, that just isn't the case. If you are an enthusiast, then a list like this is a good reference for ideas you may not otherwise think of. Even a small handful of good images is better than the alternative of nothing.
December 15, 2010 07:43 am
Great tips! Make sure your clients know exactly what to expect out of you, and deliver that. That way there are no surprises.
December 11, 2010 03:33 pm
Great tips! Anyone starting out should follow everyone of these ideas, and then concentrate on getting shots! Just keep pushing that shutter button - the more pic's you get the more you have to pick from before final delivery - get the 2 or 3 of biggest memory cards you can afford and fill 'em up! Change angles every few shots and keep looking for anything interesting or unusual. When you look at them later you'll see what works and what doesn't. Have fun!
December 10, 2010 02:54 am
Smiling and enjoying the day is the best advise you can give on top of all this!! Its just no good unless you enjoy it..!
November 15, 2010 10:22 pm
I am starting my own wedding photography business and have found this article really helpful. I definitely wouldn't have thought to turn off the sound on my camera as I am so used to it. cheers for the tips!
November 15, 2010 09:35 am
Why do people keep giving negative comments im only 17 and ive wanted to be a photographer ever since i was little, Im doing work experience with a photographer soon and almost got a job as a baby photographer but they didn't hire me because of my age. My dream is to be a wedding g photographer and i love all the comets that encourage armatures like me to achieve our goals
November 12, 2010 04:15 pm
Number 6. Turn off the sound on your camera. This is so true!! I have worked with other wedding photographers that have the sound active on their camera, and it is soooo annoying. I have asked a few of them about it, and they have told me that they don't even notice the sound anymore. But the clients haven't!
October 27, 2010 03:52 am
@Gregory Grytchenko: As long as you have photos on your non-flash website, google will be able to crawl and pick up the photos. However, the ranking of the pictures (which one goes first) depends on your website ranking.
October 27, 2010 03:18 am
When you google and put "wedding photography" you will see thumbnails of images, a few together.
If you click on anyone you are linked to website in which this picture takes a place.
Please tell me what can i do I want my pictures to be visible in this way.
I will appreciate for advice.
October 26, 2010 02:05 pm
i love the shot of the ring making a heart. will definitely use. thanks
October 25, 2010 07:20 pm
Best wishes for any really obvious and useful posting. I am without a doubt a violator of lots of these guidelines. I often discover myself personally conflicted when producing a blog publish because I see myself producing greater than consumers desire to read, but I sense that I really need to do the subject matter justice by totally covering up it. I sense that by pursuing some of these principles I end up slicing out very important factors towards the discussion. I guess you might have to obtain a stability.
October 23, 2010 02:43 pm
Thanks for providing this kind of tips,this will be so beneficial for the photographer.Almost every important aspect for good photography has been covered here,and photographer should use these kinds of tips for capturing wedding pics as well as use their creativity and experience for nice pics,then only magical shots can be seen.Overall helpful tips.
October 23, 2010 09:59 am
Thank you for all the tips for all, beginners, professionals and everyone in between.
I’ve been doing wedding for many many years. As everyone else, without charging for friends and family back when there were only 35mm cameras. If I may, I would like to add:
1) If you are showing your photos at the reception, please please, get the approval of the bride and groom. In one occasion, the bride told me to turn it off because the guest were paying more attention to the photos slide shown than them.
2) Another BIG complaint…why does it take so long to get the photos back (a month or two)? I try to time myself per the newlywed’s honey moon. Usually a week to two is plenty of time for US professional photographers to get a good product back; at least a visual/display/slideshow or something! If we get behind, like I read in a few comments, we’ll get pushed over-step on by the new pocket and phone cameras!
3) I learned this when I bought my first the camera, “it is not the tool, it is the fool” who makes the picture. I know, I know having a good camera helps too!
4) If you have a second photographer …be sure to had one of each sex! Brides sometimes feel strange around a camera and more if a man is holding it.
5) And HAVE FUN!
October 22, 2010 01:23 am
Thank you so much!
I really really learnt Wedding Photography from you simple tips...
October 20, 2010 02:05 pm
I am a Houston wedding photographer, shooting for 15 years and doing weddings exclusively for over 5 years now. One of my favorite tips is encouraging the bride and or groom to shoot with me before the wedding day. During the engagement or bridal session, we get to know each other ..then the payoff is a more relaxed subject on the wedding day!
October 20, 2010 01:27 pm
15 minutes is never enough, but alot of time even when the bride and groom give you an hour, it really just 20 minutes because chances are, wedding is never on schedule.
October 20, 2010 01:25 pm
Thank you! These tips are extremely helpful! I've only shot one wedding but I'll be sure to look at this post again before I shoot my next.
October 8, 2010 04:34 pm
In the end it really comes down to capturing those few very special moments for the Bride and Groom, lets all remember photography is an art form and I am sure I and many others certainly have seen amazing work from those who consider themselves artists not a professionals. The argument of Amateur / Professional will always exist, it takes more then just great gear to be a great photographer much the same as it takes more then a business card to be a professional. Bottom line is be mindful and respectful of others, if a "Pro" has been hired by the Bride and Groom, give them the space to do what they are being paid to do. If you are that "Pro" don't discount what a family member or friend may be shooting, just because they aren't handing out business cards doesn't mean they know nothing about the art of photography. If in the end a Bride and Groom really can't afford to pay a photographer and they ask you to help them out... Do your very best for them, take lots of photo's and who knows you just might capture that very moment that they cherish for many years to come.
October 8, 2010 04:47 am
i am unwillingly shooting my 3rd wedding this weekend. the first one i volunteered to do...as a second shooter for fun and became the primary when the other guy kept backing out. he showed, but i was the only one who delivered photos. the next one i did cheaply and warned my friend this is my 2nd one...you must realize this...her wedding was chaotic with 20 people in the wedding party, talk about going straight into the fire. now this one i agreed to, warning "ok...it's only my 3rd wedding...." therefore i'm only charging 400. Here's my biggest problem. The bride and groom for EVERY wedding only budget 15minutes for their couple shots. Is this normal? I told them it is generally an hour for couple shots and they all give me only 15 minutes. I am ready to toss in the towel, I'm so frustrated. Is it because they aren't paying much so they don't feel the need to get their money's worth? I want to tell them, don't expect anything, you aren't giving me your time! What would you guys do? The problem is, my photography is decent, I can somewhat compete with the semi-pros that charge 1000, not with the guys that charge 4000, but few people can afford that price range. So I guess until I start charging the extra cash I am going to have to deal with this.
October 7, 2010 04:04 am
This article was very helpful. And all of the comments as well. I'm not a photographer by trade but I have photographed quite a few weddings and that checklist would have been helpful.
October 5, 2010 08:21 am
Nice tips guys, hope it helps any new starters. We were all there once.
September 29, 2010 07:03 pm
Very good tips ;-) I'm an italian wedding photographer and i will consider using these tips in my next work especially "Expecting the Unexpected" :-))
September 23, 2010 01:05 pm
Listen, I know that pro wedding photographers are fighting hard for the money right now, but this article isn't about you, or about charlatans posing as you. This article is for photographers who have decent gear, know the difference between focal length and f-stops, and have a family member or a friend in a tight spot, or are just getting into the business.
I have been a professional architectural photographer for 8 years, so I am not an "amateur photographer," but I am an "amateur WEDDING photographer." I don't know if it's the economy, or the sudden onslaught of friends of mine getting hitched, but I am about to shoot my 5th wedding in 3 years as a wedding gift to the bride & groom.
This one is a wedding for a bride and groom who are famous, but very private people. They don't want to hire a wedding photographer, because they don't think they can trust that the photos won't 'accidentally' leak to a media outlet. I don't blame them.
September 16, 2010 09:53 am
Great tips. I think the last one is the best. Smile! Also thanks for the tips for taking group shoots.
September 15, 2010 10:13 pm
Opinions are ace, hey! ;-)
September 14, 2010 08:32 am
this GOES TO ....KEN THOMPSON above who wrote about amature photographers, to stay away from weddings.Hey ken when you did your first wedding we're you a professional?
so it means the day you picked up a camera, you was a professional is that what you're tryin to say?
And they'rs no such thing to my knowledge in this world as a professional photographer, we're all called photographers. Cause my son has taken pictures at a wedding i did and they we're amazing and he is not a professional photographer. SO if you we're born a professional and knew how to shoot a wedding as soon as you got a camera in your hands... hey i want your number!!! KEN THOMPSON
shooting a wedding is a piece of cake.....everybody's imagination is different and everyone see's things in a different frame.
So to "AMATURE'S OUT THERE DON'T GET DISCOURAGED....WHEN YOU TAKE PICTURES AND YOU SEE THEM AFTER....HEY IF YOU LIKE THEM THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS.
September 13, 2010 05:19 pm
I just want to say a few things. I rarely coment on peoples comments but one just put me off. The second comment on this topic by Ken Thompson really got under my skin.
Yes I belive that a wedding photographer should be up front about his/her skills with the couple. He should also have a portfolio with background and example photos to show the couple. Again, I think that a true professional with a natural ability can bring so much to a photograph, especially at a wedding.
However, I, by no means, think that amatures have no place in wedding photography. For starters, I have seen kids pick up a disposable camera and take some incredibly candid and often accidentaly artistic pictures.(granted this is not the norm I am just illustrating a point) Also, I personally had a father-in-law who insisted on getting a "professional" photographer at the unimaginable price of $2,000 dollars(minus the hotel and travel costs from Texas to South Carolina!) only to have quite possibly the worst pictures I have ever seen of a wedding! Shadows, poor angles, bad composition, horrible timing and staging just to name a few of the problems.
I despise the inflated ego's that some of you "professionals" have. Humble yourself a little for crying out loud! Everyone has to start somewhere. Take a new photographer in, show them the ropes, teach them your trade, offer advice. Don't forget that where we are now so once were you! And the last thing I would like to remind you of before I end my rant is this. Not everyone has the money to pay your "professional" prices. (even much less so in these economically troubled times.) Maybe a friend who has a decent camera and a few skills is just the solution to a newly married couple's problem.
I myself have always enjoyed looking at great photograph's and recently found delight in being behind the lens. My wife thinks I have talent and I am looking to explore it. I enjoy sites like this one because they offer a unique blend of both professional and amature techniques and general advice. I sincerely hope that I see less and less of "professional's" such as youself and more of those who enjoy their craft and sharing their knowledge and wisdom with anyone who "picks up a digital camera". As stated, I am no professional. I am just a guy who saw something he liked and thought he would try it out.
I look forward to more "how to photagraph" for amature's post's in the future!
September 3, 2010 02:08 pm
1. Go to a few weddings with a pro. Don't ask for pay, Just ask to watch and maybe shoot some. Give them aces to the images..
2. Get back-up equipment.
3. Know your equipment.
4. Shoot quickly. After you raise your camera to your eye, if you haven't shot in 1.5 seconds, their expressions change.
5. Remember, you are working. You are not there to socialize, eat, drink or dance. Those should all be off limits.
6. Remember, prospective clients are watching you. Dress appropriately, act appropriately. Someone may ask for your card.
7. Work very hard. Do what others won't do.
8. Study the work of people like Yervant, Denis Reggie, Jasmine Star, Jerry Ghionis, and others.
August 30, 2010 11:58 pm
I just did my first wedding, It went well I belive, it was for a friend I went to school with. She also had her uncle taking shots. That was nice weight off my shoulders. Whew. It helped me to relax and let go, I also had a wonderful time got some lovely candid shots. Im happy to say next time I'll have most of the right equipment, and Ill be confident with the setting! Great tips here.
[eimg url='http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs130.ash2/39828_126693954043340_112564742122928_135816_219030_n.jpg' title='39828_126693954043340_112564742122928_135816_219030_n.jpg']
August 30, 2010 08:39 pm
Great tips in the original article, and I've found many other reading through these comments.
Here's another site I found by an experienced photographer really going in deep about what to think about during the wedding: http://tips.romanzolin.com/articles/article006.php
August 29, 2010 01:24 am
I'm a NC wedding photographer and in the Raleigh NC area I am competeting with over 200 wedding photographers. How do I set myself apart, by being different and not high pressuring anyone. I will never tell a couple you need this or you need to add this to your photography package. Just be yourself and the pictures will sell you.[eimg url='http://i933.photobucket.com/albums/ad177/michelleguntonphotography/nc%20wedding%20photographer/629carthage_wedding_nc.jpg' title='629carthage_wedding_nc.jpg']
August 28, 2010 06:39 am
I think another good point is not to break the bank in gear, but break the bank in education, learning how to use your camera is a lot better than having the best camera.
August 25, 2010 05:18 pm
I,m doing wedding photography for a living - and even I learned something form this post! TX
August 25, 2010 04:09 am
We really like your tips. All new photographers need them.
You are giving tricks from the inside. That is the best advises.
See you soon.
August 24, 2010 06:54 pm
Wow, the tips in this post are really really handy, and it's a fairly extensive post, so definitely one for the bookmarks!
We’ve recently written a similarly themed post on wedding photography tips which you can see here:
Would be great if you had any feedback or comments!
August 23, 2010 10:53 pm
When I did my first wedding shoot, I was in my photographic prime. I was a successful press photographer and HAD to get the shot, and it usually was just 1 shot you got too. So, I was already primed for wedding photo's. Where you have got to get it right on the day. Having said that, that was in the day where there was no digital, so you didn't know if you got the shot till the processing was done. However, after a while, you KNOW when you have got 'the' shot as soon as you have pressed the shutter release button. To be honest, wedding photography today is fairly easy. If in doubt, use the program setting as well as the shot you want with the correct DOF that you want for that shot. For newbies, I would suggest 2 camera bodies, 1 set to auto P and the other you play with. Hedge your bets that way, then there is much less worry about getting the shots. Also, I would impress on the couple when they book, that you EXPECT the best man to heard the people together for the shots - easy peasy! Gray
August 20, 2010 06:19 am
i have been asked to shoot a courthouse wedding today. this will be my first wedding and i am super nervous. i only accepted because the couple is having a formal ceremony next month with a pro photographer and they just want the day documented and perhaps a few possible shots to add to their wedding invitations. i hope to come out with some great photos to add to my portfolio, but i cannot help being a little nervous, so WISH ME LUCK!
August 17, 2010 12:04 pm
It's interesting to see that this post has come to life again.
There is a lot of great advice in amongst the spam and pro/am arguments.
To me, it makes no difference whether a wedding photographer is a "pro" or an "amateur", the basic requirements are the same;
1. You must be confident and skilled with your camera and strobes, without stopping to think, in all lighting conditions. You can be shooting in a dark church one minute, then a blindingly bright outdoor setting the next - you need to be able to nail the exposure first time, every time - this is one gig where there are so many one-chance-only shots.
2. Be prepared.
3. Anticipate what is going to happen next and where you need to be.
4. Have backups - plans and equipment. If you miss "the shot" it's gone.
5. Once again, just to be sure, have backups - particularly equipment. Do not even think about attempting a wedding without two bodies. Shutters freeze, batteries die, Canons hit you with an Err99 at the most inconvenient moments. No wedding is going to stop for you. You need a second camera. Period.
August 14, 2010 11:29 pm
I would like to ad to the section 15 on deleting or on camera editing. It may result in possible mistakes, but mainly, it is a distraction which can cause missed shooting opportunities and potentially corrupt the memory card.
August 14, 2010 11:20 pm
I've recently purchased an entry level DSLR. This has been very helpful. Thank you for the complimentary tips!
August 13, 2010 11:09 am
Found this site that teaches alot about wedding photography, starting a business or hiring photographers http://weddingphotographyuniversity.com
August 5, 2010 12:00 am
I hate that noise, turned it off as soon as I got the camera.
Re:previous post got loads of good places to shoot from sadly this is not my photo shoot its their wedding.
We talked about what was wanted and realised that given the timings that apart from the formal shots we could easily get other groupings as a natural part of the proceedings giving them the chance to enjoy the day.
We talked about prints albums dvd's and decided that it is highly unlikely that anyone will want prints larger than A2 and that the best method is to use Photobox an online printer that the Brides family regularly use and are happy with which allows us to let people order the prints they want or make photobooks if they prefer.
To make sure the prints will be OK I have visually matched my computer screen to the display on the camera and ordered some test prints. Which include shots using ISOs of 1600 3200 Hi1 to see how usable they are.
Marigolds crib photos are a good idea. How about using the pen tool on any basic program and rough sketch your pose ideas on them.
My shot list has a page for each location. At the top of each page is an idiot checklist of each function on the
camera Quality WB metering focus mode (have I switched to manual) focus point , etc.
Twigs or plyons out of heads, rubbish on ground or someone dead, reflections or untidy dress are sure to make a mess of this. Not a good rhyme but at least I wont forget to check the frame.
Got chatting to a semi-retired American who had worked both as a professional photographer and as a director ..when I said that I wasn't a professional, he disagreed saying its not whether you get paid or have the best gear its the way you approach the task.
August 3, 2010 09:40 am
Sound off on the camera and shoot in Raw.
2 great tips.
There is one thing that annoys me more than anything is the beep beeping of digital cameras.
When shooting a wedding - you need to be silent.
Hampshire Wedding Photographer
July 28, 2010 04:24 pm
I am not aprofessional photographer but I am soon to be offiicial photographer for the second time at a family wedding. The advantages are that the couple know me and hopefully will feel relaxed. I have checked all of your tips and would like to add one that is giving me confidence. Crib Cards... I checked with the couple the range and type of photos they would like and then explored the venues, taking photo's of places with particular group and couple shots in mind. I then made a series of small cards from these photos writing the names of those who are to be included on the back and placed them in shooting order, hole punched them top left corner and loosley tied them together so the will flip over easily. I am hoping this way I will save time by knowing where I want to go next and who is to be in each shot.
July 28, 2010 03:26 am
Thank you so much for all this information. You have given me some great ideas and new perspective.
July 24, 2010 09:59 am
I have just read every post and viewed the professional photographers sites. THANKYOU
Against better judgement I have agreed to photograph my sons wedding, I did offer to find and pay for an
experienced photographer, pointing out that to do the job I would have to buy a new camera (my 5yr old bridge camera would not cope with the low light in the church and reception). Even without going mad I would have to spend at least £1K and thats without backups extra batteries new tripod etc. AND I MAKE BASIC ERRORS poor framing , not checking backgrounds or for that matter foregrounds.
Thinking once my son and his fiancee got the church,dress sorted I could persuade them, I reluctantly agreed. In the meantime I have viewed the sites took photos and suddenly started thinking ..that would be a great background Ali and bridesmaids there Paul and groomsmen there..Could I take a photo from the organ loft taking in the congregation and B&G coming down ailse given hieghts of people would important
folk be hidden..how will I take the photos of those I dont know ..and for that matter my ex and her partner ..
IN FACT DESPITE VERY REAL CONCERNS I AM ACTUALLY enjoying the planning and the practicing with the new camera and have finally understood that crucial difference between a lucky snapper and a photographer A photographer can see the picture he wants to make and moves camera or subject to achieve that end. whereas a lucky snapper is in the right place at the right time.
Monday I am doing the 2hr drive to revisit the sites with the new camera and get some practice shots with B&G fix up a final list with A,B&C plans and since confidence is essential chat up passers by to do stand in roles..should be FUN....DOUG
PS why are there no photos of people wearing glasses 70% of this wedding do! so flash is best avoided.
July 22, 2010 02:59 pm
Thank you so much for posting these tips. They are priceless!!!
July 19, 2010 01:37 am
I agree that nothing can replace an experienced photographer, which is why I am so keen on gaining experience. That being said, if all you are expecting and wanting is an oil change and filter change and someone has at least that level of knowledge, there should not be anything wrong with that[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/38158289@N05/4784232170/' title='cakes' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4076/4784232170_226e2dc04f.jpg']
July 18, 2010 05:32 pm
I don't think that anything can replace someone that has a lot of experience with weddings. It is like fixing your car.
July 18, 2010 05:30 pm
To be completely honest this MAY sometimes work in your favor ) if photography is not a priority but nothing can replace someone that has a lot of experience with weddings.
July 17, 2010 10:39 am
I am so thankful for this site. My niece is getting married and on a budget. I was asked to take pictures and video tape for the special day. I love taking pictures but have never done it professionally and I am scared to death that I am going to come out with nothing good at the end of the day. I have read the 21 tips and I am more at ease about taking the pictures. I have a few friends who do take pictures professionally that I went to for tips and advise and there is some stuff here that they did not mention. I will be reading this over again before the wedding next month. If anyone has anymore tips, advise or sample photos I can check out I would appreciate it.
