From shot lists to contracts to poses to timelines, we have you covered with ALL the wedding photography tips you’ll ever need!
Wedding Photography Tips: Get the Best Photos for Every Client
Whether you are a professional wedding photographer or a beginner at photography, there are plenty of ways to improve your photos. From the technical side to the business of wedding photography, we’ve compiled the most essential tips for wedding photographers. These wedding photography tips will help you to create the best wedding photos for your couples.
Tips for Preparing for Wedding Photography: Do Your Research Before Photographing the Wedding Day
Research the Venue Ahead of Time
Look into what the venue looks like before you photograph the wedding day. You will want to know the best photography locations at the specific venue that you are going to shoot at. If you can, set up some time with the venue and/or with the couple to do a walkthrough of the space. If not, take a look at photos that have been shot at the venue online.
Scouting the Venue
One thing that you can do to scope out the space at a venue is also to “scout” it on Google Maps. If you can’t get there in person, you can do a Google Maps view of the venue and see what the surrounding areas look like. This is one of the big photography tips for those who shoot in cities. There are not often large outdoor expanses that are part of city venues. Scout in person or use Google Maps to determine what the best local spots are to photograph near to the venue.
Tips for Photographing Weddings Inside of Churches
There are many different styles of event venues, and you must be aware of what you’re getting into ahead of time. If the ceremony is a church, for example, you must communicate with the church. Many places of worship have specific guidelines on where professionals can and cannot be during a ceremony. There are also lighting restrictions that come with photographing in some churches. Another one of the big tips for wedding photographers is to meet with the celebrant ahead of time and ensure you both have an understanding.
Wedding Photography Contingency Plans at Venues
If the venue is outdoors on a golf course or in a park, you must also ensure the couple has a contingency plan. What if it rains on the wedding day? Or, what if the sun is super bright over head? Figure out the plans of how you can photograph the event in any circumstance at any venue. If the venue is an outdoor one and the rain contingency is to move indoors, you must be prepared to light the photos accordingly.
Make Sure to have a Copy of the Day-of Timeline
Always keep a copy of the day-of timeline with you on the wedding day. Ensure that this is the most recent copy of the timeline. Many timelines fluctuate until the week before, or even the day before the celebration. Keep the most recent timeline with you at all times. The timeline is your guide to making sure that everything runs smoothly.
If the event has a planner or day-of coordinator, this is the person who will have the most recent timeline.
Coordinate with them ahead of time to ensure that there is a proper amount of time budgeted. You need to ensure as a photographer that they budgets time for photos. If they have a very large family, for example, and only have 20 minutes set aside for family photos, that is not enough time. Let the planner, bride, or groom know that there needs to be time added for photos.
If they plan to do a first look, this can speed up the photography timeline. These wedding photography tips you share with your clients can help them to lay out their day. If they opt for a first look, then they can do their couples photos, their wedding party photos, and their family photos all before the ceremony. This will give them more time to socialize with their loved ones after the ceremony ends. It will not take them away from the cocktail hour if you opt for this type of schedule.
However, if the client does not choose to do a first look, you must budget more time as needed. Although a first look can speed up a schedule, not all clients want one. There are some that are more traditional and want their special moment to be during the ceremony. Some clients want to see each other for the first time when the bride is walking down the aisle.
Sample Wedding Day Timeline for Photo Professionals
- 12:00PM – Arrive at bride/groom suites as they finish getting ready
- 1:00PM – Depart for the first look
- 1:30PM – Couples portraits
- 2:00PM – Wedding party arrives for photos
- 2:30PM – Family arrives for photos
- 3:30PM – Head over to ceremony space
- 4:15PM – Ceremony begins
- 4:45PM – Ceremony ends
- 5:00PM – Cocktail hour begins, couple goes out for some final photos
- 6:00PM – Dinner starts
- 6:30PM – Speeches begin
- 7:15PM – First dances
- 7:30PM – Dance floor opens
- 8:00PM – Photographer departs
When should a photographer arrive at the event?
Photo professionals can arrive at the start of the wedding day when the couple is close to being finished getting ready. Getting ready photos can be very special for a couple. But if you arrive at this part of the day too early, then you will have lots of photos of a bride without makeup or a groom sitting around waiting. Showing up about 45 minutes before they’re fully ready gives you a chance to get shots of the finishing touches that are the most important.
Should you stay at the event until the end of the night?
Should a photographer stay at the wedding until the night is over? It depends on what your client wants for your timeline. One of the big tips for photo professionals: sometimes you don’t need to. If the couple finds the party aspect to be a very important priority in their celebration, consider helping them budget their time with you to meet those needs. Check on which parts of the event are a higher priority for your clients. Some clients don’t even want getting ready photos, and instead want to use that time on party photos instead.
In some circumstances, a photographer will leave a little while (45 minutes or so) into the reception. At a certain point, guests are inebriated. It typically won’t make for fantastic photos, or at least not photos that they want seen by others! The beginning of the dance floor’s opening is typically when you get the most action to get the shot. It’s when everyone, especially older family members, feels excited to dance. As the night continues on, older relatives and family members will start to clear the dance floor. The more inebriated guests will likely stay on the dance floor longer.
Research Wedding Photography Poses
Look into photography poses that are relevant to the event you are photographing. There are a variety of factors that impact how you are going to pose the couple. Plus, ensure that the poses fit the season that the celebration is taking place in. If it is a winter affair, for example, find ways for them to be warm and cozy in their posing.
