How to Compile a Checklist for a Wedding Photographer

In order to be a successful wedding photographer – preparation is the key. Ever heard the phrase “poor planning leads to poor performance”? One of the best ways to avoid this is to make yourself a checklist before the day. This way if you do get nervous, or feel pressured you can use it to get you back on the right track. Without further ado here are my tips on How to compile a checklist for a wedding photographer.

It is very important to not forget that a different checklist will be required for each wedding you photograph. There may be some core components that will be the same, but approach each wedding as if it is your first. This will keep it fresh for you and your photos. It will allow room for improvement, for imagination, for innovation. Do not take the “cookie cutter” approach.

To begin to compile a checklist you must understand what the bride and groom are looking for. What type of photographs do they want – formal?, colour?, black and white?, a mixture?. Any particular shots they want. Help them with these decisions, if possible show them examples of what you have done before.
Add these shot ideas to your checklist.

Aim to do a recce of the site where the couple are going to get married. Walk round, pay particular attention to vantage points, light position and distracting elements. Any good places for the couple to pose by?, for the group shot?. Find a place to stand inside the venue during the ceremony. Try not to be intrusive.

Add all your findings to your checklist. Be sure to have alternate locations in case of bad weather.

Have a look at your shot list that you came up with during points 1 and 2. Make some notes by each of them. Includes things like – what type of lens you would use, any particular camera setting – iso, shutter speed, aperture etc. Do you need a flash or a reflector for that shot? Make a separate list of what you will need to take with you on the day, so that you do not forget something.
Make these notes, so that if you do get an attack of the nerves you will know what to do. You can use it as a crib sheet in case your memory lets you down.

Those were some tips to help get you started in writing your checklist. As I said before try to make each one unique, build your own experience in to it – you know what you need to on the day.

Remember what the bride and groom want is paramount, they are your paying clients and it is there memories that you are creating. Keep this in mind when writing your checklist and you should have a long and fulfilling career as a wedding photographer.

Can Photographers Make Money

In these times of economic crisis, where everything from petrol to potatoes are going up, you may start thinking about making some extra cash to supplement your ever-depleting income. As an amateur photographer you may well be asking – so “can photographers make money?”

Well, be pleased to know there are several ways – you just need to be creative, have a little imagination and be willing to put in a bit of effort. Luckily enough these are the same skills it takes to be a photographer in the first place.

Take heart that you are already ahead – in that you will no doubt have the equipment you need to get started. A fairly decent camera, a good selection of lenses, a tripod and some photo-editing software.

Before we go any further I must just say one thing – that YES it is still possible to make money from photography. You may think that these days there is just way too much competition. I mean everyone has a camera – don’t they? From one on their phone to the largest most expensive SLR and beyond. However what you need to keep in mind is that 98% of pictures are awful. Most never see the light of day and those that do are blurred, awkwardly posed, heavy colour casts and poorly lit. There is only so much that can be done to a correct a photo like that.

So take heart my friend and remember that with the skills you already possess you are head and shoulders above most of the people with a camera in their pocket.

Take this example of a birthday party I went to recently. The hostess hired a neighbour’s son who was an amateur photographer to take some pictures. Now as often happens nearly everyone who attended bought a digital camera with them. However as the party got going who there remembered to take any pictures?. Those that did their photos ended up exhibiting most of the issues I laid out above. The man who had been hired as the official photographer uploaded his pictures to a website. Everyone who attended was sent a link and we were able, for a nominal fee, to either download or have printed any photos we wanted.

So in conclusion to the question asked at the start of this article “Can Photographers Make Money” – The answer is a most resounding YES!

21 Picture Ideas for Wedding Photographers

You’ve just been booked to shoot your first wedding, but beyond the usual 4 or 5 formal wedding poses you are asking yourself – “What do I take photos of?”. Well here are 21 picture ideas for Wedding Photographers. These ideas should keep your trigger finger and your clients happy.

There are 3 main parts to a wedding – before, during and after. These 21 picture ideas are broken down to cover each of these sections with 7 ideas in each.

Before The Wedding

  • The bride getting ready – having her hair done, putting her make-up on – you get the general idea. This is something to agree with the bride beforehand and can make a nice memento of the day.
  • Portrait of the groom relaxing at home before he leaves.
  • The bride with her family relaxing at home or at the hotel before they leave for the ceremony.
  • The bride with her father together in the car.
  • The groom chatting outside with the best man at the venue before going in.
  • The bride stepping out of the car.
  • A shot of the bride with her father outside the venue before they go in and he gives her away.

During the Wedding

  • The groom standing nervously inside, perhaps glancing up the aisle waiting for his bride.
  • The bride coming down the aisle with the bridesmaids holding the train.
  • Close up on the hands as the ring goes on. Of course try not to intrude, get a good vantage point and make use of your telephoto lens.
  • The bride and groom kissing after the vows have been said.
  • Bridesmaids, page boys, other children holding hands with the bride and groom in the background, slightly out of focus.
  • Tight shot on the bride and grooms tightly clasped hands to show off the rings.
  • A wide shot of the guests during the ceremony.

After the Wedding

  • The bride and groom coming out of the venue and getting covered in confetti or rice.
  • Shots of the guests expressions – Be on the lookout for candid’s, especially ones charged with emotion. These can make good black and white shots.
  • A photo of the decorated wedding car driving away.
  • The bride and groom looking into each other’s eyes – again a good black and white picture.
  • Close-up of the children’s faces – they are often much more expressive than adults. You may even find one pulling a funny face.
  • Informal candid’s of the bride and groom either together or individually chatting to others or just trying to take it all in.
  • Any other details that will add to the memory of the day. For example the flowers, the cake, that oversized bottle of champagne, dress details. You get the general idea.

With digital just remember you can always delete a shot later. It is better to take more that you need. You will be surprised at how often that perfect shot is the one you almost didn’t take. Things will look different once you start editing them and there is a bit of distance between you and the nervousness that you inevitably feel on the day. The more weddings you shoot the more idea you will have of what works and what does not.

A good tip for you when you are first starting out is to have an assistant. This could be a friend that is interested in photography too. The friend can go around taking the candid shots, while you concentrate on the more formal portraits and group shots. This way you will end up with a good range of pictures.