How to prepare for your first wedding
If you’re preparing for your first wedding photography booking, then I know how you feel. Anxious. Excited. Determined to do the best for the couple getting married. Please find below some helpful first time wedding photographer tips.
Tip One: Ask yourself if you’re the right photographer
You can’t wing it as a wedding photographer, and it is not the environment in which you can learn it all on the job. If what the couple wants does not match with what you can deliver ability wise, then you need to be upfront with the couple. Tell them from the start what you know for sure you can deliver. That doesn’t mean you should stay in your comfort zone, but a wedding is no place for hoping for the best on particular shots, no matter how much you prepare. If the couple asks for a particular photo and you say it’s not a problem, then you must deliver that imagine.
Tip Two: Ask questions
It’s not for the clients to tell you exactly what they want, though some may do so. You need to 1) Find out how keen they are to be asked questions (in a questionnaire) and 2) put all the questions down in one form to limit the follow up questions. This latter point is important as you want to avoid adding to a couple’s admin workload.
So, assuming the clients are happy to be asked questions in a questionnaire, come up with questions that cover every part of the day. It’s key to have:
- Timelines, for example, what time the hair and make up is due to start.
- Whether the couple has a weather contingency, as you will need to scout this location.
- Who the point of contact is for both people getting married on the day. Eg, the groom’s might be the best man, the bride’s would be the maid of honour. The reason for this is that you can’t both the couple getting married on the day, or the day before, with any questions.
- List of all the variations for group photos.
- People who prefer not to be photographed. The answer is most likely to be no, but there may well be people who prefer not to be photographed. Knowing this will avoid any awkwardness.
Tip three: Go to the dress rehearsal
You should factor this part into your wedding quote (they can take around an hour). By attending the rehearsal, you will be far more focused when it comes to the real event. You would have checked out where to park, the entrance, the stairs, the light, the places where people stand, the toilet (so if you need to desperately go, you don’t have to waste time asking someone).
If there is no dress rehearsal, you must go to the venue before the day. Arriving sight unseen is a bad idea.
Tip four: Back up equipment
You’ll need at least one dual card slot camera, at least one back up camera, (both cameras should be attached to you) and two to three lenses.
- You’ll need a wide lens if the group shots have lots of people
- A 70-200mm for aisle, distance, zoom close ups
- A 85mm for couple shots
You may well hear people say they have photographed weddings with just a 85mm, or just a 70-200mm. It’s certainly possible, but they wouldn’t have taken just one lens. They would have had a back up in case of a disaster, eg, they drop the lens and the glass breaks.
Tip five: Water & snacks
You’re going to need to stay hydrated and you can’t afford to be weak from lack of food, particularly if it’s your first wedding photography booking.
Some weddings, you may get a feed. However, that is most likely going to happen towards the end of the day. Have to hand (in your car or bag if you have one) snacks you can quickly consume and that pack a punch.
Tip six: Have your camera gear on you
It doesn’t look great walking around with a camera bag at a wedding. Plus, it can be cumbersome. Invest in a shoulder strap that has two to three clip or screws for attaching your two cameras. Then attach your spare (this is your third lens) to your belt.
Need more first time wedding photographer tips? Send me a message using the form lower down on this page and I’ll send you some.
To view samples of wedding and bridal photography pictures I’ve taken, head over to my weddings and bridal photography page.
Wishing you all the best with your first wedding photography booking. You’ll be great.
Some kind words from people
Just a few words from some of the incredible people I’ve worked with.
How to get in touch
This post with first time wedding photographer tips was written by me, David Dunham, a New Zealand based photographer working in black and white. Please don’t hesitate to send me a message below about a photography project. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Tel: + 64 27 462 3126