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Wedding Photography: The Ultimate Guide

25 min read

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A wedding photographer takes a shot of the wedding couple on a sunny day outside.
Quick summary

: This guide is a culmination of everything you’ll need to know to start a wedding photography business. This includes marketing and competitive pricing strategies, what camera equipment you should invest in, essential camera settings, planning the shoot, and shot list ideas for inspiration.

Choosing to become a wedding photographer means taking on a challenging responsibility. It’s your role to capture a sacred day for a couple looking to take on the next step. It is one of the most fulfilling forms of photography, but it’s not easy.

To be successful, you’ll need to develop more than just your photography ideas. You’ll need to be people-oriented, a problem solver, and have the ability to maintain high energy output over long work days.

A wedding is a celebration of family and connectedness that can be a rewarding situation. As a photographer, the impact you have on the wedding memories is paramount. For some, this can often lead to stress and anxiety before the big day. Luckily, with the right guidance and a few wedding shoots under your belt, you’ll build up the confidence you’ll need to succeed.

How to Become a Wedding Photographer

Being a wedding photographer means more than just showing up and taking a lot of photos. You’ll have to manage client expectations, maintain your professionalism, and let your creativity shine.

A wedding can be simple, a ceremony with friends and close friends. It can also be elaborate, meaning you’re capturing everything at a destination wedding, including the engagement and after-party.

The photographers who are the most flexible and display a wide array of skills will have the most lucrative results. Your final salary will be impacted by your pricing and how many weddings you can shoot in a season.

Marketing Your Wedding Photography Style

Finding out your personal photography style is one of the first places to start on your journey. There are several different variations of what “style” you could choose from, and it stems from what you are focusing on during the wedding shoot.

For example, if you are a traditional wedding photographer, then you will have a style that tends to focus on formal shots and portraits to create a sense of timelessness. It’s a hybrid of traditional portrait and fine art photography. Most photographers will take this approach since it is likely the most in-demand product.

A vintage black and white photo of a bride and groom getting showered with confetti.

For those who like to break the mold, you can take a photojournalistic approach and create a documentary-style photo shoot. This includes showing emotion through candid shots derived from unscripted moments.

If you think about it, you can entangle many genres with the wedding concept. Everything from adventure photography to fashion photography can apply to the wedding industry.

Here is a list of other styles that fit in with wedding photography:

  • Vintage
  • Timeless
  • Moody
  • Editorial
  • Trendy

Some ambitious photographers will create their style, some sort of culmination of their vision mixed with their style. There is no wrong answer as long as the clients like their photos.

It’s important to figure out your style so that your marketing strategy matches what you are offering your wedding business clients. There’s no sense in practicing a candid style when you are telling people that you are a traditional wedding photographer. Planning a wedding is stressful for the couple, so being as transparent as possible is critical to being successful.

Start with Engagement Photos and Work to Wedding Photography

Many wedding photographers start off shooting engagement photos. The natural progression from this type of photography is a wedding, and having the same photographer for both is not an uncommon experience.

Engagement photos allow you and your clients to interact in a semi-professional atmosphere. You’ll learn their personality, give them a taste of your creativity, and even have a preliminary discussion about the next steps.

Starting this way gives you a chance to experiment with different styles. You’ll build up a portfolio that you can use to show potential clients without being thrown into the deep end of an actual wedding.

An engaged couple being photographed in the middle of a vineyard.

Figure Out Your Pricing Early

  • Operating costs: This covers everything needed to run your business. Equipment, insurance, software licensing, and travel are some of the things you’ll need to consider. Factor in additional photographers and their salaries if you choose to bring along a second shooter.
  • Time costs: This is personal to the photographer and should be reflective of the time spent on the project. Include the time you spend at the wedding, prior consultations for planning, and post-processing time. Charge accordingly, document your time, and use an hourly rate to keep it simple.
  • Missed opportunity costs: Weddings are not a short process, which means you won’t be available to photograph as much as you’d want to. Couple that with the fact that wedding season is generally from late spring to early fall, and they usually happen on weekends. You’re more than likely going to have to turn work down. Ensure you’re charging enough in your packages to meet your financial requirements.
  • How much is your experience worth?: This is the trickier cost to calculate as it’s the culmination of your expertise and how well you can handle a stressful situation. The cost should reflect your ability to accommodate difficult situations, schedule changes, and inclement weather aside from your technical skillset. This is a fluid cost, meaning it will change as you and your business grow.
  • Additional costs: This can include things like physical albums, printed images, or other outstanding costs that can arise. You can consider them “extras” and should be offered to your clients as additional costs.

