Wedding photography is only one part of the equation.
It’s called “The Big Day” with good reason. A wedding requires a lot of planning. These logistics are not limited to the wedding ceremony, cake and conga.
Grace Rivera, editorial and portrait photographer, says: “I have the utmost respect for wedding photographers.” She does not normally shoot weddings, but a recent destination ceremony gave her a fresh perspective. It’s tough. It’s really hard.
Even the best wedding photographers have a lot to do. From shot lists to multiple locations to managing a large wedding group, to have a limited amount of time, there’s plenty to manage. A strategy can be crucial when your best-laid plans go awry.
“If you want a really vintage look you should use old point-and-shoot box cameras predating the 1950s, or use expired film that is several or more decades old,” says Froula-Weber. “I’ve shot with film that’s 60–80 years old.” Shooting on film can be expensive, but when shots are limited, it can help a photographer be more deliberate about when they click the shutter — you’ll want to take more care setting up each shot. “Each click costs me money [with film],” says Mercer, “so it helps me be purposeful with my posing.”
It’s possible to develop your own film. However, when you are the star with vintage photography, it is best to go somewhere that has expwithin the techniques and technology. A vintage photographer should maintain a good relationship with a lab to create images that look old. “Definitely, find a great film lab and maintain good communication with them,” Mercer says. “Give reference images for them to take care of.”
How to prepare your wedding photography?
You want everything to be noticed. You won’t disappoint clients if you meet with the couple to discuss the schedule in advance and create a shortlist.
Khara Plicanic, a wedding photographer and writer, says that she gives couples a worksheet for planning their timeline. It allows her to put the schedule of the day on paper and also addresses any unrealistic time frames.
By helping a couple understand that they can’t just go from the ceremony straight to the reception because they need to greet 300 people at the receiving line, you will be able to schedule the right amount of time for the most important shots of the bride and the groom or the brides and the grooms.
Here are key wedding shot list considerations to cover with the couple:
1. Do either or both people want photos of them getting ready? If so, when does that process begin?
2. Will photos of the wedding party and family be taken before or after the ceremony? What members of the family should be present for these photos, and when do they need to show up? Will members of the wedding party’s dates be in these photos?
3. If the first look between the couple takes place before the ceremony, it needs to happen before any other photos. Make sure to leave enough time for this important emotional moment.
4. Get a basic rundown of the ceremony so you can be ready to capture special moments during this packed 30- to 60-minute part of the day.
5. What’s the schedule for the reception? Are events like a first dance, father-of-the-bride dance, and cake cutting happening? Get the timing on these, so you’re not changing camera batteries when the bouquet’s being thrown.
6. When are you going to eat? It’s important to find holes in the schedule that allow you time for food, water, and trips to the restroom.
Understanding the schedule of the day will help you determine what kind of lighting to use. Although golden hour (a soft, flattering natural light that occurs typically one hour before sunrise or after sunset) is ideal for wedding portraits, many weddings are held during the middle part of the day, when lighting can be harsher.
If there is no shade, try to put the sun behind your clients for a softer look. If there is no shade, you can try to place the sun behind your client for a more softer look.
Arrive early to check the lighting in your venue before guests arrive. This can save you a lot of stress in the future.
If the festivities move into the evening, it might be necessary to use a camera flash. A technique called “dragging the shutter” can be perfect for capturing dimly lit wedding scenes without losing background details, photographer Kilen Murphy says.
A flash can be used to illuminate the subject in the foreground while capturing the background. This is perfect for photographing guests dancing during the reception. Goellner suggests that even without a flash, experimenting with a lower shutter speed and adjusting the ISO can produce great results for reception photography in low light.
Once the day starts, you can’t just pop out and grab another lens. So come prepared. You’ll also want a lens that can take a wide range of photos. When creating your wedding photography checklist, consider the type of shots you want to capture. Plicanic uses, for instance, a 50mm lens that is versatile for photojournalistic shots, a 16 to 35mm lens that captures wide shots required by large wedding parties, and a lens between 70-200mm for intimate moments at a distance.
Be prepared for all the weather conditions. Dress appropriately for heat if you are in sunny Southern California. If you are in Chicago during the winter, prepare yourself for the cold and snow. If you don’t wish to be distracted, make sure that your gear is professional and comfortable.
A second set of eyes is also a valuable resource.
Rivera recalls, “I had two camera on me and two cameras on my other shooter. I also had a variety lenses.” You want to have both a wide-angle lens and a long-range lens so that you can quickly switch between them. This is especially important during a ceremony where you only have 30 seconds to capture everything you need.