A Fly on the Wall – 10 Tips for Wedding Beginners

1. Don’t Manipulate
When the bride is preparing on the morning, don’t get in the way and ask for smiles or stage the dressing. Just be on your toes and try to anticipate what’s next.
Is her hair and makeup finished? She will probably be getting into her dress next. Is she in her dress? Get yourself to the bottom of the stairs to shoot her coming down. There is no time to relax if you’re the photographer!

2. Fill In
If allowed, wander around the house or hotel room and snap photos which can be used to fill-in spaces in the album to create a sense of ambiance and location. Snap the makeup brushes, dresses hanging up, important things around the home.
If you’re at the bride’s family home, there will be loads of memorable things around the house to photograph. Family photos around the home, her childhood bedroom.

3.Get Alone
Spend a couple minutes alone with the dress, the shoes, the flowers, etc. to take meaningful photographs without anxious people rushing you. There should be plenty of time while you’re there.
But when you’ve got what you need, remember to leave in time to photograph guests arriving at the ceremony and the groom as he waits for his bride.

4. Be Bold
Don’t be shy in front of the audience. Obviously, use a zoom lens so you’re not hip-to-hip with the priest but be strong and bold and remember that you have a license to be there! You were hired and everyone knows that so don’t worry about moving around and shooting from behind the priest if it’s appropriate.

5. Dress for the Occasion
If you’re a woman, forget wedding protocol and wear trousers! No trying to look pretty. Quiet shoes are a must – you don’t want to be tip toeing around like a criminal.

6. Remember the Others
Find out who is family and make sure to get some images of them as well.

7. Be Bossy
The bride and groom have told you what they want and although they are often distracted away from their plan on the day, they will thank you after if you make their original plan happen.

For the formal portraits, it can take a precise military operation to execute such an endeavor. People are anxious to get to the food and dancing and you're the only thing stopping them! Have a list arranged ahead of time of the specific groups the couple wants other than the usual his-family-her-family, him-and-his-guys, her-and-her-girls, etc.

The most important part in making this happen is to have your bossy go-to person who knows everyone (perhaps one of his groomsmen?) to announce all of the family and bridal party to step outside and then have him announce the groups you are needing. You can literally take each shot within 30 seconds if you can gather them and get them to engage with you all at once. Not as simple as it sounds, but it can be done. Ask everyone to look at you and smile and then take about 10 shots at once. You can use the PhotoShop group merge function to grab all the smiling faces and put them into one photo if necessary.

8. Gear
NEVER use a pop-up flash. Always have an external flash ready to go and never point it directly at your couple. Point it at the ceiling or a wall. Shoot with two cameras. Your main one needs to have a zoom lens and a flash and the other need to be either a 50mm 1.4 or 85mm 1.4 wide open so no flash is needed.

9. Be Professional
It can be easy to fall into the fun of a wedding and obviously, you won’t be any good if you’re uptight and not having fun, but if you get too relax and begin socializing, you will miss important moments and you’re basically at work so remember to be professional.

Bring your own snack to eat on the sly when you get a chance – never accept an invitation to take part in the buffet. Remember that people are watching you and a huge percentage of them are either looking for a wedding photographer or know someone who is so be professional at all times.

10. Never take posed table shots
Certainly, it’s good to make a record of everyone who was there and you can do that without being intrusive and even do it in a beautiful way.
The photographer can easily lose guests’ feeling of ease and comfort the instant he/she becomes intrusive. Make yourself invisible!

Bring an assistant who can help you (that’s a bonus tip!) and get a good night’s rest beforehand. Have a blast and be confident – the bride and groom already love your talent because they hired you in the first place. So be secure in that fact and own it!

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