So you want to be a wedding photographer?
Normal scenario is that you already have a full time job and have done a bit of Photography and have decided to earn a little on the side by covering some couples happy day. As you are not experienced you are going to have to undercut the local pro’s which makes you an attractive saving on an expensive day. You will also be someone who is both approachable and friendly … You will also have to be good with people and small humans as you are going to be dealing with them most of the day.
Let me offer a few insights on your first experiences.
You will arrive kitted up at the hotel/house where the bride and her team are involved in a bit of organised chaos. There will be paraphernalia all over the place, potentially kids running around, a lot of shouting with inquiries as to where some important item has got to.
You will be there before the make up and hair people so expect everyone to still be in pajamas having not made an effort after getting out of bed.
At this early point in the day people will be a touch apprehensive around you as they get used to a camera being pointed in their direction. The bride will be somewhat awkward at this point (although later during the day she will have developed a wonderful ability to pose as soon as the camera gets anywhere near her).
Your first real shots of the day will be when the make up artists and hair guys arrive. Not always but most of the time this will over run. You should have been given an itinerary and it is best to treat this a vague statement of intent rather than a cast iron guide.
In short make up nearly always over runs.
There will be a time slot allocated for you to get some beauty shots of the bride and bridesmaids before they leave for the ceremony ... However much time this is will almost certainly be cut in half by the time the make up and hair dudes leave.
Roughly about the same time that the bride and crew are panicking about being ready in time is about the same time you begin to panic that you need to get to the wedding venue before them .This is the first of the interesting situations of the day when you are required to be in at least two places at once.
You get to the church, shoot the guests, get a shot or two of an awkward looking groom and his best man at the front of the church trying to appear casual. Said photographer has charged into the church in a mad rush to beat the bride there and is already taking photos and no longer has time for pleasantries beyond a "Good luck!" and what you hope is a reassuring smile. In no way should you describe the carnage that has occurred at the brides prep.
On an interesting side note for the first few times you do a wedding the bride will be late … Just enough for you to complacently feel you have plenty of time right up until the day the car arrives early. Just a handy hint there going forward.
So the bride arrives and you start taking photos of her as she approaches the church, walks through and your job is to stay in front of her walking backwards so you can get the walking down the aisle shots. Please remember the groom is behind you and try not to trip over him.
Here it is …. Your big moment …. All the important bits you have been worried about .. The rings, the kiss, the audience reaction and all that jazz. And weirdly …… It is one of the easiest bits of the day …. They both have to stand in front of you … The audience is staring in your direction … So you kinda get complacent right up until the point you realise you are standing at the front of the church and you need to be at the back to get them walking out … So you rush to the back sweating as the couple walk out smiling (hopefully … Not always the case …. Expect tears …. Which reminds me if anyone at all cries take the photo).
At some point prior to the wedding you will have been given a list … It does not look like a long list …. But the family photos will last for an ETERNITY!!! It is also worth noting that everyone is milling around talking about how wonderful the service was and getting itchy feet about wanting to get to the reception and have the first drink of the day.
To organise this rabble the list will also have been passed to the most capable, intelligent, organised and focused person there. This is almost always one of the bridesmaids (although not always the chief bridesmaid … Do not fall for that assumption). Befriend this individual as quickly as you can, she has weathered the tension of the whole pre wedding arrangements and you will need her help on occasion throughout the day. At some point you will need to communicate with the bride and getting access to her can be tricky. This bridesmaid will become your most valuable asset.
As the family photos drag on people will begin to disappear to the reception venue to begin the celebrations.
DANGER WARNING ……
You are smart enough to have pre planned the couple shoot before the wedding so as to not have to make it up on the day …. Do not let the bride and groom leave without getting the couple shots. As soon as they have started socialising and drinking you will struggle to get them in front of the camera on their own ... Under no circumstances allow them to do it later ... Politely but insistently persist to get them done as planned.
As the couple leave the church you will get a most uncomfortable feeling that you are now alone and need to be somewhere. This somewhere is at the reception venue and you need to do a Top Gear style challenge to beat the newly married couple to the venue.
The rest of your day is multi tasking on Steroids.. You need to be at the right place at the right time to get happy couples shots, the happy attendees (all of which if they notice you will immediately try to look casual or stare smiling at you). Also at some point you are going to stare down at your camera and thank your lucky stars that you thought it a wise investment (hint) in getting an extra memory card and spare battery …..
The only break you are going to get is when the attendees sit down to eat and by this point your energy will be absolutely bottoming out.
But then you have the absolute joy of the night time and the first dance …. A wonderful time when the light is low and you have to rely on all your skills to get creative with shots.
With the first dance over you can more or less finally start wrapping up (This is more often than not the agreed Wedding Photography day) … And then a rather strange thing occurs where that friendly nature of yours that got you the gig in the first place bites you on the ass. Everyone by this point regards you as being part of the family and wants to buy you drinks .. The only thing keeping you on your feet is the will power to get home and collapse and partying with strangers is the last thing on your mind.
Talking of bed ….. If you are planning on getting up early next day to start editing … Forget it … As all that crouching and running around mean your thighs will ache like you have been tortured. You will wake up and roll out of bed only to find yourself falling onto the floor with your thighs screaming at you.
Speaking of torture …. You now have the million or so photos you took to sift through and edit ….
Which is why
I no longer do weddings
Most start up wedding photographers quickly up the amount they charge or give up doing weddings.
As you are inexperienced you charge a low amount but you will quickly come the conclusion it is not worth the money and up your prices. As a general rule up to about the £800 mark you can get a mixed bag of good and average photographers … Upwards of £800 you tend to spot why they can charge the amount they do by their portfolio. .
Doing weddings is a viable way of making money through photography but it is not the only way. To make money from weddings you need to be a multi task expert, approachable and friendly, quick to move when you see a certain scene, professional……
…..and being able to use a camera certainly helps.