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To truly master photography, not just the wedding genre, you will need to learn how light affects everything. Invest time in reading, training and experience to perfect techniques as on the day of the shoot you won’t have time to stop and think about what settings you need – you’ll need to understand the basic principles as well as the set up of your DSLR like the back of your hand.
Not only will the subject’s grow impatient but you could find yourself missing those all important ‘moments’ because you were too busy fiddling around in the settings menu.
If you have time and the equipment on hand – back up your images onto a storage device, laptop or use built in wi-fi technology or a wi-fi card (such as the Eye-Fi memory card) to beam the images to your desktop. Whatever you do don’t format the cards until you have edited your frames and ensured everything is securely backed up across a handful of hard drives.
To limit the risk of losing files or shooting on a corrupt card on the day, take several medium capacity (2-8 GB) cards, perhaps even marking each for relevant parts of the day, for example: bridal prep, ceremony, reception and evening.
Rather than be a jack of all trades it is advisable and perhaps even more lucrative to try and carve out a recognisable style and niche that shows what you are not only capable of but also enjoy doing. If your work is good and your style attractive, couples want to book you for their wedding day. You may need to alter this slightly as fashions change but always stick to what you enjoy creating and shoot in a style and manner that suits you.
Be up front about your style and your manner when the client books, but to make that sale you may also want to consider being flexible if the couple wants something which is outside your normal ‘remit’. Have everything you are providing the couple down in writing before the big day, set a fee with payments guidelines and deadlines – never forget this is a business transaction.
On the day be unobtrusive – this is their wedding – you are just there to record it and not ruin it. There are millions of wedding photographers out there but the ones who are really successful preach about the importance of politeness and respect. Yes be assertive and you will need to be as wedding photography is one of the most stressful jobs know to man, but do it with manners.
As well as capturing the important stages of the day such as: bride and groom preparation, the ceremony, romantic portraits, candids, group shots, speeches and the first dance, you should use any time between these events to record the smaller – yet hugely significant details; in essence – anything the bride and groom have spent time and money on choosing for their big day.
On your hit list should be: bridal accessories (such as jewellery, shoes, bouquets, bags, headwear and even underwear), table decorations, the cake, flowers, party favours, the seating plan, place settings, and even the bows tied to the seats used at the ceremony and reception venues. For creating a soft effect use a wide aperture such as f4 or 5.6 and crop in close using a fast lens.
As soon as you get back to your office, load the images straight into your computer and back them up on to the computer’s hard drive as well as several other portable external hard drives and online storage sites.
Using an editing suit such as Photoshop, Lightroom or one of the other thousand options available, delete any images which don’t meet the grade whether that be because they are out of focus, blurred, incorrectly exposed – beyond redemption, the subject is pulling an unattractive face or has their eyes shut etc. Next begin cleaning the image, tweaking exposure, brightness and contrast and/or adding filters you may like to use.
It is possible to run edits on multiple images at once, so check your software’s manual for advice. Load the final edit to an online library at low resolution for the couple to choose their favourites. With decision made make albums and send the couple the proofs. Administer any changes and then send the result off to the suppliers, which can then be returned to you or straight to your client. Most photographers estimate that after the wedding, the couple should receive their album within four to six weeks, however this ultimately depends on the volume of customers the photographer has, how quickly the suppliers can turn around products and how long the couple take to decide which frames they want.
Wedding photography is hugely demanding mentally and physically, and it may be likely that you could end up working 12 hours without a break. Try to take five minutes when you can and get a soft drink to recover. Pack a few cereal or power bars and even a small tub of pasta to see you through the lulls as its unlikely you’ll get fed.
If you are getting paid for your work you should definitely have adequate insurance in case something goes wrong. Not only will this cover you if your equipment is damaged, lost or stolen but will also protect you in case a third party injures themselves because of your equipment or because of a situation you have asked them to get into. What is more indemnity insurance will protect you and your businesses from claims of negligence, breach of duty of care, infringement of intellectual property, loss of data and client dishonesty. See our blog on Insurance for more information on this.
Read Part 3 in our Wedding Photography 101 series.