Three Tips to Photograph Your First Wedding Like a Pro

Three Tips to Photograph Your First Wedding Like a Pro

Photographing your first wedding can bring a lot of anxiety and excitement. It's a big deal to be responsible for photographing a couple's most important day. Here are three tips to photograph your first wedding like a pro. Being mainly a landscape photographer, I was pretty nervous (but excited!) when I booked my first wedding. I realized that shooting weddings is a great way to make money to fund passion projects, and a great way to further get my name out as a photographer. After assisting a few wedding photographers before I was hired to shoot my own, I picked up a few tricks and techniques to help me nail my first wedding. 

1. Meet Your Clients Ahead of Time

Arguably, the most important part of shooting a wedding comes well before picking up the camera. When hired to shoot a couple's special day, it's vital that you set a consultation day well ahead of the wedding day. By doing so, you can begin to build a more personal relationship with your clients, which will increase comfort on both sides of the lens on the wedding day. In your consultation, be sure to bring a contract and questions for the clients that will help you prepare, such as event times, location changes, etc. Further, this is a great time to talk about your process on the wedding day and what they can expect from you. The more prepared both parties are, the smoother the big day will go. 

2. Create a Schedule and Shot List

After meeting with the clients before the wedding and getting an idea of how the day will go, create a shot list and schedule for the day. This will greatly help both you as a photographer and your clients. It will help give them more of an idea of what to expect from you, and when. A shot list and schedule will also help you on the wedding day by getting you to slow down and think about each time you click the shutter. Weddings can be hectic days filled with excited family, friends, and clients. If you approach a wedding by running around and firing off shots like a madman or woman, you'll tire yourself out quickly and you might miss important moments.

3. Hire an Assistant

Many wedding photographers don't mind photographing alone, but having an assistant, especially for your first wedding, will help you feel less overwhelmed. Having another photographer you trust by your side can help you capture more shots and moments you might miss if you were by yourself. This will also help you to slow down, knowing someone else is photographing the same event right next to you. One thing you can do with an assistant is have them stick to one focal length range while you stick with another, especially if you only have one camera body. If you shoot wides and your assistant shoots tights, you'll be sure to capture a wide variety of shots and have much more diversity in your selects for your clients. 

In Conclusion

The major factor in a successful wedding day - especially your first - is to be prepared ahead of time. Reviewing with clients scheduling and expectations well before the actual wedding day will help the main event run much smoother. You'll have a plan to fall back on so you're not running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Plus, if you have an assistant, you can have another photographer to help capture important moments you might miss if you were by yourself. What do you think of these tips? Can you think of any more to share in the comments? 

Log in or register to post comments

4 Comments

Clay Wegrzynowicz's picture

Definitely meet your potential client ahead of time if at all possible. Preferably before you sign the contract, as it allows you to be aware of any 'red flags' that may pop up and to either work through them, or to recommend that you may not be the best fit for your potential client.

Tim Behuniak's picture

I definitely agree. This is super important! Thanks for commenting!

Make sure ahead of the wedding day to get a list of immediate family members. For both the bride and groom, you want to know their moms, dads, grandparents, and siblings/sibling spouses/kids, and special guests who will be there that day. If you don't know that there will be 3 grandparents attending, you may miss one of them, which is not good. Don't depend on the couple or the moms to bring it up on the wedding day. And talk to both moms before the big day to let them know to make you aware of any shots they want...like cousins, aunts/uncles, etc.

Tim Behuniak's picture

Good tip! It's always good to get a guest list - especially of immediate family!