Meet the Couple Before the Big Day
After you have exchanged emails with the couple and you are both feeling good, set up a time to meet. This is very important to your photography business, and one of the biggest tips for client experience. Showing the marrying couple your personality in real life is a great way to sell them on your services. Once people connect personally with a business, they are more likely to invest their money into it.
Meet your clients before the event once you are booked with them! Even if it is a Facetime meeting, it’s great to meet the clients in advance of the celebration. Many creatives offer engagement shoots with their packages so that they can get to know and work with the clients ahead of time. This also makes your clients more comfortable with you on the day itself.
Before the Wedding Photos, do an Engagement Shoot
If you can sell your photography clients on an engagement shoot ahead of time, it will be very beneficial for their photos. One of the biggest wedding photography tips is to do an engagement shoot first. By doing an engagement photo session, you are allowing your couple to get to know you and your working style on a much closer level. As opposed to just showing up on the day of and taking pictures, doing an engagement photo shoot will increase the comfortability of the experience.
How to do Engagement Photos
If you are new to photography, it is likely that you are also new to engagement photo shoots. Couples will often opt into an engagement session for a few reasons. The first reason is because they can use the photos for their save-the-dates. Engagement photos make for a beautiful addition to save-the-dates and their websites. Save-the-dates are a communication that come out before their invitations do. It means that the couple has solidified their celebration date, but does not have all of the details finalized yet. It usually goes out in advance of the invitations to let guests know what day and time of the year the event will be so they can prepare. Give your couple these tips as to why they might want engagement photos.
Another way that engaged couples use engagement photos is to show them on their wedding website. These websites are where couples will put information about their big day, the party, information about travel and accommodations, and their registry link. The engagement photo shoot can help to decorate their website.
Social Media & Engagement Sessions
An added bonus of doing an engagement session: the couple gets to share their love on their social networks! Sharing engagement photos on social media has become very trendy. For Valentines Day, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, these photos serve as the quintessential “I love you” post.
Taking engagement photos is like a practice session for couples to get comfortable with the camera. This is where you will teach them about posing and angles and give them tips. It is also helpful to do an engagement session because the couple can look at how they appear in photos and let you know if they don’t like certain angles or shot styles. Engagement photo shoots are like a test run for both professionals and couples before the big day happens.
Where to Shoot Engagement Sessions
Take a look into common areas for engagement shoots in your location. This could be a very pretty park or a scenic garden. Give your couple tips about where to take the engagement photos. They may be very into graffiti, for example, so scout out local areas with street art. There also might be a spot that is very important to the couple. Ask them where their first date was, or where they got engaged. These could make for some very meaningful engagement session locations.
Tips for Posing Couples
A challenge that creatives face when it comes to photographing a celebration of love is coming up with poses. It is sometimes easy to take poses and tips that you find on the internet and save them to your phone to reference. That way you can show the bride and groom exactly what you are thinking of. A big reason to do an engagement shoot with your couple in the first place is to teach them more about posing. When they get to their big celebration after the engagement session, they will know exactly what to do. Here are some wedding photography tips and ideas for couples poses:
- Holding hands and walking towards the camera
- Holding hands and walking away from the camera
- The bride leaning on the groom’s shoulder
- Bride and groom practicing their first dance
- Bride and groom going in for a kiss
- Groom whispering into bride’s ear
- Bride with hands relaxed around groom’s neck and shoulders
- Bride with hands relaxed on groom’s chest with the ring visible
- Bride’s hand with ring visible on groom’s face when they lean in
- Groom hugging the bride from behind
- Up close shot of both of their hands with rings on
- Groom putting his suit jacket over the bride’s shoulders
- Bride and groom running towards the camera
Tips to get Your Couples Comfortable with Posing for Wedding Photos
- Remind your couple of their first date with each other. Bring them back to the time when they had just started getting to know each other. Maybe they have a funny story that will make each other laugh.
- Remind them that it’s their celebration! This is likely one of the biggest and happiest days of their life so far. This should provoke big smiles on the marrying couple’s faces.
- Remind them that they’re there for each other. If they are nervous about posing for the wedding photos, remind them that this is about them and that is why they’re here. Their photos are not for anyone else. It’s for remembering the best day of their life.
- Take the bride and groom away from the bigger group. Everyone will want a piece of your couple on the day of. There will be multiple guests and family members pulling them in all sorts of directions. Take them away from the crowd for a moment. Give them a minute to breathe and just relax with each other.
- Check if they have eaten – if they haven’t yet eaten, pay attention on the actual day of. Offer to grab them water or a small snack to keep them going. There are a lot of moving parts during an event. It’s important that your subjects are still standing at the end of the day!
- Coordinate on the locations ahead of time. Check if the couple knows where they need to be for photos. If you are scrambling to try and figure out locations for pictures, it will not look very professional.
Major Tips for Wedding Photographers: Consider Your Light
for the Photos
Next on our wedding photography tips: check on the lighting conditions for the event ahead of time. If you can, scope out the venue for the wedding ceremony and reception ahead of time. This will help you to determine what lighting and lenses you will need to use on the day of. Also consider what time the ceremony is going to be taking place. Will it have some bright and harsh midday light? Will it be sunset with a lot of backlighting? Use the timeline of the event to understand how to take better wedding photos.
