Have you ever noticed that the word “perfect” shows up a lot when people talk about weddings? They talk about the perfect venue, the perfect dress, the perfect kiss. Suffice it to say, as a wedding photographer you don’t want to be the one to deliver a less-than-perfect product. But weddings can be hard to shoot, especially when the pressure is on. Here are 5 things NOT to do as a wedding photographer:
Sure, it’s tempting to think that every wedding is the same and get lulled into a false sense of security. But skimping on pre-wedding prep is a bad move that borders on the insane. Think about it, you have one shot at documenting what may be your client’s defining life event. Make sure to get to know your client, the expectations surrounding the shoot, and the venue before all systems are go. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s sure to pay off on the big day.
As a wedding photographer, you need to learn to balance your artistic desires with the reality of a complex event. Think of a wedding as a multi-part film with competing directors. Your job is to document and go with the flow, including when things go wrong, get delayed, and get complicated. This can be especially important for formal shots, which are usually expected but can really upset the flow of a wedding and bog down the timeline. Instead of tweaking and re-tweaking until you get the perfect shot, orchestrate the formal shots to occur as quickly as possible so the guests can move on and celebrate.
Sometimes, a bride who’s also an amateur shutterbug can be a wedding photographer’s worst nightmare. Whether out of nerves or a tendency towards controlling behavior, brides sometimes choose to micromanage the photographer’s angles, lenses, equipment, processing options, and everything else under the sun. If your bride (or another member of the wedding party) gets controlling, it’s usually best to politely listen to her concerns, refocus her attention on her big day, and reassure her that it’s your job to capture the beauty of her wedding in all its glory. Sometimes things like the formal to candid ratio can be a big sticking point for brides who worry about appearances or are concerned about cost creep. These situations are best faced head-on, then resolved when the bride is selecting prints.
When you’re at a wedding, remember your role is to document the wedding. Period. Since wedding photographers and wedding parties often form deep bonds, it can feel tempting to think of yourself as a guest with a camera, but remember that expectations are high. It’s best to dress unobtrusively, blend into the crowd, and check the temptation to spend the entire wedding visiting instead of working.
It seems like there are a million pitfalls and sticking points built into the process shooting a wedding and delivering photos the bride and groom will love. But ultimately, a wedding is about love, and it’s easier to deliver great photos if you see things through your clients’ eyes. Look for genuine expressions of love during the wedding. Strive to capture the candid and unpredictable moments that inevitably accompany such a meaningful event. And in moments of conflict or stress, remind yourself that a happy client can turn into hundreds of loving referrals.
Truth be told, “the perfect day” doesn’t exist…but your eye for one of life’s great celebrations can create truly memorable photos. It can even rekindle a long-lasting romance: yours. With the right attitude, good communication, and clear expectations, let your next wedding shoot reignite your love for photography.