Becoming a Wedding Photographer
Most photographers stumble into wedding photography by accident! Once our friends and family get to know we are keen on our hobby you will start to get requests for you to take the photos at their weddings. Be careful! This is their special day and cannot be repeated if you mess up doing the photos for them. If you are still a bit unsure offer to take photos but suggest they still hire a professional photographer for the main ceremony and speeches etc. You can take the photos of the bride getting ready, the candids as things proceed during the day and all those fun and relaxed evening images without the pressure of its all on you. After all you want to enjoy the days festivities as well.
A good way to start is to offer to be a second shooter to an already established photographer. Try sites like Purpleport, there are often photographers looking for second shooters on there. You will probably be expected to mostly watch the main Togs (photographer) gear and to round up folk ready for the upcoming shots. Make yourself useful, do not expect to go in there all guns blazing and start snapping away, you won't get asked again. If and when you are asked to take some shots you will probably have to hand over all your images for the tog to process and sell to the happy couple.
OK so you are going to go it alone. Read Read Read! Watch some tutorials online. Creativelive is a good source. They offer free webinars on all manner of subjects which are free while they are being broardcast.
Don't price yourself to high but don't work a whole day for nothing much more than the cost of your petrol. You have invested in your equipment and time.
Write up a contract which clearly sets out what you aim to achieve and deliver. It's worth adding a note that you will aim to fulfill all the couples requirement but circumstances may prevent you from getting some of the required shots. You can't be expected to get that shot of old uncle Bert if hes propping up the bar and won't play ball.
Compile a list of all the shots required and keep it handy. Check it off as you go through the day.
The way I like to work is to get the brides pics at home then shoot off to get the grooms pics as they assemble outside the venue. Once they have gone in I snap the bride arriving and entering the venue. Then I find a good vantage point at the back somewhere and use my zoom lens. This is their day and I don't want to spoil it by being in the way while they make their vows. I will get in a better position if I have to for the exchanging of the rings and the kiss.
Once the register has been formally signed you will get your time to take some formal shots. I take this time to get shots of the guests in their seats. Once the couple have finished the formal signing its your time. I make the most of this time and grab as many shots as I can of the couple, the witnesses, bestman bridesmaids etc but don't overdo it or you will upset the registrar and they will remember you if you attend another of their weddings in the future.
I then get the shots of the couple and guests coming out. I give everyone 5-10 minutes or so of congratulations and hugs and kisses before then gathering up all the guests for the group shot. I like to try and do this first. That way the guests still have their jackets on and haven't started to wander off. Once thats done the guests not required for anymore shots can begin to make their way to the reception. I then take the Mums and Dads with the couple pics and any other required shots working my way down to just the bride and groom. This means that all other guests have now left hopefully and you can get those special pics of just the bride and groom.
At the reception hopefully I'm in place to see the couple arriving. Sometimes the bride and groom are shown the reception area before the guests are seated and this is a great time to get a mock up picture of them cutting the cake as there are no other guests around. If not this will have to be done later and you will be jostling for a good place to shoot from. Always after any shots I take I give a few moments for guests to take their shots moving out of the way while they do afterall its their family or friends day they are there to share with.
Time for a break! I never take any shots while the folks are eating their meal.
Then its speeches and the cutting of the cake if not already done and hopefully soon after you can take the first dances. You may have to wait for the venue staff to reset the room first. I always advise couples to try and get the first dances done as soon as possible as then the guests can start to enjoy the party. Most guests won't get up and dance until the bride and groom have had their first dance.
I don't usually stay much longer after this unless asked to do so. These days with most folk having mobile phones or their own cameras they usually get better pictures of their friends and family enjoying themselves and having a drink than I will. By now with all the guests relaxing I find they don't want to pose for pics taken by the official photographer. So I wish the happy couple well and go home!
Job Done! No.......... now there are 100s of images to go through. This can take days if not weeks if you are not already used to editing lots of images so try to be organised about it.
So you can see shooting a wedding is no easy task and should not be entered into lightly. Its a long and ardulous day but a very enjoyable one. I love weddings, everyone is happy and hopefully the weather is on your side. I always feel honoured that a couple has asked me to share their very special day with them
This is a very comprehensive guide by Nick Stubbs to starting your own wedding photography business and will walk you through a complete day with plenty of information on running your business and becoming a successful Wedding Photographer.
Subscribe for Updates
Add your Tips and Resources and they may be added to this page