Tuesday, December 18, 2012

North Texas Wedding Photographer: Wedding Photography 101. 10 Things I've Learned as a Wedding Photographer

Hello friends and fans! Its been a while since my last post, and as you know its a very busy season for weddings in the fall that I've been swamped with weddings to edit. I've finally come to a stopping point being halfway done with my last 5 batches of weddings for the year. Here it is time again to share some moments of frustration, accomplishment, but above all triumph over the past year.

I had a rough start this 2012 being away from photography for months due to maternity leave, but it slowly picked up. By the time I reached halfway into the year, I regained my confidence and more. I've met new friends, explored new ideas...stumbled some on the way, but nevertheless, I've placed 12 more weddings, 6 engagements, and 4 bridals in my belt this year, with 2 of my weddings being destination weddings, with an out of state bridal/model session. The thought of a destination wedding never even crossed my mind back in January, yet I succeded and yet have another in 2013, and hopefully a couple out of state weddings thanks to my network of friends.

But anyway, I do digress, and I am here to share a few of the things I've learned about wedding photography which came as hard lessions. So if there is anyone out there interested in going into wedding photography, here are the basic do's and do not's starting from #10.

#10.  Don't be too fast to say yes:      We all want that experience in our belts and we want to quickly build our wedding portfolio. But before you say yes, please make sure you can actually do it! If you can't, but would like to accept the assignment, ask for help from another photographer. Most photographers are really passionate about what they do, and chances are, if you ask, they would be more than willing to help you.

#9.  If possible, meet both bride and groom in person. If they are out of the area, try to Skype:     This is the best way you can get a good feel for the assignment. Is it a good fit? Do our personalities match?

#8.  Always have a 2nd shooter available:      What if you get sick? What if you have an emergency? And please make sure your 2nd shooter is reliable! I learned this the hard way. Back in 2011, I had assigned a wedding to someone I previously worked with due to an emergency. She ended up shooting the wedding, but only had one camera. Of course, after the wedding had ended, she went home, started working on the files, only to discover that the camera never recorded the images! The couple came back to me, and of course I did everything I could to make up for it by offering a session, but sessions are in no way shape or form near the memories they lost from their wedding day. I was lucky that this type of misfortune was covered in our contract....which brings me to #7.

#7. Always sign a contract:     Pretty self explanatory. Be sure to include EVERYTHING! Names, addresses, contact, contract price, covered expenses. There are lots of photography contract templates you can download that can give you a basic idea of what you need to include.

#6. Don't be afraid to shoot in "P" mode:     Yes, sometimes you have to let the camera work for you. You can be shooting a wedding outdoors in direct sunlight for one minute, the next minute, you're in the shade. Situations can change within seconds, and you just need to have that big expensive camera do the work for you sometimes. Just set it to spot meter, use the auto exposure lock and go with it! 
#5.  Never leave home without complete equipment:       As a wedding photogapher, you always need to be prepared for the worst....with the worst being equipment malfunction. I always travel with 2 cameras, and a flash. But lately, I've learned to anticipate and I travel with 3 cameras, 2 flashes, 2 light stands, and a strobe. A few other things I try to carry with me are reflectors and white foam boards. You can never bring too many batteries, so stock up, and have a few more ready in your pockets in case your flash runs out of juice! Or, have your 2nd flash ready to replace the one thats out.
#4. Always have a shot list:     One of the worst things that can happen is that you have an upset bride and groom because you forgot to take their pictures with their favorite aunt or uncle. I've found that this is actually very useful and helps you get organized...even saves you lots of time.
#3. Budget your time on the day of the wedding:     So you have your shot list. Your shot list would help you figure how much time you will need to ask for pictures. This usually happens sometime between after the ceremony and right before the reception. You may not have time to pose the bride and groom, or have a chance to go somewhere for a scenic view, so what I usually do, is just pick a nice spot and take shots from different angles. This would be the best time to get creative. Take shots of their rings, shoes, accessories, or even just their hands...get them up close and one from a distance for variety.

#2. Be photojournalistic and get lots and lots of detail:     Pictures should tell a story. Sure it would be great to get those awesome magazine-like poses but raw emotion is best. Remember you are trying to capture memories and preserve all those details. Couples most especially brides like to remember all the hard work they put into their special day, so try to get every possible detail, and capture smiles, tears, laughs...well you get it.

#1.  Always be well rested before shooting a wedding:   This is definitely the #1 lesson I have learned all year. It is sooo very true. When you're tired, you can't think, and sometimes you forget both the technical and creative side. That is something you cannot afford to do especially when you're shooting alone! I've made that mistake by booking back to back weddings this year, but fortunately, I pulled it off. I've made a few errors, but nothing costly (Thank God)!

Well, those were the top 10 things I've learned as a wedding photographer. I really love what I do, but part of me is sure glad that 2012 is over. For the most part, I've had a great year. I've had the priviledge of workng with new people, making new friends in the industry, and actually improve on my craft. Hopefully 2013 will bring new and even better experiences for me...which I could blog more about on later. Until then, I hope you all found this useful!


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