To capture the best wedding photos, you must understand that not every occasion is going to be the same lighting situation. Even if the events you are shooting are at the same venue, there are different factors that can contribute to having varied lighting situations. If the venue relies heavily on window light, for example, and you are met with a cloudy day, you must find a way to compensate for that.
Study the light in your area, as lighting can differ in different states and even countries. It also depends on what time of year you are shooting. The sun will set a lot earlier in many places during the winter months. You must work with the couple on their photography timeline to compensate for this loss of light. On the day of, be sure that you are prepared for all lighting scenarios as the sun moves throughout the sky.
Tips for Shooting: Learn About Flash Photography for
Ceremonies & Receptions
One of the biggest wedding photography tips is to learn to do flash photography for your event. The majority of occasions will require you to learn about using a flash for varied lighting situations. Many receptions take place after dark. There are also plenty of ceremony situations where you need to do photography in a dark setting. For the best wedding photography, it’s best to incorporate a flash setup.
Natural light wedding photography is absolutely beautiful. However, for most occasions, it is not always a realistic option. Since receptions are often after dark, this limits the quality you can get from your photos with just available light. You will want to learn and understand flash systems to give your couples the most timeless experience for their photos. If they want to purchase a large print from their reception, they won’t want to see a grainy, noisy print on their wall. Give them the gift of a well-lit reception when you photograph a wedding with flash.
In most event settings, the built-in flash on your camera will not be enough to fill a room. Not only that, but it will not give you enough control over the lighting situation. Learning about off-camera flash photography will significantly improve your event photography skills. One of the biggest tips for being a professional wedding photographer is to learn to control your situation. By using these wedding photography tips about how to use light and the settings of your camera, you can have more visual control of the resulting images.
Photography for Weddings Tip: Try out Different Modes on Your Camera
Are you shooting in manual mode? Learn about the different settings on your camera. If you know how to properly capture moments by adjusting your shutter speed, aperture and ISO, it will make it easier to get the shot right every occasion. Even if you are a beginner wedding photographer, learning about these settings will allow you to get better every event. There are a few different modes that are the primary ones that professionals switch between for photography:
Photographing with Manual Mode
Manual Mode means everything you are shooting, you are adjusting all of the settings for. This is likely the most common mode that professional creatives use. Learning about how to balance your aperture, shutter speed and ISO is valuable for creating beautiful photos. Photographing on manual is especially helpful for professionals who use flash. You can set everything up exactly the way it needs to be photographed, and work in conjunction with the settings on your flash. Having full control over your settings will help to create stronger photos.
When to Shoot with Aperture Priority
Aperture Priority will allow you to set your aperture, and the camera will figure out the rest. It will adjust the other settings on your camera to fit what the aperture is set at. This is important for when you want to keep your shots at the same aperture for a certain period of time. An example of this could be for your bridal portraits. If you want to maintain a very shallow depth of field while you are photographing the couple, you could keep it on aperture priority. This will allow you to solely focus on posing the couple and not worry about the camera settings.
How to use Shutter Priority for Weddings
Shutter Priority will let you set the shutter speed, and the camera will work out the rest of the settings. This is a particularly useful setting for wedding photography who are capturing a lot of movement. If you want to freeze movement in a crisp way, you will opt for a higher speed. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a little more blurry movement in your images, you will go for a lower shutter speed. Shutter Priority can be very helpful on a reception dance floor. If there is a lot of movement and a lot of changing light scenarios, you can simply set your shutter speed and get the shot.
Wedding Photography Shooting Style Tips
When it comes to actually photographing weddings, you must find something unique about your business. What differentiates you from other creatives? What is your wedding photography style? Figure out what type of wedding photography style you have.
Traditional Wedding Photography
Traditional wedding photography refers to very posed photography. This would include very classic, straightforward posing throughout a wedding day. Many creatives still use this style when it comes to photographing family photos on a big day, and taking bridal party pictures. You will often see the traditional style used in an older wedding album. Traditional wedding photography often involves a lot of direction from the photographer. They are very involved in the process of the day and making sure everything is in order for photos.
Photojournalistic Wedding Photos
Photojournalistic wedding photography is a style that is very candid. This is a very documentarian approach to wedding photography. If you’ve ever seen someone use the term “documentary wedding photography” to describe themselves, they are a photojournalistic wedding photographer. This style requires the photographer to be able to easily adapt to different settings and environments, and make sure that they get the shot right on time. There are no second chances with photojournalistic wedding photography!
Portrait Wedding Photography
Portrait wedding photography is usually what photo professionals will do to capture the couple’s portraits on the day of. However, this style can also apply to the day itself. If your focus is primarily on the couple, their loved ones and guests, you can get beautiful portrait wedding photography shots. Portrait wedding photography tends to focus mostly on the people and their emotions as opposed to the larger picture of the celebration.
Fine Art Wedding Photos
Fine art wedding photography aims to use fine art photography techniques to capture weddings. There is a lot of attention paid to details within fine art photos. Fine art photographers stylistically choose to make the way that they capture a more artistic process. Fine art creatives can often work with a second shooter who will photograph more of the documentary aspects of the day. That way, the fine art wedding photographer can focus on capturing the more intricate details of the day.
Fashion Wedding Photography
When it comes to wedding photography, some image makers choose to blend in fashion photography experience. This style of wedding photography will often incorporate more attention paid to the fashion elements of the day. This could mean the tuxedo, wedding dress, shoes, accessories, veil and so on. Fashion wedding photography treats the marrying couple as “models” as opposed to documentary subjects.