July 13, 2010 04:34 am
Since first visiting this site almost two years ago, there have been many worthy comments posted, however, it seems as though it might be worth considering for the administrators to now sort through the many responses, pick out those that contribute to the blog or the 21 tips, and post them on a separate blog.
It now seems as though the more constructive submissions are being overshadowed by the responses related to the pros vs amateurs debate. It also clear that new responders don't take the time nor effort to read through previous responses (can't really blame someone for this though, with the length of the blog), so we get the same things being repeated.
July 13, 2010 12:41 am
Jandssy, your comments are spot on and I agree with you completely. The cost of a professional photographer is high most times in that their professional is how they make there living most times. However, also understand, that many times even a well seasoned professional screws it up and misses the shots as well. Many professional are so demanding that after the wedding many people including the bride and groom complain about how awful the photo shoot was prior to, during and after the wedding. Sometimes the dynamics or personality of the photographers just doesn't work well with the wedding party. When the wedding party hires a friend to take the pictures, many times it just works better for all involved. Most so called professionals won't teach you their trade, or their so called secrets! Much of the basics is learned from formal training, however most is acquired by look and feel. Getting to know your camera well is most critical. A professional can have the most expensive equipment and still not be a good photographer and in many cases the so called Amateur got the better shot with his semi-pro or point and shoot camera.
July 11, 2010 04:29 pm
I am shooting my first wedding in Nov, and I have warned the bride in Groom a number of times that I am just starting out and not Pro(they just want someone there who loves taking photos), although very nervous I think we all need to start somewhere and advice like yours is a big help so thanks!! I think all "PROS" that are willing to encourage and help us "AMATEURs" deserve praise, so thanks for ur tips!
July 11, 2010 02:20 am
I love these articles, so many useful tips! Many that I will use in the future. I have been asked to shoot a friend's wedding in October and she very much understands my level of experience and has seen the pics I've taken. We've done an engagement session (great as it can be repeated as needed) and they were very happy with the pictures. I have tried to talk them into a pro, and cannot afford to pay for one for them, so I have decided to up my education in this area and do all I can for them. I am not a pro, but am by no means a beginner. I know my way around several cameras as well as three image processing programs. I have been taking pictures with first 35mm from age 12 to digital for the past 5 years.
I understand that pros charge what seems like lots for their services, but they really are working for every penny in 99% of the cases. As an "amatuer" looking to work my way up, it's very difficult to find others to work with. Wedding photogs say they literally have people throwing themselves at them to help/assit/second shoot and they usually have nothing but disdain for people looking to learn. Most of them charge now for "session/tutoring" to take a non-pro along on a shoot, even an esession. I have starting losing respect for many pros in the area, who although they are busy, are very out of touch with their beginnings. Many of these pros are also people who state they are "self-taught"! If pros would like amatuers to be better trained, take some initiative and take one of us along with you to hold a reflector or a light. I rant....sorry. I am passionate about photography and learning more all the time, and this is a great site for information as well as a jumping-off point to even more info. Much appreciated.
July 7, 2010 10:06 am
The one piece of advice I can give is to be professional, firm, and above all, TACTFUL! Too often friends/photographers get confused as to their role, and shots can be missed, etc. I've dealt many a time with an uncooperative bridal party, bad tempered family, or weird dynamics. You really need to establish your authority as photographer, while respecting the mood of the bride and groom. No one wants a domineering photographer, but you don't want to be run over by tired attendants who do not want to pose any longer. Consult thoroughly with the bride and groom before the wedding and find out what THEY want, then provide that result if at all possible.
July 1, 2010 12:18 am
This was an awesome article! I'm shooting my first paying wedding in a few weeks and I'm taking in all the advice I can get. I feel like these touched so many points. Thanks so much!
June 28, 2010 06:38 am
I think this is a great article and I'm glad I found it. I even jotted a couple notes down so I can add to my prep list for shoots.
I think the comments from pro's are hilarious. I have a friend who's been doing wedding photography for 2 years now (she worked in a portrait studio prior to that) and she shoots (brace yourself pros) in auto...she doesn't even have the best DSLR (8mp i believe). However, she became a wiz at post processing and you can't even tell. Her background granted her with a decent sense of appropriate lighting so she's great at angles and has a creative eye. She charges near pro pricing and has quite a few weddings a season. Would she be considered a pro? No. Her lack of knowledge justifies that. Does she take great photos? Yes. Definitely. The couples are always pleased.
I myself, am shooting my first wedding this summer for my best friend. I've done their portraits so they know my style and ability (they've seen all my landscape and other photos as well). I don't consider myself a professional because I'm not an overly pretentious button pusher who thinks that they're a God because they can angle a camera lens. Don't get me wrong, I have a high respect for professionals (true professionals like David Ziser, Scott Kelby, etc) but they don't terrify "amateurs" with their lectures and scare tactics because they're afraid their business will be impacted...You don't start out on the top of Everest. If you're truly secure and confident in your craft, so called amateurs wouldn't even be a threat.
For those of you calling yourself "amateurs" who truly feel that you are, start looking into photo seminars in your area or different workshops. Join some photo contests, see what else is out there. Heck, join flickr groups and share your photos - you'll be able to see some amazing shots and most of the time, you can see the settings (or just ask the photographer) for the pic shot. Along with inspiring you, it'll give you some starting points and get you used to your own camera settings. If you have the means to, look into post processing seminars as well. Kelby training and PPA have some great seminars and if you can't catch one, look online. The best thing you can do is practice. Don't let the pro's intimidate you. If you're still worried, look into being a second shooter for a wedding or two, and really pay attention.
Good luck and happy shooting!!
June 25, 2010 05:34 am
Iam most deff an amateur.....mainly a hobby to be honest. iam looking to to turn this into a carrer, but have no idea where to start!! should i enrol in a course/courses, then build up my experiance?
it would be great to find out how you guys started off....
any tips would be greatly appreciated.
June 24, 2010 07:22 am
Thank you so much for a fantastic article. I am an amateur who is looking to grow, and have started shadowing pros as a second shooter. It has been an incredible experience so far, and the practice that I am getting is priceless. However, I am also amazed at the number of photographers who balk at the idea of having a second shooter. Everybody has to start somewhere, and I just wanted thank those pros out there who so graciously take on a volunteer assistant for a day. The rest of you should remember that you were once in my shoes :)
June 20, 2010 12:01 pm
This is a great start for aspiring wedding photographers! Priscilla
June 20, 2010 11:05 am
thanks for this information, it is great, I wish I would have found this when I did my first wedding last summer would have come in so handy. It will be great for the next two. they are great tips!!!!
June 19, 2010 11:49 pm
After nearly 400 comments, what more is there to say? All I know is that in response to such a request a few years ago a friend of mine (who is a professional photographer) and I (who would be considered an amateur) put together a book on the subject to help out some friends. We made it available on line for those who were interested. Take a look at http://www.ezweddingphotography.com.
June 19, 2010 12:54 am
amazing tips thanks for the share :)
June 17, 2010 12:35 pm
Great advice for everyone pro or amateur. One wedding that I shot just recently thank god that I got my second shooter, because my camera battery died right at the moment of the first kiss. I know what you are saying you should have charged the batteries. Of course I had done that but these batteries are dead even after charge the say they have a full charge and when you use them for just a few minutes they die. My second shooter was there and got the shot while I changed batteries quickly.
June 17, 2010 03:07 am
All very good information. I will also add some excellent training materials that have helped me personally to grow greatly.
DVDs and Workshops can be great! I personally got more out of DVDs than I did out of any of the workshops i've been to. Especially the workshop DVDs that I picked up from www.digitalweddingpro.com I also really REALLY liked their Lightroom Presets.
Join professional communities like
Photography on the Net
NOBS (No BS Photo)
And most importantly. Keep your prices high! No reason anyone should be charging less than $3500 in todays Wedding Photography market. Anyone that tells you different is simply not educated on how to build packages.
June 16, 2010 08:03 am
I have to say that I've enjoyed reading the discussion as much as the original article. I think your tips, as usual, are great, Darren. I understand the points made by many of the professionals here warning caution to inexperienced photographers trying to shoot a wedding. As everyone here understands, messing up the shot at a wedding has much more significant consequences than doing so else where. But I do believe that different brides have different needs. Not everyone is looking for the kind of imagery that top professionals use. Both preferences and budgets mean they are served by 'emerging' amateurs. I also think David above has a point - there are many amateurs out there who's technical and creative skills are as good as many lower-level professionals, so the simple pro/amateur distinction isn't what's important. Its the experience that counts.
In any case, great article and even better discussion!
June 12, 2010 05:25 pm
Try to meet the couple before their wedding so they act naturally in front of your camera!
June 10, 2010 02:50 pm
I photographed my first wedding this year, and this site was very helpful, I had no plan to do it i was just asked to.
how it happened was my girlfriend was the bridesmaid in a friends wedding, that COULDN'T afford the pros, so was just going to get family and friend to take it with happy snap cameras. I was really nervous about doing and and told them i have no experience at all and the photos probably wont be that great at all.
turned out all right, i was no where near pro level of course, but i can say that i got a few great shots, and now i am interested in learning more and working my way up to pro level.
Now i am on my way to getting married and have chosen a pro photographer, 1 because as a budding photographer i have an eye for detail, and expect a lot from the photos 2. because i can afford it. But my biggest beef with most of the pros out there is that they some how think they are hired to print photos / put an album together. i think this is wrong, as a photographer you a hired to take photos not put an album together, yes its your way of making money but i think it is wrong. luckily i have found a pro that although doesn't offer and printing service (which doesn't bother me one little bit, i know were to find the pro labs to get great prints, in fact they have told me the ones to use) but they will give me the photos in jpeg and raw. and were cheaper than some1 that just gave me a 10 page album.
June 5, 2010 01:25 pm
One thing I have learned after 7 years of doing wedding photography is that the timeline is crucial. This is what I have found to work out the best for us:
1. start with the bride and groom and spend at least an hour together; get warmed up with the good old standbye's as it does take some time to get the couple comfortable; then move into more relaxed poses-it always works!
2. Add the bridal party next and depending on the bride-spend at least a half hour with the group; start with formals and then break loose into the informal group shots..have fun!
3. finally add the family and always give the bride and groom at least a half hour before the ceremony to wind down, chill out and regroup before the big 'I do!"
We do not do wedding photography after the ceremony as it is just simply put; a nightmare. The bride is ALWAYS frustrated, overstressed because no one stuck around like she made 'perfectly clear' and never once has it been a good outcome (unless the couple gets really tipsy and we stop on the way to the reception hall)...in our area of the country it is most common for the couple to see each other before the ceremony. I care enough to tell the brides that doing pictures after the ceremony (if they have the choice) is setting them up for major disappointment. We always allow the bride and groom some private time and stage their first 'seeing' each other to capture their expressions, collect their emotions and then we begin pictures! Works like a charm and it really is the best of both worlds...
In my mind-good photography is all about angles, unique perspective and the right combination of exposure, emotion and fun! if it were your wedding day-what would you want as a result?
don't be afraid to get dirty, wear comfortable clothes and shoes and most of all-act professional yet silly as the couple ALWAYS responds well to someone who isn't afraid to loosen up and have fun...I al\ways encourage our brides and grooms to get to know us and if our personalities don't 'jive'; it is a long day with a photographer you don't like! Also, it is not worth chasing down a booking if you know deep down that you aren't going to get along or just at unease around the bride. For their sake and your own-fess up and let them know that you may not work well together.
and my thought on the whole amateur topic; I say 'go for it' yet don't lead your customer into thinking they are going to get award-winning journalistic photography with excellent exposure if you are just starting out. I agree that you have to start somewhere but allow yourself plenty of time and ALWAYS be honest and up-front. It is not worth the'back-pedaling' you may have to do once they see the final product.
June 4, 2010 09:05 am
I found the website awesome! I am schedule to shoot my first wedding in a couple of weeks and was very nervous until i read your website! Thanks!!!
June 4, 2010 12:40 am
Wedding bells are in...plan that wedding accordingly.
May 31, 2010 08:29 am
These are great tips for the aspiring professional wedding photographer. This job isn't suited to just anyone though. If you're well organized, work well under pressure, can improvise and defuse a crisis, are savvy enough to have a backup plan and if you have that natural instinct for where to be at the right moment coupled with an artist's eye, then you'll probably do well. Don't forget to bring carry a role of duct tape and safety pins and band-aids at all times, because anything can happen at a wedding.
May 28, 2010 02:51 pm
If its your first wedding take the bride & groom out for a photo shoot before the wedding, try some stuff and see if it works.
Make sure you have a back up plan!
Plan A (Sunny day and on time)
Plan B (Raining)
Plan C its all gone wrong
May 23, 2010 02:41 am
Thanks for the comments I've recived back from my previous comment..
>here is the link to my smugmug account with out needing passwoed.....
The ones with password are coustomer who have requested privat webalbums so I can't open them up to be viewed,,,but i'm sure you understand this
Again thanks for the comments
May 22, 2010 08:02 pm
I think the main point should be don't call yourself a proffesional photografer if you are starting out, or still not got too many weddings under your belt. I know that if you take pictures of someones wedding for money then you are a proffesional fotografer, but when a client heres proffesional they get the impression of a formally educated and experienced Photographer I always insist on having a wedding consultation 6 months prior to the actual wedding.... here I first show them my portfolio go through the day, step by step to let the bride and groom now what will happen where and when and explain to them the details of how I work (my style). I also explain that I don't like the word proffesional due to the fact that it is such a missunderstud word. I have proffesional equipment from camera, backrounds to flashunits... my studio is also reasnably mobile including my backgrounds and lights with softboxes and umbrellas. I offer my clients there own webgallery to view there pictures, these are private and require a password for access.
My point is that you can be and work in a very proffesional way and your clients will see this for themselvs. And as long as you are truthful and do not missreprisent yourselfs then it makes no differens wether you have done 5 or 500 weddings.... after all its the bride and groom who makes the decision whom they choose to be there photografer... and if they like your work then you will get the jobb.
Too finish off i noticed one "proffesional" say "You normally only get one chance to do the photographs" am sorry to say i disagree, I would say you only get one chance to do the photografes..... what are you going to do?? ask the prest to start again because you didn't get the shoot you needed...
Some of the topp wedding photogrfers in the world actullay advertise and are proud of the fact that they are self tought, But I woulden't dare call these amature.... because they are proffesional.....and earn 3 to 4 times times my annual turnover.
If you whant to learn from both "proffesional and ameturs" alike, then smugmug is a great site, since you can on a lot of the pictures go in and see the technical details of he photos "EXIF data"
And remember if you don't practice then you deffenetly will not get better..... everyone had to at one point or another do there first wedding!
May 22, 2010 06:21 pm
Thank you so much for all the tips, i am about to photograph my second wedding, the first was a cousin who needed a photographer at the last minute and todays shoot i am a back up to the "profesional".
I agree with what most of the established photographers are saying, ( leave it to a pro) but if someone wants to make a career in wedding photography how r they supposed to become a pro if you are advising them to stay away!.
Also having attended many weddings, iv sometimes found that the candid shots guest have taken are far better than the final result you get from a hired profesional.
I take more landscape photography but weddings are something im seriously looking into.
May 22, 2010 07:47 am
Though I am working on becoming a professional photographer (I am a photography student, and have been taking photos for years) I still do not consider myself professional. To the comments I read earlier about only pros should do weddings, I'm wondering where those photographers started out. They weren't always pro. Photographers have to build themselves up from somewhere. I've done 2 weddings and I have to say these are some great tips. The 2 weddings I have done I did with a 35mm slr. So I didn't have the advantage of knowing what my images were looking like. Now I shoot with a digital SLR and have 2 weddings this summer and I am still a nervous wreck.
May 21, 2010 10:51 pm
Several people have made comments about having to do loads of wedding group shots or conversely key people being left out. Nether of these situations should occur.
Having a system is the key.
It doesn't matter whether you're an amateur or professional. Having a set format and agreeing any special shots with the couple before hand will save you time and potential grief. Here is a partial list of shots in a format I use:
B&G with bride's parents
B&G with bride's parents + grandparents
B&G with bride's parents + grandparents + immediate family
B&G with bride's parents + grandparents + immediate family + extended family of partners and their children
B&G with bride's & groom's parents
B&G with groom's parents
Then build up the other side of the family
Add to that the groomsmen, bridesmaids and friends, and you've covered everyone at the wedding in a sensible controlled fashion.
Make use of one of the ushers to organize people so you don't photography the wrong older people!
Planning and being organized are essential skills in wedding photography.
May 21, 2010 06:13 pm
Pooja, sometimes its incredibly frustrating at a wedding when given a substantial list of groups to shoot - it takes so much time, and meanwhile the guests are able to get the wonderful, relaxed casual shots.
May 20, 2010 10:21 pm
The photographer at my stepson's wedding took tons of photos of a local great aunt & great uncle instead of taking any photos of my parents, the stepgrandparents, who had driven 700 miles just to be there, they weren't in any of the photos, the photographer or other family should have made sure which old people they were photographing, I was very annoyed later when I saw the photos and my parents weren't in any of them.
May 20, 2010 04:43 am
I agree with Jennifer, from a few comments above and what some other people have said from before. Just because you have a "professional" label doesn't mean that you know what you're doing. And just because you're an "amateur" doesn't mean you can't get good results.
At my wedding my parents had a professional photographer take pictures and videos, but I am incredibly glad that I had friends and family, "amateurs" as they may be, who love their cameras and video cameras. I asked my best friend's mother to take a lot of pictures, mostly as backup. Those pictures, which I edited myself are leaps and bounds ahead of the crap album my parents got from their professional. Not to mention the "home videos" that my brothers edited (using only the iLife programs that came on their Mac, nothing special) and put together on a dvd are much, much better than the video we got from the professional.
May 19, 2010 10:31 pm
Darren, Just want to tell you that I appreciate everything that you do. There is almost no day that goes by that I don't visit your site. I may not post pictures much, but I read, read, read.
May 19, 2010 09:27 pm
Fantastic submit once again mate. I believe you’ve hit the nail about the head there. It does not ought to be challenging yet mose men and women fail to recognize the basics. your photo collection is really good. wedding photography
May 17, 2010 07:42 pm
Darren's advice on the use of diffusers is spot on, without a diffuser any direct use of a flash unit with be harsh without the correct flash compensation. External flash unit use within photography is a necessary evil, yet most useful when used cleverly & correctly
Most photography stores and online stores stock a simple plastic diffuser cap that will fit snugly to your flash unit and soften the flash light, you can buy coloured diffusers too [secure with a little tape, they have a habit of dropping off and getting lost].
When you do lose or forget a diffuser [it does happen] a quick emergency diffuser, available in most grocery stores is RICE PAPER, attached with a elastic band, or you can use white A5 envelope folded and attached with an elastic band to make a reflector. Problem solved, very little cost.
Don't be scared of flash photography, practice and play around with both your flash and camera, get to know them, have fun doing whatever you do whilst your learning, that's photography, and don't forget to enjoy yourself!
Never point a undiffused external flash unit at a persons face from close distance, you could blind someone. Keep up the good work Darren.
May 15, 2010 10:35 am
I am quite disturbed after reading a lot of these comments. I searched for wedding photography advice on the internet not because someone is paying or even asking me to take pictures at their wedding, but because I am going to a wedding and I happen to be bringing my camera. I recently took a photography class and even though the class is over, I am still a student. I am still trying to find my niche. I am shooting this wedding for myself as well as the bride, who is my friend. She has hired a professional photographer and understands that I am going to be taking pictures for practice.
I find it absolutely ridiculous that any of you would discourage anyone from getting out there and learning by doing. Shame on you. Live and let live. Amateur photographers KNOW they are amateur photographers and if they get paid to take pictures... then they are professionals. That's the definition of professional, isn't it? No matter what they charge.
May 15, 2010 06:50 am
Thanks for the tips :) They will come in handy :)
May 15, 2010 04:10 am
Thanks for the great tips.
I am a amateur going pro... biggest wedding of my life tomorrow downtown. wish me luck. check out my blog and please feel free to email me tips!
Thanks again for the helpful comments.
May 14, 2010 05:06 am
WOW! Just have to say, an awesome list. I do quite a bit of these, but am happy to have found a comprehensive list of tips and advice for the wedding photographer, even though you titled it for Amateurs. Great Job of compiling the info!
May 13, 2010 05:50 am
very well written and informative blog!
May 8, 2010 09:36 pm
may I suggest putting the occasional "back to the top" links, as it is quite a long page???
May 8, 2010 09:34 pm
Hi Guys, I like your advice and tips you have on your website. All are useful.
As to the stress or worry about only having the one chance to get it right as a wedding photographer, and myself as an ex-pro freelance press photographer, it is more stressful getting the one shot of a subject that does not want it, is the most stressful (to me anyway).