According to the research data collected by WeddingWire, most couples spend between $1150 – $3000 on their wedding, whereas the average photographer cost is $2000.

Wedding Photography Packages

Your wedding photography packages can be all-inclusive, meaning you take care of everything that your client needs. Usually, those packages cost much more, and then your client doesn’t need to worry about anything but the details.

Charging a lower upfront cost means that you can start to introduce extras into the packages. Upselling physical prints, products, and other additions will enhance their experience and expand your wallet.

Your packages should include digital copies of the photos, as is the standard these days. Additions such as prints should be marketed as you taking the images and producing incredible quality products. Using a specialized print lab or your printer will make it easy to pitch the idea.

Marketing Your Wedding Photography Business to Potential Clients

Getting noticed is the first step to getting clients, and this is one of the most difficult parts of starting up your wedding photography business.

Clients will probably be searching Google for reputable wedding photographers, so you can start marketing there.

Creating a business website that is optimized for SEO is a great way to get attention. Targeting specific keywords that your target audience is looking for will help you increase your rankings on search engines. There are excellent options like WordPress that can provide SEO plugins for blog writing.

If you’re having trouble drumming up clients, there are a few things you can do to help get some attention, this includes:

  • Head to some bridal trade shows and interact with other brands and potential clients.
  • Visit local venues and see if they need any photographers for recommendations. Show them your portfolio and bring business cards.
  • Start up a social media page. Facebook and Instagram are great places to start. One of the first places that potential clients look for will be online, so it’s better if you can be found easily.
  • Using a website such as WeddingWire to create a job posting may help. A lot of couples will use these kinds of sites to build up their wedding planning professionals.
Various pieces of camera equipment surrounding a sign that says "open for booking".

Once you have a business plan in place with some entry-level marketing, it’s time to worry about camera equipment. You don’t have to use the most expensive gear to get the job done right, but it’s best to get a kit that you know will perform when needed.

Gear Considerations

If you’re just starting, then it’s best to stick with gear that you can afford. There’s no sense in going bankrupt to finance your first wedding shoot. In this case, it’s best to start simple so you can start to figure out how your gear works.

Make sure that you get gear that you’re able to carry with you. You’ll be on your feet for many hours in the day, often running between places. Lugging around heavy gear will tire you out or cause you to sweat through your dress shirt.

camera gear and equipment for wedding photography.

Camera

Unless you’re specialized in vintage photography, you’ll more than likely be using a digital camera. I cannot stress enough that you should have at least two cameras with you at a wedding shoot.

If your only camera fails during the wedding, then you are in for a rough time with your clients. Or if you anticipate changing settings or lenses frequently, a second camera may come in handy.

Luckily, you should have a smartphone handy with a relatively good camera, even if you purchased it within the last 5 years. So if you’re just starting and cannot afford multiple full-frame cameras, your smartphone should suffice for some shots.

You’ll notice that full-frame is the only sensor type I’ll be talking about because it’s going to give you the best quality photos you can get. Cropped sensors will work just fine, but you’re trying to produce the best photography that you can.

Also, ensure that your camera has a dual memory card slot so you don’t always have to be swapping out storage cards.

Camera Types

Let’s have a look at the different cameras to help you figure out which is right for you:

DSLR (Full-frame) – This is probably the most common camera for photographers to use for weddings. It’s also the largest, heaviest, and has the largest price range of digital cameras. They have large sensors that can capture more light and give you high-resolution images.

Companies like Canon and Nikon make budget models that are perfect for new businesses.