Film Wedding Photos
Film wedding photography is a unique style where the photographer only shoots film. Although film is much less common now than it used to be, some photographers still use it for weddings. There are creatives who also blend in both a mix of film and digital wedding photography. Some couples prefer the look and feel of a film aesthetic. It gives photos a classic and timeless feeling.
Tips for Taking Unique Wedding Photos
Not only your style matters for taking the best unique wedding photos. You have to find unique ways to capture the celebration. Give your business something that differentiates you from other local photography professionals. Consider these tips for taking unique photos when you photograph an event:
Consider Your Angles
What angles are you taking when you shoot your photos? If you shoot everything at eye-level, consider switching things up. Take some photos from below during the reception. Try to get above the space you are in during the ceremony or reception for a unique perspective. Bringing in unique angles will show your bride or groom what they didn’t get to see from their special day.
Look for Unique Lighting Opportunities
When it comes to lighting for events, it’s always important to look for your lighting. Like previously mentioned, having control of your light can do wonders for your work. But there are also other lighting opportunities that may be out of your control. Use unique lighting opportunities to your advantage when photographing a wedding. Is the evening sunlight coming through a window in an absolutely perfect way? Place your couple in that light and see what comes of it. Always stay looking out for the next opportunity to light your photos.
Never Stop Shooting Photos at a Wedding
When it comes to wedding photography, never stop taking photos. There are so many opportunities to capture special moments for a big day. Give yourself breaks occasionally, but really try to keep on shooting. If there is a lull, look for opportunities to make unique photos. Grab detail shots when there is nothing else going on with the actual marrying couple. Having a second shooter is also very beneficial to this concept because they can find perspectives that you can’t.
When should you hire a second shooter as a wedding
At what point should you consider getting a second shooter for your wedding photography business? Consider how large certain occasions are. There are rooms of over 100, 200, 300 people! You will want to have backup for larger affairs to be able to capture all moments. Second shooters can be very beneficial to your process. Since you are two artists with two different eyes, that is two unique perspectives.
It also gives you the opportunity for more thorough coverage. For example, if you need to take the couple out for photos during cocktail hour, your second shooter could be inside photographing guests. That way, even though your bride or groom are outside getting their photos taken, they can still look back on moments from the cocktail hour.
Share What You Know
Hiring a second shooter also gives another creative a unique chance to get wedding experience. It’s very hard to become a professional photographer without having experience in the field. Look out for up-and-comers who are trying to break into wedding photography and help them out with a second shooting opportunity. You can also give them tips on how to improve their photography while you are working together.
What Equipment to Bring to a Wedding You are
Not sure what equipment to bring to photograph a wedding? One of the major tips for up-and-comers: professionals need to come prepared with equipment for any situation. Since weddings can be very versatile, you need to be prepared for all situations. The lighting situation throughout a wedding often changes frequently as well.
When photographing a wedding, you will often start off in the morning or in the late morning. Then you will photograph throughout the day in a variety of lighting situations. These photos will be taken throughout the day in both indoor and outdoor environments. Then comes the golden hour which is a classic time for photography professionals. This is when you get lots of warm, low evening light from the sunset. Finally comes the reception which is often a mixed lighting situation. This could involve candlelight, available light from the reception venue, and dance floor lights that can vary in color and style. To be prepared for all of these different lighting situations, you must be equipped with a variety of equipment.
Wedding Photography Equipment Checklist
- Macro lens for ring shots, up-close detail shots
- Zoom lens for distance during ceremony and reception
- Portrait lens for portraiture
- Wide-angle lens for group shots, architecture
- A flash for on-camera flash
- An off-camera flash system
- A tripod or monopod for stability in low-light settings
- Camera strap or harness for carrying one or two camera bodies
- Reflectors for reflecting light
- Tech pouch or fanny pack to carry extra things in
- Camera bag for your equipment – rolling, sling, messenger, or backpack style
Why use a camera harness?
You should consider using a camera harness for photography because it is a very intensive physical job. There is a lot of equipment you will be carrying throughout the day. Having a camera harness can help to distribute the weight of your camera bodies. Many are designed with your back and shoulders in mind to help alleviate some of the muscular pain associated with carrying equipment for 8 to 10 hours.
What kind of camera bag should wedding photographers have?
This depends on how much physical work you would like to put into transporting your photography equipment. Plenty of professionals opt for rolling bags to save them some energy. When you are already carrying so much equipment on your shoulders, having a rolling bag can make your job much easier. It’s also very easy to transport if the wedding you are shooting has multiple locations. An example of this would be a getting ready spot, a ceremony spot, and a reception spot. That’s three different places that you need to take your photography equipment to.
When should you hire a wedding photography assistant?
Some professionals hire photography assistants. They can help with carrying your equipment, keeping track of your shot list, and various other tasks. When you are at the point in your business that you feel you need an assistant, you will be able to comfortably add one into your package pricing. If you create content with your wedding photography for Instagram or YouTube as well, assistants can be great for catching behind the scenes moments.
The Best Lenses for Wedding Photography
The best lenses for wedding photography can depend on which camera setup you are using. Look into the lenses that are available for your camera body and put research into which lenses are best for you.