I found doing the odd wedding was easier! As has been said preparation is the key. The only thing I would add, is to try not to neccessarily agree specifically any particular shots with the couple just in case for whatever reason you cant get it! I find that I usually do get the shot anyway. A bit of psycology there I think! Also to ask to speak to the best man well before if possible, and gently impose on him, that it is his job to help the photographer, as he will know most of the attendees, that he is required to help gather people for each shot, usher them along etc. If this is done with the couples knowledge, then they see that if a shot is not taken, then it is part his fault too. Oviously, however, it is down to the photographer to arrange people once they are together, and make sure he does get that shot.
I also try to get the shots of everyone and kids first, so that you can spend a little more time on the shots that really matter, without the kids being bored and playing up etc.
May 8, 2010 12:52 am
I did my first wedding last week! Thanks to these tips and my other reading & research I was prepared but I felt overwhelmed after the ceremony during the romantic session when we started to run short on time.
What I suggest: Do your location research and identify several spots for romantic shots.
Go to the church rehearsal if they have one.
Talk to the priest in advance, ask any question you may have regarding the ceremony.
If you have enough memory shoot everything in raw + jpg (from raw you can recover 2 stops).
Make sure you talk to the videographer and any other second photographer and tell them to stand behind you and not obstructing your views.
Be a good observer in capturing actions and emotions.
Have some photo props (i.e. hand mirror, picture frame) and a small ladder for the group shots.
Have a bottle of water and a chocolate bar handy.
The wedding day is a fantastic experience for the photographer who gets to witness the emotions from the first line in what angle he likes. I was abuzz for several days after the wedding. No wonder the wedding photographers love what they're doing :o)
Good luck readers!
[eimg url='http://www.thelightcone.com/galleries/weddings/images/04_24_2010_B315_D3.jpg' title='04_24_2010_B315_D3.jpg']
May 7, 2010 01:41 pm
I did my first wedding last week! Thanks to these tips and my other reading & research I was prepared but I felt overwhelmed after the ceremony during the romantic session.
What I suggest: Do your location research and identify several spots for romantic shots.
Go to the church rehearsal if they have one.
Talk to the priest in advance, ask any question you may have regarding the ceremony.
If you have enough memory shoot everything in raw + jpg (from raw you can recover 2 stops).
Make sure you talk to the videographer and any other second photographer to stand behind you and let you move without stealing the best angles.
Have some props (hand mirror, picture frame) and a small ladder for the group shots.
Have a bottle of water and a chocolate bar handy.
The wedding day is a fantastic experience for the photographer who gets to witness the emotions from the first line in what angle he likes. I was abuzz for several days after the wedding. No wonder the wedding photographers like what they are doing :o)
Good luck readers!
[eimg url='http://www.thelightcone.com/galleries/weddings/images/04_24_2010_A446_D3.jpg' title='04_24_2010_A446_D3.jpg']
May 2, 2010 01:54 am
I am not a pro, probably never will be, just a self taught photo enthusiast. I have done the obligitory family and friends weddings, and am doing my first wedding in May for a small fee. I feel if the bride and groom wanted a $2000.00 to $7000.00 photographer that's what they would have gotten. If you feel confident and you've been honest with your clientel about your abilities and experience, then find some contructive tips, not discouraging ones from professional wedding photographers not wanting to be under cut. There are many excellant books on the subject at your local book store. I would suggest doing a few probono weddings for friends and family and compare them to other more experienced photographers. You might be surprised, I have been. I have shot along side my brother whom did the Art Institute high dollar edgumacation thing, and our shots look identicle.
April 28, 2010 01:50 pm
These are excellent tips for the professional wedding photographer too, not just the amateur. The only item I would never do is #13, show pictures at the reception, because the amount of time used to pull those images together could be used to take pictures. I can't imagine a situation where I had time between the wedding and reception to make a slideshow. Plus, showing unedited photographs at the reception doesn't really do your pictures justice like the final edited versions.
I would add another wedding photography tip: make sure to drink enough fluids throughout the day. It's easy to get dehydrated when you're busy. - Stuart Meyer[eimg url='http://www.stuartmeyerphotography.com/AdPictures/Stuart-Meyer-Photography.jpg' title='Stuart-Meyer-Photography.jpg']
April 26, 2010 01:55 am
Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! I just did my first wedding yesterday. I carried this list around - oh, my word! It SO helped me out!! Thanks SO much!!
April 22, 2010 07:54 am
Thanks for taking the opportunity to talk about "Wedding Photography – 21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers", I benefit from learning about this subject. If possible, as you gain data, please update this blog with new information. Thanks, Hier
April 21, 2010 10:07 pm
This article by Darren Rowse is great resource amateur photographers and a good review for some of us who have gone to the next level. An amateur photographer will never become a professional unless he gets experience. Aaron whose blog entry appears below this article said he did 50 weddings without pay to build up his portfolio. I have studied photography since I was 12 now I need the extra income to support my family. I can only advise those who lack experience is to practice practice practice.
[eimg url='http://photos1.walmart.com/slideshow/AlbumID=3211322001/PictureID=102665032001/a=13729398_13729398/' title='a=13729398_13729398']
April 20, 2010 05:31 pm
There are some fantastic tips here! Finding a kind (read 'loud and extroverted') family member to help with family shots works wonderfully!
April 20, 2010 06:07 am
Cool tips, this give me a hand book, a note what actualy need to do.. and take action..
April 19, 2010 09:34 pm
It’s sometimes great to be reminded of the fundamentals of Wedding Photography. In London recently, I started using a remote trigger to make my shot timings even less apparent to the guests.
April 19, 2010 09:33 pm
It's sometimes great to be reminded of the fundamentals of Wedding Photography. In London recently, I started using a remote trigger to make my shot timings even less apparent to the guests.
April 18, 2010 11:57 pm
I've always found that shooting on continuous mode to be an absolute necessity, especially during the reception. Just make sure you have a battery pack that can take the power requirement.
April 18, 2010 10:04 am
Oh man - just shot my first wedding last week and this would have been so helpful. I did a few things correct like scout the location but I needed to do a better job of creating the shoot list and figuring out where to do the group shots.
April 16, 2010 09:55 am
As a bride-to-be and amateur photographer, I can tell you that you CAN get good wedding pictures from an amateur, if you are willing to have patience, understanding, and FUN. Be realistic about what you will get. They won't be the shots from a photographer who will charge 2 grand for the big day, but you will probably get shots you will love for the rest of your life if you loosen up.
Check out their work beforehand of course, and talk to them about your style. Find an amateur who does not want to remain an amateur - get someone who is excited about their work and has ambition. If you love what you do, you will usually be better at it.
I LOVE photographs (helps to be a photographer, eh?) but I couldn't afford the artists that I loved to shoot it. My dad knew a student who is training to be a profressional photographer. He is really excited to shoot my wedding (not his first, but 3rd) and plans to include it in his portfolio. He was honest with us - he is no pro. But he did his research (and I'm checking up on him) and he has all the basic lenses and gear necessary. I'm even offering my camera as a 2nd. Since me, my fiance, and my maid of honor all took photography in college, it will be fun to have so many cameras flying around! He photographed my sister at a senior banquet, and got some really gorgeous shots. Anyway, it can be done, but be prepared.
I'll have to remember my loose powder . . .
April 13, 2010 04:40 am
As a wedding photgrapher , the most valuable light stand I use is the magic light stand "DIY for $60"
enhance double lighting and the stand has no legs for guest to trip on. See example photos and why you need to own this light stand http://www.magiclighstand.com
April 8, 2010 10:36 am
To Sarah, Angela and Russ - I'm really sorry for your bad experiences with wedding photographers!
April 8, 2010 10:20 am
Thanks a bunch, great tips, very helpful and insightful! There are some great tips in the comments here too! Also thanks a bunch to Robert, what a brilliant list! =)
April 8, 2010 08:07 am
i studied photography at college and wanted to go into pro wedding . however after finishing college i got engaged and marryed myself and has got me wondering over my wedding pictures and continuing my journey within the industry my problem was at college i was never happy with what i shot even though ive always had raving comments about my work my problem is confidence. i love my wedding pictures but could produce the same and even better memories than the gentleman i hired. photography has always been a major passion but does anybody have any tips how to make that leap? also whats the deal with photographers insurance? help as i have a friends wedding coming up that i reali want to shot!
April 7, 2010 03:34 am
The post is a good one. Anyone’s audience is a group of individuals. Nothing can change it.
Nice article written here. I got to know a few more things about the topic
April 6, 2010 09:49 am
There are many photographers in any area that have a high-quality of work. Liking their work is one important thing, but the next important item - will you (the bride) be able to spend 9-11 hours with this photographer on your wedding day? The answer to this question should narrow down the possible photographers for your day pretty quickly.
April 5, 2010 08:38 am
i did 50 weddings without pay to start, but I belt up my portfolio really fast and after that was easy. Good tips thanks a bunch!
April 4, 2010 12:45 am
I dont know what I have to say, I don't think thanks is good enough to say for this useful tips. Its 7 days before photographing my first wedding. Me, my friend and brother are really confuse and nervous by thinking about how to this, what if we failed,,bla-bla-bla ... but after read this article I think we'll can handle it..I hope. Well, let us see...
March 28, 2010 11:02 am
All I can say to couples looking for a good photographer is to ensure you really like the photographers work... Ask to see all photographs from a few weddings... Anyone can get a few great shots together from 20 wedding's they've shot. A pro will have many great images from one wedding!
March 28, 2010 02:19 am
I began my wedding photography career as a wedding videographer. My 17 year old daughter became interested in photography and developed a great artistic eye. About a year ago I brought her with me to a wedding for the sole purpose of shooting 'supplemental' stills that I thought would add a little "wow" to my client's final video. Essentially, she was an unpaid second shooter. She worked in the background and stayed out of the primary photographer's way. I incorporated her shots in the video and the entire production received rave reviews. The bride and groom requested copies of the shots she took because the photo journalistic style really captured those special moments missed by the primary. We built our portfolio in this manner (switching photography and videography duties) until we built a decent portfolio. Doing it this way helped us learn the ropes by watching the pros without any of the pressure. Now, she's 19 and runs a wedding as the primary with rarely a hitch. We definitely "level-set" our client's expectations and always provide samples and clear descriptions of what can and will go wrong. So far, so good.
March 27, 2010 11:05 pm
Curiously, most people I know would only end up displaying one or two favourite wedding pics.
I hesitantly took shots for my brother's wedding, along with several other relatives, as he couldn't afford even $500 for a photographer. I did my best at the time and one of my 'snap shots' is proudly hung on his wall. We were also his chauffers, ushers and his cleaners.
Awesome tips (my favs below) and some entertaining opinions, thanks.
March 20, 2010 04:20 am
I have shot about 10 wedding, and have about 15 booked for the year so far. I have taken classes, bought decent equipment, and study each photograph individually while I'm editing them. I by nbo means consider myself a professional, yet just an ameture still eager to learn new things. I have been doing this for about 2 years now. I find it important to know your clients, get to know them, what they like, etc. The consensious I have is that most people, will appreciate your work, espically if you are saving them tons of money vs. a PROFESSOINAL who finds it necessary to charge thousands of dollars, which I find repulsice actually. I have never had one complaint and plenty repeat customers. Her's my opionion, the PROS are jealsous that we can work just has hard, have just as much high quality photographs, and make a little money doing it, even when it's just a "hobby". Ametures don't rip couples off, we are reliable, and produce timely quality photographs. I have worked very very hard over the last 2 years building my business, and find it insulting for someone that may have a little more expensive equipment than I do, to say I have no business doing weddings. I feel everyone deserves quality work, espeically the blue collar workers or the less fortunate. Not everyone can spend their life savings on pictures. I suggest to all you ametures out there, keep practicing, keep working hard, and good luck!
March 19, 2010 07:54 pm
I run few wedding services websites in India, this article is very helpful for understandin the wedding photography.
Keep posting such nice articles.
March 17, 2010 10:23 am
I just want to thank you for your articles and news letters. I am a landscape photographer and I refuse to do weddings (bitches - but good money). I have been forced by a friend to do his, so where does one go for the best tips and suggestions? OK, if you need a hint just email me back.
March 16, 2010 07:18 pm
1. The idea of having disposable camera simply rocks!!! I've attended a friend's wedding, the bride & groom purchased half a dozen of polariod mini cameras and assigned it to the 'assistants' (their relatives). The assistants roamed around the hall and shot the guests in the ceremony. And since it's a polariod, the guests get the photos as memorabilias. How cool is that? :D
March 15, 2010 06:42 am
Well, I have a couple of things to say about this. Every Bride, every wedding, every BUDGET is different. While some professionals do a great job, others are complete wastes of money.
The photographer for my wedding was absolutely horrible. We paid $800 for a basic set of prints and for her to be there for 2 hours. She didn't even hang out long enough to get the cake or the dances. Oh yeah, and even though we gave her complete lists of family and shots to get, she missed my Grandfather (who walked me down the aisle) and my step-father is not in one single photo. Her portfolios, however, were fabulous! And the 5 or 6 times I met with her beforehand she was kind and professional. How do you choose based on those first few impressions and a folder of only a photographer's best work? You choose--and then you hold them to their work! I was too nice and didn't want the drama, so I just let it go.
On the other hand, my cousin--an amateur--took some wonderful photos of whole day! So at least we had some good ones from her.
I have helped plan at least 10 other weddings since I got married in 2002. My advise to them--how important are pictures to you? If they're pretty important, then skimp somewhere else and pay a pro. If they're not the most important thing, then sure, find a friend and see what you get. Some had amateur photographers that were working as a wedding present or for under $300 and some had professional photographers that were working for $800 all the way up to $2000. Just like Darren says in tip numbers 5 and 20, it's important that couples know what to expect from their photographer and it's also important to expect the unexpected! All the couples that I've worked with KNOW what to expect--whether it be mediocre pics from a college kid that tried real hard and exist only to provide proof that wedding occurred, or exceptional pictures that truly capture the day but were worth their weight in gold.
The most important thing? If you've asked someone to do it for free then you can't (and shouldn't) expect $2000 perfect pics--that's not fair to either of you! If you've hired someone and are paying for pics, you better make yourself heard and let them know you expect some darn good pics from them. If they're truly a good professional photographer, they won't mind (and will even applaud) your quest for perfection!!!
March 9, 2010 07:17 pm
Gr8 tips for taking wedding photographs. Even though I am not a professional photographer, i feel i can become one by these tips. Have to learn more on lens exposure details for effectively executing these tips.
March 9, 2010 05:58 pm
When I began photographing weddings, I would have died for a list like this! I think it is great that you helping out those who are starting out! I am a total believer in that there is enough work for those who truly want it and are willing to work hard for it! I am also a true believer in leaving a trail of knowledge behind us, as professional Photographers, as I was extremely blessed to have amazing mentors who were so open and honest with me, when I was embarking on this journey. Thanks for your 'list'! It made me happy to come across it!
March 6, 2010 05:08 am
Prepare, prepare, prepare!!! Batteries, cards, cameras, flashes, etc....have everything prepared. Make a shot list!!! Visit the site(s) before hand, preferably during the times you'll be shooting. Look at other websites. have ideas ready in case of bad weather. GO WITH THE FLOW if anything unexpected happens. Remember, above all else, never lose your style! That's why they hired you!
March 5, 2010 11:57 am
lmaoooooo!!! gees pauly, ease up mate!! but yeah, agree with kenny and pauly...we will be better than u one day, you should see my just point and shoot random pix,....they're pretty alrritteeee...but weddings will be the true test for me...so cams up, stress levels up & here we come baby!! lol...
March 5, 2010 10:55 am
i agree with Jeremy ...not all pros are pros ...and not all amatures are amatures ....and as for MY SPELLING ...im french so forgive me ...i never took english in school ....so boo hoo if i cant spell ...at least i try ...ok!....and this is a site is for so called trying to be good photographers one day ...i think weddings are cheesy ...but the pics dont have to be ....so move over you over paid think they know it all photographers ...theres always someone better than you out there ....better than me for sure ....dont think your all that ...if you do ...you will see your over priced ...cheezy photoshoped crap out of date sooner than you think ...organic is here stronger than ever ....you will be out of work faster than you think
March 4, 2010 10:51 pm
Just read "Kens" reply regarding leaving wedding photography to the pro's! And I'm incensed. Apart from the fact he can't spell (or read, because he could have referred to the title for the word amateur ) I've been to weddings where the “Pro” has forgotten to put film in the camera; where the female "Pro" dropped her camera and didn't have a spare, and seen countless other photographic disasters taken by overpaid numptys who think they are pros simply because they don’t have any other day job.
I'm a professional engineer who just happens to be a proficient photographer. I've taken photographs at weddings very successfully thank you very much. My attitude is professional, and my photographs are too – otherwise I wouldn’t have been asked to do more. Bad photographers are bad regardless of whether they charge or not! And good photographers are not always paid what they are worth. Good checklist by the way – I do most of it, and would only suggest adding bracket exposures as much as possible – especially ones where the white dress is in brilliant sunshine – blown highlights are unrecoverable.
March 3, 2010 12:25 pm
@ liv lualua email@example.com
March 3, 2010 12:06 pm
oh by the way pauly, what is ur email addy? or can we get it from here? im currently doing a calendar with my family boys, id love to show ya so u can give me a few pointers...just starting out bla bla bla..and im kinda nervous doing it up as a calendar,but i gotta, and also posting up n facebook....what u thinkkkkk??
March 3, 2010 11:48 am
thanks pauly!!! k, now when u say jpeg, what the helmet do u mean?? i mean, isnt that the only clear pic version on windows for windows?? well i have a canon 500d, i dunno whther that makes a diff?? oh man, i seriously need photography skooling! hahaha....dont kill me but i dont really get the aperture and shutter speed thingy majig either, im those point and shoot type, fix up on photoshop after photographers aka cheap ones! lol...i mean, id love to get into photography, and do weddings any type functions, a bit hard for me right now, when ur in accounting and its numbers wracking ur brains!! & when i take shots and i dont really like the darkness on it, leave it??..cos usually i go for what looks good on screen after i take it immediately...man u must wanna kill me now! hahahahaa...k, reply back, mate :) ..i plan on kickin ass, but not til mine is kicked first with advice lmao!! Liv
March 3, 2010 08:47 am
@ liv lualua...the person does make the shot ...not the camera but....if the camera is a 10 $ point and shoot with a 3 miga pixel ahhh .no ...the camera is to blame also haha ...but ....photoshop ...i dont even use it ...i use the disk that came with the camera...i have a rebel xti ....so the thing is ...adjust your camera ...adjust manual white balance ,iso,shutter speed, make sure the pics are a bit darker than what you like ...cause if they look perfect in your camera screen ...chances are they are not good....trust me ...always shoot in raw also ...forget the jpeg ...thats why its the person and not the camera that take the picture .....know you settings ...learn them with your eyes closed ....ive been shooting for a bit over a year ...talked to tones of pros and they all say the same ...adjust your camera properly ...dont bother with photoshop ...unless your doing special effects or a fashion shoot ...i kinda agree with them ...so good luck and kick some ass
March 2, 2010 11:08 pm
hi guys, k i've just taken up photography the past 6months and love it...however sooo much work involved as well as takin the pics, ie. editing on photoshop bla bla...i've been asked to take pics for my mates sister wedding in june, incredibly nervous and havent said yes either lmao!! however i feel its great exposure and experience for me....but....i could only afford a canon d500, does it matter what type of camera u have?? because a wedding aint some stroll in the park type photo scenery...this is the big time baby!!!! someone please help...a freind of mine who has helped me alot, says a the end of the day, its not the camera but the person who takes the photos and how they turn out.....true?? liv,melbz australia :)
March 2, 2010 08:22 pm
Nice write up and interesting comments. I do however feel the shot list shouldn't be long. For me, there are just about 15 basic events I shoot at every wedding. Every other shot revolves around these 15. Its short and easy to remember.
March 1, 2010 06:13 am
Very useful tips. In hindsight everything being said makes total sense. Great resource for someone just starting.
February 26, 2010 04:16 am
As part of our series on making albums we made 10 tips for the amateur at a wedding:
One of our llines is that it is 90% people and 10% photographic technique and that you are not there to replace the offical photographer. But you will see things differently
For our ten tips pleae visit:
February 25, 2010 08:23 pm
Good, sound advice. 200 weddings down the road, every one is different, and apart from the obvious camera skills, patience is the most needed attribute.
