Last year I shot my fist solo wedding. It was an amazing experience and learnt so much during the day. I am so excited to learn more and expand my portfolio over the coming year and wanted to share some tips and tricks with you for shooting your first wedding.
If you are just getting into wedding photography, I would recommend second shooting on a few weddings first. Be sure to read my second shooter post which gives you tips and tricks as well as knowing when you are ready to move onto solo weddings
First things first, set realistic expectations
If your client sends you images from other photographers work don't just say ‘oh yeah sure I can do that’. Make sure you have sent your client some of your actual work so they can chose images they like from there. This way it sets your clients expectations and makes sure that you aren’t taking peoples money for images you know you can’t live up to. This is why a second shooter experience is a great idea to get your portfolio up and running and provide clients with example photos to look through.
Get a shot list together from the client and think about when and where these photos take place. Think about the order of the day and when it is best to tick some of these off. Ask questions such as; Do they want a reveal photo? If so you need to be there before the bride shows people the dress. Do they want sparkler or evening photos? If so be sure to check what time sunset is and remember you will have to stay at the wedding a bit longer.
Check the weather and plan a backup shot list too. If the client wants most of their photos outside make sure you set their expectations with a back up plan. If the weather is bad think about taking group photos before the bridal party leave for the ceremony. After the ceremony has finished think about taking a group photo then too, before everyone goes back out in the rain.
Get the timings and don't overwork yourself
Just because the bride is getting ready at 6am doesn’t mean you need to be there too. You need about an hour of photos whilst everyone is getting ready and taking detailed photographs of the dresses and flowers.
Ask what time the meal will be and if food is supplied for you or if there is an area you can grab lunch. Use the this time wisely, recharge and if possible avoid going on your phone to reduce headaches.
Ask what time the first dace and cake cutting is and set their expectations that you will be leaving 30 minutes after this time. You don’t want to end up being there till midnight if you haven’t built this into your pricing.
Pack your essentials in a bag, I would recommend the below:
- Your main camera and lens
- Any additional lenses
- A second camera if you are lucky enough to have one
- Business cards
- Food, Snacks and a drink as you may not have this provided to you
- Cash, phone and card
- Pain relief
I would also keep a spare bag in your car with things like a rain jacket, any props, bits of netting and material. You can slo bring any spare lenses and filters just incase you need them.
Your reputation is everything with these early weddings you do so professionalism is key. Here are some tips I mentioned in my second shooter post:
- Don't show guests photos from the back of your camera
- Try and be as discreet as possible when in the ceremony, put your camera on electronic shutter (silent) if possible during the church and speeches
- Be respectful of the venue and guests (Your behaviour on the day will reflect more than your final photographs and at this crucial time of your career as recommendations are everything)
Don’t stop shooting
It’s your first wedding so naturally, if you’re a beginner, you’re not going to use about 80% of the photos you take. Use any spare time you have to take more photos than you need and you can learn from this after when editing knowing which ones you use most. Test out different angles and aspects. These first few weddings will create the basis for your portfolio so its great to have lots of images to work with, not only for the client, but for yourself.
During the day don't over think and go back on your images over and over again. Its good to have a quick look back at your images throughout the day however don't obsess over this. The key with your first few weddings is to take lots and lots of photos, make sure you tick off the shot list and try to enjoy yourself.
This might not be possible for everyones budgets but it really gives you a peace of mind especially if, like me, you worry way too much.
During the day remember to switch between memory cards just incase. Use one for the prep photos, one for the ceremony and one for the reception. You may already have a camera that can write to two memory cards however, its still good idea to switch them out incase one gets corrupt somehow.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember, at this stage its all about making sure you get the photos the client wants and not worry to much that you’ve taken 1000 photos and end up only using 10%. As long as those 100 are what the client wants you’ve done a great job for your first wedding and they don’t need to know how many outtakes there were.
If you have any tips or other questions let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.
Thank you for reading. Abbie x