For Photographers: Top 3 Wedding Must Haves

Photographer Education

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Hey, hey! It’s almost wedding season! I don’t know about you, but I am super excited to get the ball rolling and to share in all the wonderful celebrations! I seriously love this job!

As spring approaches, there are sure to be lots of photographers preparing to shoot their first weddings ever! This can actually be quite frightening and nerve-racking for the photographer. I remember having butterflies in my stomach in the days leading up to my first gig as a lead photographer. Now that I think about it— pterodactyls might be a better metaphor than butterflies! Y’all, I was scared!

But guess what? You don’t have to be! Anxious jitters are normal but you should never enter a wedding day with fear. Bridesmaids and groomsmen can smell it, I swear. Haha! No, but really— you need to show up prepared, ready to handle business. Being sure-footed and confident can change the trajectory of the whole day and result in better images!

Here are my TOP 3 WEDDING DAY MUST HAVES for photographers:

1. GEAR! AND BACKUP GEAR! This sounds like a no-brainer, but I have heard horror stories about cameras breaking and malfunctioning at weddings. Don’t let this happen to you. First, never shoot a wedding without a back-up camera! Make sure it’s as good as your main camera! Don’t forget extra batteries and memory cards! Second, have a variety of lenses that will allow you to shoot in any environment. You want fast glass that can handle low light (lenses that stop down to 1.4 or 1.2); wide lenses (35mm, 24mm) for tight spaces or large groups; a telephoto lens (70-200mm for outdoor ceremonies, maybe also a 24-70mm for dance floor shots); a killer portrait lens like a 50mm or 85mm; a macro lens like the 100mm if your bride is expecting those Gram-worthy detail shots. Exact lenses may vary based on your style but it’s important to have a variety of focal lengths. Make sure you have at least two flashes. I always shoot with two or three during receptions; one on-camera and one or two off-camera on light stands. If you don’t know how to use a flash— better learn before you shoot a wedding! HA! But really…

 

 

The getting-ready space at Saint Thomas Preservation hall is small and in a basement with only one tiny window. I was able to get light and airy shots thanks to using a flash for fill and a 35mm 1.4 lens! I literally could not have fit everyone in frame without a wide lens.

The getting-ready space at Saint Thomas Preservation hall is small and in a basement with only one tiny window. I was able to get light and airy shots thanks to using a flash for fill and a 35mm 1.4 lens! I literally could not have fit everyone in frame without a wide lens.

2. A TIMELINE TO KEEP THE DAY ON TRACK! I don’t know how I ever shot a wedding without one. Seriously. The mere thought gives me nightmares. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a blog post by Jasmine Starr years go that I realized I needed one. Up until then, I just figured weddings were supposed to be chaotic and confusing. Not so, my friends! A timeline is your holy grail. I usually start planning these with my clients about 4-6 weeks before wedding day. A timeline will include everything between the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. It can be as detailed as necessary to keep the day flowing. Once you get a routine down you’ll find yourself feeling relaxed during weddings, leading to more time and mental capacity to be creative! Not to mention— a frazzled photographer is really off-putting. You are professional and should act the part. No one will trust you if you’re running around like a chicken without a head.

 

 

Hali wanted a first-look with her parents, so when I built her timeline I made sure to include this moment! A timeline helps you prioritize what means the most to a bride and groom!
 

 

 

We also included a first-touch in this timeline. Wedding days can end up feeling rushed but a timeline will ensure capturing images like this!We also included a first-touch in this timeline. Wedding days can end up feeling rushed but a timeline will ensure capturing images like this!

3. FAMILY SHOT LISTS ARE GOLDEN! I’ve heard a lot of photographers lament about shot lists and how they hinder their artistry, yada yada… A family shot list is nothing like that. You will plan this out with your clients about a month before the wedding and it will include all the posed portraits with family that usually take place right after the ceremony. This is a prime time for family photos because everyone is gathered in the same place. Having a prepared shot list will ensure everyone necessary sticks around and that you get all the photos the bride and groom want. I generally try to keep family portraits short and sweet— about 15 minutes or so and focused on immediate family. Make sure the shot list includes the name and relation of each person in each grouping so you don’t sound like you’re calling out random bingo numbers. Using names and relations is more personal and professional.

 

 

Family photos were taken across the street from the ceremony location. Having a pre-set family shot list means everyone knows where they’re supposed to be when it comes time for formal portraits!Family photos were taken across the street from the ceremony location. Having a pre-set family shot list means everyone knows where they’re supposed to be when it comes time for formal portraits!

I hope this post is helpful! I’m excited to share more tips for photographers as we navigate wedding season together! Please let me know what topics you want covered! Happy shooting!

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