Mirrorless (Full-frame) – Mirrorless technology has come a long way in the last decade and is a viable option for any wedding photographer. The main advantage of using a mirrorless camera is the reduction in weight and size. They can be carried all day without you even noticing it’s on you.

DSLR cameras have a mirror inside that either sends the image to your viewfinder or lens. A mirrorless camera uses an electronic viewfinder to give you the image, significantly reducing camera shake due to mirror lockup.

Film Cameras – Using film is often considered a specialty these days. There is something about the rustic look of 35mm film that creates emotion and drama in wedding photos.

There is some moderate skill required to use 35mm film effectively. This is largely due to the large chance that you could prematurely expose your negatives, effectively ruining the photos you’ve taken. Ensure that you’re using the correct ISO film as well since you can’t change it on the go as you can with a digital camera.

A sepia colored photo of film on a table with a film camera behind it.

Lenses

Some argue that the quality of the lens is more important than the camera body. Your lens determines the type and quality of the shot that you’re going to take. The first thing you want to do is figure out what focal length will get you the shots that you’re looking for.

To help you get a clearer picture of what types of lenses you can use for successful wedding photography, check out these options below:

  • 16-35mm lens: Great for wider shots of groups of people and general shots. Use it to help show off the venue and surrounding scenery.
  • 50mm prime lens: This lens has a field of view that matches our eyesight. Using it for general shooting makes it a quick go-to lens. The prime lens will have a wider aperture, allowing more light to get in.
  • 85mm lens: If you’re looking to get some portraits, then you might want to look at a lens with this focal length. They have wider apertures so that you can get a shallow depth of field that is perfect for portraits.
  • 70-200mm lens: A standard telephoto zoom lens is great for getting up close without being physically close. This range is especially great for the ceremony, where you can still get the bride and groom at the altar without crowding their personal space.

Remember, you don’t need the newest and greatest lens to be successful at wedding shoots. You will most likely suffer financially as these lenses can be more expensive than the camera body. Look for secondhand deals or discount brands to get similar quality at reduced prices.

Lighting

You’ll quickly notice that most venues don’t provide sufficient lighting for you to take effective photos. This means that you have to come up with your own means of illumination for your photographs. The biggest obstacle for most venues is during the ceremony, where the lighting has most likely been reduced to make the party more inviting and intimate.

On-camera flashes can work in a pinch, but they tend to be too sharp of a light. This leads to your subject getting washed out, causing the dreaded red-eye effect, or even making your clients squint at the wrong moments.

Off-camera flashes are a wedding photographer’s best friend. This involves a separate piece of equipment that sits on your camera and is controlled by a flash trigger. You can control the intensity of the light, which eliminates the washout effect you get with other flashes.

Using a speed light is beneficial as it syncs up with your shutter and activates only when taking a photo. This feature is called high-speed sync on some camera models.

Otherwise, using a light stand with a diffuser can shed some gentle, even lighting on the darkest parts of the venue.

A speed light flashing into an umbrella to diffuse the light.

Tripod

Tripods are a huge asset in both indoor and outdoor wedding photography. They allow you to eliminate any chance of a camera shake. Additionally, tripods help frame large group shots as you can easily coordinate where people should go while having the camera in a stationary position.

For added portability, choose a tripod that can also be used as a monopod. They are lightweight and provide a little more support when you need to reposition your camera quickly.

Props

Seldom talked about, but essential nonetheless, are props. You might have seen them at photo booths, and they are designed to get your clients to let loose and be creative. Bringing props to your wedding shoots is a great way for your clients to create memories of all those moments where they can relax. Plus, you can charge your clients for them as an addition to your packages.

Some great prop ideas that you can use for your wedding photography include:

  • Photos of the family, friends, or anything relevant to your clients.
  • Letters of the alphabet so that the guests can form their messages.
  • Homemade wedding signs.
  • Wearable things like hats, jewelry, or accessories.

This depends on the type of wedding you’re shooting. But as with all the extras you can provide for your clients, tailor it to the experience that they are looking to have.

