There's no point saying you're a wedding photographer if you don't have a wedding to photograph so you need to get out there and sell yourself. Print signs on your car and ask if you can leave your business cards in hotels, smart restaurants/cafés or in any other locations you think people would consider booking for a wedding. Try working with florists, hairdressers and even dress designers as they all need shots of their products and in return you'll be credited for the work and it may end up in magazines or other publications. They'll also be more willing to sit your business cards on their tables and may even recommend you to clients/customers.
Wedding fairs are also great places to publicise yourself but choose which you go to carefully as there's a lot of competition out there and large fairs can be a bit daunting. If you don't want to to join the wedding fair circuit try attending school fairs and other local community events to get your name out there and don't forget about word of mouth – positive comments and good contacts can go along way in this industry.
Understand what the couple want
You need to meet with the bride and groom to be and work out what exactly they want and don't want so there won't be any tears when it comes to them seeing the shots from their big day. This is the time when you need to create your contract with them and establish what fee you'll be charging. Make sure you take a booking fee, this can be non-refundable, and make sure you have the right type of insurance.
As well as your main DSLR it's always advised to carry a spare. A flash gun, reflector(s), lens cloth, rain cover, light-weight tripod or monopod and lots of lots of memory are also items you should consider packing for the day. You may also want to take your lighting equipment, any filters you think will be helpful, remote releases and a laptop.
Make sure you pack several cards that are medium sized rather than one or two large ones. You don't want to shoot all day on one card to find when you get back to the office that the card's corrupt or missing.
A wide-angle zoom lens is handy for group shots or for photos of the couple where you want the location to be more of a feature. A telephoto zoom lens will let you capture the candid, spontaneous moments without getting noticed and a macro lens will help you isolate the small but interesting details such as rings. Finally, pack a good prime lens for those all important portrait shots.
Plan and prepare
Preparation is key and this statement is very, very true for wedding photography.
If you've not shot at the chosen venue before make sure you visit it a few times before the big day. Walk around it, plan a route and look out for areas of the grounds/venue that will be useful to you on the day.
Make sure you have a plan, your equipment out, ready and charged, and if you're working with a team of people, double-check you all know what you're doing before the ceremony begins.
Have a chat with the bride and groom so you know every last little detail is ticked of the check-list and create a shooting plan so you have time to get every shot you need.
There's no sun
If you did your preparation work bad weather shouldn't be a problem as you'll already have locations in-mind you can take your shots if it's too soggy to venture outside. Look for rooms with large windows or better still, patio doors that you can throw open and show the grounds which now have colours that are naturally saturated thanks to the rain.
If you do head outside take your reflector with you to bounce some much-needed extra light into the scene and if you need to use flash indoors diffuse it so it's not so harsh.
Shot of the bride
Before the ceremony and after party begins, make sure you have at least one great shot of the bride looking perfect in her dress. This will usually be just before she leaves the place where she got ready or just as she arrives at the wedding ceremony venue. That way, if it rains or she does a little bit too much dancing that puts a few creases in her dress it won't matter!
Be a good director
You need to be confident, give direction without seeming like you're taking over and be willing to shout 'look at me' to the bride, groom or any other subject who's not looking the right way. Even if you are a little nervous you need to make the wedding party, particularly the bride and groom, feel comfortable and relaxed around you. Make sure you present yourself well, smile and engage in conversation with the people you're photographing. As a result you'll gain their trust and respect which will mean you can more easily get on with the job in-hand.
Don't leave people standing around
You do need the odd posed shot but doing them all in one go will just mean people get bored of standing around, waiting to be ushered into position. Instead, try setting 10-15 minutes aside at different points during the day for your posed work then fill the time in between with candid work.
Some of the best moments are those you capture without the bride, groom or wedding guest knowing you're pointing a lens at them. Try and go about your business without getting noticed, blending into the crowd as if you were one of the guests. Look for moments of tenderness and times when people are lost in their own thoughts.
For more information on shooting wedding candids take a look at this article: Wedding Candids
Small details matter
The bride and groom spend a lot of time and money on getting every little detail of the day right so in between shooting your group shots and candids, take the time to photograph the smaller but still hugely important detail.
Hair accessories, hats, rings, shoes, ribbons on the back of the bride's dress, flowers, cars, seating plans, gifts and even the covers and bows decorating the seats and tables are details that shouldn't be overlooked.
If you're taking photos at a friend or relative's wedding why not turn a few of your shots into a Photo Book? They make great gifts and Albelli
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Create your own photo gifts and make moments last a lifetime with Albelli – the Photo Book experts.