This is the part 1 of the “How to Get Started in Wedding Photography” article.
Weddings are not only fun but they are also one of the most solemn of occasions. Two souls unite into one and take the momentous first step towards learning how to live together, take care of together and grow old together! As a wedding photographer you have an enviable task, documenting all those precious moments on the couple’s biggest day.
I like the whole idea of wedding. The bigger, the better. For some photographers it can be a nightmare, trying to make sense of the chaos and manage to get some decent shots. For others it’s like a duck taking to water, gleefully they will wade through the day and walk out smiling with some of the most beautiful images you are likely to see; and they do it day in and day out. How they do it? They know their trade, they have the tools and they know how to work with people. That’s the three things that you need to have to be successful in wedding photography.
That brings us to the first requirement, i.e.; tools. Tools include everything hardware and software, that you need in order to shoot and deliver professional images. If you ask 10 photographers all of them will advise you to have at least 2 bodies. That’s the bare minimum. There is a reason for that. Your couples pay you a lot of money to make them look great on the best day of their life. There are scores of guests and countless moments that are worth capturing. These moments cannot be staged later. As a wedding photographer you simply cannot afford to goof up. If your primary body fails you ought to be able to shoot with the other. A few wedding photographers that I know even carry film SLRs as a backup body.
Additionally, all wedding photographers carry several lenses on them on the day of the shoot. This is so that they have all the essential focal lengths covered. Having two bodies allow them faster transition from one lens to the other without having to miss moments while they are changing lenses. On top of all that pro shooters would shoot with at least one additional shooter.
If you cannot, yet, afford to buy an additional body, ask a friend to lend you one. Or else there are plenty of places you can rent one for a few bucks, till that point when you can afford to buy a second body.
What are the lenses that you would want to carry?
The first lens that comes to my mind is a wide angle lens. Zoom lenses would allow you some extra leverage, though I could go on and on praising the 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. On the other hand a lot of pros wouldn’t even consider the 50mm f/1.8. There is an old saying where I come from, as many paths as there are monks. As you can understand your style of shooting will determine which lenses you finally make your own. They will become part of your shooting style.
On an average you will need a wide angle, one medium tele-photo and a prime lens to cover the basics. Beyond this you can experiment with specialty lenses such as a tilt-shift, a macro or even a fish-eye. Speaking of macro lenses, it is one of the favorite lens of a lot of wedding photographers. This lens allow you to shoot those gorgeous close-up shots that are difficult to get using other lenses.
Having said that the 24-70mm f/2.8L is a great wedding lens to start with. Yes, I know that I have already praised the 50mm f/1.8 lens above, but at times that lens can become a problem. The margin of error with focusing, when you are shooting wide open, is really narrow. There is no way to fix an image in post-production if it is out of focus. A much more manageable lens is the 24-70mm. Plus, it allows you to incorporate more of the background which, from time to time, is a great idea.
Remember the Murphy’s Law. If there are any number of things that can go wrong, they probably will. So, prepare my dear fellow photographer and try not to leave anything to chance.
So, how do you really prepare for the wedding day? First thing is to know the couple. If they were the ones who approached you, then you are probably familiar, but yet you don’t know whether and how much they will be co-operating with you on the day of the wedding. Remember, it is a big day for them and there are bound to be butterflies in the stomach. The best option would be to do a pre-wedding shoot / engagement shoot prior to the wedding. This way you get to know the couple and they get to know you. They understand what to expect from you and you no longer are the stranger with the big camera. This is also the time when you can educate them on correct posing etc.
If you know the place, especially if it is a community hall or a church, that gives you an advantage because you will be able to prepare in advance as to whether and how much of extra artificial lighting you need. If you don’t know the place I suggest you go and visit the place in advance so that you know what to expect on the big day and basically there are no surprises.
Ensuring that your gear are all in working and in prime condition is a must do before the wedding. If you are doing weddings only on the weekends and don’t have a habit of shooting on a daily basis then it is recommended that you check your gear at least a week before and then once again two days before the wedding. This will allow you some buffer in case you need to replace or take care of any equipment. If you are renting equipment, make sure that they are in working condition and take care that you learn how to use it when taking delivery and then practice it on the days running up to the wedding. This will ensure that you will not make a fool of yourself on the wedding day fiddling with the equipment.