Some wedding props laid out. Included is a bowtie, some lips, a mustache, and a top hat. All of them are on a stick to hold up.

Camera Settings for Wedding Photography

Camera settings are important and a wedding photographer has many tools at their disposal to help dial them in.

Things to Remember

Metering: Use spot metering to get precise exposure values to mitigate any exposure issues. It focuses on a single point to tell you what the exposure is. Matrix metering (evaluative metering) divides the scene into sections and analyses them. It will take preference to the main area that you’re focusing on.

The histogram: The histogram is a great tool to help you determine exposed your photo is. It identifies the tones and the amount of those tones in your image. If it’s leaning more to the left, then you have some underexposed areas. To the right, and you’ll have some details potentially blown out in the highlights.

White balance: Sticking to auto-white balance is probably the best option in many cases. Some artistic photographers will tweak it to add drama to their photos. If you load up your photos into an editing program and notice that the white balance is not correct, you can always fix it in the post.

Raw or JPEG?: You need to go into your camera settings right now and change it so that your camera takes a RAW image and a JPEG. Not only will you get an image with all the data (making post-production much more effective), but a compressed high-resolution JPEG that acts as a backup in case of data corruption.

Camera settings being adjusted from a top down perspective.

Exposure Settings

Let’s discuss the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings for correct exposure.

ISO

As with most of the camera settings for wedding photography, you want to focus on what the scene needs. ISO is usually one of the last settings you select so that you can get the desired shutter speed and aperture.

The purpose of the ISO is to increase or decrease the sensitivity of your camera sensor. In a dimly lit venue, you’ll want to increase your ISO to that your sensor is more sensitive to light.

Most people will advise you to keep your ISO as low as possible for optimal image resolution. The truth is camera technology has come so far that even shooting at ISO 6400 can still show minimal noise in low light conditions.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed captures motion, and a higher shutter speed is required to capture those precious candid moments. For most cameras, you want to be within the 1/250th to 1/1000th of a second range.

If you are using an off-camera flash, then you have a bit more leniency than if you were to just use the ambient lighting of the venue.

Aperture

The aperture is what determines your depth of field and plays a vital role in wedding photography. For portraits, a slightly blurred background (f/1.6-f/2.8) causes the eyes to focus more on the subject. This effect makes the subject look like they’re popping out of the image.

Additionally, the desired bokeh effect (round orbs of light in the background) can only be achieved with a wide-open aperture (f1.2-f/2.8). It should be the first setting you adjust in your camera, especially since a large percentage of your shots will be of people.

Planning a Wedding Photoshoot

Alas, simply shooting the photos is but one part of your job for the big wedding day. Much like the other facets of wedding planning, the photography needs to be fleshed out.

It requires transparent communication between you and the wedding planner, in most cases, the bride and groom. You’ll want to arrange a few meetings, the last one as close to the wedding as possible, to shore up any final details.

It’s imperative that you clearly outline what you will be doing for the wedding. Last-minute surprises or unrealistic expectations can quickly derail a wedding photography job. Ultimately leaving you with less money, angry reviews, and disappointed clients.

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.

A pair of bride and groom mini figurines on top of a calendar.

Questions to Ask for Effective Wedding Photography Planning

It’s best to have a list of questions that you need to clarify for you to be prepared. Professional photographers will generally go in with the different aspects of the wedding already laid out. The clients simply need to answer yes or no questions and fill in the photographer with minor details.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Is it an indoor or outdoor wedding?
  2. What is the theme of the wedding?
  3. Will there be multiple locations for the wedding?
  4. What is your budget?
  5. Do they require a photographer when they are getting ready?
  6. Are you just needed for the ceremony and reception?

Hopefully, you’ll be able to glean enough information from those questions to further the discussions. It’s best to ask them about their budget so that you can tailor a package specifically to what they need vs. what they can afford.

What is the Wedding Photography Shot List?

The shot list is all of the key photography moments that generally happen over the day. It is wise to go over these items with your client to get a bearing on what they are expecting from you for wedding photography. You might want to coordinate with the wedding planners to get an approximate timeline for the shots.

