Wedding Photography Checklist
Wedding Photography Checklist
In this blog post we talk about the importance of a wedding photography checklist and how planning and thinking ahead is the key to finishing the day with the images you wanted. So you’re just starting out, photographing a wedding can be a pretty intimidating prospect. It’s a big, expensive, very important day for everyone involved; and you want to make sure you get all the shots you need to keep your Bride and Groom happy. After all, client recommendations are great for business. So, how do you do it? Here’s a breakdown of how to prepare yourself for what can be an exciting, hectic, marathon of a shoot.
Right off the bat, lets talk about some essentials on your wedding photography checklist. Being well-prepared for a shoot will always make things go more smoothly. Aside from the obvious (a good full-frame DSLR camera, quality lenses), you’ll want to be sure you have an abundance of charged batteries for both your camera and your flash, more memory card space than you think you’d ever need, a good external flash, and a comfortable bag that can keep your gear protected and well-organized.
The Dressing-room shots
So, you’ve got your gear together and you’ve made it to the wedding plenty early to catch some great moments that will happen while the couple gets ready for their big day. With these photographs, it’s important to preserve the little details each client will want to look back upon and try to catch funny moments and reactions as they happen.
Be sure to get photographs of jewelry, the bouquet, cuff links, shoes; all the little bits that make this a special occasion for the couple getting married. Take photos of the bride having her hair or makeup done, the groom doing up his bow-tie or putting on his cufflinks; these moments are part of the build-up to the ceremony. Next up on our wedding photography checklist is the ceremony.
Photographing a wedding ceremony is a matter of balancing getting your shots while not drawing too much attention away from the ceremony itself. Scout out the location before the ceremony begins, and take some photographs of the flowers and decorations while you’re at it. This allows you to find spots to get the angles you want before the ceremony starts, so you aren’t searching for where to stand while you should be taking important photos. Pay close attention to the proceedings, and be sure to be ready to catch reaction shots as big moments happen (the bride walking down the aisle, the exchanging of rings, the kiss at the end, etc).
The Formal group portraits
Some photographers prefer to shoot these before the ceremony, some after; but location for this part of the night is important (and mostly up to you). Choose your location based on it’s scenery, the background that will be in your shots, and for the best lighting conditions you can find. Some venues may have a space for these sort of photographs, and you should absolutely take advantage of that.
Base your shots on what your clients want, but be sure to get some variations on each one. Not in love with the way you lined up the wedding party for a group shot? Re-organize them and get the look you want. It can be difficult to get perfect group shots (and the bigger the group, the more chances there are that someone will blink or look away), so take more than you think you need to. And don’t forget to, again, try to catch any interesting, funny, or touching moments as they happen.
Bride and Groom portraits
We will do a whole blog on this very soon. Bride and Groom portraits are of course super important. It is important to relax and make the bride and groom comfortable, they are usually of course not models, so they are not used to being in front of the camera. It's your job to make them at ease. Start with some very simple shots, ask them to walk a little,ask them to hold hands, let them be awkward a little and see what happens, ask them to practice there first dance, ask them to bump hips and walk forward a little, ask them to snuggle like foxes, anything to make them giggle, which allows you to capture the small moments in-between, the laughs, smiles and hugs.
The Wedding reception
Our last thing to cover on our wedding photography checklist is the reception. At this point in the wedding day all the serious wedding business is done and the mood livens up as everyone celebrates the newly married couple. Get your detail shots first (before the guests are filing in, if possible). Centerpieces, seating charts, flower arrangements, the space as a whole; try to capture an image of all the work that’s gone into the reception.
When the guests and couple arrive, treat it like you did the ceremony. Catch them as they come in, especially the bride and groom. Some other important moments to capture are the couple’s first dance, their dances with their parents, toasts to the new couple, and the moment when the couple cuts the cake. Those aside, be sure to get plenty of photos of everyone conversing, having fun, and dancing! This is also a great time to get less-formal, smaller group portraits of the happy families and guests.
Wedding dance shots
At the end of the wedding comes the dance shots. Set your flash on manual, and get the correct exposure. Some tricks to use are as follows: Try increasing the zoom on your manual flash settings, this will darken out the background and edges giving a natural vignette. Try increasing the zoom to 200 and watch the difference. Another trick it to slow down the shutter speed to maybe 1/10th of a second, experiment with different speeds, this will get the light trails in the background. Experiment with your flash and try new things until it looks just right. Usually during dancing there is lots of time to try new things. Don't be stiff during the dancing, get in there and dance with them. Have fun, it will make them more relaxed.
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