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How to Prepare For Your First Wedding Photography Gig

How to Prepare For Your First Wedding Photography Gig

Congratulations on booking your first wedding photography gig! And while this is a reason to celebrate, it’s okay to feel a little nervous too. For any beginner, their first professional gig can be nerve-wracking. The pressure is high, and there is a lot to achieve. Your first gig is not only your ‘prove yourself to the world’ moment, but it’s also a very important day in your couple’s lives. It’s a day that has no scope for errors. But it’s also a day when a crisis – within or out of your control – can occur at any moment. But while there might be a lot of pressure on you, there are some things you can do in advance to not crack under pressure at your first wedding. From knowing your couple well to packing the right gear, in this blog, we offer you some tips that will help to make your first day at work easy and stress-free!

Top 10 Wedding Photography Tips For Beginners

1. Know Your Couple’s Expectations

Before you head to your first wedding photography gig, it’s important to know what you are expected to deliver. By the time the wedding day arrives, you would have already gone through a first wedding photography consultation session plus several other meetings or calls with your couple, so you should have a fair idea of what they expect from you. From the number of photos you should take to the wedding photography timeline, having a rough idea about these aspects in advance will help make your first wedding simpler.

2. Prepare a Shot List

Infographic stating prepare ahead with a shot list and set expectations

After getting to know your couple, try making an effort to get to know their family members better. You could also discuss any other important guests who would be attending the wedding. This will help you plan your shot list, which is another checklist that will help make your first wedding photography gig easier. Creating a shot list beforehand will help ensure that you don’t miss any important guests at the wedding or any specific photographs that your couple wanted. You could create your own basic shot list, but consulting with your couple about any specific pictures they want from you would be ideal to avoid any future complaints.

Suggested Read: 24 Detail Shots To Capture From Every Wedding 

3. Request the Couple For a Coordinator

Weddings can be chaotic, and since you don’t have any prior experience, bringing everyone together for photos could get a bit tricky at your first wedding photography gig. However, if your couple has hired a wedding planner or coordinator, your job could get easier! The coordinator need not be a paid professional. They could also be a family member appointed to bring everyone together for photographs. This way, they will even know all the guests, which will make your job even simpler!

4. Visit the Venue in Advance

We suggest that you check out the venue before the wedding day. Visiting the venue in advance would help you get a better idea of spots that would be good for taking photographs. It would also give you an idea about the kind of lighting you could expect at the venue. This way, you could be better prepared with your gear. 

By visiting in advance, you could also meet the venue staff and get to know them. This will help you build relationships with them, which is one way you could get on their preferred wedding photographers list and book more weddings. Additionally, if you are photographing a wedding during COVID, a pre-visit will also tell you if you need to take any precautions. 

Suggested Read: How To Shoot In Small And Dark Wedding Venues

5. Prepare Your Bag

Infographic stating make a list of all the lenses, lights plus gear to pack for the wedding day

Once you have seen the wedding venue, you can begin preparing your equipment. Prepare your camera, lenses, batteries, memory cards, tripods, lights, and remember to pack extra. There is no such thing as being over-prepared for a wedding. Since this is your first wedding photography gig, it’s okay not to own all the equipment. There are many places you can rent camera equipment from. This is especially helpful and economical at the beginning of your career. 

Besides your equipment, do carry waterproof bags or plastic packets to save your gear in case of unpredictable weather. Take some wet wipes and tissues with you to keep your lenses clean. For COVID weddings, remember to pack gloves, extra masks, soap, and sanitizers.

6. Consider Taking Along an Assistant

You aren’t an established wedding photographer, so the idea of hiring a second shooter or an assistant might seem unnecessary to you. But we suggest that since this is your first wedding photography gig, you take a friend, partner, or a fellow photographer along. They will benefit by learning something about wedding photography, and you will have someone to support and assist you through your first wedding. 

7. Practice Posing Instructions

With or without the pandemic, it’s important for wedding photographers to practice their verbal posing cues. If it’s a COVID wedding, guests might feel uncomfortable if you get too close. To avoid touching people, verbal instructions are the only way to get your subjects to give you their best pose. So, practice your communication skills before you actually meet the new people on the wedding day. You can ask your photographer friends or even ask other experienced pros for some communication tips to follow during your first wedding photography gig.

8. Consider Shooting in RAW & Don’t Delete Any Images Immediately

Infographic stating plan to shoot in RAW and don't delete images

Since this is the first time you will photograph a wedding professionally, we suggest you shoot RAW. Even after scouting the location in advance, you might come across poor lighting situations, which you could correct in post-production. Photographing RAW will therefore give you more flexibility to edit your shots during post-production. Also, even if you don’t like them, try not to delete any images immediately after viewing them. You might accidentally delete some good pictures that can be cropped, edited, or retouched later.

9. Use Continuous Shooting Mode & Don’t Forget to Add Variety

As a wedding photographer, you need to have smart reflexes. Try your best to ensure that you don’t miss any important moments before or during the ceremony. For this, you can set your camera to continuous shooting mode. This will help you photograph several shots at a fast pace. To add variety to the wedding photos, try shooting from unique perspectives. You can avoid monotony by mixing these shots with high-angle, low-angle, wide-angle shots.

10. Don’t Pressure Yourself Excessively¬†

Several things can go wrong during a wedding. And as a beginner, it’s natural for you to panic. But as you photograph more weddings, you will begin to develop a reflex that prompts you to think of solutions rather than panic. As a beginner, you should first try to calm yourself and then think of sorting out a mess. If you can’t help correct the situation, try to see the silver lining and help others see it, too, especially your couple. Don’t let a mishap ruin your couple’s big day. They will appreciate you going the extra mile for them. 

Infographic stating if you make an error during your first wedding, take ownership

Alternatively, if you make an error during your first photography gig, take ownership. Don’t blame it on someone or something else, and just be honest with your couple. Owning up to your mistakes would show the couple that you are not trying to cheat or fool them, and therefore, instead of reacting with anger, they might just empathize and work with you to fix the error. 

We hope the above tips give you some confidence as you prepare to head to your first wedding photography gig. This might be your first gig, but it definitely won’t be your last if you just stay calm and go with your plan. Having a shot list and a rough idea about the wedding photography timeline will really help you with time management. Ask questions and discuss as many things as you want with your couple in advance so that you are well prepared for their big day. And lastly, remember to pack extra! We hope you have a fantastic first day at the job, take stunning photos, and impress your couple! Go get ’em!

At ShootDotEdit, we want to see you succeed and take your wedding photography business to the next level! Besides wedding photography tips, we offer professional photo editing services that match your style too. To learn more about how we can help you, check out our price plans.

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