Prime Lenses for Wedding Photography
Some photographers only like to shoot with prime lenses. Prime lenses are lenses with a fixed focal length. The reason many creatives like to use prime lenses is because many primes allow for a very shallow depth of field. There are plenty of great prime lenses out there for event photography. Some staple focal lengths for wedding photography prime lenses include:
- 35mm lens
- 50mm lens
- 85mm lens
- 100mm lens
- 300mm lens
Zoom Lenses for Wedding Photography
There are also many image makers who like to shoot with zoom lenses. These can be useful for when you want versatility in your shots. Zoom lenses are great for when you need to switch between focal lengths quickly on one camera. Some common zoom lenses for wedding photography are:
- 18-35mm lens
- 24-70mm lens
- 70-200mm lens
- 70-300mm lens
Creative Wedding Photography Equipment Tips
To give your bride or groom the standout photos that they deserve, consider investing in creative equipment. This can help you to achieve different stylistic outcomes for the photos that you deliver to the clients. You want the photos of their magical day to document their day in a memorable way, but you will also want to give them some that they can truly cherish and think “wow, is that me?” about. Below are some examples of creative photography equipment.
- Colorful lighting gels for your flash
- Tilt-shift lenses to achieve special effects
- Prisms to give your photos an artistic feeling, especially with dance floor lights
- Fisheye lenses for artistic wide-angle shots
- Small fairy lights set for added bokeh in your foreground
- A small reflective surface to create interesting reflections off of
- A semi-sheer cloth to shoot through
- Biodegradable confetti cannons to do more elaborate confetti exits
- Sparklers for a beautiful sparkler exit photo at night
- A ring flash to make some interesting shots on the dance floor
What else should you bring to a wedding photography job?
- Blotting papers
- Small disposable deodorant sticks for the client
- Safety pins
- Sticky tack for holding small props in place
- Cell phone charger
- Compact makeup mirror
- Clear umbrella
- Hair elastics
- Bobby pins
- Comfortable shoes
- Stylish but comfortable clothing
Wedding Photography Tips for Preparation: Bring Backup
Bringing backup equipment as an event photographer is one of the best tips for a wedding photographer. You have to be prepared for every scenario at an event. Just like you have to prepare for every possible outcome with lighting, it’s the same with equipment. There are some very important pieces of equipment that you need to consider having backups of for your photography business.
Memory Cards: Backups are Important to Have
Always have extra memory cards in case something happens or there is a memory card error. Some cameras even write to two memory cards at once, which can help to ensure that everything is captured in case of any errors.
Bringing Backup Batteries to Events
Another of the important tips is to bring backup batteries to events. Whether it is your first event or your hundredth, it’s important to have lots of batteries with you. You also must remember as a photographer that batteries begin to age, so make sure to keep track of which batteries are getting older. You can do this by writing small notes with the date on the back of the batteries, or making a small label for the batteries.
Ensuring the Best Result with Backup Photography Equipment
Having backup lenses and camera bodies is also important. If you are a beginner at wedding photography, it’s likely that you’re shooting photos on just a couple of lenses. As you begin to build out your equipment, you will have more opportunities to get different perspectives with a variety of camera lenses. Many photography professionals also use two camera bodies. It makes it faster to change between lenses, and also ensures that you are covered in case something happens to your camera body on the day of the event.
Your Backup Wedding Photography Equipment Checklist
- Camera batteries
- Memory cards
- Flash batteries
- Camera body
- Extra flash
- Extra off-camera flash bulb
- Lens wipes
- Rocket air blaster for sensor cleaning
What to Wear as a Wedding Photographer
What should image makers wear? Number one on our wedding photography tips on how to dress: you want to be comfortable but also stylish. Many event professionals choose to wear all black. It helps you to blend in into the background so that guests don’t notice you. You don’t want to show up to an event wearing clothes that stand out in a bold way. All of the attention on the day of should be on the couple who is getting married. Event photography professionals should blend into the setting of the day so that they are not noticed.
Always Wear Comfortable Shoes
The most important part of what you wear as an event photographer is your shoes. Do not choose style over comfort. Find a subtle pair of athletic shoes to wear on an event photography job. You cannot sacrifice the comfort of your shoes when you are on your feet for eight or more hours. The support in your shoes also matters to the support your back is getting. You are going to be carrying around a lot of equipment on the day of. Let your shoes help you support that weight.
What Else to Learn Before a Wedding Photography Job
There are other aspects of being an event photographer that do not rely on just being a shooter. Not every wedding has a wedding planner or a large bridal party to help out the bride or groom on the day of. There are little ways that you can contribute to the big day to make it run smoother. When you do these small tasks, it will help the marrying couple to remember what a great experience they had with you. You’ll want to give a fantastic client experience to every couple whose celebration you photograph, so don’t forget to learn the following wedding day tips – just in case.
- Learn how to tie a tie and bowtie. Your grooms and groomsmen will thank you for it when they are stuck on how to tie a tie or a bowtie.
- Learn how to do up a wedding dress. There are often lots of laces and buttons on wedding dresses and they can be difficult for bridesmaids to tie up. Help them by saving the day and speeding up the timeline with your expertise.
- Learn how to attach a boutonniere to a suit. Many party members will likely not know how to do this and you can help them out a lot by doing this.
- Learn how to fold a pocket square. This is something that will help out countless groomsmen who have never had to fold a pocket square before.
- Watch out for little issues on the bride and groom. This could be something small like a tie sticking out in a funny way, or a bit of the bride’s hair that is falling loose. Make sure that your couples know that you have their back. This is so important to giving brides and grooms a great client experience on the day of. They will want to know that they are in good hands with you.
