Wedding Photography Tips: Preparation
I believe this is the most important aspect of a successful and rewarding wedding day photography experience. Sure, working hard and being able to shoot is extremely important, but lots of people can work hard and shoot!
Brittany and I have a philosophy that helps us keep calm and collected on what should be an extremely stressful day; and I say that because I know quite a few veteran wedding photographers that still stress out and worry throughout the entire day.
~We make sure we are completely ready to give them the best possible experience before we walk out the door and get in the car.~
So, how can you be fully prepared for a wedding when there is so much unknown and so many things happening so fast? Well, here are 3 tips on some of the process we go through to make sure we are "prepared".
1. Discuss Everything You can With The Bride!
Most people say get a shot list, but it really goes much further than that. Of course they'll most likely want the ceremony and bridal party captured, but you also need to know if they want pictures of just the two of them, the bouquet, the wedding decor, heirlooms, special great grandmas that can't be left out, etc. You should discuss what is most important to them and what the schedule looks like for the day, that way you'll know what will/will not work and when you can fit in which thing.
Often these in depth conversations lead to brides asking for guidance on the schedule. This is a great opportunity to make sure everything the bride wants captured will fit within the timeline, and if it won't, you can bend and mold the days' festivities to better suit what you need to accomplish!
If they trust you, then all you have to do is work hard and pay attention to what they want and you can't go wrong!!
But most importantly, this is a great way to get the bride and/or groom to get comfortable with you and for you to get more comfortable with them. If they trust you, then all you have to do is work hard and pay attention to what they want and you can't go wrong!! Ok, I understand there is still a lot that has to work out and that everything isn't a bed of roses just because the bride trusts you, but think about how much pressure is off of you when you feel you know the bride and she is confident that she has provided you with the information into what will make her happy.
2. Make Sure Your Camera Gear is Ready!
Although this may seem obvious, there are must haves if you are going to go through the day not fretting over your gear. This can vary depending on the wedding. For example: If it's all outside and during the day, you may need lights that can accommodate the harsh sun, but not necessarily the kind of setup you would need in a poorly lit dance hall.
You'll want to make sure you have more than enough memory cards for every camera, and that all batteries and spare batteries for your lights and your cameras are charged and ready. You need to have a backup camera and a backup flash. Losing either one of those to damage or malfunction can completely change your day for the worse...so don't chance it! What you could do, is compile a list and then check things off as you set them by the door, prepared for departure. I, personally, have 2 or 3 different setups I use depending on the needs of the day, that way I can minimize bag usage as much as possible making it easier to keep up with everything throughout the day.
3. Plan Out Your Day
You know the schedule, you know what the bride wants, and you know what you would like to get. Now what? Well, It's time to visually prepare for the day's events and plan out how you're going to capture them. Tedious, I know, but hear me out. As we do more and more weddings of different varieties, the amount of time we spend doing a mental run-through dwindles; but we will always at least somewhat visualize the days events and try to organize ourselves and our gear in a way that will set us up for success.
To start, I mentally comb through an entire day from start to finish picturing the problems and complications that may arise. Then Brittany and I will both spend time talking the day through from start to finish and discover different questions and answers about each part. I think about the timeline and picture what shots I can get where. I also like to think about what creative stuff I want to try to fit in, if I can, and decide if I need to be in a more photojournalistic mode or if I need to tell the couple how to do certain things, where to go, and so on. This also allows us to move fluidly throughout the day with confidence in capturing everything the way we want to.