One Thing I Wish I Had Known When I Started Shooting Weddings:
I wish I would have known it was okay to take control. Take control of directing large groups, of keeping the timeline in order, of helping the bride delegate, anything!
When I first started shooting weddings I didn’t want to interfere with what was happening and I wanted to just stand back and let it all unfold. Well, 90% of the time you are dealing with a bride who this is her first wedding. Even if this is her second wedding (or third or fifth…), she still hasn’t even seen close to a fraction of the amount of weddings we as photographers have seen. We have seen all different types of wedding and we have seen all types of wedding disasters. I learned that as soon as I stepped in and helped control what was about to happen, my weddings went way smoother and were way less stressful for the bride! It’s one thing they aways rave about in their reviews; how I played a much larger role than just the photographer. They love me for it!
I am not saying show up and boss everyone around. But show up and realize you are the professional here. They hired you for your expertise. So when something isn’t unfolding in the best way possible, step in and redirect it. A few examples:
- Family Formals — Everyone kind of understands what they should do, but they need a lot of direction. Like, A-flipping-LOT! Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell who to stand where and what TO DO WITH THEIR HANDS! haha I like to start with the largest grouping and work my way down. This way I am not trying to round up the random people at the end. They will have already been in the group shot and then I can start whittling away until I am down to the most important people.
- Details/Getting Ready Shots — I used to be nervous to take the dress out of the bag before the bride was ready. Grab the dress, and take it somewhere. You don’t have to shoot it exactly where it was hanging when you found it. Same with the other details. Step in, take control, and make it all look pretty. Chances are it wasn’t perfectly arranged when the bride plopped them all down.
- Bride & Groom Portraits — There are people waiting to congratulate the bride and groom and people are ready to get the party started. But again, they hired you because you are a professional and they wanted professional photos. Don’t be afraid to set up a shot or take them to the other side of the venue to get the perfect light. Most definitely be considerate of their day though and realize this isn’t only about the pictures. (I try not to take more than 20-30 minutes doing these unless the bride has specifically requested otherwise.)
- Cake Cutting — Tell them which side of the table to stand on for the best shot, have them cut slowly if you need to grab an extra shot, etc. Adding those 5 seconds isn’t going to throw their story off.
These are just a few examples, but there will literally be instances all day long where you might need to step in and help guide things along. I like to think of it as “controlling the chaos”. haha Everything will still happen and there will still be a story to tell. Just make sure you are taking your time and guiding it in a way that you are able to tell their best story and not a story filled with stress and haphazardly captured moments!