Thinking I would know exactly what to write I volunteered rather enthusiastically to ‘guest blog’ on Paul’s blog, without really considering what that entailed and what would appeal to his audience… however, here I am ready to impart a bit of knowledge on photographing weddings.
My name is Christina Dithmar and I am NOT a wedding photographer… I do however photograph the weddingsand I very much love doing so. Wedding Photographers spend their whole lives photographing weddings and some of them are utterly amazing at it. I spend my photographylife photographing families, children, adults, pets, horses and some product and commercial photography too. I have a project entitled The Essence of Woman, which I am really passionate about, as it seeks to empower women through the medium of photography, to feel great about themselves.I am NOT a wedding photographer, but if I ever get asked, I jump at the chance!
Photographing weddings is at once fabulous, fun, exciting, exhilarating, ridiculously stressful and a huge responsibility. What is there not to love? It is one day; the mostimportant day in someone’s life and you absolutely have to get it right. There is no going back and reshooting. So why is it such fun and what do photographers do to make sure that everything goes to plan? Personally, I plan and then Iplan some more. There will always be something you can’t plan for and that you have to respond to instead, but if you are careful and you plan for all eventualities, you will feel much more relaxed and at ease, so if something does come and bite you on the proverbial bottom, you will be ready!
Here is my list of 10 tips to ensure the wedding photography goes off without a bang…(in no particular order):
1. Communicate with the bride and groom! Listen, find out their hopes and dreams, pay attention to the details of the wedding, the preparations and the dress! Knowledge is power and the more you know about them and the day, the more prepared you will be. Always do an engagement shoot! It gets them used to you and you to them! Find out what they like and don’t like about themselves (noses, teeth, eyes, legs etc).
2. Remember your CANDID SHOTS are really important! Make sure that all guests are covered, bridesmaids, grannies, young children, old friends. Don’t miss anyone out. You often get the best shots when people don’t know you are there, so start with a long lens, stay inconspicuous and out of the way, and let the party unfold as you record the memories.
3. Alongside the couple, prepare a FORMALfamily/friends/bridesmaids/best man shot list. Prepare it well and in order of shooting so that the posed shots that you will be doing, will be quick and easy, so as not to keep the guests too long. Ensure you know who the people are in relation to the couple and call them by the right and appropriate names (MR/MRS rather than ‘um, excuse me - you there…). Make sure you have one person responsible for collecting the people for the formal family shots as you can’t be running in and out trying to find them. It is always good to ensure that this person is your responsible person all day, the person that makes sure you get to the first dance or the cutting of the cake. Sometimes the times change on the day so it is essential that there is always someone there that is in charge of making sure you are in the right place at the right time.
4. Visit the venue(s) in advance if you can or get there early. CHECK YOUR LIGHTING! Make sure you check the venues with the lighting on and if in a church, make sure that you check it with the heaters on or you could be in for an interesting surprise! Make notes and sketches of where you can do your shots, where to stand, where you can get creative!
5. One week before the wedding prepare your ALL DAY SHOT LIST. Write down EVERY shot you want to get from the time you arrive to the time you leave, at the right times. Break down the day according to what the couple have told you is going to happen, and slot the shot list in. (You can find a sample shot list here…) Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
6. The CREATIVE COUPLE Shoot. Sketch the shots you would like, write a list. Be prepared for all eventualities. You think the shots are going to be outside? Think again… the weather plays tricks! Be prepared to have to change the outside to the inside and know where you are going to shoot. Bring umbrellas!
7. Keep MEMORY CARDS safe - back pockets are NOT safe. Take lots, change them regularly (before they run out). Back up half way through if you can and have time. Don’t delete the images off your cards until you have backed up twice at home too! Batteries - have lots and make sure they are charged!
8. Get INSURANCE! Never, ever, ever do a wedding without insurance! Have personal indemnity insurance, public liability and contents cover - you never know! Insure your car for business. You will feel much happier making sure you are covered.
9. Shooting INDOORS. Most weddings happen indoors and outdoors - often switching between the two quickly - so the most important thing is to know your camera, know your lenses. Understand the camera settings you need when indoors, and use a monopod or a tripod to help reduce noise in your images. If you are really struggling with the lights, you can use a flash, personally I prefer not to. If you are still struggling and you just cannot get the effect you want or need, pop your camera on automatic. There is no shame in this - lighting can change quickly and rather than getting stressed and frustrated, just pop it on auto until you have calmed down and you are able to think clearly again. If your camera has an automatic ISO setting I recommend using that when spending a lot of time inside and out, so that you don’t have to worry about changing it all the time.
10. Remember, it is an immense honour for someone to ask you to photograph their wedding, so treat it as such and ENJOY IT! Be in control, because if you are not in control it will show. Stick to your timekeeping and be a little bit bossy if you have to, or you won’t get the shots that the bride and groom have entrusted you to get. Remember also that you are their eyes for the whole day, so don’t forget to shoot all the little important things like table decorations, the favours, jewellery, the bouquetsand never forget the cake!
Never ever stay for a drink afterwards. One drink can lead to two can lead to… and the last thing you want to do is lose your images, lose a card, have your camera stolen etc.
This one is something I have to do for my own sake so as not to be over critical… Whatever you do, don’t ever look at the images until at least 2 days later. Go home, back your images up, but don’t look at them. You need a break, so sleep and do something away from the computer the next day so you are not tempted. It is very easy to be over critical when you are still so close to the event and too easy to delete them all!