Have you ever woken up on the day of a wedding and realized that you forgot to charge your camera batteries the night before? Or perhaps the outfit you were planning to wear was still in the hamper after last weekend’s wedding? It can be easy to forget the number of things you should do in order to prepare for a wedding. Just as you work to create systems for the business aspects of photography, it is important to have a wedding photography checklist in place when it comes to shooting!
Wedding Photography Checklist
Pro Wedding Photographer Duo Zach and Jody Gray created a robust wedding photography checklist of the essential items that should be done the day before every wedding. By following this, they are able to confidently arrive at each shoot knowing that they have everything they need for it. Ranging from preparing your equipment, to ensuring you have an accurate timeline, to having all of the contact numbers you need, proper preparation will ensure you arrive to the wedding able to focus on your job: taking amazing images and interacting with your clients and guests. Here are 14 things Zach and Jody recommend doing on your pre-wedding day checklist to help you be relaxed and ready to go!
1. Charge equipment
Start charging all of your camera batteries, flash batteries, and two-way radios ahead of time. It can be easy to forget to do this until the morning of the wedding, so set a reminder for yourself the day before to make sure that all of your items that need to be charged are plugged in to an outlet.
2. Print wedding timelines
Even if you have the wedding photography timeline on your phone, it is always a good idea to print it out as well (what if your phone dies, or you do not have any cell reception at the venue?). Be sure to bring a copy for your second shooter, as well as an extra copy in case another vendor asks to view one.
Tip: Zach and Jody recommend printing the timeline on a half sheet of paper – this way it is smaller and easier to carry around! If your timeline spans more than half of a page, consider printing it on both sides of the paper.
Related: Download ShootDotEdit’s Free Wedding Day Timelines, which are a compilation of 8 different wedding photography checklists from photographers like Ben Hartley!
3. Review family formal list
In addition to printing out the timeline, print out the family formal list too. Take time before the wedding to review all of the combinations of family formals that the bride and groom requested. By doing this, you can see if there is a better way to organize this list to reduce the amount of time these photos take.
Tip: Take a photo of this list with your smartphone in case you lose the hard copy – it is always good to have a backup copy of this list!
4. Know Contact Information
Once the wedding day begins, it can be challenging to get in contact with the bride or groom, especially as they are getting ready. Before the big day, ask the couple for the maid of honor and best man’s contact information as well. Place their information in your phone, as well as on the wedding timeline so it is stored in multiple places. A robust wedding photography checklist will have not only the bride and groom’s contact information, but also the Maid of Honor, Best Man, a couple of family members, and the Wedding Coordinator.
5. Sync camera time stamps
If you are using multiple camera bodies or shooting with an assistant, sync the camera time stamps ahead of time. This way, it will be simple for you to combine all of the images later in your post shoot workflow and ensure that they are in the proper order (this also makes it easier for photography post processing services to color correct your images!).
6. Clean lenses and camera sensors
After shooting a wedding and reviewing the images, one of the last things you want to see on all of your images is a dust spot (or multiple ones!). Zach and Jody recommend using a lens blower to quickly clean your lenses and sensors to remove any dust specks that may show up on your images. This is also a great item to keep in your camera bag, especially if you are shooting in areas with a lot of dust, dirt, or sand.
Tip: With so many details to remember for each wedding, Zach and Jody have created a software to help you out. Learn more about Shootflow here.
7. Set correct RAW/ JPEG settings on cameras
Every photographer has a personal preference when it comes to the type of file they shoot with. Some prefer to shoot in RAW, while others prefer JPEG. Even within these settings, there are multiple options. Check all of the cameras you will be using and set them to the same file type and size. Also, connect with your second shooter and help them set up their camera settings, since they may not know what your preference is.
Tip: Do you prepare a day-of wedding slideshow for your couple to view during the reception? If so, Zach and Jody recommend shooting on RAW + Small JPEG. By doing this, you can use the JPEGs for your slideshow, since they will upload faster to your computer and are more manageable to work with under a time restraint.
8. Format Memory Cards
Format all of the memory cards you plan to use during the shoot. As a rule of thumb, try to format them in the camera they will be shot in. This ensures the camera reads and writes to each card correctly. Be cautious about formatting a card on your computer or other camera, as that increases the chances of having a card failure! As a safety measure, also bring extra memory cards to the shoot as a backup.
9. Review Gear Checklist
Whether you have a hand written list or a list on your phone, it is so important to have all of the equipment that you need to bring to a wedding written down. After your batteries are fully charged and memory cards formatted, pack up your equipment. Remember, it never hurts to double check this step! Make sure you have everything you need for the wedding packed and ready to go. You might even consider creating an entire gear checklist to go along with your wedding photography checklist – it’s that important!
Tip: Zach and Jody use the Packing Pro App to keep their gear list organized.
10. Pack additional items
Along with your gear, determine if there is anything else you might need to help you through the wedding day. Small items such as Chapstick, hand sanitizer, water, or an energy bar are compact enough to fit in your camera bag, and they are great items to have on-hand in case you need them.
11. Prep wedding attire
As a vendor for the wedding, your appearance matters. Dress to impress, and this includes ensuring that your wedding day clothes are washed and ironed. If you plan to accessorize, place those items next to your clothes the night before so you remember to wear them as well.
12. Plan travel time
Arriving on time to the bride and groom’s location is a must! Enter in the destination address into Google Maps to see how long it will take to arrive there, and from here, add in additional buffer time. Do not let traffic be the reason you are late to a wedding! Try to arrive at the location at least 30 minutes early, especially if you have not photographed in the location before – this will give you time to walk around the property and find some great places to shoot.
13. Go to Sleep Early
Be sure to get a good night’s rest before the wedding day. It is important for you to be alert while at the wedding, and one of the best ways to make this happen is by getting enough sleep prior to the big day.
14. Eat before the wedding
Even though you may receive dinner while at the wedding, do not plan for this to be your only meal of the day – you don’t want to shoot all day on an empty stomach! Eat a healthy and well-balanced meal before you start shooting to keep you energized. Along with this, bring plenty of water, especially if you are shooting outside where the weather is hot or dry.
Remember, by planning ahead and prepping for the wedding the day before, you will help to alleviate stress from your wedding morning routine. Zach and Jody have established a comprehensive wedding photography checklist that works well for them and their business, and it is important for you to create a system that works for you. Because there are so many tasks and projects to remember when it comes to your wedding photography business, Zach and Jody have designed a workflow software that reminds you of these pre-wedding to-do items (plus other important items that help grow your business!) so you can easily remember them! Learn more about Shootflow: The Simple Wedding Workflow.
For additional ways to create systems within your business and help it grow, download our Guide, How to Grow your Wedding Photography Business: 2015 Updated Edition.