Shooting Your First Wedding - Part 3 (advice from others)

Well, over the past two blog posts you have listened, or rather read, my ramblings and thoughts about shooting your first wedding. It is an intense gig and there is a lot that goes into it.  

Read the Part 1 HERE 

And Part 2  HERE

Well, I reached out to some of my photographer friends and asked them to submit some thoughts. 

Chris Nelson -

1. What is something you wish you would have known or done differently before you started shooting weddings. (I'm going to give you 2 answers. One with the focus on actual photography and the other on the business of photography).

First, I would just tell myself to practice photography all the time. And by that I mean don't just take pictures of things. Genuinely try to improve photography as a skill. Trying to replicate youtube videos and inspiring pictures on IG. Once I got over being nervous to spend money on education and started regularly practicing different types of photography and techniques is when I started really advancing as a photographer.

Secondly, on the business of Photography I would say "track everything." Keep track of how every client and potential client heard about you. Then learn what is working best, and what isn't. Sometimes your impression, may not be reality. Even if Instagram ads were ineffective its helpful to hold on to that data and use it to compare to in the future. "What gets measured, gets managed."

Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson

Cara Elizabeth -

What is something you wish you would have known or done differently before you started shooting weddings?

For me, I wish I had started shooting weddings sooner and also wish that I had found an amazing photographer to mentor with and learn from in the beginning. There is so much information that I would have gladly paid to learn from someone who I look up to with their work when I was first starting out. And the more I shoot weddings, the more I love them. It has been an incredible journey for me figuring out my niche in this creative industry, and over time, have really figured out my worth, my style, and how to really tell a story through images. Everything I have learned in this industry really has been by trial and error. I had only second shot for another photographer 5 years after starting to shoot professionally, and a few years after starting to pick up wedding gigs. Finding my style, and learning creative techniques that have been taught to me by others really helped me in the process of growing my business. And I feel could have helped me so much sooner if I had taken the time to find someone to learn from in the beginning. As it is not at all impossible to get to an amazing place in your business without the help and time invested with someone else, but it definitely helps to grow your business in ways you might not know, and faster than you may be able to achieve on your own. Not to mention, having other photographers you can go to when you have questions or need advice is the best.

Cara Elizabeth

Cara Elizabeth

Bailey Dalton -

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!

Bailey Dalton

Bailey Dalton

Kristen Kaiser -

I wish I would've known that what other photographers think about me doesn't matter. Photographers can be cruel, and I almost quit shortly after starting because of it. I got SO wrapped up in what other photographers were doing. What presets they were using, what gear they were using, what blogs they were being featured on, what locations they were shooting at.. and all the while, comparing those things to myself. I had a 5+ year old camera and a $50 lens when I started out. I so badly wanted to "impress" other photographers with my work, but the reality is, I needed to give myself GRACE. While I was struggling with comparison, I was also discouraged from pursuing photography by quite a few photographers I looked up to. It DEVASTATED me. But looking back, I KNOW this is what I was meant for and I'm so glad I pushed through. Despite my rocky start, I 100% believe it has made me a better/stronger photographer! So much of my passion for encouraging new photographers is rooted in my own experience. So to those of you who are either new to the industry or are considering joining it, my BEST advice to you would be to stay true to yourself, your passion and not let anyone's negativity get in the way of you chasing your dreams.

Kristen Kaiser

Kristen Kaiser

So the long story short. BE PREPARED. 

Almost every week I see a photographer in a group asking for help because they were not prepared. Take the time to learn, to ask questions, and to practice.