When you have spent most of your time on various photographic projects ranging form photo shoots for editorial use and general documentary photography it is inevitable that at some point you will be asked by a friend to shoot their wedding. This is a huge responsibility and my initial reaction was to suggest that a wedding photographer be hired, however I finally agreed. The couple themselves wanted to keep things low key and to follow a documentary coverage style, so this suited by photographic style.
Carefull consideration and pre-planning is essential starting with a meeting with the couple to gain a clear understanding of what you can offer against what they expect to be delivered. One wise decision was to arrange for a second photographer to join me, this turned out to be hugely beneficial as it enabled wider coverage on the day and it provided assurance of a level of contingency.
The shoot itself was not without its challenges, it being a November wedding with poor natural light and it rained heavily for most of the day ruling out a locational shoot. The reception hotel was quite cramped making large group shots difficult. So all in all it was an interesting challenge to ensure that all the must have shots were bagged. Therefore knowing in advance what shots were regarded as essential was crucial but on the day the best laid plans can fall apart. Crowd control was an issue, especially at the church. We used four camera bodies, at different points two of them developed temporary faults, so I am glad we had contingency arrangements in place. Two lenses, both fast f2.8 24-70mm and 70-200mm zooms were used and these covered all requirements. Two speedlites were employed and two brolly reflectors used in controlled shooting situations, the signing of the register and later at the reception location where we grabbed some time along with the newly married couple.
This wedding shoot was a positive experience and I would certainly recommend anyone engaged to shoot a wedding to give it considerable thought, to establish a clear understanding with the couple well in advance of the big day, to plan very carefully to allow for all contingencies and to have a plan on the day. Also having a second photographer relieves the stress levels considerably. It allows for each to concentrate on different aspects and it importantly builds in a level of contingency. The following images are a sample from the shoot:
So what are the key learning points:
- It was good that early meetings with the couple took place and that a clear understanding was reached;
- An agreed shooting plan is also essential;
- Checking equipment before hand and ensuring that you have ample batteries fully charged and sufficient media cards;
- Two photographers on the job was a good move;
- Reaching a clear understanding with the clergyman is sensible;
- The use of off camera flash in controlled situations yielded good results; and
- Crowd control will always be an issue, so good inter personal skills is important.
Its been a few months since my last blog, but I hope that if you ever think of shooting your first wedding that this blog will be of some value.