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Photography for American Wedding ceremonies can be generally characterized in categories of preparations, ceremony, and reception. With most weddings fitting this order, the more weddings you shoot, the easier it is to anticipate your shots and mentally visualize how you will create them.
There is another market for Wedding Photography that is often overlooked: Traditional Cultural weddings.
Cultural weddings require additional time and research by the photographer to make the most of the wedding day and not miss any important details. Here are some suggestions for preparing and shooting a Cultural Wedding.
1. Be detail oriented: Cultural weddings are often spread out over several days. The families spend a great deal of time, money, and energy to make the wedding memorable for everyone involved. Be pro-active to watch for important little details that characterize the culture and cause the ceremony to stand out.
2. Create a timeline: Sit down with the Bride and ask her to walk through every detail of the wedding day – particularly the ceremony. Take detailed notes and ask as many questions as possible. How long does the ceremony last? What is the role of each family member? What is the significance of the ceremony traditions? The purpose of this timeline is not necessarily to be a memorized and rigid game-plan, but it will be helpful when capturing those moments that you would have otherwise ignorantly overlooked.
3. Research other Photographers: There is a Proverb that states “there is nothing new under the sun”. This is especially true in artistic circles. If you have never shot a Cultural Wedding before, research other photographers who have. This is not to give you permission to “copy” their work. Rather, these visuals will help solidify what the cultural experience may be.
4. Ask for help: On the wedding day, make friends with one of the attendants and ask them if they would point out to you any additional details or shots that would be important to capture. A little humility may go a long way in a successful capture.
5. Focus.Focus. Focus: Be prepared for anything that may come your way. Watch. Observe. Do not let down your guard. Creating a beautiful photographic experience for everyone involved in a cultural wedding will assist you in breaking into this new market.