February 24, 2010 06:31 am
This is a great article on beginning your business as a wedding photographer. I was a little disappointed I didn't see anything about being insured as one of the tips. A general liability policy is a must for a wedding photographer as, well, anything can and does happen. Many venues require proof of such insurance if they haven't worked with you previously. Another tip would be to call around to your local established professionals and see if you assist at a wedding. There may not be an actual photography position open but you would be surprised how much you can learn by carrying lights from place to place. Also check for local photography organizations that you can meet with other photographers in your area.
February 24, 2010 01:12 am
I think your article maid me conquer my fears and start going and shoot some weddings :) I will just offer my services for free for start :) just for the fun of learning
February 23, 2010 11:47 am
February 23, 2010 11:45 am
well ....once i had an invite to go shoot a fashion show from a model i knew ...so i went ...when i got there there was to so called pros with the big facy flashes ..special batterie packs on there belts ..wires hanging on all sides of them ...i felt like a little boy next to adults ...all i had was my expo disc ...one sigma 530 flash ....my canon xti ....a 50mm 1.8 canon lens ...and my kit lens i got with my camera ...well i did the manual white balance with my expo disc ...tried a few test shots ....then i was good to go as good as i knew how ...the 2 other photographers where talking to each other ...wouldnt even look at me when i said hi to them ...i felt out of place big time ...then the show started ...so we went at it ...picture after picture ...hour after hour ...we went at it for about 3-4 hours total ...i offered the guys my expo disc for the white balance ...oh nooooo they said ...we do it on photoshop ....i didnt even have that ...all i had was my canon pro program ...well guess what ....the fashion show director stole one of my pictures i had posted on my flickr site to use in a poster for a tshirt company that was at the show ...the so called pros had crap for pics ...so all im saying is that ...wedding ...fashion show or whatever ....just do the best you can ...have fun ...dont get intimidated by the pros and have a blast ....chances are you will be great cause your not full of yourself and just trying to do the best you know how ...and for you so called pros out there ...be nice to the little guy cause one day he will kick your butt ...and you will be the one out ...and to the other pros out there who dont mind helping the little amature like me ...we thank you and respect you ...cause you respect us ...and you give us pointers ....for that we thank you
February 23, 2010 09:23 am
Yes Jay, I know it's a lot of comments to read through and sometimes we're so excited to post our comments that we don't read all the way through...understandable, however,...If you read through the comments you will see that checking out the location was actually mentioned quite a few times by various contributers.
Chris Miller, I can't say much about the video shooting at the weddings, since I've only done it a couple times, purely from an amateur's perspective. I do know it's a lot like photography considering all the technical tips offered in this site. It helps when both photo and video work together though, that way all the angles are covered. Care must be taken to avoid getting in each others shots as much as possible. It's also a good idea to get a microphone up in there to get the verbal exchanges clearly.
February 23, 2010 07:42 am
Wow... what a great list! This article is very informative and it it was rather interesting to compare these tips to the results of my actual wedding. Some of the shots are right on, and others slightly unique in their own way, but regardless, this is a great list.
Furthermore, I don't shoot many weddings, but a lot of these tips hold true for multiple scenarios and I appreciated having the opportunity to read them.
Thanks for your wisdom,
Jeremy, the used car guy
February 23, 2010 02:45 am
Can anyone suggest a similar list of tips for shooting video at a wedding? I've been asked to shoot the video for a wedding of a niece. I'm not a pro, but they have no budget to speak of. Some of tips listed here will help a lot.
February 23, 2010 02:11 am
This is great stuff! Thanks for the tips.
I'm kind of surprised about the pros no checking out a location before the wedding. I thought would be a given.
February 22, 2010 03:42 am
I don't know whether to laugh or cry after reading this! I'm doing a BA degree in photography and I've got 2 family weddings to shoot this year. I've had on and off work experience with a pro for 2 years and i've just done photo and video assistance for a professional artist in Sheffield at the ripe old age of 19. I used to love my phrase of 'when the wedding is over all that is left is the photographs.' Which i believe to be true, however, I've just been reading some Italian literature by Italo Calvino, I'm sure you pros are familiar as its a common read in photography education, where he says you shouldn't just take photos of the most beautfiul moments to get the true depiction of a day you should press your shutter release once a minute. Because if not all the moments that you don't photograph will be forgotten, but for people to grow and learn you must remember the whole of every experience. And so I believe, that as long as you get some sound shots (because lets face it people only have 1 or 2 wedding photos on show) we'll all be fine as long as the bride and groom make the most of their day to remember the whole experience and not rely on photos - because they are only constructs not real life.
February 21, 2010 03:55 pm
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this but one thing I think that should be said, is you need to think VERY carefully before agreeing to do a wedding shoot, unless you have a lot of experience. It is an event that cannot be reshot - it is a one-off chance, and for many people the most important day of their life. They want to have good memories, and the photography is going to be an important part of that. So, if you are not sure, get a professional!
February 20, 2010 08:48 am
Thanks for the great article. Especially the last one about having FUN while shooting the wedding!!
February 18, 2010 06:51 am
Despite how good and/or professional you are, if you get a wedding at a great location (e.g: destination wedding in Cancun), it will make everything stand out.
February 17, 2010 02:32 am
You absolutely know what you are doing !!!! Thanks for the Tips !!!!
February 9, 2010 10:12 pm
I have to say I agree that you should never mislead anyone into believing you are a professional but in my case, I have been asked to do 2 of my friends weddings, basically because they cannot afford a professional photographer to do the work. Both of these people have seen the work I have done with my camera and I did some portraits at Christmas for a friend which they where more than pleased with.
Although I am very very nervous about doing a wedding I will put everything I can into and and make sure I have the right equipment, but all parties are aware that I am not a professional and otherwise if it wasnt me they wouldnt have had anyone
Great tips by the way
February 8, 2010 03:27 am
This whole pro vs amateur stuff is crazy.
Amatuers - give it a go but make sure the b&g are aware you are new to this. Someone mentioned expectations earlier and I agree with them. Other things that the professionals have mentioned are extremely relevant and should be considered, this is their game and they will know a fair bit about it if they are making a good living out of it.
I agree their are plenty of people who call themselves professional photographers who are untrained, have not done their "apprenticeship" (which I would consider to be assisting/second shooting) whose images are woeful but there are others (some of which are posting and being slagged off) who have done the hard yards and are simply offering sound advice to all those who read this excellent post. So please show those guys a little respect.
A wedding is a big thing and should be treated with the appropriate amount of respect. If B&G and photographer are on the same page about a realistic outcome then there will be no problems. So by all means give it a go and pay attention to this advice as it is extremely sound. If you are serious about a career then I would suggest that there is no substitute for formal training at a reputable school/uni/private college and assisting a photographer who's work you love. That way you can look at the art, technical, business and personal aspects of the profession.
February 6, 2010 07:33 am
Thank you! I'll do my first weddings this summer. Little stressed, but it'll be a lot of fun. I'll make sure to keep your comments in mind.... I love your quote: "Don’t interrupt moments, capture them!". I'll make sure the people I shoot understand this as well.
February 3, 2010 03:19 pm
Bring a friend. #9 takes the stress you'll feel shooting a wedding, and cut it in half.
Bring along someone you enjoy shooting with, and you'll catch many more moments during the day. This is something that I did for my first wedding, and was the most helpful think I could have done. It also gives you someone to talk to through the day, and to bounce ideas off of. Having someone else shooting with you, also gives you the moments you need to switch out memory cards or batteries, or to grab a different lens.
Another good idea is to browse other wedding photographers portfolios. Look at them not so much in order to copy the shots they took, but rather look at them to understand how they were interacting with the couple when they took the shot. Sometimes they'll be candid, sometimes there will obviously be some sort of interaction between the subject and photographer. Don't make the mistake that many first time wedding photographers make, of getting your subject's attention each time you're about to take a picture. There's nothing more painful than a picture of the bride and groom feeding each other a bite of cake, but looking toward the camera with a fake smile. Don't interrupt moments, capture them!
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/benjaminphoto/3917759896/' title='J+J married- Lynden Wedding Photography -1' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2493/3917759896_b543b3a444.jpg']
January 26, 2010 04:23 pm
Scouting the location is key!!!! Need to be prepared!!!
January 25, 2010 04:54 am
Thanks a lot! I am new to the world of Photography and find this site very insightful! you guys (and gals) rock!
January 22, 2010 10:57 am
#4, 8, & 9 in my eyes, are the most important. Being prepared will take away all the nerves you might have. Being married to a former captain of a university football team and now part-time football coach at university, I see him put hours and hours into watching film and planning for the week of practice. One night as he was watching film on a laptop while sitting on the couch with me I asked him "why do you do all this extra work?". He said "because if I don't, I'll forget what I wanted to do, what I should be doing, and more importantly...I'll get nervous. I hate being nervous, so I replace that feeling with preparation". I've never forgotten that moment. Every week leading up to a wedding, I'm sketching out poses, drafting locations, and visualizing the day and how I want it to flow. By far, the most important aspect of wedding photography for me.
#8 - pretty much an immoral decision. Simple question, what happens if your camera fails??? Borrow Uncle Mikes point and shoot camera and hope for the best? I've got 4 camera's and I'm buying a 5th next month. Word to the wise, camera's break, trust me, I've been there and it's the worst feeling in the world....CLICK - and nothing happens. Luckily, I rented a 2nd camera and it saved my behind. You would never go to war with one gun, why would you shoot a wedding with one camera.
#9 - simple question again, (true story) what happens if something happens to you? I shoot weddings with two people, my brother and my best friend. My brother just finished his last year of schooling with about 40 other students in his class, right around the same time as H1N1. Someone had it, came to school and got half the class sick. About halfway through that weekend during the wedding, it hit him like a ton of bricks, he was done, had to go to the hospital, and recovered two days later. Now, what if that was me, and I was alone? Couples pay you a lot of money and they want those special photos. What if you fell? What if I got sick? What if as you were driving to the ceremony you got in an accident? There are so many variables, it's just too scary to do it alone. Always, second shoot or have a second shooter. Love the other top tips. Best of luck and happy clicking.
January 21, 2010 01:54 pm
I will be doing a wedding in Feb and these are not family members so this time it will be different than other weddings i have taken. But Thank you so much for these tips They are very helpful to me. I really appreciate the time you took to put this together to help me and i am sure you have helped others. Again Thanks you so much :) your a life saver
January 15, 2010 04:21 pm
Think of the event as if it were that of one of your relatives. If you are a female photog, befriend the bride. At times people ask me if we are actually related because I feel that I actually do care about the bride.
January 15, 2010 11:55 am
Other than the techniques, there is the business side of it too.
January 13, 2010 03:14 pm
Thank you so much for your input. Perhaps budding is the wrong word. Both of us have won multiple photography contests in our area and have been asked to be paid photographers and many events. I think we could call ourselves amateurs. I totally understand the thing about the stress tho. It's just good to hear it over and over again because it prepares me a little bit more.
Once again, thanks for your comments :)
Feel free to check out my photo stream hosted by flickr.
January 13, 2010 09:19 am
Jessica, I was in the same situation as you last year. Although I've been taking photos for 25 yrs, I am an amateur.
I did 2 weddings last year, both because the couple couldn't afford a professional.
This is what I learned:
1. Have a family member around to arrange the formal groups.
2. Visit the venue(s) with the couple and discuss the sort of pics they want, if possible go at the same time of day as the ceremony and assess the lighting conditions, take a few test shots.
3. Shoot in RAW format. Don't even think about JPEG. That way you can sort the lighting later in Photoshop.
4. Get a 50mm F2.8 lens. Use a tripod. Make sure with group pics all members are in focus.....you'll need a fairly high f-stop........nothing less than f8 I suggest.
5. Be prepared to be stressed.....if you're not stressed then you don't appreciate the problems and you shouldn't be doing it.
6. My natural style tends to be a bit photojournalistic......fine for me........but make sure you identify the crucial formal pics the couple want and make sure you get them right!
7. If you find you get a bit of motion blur in some, .......eg. at the line up when the couple are greeting the guests.......don't discard them, some of these can be very good.......the feeling of movement can be effective in some cases, but remember there's a difference between motion blur and camera shake!
8. Visit some professional photographer's websites.......you can get some good ideas.
9. I try not to use flash, but there are cases when you need it. Make sure you have a decent one and use the diffuser.
10. Know the sequence of events for things like cutting the cake, speeches etc. and make sure you are in the correct position to get the right shot.
11. If I might suggest........a 'budding' photographer is not a good idea. While, in my experience, an amateur can do a wedding........the amateur needs to understand and know how to use the various camera features, what 'works' and what does not, and has a significant level of experience. Weddings are hectic situations and you only get one chance to catch the shot. At both the weddings I did there were several people taking pictures.........I asked some of them to show me their efforts afterward.........not one picture was any good!
12. A good understanding of Lighting, focus, composition, shutter speed and an experienced eye for the right shot are an absolute requirement.......I agree these are not the sole domain of the professional.......but you really do need to know what you are doing!
13. Both weddings I did for free......and in both cases I got thank you letters from the couple who were in both cases absolutely delighted with the finished results.............so it can be done by an amateur.........BUT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!
January 13, 2010 06:57 am
Whilst i would agree with one of the other posts about no letting amateurs loose on weddings and leave it to the professionals. I think that there is space for people to have a go at weddings if they have a decent knowledge in photography and that the wedding is for some friend or relative.
I am a fashion photographer in the UK called James Nader www.jamesnader.com I had no experience in weddings what so evr indeed it was one of those subjects that whenever people realised i shot image of people, I would be asked please do our wedding and for 20 years I have refused until 18 months ago i thought I would give it a go but in my own way and formed a little brand called www.fashionable-weddings.co.uk
I can take pictures and deal with people as you do in Fashion Photography but no one had told me how stressful a wedding day can be. Arranging the group shots, being different, being friendly, looking after the couple, arranging the creative shots, exporting an online gallery, editing books presenting back to the couple. It seems more work than a simple days booking in fashion.
I would say if you have good organisational skills and can work with one other photographer to split the images then give it a go. I you are an amateur make sure you can cope because at the end of the day everyone has to have a good experience of you not just your photography. People buy people! try not to just do it for the cash because then you are taking food from the professionals mouth and lowering the worth of a wedding photographer who is skilled in his craft
January 11, 2010 03:55 pm
These are great tips!
I find it annoying when the pros say "just leave it to the pros".
How are others to become pros if they never get the chance to step up and show the people around them what they can do?
I was recently discussing with a friend about her upcoming wedding and she doesn't want to pay thousands for a photographer because "they're just photos." I warned her that I haven't taken that many people photos and I may not be the right photographer for the job, but she's still keeping me in mind. If my friend asks me to be her main photographer, I'll most likely take my sister along with me (also a budding photographer) to be my backup and assistant. That way we have two sets of eyes, both looking for different things.
Even if I don't get to shoot this wedding, I think most of these tips can be applied to almost any type of situation.
January 11, 2010 06:53 am
Great tips, but I would really hope that anyone photographing a wedding has really taken some time to study more lighting first - not just fill and bounce flash, but how to see light and work within whatever conditions come up. Weddings can be very unpredictable.
January 6, 2010 06:58 am
This has been a fantastic help!
January 5, 2010 01:26 am
I like your idea in displaying the phot slide show during the wedding... thank you
January 3, 2010 09:06 pm
Thanks it cant get any simpleir and informatve athan this, Im off to a wedding tommorow (monday)
Yes a weekday to cut cost and, i agree with some of you to save cost on weddings, cuz i beleive, the more practical and family oriented the wedding is th longer they last,
December 30, 2009 11:10 pm
Great article with good and practical ideas.
thanks for the tips...
December 29, 2009 05:50 am
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December 26, 2009 11:05 am
I really like the information on your web site. My mother is getting married, I am the photographer, at the age of 14 and your tips will really help me.
December 24, 2009 06:43 am
Great article with good, practical ideas. Here is one more: get comfortable shoes!
December 24, 2009 05:18 am
As far as "staying away from wedding unless you are a pro" goes... I have to agree to DISAGREE, you will not learn without practice! Although here are the steps you should take before being someone's PAID Pro Photographer for their wedding.
1. Work on your skills as a photographer in less stressful events, where you have more control... for example Portrait Photography
2. Find wedding's you can "assist" at for free, or volunteer your services for free to weddings that can not afford a Pro Wedding Photog. And Make them aware that you get what you pay for... so you are not guaranteeing perfect wedding shots. Even if you are new to photography odds are if you've practiced you will get a few good shots, and encourage them to have friends and family take pictures.
3. When you feel you are ready to start doing weddings on your own take the advice above. And Charge what you are worth, let them know about your experience and ability. Don't pretend to have more experience then you do.
December 20, 2009 07:35 am
Turning off the sound on the camera is so important. You can really hear that little beeping sound throughout the entire church.
December 16, 2009 06:47 am
That's a great list of things to remember when shooting weddings!
December 16, 2009 04:58 am
The correct choice of photographer is based on the simplest principle: liked - disliked.
December 5, 2009 04:57 am
Great article! The one piece of information I would add is that often new photogs are so obsessed with shot details and technical information that what often gets lost is that the wedding photography business, like many others, is about relationships and dealing with people. Its your ability to cultivate relationships with your clients, other vendors, and even other photographers that will determine whether you are an amateur or a successful professional.
December 3, 2009 04:55 pm
After studing photography at universty and going to alot of friends parties; taking photos at them I feel contfible doing weeding photography and have 2 shoots booked for the near future.
Don't attempt weddings unless you have done alot of portraiture even photography and every shoot in the past 20 or so has worked out really well not just ok but really well. Consitancy under all conditions is every thing give any one the right light and good composition they will do a ok job but give them a dark church and limited gear and knowledge and alot of the time not so good job. As such I agree that wedding photography is complex and often is one of the hardest jobs there is to do.
Gear and knowledge of that equipment is important. Most people can get some good photos in most conditions however at weddings there are things that one can not control. Lighting is often dificult and as such unless people have a external flash - to use as fill light (has a ok understanding on how to use the thing) and some good quality lens I would not attempt a shoot. As there is a good chance that you will get some really good photos but what happens if some thing goes wrong can? With the gear and knowledge of it there is less chance of things going wrong and even if they do more chance to componsate.
November 30, 2009 10:46 pm
well the most important thing for such an object - a wedding couple and the guests and the ceremony and the environment - is above all the natural look of the scene. If it seems to fake, the pictures will be a complete calamity. You definitely have to keep an eye on the natural look of the scene, and that you do not mix art with reality that is very important!
November 22, 2009 11:52 pm
I just read a great book on how to get great photos of weddings by Joe Buissink
I thought his suggestions were fantastic and love his examples of what works.
November 22, 2009 01:28 pm
Surprisingly, a lot of these thoughts and ideas can be used in commercial / industrial photography also.
November 22, 2009 01:25 pm
November 17, 2009 08:29 pm
Brilliant article with some great tips (comments included!). I am shooting my first "real" wedding this week (other ones have been family weddings but not 'official' photographer). Original photographer let bride & groom down so I am stepping in with a few days notice. Am really excited but really nervous at the same time. I don't want to screw this up and give them crap photos. I just want to take photos that reflect that day and hopefully the bride & groom will like at least on of them.
I will be using some of these tips tho :)
November 14, 2009 01:18 pm
Don't know if this was mentioned, but if you're going to create the heart/bible shot, use 1Corinthians chapter 13 - AKA "The Love Chapter". Many officiants use this chapter as the basis for their ceremony sermon
November 14, 2009 12:46 am
I agree with most of the list, I really hate shot lists and fill flashes though. Otherwise a great list of wedding photography tips!
November 1, 2009 03:19 pm
Very well written article!
October 30, 2009 09:39 am
I shot my first wedding on the 24th. Here's what I learned.
* It's better to shoot in JPEG than in RAW if you don't have enough space to shoot RAW without offloading until the whole day is done.
* Make sure that if you try to offload, you use a fast transfer method. You may have five minutes or less to do your transfer.
* Make sure you have enough disk space, too. I lost 2 gigs of images because Canon's DPP software told me the whole card was transferred, when I had long since run out of hard disk space.
* Take the time to pack your equipment the night before, double check it against a checklist an hour before you leave, and check it again as you load your car. (I forgot to bring the backup flash.)
* Make sure your belt matches your shoes.
* Dress professionally, even if you don't have to.
* Show up early at the rehearsal and know the lighting conditions for the time of day and locations you will be shooting. Use the camera to take some test shots, and use a hand held light meter. Take notes.
* Don't be surprised if your notes don't take into account the changes in lighting that happen when the wedding day is overcast.
* The bride will be late. Make sure you don't make her any later.
* Make sure you know where the bride will be having her makeup done, where she will be getting dressed, and how to get from each to the next and then to where the ceremony will be held, so you can arrive before she does and photograph her arriving, exiting the car, and entering the church... and the guests arriving... and the groom... and...
