Last Sunday marked a year since I photographed my first wedding, and it's crazy to think that at 17 someone trusted me enough to capture such a beautiful season of life. I'm beyond grateful and will never be able to say "thank you" enough.
Since then, I've had the opportunity to photograph a handful more as well as second-shoot with some dear friends & some of the industry's most respected photographers. Incorporating that experience, plus what I have learned from the first wedding I shot, here are 5 things I've learned since photographing my first wedding.
me, shooting my first wedding.
Fake it 'til you make it. There may be times throughout a wedding day where you feel like everything is out of control and in the midst of that, dehydration is setting in. You may feel like you have no idea what you're doing and you can't find that person you need for this last family formal...fake it 'til you make it. It's your job and you've been entrusted to capture this wedding to the best of your ability - no matter how tired/sweaty/uncomfortable/unsure you may feel. You may not have a clue with what you're doing, but people are looking to you. People need you & trust you. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by acting unsure. Own what you're doing and fake it 'til you make it. Your confidence will come with time.
Don't be afraid to yell. If you know me, already you have a hard time understanding what I'm trying to say due to the fact that I naturally have a quiet voice. But, when the planner says you have thirty minutes to complete all of the family formals, bridal party photos, and portraits of the bride and groom, the time has come to get out of that shell. Flip your quiet switch to loud. You can go introvert as hard as you'd like once the wedding is over. Family formals are chaotic, even if you've worked on your shot list and studied it for a good hour...Who is Aunt Sandy and why does cousin Sam look identical to Dave and which set of parents are together?
Weddings are places where you have to project your voice - not being afraid to shout so people hear you. I've found that for the most part, families are just as uncomfortable with these big shots as you are. You will be able to eliminate stress for both parties if you explain upfront that the goal for both of you is to get this done as quick & pain-free as possible. Most will be completely on board for that. Ask them to listen to you - or else they will be talking to each other, complaining about how long you're taking. It is up to you, the photographer, to tell each person where to go. Don't be afraid to yell and tell someone to bend down just a little. Don't be afraid to yell "smile, smile, smile!" to keep their attention. You're the photographer and you're the one running the show. Own it.
Befriend the coordinator, maid of honor, and the best man. What I've found incredibly helpful is befriending these key folks. Need the rings? Get the maid of honor to find them. Need the guys to be somewhere? The coordinator will keep everyone in check. Can't find Uncle Joe? Ask the best man go get him. These two folks have been asked to be the first-hand help to your clients for a reason - take advantage of that.
Be flexible. The timeline that you spent hours working on over the last four months seems as if it has been tossed to the side. 'Timeline' does not seem to be in anyone's vocabulary the day-of. What even is a timeline? As photographers, it is easy to get caught up in who has to be where and what is happening next, always being on your toes. But remember to be flexible. Sometimes, the bride spending an extra 5 minutes with her dad before running off to take bridal party photos is more important. Sometimes a flower girl will end up scraping her knee or the bridal party will get lost on the other side of a mountain. The timeline isn't everything. This is a real wedding with real people, and be prepared for things to go wrong. Everything will be okay.
Give yourself some grace. You'll mess up, you'll be overly critical of your work, think that you could have done something better. Give yourself some grace. You're human too.