Will you be my wedding photographer?
It’s inevitable: you’ve just bought a new DSLR, you’re loving the addition of more autofocus points, the faster frames-per-second burst mode, the addition of GPS or some other whiz-bang feature, and you’re taking tons of new shots. After a friend or a relative sees your unending line of status updates on Flickr, Facebook, or 500px, the question comes:
“Hey, you’re a photographer, right? Can you be my wedding photographer?”
Your first impulse may be to get excited and agree on the spot. DON’T. You need to think about this, both for you and for them.
Wedding photography isn’t easy, it isn’t fun, and it can be a make-or-break thing for friend/family relationships. If you’ve ever wandered into an online forum with the question “my friends just asked me to be their wedding photographer, what do I need to know?” then this post is for you.
You probably shouldn’t shoot their wedding.
Nothing quite like a bit of encouragement right out of the gate, right? But it’s true: being the primary photographer at a wedding is serious business, even if the bride and groom are insistent that it’s low-pressure and they just want some “candid snaps”. Weddings tend to be very expensive events, and preserving those memories may not seem important at the time, but it’s one of the number one regrets of those who don’t do it right. For all of the potential brides and grooms out there: if you’re paying more for the band than your photographer, you’re doing it wrong. No one will remember bad music, but bad photos are forever.
If you absolutely must shoot it:
Be the back-up instead.
You could try to convince your friends/family that a professional wedding photographer is needed. If it’s your dream to be a professional photographer: GREAT... but don’t cut your teeth on an important day like this. If they hire a pro, you can stand in as a second photographer to get a feel for how the day will flow. Like anything else, you’re going to need practice and real world experience before your jump in as a primary.
There’s a saying in photography: two is one and one is none. Any time you have a single point of failure, you’re exposed to the possibility of having a very bad day. That means: have at least two camera bodies, at least two memory cards and batteries for each. You may want to have one body with a wide lens and the other with a telephoto lens on you at the same time so you can switch the type of shot you’re capturing without having to fuss with lenses. Make sure that all of your batteries are charged the day before so you’re ready to rock if one of them kicks it. Memory cards should be big, empty, and tested in advance. Don’t ruin their day by being lazy or forgetful!
You’re also going to want to have at least one flash/strobe with you (and know how to use it), along with extra batteries for it. A flash diffuser is generally a must so you don’t end up with scorching hotspots on your nuptial subjects.
Lists are super-helpful for just about everything you’ll do on the big day: make a list of the gear you need and check it when you pack.
A shot list is also handy, and it’s something that you should sit down with the bride and groom about before-hand. Flip through wedding magazines and browse the web; cut out and print off shots that they want to get. Create a mood board/book that you can take with you on the day, and check those shots of your list.
Having someone who is there to assist you on the day of is a big help. An extra pair of hands to carry your spare gear, manage your check list and wrangle your subjects really helps.
These nuts and bolts tips are very rudimentary, and you can consider them 101 stuff. The real soul of wedding photography comes from knowing what the bride and groom are like, and finding those special moments during the day. You might have a knack for it and pull it off the first time… and you might also be a Wizard, Harry. For the rest of us: practice is crucial, and you don’t want to be practicing on a day that means to much to people you care about.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t try. What it is saying is that you shouldn’t run a marathon the first time you put on a pair of runners. Put the effort in and take some time to learn. You’ll know when you’re ready.
Universal fit will work with almost any on-camera flash. The CLOUD version produces slightly softer and warmer light. Ideal for portraits and wedding photos. Kit includes Lightsphere Universal Cloud, Half Cloud and two Inverted Domes. Get studio quality lighting without the need for a bracket. Made in the USA. One year warranty.
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