9 Essential Wedding Photography Tips for Amateurs

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9 Essential Wedding Photography Tips

Being a new photographer can be a little intimidating and being a first time wedding photographer can be downright TERRIFYING!

I know its not typical, but I was never very nervous when I started out in wedding photography.  Personally, I like pressure.  I thrive under stress.  Not everyone does.  I had several photographer friends that toldl me that they hated weddings, and that I probably was going to also.  Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. 

If you are considering getting started in wedding photography, here are some imiportant tips:

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1. You Have to Start Somewhere

Face it.  You are probably going to be under-paid for your first few weddings.  My first wedding was my little brother’s and I shot it for pennies, but it was a perfect scenario: they couldn’t afford a professional photographer, and I needed someone who would book me with very few wedding portfolio images.

Everyone has to start somewhere! It’s also great to be a second shooter for a few weddings, to get a feel for things, but being the main shooter for a wedding is inevitably going to feel different.  Be confident in your skills as a paid professional.

2. Have a Plan

This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure you have a plan (ie wedding timeline, checklist, shot list, etc.).  Go over it with the bride several times before the wedding, because she has a million things on her mind, and it will put her at ease to know that you are on top of these things!

It’s great to develop a system for shooting the family wedding photos.  Start with the bride’s immediate family and add in progressively, or something similar, and do it at every wedding so that people aren’t standing around saying “well, should we do one with Uncle Tim?  or how about one with Grandpa George, but oh wait, where is Grandpa George?!”

Knowing when family photos will occur and in which order will help everyone.

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3. Share Your Professional Opinion

Don’t be afraid to assert your professional opinion about lighting or timing for taking certain wedding photos.  One of the things she is paying your for is your knowledge and experience.  But make sure to be remain sensitive to the bride’s wishes.

I shot an outdoor wedding and I knew that golden hour would occur right during their ceremony.  I let them know that I’d love to steal them for a few additional photos – IF it worked for them to sneak away.  Fortunately it did, and they thanked me for letting them know ahead of time.  The images we took in those 10 minutes ended up being some of their favorites!

4. Pay Attention to the Details

Listen to the little voice inside you that nags you about details.  It’s easy to get focused on the big picture of checking off every shot and managing time, but overlook the little things.

I wish I could go back and move that one groomsman over just an inch or two to get the renegade ray of sunlight off his face.  Healing brushes and clone stamps take way longer than attention to detail up front.

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5. Be Assertive

You have to be assertive (bossy even), but it also has to be coated with lots and lots of smiles.

Why do you need to do this?

There will be a lot of voices at a wedding and lots of suggestions.  BUT, you are the bride's voice.  You know what images she wants and feels are important. You know the time available.  You will need to use your voice to make sure that you get those images and don't give in to every whim of aunt Beth and uncle Jeff.  You also may need say something to grandma when she stands up in the middle of the aisle to get her shot and blocks yours. 

So during photo time, BE ASSERTIVE!

6. Get the Shot

This goes along with having a plan and being assertive: be sure to get your shots!

There are going to be other cameras and cell phones everywhere.  There are going to be lots of people attending with their own agendas.  Make sure you are bold enough to stand where you need to be.  I’ve heard stories of professional photographers getting shoved out of the way by uncles.  I pray that never happens to me, but if it does, I might bust out my ninja skills.

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7. Weddings are Exhausting

At the end of the day, you are going to be TIRED.  VERY TIRED.  Okay, maybe exhausted would be a better word.  Try not to plan anything the next day except sipping pina coladas by a pool.  (Unless of course, you have kids, like me, and then….well, God be with you!)

8. Every Wedding is Different

Every wedding is not created equally.  The locations will be different.  The receptions will be different.  Some will be outdoors and others indoors.  Some will be mild dessert receptions in a church, and some will have bottomless kegs and drunk groomsmen.  Be prepared for anything!

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9. There is More to Learn About Wedding Photoghraphy

There are so many aspects to weddings and lots of things to learn about wedding photography.  These tips should give you a good start, but here several other fantastic articles that will help you learn & grow as a wedding photographer:

  1. Do You Want to Be a Wedding Photographer
  2. How to Become a Wedding Photographer in 7 Steps
  3. How to Survive Your First Wedding Consultation
  4. Wedding Contract: 6 Things You Must Include
  5. 6 Tips for a Perfect Engagement Session
  6. Bride Getting Ready: Tips for Fantastic Bridal Images
  7. First Look Wedding Photos: How to Capture Romantic Images
  8. Photographing Wedding Details: Ultimate Wedding Photo Guide
  9. How to be a Perfect Second Shooter at a Wedding

Do you have any questions or comments about our Wedding Photography Tips?  Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you!  And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!

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