Photography Tips: Create a Wedding Photography Shot List
Work with your bride or groom before the event to create a wedding photography shot list. Having a shot list is very important for photo professionals to understand what it takes to get the right shots. As a professional wedding photographer, you can incorporate creating a list into each client experience for your brides or grooms. Send your couples a shot list example to give them an idea of what you are looking for.
A wedding shot list for group photos typically consists of a number of photos or group shots of people that are very important to the marrying couple. Your shot list will usually involve different combinations of group shots on the day of. There may also be notes about party members, and anyone that the wedding photographer should pay special attention to in your group shots. It’s important for couples to be able to make the wedding list ahead of time for you to review.
Once you have the wedding photo list, you can print it out or keep it on your phone. One of the big wedding photography tips that some people with smartwatches use is to keep the list on your smartwatch. That way you never have to look at a phone, you can keep everything right on your wrist.
Professional Wedding Photography Shot List Sample
Family Photos List
- Bride and groom
- Bride, mom, dad
- Bride, mom
- Bride, dad
- Bride, mom, dad, groom
- Bride, mom, dad, siblings
- Groom, mom, dad
- Groom, mom
- Groom, dad
- Groom, mom, dad, bride
- Groom, mom, dad, siblings
- Bride extended family
- Groom extended family
- Bride with flower girl
- Groom with ring bearer
- Bride and groom with both flower girl and ring bearer
- Both bride and groom families together
Wedding Party Photos List
- Bride, maid of honor
- Bride, bridesmaids
- Bride, groom, maid of honor, best man
- Groom, best man
- Groom, groomsmen
- Bride, groomsmen
- Groom, bridesmaids
- Bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen
- Bride, each individual bridesmaid
- Groom, each individual groomsman
Important Photos to Capture on a Wedding Day
- Jewelry (necklace, earrings, bracelet)
- Hair accessories
- Garter belt
- Pocket square
- Groom’s socks
- Guest book
- Wedding invitations (ask the couple to bring a copy)
- Name cards
- Cocktail hour foods
- Any special drinks on behalf of the couple
- Wedding cake
- Cake cutter set
- Guest takeaway gifts
- Place setting (charger plate, plate, cutlery, napkin)
- Toasting glasses
Bride Getting Ready
- Bride getting makeup done
- Bride toasting with friends
- Bride having dress done up
- Bride putting on shoes
- Dress hanging up
- Bridal accessories laying out
- Bridal shoes sitting out
- Letter from groom
- Quality time with parent(s)
Groom Getting Ready
- Groom putting on suit jacket
- Groom putting on cologne
- Groom toasting with friends
- Groom putting on shoes
- Groom looking at watch
- Suit hanging up
- Groom accessories laying out
- Groom shoes sitting out
- Letter from bride
- Quality time with parent(s)
First Look Photos
- First look with bride and father
- First look with groom and mother
- First look with bride and groom
- Groom standing at altar
- Groomsmen standing by groom
- Bridesmaids walking down the aisle
- Bride walking down the aisle
- Groom watching bride walk down the aisle
- Parent reaction shots to bride and groom
- Father giving away bride
- Bride and groom coming together at the altar
- Bride saying vows
- Groom saying vows
- Bride and groom putting rings onto each other
- Any guests who come up to do a reading
- Wide shots of the entire ceremony
- Parent reactions throughout the ceremony
- Meaningful party reactions
- The first kiss
- Bride and groom walking up the aisle
- Bride and groom exiting the ceremony space
- Confetti/rice/bubble exit photos
- Party announcement and entrances
- Bride and groom announcement and entrance
- Anyone giving a speech or toast
- The bride and groom’s first dance
- The father of bride and bride’s first dance
- The mother of groom and groom’s first dance
- Cutting of the cake
- Exit at the end of the night
Be Consistent with Your Wedding Photography Editing
When it comes to your photos, you’ll want to be consistent with how you edit. This is one of the most important professional wedding photography tips to consider. If your couple receives the photos with all sorts of different editing styles and colors, they won’t know what to think. You want to convey a consistent story with the images you take of an event. After all, you are documenting an event.
As a professional photographer, you should be developing a consistent editing style. That way, when couples hire you, they will know exactly what they are getting into. If you edit your weddings in a whole bunch of different styles, some dark and moody, some light and airy, your couples may be disappointed in the results. This is because they won’t know what exactly they’re going to get at the end. They may have been expecting something light and airy, but you used a different editing style while working on their wedding. Set expectations with consistent photo editing styles.
Develop Presets for Your Photo Editing
One of the easiest ways to develop a consistent editing style is to create presets. This will allow you to copy the same settings that you apply to one photo to many, over the course of one or several weddings. Each editing program has its own way to create presets. In Photoshop, for example, you can create Actions and edit in a batch process. However, in Adobe Lightroom, you can create full presets and preview them over your images before you apply them.
Delivering Edited Photos to Clients
Once you are finished editing the best photos from an event, you have to deliver the images to the clients. One of the biggest wedding photography tips is to deliver the best wedding photography experience possible for clients. The delivery of images is an important part of the wedding photography client experience.
Using a Digital Gallery Service
Having a digital gallery service to deliver images to your clients will make your business look even more professional. If you are giving your clients a thorough and professional looking experience from start to finish, this is a great way to put the cherry on top. With ShootProof, you can deliver digital galleries to clients that give you a wide variety of customization options.
