I was recently asked this question by someone on Facebook and I thought others might be curious to hear our answer… so why not share in an FAQ post here instead?
“I’ve shot a handful of weddings, but still get some intense butterflies! So I was wondering, if you could give 5 tips from your personal experience, what would they be?”
Of course a million things ran through my mind, but in my experience these are the top 5 tips I have for newbie wedding photographers (and really any photographers out there) that we’ve learned over the past 6 years!
1) Educate your clients ahead of time! It is so important to educate your clients on as much as possible from the moment they first contact you! That includes where/when to feed you, tips for the best preparation photos, the pros & cons of a First Look, helping them build a timeline for their day, and more. You have to remember that (usually) this is the first time they’ve done this and so they look to you for your expertise and guidance. We cannot get frustrated with our clients when they are unaware of something simply because they are uneducated. It is our job to educate them so that they get the most out of their time with us and have a wonderfully relaxed wedding day! We start these conversations with our clients in our very first email reply after we get their inquiry, and always build them a rough draft of a timeline for their initial meeting with us so they can see what their wedding day can look like from start to finish (and how much time we need to produce our best work for them). I remember being SO overwhelmed by that process as a bride, so having someone who has done this over and over walk you through all of it it is really amazing and adds so much value to what we do!
2) Dress to Impress & accessorize with a smile! James and I always dress as if we were (conservative) guests at their wedding. We want to blend in with the guests, as well as look professional and relatable! Each wedding you shoot is basically an interview for more weddings. You would be shocked at how many guests are keeping an eye on you throughout the day, and who may later want to work with you for their own wedding simply because they saw you in action at their friend’s wedding! It is so important to look professional and to always wear a smile… this comes naturally for us because we truly love what we do, but you’d be shocked how many photographer’s we’ve seen at friends’ weddings who are making a scene, or looking grumpy. It blows my mind! I can promise you in those instances we left thinking, “There’s no way we’d hire them!” Never act or dress in a way that would make potential clients say the same about you! 🙂
3) Ask for names of immediate family members & their relationship to the couple ahead of time. We always ask our clients if there are any special family circumstances we should be aware of (death, divorces, or touchy situations/relationships) so that we can go in armed with knowledge and act with grace. (I’d hate to ask for the mother of the bride to come in for a photo if in fact she passed away years ago.) We also ask for the names and relationships of anyone who will be included in immediate family photos. We use the format below in the email to the couple – so they can send it back to us in a similar manner. Then we include this info on our wedding day timeline so we can easily flow from one grouping to another and address the family members by name! It’s amazing how much smoother family photos go when I can ask for Jane and John not “bride’s parents, please step in for a photo!!” … and this ensures we know who should all be included!
4) Sync your cameras!! I can’t tell you how many people forget to sync their camera with their second shooter’s camera! This is so important to do – so that when you go through images for the day you can sort by time captured and they all line up chronologically! On our Canon cameras we can sync our times by going into Menu -> Date/Time/Zone and make sure they are the exact same up to the second. That way moments like the one below during the First Look match right up between James & I! (I forgot to double check this before a wedding once and all of our photos were off by approximately 5 seconds. I cannot tell you how annoying that was to try to reorder them after the fact!)
5) Take it easy the day before. I’m inevitably nervous and excited before EVERY wedding (as is James – I think we feed off each other’s energy!)… so we calm ourselves by making sure the day before a wedding (if possible) is an ‘office day’, meaning we don’t have any outside appointments, shoots, or anywhere we need to be. We make sure to get lots of rest, prep all our gear, print our timeline & back-up directions (in case the GPS goes crazy), stay hydrated, and eat a ‘safe’ dinner at home – – meaning nothing that could possibly give us food poisoning or get us sick! We usually opt for veggie pizza and salads. 🙂 Maybe we overthink things but we rarely ever eat out the night before a wedding and almost always eat vegetarian that day as well. We’d rather be safe than sorry and it is nice to feel like we are mentally and physically ready for the big day the next day!
Of course I think I could list tips for days… but these were the first 5 that popped in my head regarding wedding days that were not the typical things you’d obviously think of (like bring back-up gear, know how to use lighting, and bring protein bars… haha). I hope this helps some of you newbies (and veterans) out there!! xoxo