A general list of critical wedding photography moments is as follows:

  1. Getting ready for the wedding
  2. Groom at the altar
  3. Bride walking down the aisle
  4. Wedding vows
  5. The first kiss
  6. Closing of the wedding ceremony
  7. Family/bridal party photos
  8. Couples portraits
  9. Reception beginning
  10. Speeches
  11. First dances and other traditions
  12. Additional photos requested by the client

The standard shot list incorporates those 12 areas and often will have even more, depending on the wedding. As a professional photographer, it is up to you to identify those key areas and be ready to photograph them, which is why it’s so important to have clear communication with your clients.

A photo of an outdoor wedding ceremony near water shooting up the aisle at the bride and groom. Chairs on either side filled with people.

Scout the Location(s) at the Right Times of Day

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.

Location plays a big role in photography. Being a photographer, you need to make sure where the wedding will take place. Visit the location and analyze the best spots for wedding photoshoot. This will be extremely helpful for you, as you can rough out many ideas about the photoshoots. Moreover, you can also run some test shots to make sure how the actual photographs can be improved.

Wedding Photo Poses

Having an idea of what your subjects should be doing during photos can take a lot of stress off you during the wedding day. The frantic wedding photography moments usually happen when you lose control of your subjects, and they start to interject their ideas.

Now, that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes some help from the people you’re photographing is a great thing. Although, you want to maintain a vision ahead of time of where you want things to go.

Sure, you can stick with classic group poses and wedding poses for the bride and groom, but you can also do so much more with it. Although the shot lists for each member of the wedding member will be similar, there are different ways you can approach each of the shots.

Bride Photography

Think of the bride as the main highlight of the entire show. She is usually clad in the most elegant dresses and is meant to stand out from the crowd. In any photograph that involves the bride, you want to ensure that she is front and center. It is her day, after all.

Here are some tips you can use to photograph the bride:

  • Highlight her accessories, things like jewelry are an excellent way to showcase her elegance. 
  • Make sure to use a variety of angles, making sure to capture the tight and wide angles.
  • Take advantage of candid moments such as the bride getting makeup done or gift exchanges before the wedding ceremony.

The easiest way to remember it is that all photographs of the bride need to have her as the focal point of the composition.

A bride getting ready for the wedding ceremony.

Groom Photography

Some grooms are laid back and will wear something traditional, while others can be adventurous and wear ornate outfits. A lot of wedding photographers will focus their efforts on the bride, but remember to show off the other star of the show.

Check out these ideas for how to photograph the groom:

  • Ensure to get close-up shots of the groom’s outfit. This can be done while it’s laid out to be worn, while the groom is getting ready, and showing it in action during the wedding.
  • The groom and his groomsmen tell their own stories. Ensure you capture candid moments of different interactions. Getting ready before the wedding is one of the best moments to see how impactful those relationships are.
  • Close-up portraits of the groom sitting are a great classic shot. It shows a sense of timelessness as it’s a common tradition for wedding photography.

Don’t leave the groom in the bride’s dust. They are an integral part of the wedding photography story, and some photographers don’t do their due diligence in showcasing it.

Groom getting ready with the help of the groomsmen.

Groomsmen and Bridesmaid Photography

This is a part of the wedding photography day where you can let your creativity shine. For groomsmen, you can have them pose like they’re in a rap group or even like models in a men’s magazine.

You want to choose both candid and posed shots for the groomsmen. Include dramatic, sharp lighting for editorial-styled photos. To be safe, you can go with the standard softbox lighting over the entire group. Just don’t forget to keep the groom in the center of the shots.

Bridesmaids’ wedding photography is all about showing off the beauty and femininity of each individual. You’ll want to focus on using soft, natural lighting and flattering feminine poses. For group shots, ensure that you place the maid of honor and family closest to the bride.

A group of bridesmaids stand behind the bride.

Family Photos

Family photos are an often glossed-over part of wedding photography. Depending on the families of both parties and their dynamics, it can be quite easy to pull off. The trick is to treat each family equally and consider their suggestions to an extent.

