Weddings: How To Not Get Overwhelmed

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Ludmila Borosova
Ludmila Borosova

Wedding – the most beautiful word for all couples, the worst nightmare for photographers. Is that true? Why is that? Can you actually make yourself prepared? How?

Let’s dig into that and make you as prepared as you possibly can be to enjoy the big day as well!

This article won’t make you a wedding professional, only experience will! Of course, I don’t consider myself the biggest pro out there. But what I do know about is how to calm myself down, manage the situation a little bit better, and generate satisfaction not only with my photographs but with the services as well.

I’ll be focusing on making your life simpler.

Today, we’ll cover the following:

  • Four steps in finding balance with the couple
  • Four steps in finding balance with yourself

Recommended Reading: If you’d like to learn how to create amazing portraits, grab a copy of Photzy’s premium guide: The Art of Portrait Photography.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Get Connected to the Couple

Step One: Get Personal – Meet and Talk!

Before you even start planning out the whole thing, meet up with the couple and see how you fit. You will be responsible for capturing the memories of the biggest moment of their journey thus far as a couple, and it means not only fitting within their set budget. You should have a similar mindset considering the vibe, your editing preferences and, most of all, you should fit as friends. It’s understandable, because you’ll be with them in the happy and tough moments throughout the day (and sometimes days!) to create something beautiful together. 

You will be responsible for capturing the memories of the biggest moment of their journey thus far as a couple, and it means not only fitting within their set budget.

There will be times where you’ll need to calm down the bride when the flowers are destroyed, or when she’s stressing out too much about a forgotten accessory. There will be other times when you’ll be expected to joke around with the guests and create a very open atmosphere. Then, you’ll be setting the romantic mood for a sunset photoshoot, asking the bride and groom to whisper in each other’s ears the words of love. You see, you will be playing different roles throughout the day, and they need to have much more as a photographer – they need a partner in crime. 

Recommendation: If it’s your first wedding, be open about it and show them the portrait work you usually do. Are they still indecisive? Invite them for a prewedding photoshoot with a discount.

Step Two: Educate Them – Great Photos Are Teamwork

During the meeting, be the wise teacher for a while. Don’t forget, you shouldn’t be pushy with your ideas, but you should make the couple realize that you are the one with experience and that they should fully trust your advice. Educating them means making them realize a few things that they otherwise wouldn’t. What are some of these things?

  • Unplugged ceremonies – Share an idea of what it is and how it could be beneficial for them. Many couples consider unplugged ceremonies on the input of their official photographer. And why do I say official? Because, as we can all imagine, family members love being involved in photography. Do you know that grandma who takes a selfie instead of the front camera picture? Or the uncle with a DSLR jumping in front of you in the aisle? Or the Instagram mommy giving you her phone to take pictures on it, instead of your camera? This is a big moment for the couple, and they want their closest ones there to share it with them, not with their phone screen. 
  • Slowing down a bit – This might sound obvious, but it’s not. The newlyweds have been waiting for this moment for ages! Ah, the exchange of rings, the first kiss, the first dance… so much so, that they forget they hired a photographer and let the moment take them somewhere else. Usually, it’s with their backs to the photographer with a kiss lasting two milliseconds. Explain that this will be their most beautiful moment captured and that in order to do it properly, they need to collaborate just for a bit. Don’t worry, they will understand. You’re saying it for their own good.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Step Three: Give Them Space – Prepare a Questionnaire

Every couple (especially the bride!) has a different idea of “perfect” and “wedding.” The best way to understand their point of view is to prepare a sheet (or digital version in Google Forms) with various questions regarding the whole process. What can you ask about?

  • Where and when do you meet up with the couple on the wedding day
  • Timetable and important moments not to miss
  • Accessories they wish to have photographs of (and where you can find them)
  • Decorations they wish to have photographs of (and where you can find them)
  • Names of the most important people attending the wedding
  • Pinterest inspirations (posing, atmosphere, location)
  • Story of how the couple met
  • And anything else that will help you capture their story with ease

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Step Four: Sneak Peeks

After the wedding’s over, you’ll need to sort through thousands of pictures to select and edit the best ones. The best policy is to send few sneak peeks within one or two days after the wedding. Don’t forget about this, because it’s just a small gesture to reassure the couple that you care about their experience. I know that editing the whole session may take weeks with the workload being so high, but the couple wants to show at least a few pictures to their family and the online world.