* Don't forget to take a picture of the whole outside of the church or building the wedding is taking place in.
* Frequently check to make sure your settings haven't changed from what you wanted them to be.
* Know which settings you want to use for flash and non-flash images, and be able to change from one to the other in one second or less.
* Outdoor shots after the wedding don't use the same settings you shot with indoors. Especially if you were compensating for dark with a +1 exposure compensation. Change them to fit the time of day and shade level.
* Putting the couple in the shade of a tree won't help if the background is in full sunlight.
* Don't forget to take a picture of the bride being helped into the car by the groom after the wedding.
* Take at least one transitional pic between the wedding and the reception.
* Get to the reception before the happy couple does.
* If the reception is dimly lit, and you have it, use the image stabilization. (I got a great shot that was an astonishing 1/2 second exposure hand-held because of that.)
* If you're shooting PJ style, either don't use flash, or use it enough that nobody notices.
* The right flash diffuser will work miracles. (I love my GF LS.)
* Don't forget that there is outdoor lighting to use for images if the reception is indoors. The magical hour in the evening is not something to throw away.
* Shoot everything, and everyone, at least five times. When shooting groups, use a 3 to 5 shot burst.
* Even if you're working for free, a contract is still a good idea.
* Have a spare set of clothes to change into in case a baby pukes on you.
* Bring a footstool or stepladder for group shots and unusual angles.
* Backlighting is good, if you balance it out.
* Shooting in a tiny bathroom with three other people and mirrors everywhere is do-able, if you hide yourself and your flash behind the other people present and use the right flash diffuser aimed at the ceiling.
* Don't forget to bring a bottle of water and a couple candy bars at least to keep your blood sugar up. Even if the couple invites you to sit and eat, you can't get the shot by putting the camera down.
* If you don't have a second camera body, RENT ONE. The same one you're using. Same with lenses. Rent a 24-70 f/2.8, a 70-200 f/2.8 and a 50 f/1.4 if you don't have them.
* Memorize the shot list.
* Don't forget your shot list, even if you have memorized it.
* Know what is happening when, in what sequence, and know where to be to shoot what you want from the angle you need.
* When something goes wrong (and it will), find a way to make it advantageous.
* Not every set of batteries will drain at the same rate. Bring three sets of extras, and be able to access them and swap them out in five seconds or less. Without frying your equipment because you put them in backwards.
* A night portrait against a lit bridge is a nice way to end your pictorial wedding story. ISO 200 @ 2 seconds and f/16 is good for the background, while a flash and flash diffuser are good for the foreground.
Hope this helps.
October 30, 2009 06:54 am
I am an amateur and have been asked to shoot the bride and her 'maids at the salon prior to the wedding. A "professional" (the bride's word, not mine) will do the wedding. I have learned that the salon is long and narrow, is lighted by fluoresce I plan to shoot with a Canon5D II. I will set the WB to fluorescent. Any suggestions re: lenses? I rarely do interior work and am concerned that a wide angle may distort the people. Thanks for any suggestions!
October 23, 2009 03:40 pm
nice wedding pics... i also specialized in wedding photography.. great site!
October 22, 2009 01:54 am
I still find myself coming back here to see if I can find something useful, and I usually do.
PatB....Interesting tips to read.
Trevor.......I was looking forward to seeing your wedding photo's, but can't find them on your site.
October 21, 2009 06:20 am
Thank you for sharing good tips.
Taking pictures of wedding is only one part, and after the shooting is quite another.
Post-production after shooting can be very painful if you don't get it right in the first place.
October 19, 2009 10:49 pm
Thanks so much for the article. Great information!!!!
October 14, 2009 11:45 am
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October 12, 2009 11:26 pm
Just what I was looking for! Thanks.
October 7, 2009 08:59 am
Otto, here is a tip about the Vietnamese tradition: you can expect something called the tea ceremony where the elders will give red envelopes (and lots of gold!!) to the bride and groom. Sometimes this process may take up to an hour depending on the size of the family.
Ok, back to debate. Everyone has to start somewhere and most can take good photos after practices. I have seen some pros who can take exceptional photos, WPJA members (and some other elite associations), have the money to advertise but still not book up to capacity this year. The reason is not the bad economy. I think the contributing factor is that digital photography equipments are getting cheaper and more and more people are getting better at photography. Thus, photographers who can take good photos, know about lighting inside and out and who doesn't mind getting pay less doing something they like on the weekend are competing against the full-time wedding photographers.
In conclusion, a pro takes very good photo. A successful wedding photographer is a successful business person and knows about marketing inside and out. So I guess if you're an amateur photographer, but you're pretty good with people and you have good business skill, you can become a "true pro" one day. As for me, I have so much to learn :-)
October 7, 2009 04:29 am
Waters, I suspect that the two posts you refer to above are auto-generated spam of a sort. Hope they get removed.
October 6, 2009 09:50 pm
I need some help understanding the last two posts....
Otto, hope your Vietnamese/Hindu wedding hasn't passed as yet. I think the both cultures have a lot of similarities in the wedding customs. At least in the traditional weddings, they both have separate rituals performed for the bride and groom individually, and then come together at the bride's home for the final vows.
There are lots of significant rituals to take note of....special greetings by 'holy men', in-laws and significant family members. There are presentations of gifts, fruits, money etc. that you will have to capture.
More recently the Vietnamese side of things have taken on a more traditional christian type wedding, where it is often done in churches or temples and a lot of the rituals are ignored, so be prepared for anything. Might be worth your while to discuss at length with the families before wedding day, so you know what to expect.
October 6, 2009 07:46 pm
HI when talking about hindu wedding ,just wanted to draw the attention that with the couple there are lot of relatives.one must be very careful if not you will be surprise with the final result.
October 6, 2009 09:02 am
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October 6, 2009 09:01 am
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October 2, 2009 04:44 am
I am going to do an Indian/Vietnamese wedding soon. Bride Vietnamese, groom is Hindu....Any suggestions?
Thanks a lot!
October 2, 2009 04:41 am
Good start! :):):)
September 25, 2009 11:00 pm
All the tips here can help you out tremendously with the hindu wedding photo. I do recommend that if you're not accustomed to the wedding ceremony, sit with the elders in the family (usually the couples hardly ever know the intimate details are guided as they go along) and discuss what are the key points that you will have to capture. Prepare to walk around barefooted for lengthy periods of the ceremony if you want to get the good shots. You may need to be creative if there is no photoshoot session scheduled.
September 24, 2009 02:39 pm
how far these tips can help us for hindu wedding photo,
September 23, 2009 11:05 pm
Mahen, I have done a couple indian weddings already, both Muslim and Hindu.
September 23, 2009 02:23 am
Hi good tips ,,,,,,,,,,,Have anyone done any indian wedding photo,
September 23, 2009 02:14 am
I agree with these tips, been doing some of them .Think will help me in future to have great photo. THANKS
September 14, 2009 11:21 pm
Thank you again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this site is helping me so much and giving me so many ideas for how to take my shots and work with what i have. my pictures are coming out way better now!
September 14, 2009 12:16 pm
I TOTALLY agree with Sandy. Apparently the "Pros" are forgetting that it's not just technical but it's an art. I've worked with other "Pros" that couldn't take a creative picture and just stuck with the same old shots time after time. I've also seen a young "up and coming" photographer take INCREDIBLE shots with a low end camera. If you know your equipment and have a good understanding of the basics all you need is to rely on your artistic skill. As stated before though, I would be up front and honest with the bride and groom as to what my skill level was and let them decide.
September 14, 2009 09:21 am
Thank you for good article. I i'm photographer from Poland
September 11, 2009 08:35 am
As for the comment on leaving it to the "pros" ...so you were a pro your first wedding? Everyone has to start somewhere. So don't try and scare people away from something they might possibly LOVE to do as a living
just because you obviously think you've got this amazing talent nobody else is allowed to have.
September 11, 2009 05:55 am
Excellent article. Even tho I have shot several weddings this was very good advice.
September 10, 2009 11:37 pm
Thank you for writing these tips! i totally Aced my photography project i did on wedding photography because of it! it was so cool getting to learn these tips and trying them out for myself! thanks again!
September 9, 2009 07:39 am
Thank you for the very helpful reply. :)
September 9, 2009 04:02 am
There really is no magic number. It all comes down to the expectation of your couples... if you tell them before that you're going to shoot for 10 hours and only deliver 200 of the BEST photos and that's it... if that's what they're expecting, then perfect.
But, shooting ONLY 200 photos at a wedding, well, people used to do that because they were shooting film, and it cost a lot... with digital, there really is no need to limit yourself to capturing so few images.
I shoot on the heavy side... very heavy side.... but I have a friend who shoots on the very light side. Both of us prepare our clients with what to expect and they're happy in the end.
September 9, 2009 01:07 am
Shannon, if you read through the tips (yeah I know it's a lot), I'm sure you'll find some worthy responses to your question. In short, if you're being paid, then discuss with the couple how much pics they expect to pay for and what pics are mandatory. Obviously that would constitute the minimum.
In brief, Robert's list is a good guide, it covers most of the conventional and traditional weddings. Leave some room for your creative instincts as well. Consider also that if you're taking pics in a controlled environment...that is...before or after the actual wedding date, then your pics number may take a different slant. If you're shooting on the actual day, unless you have a worthy coordinator for the pics, chances are that you may not get all that you set out for on your list. There would be family and friends (and other 'photographers' ?) all busying themselves with their own little setups on the side.
Consider also if you are shooting in a non-traditional 'christian' wedding, there may be specific cultural diversities that will need to be captured. I've done weddings where there were no photo sessions per se. It was all about the ceremony...which would have taken place over three days.
Some moments to be captured may take up to five shots to get it right, eg. the couple kissing or sticking the cake, because of the movement, rapid shooting may capture different effects etc.
In conclusion I would say that a lot depends on how well you execute your plan on the day. Always think of more rather than less, that way you're sure to be covered.
September 8, 2009 06:25 pm
I'm just getting to the point where my skill and my equipment allow me to consider becoming a wedding photographer. I'm still setting up my photography business. I have plenty to learn in that field still, too. But I have a question concerning wedding photography... how many images should one create of a wedding?
I ask this because I have my uncle, who is a retired photographer who used to shoot weddings in medium format film, telling me 100-200 images should be plenty, and a friend of mine who has shot a lot more weddings than my uncle (and a lot more recently) telling me he shoots 4,000+. My uncle's advice seems a bit low, and my friend's advice sounds a bit high...
I am guessing a rough estimate minimum might be achieved by multiplying the number of items in that list above (Thanks for that!) by 5... what do you experienced wedding shooters recommend? By my count, there are 103 items in that list. If I took five frames for each, that gives me a good 515 shots... a good minimum? Average? How many shots do you typically expect to take, and deliver? And how does this figure when you take into account the amount of time you have been hired for? Not everyone's going to hire for the whole day...
September 4, 2009 05:53 am
Wonderful article 1st of all and thank you very much for taking the time to share what you've learned.
I'm not going to bother writing to the "pro's" because everyone has said pretty much everything I'd like to say. There are a lot of people above who I'd like to applaud though. If I hadn't read so many of them, I would have had to go off too, so thanks. I'm in a good mood about the wedding I'm 2nd photographer at on Saturday, hoping to God that the "pro" isn't anything like you, and nothing is going to ruin it. :)
And to the Pro's like brad, and quite a few others up there - THANK YOU for the encouragement and sharing ideas and being "teachers".
For me, I'd like to be the best I feel I can be, be happy with the majority of photographs I'm giving to my clients, know that I'm improving and can only keep improving with more experience, be thrilled with the repeat customers, learn something new from every shoot, read all I can about every subject related to what I want to as possible...And tune out negative people as much as possible. :)
September 2, 2009 05:41 pm
great article for those looking into this sort of thing! seriously, I'm sure there are a ton of haters who are pissed cause you told someone the magic code and now they're going to lose business, but really, someone needs to share info and I'm stoked to see you doing it!!!
August 30, 2009 01:42 am
I was supposed to be shooting video for the wedding however last evening at the rehearsal they called and fired the "friend" photographer when he missed his (paid for) flight from New York. Apparently he in not known for dependency.
The groom (my friend since childhood) turned to me and said, "So Mark, how do you feel about being photographer?" I said I'd give it my best. I've shot and videoed a few weddings before in a much more casual sense however to replace a real photographer puts the pressure on. I did some shooting at the rehearsal to get a feel and some practice for the layout. This morning I did computer search for wedding photography and your page was the first so I checked it out. Thank you so much for your tips. They will help greatly and put me more at ease. They've also helped me formulate a plan. Much thanks!
August 27, 2009 10:11 am
These are great suggestions to follow always, whether a beginner or a seasoned pro. I started incorporating wedding day slideshows at the reception and it has created a lot of buzz.
August 18, 2009 02:32 pm
Sam, one is professional photographer when he gets his living from the photography.
August 17, 2009 11:56 pm
Also just want to add that I am teaching my 8 year son how to use a camera although at the moment he uses a point and shoot just so I can get him to 'see' the picture rather than worry about all the technical stuff. I think we need to encourage this art form and I think that there good and bad amateurs and good and bad pros.
Before you a hire a wedding photographer I think it might be an idea to ask for a pre shoot so you check out what you will be getting. As a photographer I would be more than happy to include that as part of the deal. If you have wedding hair or make up you expect a trial run of that right!
August 17, 2009 11:52 pm
I am photographing my sisters wedding which is actually a gay civil ceremony and also a friend's wedding which is a pagan hand tying ceremony. I have photographed two weddings a few years ago (on film then). I don't consider myself a pro and I have told everyone concerned I am only an amateur yet they all happy with this. I am doing all my weddings for free. I feel privileged to have been asked to do these weddings, but also terrified! I am very excited about having two 'unusual' types of wedding in my portfolio.
At what point do you become good enough to turn it into a serious profession? We all start somewhere but when and how do you become a professional? Do you join the SWPP or BIPP? Does that make you a professional, I am just a bit confused at which point you can say you are a pro. I am not trying to be funny and I have asked this question on other forums and had quite sarcastic comments from people but the replies on here all seem positive!
August 17, 2009 08:43 pm
Avoid weddings, leave it to the pro's, yada yada yada. I've been a pro now for many years and I can tell you that I've seen amature wedding photography work that makes many so called pro's look like holiday snappers. If you know your camera and how your lenses work, have a good eye for composition and have the ability to communicate then go for it. Stop panicing, belive in your own ability and most of all look all around the frame before you press the shutter release.
August 17, 2009 11:54 am
Fabulous, it makes sense - thanks. I didn't have this trouble when I had my paper roll but have since found out through a little research that the paper doesn't give a grey tint like the muslin does. Thanks for the help. Will practice on my model bride.
August 16, 2009 08:15 pm
Exactly Felicity, that way you can control the light on backdrop and model independently of each other. Or depending on your setup you might need two lights pointing to the backdrop (one on each side) to get it evenly lit. But if you are on limited budget, start with one and see how it works in your use cases.
August 16, 2009 07:49 pm
I have a soft box and a light. So I get another pointing on to the backdrop ?
August 16, 2009 04:39 pm
Felicity, you need to have separate lights for model and backdrop.
August 16, 2009 10:28 am
A little bit off beat from the argument of who should be a wedding photographer - pro or not pro so I do hope I get some help on this subject. When using a white backdrop, how do I keep the white - white without making my model washed out ? If I turn the lights down, the backdrop turns grey and the model isnt so washed out. When I turn the lights up the backdrop is lovely and white but the model is washed out. Any ideas or tips would be very much appreciated. I am new at this. For all the amateurs I say keep going. Read heaps and learn from professional photographers who are willing to share. It is an art and we need to keep up to date on what to offer and some times step outside of the square rather than snap away at the obvious. Study and look at plenty of websites to get ideas but would suggest you find your own personal style. You learn through experience by just getting out there and giving it a go - still we can acknowledge the brilliance of the professionals who are professional.
August 15, 2009 07:51 pm
The tips given for the wedding photographer will be usefull for anyone who doesnot know photography.These wedding is an important ocaasion in anyone's life and the wedding photography is the memorable things of the happiest occasion, wedding. The memories of wedding needs to be captured perfectly with the help of the photographer and with the given tips that would be easier.
August 12, 2009 07:34 am
PS: Trevor you rock, dude!
August 12, 2009 07:33 am
The "pro" who was supposed to take photos at my friend's daughter's wedding didn't bother to show up or call to offer an excuse. I was going to the wedding and invited to be a "second" for the experience, because I enjoy photography and am wanting to start doing more weddings. I ended up being the primary photographer for the simple fact that I was there and willing to do it when no one else was. It wasn't my first wedding, but it was my first "formal" wedding. (Limo, large wedding party, etc...) I got great shots, that granted would have been better had I known I'd be the "primary" and had time to prepare, but after looking at the preliminary results, the bride, her mother, and the rest of the family and friends there, pronounced me better than the no-show "pro." To those here, who are the high-end, high DOLLAR photographers who keep trying to discourage everyone else, what is your issue? There's a niche for everyone, in every price range. If someone can't afford you are they just supposed to forget photos altogether, or worse, settle for whatever random shots their inexperienced family members, with cheap disposable cameras, manage to get? That's what happened to us when my husband and I got married. I would have gladly had a rank amateur, if I'd known one, get a few good shots for us as to have the grainy, crappy shots we ended up with because we could NOT afford you. Period. If I can help someone out, for a reasonable price (or in the last case free gratis) then I'm going to do so. I represent my abilities fairly with a nice portfolio and editing abilities that professionals have complimented me on. I see no reason to discourage anyone, because there's plenty of business to go around for everyone.
August 4, 2009 04:33 pm
Lots of great thoughts, however, WAY too many "I'm scared" posts. If you're even THINKING about photographing a wedding, you simply need to prepare, as with anything in life. EVERY wedding photographer in the history of the spectacle, has had his/her first wedding. Fact. So, prepare. Hit every wedding photagraphy website you can google, gather insight from wedding magazines, follow the advice listed on this site, shoot thousands of photographs, know your gear, practice lighting techniques like a religion, and in short, become a true professional in every sense of the word. I'm shooting my first wedding in 30 days, and I'm not scared a bit. I'm supremely confident that it will be one of the best shot weddings ever. Screw arrogance, it's confidence. Photography is nothing more than knowing your gear in dozens of situations. What makes a photographer great is artistic style, aka, seeing the shot in your head before you pull the trigger. My efforts in researching the event will undoubtedly pay off, and I'd challenge even the most trained eye to differentiate between my photographs, and that of a "pro's", when the event is said and done. As with anything in life, it's preparation, professional attitude going in, and level of committment to get the job done wildly beyond expectations. You're welcome to view the photos of the big day at www.trev113.com when finished (approximately October 1st, 2009).
August 4, 2009 09:33 am
The debate can go on and on about what the difference is between a pro and an amateur (and I've had some amateurs get pretty mad that I've called them such). The point is, if you do not know even basic elements of wedding photography (to the point that you have to review an online article in order to learn) then you are not ready to go solo on the project. We all definitely have to learn somewhere (and this is a great article for learning!) but if you are someone that doesn't even know where to start, please don't start by trying to learn everything the week before the wedding. It takes more than just reading an article to know what you are doing.
August 1, 2009 04:17 am
The people calling themselves Pros are for the most part not. Formal posed photography is disappearing and I am sad to see it go. All of the silly pictures are just that silly. The formal posed Bride and Groom photographs have been forgotten and that is the one I want to hang on my wall and look at and remember everyday that I pass by it. It is pointless to hire a photographer that does not know how to take those important pictures because you will regret it later. I have wedding photos of weddings that I was in 44 years ago and I still remember the beautiful ceremony when I look at those beautifully posed photographs inside the church with the candles glowing. When you are young you do not think of timeless photos but later you will regret not taking time to find the photographer that really knows how to walk you through the right photos.
July 26, 2009 11:22 pm
I was thinking it would take forever to find some info like these , but I searched " Wedding Photo's " and this site was the first I looked at ! I have used some tips from this site previously and have now bookmarked it so as to return again and again !
July 24, 2009 02:43 am
Thanks for your great website great things to take into consideration. I have shot only three weddings its a challenge for sure. I am a military photography by trade, but photography in my opion is such a great profession!
July 23, 2009 04:15 am
Thanks for your tips! :) That's help me so much!