As a side note, the hardest members of the family to impress with your photos will be the mothers of the bride and groom. If you can wow them with your photos, then you have pulled off a successful wedding photography shoot.

Family photos are all about showing the relationship between the bride/groom and their family. Sibling shots can be playful and very candid, while mother/father photos should tell the story of support. You can include aunts and uncles in the group photos so that everyone gets in the photos.

The best family photographs are those moments you capture where they aren’t expecting a shot. The first dance is a great example of the father and daughter photograph that is effective at portraying emotion.

A family poses for a photograph using balloons and smoke grenades.

Don’t Forget the Small Details

One of the best ways to round out a day of wedding photography is to show all of the inaction as well as the action. Photographing the wedding ceremony and reception is one thing, but what if you shot the setup as well?

Empty tables that have just been prepared for guests are a great way to tell the story of the wedding itself. A photo of the ceremony altar with empty chairs allows the viewer to pay attention to the small decorating details.

Include pictures of flowers, decorations, the hall’s entrance, the stage, the arrangement of tables, and all the beautiful things that can make your photography more unique.

These little details are the ones that nobody really notices, but when you take pictures of them in a unique way, people can have another perspective on the wedding ceremony.

Editing Photos

After a hard day of wedding photography, you’ll need to take thousands of photos back home and start the post-processing part of the job using editing software. Depending on the amount of shots you take, this can be a lengthy process.

You’ll have to sort through the good, the bad, and the ugly to curate the best shots together in a package for your clients. Then you’ll have to start to edit your photos to correct exposures, colors, cropping, and minor details.

A photo of a bride opened up in an editing program.

Lightroom or Photoshop?

This is often a question posed by anyone who takes photos, and it’s important to know what each program does. Lightroom is far more efficient for wedding photography since you can apply settings to multiple photographs at once.

The program has robust editing features that can tackle almost anything you want to do. It’s also very simple to move photos between collections and use batch processing to export the final edits.

Utilizing presets is a great way to easily edit a photo. Once you have completed an edit, you can create a preset to use for other photos in similar conditions.

Photoshop is a pixel manipulation program that is great for dramatically changing a photo. Use this program for the best photographs so that you can take the shot to the next level.

Add Metadata & Name the 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 a 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.

Wedding Photography Ideas for Inspiration

The more that you do wedding photography, the more you can fall into a routine of sorts. Wedding photographers who do the same things over and over again might find themselves in a rut when it comes to inspiration.

Having a meeting with your clients before the wedding day will help you finalize any ideas that you both have. A lot of the inspiration needs to come from the family dynamics, and talking to your clients will give you a direction to take your well-thought-out ideas.

A bride and groom celebrating their first dance.

Indoor Weddings

Indoor weddings are all about showcasing the people in the celebration. The nice thing is that you have complete control over all of the elements of the image. Everything from lighting to composition.

You want to incorporate as much of the architecture as possible. Your clients chose this venue for a reason, and it’s most likely because it’s great for beautiful photos.

Some great ideas for compositions include:

  • Frame your subjects in doorways and arches.
  • Using the natural lighting from windows to add drama to portraits.
  • Stairways are great for lining up wedding party members.
  • Black and white photos are excellent for indoor architecture.

As long as you remember that you can do much more than simply lining people up against a wall, you won’t have a problem with inspiration. Different angles and even adding props can greatly enhance indoor wedding photography.

Outdoor Weddings

Outdoor wedding photography has rapidly gained popularity again in recent decades. The trickiest part about an outdoor wedding is dealing with a change in weather. Many photographers have their wedding shoots planned for months, far beyond any weather prediction method available.

An outdoor shoot can be local or somewhere exotic. A lot of people are celebrating destination weddings as they include an entire trip as part of the package. Regardless of the location, it’s important to use the environment as much as possible since that’s more than likely why your clients chose it.

