As a photographer, at some point a friend, relative, co-worker, or a follower will ask you to photograph their wedding. Regardless of whether you are a product photographer, pet photographer, or any other kind of photographer that has nothing to do with weddings, they will ask you. And at some point, you will say yes, which is probably how you have found this article.
Once you have agreed to this daunting task, the fear starts setting in and you start Googling everything you might need to know. There is a lot of snobbery about photographers starting out who are “not good enough” yet, but in reality, no one is ever good enough or ready for their first wedding. I assisted on several hundred before I shot one alone. After all of my practice I was pretty sure that I was ready, but shooting it as the primary photographer is a very different experience.
Here are some useful tips to get you ready for your first wedding.
Have at Least Two Cameras
If there was to be a time when you really couldn’t afford for your kit to die, it would be at a wedding. Most hobbyists only own one camera, so head out and rent or borrow a second body. If you own an entry-level DSLR, do not rent two pro bodies for the big day. You will be far better off with two entry-level camera that you know how to use than you will with a high-end pro camera that you have only had 48 hours to be acclimated to. In the high pressure world of weddings, being familiar with your kit is so important
Keep It Simple
Unless you are really familiar with off-camera flash, remote cameras, and elaborate portrait setups, don’t even attempt it. Weddings have an additional level of stress that my day-to-day commercial work does not bring. It is far better to nail loads of natural light portraits where you have focused on how the couples looks than it is to try some fancy flash work and completely mess it up. On the day, shoot within yourself and capture the important moments.
Use Small Memory Cards
Use lots of small memory cards rather than one 32 GB card. If a 4 GB card corrupts, it will be far less stressful than if your 32 GB card dies just after the last dance. If your camera has two card slots, make sure you use them.
Don’t Take Too Much Kit
Yes, you need at least two bodies, a few lenses, and some flash guns. But keep it simple. You don’t want to be forever changing lenses and wondering what the right tool for the job is. I shoot 90 percent of my weddings with a 35mm and 85mm focal length. It keeps everything simple and removes any options for me to worry about.
Take Lots of Batteries
Camera batteries short, wear out, and die. Make sure you have more than enough. I generally have 10 batteries for my camera in my bag at all times. Mostly because I shoot almost every day of the week and I don't always get a chance to charge, but also because they can just randomly die.
Also, make sure you have plenty of batteries for your flash guns and any remotes or triggers.
Keep a Paper Copy of Everything
When we work on weddings we have the entire schedule and details on our phones. All it takes is for 4G to drop, a battery to die, or for the phone to be dropped and lost and we would be in a pickle. Regardless of the job, I always have a paper copy of the itinerary in a separate bag just in case.
Back It Up
After the wedding, make sure you back up your work before you go to bed. My method is to head to the studio where I import to Lightroom copying the files to both my studio hard drive and cloud and to my “in transit” hard drive that lives in my satchel. Then when I get home I copy the files from my in transit drive to my home drive. Once I have done this I format the cards. This way, if I ever put a card into a camera and see images on it, I know they have evaded back up somehow. This saves the stress of formatting a card whilst thinking, “Pretty sure I have that backed up.”
For those wedding photographers out there, please add any additional point in the comments. Everyone has to start somewhere, and in weddings, it is usually a daunting task.