I usually choose and edit pictures that best suit the announcement:

  • The first kiss
  • Detail of the rings/exchange of the rings
  • Photo with closest family
  • Photo with all guests
  • Romantic photo of the bride and groom from the photoshoot

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Find Inner Peace With Yourself

Step One: Balance the Equipment

Equipment-related questions dominate the world of photographers. And while people usually say, “It’s not about the camera, it’s about my skills,” and they are somewhat right, you need to give your equipment a little more attention when it comes to weddings.

Let’s face it, you need a reliable camera that’s sharp and fast, and this is what will save you in many situations! A camera that’s focusing for too long (e.g. in low-light conditions) will take too long to focus on a couple walking down the aisle. You can’t take that risk! Speaking about risks, weddings are full of them. One of the worst nightmares is your camera breaking down in the middle of the day, and that’s why you need to have two on you if you want to take wedding photography seriously. 

You need a reliable camera that’s sharp and fast, and this is what will save you in many situations!

You can use two lenses at once and worry less about Murphy’s law! On the other hand, don’t feed your equipment addiction. You do not need three huge umbrella lights to carry around; you’re shooting a spontaneous event, and no one will be posing for you while you set this up in different locations. Find the right balance! Here’s what works for me:

  • 2x camera body
  • Portrait lens (absolutely essential)
  • Wide lens (indoor shoots)
  • SD cards that have space for at least for 7000 RAW files (choose faster ones to make sure your camera won’t lag)
  • 3x charged batteries
  • Battery charger (when the reception begins, I always charge the first battery I used up, just in case)
  • Reflector
  • Prism (for stunning effects)
  • Flash (for dancing/receptions)
  • Tripod (if you are planning to do long exposures)
  • Laptop + Hard Disk Drive (in case anything happens and you need to back up your files immediately)

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Step Two: Research, Research, Research

Now, when you have your photography bag all ready, make yourself comfortable with research. Creativity-wise, have your favorite poses ready. Knowledge-wise, watch as many videos and read as many guides as possible. Technically, learn about various camera and SD card errors and learn how to fix them.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Step Three: Prepare Your Mind

If you are starting from the early morning, try to not schedule any exhausting
photoshoots the day before. You’ll need to conserve energy, pace yourself, relax, and get a good night’s sleep. I know you’ll be stressed. It’s a hard thing to do. Everything happens so quickly, yet it’s all important. You start overthinking the event and questioning your abilities. Don’t. Just try getting to bed at least three hours earlier than you usually would, just in case your body decides to randomly wake you up because of the stress. There’s nothing you can do about it anymore. You’re as prepared as you can be, and the couple chose you for a reason – they love your pictures. And you know what? A little bit of stress is always good for your adrenaline and boosts your results.

Recommended Reading: If you’d like to learn how to create amazing portraits, grab a copy of Photzy’s premium guide: The Art of Portrait Photography.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Step Four: Have a Contract

While it will be a day focused on the love of two people, you can’t forget about yourself. Never put yourself last, and always protect yourself. Create a contract that will cover the basics of your agreement like deposits and payments – and much more! 

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

When I started out, I thought that some things were common knowledge, but they are not. I never asked for food at receptions, because I always received it at weddings before… until one time, when I was on my feet for eight hours and saw (standing alone in the corner) guests enjoying their lunch. I didn’t even have a chair, and I assumed, wrongly, that all couples think about this. However, this also highly depends on the culture and country you’re from. In my area, it’s customary to have a separate table for the band, videographer, and photographer with refreshments and lunch/dinner. But just because it’s a custom, it doesn’t mean that everyone else considers it. Break down your work preferences and write down anything that will help you do the job, from payments to refreshments to marketing. The contract doesn’t only protect the couple, it also protects your job.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Self-Check Quiz:

  1. Is there a reason why meeting with the bride and groom will help deliver the best results?
  2. What is an unplugged ceremony?
  3. What can you educate the bride and groom on?
  4. What can you ask the couple when planning the wedding?
  5. How soon should you send out sneak peeks?
  6. Are there any must-haves to include in the sneak peek album?
  7. When is your equipment important and when is it not?
  8. What should you put into the contract?

Assignment:

  • Create a specific “Wedding” album with posing ideas you can always go back to for inspiration.
  • Create forms with questions you want to have answered before weddings. This will help you in case you already have an inquiry!
  • Create a contract. Use free resources on the internet and, if you can, get a lawyer to check it.

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