You’ve been trying to break into the photo business for a few months now. After many dedicated months of studying the business of photography, playing with your equipment and convincing family members to model for you, you finally have your very first gig!
This could be shooting a wedding of a friend or co-worker who didn't have the budget for a pro, or you could be tagging along as a second shooter. Doesn't matter. This is your first wedding and you want to make it count!
Not only do you have the opportunity to get some great shots for your portfolio, you have the opportunity to begin networking with other professional wedding vendors.
The more time you can spend preparing, the more you will get from this opportunity. When you are just starting out with weddings, there are many things to learn and understand.
If you show up without understanding what the most important shots are, where you will take the couple for portraits and the overall timeline for the day, you will spend most of the day running in circles and missing much of the action.
Study the Key Moments of a Wedding Day
Study important wedding day images so that you start to know what types of images you might be able to create. Wedding days are filled with moments filled with joy, excitement, anxiety and everything in between. When you've been around the block a few times, you begin to have a sense for anticipating these moments before they occur, which allows you to position yourself to best capture that moment.
While all weddings are unique in certain ways, there is also a flow to them that you will begin to anticipate after shooting a number of weddings. When you first become a photographer, it might all feel like a whirlwind to you, but after a while you'll begin to sense the flow of the day and how each part of the day unfolds into the next part.
For more: Studying Key Wedding Shots
Scout the Location
Having an understanding for the location of the event will make your day go much smoother and is well worth the time. Merely understanding the layout of the venue and what is happening where is important in itself.
The other benefits to scouting the location prior to the wedding include having an understanding for where the ceremony will take place and what perspectives you'll want to shoot from, the lighting conditions, a great spot for family portraits and some key spots you want to use for the couple's portraits. Seasoned pros typically find location scouts to be less critical, although it's always nice.
Here's more: Scouting the Location
Review the Timeline
Once you've studied the key shots to capture and scouted the location, it's time to put everything together. Having and reviewing a timeline prior to the wedding is CRITICAL. Otherwise, you are likely to wind up with no time for the 45 family portraits they were expecting done (in 15 minutes), much less any time with the couple. Even if you have to work with the bride and put together a timeline yourself, it's worth it to avoid a disaster on the day.
Once you have reviewed the timeline, you can put together your photography plan. Will there by time for bridal portraits prior to the ceremony? Will you have a chance to photograph the reception room prior to the reception? How long will it take to complete family portraits? How much time will be available for the couple's romantic portraits? How many spots did you pick out? If there isn't enough time to get to all of them, which location is the most important backdrop for bride and groom portraits?
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As you can see, there is a great deal of planning prior to the wedding day in order to ensure a great shoot. Take your time and get it right. Shooting a wedding is something you want to be prepared for. It will be time well spent.