July 17, 2009 04:35 am
Great article! The first wedding I did was my brother's. He simply would not have had any photographs otherwise. My second was a candlelight wedding - talk about nerves! In all I have done 4 wedding now and will be shooting my 5th this weekend. They have all been for family and friends. They have all be "my gift" to the couple. Am I a "pro"? No. But I have done some stunning photos and the candlelight wedding turned out absolutely beautiful. With the right camera, lighting (and film, yes it was "pre-digital") even a falling down church (I really did have this) can look beautiful. :)
I have no desire to be a professional wedding photographer, but with the tips listed here, the experience I have already gained and a Pepcid AC for the nervous stomach, I will help out a friend or family member who otherwise would have no photos of their wedding, because they simply cannot afford a professional wedding photographer.
July 17, 2009 03:58 am
i just want to say thank you for these tips, i'm 16 and doing my first photography job at a wedding this weekend and am really nervous and these were really helpful, so thank you!
July 16, 2009 11:02 pm
. . . . and as a follow-up to my previous comment . . . .
The problem here is when an amateur portrays himself as a "pro". The TRUE pros who are giving sincere advice here are, for the most part, right on. Running a business is much more costly, time consuming, technically and creatively difficult, and complicated than simply being a talented hobbyist. If you want a "professional" to do the work, and expect truly "professional" results, then treat him like any other contractor. Review his portfolio. Ask for references. Discuss details regarding what to expect. And then be prepared to write a check that fairly compensates his work. And like someone said, that may be up to a week's worth of work and related business expenses, not just a few hours on the big day. That fat check has to help pay for photography school college loans, a mortgage, commercial lease on studio space, utilities, insurance, a small fortune in expensive but necessary equipment, wages for an assistant (sometimes), advertising, pro-level software, time spent mastering the use of that software, travel expenses, and on and on and on. Then be prepared for a wedding portfolio that OUGHT to blow you away and look like it belongs in a bridal magazine.
Last night, after reading this forum, writing the previous comment, and googling a bunch of photography sites, I came to a realization. Long ago, if you wanted a picture of a person, you hired an artist. Then cameras were invented and anyone could make a realistic image. So the artists had to evolve (hence impressionism, etc). Then camera technology progressed to the point where the artists were once again at the top of the heap because only they knew the secrets of making great images. Then dslr cameras and photoshop were invented. Now anyone could make some pretty great images (with a little luck and enough exposures to better their odds). So the artists had to evolve again. They are now making images that are absolutely breathtaking. What used to be the realm of the "top" photographers is now the standard that pros must consistently produce. The amateurs are people who can use basic affordable equipment to take good pictures. They are worth what they are paid (usually not much) because they are "a dime a dozen", as the saying goes. The true pros are a combination of brilliant artist and successful businessman and they will give you amazing images. They are also worth what they are paid (usually a lot) because they are in short supply but high demand.
It's a big wide world and there are LOTS of people getting married all the time, with varying levels of cash and expectations. There is an appropriate photography opportunity out there waiting for all of us, amateur and pro alike. Pros, you take the big ones. We'll take the little ones. In the end everyone is happy.
(Now if we can just find a different occupation for the idiot who shot my own wedding . . . )
July 16, 2009 11:14 am
The "pro" who did our wedding (arranged by bride's mother) was terrible. Reeked of cigarette smoke. Showed up late. Took every combination conceivable of participants in boring group shots, but NOTHING creative or beautiful. There was not a single decent closeup in the entire photo set. Not even a good closeup of the bride. Took so long taking group shots that we were late getting to our reception. Some guests had actually just given up and left.
We could barely afford the wedding to begin with. We would have been better served by an "amateur" friend or relative who would have shot for free and only charged for prints.
I think instead of simply comparing "pro" to "amateur", we should be discussing specific qualities (or lack thereof). And the real pros who are truly worth their high prices need to understand that not everyone can afford their gorgeous perfect work, no matter how greatly they may be desired. Sometimes "good" really is good enough.
July 13, 2009 10:28 pm
I will be taking photos at my friends wedding this comeing weekend my very first time so....... watch this space........................... not a pro at all.
July 3, 2009 07:17 am
This is a great post! I think the last point is the most important! If you can't have fun, then don't do it! I'm sure the couple will want you to be enjoying yourself on their special day!
July 1, 2009 10:59 pm
Good question Felicity. There are many different ways to approach this. Most photographers do not give all the pics taken at the wedding, nor are they obligated to. You should discuss this with the client in advance to know what their expectations are. You may want to know how many pics they want and also what 'special' requests they have. The number of pics will determine the price range and give an indication of how many shots you need to take. Some special requests may mean moving to different venues, or working on different days leading up to or after the wedding...again influencing the price and number of shots.
Most 'pros' do not give the CD, only the prints. Some will show the couple a CD with the pics watermarked so that the couple can only choose which pics they want. The photographer will then issue the prints of the selected pics. Giving away the CD could encourage couples to do their own manipulation and printing of pics (everyone's a photoshop 'expert' now) and the messed up pics won't do much good to your reputation. If couples want extra/additional prints afterwards, I just charge them for the printing services and usually do not make more money for extra prints. If I particularly enjoy a wedding, and the couple wa easy to work with, I throw in a couple enlargements free of charge, and give instructions on how to frame the pics properly, particularly with black and white prints. Hope this helps....
July 1, 2009 07:35 pm
I have no comment about the pro shooter the way how they work...as an amature photographer i like your post...regard from island of Bali
July 1, 2009 09:08 am
I would love to know if professional photographers hand over ALL of their photographs or do they select the very best shots. We are privileged to live in a digital world where we can take a number of shots so we can get back home and sift out the ones we knew may not have worked and rejoice at the fabulous shots that have surprised us that did. I do not hap-hazzardly snap away but I do take a lot more than with my film camera. Do we have the right to take out our duds ?
June 30, 2009 08:02 pm
Many thanks for these useful tips! I'm currently thinking about starting a career as a wedding photographer and search the web on that topic. So far your article is among most easy-to-understand and use! The tip about list of photos to be made is an absolute catch! I'm adding this post to my Favourites and will look through it befor my each wedding session.
June 29, 2009 12:02 am
Not a pro photographer, just an amateur with an entry level dlsr.
I've shot two weddings, the first my aunt's at the last minute and the second my sister's.
The comments above from pro shooters saying stay away are fair, most pro wedding shooters will do a MUCH better job but sometimes that isn't the most important thing.
My aunt wasn't going to have any photos done at all and asked me to take some as an after thought, my sister (who had seen those pics) very strongly wanted me to do the photos, she was adamant about getting all the family involved in her wedding so I couldn't really say no.(making cake etc etc)
Some amateur tips learned the hard way:
Shoot RAW - you can save those dodgy exposures of the dress.
Don't take one shot when you can take 5-10. Inevitably one of the bridesmaids is going to have their eyes closed and memory cards are cheap so take 16gb with you and lots of spare batteries.
Be an ass, you can apologise later. It is important to herd everyone into the correct place, get them to look at you and smile - very difficult when you are family so shout at them.
When you are taking the group shots make sure there is no one else pointing a camera at them or you will just get a load of shots with the bride looking at one camera and the groom looking at another. Seriously, stop shooting and tell them off. If you are family it's not like you are going to be charging them for prints or anything... But they are absolutely going to ruin the chance of getting a good group shot.
Learn to use photoshop or GIMP and buy a copy of portraiture. Giving the bride perfect skin will make up for the odd missed shot ;)
June 24, 2009 12:03 am
Great list. "Waters" comment (June 17) is an important one. I am a pianist/organist and have done numerous weddings over the past 25 years. Each church has its own restrictions on locations and timing for photos. Often, there surprises at wedding start time or during the ceremony.
1. Some churches do not allow ANY photos during the ceremony.
2. In most Catholic churches, photographers are forbidden to stand on or walk near the altar area for shots. This greatly limits your chances to get face views of the bride and groom during the ceremony.
Last year I played for a wedding where the photographer got too bold in shooting and the minister stopped the ceremony to banish the photographer from the building for the remainder of the ceremony. It was ugly, but keep in mind that the minister has that right because it is seen as a sacred ceremony.
Be certain to discuss your shoot areas with a CHURCH representative. Church wedding coordinators usually help make your job go smoothly. A good coordinator will give you tips on hidden locations where you can get some fantastic shots during the ceremony.
June 17, 2009 05:59 am
As a photographer, you may be called upon to do weddings that are not of your religious persuasion, or of a culture that you may not be familiar with. In such cases it helps to do some research about the customs and practices of that culture way in advance of the wedding day. Get to know the particular shots...apart from the customary ones, that the wedding party may be especially interested in. There may be separate cermonies for the bride and groom before coming together; there may be gift giving instances, special handshakes or hugs between in-laws etc., special customs that eldest son/daughter may have to perform and other symbolic moments that must be captured. What might seem to be unimportant to the photographer may be integral to the wedding tradition. There may even be special instances where photos of a bride/groom may be forbidden. You may need to be creative if there isn't a chance for a 'photoshoot' session.
June 14, 2009 02:27 am
A shooting list, a good starting point
___ Bride dressing for wedding
___ Mother helping bride put on veil
___ Bride looking in mirror
___ Bride putting on garter
___ Bride-Full Length
___ Bride-Half Length
___ Bride-Close Up
___ Bride with mother-Full Length
___ Bride with mother-Close Up
___ Bride with father-Full Length
___ Bride with father-Close Up
___ Bride pinning on father's boutonniere
___ Bride with Both Parents-Full Length
___ Bride with Parents-Close Up
___ Bride with Grandparents-Full Length
___ Bride with Grandparents-Close Up
___ Bride with sisters-Full Length
___ Bride with sisters-Close Up
___ Bride with brothers-Full Length
___ Bride with brothers-Close Up
___ Bride with immediate family
___ Bride with Maid of Honor-Full Length
___ Bride with Maid of Honor-Close Up
___ Bride with her attendants-Full Length
___ Bride with her attendants-Close Up
___ Bride & flower girl/ring bearer
___ Father helping bride out of limo
___ Groom-Full Length
___ Groom-Half Length
___ Groom-Close Up
___ Groom putting on bow tie
___ Groom with mother-Full Length
___ Groom with mother-Close Up
___ Groom with father-Full Length
___ Groom with father-Close Up
___ Groom with Parents-Full Length
___ Groom with Parents-Close Up
___ Groom with Grandparents-Full Length
___ Groom with Grandparents-Close Up
___ Groom with sisters-Full Length
___ Groom with sisters-Close Up
___ Groom with brothers-Full Length
___ Groom with brothers-Close Up
___ Groom with Immediate Family
___ Groom & Best Man-Full Length
___ Groom with Best Man-Close Up
___ Groom & Best Man shaking hands
___ Groom & Groomsmen-Full Length
___ Groom & groomsmen-Close Up
___ Grandparents being seated
___ Groom's parents being seated
___ Bride's parents being seated
___ Flower girl walking down aisle
___ Ring Bearer walking down aisle
___ Bridesmaids walking down aisle
___ Maid of Honor walking down aisle
___ Father walking Bride down aisle
___ Father giving bride away
___ Bride & Groom at alter
___ Bride & Groom exchanging vows
___ Bride & Groom exchanging rings
___ Bride & Groom lighting candle
___ Bride & Groom-the kiss
___ Bride & Groom walking down aisle
___ Pictures of receiving line
___ Bride & Groom exiting church
___ Bride & Groom getting into limo
___ Bride & Groom's first toast in limo
___ Bride & Groom Kissing
___ Bride & Groom-Full Length
___ Bride & Groom-Half Length
___ Bride & Groom-Close Up
___ Bride & Groom "gazing" at each other
___ Bride & Groom looking out window
___ Bride & Groom holding hands
___ Close-up of rings
___ Bride & Groom with Bride's parents
___ Bride & Groom with Groom's parents
___ Bride & Groom w/Bride's extended family
___ Bride & Groom w/Groom's extended family
___ Parents being announced
___ Wedding Party being announced
___ Bride & Groom being announced
___ Bride & Groom's first dance
___ Wedding party dancing
___ Bride's dance with father
___ Groom's dance with mother
___ Best Man toasting Bride & Groom
___ Bride & Groom with Champagne glasses
___ Bride & Groom's kiss after the toast
___ Wedding Cake
___ Bride & Groom cutting cake
___ Bride feeding Groom
___ Groom feeding Bride
___ Kiss after cutting cake
___ Bride tossing bouquet
___ Groom taking off garter
___ Guests dancing
___ Bride & Groom's last dance
___ Close up of invitation
___ Bride or Groom with special friends
___ Bride or Groom with special relatives
___ Picture of band or DJ
June 13, 2009 08:10 am
thanks, I just shot my first wedding, as a friend request, yesterday. I must say it was more work then I planned. The pictures turned out great, but a more detailed list would have been very helpful.
June 9, 2009 10:26 pm
love the website! great tips. some years ago i did the photography of a family friends wedding it was my first and only wedding- the couple were fine with the pictures although there wasnt enough pictures taken of the brides family so the list idea is great. i now want to get into wedding photography again professionally i am feeling nervous but this site has given me more confidence - knowledge is power! some of the difficulties i had on the day - for istance getting peoples attention and getting them to listen to me - the tips you have given will definetly help. i am currently trying to educate myself more on the subject and plan to practice with other events and portraits pictures as it is important to me to be very good at what i do and make sure that i have good skills. apart from bringing joy to other people i also want to be good at what i do.
i think it is important for people to be postive and in life you do need to take a risk. Right now i am trying to increase the kind of boldness i had those years ago backed up with knowledge.
June 5, 2009 01:42 pm
I am a full time student who has NO!!! experience shooting weddings and my first one is this Saturday. My husband has been trying to calm me down all night and until I read this article I was to the point that I wanted to cancel. Thanks for all the tips! (I printed them out) I'm still nervous, but I think I can handle things on my B&G's big day! Thanks again!
June 2, 2009 02:58 pm
I agree with tihese tips but I would suggest to add: 'Be Natural' (photography wedding is a natural attitude ;)
June 2, 2009 12:09 am
There is a huge range of talent and skill among amateurs, just as there is among pros. You are always ALWAYS learning, no matter how long you've been doing weddings.
One thing I like to do is keep open communication with the bride and groom. I had a preliminary meeting with them, as well as another meeting closer to the wedding date. I went to their rehearsal, and we frequently emailed each other. Why do this? It allows you to get to know the couple better. You get a feel for their style, for what they like and what they're looking for. Also, by the time the big day rolls around, you're comfortable talking to each other and it makes directing photos so much easier.
Confidence is a huge one. Direct like you know what you're doing, even if you're not so sure. The big difference between amateurs and pros? The pros ACT like professionals. They get the best gear they can, they use contracts, they carry insurance. Considering yourself as a professional makes a huge difference in your attitude, and the way you go about shooting any event.
I'll also have to second talking to the minister. The last wedding I did, I was lucky enough to have the most agreeable minister ever. He didn't care where we stood or if we used a flash, as long as we did not in any way distract the bride and groom. He offered to 'stage' any shots we felt that we missed immediately following the ceremony. At the end of the day, he said that he didn't even know we were there. On the other hand, I've had extremely particular ministers that limit what you can do. The couple need to be aware of these limitations, so they know what to expect. In these cases, I've had fairly good luck with getting the ministers to stage shots after the ceremony, so that they didn't miss out on photos of their big moments.
June 1, 2009 09:14 pm
I'm likely to be shooting my first wedding soon, I'm hungry to learn and this article has given me a few ideas. Thanks!
May 26, 2009 02:21 pm
Great article, I am a pro photographer. I think a lot of amateurs could & should shoot a wedding, some photographers are scared. For what, that they are not better??
May 26, 2009 07:29 am
Another Great Website, Life Point Photographyt
May 18, 2009 12:08 pm
I was sent this link by a professional photographer that I know very well - I find this article very useful with some excellent tips and tricks to help any photographer pro or amature. After reading through many of the posts here, I find it interesting that so many so-called professional photographers leave tips to scare you away from shooting weddings. I have read posts on the risks, posts stating that Amature should not shoot weddings and an aray of other intersting comments. Here's my take on it for what's it worth.
Every Photographer stated out as a Amature at some point in their profession. This is true with any skills or profession you have or are offering. The only difference between a professional and Amature is that professional gets paid for their skill or service (hence professional). None of them came out of college or some special photograhy school a professional. They became professionals by being an Amature first.
To be a good photograhper, its a lot about touch and feel - You develop your skills by doing, and by learning from others when you have the opportunity weather it be formal schooling or working in a photo studio, or just by reading. Mostly you learn by doing and then checking your results. First and foremost, Get to know your gear very well. Look at a lot of other photo galleries from other photograhpers to get an idea of what kind of shots you think will look great, and practice reproducing those shots by practicing with friends etc.
You will find that as your skills develop by practicing, there will only be a fine line between your photography skills and the pros.
Do your homework, and go for it. - Even the best of class professional protographers screw it up from time to time, and anyone who tells you they don't are not ethical enought to be hired anyhow.
May 16, 2009 05:51 am
This is an excellent article and with so many interesting points of view being brought up.
Darren's final point #21 on smiling and being happy is such a great advice for everyone and not just from behind the camera :)
I now have two years experience with wedding photography starting as a semi-professional so can understand both view sides of these arguments.
Going right back to one of the first comments by Ken. He is absolutely correct regarding amateur wedding photography and the bride should not be mislead into expecting high quality of images. The top professionals have spent many years and hundreds of weddings refining their craft. On the other hand if the bride & groom genuinely cannot afford a professional photographer then a keen hobbyist is better than nobody. As Darren points out the bride & groom must be made aware the quality may well be sub-standard. They also need to allow extra time to give their friend the best chance to produce a descent job.
Whilst I fully empathise with peoples' thoughts on wedding photography being expensive (I did too when I got married) the sad fact is prices have to be high to make a living out of photography. Since turning full time professional I have had to re-evaluate my prices and it has been frightening. The problem is as a one or two person show, wedding photography is not scalable in the same way as other wedding services. One day's wedding is about a weeks work with running the business, meeting clients, the wedding day and all the back end work afterwards. I am trialling a new wedding service based on only giving a slide show for £995. That doesn't even cover my time and will require doing 40 weddings a year to earn a living without additional sales. So as someone else mentioned - you really can't do professional photography for less.
If you are a bride & groom considering your options regarding wedding photography you may find my article on the
seven dangers to ruin your wedding photography of interest.
PatB Wedding Photography Suffolk
May 10, 2009 05:30 pm
Faye, remember that you're working there. The only thing that matters are good photos. So you will be as obtrusive as you have to be in order to get that killer shot.
May 8, 2009 03:46 am
I understand the professionals point of view here. Although lets not forget that everyone has to gain experience somehow and these are just some great tips to make sure your bases are covered. Ive only done one wedding and I am doing another in June and my first one was pretty swell it was my best friends wedding and I was the secondary/behind the scenes photog (seeing as i was the best lady to the groom, so i couldnt photograph the whole thing since i was standing in it) this second time around I am the only photog for a small scale wedding and I really really appreciate these tips.
May 7, 2009 10:24 pm
Darren, I have a question. I am going to be a backup photographer at my niece's wedding. I need to know just have unobtrusive I need to be. Where should I stand? Of all the weddings I've been to, I can't remember the photographer taking pictures. There must be a knack to it. I certainly don't want to make a spectacle of myself and ruin the wedding. Thanks
May 4, 2009 08:28 pm
Hey Darren, jus cud´nt exit this site, without sayin thanks a lot. The tips really help channelize ur thoughts. Will be assisting with a 24hr long beach wedding dis mnth& will deff b applyn ur tips.
tc & Gb
April 27, 2009 10:33 am
I had an idea after reading all the comments-as I too, have been asked to be the photographer at some up-coming weddings (I am just an amature photographer; with family and friends that always talk highly of my photos to others)... If someone INSISTS that you do their wedding because they can't afford even the lowest priced proffessional... print out copies of your photo checklist and hand them out to the Bride and Groom's family and friends... that way you'll get many differant angles and shots of all the events... a back up to your pix... with the couple knowing this is your backup stradegy and are totally comfortable with it.
April 24, 2009 06:26 pm
This seems to be a very emotive subject and i feel that both sides have valid points.
To me in the dark ages before affordable DSLR's anyone with an impressive looking set-uo was accepted to be a pro. And the arrival of cheap digital alternatives made it easier and yes CHEAPER to learn. So the cowboys with the entry level dslr's can, as a result of the accesibility and advances in technology be as good as the film pro's of a decade ago.
its like the veil of secrecy has been lifted and we can see the emperor's squishies. the whole mystique of photography has been rarified. you can now get brilliant shots with a entry level dslr that pro's dreamed about 10 years ago.
But the difference is that the REAL pro's of a decade ago, along with the current pro's, are using and embracing this new technology and they are not creating good images, they are creating mind-blowing images, that keep them firmly in the realm of the alchemists. Instead of spitting bile at the newcomers their talent and dedication have seperated them from the chasing pack again.
