Learn Digital Photography – How to Become a Wedding Photographer

My firsts words to you as you consider the world of wedding photography is, “Are you stark staring crazy?”. Why would anyone want to enter this world? There are just so many things that can go wrong and this is one area of photography that cannot be reshot without redoing the whole event which is impossible. You need nerves of steel and the patience of Job.

Now if you have considered all the pitfalls and weighed the pros and cons and have decided that you are one of the chosen few and can stand the pressure, here are some pointers that will get you to the top of your game.

1. Learn digital photography

This may sound simple and quite broad. If you aren’t an accomplished photographer then learn photography and acquire the skills that you need to shoot great photos. If you are an accomplished film photographer learn all you can about digital photography. You need to function as a digital photographer knowing each of the skills necessary to make you successful. For example, know the limitations and benefits of shooting with digital and what can be improved or rescued in the digital darkroom. You will make mistakes and there will be unforseen problems and you need to know what can be done before you have a heart attack and call the bride with bad news. At my own wedding half the photos were lost because of film problems. A fair amount would’ve been rescued if it had been digital.

2. Learn the basics of wedding photogrpahy

There are two routes to go with this point. Firstly, the self taught route. Buy wedding magazines and books on wedding photography and study them religiously. Get to know the types of shot people like and the scenes they prefer. Great ideas come from wedding magazines. If you want to cheat a little go to a wedding photographer and ask to see their work or look at it on the walls of their studio or shop. The second route is more difficult. Offer your services to a wedding photographer as an assistant. Once you are a wedding photographer you’ll realise how invaluable and assistant can be. Here you’ll learn many tricks and techniques and will pick up tips that you won’t read about in books. The key here again is to learn wedding photography on the job.

3. Plan and practise

More preparation than any other area of photography needs to go into a wedding shoot and planning is essential. Your biggest hurdle is the transition from other genres of photography to wedding photography. When you actually do the shoot you should know every scene, lighting condition, location and sequence of shots. Some photographers go as far as preparing a shot sheet, a sketch of every shot at every location, so that they know one shot after the other and what is coming up next. Each camera setting is noted next to the shot. Maybe a bit overkill to some but the risk of failure is greatly reduced.

4. Dive into the deep end

Offer your services free to friends and family for all kinds of occasions as an unofficial photographer. If you’re brave enough offer to do a wedding or ask permission to take photos in addition to the photographer they have engaged. Get the main photographer’s permission and don’t get in the way. What the experience will do is allow you to learn the best exposures, lighting conditions and using a flash on a regular basis. Nothing helps better than experience and this helps you with the transition to bigger things.

Wedding photography can be a really profitable business if your nerves can take the pressure. It is a very competitive form of photography and many offer cut throat prices. Don’t aim at just average but rather work at acquiring unique skills that will set you apart from the others. The final product should be the deciding factor and not the person’s wallet.

The bottom line with any type of photography is learning the skills and developing your abilities as a photographer. Learn more about photography and continue adding to your skills basket in becoming an accomplished wedding photographer.

Wedding Photography – Have a Great Assistant

When things start happening you’ll be glad if you have a great assistant. This person can run for film or an extra card or batteries and let you keep right on shooting, perhaps getting the “shot of the day.” It’s the person who helps you succeed.

Above all the key to a great assistant is someone you can get along with. It’s someone who understands the importance of every shot, and beyond that who even when things are chaotic and stressed can overlook things said impatiently.

Not all photographers have, need or want an assistant. For many the creative independence of photography means not dealing with anyone else. Others cannot imagine doing a wedding shoot without a good assistant. What works for you and what your personality is greatly affects using an assistant and which assistant to use!

A great assistant gets along with people while remaining professional. They must be absolutely reliable and willing to work attentively with you. If you need batteries or a change of disks or a different lens the assistant should be right there and, even better, already in motion to get it.

Professional dress is important, given the occasion. The assistant should understand the importance of your job but his or her job as well! There often is no second chance. If you miss the cake cutting even staging a second cut doesn’t seem as genuine and reflects on your professionalism somewhat as you weren’t there to get a critical shot.

A great assistant is punctual and reliable. Someone quick to learn and friendly is good. Someone able to read “sign language” go get what you need is a big asset. Keeping kids out of the equipment, watching for things that might spoil a photo and anticipating what is needed to keep conversation to a minimum is good.

Of course often a great assistant needs a great teacher. Communication is important. Sit down with an assistant and explain what is going to happen. Stress their duties and what you expect. If you get nervous and abrupt during a day of shooting explain that in advance so the assistant doesn’t take it personally and apologize afterwards for any harsh words. People will forgive and be loyal through a great deal when treated like a human being with common courtesy.

Explain to a potential assistant in advance what a typical wedding is like. Have a clear idea and description what you want them to do. If they are acting as an assistant only this might be straightening the bride’s dress or helping set up group shots. If they have photo experience and are acting as a second shooter then be clear what shots you want them to get.

For example, some men photographers might have a female assistant who as a second shooter goes in to photograph the bride’s final preparation, perhaps getting more relaxed photos than a man would.

A great assistant is more than a “go-fer” person. A great assistant makes you look even better!