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5 Things to Know Before Photographing Your First Wedding

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama


by Zara Ashby

You have the gear, you have the passion you have the education, and now you have your first wedding client. Think you know all there is to know heading into your first wedding? The real world of wedding photography takes a lot of work and being prepared for anything. Printique Ambassador, Zara Ashby gives you five things you should know before clicking the shutter at your first wedding.

1. Second Shoot and Assist as Much as Possible

Being an assistant or a second shooter is one of the best things you could possibly do to build experience and confidence in photographing weddings. I first started out assisting on weddings and shoots. I carried bags, lights, changed out batteries, made sure the photographers had water and so on. Assisting helped me get a hang of how the day would go, and I started to pick up patterns of how to do things more efficiently. Shortly after, I moved on to second shooting, which to this day is still one of my most favorite things to do. Second shooting is not as stressful as being the primary shooter, however you should still work as if you were the primary shooter and make sure you are getting great shots that can be used. Photographing Your First Wedding

2. Communicate With Your Bride and Groom

Over the past few months, I keep hearing how photographers are dropping the ball on communication. Make sure that from the day that your Bride and Groom contact you, you stay in open communication with them. Give them a timeline of what they should expect from you along with your contract and stick to it. 
Photographing Your First Wedding
For example, after the initial meeting with my bride and groom, I follow up with an email almost immediately; send them a contract and a deposit form. Then set up an in-person meeting to start putting together the details of their big day. About a month out from their wedding, I will give them a call and make sure everything is still on track and follow up again prior to the wedding.

3. Scout Out the Venue and Location

One of the lessons I learned the hard way is to make sure that you know your venue and the area around it prior to the wedding day. In most cases, we get about 15-20 minutes to take the bride and groom for their romantic/creative shots, and even if you have a little bit more time it’s usually very rushed. So knowing exactly where you are going and exactly what shot you are looking to get is key. Assisting and Second Shooting will help with familiarizing yourself with some venues that are popular, however always go back and check it out again.
Photographing Your First Wedding
My general rule of thumb is to go out to the venue 2 to 3 weeks prior; even if I have shot there before, to make sure things are where I remember them to be. See how the grass and trees look and catch up with the wedding/event coordinator on site.

4. Have an Assistant or Second Shooter

An assistant and/or second shooter is insurance and anytime I have shot a wedding without one, I’ve always regretted it. Always budget for an assistant or second shooter, or find someone willing to help out in exchange for the experience. Having a second shooter takes a little bit of the pressure off your shoulders, and also guarantees that if you forget to get a shot or maybe your camera goes out or your speedlight won’t fire, there is a good chance that your assistant or second shooter got the shot. It also helps having someone set up lights, move bags, fix dresses, hold reflectors, etc.  It’s both a time and lifesaver!!!
Photographing Your First Wedding

5. Have  a Shot List

Knowing what you are going to shoot prior to the wedding day is MEGA important. I cannot emphasize how much having a shot list will help. AND it does not matter how many weddings you have done, you will always need a shot list. I’m well over 200 weddings at this point in my career and I still have my shot list as well as one I get from my clients. Having a shot list ensures that you will not accidently forget to grab a shot of something that is very important to your bride and groom.
Photographing Your First Wedding

Over the years, I’ve developed a shot list that works really well for most weddings, and is also easily customizable to what my bride and groom want.

Click HERE to download the shot list for FREE

Thank you Zara for these great tips. If you would like to see more of Zara’s inspiring work, you can check out her website at zaraashby.com.