This week’s post is the second installment of my crash course on how to prepare for shooting a wedding. The few weeks prior to the wedding day can be a very stressful time for a photographer if you are not familiar with what is needed to prepare yourself to confidently walk in and shoot a wedding. Let me repeat one thing from last week because I do believe this is important.
I believe the absolute best way to prepare for a wedding shoot is to assist another photographer with their wedding shoot. That way, you can get you feet wet and feel a bit more comfortable making mistakes without actually being the one that is responsible for the wedding shoot. I would suggest assisting or being a second photographer for a wedding a few times. While every wedding is different, you’ll at least get enough familiarity and build enough confidence to venture out on your own.
This week, I’m going to break down the expectations of the client consultation, scouting, and pre-ceremony. There’s quite a bit of info to be covered here so strap in and lets go for a ride!
The Client Consultation
The client consultation is so important on so many levels. First of all, it’s a great opportunity for you to take some time to get to know the bride and groom and vice versa. It’s very important that the wedding couple be comfortable with you as their photographer because that comfort sets the tone for the working relationship you’ll build upon going into their big day. It’s also one of the most important information gathering opportunities you’ll have to prepare for a wedding.
Meet the couple at a comfortable meeting place. I tend to meet clients at a Panera or a Starbucks. These types of places work because they’re great for small meetings and they have WiFi available. I bring an iPad with me to help show the clients what their galleries will look like. To make the info gathering process as easy as possible, have a questionnaire printed out and ready to be filled out by the couple. The questions should pretty much include any info that can be gathered without a need for a discussion. Go grab a cup of coffee for yourself and the couple while they complete the questionnaire.
After the questionnaire is complete, go through it and get any clarification that is needed. Then, discuss your processes regarding the formal pictures, and wedding party shoot, etc. If this is your first wedding, you don’t really have a process yet. Take this time to be crystal clear about what the couples expectations are for you. If it’s not your first wedding, then discuss the type of flow you expect to adhere to. Request that group shots and bride/groom shots be part of the wedding itinerary so there is time set aside for those things. Be sure to put together a complete shot list of looks that you want to get and verify it with the wedding couple.
Client consultations can take place a year or more in advance so as the wedding draws near, have a final meeting to discuss any last minute changes or updates. Get a rough seating chart so you can learn where the significant family members will be located. Communication is your best friend as a wedding photographer.
Visit the locations of the different places that you’ll be shooting before the big day. Be sure to visit them around the same time that you’ll actually the there for the shoot. You’ll want to get an idea of what the lighting will be. You’ll want to visit the venue where the wedding will be held so that you can get an idea of lighting and layout (and also to check on whether or not flash use is permitted at the venue). While I’m sure a lot of photographers don’t do this – I find it really helpful to know where I’m going, how long it’ll take to get there, what time of year I’ll be shooting there, etc. That info helps me visualize the event and gives me an idea of a few looks for shots and to know how the light might come into play.
A couple months out, make sure your camera is ready to rock. If service work is needed, get that done ASAP!
The day before the wedding, make sure your rechargeable batteries are charged, your disposable battery arsenal is fully stocked, your memory cards are formatted and ready to go, and your lenses are cleaned. Make sure your food, water supply and ice packs are ready to go. Get organized and relax that day before. Recharge and get your brain wrapped around the fact that you are about to run around like a toddler on Red Bull!
The morning of the big day, I go through another last minute, pre-game checklist:
- Cameras, including back-ups
- Batteries for lights and cameras
- Triggers for lights
- Memory cards and readers
- Power cables
If you REALLY want to go above and beyond in your preparation, bring a change of clothes. All it’ll take is only time for a waitress/waiter to douse you with an entire tray of red wine. You will never again leave home for a wedding shoot without a change of clothes!!
Next week, we rock the ceremony!! As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me this week. If you like what you’ve read here, please subscribe and share via the social media links. You can also find MTM Photography on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so be sure to check out those pages! I’ll see ya next week!