There will always be a market for high end wedding photographers. this does not mean that if a bride pays top dollar she will get her money's worth neccesarily, it just means that certain people want to pay more to distinguish and differentiate themselves. therefore you will always get photographers who will charge that, and newbies chasing the money.
You cannot control what others do, but you have a responsibility to be the best you can be. So become the pro aspire to be, and dont stamp out other talents along the way.
thats my take anyway.
April 14, 2009 04:40 pm
I like James' and Louise' comments. If you don't ever step out and try...you'll never learn and improve. That's how life is and not just confined to photography alone!
April 12, 2009 08:17 pm
If you have the passion and the drive to succeed, then there isn't a good enough reason to NOT become a Wedding Photographer...! There's nothing more gratifying than receiving a note from a B&G letting you know that they love the images you've taken of their Wedding. The only thing I can say is, if you "feel" that you're up for the racing pressures and feel confident in your abilities to capture the day's events then I say 100% go for it. Don't listen to photographers who have that old-skool mentality of keeping others down...! Go for it, love it, live it and succeed in this amazing business that has completely changed my life...!
**Special Note: Always shoot in RAW, use Adobe Lightroom for editing images, always make sure that your exposures are on point, you MUST master the art of monitoring your White Balance, backup your images then backup the backup then burn a DVD to backup the backedup backup. ;) <-- Did ya get that one? Make sure you ALWAYS have a 2nd camera with you AT ALL TIMES, in the event that your MAIN camera stops functioning for whatever reason (last year it was called me putting in a 4GB card thinking I used an 8GB - switched to my 2nd body I had around my neck and kept shooting). After all this, don't forget to check out my other website: http://LouisTorresWorkshops.com where I give everyone and anyone pointers on whatever the heck I'm doing, learning and giving. Like someone mentioned earlier... All Pros were Amateurs at some point, right...! Have fun on everyone's Wedding Day, make sure your personality shines and don't fret too much... "ACT AS IF" it were your 1,000th Wedding that you're covering....! "Act AS IF" you're ready to take on the world...!
New York, U.S.
April 12, 2009 01:39 pm
Thanks for the tips. I will definetly be using these on my first gig as a second photographer.
April 8, 2009 06:23 am
I know exactly what you mean. However this particular line got my attention: "There’s nothing worse than getting the photos back and realizing you didn’t photograph the happy couple with grandma!". It is very possible that i would have read your article before and had that feeling of deja-vu. I hope you did not felt offended by my last comment.
I took all my books that refereed to this subject and could not found that line, then i thought that it won't hurt to ask directly.
Hope there are no bad feelings and keep up the good work. I enjoy finding something new from time to time and i must admit that your blog offers a lot of those details that i was not aware of ;)
April 6, 2009 09:58 am
April 4, 2009 08:53 am
Great tips and advice for the beginning wedding photographer. Thanks for the insight!
April 1, 2009 09:53 pm
Great clear advices!!! I also will use use them 'cause folowing weekend need to be wedding photographer for my best funny frinds))) They are great and photos I am sure will be amazing!!!
March 31, 2009 11:00 am
Don't forget to Plan to be early! As a wedding photographer in Los Angeles, the first thing you realize it that traffic can really make a big difference in your time. I learned a long time ago to plan to get to the wedding a full hour before your booked and its always a stress free day. I've needed that extra time on occasion and it has saved me. Plus i can chill and plan a few shots before I have to start.
March 31, 2009 07:03 am
blackout - no, the only place this was copied from was my brain. I am certain that I'm not the only guy to ever have thought this kind of stuff though - much of it is common sense.
March 31, 2009 06:35 am
Don't get me wrong, but i remember reading a book with same or very similar titles and text. So now the question comes, is this article copied ?
March 28, 2009 04:00 am
These tips were great. Thank you for putting together such a great site. For the said "Pros" making comments to discourage people from embracing their passion for photography is just rude. I would just like to ask "How did you start?" I am 100% positive that no one ever starts out in their career as a "Pro" you too had to start at the bottom, build your confidence and skill and go for it. So please don't discourage us so called "Amateaurs" but encourage us to follow our passion just like you did when you started out.
March 26, 2009 09:35 pm
Just wanted to say thanks for the great tips. We are looking at doing our first wedding booking in August and needed a starting point which you have provided for us.
March 26, 2009 04:40 am
Any suggestions for shooting the diamond ring close up?
March 23, 2009 11:52 pm
Dear Darren and Ken Thompson"
Opinions vary greatly and i do repect that. What i would like People to consider is this. Yes. Professional Photographer in particular reputable ones are very costly indeed. Many do a great Job but for a price.
But! Do not count out a Person who is not listed as a Professional Wedding Photographer. There are great talented Freelance Photographers that have become great at their work as Wedding Photographers and will give the Professional Photographers a run for their Money. Literally! Freelance Wedding Photographers are often more likely to put in more passion in to their work than many so called Professional Wedding Photographers. I have seen images produced by a number Wedding Professionals. I am positive i could have done a better job at it. I think it is quiet ok to choose a Freelance Wedding Photographer providing the person has at least Portfolios of Wedding Photo presentations. That you feel comfortable with the person. Ask for previous Customer feed back on his work. Often past Customers are more than happy to provide good feed back for the work done. They may not mind someone calling them up to ask if they where happy with their work. So" Lets not knock the talented and compitent Photographers who do not wear the same Label that spells. Professional" After all" It is a Portfolio that counts and past Customer records of happy Customers that will speak for themselfs. Frankly speaking. I do feel the Professionals are getting a little nervous of loosing some business to other talented Wedding Photographers.
March 19, 2009 01:24 am
I enjoyed reading your article, thank you for posting. I guess the challenge now is writing an article on how to price ones work and not devalue the industry.
March 17, 2009 01:02 pm
Thanks for all the great advice.... I have my first wedding coming up and im scared as hell..... I will have a friend with me who's a professional photographer, but still im really scared.... Hopefully all will go okay....lol wish me luck..
March 4, 2009 02:52 am
I have read this from the top and found it very interesting. One point I thought I would mention. I am a 'Professional WEDDING photographer. I have made my income from wedding photography for the last 15 years. (And yes I have moved with the time and shoot digital!)
In the past I have been asked by other professional photographer friends (Commercial and press) to shoot weddings for them. The reason? They are not Professional WEDDING photographers.
Yes it is true that we all have to start somewhere, but if a professional photographer from another field of photography would rather employ a 'Wedding Specialist', then surely it must give some idea of the pressures involved.
Get some trainning before you even consider it would be my advice.
March 4, 2009 12:59 am
Absolutely spot on Mike. Besides all of your equipment, insurance is on of the most vital purchases. If your shooting your friends wedding for free, and it doesn't turn out as expected you may be forgiven.
If you are charging for your services there will be NO forgiveness.
March 1, 2009 04:21 am
I don't see anyone mentioning a contract... I can't think of a single field of photography where you are more likely to get yourself sued. The day is full of emotion, complicated family dynamics, and big investments. I know of two professional photogs that have been sued by clients in the past 24 months.
There are plenty of reasons for a newbie to hesitate when it comes to taking a wedding. The personal risk should be one of the foremost. Use a contract, and be properly insured.
Do you need to be a professional of 20-years to shoot weddings? Of course not. But, if you're not fully capable and competent, then you risk not only the brides memories but your own financial well being as well.
February 20, 2009 11:06 am
How arrogant of people to think that you have to be a 20 year Professional to shoot a wedding! I started off at friend's a families weddings and my photos were liked better than some of the actual hired photographers. That was when I decided to shoot weddings as a part-time job! I have shot 15 weddings now and have one to shoot this Saturday. I get nervous every single time because I do still feel like an amateur though I have never had anyone complain about my photos! I say go for it! Start off shooting weddings that you are a guest at or as a an assistant photographer. Great tips in this article, follow those and you will be fine!
February 18, 2009 01:42 pm
I enjoyed reading your tips. I have shot a few weddings and am still very much an amateur photographer. Someone mentioned that there are many things that can go wrong. This is true and a true proffesional of many kinds must be able to troubleshoot when needed. Having good equipment and a good knowledge of the equipment is not all required when shooting a special day. Being able to adjust when the weather changes, nephews do not cooperate, grandma decides to direct the formals or when drunk uncle Ed decides to talk to you the entire time about how good he is with the camera are a few things to be prepared for when shooting a wedding.
February 18, 2009 10:25 am
What a great article. I wish I could have read something like this when I started out. So many useful tips that could save a lot of problems if you take notice and learn them.
February 18, 2009 08:48 am
Thanks I'm doing a wedding for the first time, and the article was really useful especially the part about the shot list.
January 28, 2009 06:18 am
I only read through about 70 responses (too many to read at once) so forgive me if I'm repeating.
Tip...Always dress appropriately for the wedding, especially if you're not a family member just helping out with the photography. If you're hired you might want to wear a suit, or at least a shirt and a tie. Some photographers find it difficult to move their arms properly with a jacket on, especially if it's too tight. It adds to the look of professionalism.
January 28, 2009 05:49 am
I have taken pictures at several weddings (not hired to do so) but as a guest. I have recently started my own photography business and mainly shoot family portraits ect. However the photos that I have taken at weddings have been included with my work (with the couples permission of course). By just public views, I have been contacted by several couples to shoot their weddings, I always make it a point to let them know up front that I have no formal training with wedding photography. The couples that I have worked with are usually young and there budget is tight. I provide them with a price sheet (that includes time & travel with cd and rights to all photos, so that they can develop them when additional funds are available) or the choice to purchase packages. I have kept my prices low knowing that not only is the budget tight, but again I am not a "professional wedding photographer". This is a win win for us both, they get photos of their wedding day and I build my portfolio. I have had a couple of shots that just didn't work out the way that "I" envisioned them to turn out, but every couple that I have worked with have had nothing negative to say. I have also aquired additional work due to their referrals. Just remember to be straight forward with the couple and communicate with them!! And if you have the option contact professional photographers in your area and see if you can be a second photographer (offer for free will usually get a yes) and use the opportunity to expand your technique. Don't be afraid to ask a friend or two to "pretend" the part, always offer prints at no cost in return for their time (a lunch doesn't hurt either). In the end I encourage amateur photographers to aspire your talents and passions and of course Practice! Practice! Practice!
January 26, 2009 02:48 pm
I have read some comments about people telling others to "stay away" from weddings if you have never done them... this got me thinking that "everyone starts somewhere." Cut people some slack, please. My own personal adivice, is to make sure you are taking pictures when the bride and groom, groom and groom, or bride and bride have their first dance. And also, take pictures of people dancing! It makes for great memories! Be brave but not overly pushy. No one wants a grump taking their pictures on the happiest day of their life! :)
January 22, 2009 06:33 pm
Awsome tips! I really like the shot of the ring on the book! Very elegant. Your comment about being bold is correct. I have witnessed first time shooter afraid to get in the aisle and miss the shots of the wedding party and worse yet... the BRIDE coming up the aisle!
January 22, 2009 08:34 am
Everybody knows that each wedding has it's magical moments. I find it inspiring that two people want to capture history and use a professional wedding photographer. Once you build a relationship with the couple, it's certainly easier to get the photographs that they'll come to love. My experience tells me that the stress usually subsides after the first hour or two of photographs. In addition to being featured in The Knot Wedding Magazine, my photographs have been recognized with many artistic awards and has been featured in well known publications such as Minnesota Bride, Minneapolis St. Paul Wedding Guide, Twin Cities Bridal Association, Trash the Dress and Rocktographers. We make it easy for our clients to relax and it's easier to get those magical photos. I did enjoy reading your tips and look forward to reading more about your thoughts and inspirations when it comes to finding and shooting wedding cakes, rings and other photos. Keep up the good work!
January 18, 2009 04:51 am
Remeber when you picked up your first camera and snapped a picture? That's what I thought. I remeber when I caught the bug to do wedding photography and I approached a "PRO", at a friends wedding. I got the "PRO's" card and asked if I could contact him in the near future. He said yes. However when I called the "PRO" to ask a few question and asked if I could tag along on one of his next wedding as " a free of charge assistance who just want some knowledge of the wedding industry. Well, from this "PRO's" response you would have thought I was trying to steal all of his work and clients. He was rude and very vague when it came to anserwing my questions.
I kindly ended the conversation and thanked him for his time. Since then I basically attended weddings, carefully studied the 'pro", ( NOTICE THE PRO IS NO LONGER CAPITALIZED!) read a few books and study photos from wedding photographer's websites and I must say the compliments I receive from clients is very satisfying.
Hey amature's, JUST DO IT!!!!!
January 17, 2009 07:41 am
These are fantastic tips! Another great way to get ideas and inspiration is to look at other photographers work. You can find unique ways of using angles, props and light. If you're in the Minneapolis area, I'm teaching a course on wedding photography. There are two classes in January at the Minneapolis Photo Coop (www.mplsphotocenter.com). The classes are really inexpensive and can help people looking to make a career out of wedding photography. There is more information on my blog if you're interested. Hope this helps! Cheers!
January 17, 2009 05:29 am
I think these are excellent tips. Can be used by amateur and pro alike. I especially like the tip about setting the couples expectations, this is far more important than many photographers realise. When you let couples see your work, you must not show only the perfect shots, that way you will raise their expectations too high. I don't mean that you should show them bad work, no! However do try to be realistic.
January 16, 2009 01:33 pm
These are fantastic technical tips that anyone who is looking into becoming a professional wedding photographer should be aware of. But do remember - that photography is only one SMALL aspect of being a professional wedding photographer. I say it's small, because at most, 10% of you time will actually be spent shooting.
Accounting, marketing, product development, client interaction, sales meetings... these are what make you a professional. If you are not a business person, do not plan on getting very far!
January 8, 2009 09:54 am
I love this site! I am so glad I ran across it. I have done three weddings which my friends and family talked me into. I am not a pro, but I would like to think that I have the eye for pictures. I love to do photograghy. Yes I am scared when someone asks me but being prepared with all your equipment and your couple helps. Lists! I do suggest you take someone that can do some running for you, once I needed a extra battery and I had my daughter with me to run and pick it up. Just have fun, keep the bride and groom relaxed, you are running the show for awhile be brave get those different shots. You know if they have asked you to shoot their wedding they have seen your work, or you are doing it as a favor so all you can do is give it your best. Go for it all you amateurs have a blast!!
January 8, 2009 12:28 am
All sound advice and becomes second nature eventually......One thing which I never noticed listed hear is "Check your ISO regular" when indoors you will more than likely have your ISO up high or certainly higher than needed when doing the outdoor shots!
January 5, 2009 12:31 pm
Wow - these are great Wedding Photography Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers. This list is now like the top listing for any wedding search! Well done DPS!
December 30, 2008 05:38 am
There is a lot of good advice here. However, I shot my first wedding when a friend of ours asked me to just walk around the wedding and shoot away. After the pics came back from the "PRO" mine was chosen to be the best. I shoot around 800 pics.
My advise, go out and shoot that camera. Take alot of pics and see what will take place. You may even shock yourself when you look at the pics. Knowing your camera is a must when shooting weddings.
December 17, 2008 08:43 pm
The most important thing in wedding photography-in my opinion-is to enjoy and to feel the atmosphere of the wedding. Don't get stressed for it as this is a "once in a lifetime moment" kind of thing.
I've started my income as a wedding photographer. Just practice alot and try to be more relax, go with the flow.
Once you get nervous of missing a moment to photograph, this will lead you to a more serious problems. Have fun in wedding photography!
December 14, 2008 12:14 pm
Ya, I agree most of the time all a pro means is that they get paid for what they do which doesn't necessarily mean they are good. I was a commercial truck driver for 18 years. Every now and then somebody would say, being smart, if your a professional truck driver you should be able to drive through that, or go over this or back up around that. All I would say to them is. The only thing professional means is that I get paid for driving. which doesn't necessarily mean I'm better than anyone else. every time I said that to somebody it was just like giving them food for thought. I've known a lot of so called professional truck drivers that could hardy back their truck and trailer up for 50 feet. And the photography business in no different in that aspect.
December 14, 2008 08:02 am
The "amature photografer" again her,
I would be very suprised if anyone who wants to break into photografy as a serious hobby photografer or thinking of supplementing there income as a photografer in general would think about using any one elses work, also most fotografers will have porfolio in print to show there clients.(or should have) As you all know monitors in general are not calibrated, and the colour and brightness varies. I like to show my clients actual pictures cours otherwise they might think the pictures they see are gastly, too bright and saturated.
Said it before but ill say it again.... i tell my couples that i don't have any formal training/education with in photografy but this my style of photography and then show them my portfolio, i also inform them of there rights regarding publicasion of the photos (IN NORWAY) a "Photographer" may publish and use photo to advertise his/hers services without prior concent from there clients this includes baby pictures to bridal pictures. Here #I may get some clients telling me they would rather me not use there pictures in which case I no longer can (until 15 years after there death) THE POINT BEEING people like to here the truth and somethimes this can actually gain you more trust...
The Choice should always be the couples if the want a "Qualified" photografer then they should be allowed to have that.
P.S I'd still ask for a portfolio though ;-)
December 14, 2008 04:52 am
In RE: To Ken Thompson. Don't take this gut to seriously. I 'm sure hes a great guy and knows his stuff. But it sound like hes just a little nervous about all the new technology like most older people, they just don't really understand it. Sound like hes from the old school film camera days. He most likely is not happy because with the digital cameras a novice can rival the job of a pro with just a few lessons, especially if the person has a knack for it. And Ken has probably lost some work to the new guys already and their new tecno cameras. The times are a changing and photography will never be the same. Their will aways be some people that just hate to see new technology come in and all that thay have learned and know for years is slowly falling by the way side. When the old timers cant push a shutter button any longer the only places you will see a film camera is in the trash can or your local pawn shop for a $1.00
December 13, 2008 11:22 pm
I find it very strange that many of the so called "Pro's" slam the amateur photographer who decides to try wedding photography.. when many of the so called Pro's started out life as an amateur anyway.
One thing every bride and groom should ask when considering booking a "pro" photographer is "are you qualified and can I see your qualifications".. you will find a huge majority have never attended college and have in all probability only completed a short evening course at the local school or club.
The A4 laser printed certificate received to say they have completed it does not mean they are a "Pro"...
If he produces it ask to see his portfolio.. then ask if you can contact a bride and groom he has photographed for their comments.
Its a sad fact that some photographers use other peoples work to gain credibility... and con you!
Can a so called "Pro" photographer take good photos anyway?
Taking a million photos with the best camera on the planet proves nothing and is useless in the hands of a photographer who has no conception of what makes a good photo.
Ask to see his/her published work.. If he hasn't any, ask why he calls himself a "Pro"
Lastly, there are poor, good, very good and brilliant photographers out there.. its just a question of picking the right one.
December 11, 2008 06:35 am
What an arrogant man you are!! Let me guess. No one else should own a car because you do and they will get in your way?
Yes there is a huge amount of pressure and yes a lot of expectations, but if you know your limits and work to them you'll know when you are ready to do it.
As for you, thank christ we had our wedding and didn't come across you. Doubtless you would've evicted the bride incase they outshone you.
December 10, 2008 11:50 am
There is a Typo in the title of this article
"Wedding Photography - 21 Tips For For Amateur Wedding Photographers"
December 2, 2008 08:51 pm
Great summary and something to refer to before every wedding. I would add that you need a fast long lens if you intend to shoot during the ceremony, as flashes of light are not cool during the actual ceremony.
Two cameras and several lens are a must!! A second photographer is preferred.
November 21, 2008 06:30 pm
Very helpful tips, I'm beginner I like this website...thx
November 21, 2008 06:26 am
I like to pour though wedding photos online to give me inspiration and vision before the shoot.
November 20, 2008 10:52 am
Try not to seem new to the job. The most important thing is to believe in yourself and believe that you can do the job. If you still think you need more help, look at professional photos online to see or to get an idea of what a good photo is.
November 14, 2008 12:57 pm
If I could add a few points to this article it would be to make sure that your photographer brings backup equipment AND carries insurance. It happens all too often that cameras or flashes fail and a full time professional will have the proper plan in place to prepare for the worst case scenarios.
I think a few people think that they can also have their budding photographer friend shoot their wedding. To be completely honest this MAY sometimes work in your favor (at a small wedding) if photography is not a priority AND they are not a guest in your wedding as well. The major drawback is that nothing can replace someone that has a lot of experience with weddings.
Craig Carpenter is a professional photographer with a focus on weddings and fun family photography. His website and blog can be viewed at...
November 13, 2008 11:14 am
Very good summary for starters.
Adding a few points:
- Have backup for everything, flash, battery, lenses, CF card.
