I think the most important thing that you can do as a photographer is plan for the “worst case scenario” when shooting a wedding. Often time’s nothing overly serious will happen, but it’s best to be prepared. After you have a few weddings under your belt the “what if’s” become easier to prepare for but I wanted to share a few common mistakes that some photographers may make when first starting out.
- Have a “must have” shot list: A “Must have shot list” is just that, photographs that a Bride/Groom absolutely want on their wedding. It is important to ask the bride and groom what photos they absolutely cannot do without. This is of course outside of what you would already do, so if they request one of your basic shots, for example “all of the grandparents together”, let them know that is a photo you always try to get, but still take note that they definitely want it. I’ve had brides request the Groom carrying her flowers, a cute photo of her and his shoes while they dance and more common the end of the evening night shot “kiss” silhouette.
- Don’t let Relatives or a “friend pro-photographer” get in the way: With today’s technology everyone can get decent photos just with an i-phone. That can make it a little bit more difficult to do your job. However, It’s important to remember that it is YOUR JOB to capture the wedding moment’s and the reaction from the bride and groom if you miss a key photo, are a bit different as opposed to what would happen to “cousin June” or “Uncle Joe.” Be polite, but be firm! Make sure you set your parameters when taking photos, most of the time guests will be respectful and give you the space needed to capture those beautiful moments.
- Get help or designate someone to gather/organize all of the guests after the ceremony: The most hectic part of the evening for a photographer can be “the group” photos. Corralling everyone together and making sure they stay in one place can be difficult, especially while your trying to take the photographs. Designate your 2nd photographer, assistant or family member of the bride/groom to help keep everything flowing smoothly. I personally like to start with the larger group photos first, then work down to the Bride and Groom individual pictures.
- Finalize the Wedding Day Schedule/Timeline: The one consistent thing to every wedding I’ve ever photographed is that the timeline will change. Make sure that you contact the event planner/coordinator, Bride or Groom, the day before to confirm the timeline.
- Final check in at least a few days prior to the actual wedding day: Always check in with the Bride/Groom at least a few days prior to the wedding. This is just an opportunity to say “Hey”, and let them know, again when you will be arriving and ask if there is anything that you can do for them. I guarantee the Bride and Groom will appreciate it.
- Photos of all of the guests: I make it a point during the reception and after dinner to go around to all the tables and groups I see standing around to get pictures of ALL of the guests. It serves as a great reminder to the Bride and Groom that, yes, “Janet” or “Mike” were at the wedding.
- Check camera settings / lighting before the wedding ceremony: The wedding ceremony procession can happen in an instant. One minute your photographing the bride standing by the door ready to make her entrancec the next minute the bridal pary is down the aisle and everyone is standing to see the bride. I always do a test run before anyone has arrived in order to get a general idea as to where my settings should be. (Be sure to use a stand-in) Although there may be slight adjustments needed, It will at least allow you to get usable shots from the start of the procession.