10 tips for photographing your first wedding!

As a wedding photographer, I am often asked for advice. It’s my first one, can you help me? Give me a few tips? I’m afraid I’m not up to it”: I’ve received this message dozens of times. When you’re covering your first marriage, it’s pressure and it’s normal. It’s a unique moment that won’t be repeated. There’s no room for error.

Here are 10 simple tips for those about to have their baptism of fire. Not 50 tips, just 10. I’m focusing on the essentials so that on D-Day, you won’t have to remember tip number 72, paragraph B in the perfect photographer’s guide.

With these recommendations, you’ll be able to walk out of your marriage unscathed, without forgetting anything important. Follow the guide:

1 – Prepare your equipment.

I have a checklist of everything I need to bring:

Case – Battery (at least 2) – Memory Cards – Lenses – Flash – Tripod – Cloth to wipe your lenses.

That’s really the union minimum. The day before, I fully charge all the batteries. I check that my cards are formatted, ready to record a new wedding.

wedding photographer

If possible, bring backup equipment. Wedding photography is pretty strenuous for the equipment, and we’re not immune to a breakdown. For my part, I have two cases, more than enough memory cards and two batteries per camera.

For the focal lengths, I think the best is to cover from 24mm to 200mm. For “small format” cameras (APS-C), this means from 18mm to 150mm. This allows us to meet any need.

2 – Equip yourself with a flash cobra

If you haven’t already done so, you need a cobra-type flash (with a swivel head… very important detail). Being a wedding photographer means facing situations of limited light, such as at the town hall or church for example. My style doesn’t really fit with the flash, I prefer to use natural light… but sometimes you don’t have the choice.  For those who are not familiar with the use of a flash, first put it in TTL mode (automatic) and play with the + or – button to adjust the flash power if necessary. (I’ll make a video on flash basics one day… I promise 🙂 )

What I advise is to direct the flash towards the ceiling or towards a wall of neutral color and if possible (depending on the models) take out the small white tab. Here’s how I use the flash:

PS: Bring a set of spare batteries 🙂

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3 – Practice!!!!

In addition to the previous tip, if you don’t have enough practice, practice. This is not a joke. Take advantage of an evening with friends to do your hand with the flash for example. This type of equipment requires practice to understand everything. And the worst thing to do is to use your flash for the first time… during your first wedding.

Another example of exercise: pictures of a couple. If you’ve never taken them before, how do you want to get out of them? My advice is to practice on a couple of friends, who will be delighted to have beautiful pictures. Try different poses, talk with them to put them at ease, test different angles, etc…

Wedding photography is a demanding discipline. So to succeed, you have to practice. Would you ever think of entering a track meet without training… of course not.

4 – Make a “Shot List”.

That’s the advice if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything important. On every wedding, I carry a sheet of paper with me (or rather in my photo bag) on which I wrote down, the day before, all the important things for the bride and groom. And how do I know all this… it’s quite simple, I ask them.

5 – Discuss as much as possible with the bride and groom

It is absolutely essential to know the couple you are going to photograph… at least a minimum. Discuss their expectations with them. There’s nothing worse for the bride and groom (and therefore for you) than to end up with photos that don’t look like them.

If this is your first wedding, this exchange can be a good opportunity to explain that this is your first wedding. They will be more forgiving of the final result.

Some will think: “But never in a million years! It is absolutely necessary to hide the fact that you are just starting out”. To those people, I ask them a simple question: “How could you hide it! When they will ask you to show them the photos of your previous weddings… they will see that this is the first 🙂.”

6 – Locate the places

In wedding photography, the key is PREPARATION. Locate the different locations of D Day. Avoid unpleasant surprises at all costs, especially in terms of light. You won’t necessarily be able to do much, but at least you will know what to expect.

7 – Plan the group photos

This part is probably the least exciting to photograph. Nevertheless, it remains a must in many weddings. My solution: ask the bride and groom to draw up a list of groups and choose one person from among the guests who will take care on D-Day of calling the people who should be in the photo.

This avoids wasting time and energy.

8 – Shoot in RAW

The RAW format will give you many more possibilities in post-production. More flexibility to be creative, more flexibility to make up for (possible) technical mistakes (exposure and white balance among others 🙂 ).

The downside: the files are heavier. You’ll need bigger memory cards and more space on your hard drive… but from my point of view, it’s worth the cost.

Plan the group photos

9 – Shoot the details

Nowadays, details have an important place for brides. Brides-to-be have often spent several months searching, hunting, finding their wedding decoration, shoes, dress, etc…

Details are an integral part of a wedding story. So you should devote some of your time to them.

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10 – Change your focus

If I listened to myself, I’d only shoot 50mm. Even so, I force myself to change my focal length. For the very simple and good reason that it saves me from going in circles. You shouldn’t get stuck in your favorite lens. The risk is that the final result will be monotonous.

And then always photographing with the same pebble, it can kill your creativity.

11 – The BONUS but VERY IMPORTANT tip

Mute the sound of your camera body when you focus. There is nothing more annoying, annoying, unbearable than hearing the famous “beep-beep” of your camera in church.

That’s it for today. I hope this helps you.