Customize the Look and Feel of Your Digital Gallery
Customize the sizes of the images that clients are seeing in their gallery. If you have a big wedding with a lot of photos, it’s likely that you’ll want to show them smaller thumbnails of the images that they can then click through. However if it’s a smaller event like an engagement shoot, you can use large thumbnails to immerse them right into the images when they land on the gallery page. You can even add music to the galleries to influence buying decisions with your wedding photography clients.
Easily Sell Prints to Clients from Your Digital Gallery
Another great benefit of having a digital gallery service like ShootProof is the ability for clients to easily buy professional prints. Link your gallery up to a professional photo printing lab for clients to order prints right from the gallery. It takes away a huge amount of work from your plate to allow your wedding clients to purchase prints on their own. All you have to do is approve their order and make sure everything looks right before it gets sent off to the printers. You don’t have to worry about any of the printing or shipping when it comes to ShootProof printing from galleries.
Control the Pricing of Your Digital Print Gallery
With ShootProof, you can sell single images, individual wedding album or full galleries. You can control the size of the digital downloads offered to clients as well, in case you only want the high-resolution images to be sold by you as opposed to a free download. As a photographer, you also have full control of the markup of your printing prices. Determine how much you want your business to profit on your wedding photography print sales with ShootProof.
How do you get wedding photography clients?
It’s great to know how to take better wedding photos. But even if you take the best photos, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any clients. So how do you get wedding photography clients? There are plenty of ways to start building your client base as a photographer. These wedding photography tips for marketing will help you gain clients for your business.
Social Media Marketing for Wedding Photographers
Many event professionals use social media marketing to their advantage. This is a free way to get wedding photography clients. You can show off your best photos on your social channels and market directly to potential couples who are getting married. Some common channels for wedding photography marketing are the below:
Instagram Marketing for Wedding Photographers
Instagram is a very popular platform for photo professionals This is because Instagram is an inherently visual platform. There are lots of photos on Instagram and people who are scrolling their feeds really appreciate a pretty photo. Photo professionals can use this to their advantage by curating their feed and Instagram Stories to market their wedding photography. You can also use location tags, hashtags and tagging other vendors to capture the attention of a cold audience.
Instagram can also be a great place for you to get to know engaged couples before they even inquire. If you see someone get engaged in your feed, shoot them a little message to congratulate them! Keep your business at top of mind for them. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your photography business will be on their mind when they start their wedding planning process.
Another of the big tips for wedding photographers: use Instagram Stories to your advantage. Instagram Stories are at the very top of people’s feeds. This means it is prime real estate for a wedding photographer to get their work out there! Keep things in your Instagram Stories that entice and excite people. Whether it’s wedding photos, behind-the-scenes of your editing process, or just you talking to the camera. It’s valuable to have content up in your Stories at all times. You can also use your Instagram Story highlights in the same way – it’s just an extension of your “portfolio” when people land on your Instagram profile!
Marketing Your Wedding Photography on Facebook
Facebook is also a popular spot for photography marketing. This is because despite some saying that Facebook’s audience is declining, there are tons of marrying couples using the platform. Use your Facebook fan page to display your best photography work. You can also interact with local marrying couples and vendors alike in Facebook Groups. Facebook Groups are a booming platform for photo professionals to interact one on one with couples who are getting married. There are Facebook Groups for just about every niche, and that very likely includes couples who are marrying in your area. If there isn’t already a group, this is also an opportunity to start building a Facebook Group and create a lead magnet out of that.
Twitter Marketing for Photographers
Surprisingly, Twitter is a very active place for photo professionals. There is definitely a community of photographers on Twitter who are connecting and showing off their work. In terms of driving leads from potential clients, you can also market your Twitter directly to a local audience. This will help you to pull in more local brides and grooms. Tweet directly about your community and make sure to stay active in spaces where others who live near you are also active.
Marketing Photos on Pinterest
One of the most under-utilized platforms for photography professionals to use is Pinterest. This platform can generate significant business for you as a wedding photographer. Working on a specific Pinterest marketing strategy is vital to your success on the platform. Pinterest should not be treated as just another social media marketing platform. It is more of a search engine but for visual content. You should be working on your Pinterest SEO instead of working on individual posts and captions. Since this is such a visual platform, it is great for those who are putting visual marketing content out there.
It’s a very big space for people who are planning life events. Think about how many people use Pinterest to visually plan their weddings! If you can, show the best photos from specific venues you’ve shot at, as potential brides are scouting that same venue on Pinterest. One of the big wedding photography tips is to share photos from local areas you’ve taken engagement photos at. There will be people looking for specific inspiration that you can provide with your catalog of images.
Can you market photography on TikTok?
The next generation of marrying couples is currently on TikTok. Right now, there is a prime opportunity for wedding photographers to grow their audience on TikTok. The way that plenty of examples wh started using TikTok is to share behind-the-scenes peeks at wedding days. This could be anything from how they pose couples, to making wedding parties do crazy things. Sharing that interactive experience of how you work can lead to potential clients in the future when they start getting engaged. Plus, you can re-share the video content across your other platforms like Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories.
Should you use Linkedin as a wedding photographer?
Linkedin may seem like a strange place for wedding professionals to post, but it’s not pointless. You can be sharing helpful and informative content from your photography blog on Linkedin to show potential clients that you are an expert in your field. The same people seeing you post about your expertise are those who will remember you when they end up getting engaged. When people hire a wedding photographer, they are looking for an expert in the field. Sharing your expertise is invaluable, and Linkedin is a great spot to do so.