- Try to nail the must-have shots before concentrating on creative ones.
- Be confident in yourself.
November 5, 2008 03:05 am
Wow very informative! Thanks for sharing this!
October 29, 2008 10:28 am
Cheers mate, good read.
I am a newly pro photographer and shoot a few weddings, I must admit that having family or friends trying to 'shoot' while you are working can be pretty annoying and detrimental to the final images. I took a different approach than tagging along to someone else's job, I learnt how to photograph anything, then I did a wedding.
If amateurs wish to be there with a professional photographer Tip 22. Keep out of their way - this awareness will actually help you in the long run.
I have actually just started a blog about shooting weddings it is very fresh but will fill up over the next few months.
October 8, 2008 09:38 am
I think all amateurs and pros in this forum have made great points. It's a great insight to professional wedding photographers as well as amateur wedding photographers. I know we have enough photographers but no one should ever try to scare anyone trying to help someone else out. Do mention the expectations, pressure, and issues they may encounter but try to do it in a positive manner. Maybe Joe blow will end up shooting the wedding anyway because the bride and groom don't have money for a professional $5,000 wedding photographer. I know $5000 is a little exaggerated (MAYBE FOR AN "ALL DIGITAL PACKAGE)for a basic package but some couples are just trying to do the right thing in getting married, others really don't put that much money into the wedding photography. As professionals this is something we must all consider, not all people have the kind of money we charge for our professional photography. Just thought I'd throw it out there because I think the worst thing you can do to someone is discourage them from helping someone who thinks they maybe competent. If the bride and groom choose this "amateur" to photograph their wedding, as long as the "amateur" is honest and true to the bride and groom, then the responsibility is ultimately theirs if they've seen your work and/or know you're an "amateur." But please, don't be discouraging, discouraging people from doing this can actually scare someone and stop a dream that has just begun.............something to think about........Check out my website and blog for more of my advice and professional photography:
Here's a www.WallotDigital.com.
October 8, 2008 07:10 am
I think the biggest tip I can give any Amature Wedding Photographers is to second shoot with a Pro - it's the best learning experience you will ever get, and once you are 100% sure you are at the correct level - then go out on your own - Do not gamble with a couples memories... it cannot be redone...
September 19, 2008 09:08 am
The most important tip I could give about wedding photography is to have fun and be someone the bride and groom like being around. You are their companion for a very special day and they deserve support, joy and calm.
Try and keep sarcasm and self-concern to a minimum. You'll find the families and wedding party will notice, too, and that can be a great source of referals.
September 14, 2008 02:04 am
A professional photographer allowed me to co-shoot a wedding, plus he and I became friends.
It's a good thing I was there, otherwise the cake eating and bouquet toss would have been missed, but were captured at 7 fps.
I used a Fuji S100fs with available light at ISO 3200. The bride and groom are personal friends, so I gave them a free photo CD, but everyone who saw my images were highly pleased.
I also used editing software to create special effects which further enhanced the images.
September 13, 2008 08:08 pm
So I'm new to wedding photography and overall photography. But I was asked to take portrait photos and to do a wedding for a friend go figure. I told them that I had never taken photos of a wedding but have been into photography especially combat photography as I am a combat veteran here in Iraq. So the thing is, people (US Army soldiers) who have been asking me to take their photos well can't exactly hire a $1200 photographer. We simply don't make enough money. What can they do? Pro photographers only insist they can take photos for friends and family because well they want the competition for themselves and they do get a lot of money. Me I can take quite good photos for being well free and the people who ask me already know I'm not professional but they are happy that I can still take nice photos.
September 11, 2008 07:31 am
Wow!! Great article. I have my first wedding in 2 and a half weeks...I am an ameture and I am telling all those ametures out there, don't let these negative 'pro's' dishearten you... I was scouted by a great photography duo to help them expand their busines..Little old me with no professional experience and a basic point and shoot (now have a top of the range DSLR with several lenses). Tell me how an ameture can't do it, when even pro's (who give the little guys a chance to grow and learn) ask for their help??
Thank you for the tips, I have sat here for an hour reading in awe of all your opinions and advice.
I wish there were less head in the cloud, delusions of grandured photographers out there, to help us ametures get into the business.. Like others have said, you were all ammetures once too!
September 9, 2008 09:21 pm
While it's a good idea of you to post these tips for the beginner, I do think the best way for 'amatuers' to learn is to shadow a professional tog.
There is just too much that can go wrong on the day for an inexperienced amature to handle.
As the saying goes - wedding photography is not expensive, it's priceless!
September 8, 2008 04:51 pm
All of this advice would have been great at my first wedding! My battery went dead way faster than I expected. Although my sister was helping me, so she saved the day for me. The biggest thing of all was I for sure didn't know what to expect when I started. Getting lots of advice before you get into a wedding saves so much stress!
September 5, 2008 11:39 am
Do not forget to learn to use off camera flash do great dance floor photos.
September 4, 2008 03:49 pm
One thing I can give you guys as a tip, and I learned this the hard way it to AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKETING all your wedding shots, you see the pros do it all the time, and I learned my lesson so now I always set a 1/2 or full stop both ways, just for insurance. I feel much more confident when I know I have a few shots to work with. Shoot in RAW if you can also.
GREAT SITE, love talking about this stuff!
September 4, 2008 12:29 am
oh btw, i did the pix for free as a wedding present in exchange for a few of them for a portfolio and already have another friend requesting me as a backup to the professional that they hired.
September 4, 2008 12:26 am
In April I took pictures of my best friends wedding. We had referred him to the photog that took pix for ours 2 years prior. He wanted too much money and as a couple that didn't have the money, my friend called me and told me it was too much. I told him not to worry, I'd grab the cameraS, yes plural, one digital and one a regular film camera (but not with all the fancy lenses). I even got to take pix of the rehearsal because my hubby was the best man. Playing on the fact that my own photog missed alot of shots for us I made a list, both paper and mental, of shots that would be needed. When I presented the 150+ pictures to the bride and groom already in a photo album, with negatives (reg film) and the index for the digital pix, there were tears because the pix turned out beautiful. No stress, no problem for me. Hey pros, are you scared you might have some competition out there from us everyday people? Get over it, because some of us have a natural ability to photograph not just things, but people and events too!
August 27, 2008 12:01 pm
What a amazing lesson, I really really enjoyed that. I've done a lot of wedding but I've never really had formal training I pretty much learned on my own, so getting extra lessons like this is awesome!!! I will book mark this and keep coming back, I just love this site!
August 27, 2008 11:36 am
My personal CEO's (the wife) best friend asked me to photograph her wedding next week. I was so excited, because I have never done it before and have no idea what I'm doing (as far as the wedding stuff goes). I asked the friend if I could bring my sister, who IS a pro, to help out, and she said, NO!
The wedding is very small, and only for close friends, which is the secondary reason for not wanting a pro wedding photographer there (primary being the cost-I am doing it for free).
I am bringing a Pentax K-1000 (an old, fully manual camera) with a great 35mm lens and an OK 70-210. My sister told me to bring 400 ASA color film, and have the photo service put everything on disk, as well as prints. She said I could get color AND B&W from the film. She uses an album company in New Zealand that I will also use.
I am also bringing our Canon A540, and the friend's better Canon digital camera. I am planning on shooting most of the staged shots with the film camera, and most of the candid shots with the digitals. I am trying to find someone to give the backup digital to, so they can walk around and take a lot of candid shots.
The digitals have a built-in flash, which I am familiar with and will use as needed. I asked my sis about getting a flash for my 35mm camera. She knew I had never used one, so she told me not to buy or try and use one, as she knew I would have no time to practice. She told me I will get better photos doing what I know to do and not trying to figure out the flash-stuff at the same time I'm shooting.
So, thanks for this site-it's helped a lot!
I am nervous, but I know I'll do OK, and the bride and groom won't be pissed if their photos aren't million dollar ones, so I'm OK there.
Good luck to all of you, pro and amatuer's, shooting your weddings.
(Wedding in YYZ.)
August 22, 2008 01:30 pm
I so could have used some tips in June lol...I do portait photography mainly with some landscape. But a friend begged me to do her wedding because with them both being on disablity they absolutely had no money for a "wedding photographer"! I did the wedding as a gift for them! I just did not want to be blamed if the pictures weren't what they wanted! But I had her make a shot list so I guess I did something right! I gave them a dvd of the photos (was very little post work necessary except under the trees! I did know to use my speedlight for fill flash) I did shoot in raw because I was so worried about the lighting for an outside wedding! To my surprise there was an envelope with $100 in it in the mail the next week! They loved the photos! Nope have not changed my mind! I don't like doing weddings! Rather be there as a friend and enjoy their day with them!
August 22, 2008 01:13 pm
Hi, all. - I'm not sure when this was written, but this was a great article, as I am an aspiring 'pro'- and want to specialize in weddings. At this time, my fees are based on my lack of experience, and I do make sure that my clients understand my current skill level.
That being said, to the Pros who say to be cautious and upfront if booking a wedding as an amateur, I agree. I think that honesty is always the best policy. No one should misrepresent themselves to take someone's money (Pro or not). However, where I disagree is where the comments turn negative and condescending. So, three points follow:
1. If you negative folks are truly professionals, then how about showing some class ( as some did) by giving instructions and suggestions along with your opinion?
2. Did anyone notice the title of the original posting was tips for *amateurs*? Going a little further did anyone notice that the poster said he would leave the technical details to the *pros* meaning we'd like your input to help us improve?
3. This blog is called Digital Photography *School*. How would you like it if someone showed up at a school you attended, and attempted to discourage you from pursuing your chosen course of study? Remember everyone has a beginning......
August 22, 2008 12:29 am
About the continuous shooting we must take into consideration that the ISO will almost automatically goto between 400 and 800 and the pictures will lower in quality due to "grainyness".
August 21, 2008 07:36 pm
OMG!!! I am getting so many mixed signals from this website! I read through the top of this page then scrolled down here and am now seriously confused. I'm amateur, a friend from work asked me if i wanted to come to her sisters wedding for a bit of a practise, they only have family snaps due to lack of money and now you have all scared me half to death! I have took on board all the 21 tips but i feel really disheartened for reading this :(
August 13, 2008 10:39 pm
Great Tips and advice! I say read, learn, practise and go for it! If you fail to plan....you will fail.
Do any of you have any sites that show some different Wedding shots? Something special?
August 12, 2008 09:07 am
These are all great tips (as one can notice by all of the responses). I also think that simply "second shooting" at a few weddings with an experienced wedding photographer will truly advance one's learning by eons! Because wedding photography is something that you only have one shot at getting right, it's important to be as well prepared as possible. A shot list can be very helpful starting out and the photographer DEFINITELY needs to have at least one backup camera, if not more!
And tip #13 is something that is VERY IMPORTANT but not that widely practiced. Showing images at the reception really gets people excited about your work and exposes your work to even more potential clients!
Great stuff as always, DPS!
August 8, 2008 07:52 am
You must have fun, it helps all the subjects to also enjoy, what should be a joyous occasion.
August 4, 2008 12:16 am
#20 is what makes this industry so much fun. I am not a wedding photographer, but I do work in the wedding industry. I love photography so this list is very helpful, but expect th unexpected is definitely a great tip. I have seen fights, weddings that weren't at the last moment, and as always the one REALLY drunk guest, which makes any wedding an expected surprise.
August 2, 2008 05:03 am
Hello! As a minister, I have conducted hundreds of weddings. Most have been seamless and beautiful, but there have been nightmares - most often because of insensitive photographers. Here are my tips to add to the mix:
1. As a matter of courtesy, contact the minister in advance of the wedding to inquire about guidelines for wedding photography during the ceremony. Make sure the couple know the rules too. You can't be blamed for not getting shots that you are not allowed to get.
2. Don't try to argue with the minister. Remember that the church is the ship, and they are the captain. A cranky minister can ruin a wedding almost as fast as an insensitive photographer.
3. Remember that you are not invisible. Please don't block the view of the guests during the ceremony, and never ever ever block the groom's view of the bride as she is entering. I know you want a shot of the bride entering, but please please please don't crouch in the aisle or make the bridesmaids step over you.
4. When you are asked not to move around during the ceremony, it is because it is distracting. The minister is concentrating on the couple, and on the flow of the service. They are also keeping an eye out for fainting attendants, uncles suffering strokes, and bums walking in off the street for a hand-out. Making sudden moves places their attantion on YOU.
5. Most ministers are humans. Therefore, they cannot read when they are blinded by flashes.
6. Think of the wedding ceremony as an hour of fine theatre. You would never dream of walking on to a stage or joining the actors. Keeping a respectful distance will earn you the gratitude of everyone.
August 1, 2008 11:10 pm
August 1, 2008 10:41 pm
Great article. This Romanian magazine stole your article. It's translated into Romanian word by word. http://www.photomagazine.ro/photomagazine/revista.php?categ=pont
In the magazine is the rest of the article.
July 29, 2008 09:06 am
It's a little daunting to be in the company of so many wedding photography specialists (not being one). When it comes to the wedding photographer I have one and only one comment. I would hope they never would cramp the experience of enjoying the reception to stop the action and pose the attendees during open dancing or the bride and groom during the wonderfully spontaneous moments of cake cutting, and garter and bouquet segments. I hope this entry is not irrelevant to the rest of this blog's content.
July 26, 2008 08:54 am
I am one of those "Amature" photographers,
I am a fully qualified florist with 12+ years in the industry,with experience of working in different contries.and rather demanding brides (mothers :-) )
I have first hand knowledge of how importent it is for the bride and groom to have there day go perfect, even proffesionals (qualified ie, degree or masters) can get it wrong on occasions, but as a amature the chances of getting it wrong is on the whole higher. Having said that I my self a "Amature photographer" offer my services as a photographer
I started with basic portraits and found people asking me to cover other events such as confirmations and indeed weddings..when I talk to a possible bride i insist on having two talks, the first at least 6 months before the weeding (sooner the better) Here I inform the couple that I have no formal training or education within photography and tell them that if they are just a little unsure they need to hire a pro.I also bring with me a selection of my work.
End of the day as long as the Bride and Groom know the full and whole story, its is the Bride and Groom who decides.
And for the spare camera, batteries, lenses, remember if you need it make sure you bring two of it, all hardware can fail, batteries can die lenses can get scratched/broken. I have had more work through word of mouth than from any other advertising / webside. Good luck to you all.
P.s sorry if my English spelling is not so good, I am Norwegian and live at the moment in rainy Bergen
July 25, 2008 01:00 am
thanks for these! they will help out a lot when i go down and take pictures for my moms best friend's second wedding :) i was asked to be the photographer. these tips will be great.. :)
July 21, 2008 11:39 am
Thanks for the tips, not a "pro" but am working towards a bright future in photography. I take pictures of my own children and at family gatherings, fiestas, etc. I was asked to be the main photographer in an upcoming wedding in August, all the tips that were given I wrote and am making a list. I also have a second person to take photos. I am nervous but am confident that everthing is going to be ok.
July 16, 2008 07:55 am
Looks like a good plan.
Have fun and take great photos.
But first before you go and shoot a paid wedding go shoot many free ones so you can learn how to deal with everything like dark reception lighting, Outdoor bright sunlight weddings.
Before you shoot any weddins you should know your camera and equipment inside and out. Do not just put your camera in the auto P mode and expect good photos. Yes you can at times shoot in this mode if you know how to use the exposure comp functions of your camera.
Do not charge money till you are 100% ready.
Good luck its a business not a just a fun thing to do.
July 10, 2008 08:04 am
I run a wedding website design business and you guessed it - the site is only as good as the photos people use on the site. Some of these people need help! Being a bit of an amateur photographer myself, these tips are excellent - if only I could get to some of my wedding website clients and take their photo's, at least pre-wedding - their wedding websites would have much more of a "wow" factor! Brides and grooms take note of the tips above before you start designing your wedding websites :)
July 8, 2008 10:52 pm
I would like to pose a question to the critics: when is one classified a "Professional?" this word is misused in everyday life when in essence it's simply getting paid to acheive a goal... wheather you're a family friend getting paid for the photos or a distant stranger of recommendation, i believe that if one builds up their portfolio to thier own personal standard the rest is up to the couple... any couple who likes ones style. please dont anti-encourage aspiring wedding photographers that you, yourselves once were.
July 2, 2008 11:09 pm
This for me is timely, I have a wedding to shoot in August of this year, and I have never done weddings as the main photographer.
These tips have given me the confidence I need to do this, Thank You!
Keep the tips rolling!
June 27, 2008 09:09 am
I am an amatuer with a love of photography and weddings.
I started out sitting in a chair in the first row so I wouldn't disturb the event but my husband encouraged me to move more. I now go to the practice rehearsal (yes and extra 3 hrs of my time) and walk through my shots at the same time they are walking through the ceremony. I hide behind the piano, then when they close their eyes to pray I run to the back of the room, change lenses and get close ups of the rings and wait for the exit. I know where I am going next so I don't miss many shots. No one even sees me as they are so focused on the bride & groom.
I get a list and make sure that I get some cute shots of people and many candids (I use a longer lens so they are unaware I am watching them.) I take the groom only shots before the wedding to save time. I have my favorites that show a lot of emotion, like the dad coming into the bride room before the ceremony and they hug and cry, the bride pinning the corsage onto her grandmother, and of course the look on the grooms face when he sees her coming down the isle.
I charge nothing except the cost of the materials. My friends truly could not afford anything more, and they get a lot of very nice shots for the price.
I will some day know enough to be considered pro level, but I hope it doesn't take away my joy!
June 23, 2008 10:37 am
I've been asked to do two weddings this summer. I've taken wedding photos and grad photos in the past and have tried to convince the brides to go with the pros. My services are coming free as these are friends. I've done a lot of research, practiced and will practice more before the first wedding this in two weeks as well. I'm bringing 3 cameras and my 20 yr old daughter who is very good at setting up shots is also helping.
I've met with the bride ahead of time and showed her a couple of hundred different shots and she's chosen the 'must haves' along with the traditional shots. I'm looking forward to it with a little anxiety, but she knows that I'm not pro but she likes the work I've done in the past.
June 22, 2008 09:17 pm
I'm an amateur photographer. By the way, Mr. Moorman can I have your email address coz I badly need some adviceif it's okay?
June 22, 2008 12:09 am
I appreciate the info and found much of it correct. However I am a professional wedding photographer for 14 years now. There were many comments above concerning the price of a professional. Most wedding photographers come in anywhere from $500 up to $5000.00. There is a price range for everyone. The average photographer spends 40 hours of the studios time to finish one wedding. They are providing income for employees and family. They must pay taxes and business liscese as well as having insurance in case some one gets hurt at the wedding( tripping over a light stand etc). We also have ins to cover legal expenses in case something happens to the image files. ( far and few between but it can happen). Not to mention the everyday expenses of business such as building,computers,updates,paint,electric,new cameras( over one hundred thousand images on my camera it is only 2 years old). I work hard long hours for very little income. Please talk your friends into trusting this once in a lifetime event to someone that will make it happen for them. A professional shows up with 2 assistants and 20 thousand dollars of equipment not to mention all the back up gear needed. There is only one chance to shoot a wedding the next day is to late.
I should mention that there is a lot of knowledge needed for posing, lighting, and being able to use more than the program mode to be able to conquer the ever changing lighting and room environment at a wedding ( not to mention the many different personalities. After the flowers die the food is eaten the dress is in a box in the attic all that is left is a beautiful marriage and the professional photos to show it.
most photographers will work with you if you wish to shoot images during the wedding to provide a small scrap book or something as a gift for the bride. Just let them know you are there to work with them and not jeopardize there sales etc. They will probably stop during the meal and answer any photo questions you may have ( pros love photography as much as the hobby world). This will release you from the full responsibility and still ensure the bride gets a great coverage of her wedding and keep your friendship with her.
If you are considering a professional career on Photo check out PPA.com or FPPonline .org or TAPPA.com for the professional association to help you get up to speed for pricing, technical info and so much more. I am a member of all of them and very active.
June 19, 2008 03:06 pm
thanks for this great advice and checklist. for anyone thinking of asking a friend / non professional to be their principal wedding photographs, it highlights the importance of proper planning and should be a good basis for discussion.
June 18, 2008 01:58 am
My Dad is a professional photographer, I thought it was funny one time when a family member wannabe photographer kept shooting their photo after all my Dad's set up shots. He told her that she could shoot first next time, well of course she backed off because she did not know how to set up cute shots. Great way of handling this situation!
June 17, 2008 02:24 am
thanks. i loved your advice. this will surely be helpful for an "amateur" like me. :D
June 9, 2008 08:26 am
Stumbled upon. Interesting article.