Wedding Photography – Be Prepared With A Checklist

13 09 2010

Photographing weddings can be rewarding, challenging and stressful all the same time. While most events conclude with little fanfare, some precautions should be taken to prevent disaster. After photographing weddings and high-end social events for over 20 years, few surprises followed me. I was very prepared. My equipment (which included cameras, lenses, flashes, memory cards and battery packs) needed to be in great working order. With every wedding I wanted to have a pre-wedding checklist on my equipment. To ensure my inventory was complete and in them great working order.

Just like a pilot about to take off for a long journey, they have a checklist to follow. There are so many items to worry about; a checklist is imperative to ensure success. My pre-wedding list included every piece of equipment needed for the job and if service was needed to be completed.

One important check for me was to ensure that my camera body’s internal clocks were synchronized with each other. Imagine what a headache it would be to reconstruct images taken at the same event, on two separate cameras and the order and out of sync. For example, using two cameras during the bridal procession taken from you and your assistant. Every image was perfect, sharp and exposed correctly. Perfect, but you discover that your clocks were out of sync. After the event you return to your studio and download your masterpieces into a common folder on your computer, sorted by date or time and realize that the timestamp was not correct. Every file would be off! What a headache it would be to correct this. All of these issues could be avoided by one simple task. This new task is listed on your new checklist.

We had a pre-event checklist to ensure that everything was set up correctly. This is how my checklist was born to cover every aspect of the event and, every piece of equipment. All listed inventory was included; each camera body, each lens and ensure that all of the memory cards were accounted for and formatted prior to the event. Battery packs are charged and ready. Flashes and sync cords are in working order. Cameras opened and checked for dust and stray hairs. Yes, I once had a dust particles show up during a wedding and produced a white line in the many images, which created lots of additional Photoshop work for me.

The key to creating a worry free event is to have all your tools in place in the checklist is imperative. Let your next event to become profitable easy workflow and uneventful, through good planning.

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How To Handle Too Many Photographers At The Wedding

26 04 2010

I received an email from a frustrated photographer this week. This past weekend she photographed a wedding. As she started setting up for the formals, the “paparazzi” started setting up too, with cameras flying out of purses and bags all over the church. She spent several minutes posing the groups, only to step back and have family members actually step into her path trying to get the best shot. Every image took a ton of time, and by the middle of the formals, the bride and groom were looking frustrated. Every image has someone looking away from her camera, confused on where to look.


How do you handle too many photographers at the wedding?

First and foremost, remember you are the professional. It’s your job to take the situation under control, and make sure you get what you need. Your client is the bride and groom (okay, sometimes it’s the brides mom too). Your goal is to make the bride and groom happy, not the great aunt on the mom’s side.

The problem shouldn’t be solved at the wedding; it should be solved at the time of booking.

Start with your contract. Place a clause specifically dealing with multiple photographers right into your contract. (check with your lawyer to make sure you are covered) Our included:

… will be the sole professional still photographer employed for the wedding day.  Simultaneous photographic coverage by another contracted photographer releases us from this agreement and will cause a forfeit of all paid service fees.  A $250 posing fee will be assessed if we are continually interrupted by other photographers during the formal portraiture sitting.  This fee will be collected before album creation and design is completed within our studio.

Don’t hide the clause hoping they won’t notice; be right up front with it and tell them why. You may even have a sample – we did. Show them a large group photo with people looking in all directions. Having 10 (or 20) photographers is a distraction and will cause them to be late to their own reception. If they want their photographs completed in a timely manner, you need full attention.

This usually stops the problem before the wedding even occurs. You may still have a mom pull out her camera, but she’s off to the side quietly photographing. And if you do have several pull out their cameras, stepping into your line, the bride and groom will be the first to tell them to put the cameras away. You won’t be the bad guy – they will. They will understand the importance of having you work quickly, and will be ready to give you their full attention.

7 Tips To Be A Photojournalist At Your Next Weddings

10 04 2010

If you look up the definition of a photojournalist, you’ll find it to be:

A journalist who presents a story primarily though the use of photographs.

It’s all about the story. It’s not about a few great portraits. It’s not about a selection of images selected and put into an album with no regard to how they fit together. When it comes to being a wedding photojournalist, it’s all about capturing the true emotion of the day through the use of photographs.

Here are 7 tips to becoming a better wedding photojournalist.

1. Be Unobtrusive
In order to capture the moment as it happens, you have to let it happen with no assistance from you. Learn to blend into the crowd, or hang out on the perimeter. When you arrive at your location, tell people to ignore you – you are there to capture things as they happen. If you don’t talk, and hang back, they will quickly follow your advice, and act out their true emotions and feelings. Allowing you to become that much better at your job.

wedding photojournalism

Read the rest of this entry »

Photography Lighting Tips

21 01 2010

How can you take a few photography lighting tips, and change the way you look at images forever?