Advertising for Wedding Photographers
There are plenty of ways to advertise for wedding photographers. Most creative professionals opt for a digital advertising strategy for their businesses. One of the top advertising spaces for photography businesses is via Facebook Ads. This is because Facebook has very specific and advanced targeting options that are fairly easy to learn and understand. Photo professionals also use Google ads to target more specifically for search engine marketing. There are a number of ways to advertise your photography business to engaged couples digitally. It’s all about figuring out what is best for you and your business.
Connecting with Wedding Planners
Wedding planners can be a big source of photography leads. Building a relationship with local wedding planners will bring lots of value and is mutually beneficial. If you can recommend a wedding planner to one of your couples, they also have the ability to recommend you to one of theirs. Offer to buy local wedding planners whose work you admire lunch. This is a great way to get to know them better and see if you are a good fit in terms of personality. Building this vendor relationship is so important because wedding planners are often the first or second stop for couples in their planning process.
Build a Relationship with Wedding Venues
Start building relationships with wedding venues in your area. To keep taking the best photos in your area, build a relationship with the local venues. Becoming a preferred vendor for wedding venues is not always easy, but it is worth it. They will send you lots of photography leads that are specifically getting married at their venue. If you really love a particular venue in your area, don’t be shy! Reach out to them and start getting to know their team better. Offer them headshots or photos of their space to get to know them better and serve them. If you can offer something to them that they will value, they will likely be more willing to return the favor.
Start Writing on Your Photography Blog
As a wedding photographer, you should be keeping a blog on your website. This is valuable for both clients who you direct to the site and for SEO purposes. You can share your best photos on your photography blog to attract clients. To do this, you must learn about how to optimize your blog as a wedding photographer for SEO. Look into whichever platform you are using for your photography site and blog to determine the best practices for SEO.
Wedding Photography Blog Tips: Writing Prompts for Your Blog
If you’re not sure about what to blog about as a wedding photographer, here are some photography tips for blogging to get you started. It can be easy to get creative block about your own blog, so give these blog writing prompts a shot:
- How you got started as a wedding photographer
- Your favorite venues to shoot at in your area
- Your favorite engagement shoot locations in your area
- What couples should consider wearing to engagement sessions
- Tips to prepare for wedding day photos
- What to do if it rains/snows/bad weather during your [area] outdoor wedding
- How to get the best wedding photos from your [area] wedding
- 10 fun facts about you as a photographer
- Why brides and grooms should print their photos
- 10 tips for florals for your [area] spring, summer, fall or winter wedding
Not sure what to write about for your photography blog? Think of what you would search if you were planning a wedding in your area. Try to be as helpful as possible when it comes to blogging. Answer people’s questions before they even have them! Bringing value to people’s lives when they are undergoing something as stressful as planning a wedding will benefit you. They will bookmark you, Pin you, share you, remember you.
A Big Wedding Photography Tip: Always Use a Contract
One of the most important parts of the photography experience is using a contract. This is a binding way to ensure that you and your business are protected. It helps both you and the client to secure your services in a safe way. Contracts will outline the following important things – please note that this is not legal advice:
- The names of both parties. It is important to make sure that whoever signs the contract is the one who is hiring you and who is paying you. Sometimes marrying couples will have a parent co-sign their photography contract because they are also hiring or paying for the services.
- The date of the event. To make sure that both parties are on the same page and there are no mixups on dates, clarify the date with month, day and year on the contract.
- Location. Note the location(s) of the wedding day on your contract.
- Working hours. How many hours you will be working on the wedding day. Typically photography packages come with a set number of hours.
- Pricing. What is the price that has been agreed to by you and the couple? Make sure to lay out all costs for the services, including taxes if applicable, and add-ons.
- Clauses. Clauses that are important to your business. Do you need to be fed at the wedding? Will you allow gaps in the hours of your contract? Do you only allow couples to print their photos through you? Clarify the stipulations within your contract.
Even if it is a smaller wedding or elopement, you cannot skip out on using a contract. Photo professionals should even consider using contracts for engagement sessions and proposals. Contracts are there to protect your business. Having everything laid out ensures that your wedding photography job will run as smoothly as possible. Many wedding photographers work directly with a lawyer to draft a photography contract that is suitable for their business.
Keep Your Communications in Writing
Regardless of if you have an amazing in-person consultation or phone call with a couple, keep your communications in writing. If you specify a special deal or the couple has a request, make sure to send a follow up email re-stating everything. This ensures that you are protected in the case of a dispute. When you keep everything in your business in writing, it allows you to be protected and have proper documentation.
Deliver Wedding Photography Contracts with ShootProof
With ShootProof, you can create or purchase professional photography contract templates to use in your business. With the built-in client management software within ShootProof, you can keep your contracts organized and have them all in one place. Your wedding photography clients can sign contracts digitally with ShootProof, making it an easy process on both ends. They can also pay their deposit and installments via ShootProof’s easy invoicing system.
Tips for Your Blooming Business
These simple wedding photography tips will help you take the best wedding photos. If you are a beginner wedding photographer shooting their first wedding, these are super important tips to consider. If you’re a veteran wedding photographer, these tips will be a good refresher for your photography business. Do you have any tips for wedding photographers? Leave them in the comments for your fellow photographers!
Megan Breukelman is a Brooklyn-based photographer, marketer, and host of the Photo Opp Podcast. She aims to eat cupcakes and help photographers build on their passions.