Today’s blog post is geared towards brand new photographers, you know, you’re just starting out and feeling the nerves because your first ever wedding is coming up! It’s exciting, you have a couple that trusts you, and now you need a battle plan to give them the best experience, as well as images you love, and gain the knowledge to become a full time wedding photographer!
Overwhelming – Anxiety – Excitement
Three words I would describe my first wedding feels. My first couple put their full trust in me, and I am so grateful for a wonderful first experience! It was nearby, and I knew the area pretty well. I had the best gear I could at the time!
Just know, you don’t need a $4000 camera on your first wedding! I shot my first wedding with a Canon Rebel XSi! It’s not about the gear always, (I mean it is important) but also knowing your gear inside and out!
1: Gear Prep
-Charge your batteries and know how long they normally last so you are prepared to change your battery!
-Know how to shoot in Manual mode, and how the basics of Shutter speed / Aperture / ISO work together. This is extremely important when working in low light, harsh light, etc.
-Practice with your gear to make sure everything is working before the wedding day, normally that week or a few days prior incase you need to make any last minute trips to borrow / buy new gear.
2: Location Scout
-If possible go to the venue that week before the wedding during photo times to know what the light is doing, and how your subject will look at that venue and at the time.
That way there is no pressure because you’ve already seen the sight and have ideas in mind for where you want to take your couple, bridal party, and family photos!
3: Plan for rain
Feel free to read our blog post on how to rock a rainy wedding day!
- Plan for Rain by having an umbrella or a small emergency kit for yourself as well as your couple!
-Makeup touch up (Mascara, make up wipe)
-Bobby pins, hair spray, dry shampoo
-Towel for hand / feet drying
4: Posing Practice
A lot of people ask us how we learned posing, and how to get our couples to really smile!
Practice, practice, practice! Posing is more than showing a client an image and saying, “Now, do this!”
It’s about creating the emotion two people feel between each other and no two people have the same love story.
Get comfortable describing how you want people to interact with each other, it can be a time when you start to talk fast and get nervous, but your couple is probably just as nervous in front of the lens!
Our free be tip would be always include movement, movement shakes the nerves and just helps relax everyone!
5: Timeline Prep
We build our couples timeline the moment they sign the contract! So we know what to expect from day 1, and that way they can use that timeline and take it to their other vendors as well as their family and friends so everyone knows what is happening at what time!
But, it’s easy to forget the timeline over the engagement period so what we like to do is meet with the bride and groom, or at least send a text throughout the engagement period, ask how wedding planning is going and if they need any help!
We also like to meet during Wedding Week for a final timeline prep, and answer any questions before the big day!
The more you know, the more confident you will feel!
6: Be Loud, and kind at the same time!
My brides have nicknamed me the “Circus Master” because I am in the leader, and tell people when and where and why things are happening.
But, never, ever no matter how confused you might be show anger. Weddings never run on time, and you have to go with the flow and it can easily annoy some people but you want to be loud and in charge, but also kind.
Remember that this an important, amazing day, and they want to remember it, so you want to tell people to be ready for photos and put them in the photo just remember to choose kindness over being right.
Family photos can be the most hectic part of the wedding day, so by building a shot list, and having the bride approve of it during that meeting the week of wedding week will give you the power to say, “Yes that shot is coming up, we have a list of everything they want and we will get through this list as quickly and painlessly as possible! Thank you for being patient!”
7: Practicing Shooting!
Yes actually practice using your camera, I know you see images you envy and wish you could figure out how they took them!
So, honestly we all start somewhere and the best way to get better is to shoot more!
If you’re not confident with certain lenses, use them more! Face your fears and go for it! Sometimes the happy accidents are where dream images are made.
I know when we first started with OCF (Off Camera Flash) with our speed lights we were nervous, unsure how it would turn out and if we could even figure it out… but half the battle is just going for it! The more we practice with speed-lights the better we got, and that makes for better low-light reception photos.
8: Little Wedding Day cheats that will save your life!
-Family Shot list
-Wedding Day Timeline
-Having photographed your couple at an engagement shoot so you already know how they are in front of the camera
-Keeping in contact with your couples during the whole engagement process + getting to know them
-Take posing workshops, YouTube tutorials, photographer mentorships – anything to help you gain knowledge!
-Emergency Kit: Including blankets, makeup touch ups, stepping stool, umbrella, tripods
-Prep for weather, and bring extra gear (lights) if needed for indoor days!
-Bring Gear cleaner, so on humid days bring a cloth to clean your lenses, and keep extra batteries / cards close if not in your pocket!
9: Don’t be a fly on the wall!
It’s okay to be nervous and feel like you are in people’s way but I promise you, you probably are not!
Get to know the family, and really talk to everyone, let them know you are there for them!
We love to hang out with the moms, and the grandparents! They always tell the best stories!
We also let our couples know that we eat when they eat! So at dinner, after they have been served as well as the parents (close family) we will get in line to be served as well. We do this not because we are selfish but because it is usually our only time to eat during the day and our only 15-20 minute break before Speeches or Cake cutting or even Dancing begins and we are back on our feet working!
It’s okay to feel like everyone is staring at you while you enjoy dinner as one of the first but know you have earned that break and it is okay to eat when they eat!
10: Just Do it!
Once you photograph your first wedding you will see what works for you, and what doesn’t. I can’t tell you that something is 100% because you may end up hating doing something that way!
The more weddings you photograph the more confidence you will gain, and that is a good thing! That means you are getting better at photographing as well as interacting!
You just have to take the leap of faith and photograph your first wedding and see if this is the career path for you!
I hope these little things have helped ease your mind! If you would ever like a mentoring session, we will gladly take you along onto one of our real weddings so you can see first hand! Just shoot us an email!
jamie + mark