So, you’re the lucky photographer looking at online wedding photography courses for some inspiration, congratulations to you on getting the important job of shooting someone’s special wedding day! So, while the couple is busy planning the event, what do you need to do to prep for the big day? Check out our 25 wedding photography tips for beginners and let us know which are your favorites!
1- Get to Know the Players: What is the couple’s personality? What’s the theme or vibe of the big day? Who are the key players in the family? Are there relationship issues you need to be aware of (for example, divorced parents of the bride or groom can create a lot of stress on the big day)?
2- Set Expectations for Style: What is the couple looking for from their wedding photography? Do they want images that are serious? Glamorous? Funny? Sentimental? Journalistic? Artistic? Formal? Casual? A combination of all of the above These expectations will help you make smart choices about Lenses, Lighting, Camera Settings, and other relevant factors.
3- Set Expectations for Photo Quantity: Does the couple want photos of every special getting ready moment? A single photographer alone won’t have time to get ready with the girls, get ready with the guys, do posed portraiture, and prep equipment to get the perfect shots during the ceremony. And that’s just leading up to the wedding.
4- Get (or Build) a Clear Shot List: Once you’ve set expectations, it’s time to make a checklist to ensure you get all the shots you need and remember any interesting ideas you want to shoot. Differentiate between NEEDS and WANTS so you can prioritize on the day.
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5- Plan Your Schedule (and Expect the Plan to Change): With your shot list in hand, it’s time to organize the day so you can be where you need to be, when you need to be there. On time is late, so leave buffers in your schedule to go from place to place and check or reset equipment.
6- Pair Up with a Family Member or Friend of the Couple: To expedite group photos, it’s recommended the couple pair you up with a bridal party member or close friend or family member who knows all of the players and can wrangle them accordingly. That way you can focus on photography.
7- Consider Using Two Cameras: If you anticipate changing settings or lenses frequently, you may want to borrow or buy a second camera body. Wearing or carrying two cameras can be awkward, so you may also want to invest in quick release clips to attach cameras to your belt or backpack.
8- Scout the Location(s) at the Right Times of Day: This is especially important for beginners. Visit the locations you’ll be shooting at the time of day you’ll be shooting there and test your settings. Jot down what settings you used most successfully so you can refer back to them and get set up faster on the day.
The Day (or Night) Before
9- Test Everything: Trust, but verify that all of your equipment is present and in full working order. You don’t want to find out that a part of your tripod got left behind or that a memory card is faulty.
10- Charge Your Batteries: Check and charge any batteries — and then pack spares. Also pack your chargers in case you need to recharge midday.
11- Check Your Memory Cards: Ensure all memory cards are blank. Reformat, if needed. Pack more than you think you need.
12- Print Subject Cards (if Using): If your shot list is overwhelming or you don’t know the people attending the wedding very well, you might benefit from making cards that list the subject(s) of your shots. These can just be printed in large, bold font on letter sized paper and be shot immediately before the photos on the shot list. That way, when you’re editing photos, you’ll see the subject card and know what you’re about to edit. An on-the-fly alternative is to use a small dry erase board.
13- Pre-Pack Your Gear: After testing, charging, and checking, it’s time to lay everything out and pack it up. Don’t wait until the morning when you might already be feeling rushed.
14- Do a Test Run (at Home) to Check Your Packing List: Once you’ve packed (or as you’re packing), think through the entire day and do a dry run. Ensure you have all of the equipment you’ll need and that it will be handy when you need it.
On the Big Day
15- Turn Off Your Camera’s Sounds: Don’t interrupt a tender moment or spoil a great candid with camera sounds!
16- Shoot in RAW Format: RAW may take more memory and processing time, but for big moments, you’ll want the power to color correct and edit. RAW format is by far the best way to shoot.
Read more about RAW vs JPEG
17- Wear Comfortable, Functional, Professional Clothing: You don’t have to look like a guest, but you shouldn’t look sloppy. You can (and should) wear comfortable clothes and shoes that allow you to move safely and quietly. Clothing should also allow you to crouch, bend, and move without restriction.
18- Eat Quick Bites Whenever You Can: Don’t expect to sit down for long formal meals today. Bring a few snacks and eat quick bites when you can.
19- Stay Hydrated: It’s easy to forget to drink water when your hands are busy with a camera all day, but you’ll feel (and work) better if you stay hydrated. We recommend packing a reusable water bottle that is sturdy and easy to transport.
Editing, Delivery & Follow-Up
20- Color Correct all of Your Images: Even with the perfect settings, images won’t always be picture perfect right out of the gate. Working in batches by location, lighting, etc, you can often batch color correct your images to save time and drastically improve image quality.
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21- Add Metadata & Name Files Appropriately: Help the happy couple navigate their images — and help yourself find what you need when they ask for something special. If you were organized with your shot cards or shot list, it should be relatively easy to add metadata tags like location (e.g. church, hotel, dressing room), part of the event (e.g. ceremony, reception, departures), and so on. File names and/or folders can also be extremely helpful for organizing files.
22- Pull Selects: If you shot on burst or continuous mode, or took a lot of posed photos, you’ll want to pick the top 2 or 3 of each item on your shot list for the couple to focus on.
23- Stay in Touch with the Couple: Editing photos can take a long time, so make sure the couple knows you’re working on their images and you didn’t fall into a black hole!
24- Share Sneak Peeks: A great way to stay in touch and promote your work is to share sneak peeks of your favorite images from the day. With the couple’s permission, you can also share them on social media from your website or social account and tag the couple.
25- Deliver All Files on Physical Media: When all the work is done and the images are complete, be sure to deliver all of the final files with physical media for the couple to keep long term. Many pro photographers offer long-term cloud and physical storage of images. If you’re not doing that, you may also want to give the couple the RAW files you shot.
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