Wedding Photography
Weddings are by far the most difficult to shoot, and will test your true capabilities as a photographer. In one event, you may have to deal with harsh, bright sunlight streaming onto the wedding party, and trying to capture the bride and groom in a nearly dark reception hall. All with the extremes of a bride in a white gown and a groom in a black tux.

Start by finding the perfect location outside to take advantage of natural light. Whether you are at a church or a reception site, get there a few minutes early and walk around, noticing the direction of Read the rest of this entry »

7 Tips To Creating Your Wedding Photography Contracts

28 08 2009

When we first started out in the business, we knew we needed a contract. But beyond that, we really didn’t know much about it. So we bought a generic wedding photography contract from another photographer and started using that.

wedding contract photo

Over time, we learned many lessons. We learned there are truly some things you should have in a contract. And we learned how to cover yourself in the greatest way possible. Here are 7 tips to help you as you develop your own version.

1. In many cases, the contract will go beyond one page. While you may only need signatures at the end of the contract itself, provide spaces on every page for the bride, groom and photographer to initial that they have read and agreed with the terms.


2. In some cases, your clients will be out of town, and you’ll handle everything by email/snail mail. Never send a contract through Word – always create a PDF file, or send it through snail mail. If you send it in a workable file format, the bride and groom can make changes to your contract at will.

3. Include all the details of the event: bride and groom names, wedding date, location and times, and a description of the services you will be providing. Make sure you have both the bride and groom sign off on the contract.

4. Consider adding clauses for price increases. Wedding photography can often be booked a year or more in advance, and can sometimes take months for the couple to place their final order. That’s a long time as a photographer to hold your prices steady. Make sure you add a policy for how long you’ll keep prices the same, and what the policy is for changing out the pricing structure.

5. Include a model release. Make sure you list out everything you will be using the photographs for in the future, including marketing possibilities. If you post images online for the world to see, make sure your release states it.

6. Be very specific for payment methods. In some areas it’s important to word your contracts correctly for deposits and final payments. Make sure you include statements about nonrefundable deposits, and how you collect the fees throughout the process.

7. Start by writing up your own contract; and then bring it in to a lawyer for final review. This saved us hundreds of dollars over the years. In general, once you get a good working copy of a contract, it’s easy to add a few clauses here and there. It gives the lawyer a starting point, and allows them to spend their time editing instead of starting from scratch. It also gives them a basis for things you require, and allows them to add the legal jargon to make sure it holds up in court if you ever need that behind you.

Helping your photography business, how to start a digital wedding photography business and wedding photography business visit and keep up-to-date with all of the photography happenings via our free newsletter.

Photography – Being The Storyteller And Getting Paid To Do It

27 01 2009

How do photograph your weddings?

Are you a portrait taker, that has a list of shots your bride wants taken at the wedding and reception?

Or do you go with the flow, taking photographs throughout the day based on what’s happening?

The key buzzword in the industry in photojournalism. Yet few photographers are actually photojournalistic. Photojournalistic doesn’t mean taking a few snapshots between the formals. It means you look at the entire day as an artistic experience, and document what’s happening with very little posing, very little communication, and very little interaction between the photographer and the clients/guests.

It means becoming a storyteller, and watching for things that happen around you to make it a memory. It’s about constantly watching for action and reaction. It’s about turning away from the main focus, to find out how people are reacting to it. It’s about being aware of everything around you, and being ready for that magical image.

Everyone gets the cake image.

wedding reception photography

But how about the cake after the bride and groom have cut their first piece together?


Everyone gets an image of the ceremony.


But how about from an entirely different angle?

wedding ceremony photography

Look around you, and find things from different angles, using different lenses, or different perspectives.

How about the view from the bridal table?


Or a full motion view of the bride and groom heading up the aisle as husband and wife.


Or a view of the ladies getting ready for the big day.


The story is there. It’s just a matter of finding it. 

The Fate Of Wedding Photography

14 10 2008

As a whole, where does the industry of wedding photography stand today?

I just read an interesting post by David Ziser (a June post, must have missed it when he originally wrote it) and thought it was filled with a lot of things I too have witnessed in this industry. (It’s worth the read.)

Wedding photography is more than just shooting a few pictures at an event. In my eyes – as a professional wedding photographer for many years – it is the most difficult form of photography.

  • You have to mix with dozens of different types of personalities, some with frazzled nerves.
  • You have to photograph a bride’s white dress with a grooms black tux, in the blazing sunlight, and in the dark reception hall – making every photograph turn out perfectly.
  • You have to photograph professional portraits Read the rest of this entry »