Check out these inspirational ideas to take your outdoor wedding photography to the next level:

  • Take advantage of shooting couples’ portraits in front of trees. The natural detail of the leaves and bark lend some texture and character to otherwise “normal” portraits.
  • Have the groom carry the bride into a lake, not too deep, just above the ankles. It’s a romantic gesture that is augmented by the natural addition of water to the shot.
  • Look for natural framing in the form of tree branches, natural rock formations, and water features.
  • Use the golden and blue hour light to bring drama into your wedding photography.

There is ample lighting, as opposed to indoor wedding photography. You might not even have to bring a lot of flash photograph equipment unless you plan on doing night pictures. In that case, an off-camera flash will come in handy for low-light situations.

An outdoor wedding on an overcast day. There are lights overhead and candles in the foreground. The dancefloor is surrounded by chairs.

Wedding Photography Tips to Help You Succeed

The right gear and preparation aren’t the entire answer to a successful wedding day. Check out these wedding photography tips that will help you make the most of your photography skills.

1. The Unexpected Always Happens

Go in with the mentality to prepare for anything to happen. Have a backup plan for as much as you can think of, even the weather. Having twists throughout the day is a great way to gain experience, which means you’ll be better prepared the next time.

2. Test Everything and Pack Your Gear

Verify that all of your equipment is present and in full working order. Check and charge the batteries — and then pack spares. Also, pack your chargers in case you need to recharge midday. Ensure all memory cards are blank. Reformat, if needed.

After testing, charging, and checking, it’s time to lay everything out and pack it up. 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 will be handy at the wedding venue. You should also create a preparation list that includes everything you may need.

3. Back Up Your Wedding Photos … Twice

As soon as your memory card is full you should copy it onto another hard drive and then another. Cloud storage applications such as Google Drive or iCloud can work in the background to upload your photos to a server while you work away on the rest of the wedding.

4. Follow Wedding Photographers, Planners, and Venues on Social Media

Network with other wedding photography businesses in any way that you can. One of the best ways to get noticed is by making a big, positive splash in the proverbial pond. You might get surprised with referrals if other wedding photographers are booked up.

5. Black and White Wedding Photography is Impactful

You don’t need to stick with color photography to make a statement. The absence of color introduces attention to emotion as the eye will now be looking solely at what’s happening in the photo.

6. Use a Second Shooter

A second photographer is extremely helpful for many parts of the day. Especially if you are shooting a wedding that includes a large family or that includes a significant number of people. Sometimes there might be multiple things happening that you can’t be at, and a second shooter can go and handle it.

Another benefit is that you will have multiple camera angles for one scene, which is handy for taking photos of the bride and groom’s faces during the wedding ceremony. Not only will it reduce the work coverage pressure on you, but also will it result in more pictures in lesser time.

A pair of hands holing a wedding photo with a collage of other wedding photos that are slightly blurry in the background.

7. 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 a close friend or family member who knows all of the players and can wrangle them accordingly. That way, you can focus on photography.

8. 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.

9. Eat Quick Bites Whenever You Can and Stay Hydrated

Don’t expect to sit down for long formal meals today. Bring a few snacks and eat quick bites when you can. Also, 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.

Final Thoughts

Wedding photography is more than just taking simple photos to memorialize a special day. You become a part of the celebration itself. Being as transparent as possible about what you can provide the bride and groom is essential to be successful.

Be creative with your photography and incorporate the best of what the day offers. Using the tips and tricks provided in this guide will get you through your first few wedding shoots. From there, the experience you gain will help you learn the nuances.

The important thing to remember is that you are the record keeper for your clients to remember this important day in their lives.

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Perrin lives as a nomad in Canada and spends his time shooting landscape photography while exploring the wilderness. Throughout his career, Perrin has been a wedding, portrait, and product photographer. However, his passion always leads him back to the outdoors, where he teaches people how to photograph and interact with the natural world.
Perrin lives as a nomad in Canada and spends his time shooting landscape photography while exploring the wilderness. Throughout his career, Perrin has been a wedding, portrait, and product photographer. However, his passion always leads him back to the outdoors, where he teaches people how to photograph and interact with the natural world.
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