Wedding Photographer’s behind-the-scenes
Getting ready for a wedding
I’m often asked how I go about getting ready for a wedding. It’s become so much the norm now after so many years, however, I thought this exercise would be beneficial not only for myself but also for others who are starting out in the wedding photography business.
I’d say my first and foremost preparation is with regards to my camera equipment.
Four days before the wedding, I give all my batteries a full charge. This ensures that if there’s a power cut or some form of technical issue, I’m well prepared in advance. Just to let you know, I also give all the batteries a complete overnight charge on the evening before we set off for the wedding!
Next is the checking of my cameras, flashes, tripods, ensuring they are cleaned, sensor cleaned and lenses cleaned. I then go to my cards, checking they have all been completely formatted and are in the appropriate card box that I keep on me. I also use another card case that used cards with images on are secured in a separate case on the day of the wedding.
On the morning of the wedding
On the morning of the wedding, I re-check that I have all the gear. My cameras I place on the floor of my car behind the seats, just in case when we arrive at the venue, if something is happening, I can grab the camera and begin taking photos or filming. If they were in the camera case, I could miss any interesting shots.
First things first, once we’ve arrived, our first action is to walk around the grounds, taking images and footage of the venue. This not only sets the scene for the day but also, if on the odd chance we haven’t worked at a particular venue or church in the past, it’s a good time to spot those special places for romantic shots and/or group photos.
Photographs of the preparations
Next, we go into the venue to grab some photographs of the preparations happening inside. It could be that groomsmen are setting up the reception room, so it’s great to capture some of these moments, as the bride doesn’t get to see these moments.
Next, we go up to see the bride and say hi. If the bride has chosen to have some of her preparations captured, our day really begins. We will work tirelessly from the bridal suite to the guests arriving, more shots of the wedding breakfast room, all the details, the dress, the cake, table displays – these types of wedding photos.
If the groomsmen are getting ready in the same location, we’ll go and capture some images of their antics.
Dressed with her Wedding Gown on
Next, we go back to the bride. Once the bride is almost dressed with her gown on, we take photographs of the final preparations of the dress being laced, with all the bridesmaids and mom helping. Then, if time allows, we’ll take some more formal images of the girls and the bride in the room. This does depend on the room; we want to show the magic of the bridal suite if it’s appropriate.
This is when I’ll leave Tracy with the bride, awaiting the father of the bride, perhaps, and the registrars who will spend a few minutes with the bride.
I’m now on my way to the front of the ceremony – again, this depends on the location, vicars, and registrars’ requirements. At times, the one officiating the ceremony may have their requirements as to where the wedding photographer stands during the ceremony. Just a quick note: on my way through to the ceremony location, I’ll use this time to capture a few more photos of guests, etc.
The music for the ceremony begins
The music for the ceremony begins. I must say that even after 25 plus years of being in the wedding photography business, I still get a little nervous, butterflies in my tummy. However, I do feel this is a good thing – it means I’m still on the ball!
The ceremony begins
The ceremony begins, and this is where you really need to look and feel the emotion happening in front of your lens. Look for those moments where the wedding couple’s eyes meet, those special moments that only you, through the lens, can really see. These are the images that you want to catch.
After many years of being a wedding photographer in Bath, I have developed a second sense. I can anticipate the next image, feel the emotion during this time, and don’t forget the first kiss – this is a must-have shot.
Next, the happy married couple chats with the registrars, and then it’s time for the signing of the register. Many of the vicars and registrars will ask you not to take photos of the actual register book; however, if possible, I like to take a photo of the real thing happening rather than a setup shot with the bride and groom.
Down the aisle they go
Down the aisle they go, and at the end of the serious stuff, I get to the back with Tracy (second shooter) and capture the bride and groom walking down the aisle.
One little tip here:
One little tip here: if you have great weather and the couple are up for it, take them for a walk with the bridesmaids and capture the wedding couple’s images. Get these in the bag, and then you can focus on the reportage. If the couple asks for some of the more formal photos, capture these ASAP and get one of the groomsmen to help round up the guests, so you can concentrate on the wedding photography. Another little tip: take the formal photos in different locations for two reasons – firstly, it gives you more scope, but also it gives you time to think about the next photo.
Once that’s completed, this is the time to move among the guests, capturing all those reportage photos – the real life of the wedding day, the candid, documentary wedding photographs that really tell the wedding couple’s story.
Okay, next, the wedding venue’s coordinator will call the guests in for the wedding breakfast, and the wedding couple will be kept back for their entrance into the wedding breakfast – a great shot to capture.
Be aware of when the speeches will be held.
At this stage, as the wedding photographer, you need to be aware of when the speeches will be held. This can be first, during, or at the end, so you need to ensure you have asked this question before and also on the day of the wedding because clients do change things around. Be aware. Some wedding photographers will stay during the breakfast, taking photos of guests enjoying their meal. However, this is one thing I absolutely will not do; it’s relaxing time for the couple and guests, so I’m out of the room while the wedding party enjoys the wedding breakfast.
After the wedding breakfast, this is a great time as the wedding photographer to capture lots more reportage and documentary photos, or, depending on the weather, get outside to capture some evening photos of the married couple – only if they wish to have this. On occasions, the married couple just wants to enjoy the evening, but it’s a good idea to ask.
Waiting for the evening guests to arrive:
Next, it’s waiting for the evening guests to arrive, capturing images of these newly arrived guests, usually greeting the newlyweds for the first time.
Then, as the evening progresses, it’s getting close to the cutting of the wedding cake. Get yourself ready, check out the location, and even take the bride and groom through the holding of the knife and how to position themselves, so you can capture the wedding cake photo and also for the guests who often like to get this photo.
Orchardleigh House weddings
With many venues, but more so with Orchardleigh House weddings, the first dance is straight after the cutting of the cake. Move onto the dance floor, where you can get that image of the newly married couple taking to the floor for their first dance.
First Dance wedding photographs
This is my time to grab those dance wedding photographs. Both myself and Tracy (the second shooter) stand in different areas of the surrounding dance area to capture different views of the happy couple and guests enjoying the first dance.
The guests partying:
We usually stay for a few extra minutes after the first dance to photograph the guests partying, and then we’ll quietly make our way out of the venue. Our day here is now complete. Now comes the additional five days of looking through the images and film, editing, backing up, and finally uploading the wedding photos to the clients’ online gallery.
I hope you find this very short article helpful. There is a lot more that goes into being a wedding photographer. However, hopefully, this has provided a little help if you’re thinking of moving into the wedding photography business as a wedding photographer.
Being a wedding photographer:
Being a wedding photographer is a truly rewarding experience, as you get to be a part of people’s most special day and help them preserve memories that will last a lifetime. Just remember to be prepared, flexible, and always on the lookout for those candid moments that truly capture the emotion and joy of the wedding day. With practice and dedication, you can become a successful and sought-after wedding photographer, making a real difference in people’s lives.