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Wedding Photography Tips for Amateur Photographers Article 4


									Wedding Photography Tips for Amateur Photographers Article 4
This article is the fourth in a series that I am writing to help
beginners that are preparing to photograph their first wedding. These
articles are written for those who are serious about their photography
and are willing to invest A LOT of hours preparing to shoot their first
If you aren’t serious about your photography and don’t want to spend time
preparing for your first wedding, you might as well stop reading these
articles as they won’t help you much. While I’m a firm believers in
practical advice (which is what I’m trying to give in these articles) –
nothing can replace the benefit of picking up your camera, taking photos,
critically reviewing them, and then starting the process over and trying
to take better ones.
This article continues looking at things you can do to prepare (ahead of
time) for the wedding. The previous articles discussed knowledge of
photography, preparing your equipment, online/internet preparations,
wedding photography books, and spending time with the couple.
Create a Shot List

With the couple, work through a list of “formal” images that they want
(if they want any formal shots). Be very specific! Find out exactly who
is to be included in the “Bride and Groom with Groom’s Family” photo
(parents and siblings? what about sibling’s spouses? or their children?).
Otherwise, at the wedding, in the middle of the photo session while you
are trying to call people together for the shot (I always try to enlist
the help of the wedding coordinator or a family member/friend to round
people up) you will have to ask the couple exactly who they want in the
My goal has always been to present the couple with any and all decisions
before the wedding so that they will hopefully not have to make any
photography-related decisions on wedding day. I want them to enjoy the
day! The last thing I want them having to be faced with is me, as the
photographer, asking them who is supposed to be in a certain photo – when
it is so easily dealt with ahead of time. I’m always open to extra photos
they want or other people they want to include in formals, it’s just that
I want to get as many decisions out of the way ahead of time.
For beginners, I recommend you put more than just the formal images onto
the shot list. I know – a shot list is the last thing you would expect a
photojournalistic photographer to recommend. But it is important for your
first weddings. And I highly recommend putting photojournalistic/unposed
images on the shot list!
Shots like “image of groom’s parents” would be great to have on the list.
You don’t have to pose them for the image! You just want to make sure you
get the image and can "cross it off the list" at some point during the
You can search the web for sample "shot lists." Some of the wedding
photography books also have shot lists. I never did like the incredibly
long and formal lists online or in books. But, I would take them as a
starting point and then cut them down and convert a lot of the shots to
Practice, Practice, Practice!!!!

Once you have your list I recommend you practice as many shots that are
on the list as possible. Enlist family and friends to help out so you can
practice your posing and arranging skills. Ideally you’ll be able to find
a “couple” that will help you out. Practice taking photos of her and him
by themselves in the very same poses you’ll do with the bride and groom,
and then take shots of the practice couple together.
The goal is not to setup a shot, practice that one shot over and over,
memorize it, and then rigidly take that same image at the wedding. The
real goal is to increase your skill and “comfort level” with posing
people while at the same time lighting and composing the shot. If you
increase your ability to take photos of a posed (or even an unposed!)
couple, and can light and compose those shots properly, you’ll be way
ahead of the game on wedding day! Think about it: while the wedding day
is tremendously special for the couple, in regards to your photography
skills, nothing magical is going to boost your skill on that day. You
will be taking the same caliber of photos on the wedding day that you
took the day before. Or, because you’ll be under pressure and possibly a
little rushed, you may actually be taking images that are below your
normal skill level!
Definitely go to the wedding and reception venues to take sample photos
on-site. All the better if your “models” can go with you. If you can’t
take a well-lit photo of your friend walking down the aisle at the church
with the same lighting that will be used at the wedding ----- you can
probably guess what I’m going to say ----- you won’t be able to take a
well-lit shot of the bride coming down the aisle.
A good way to visualize your “training” for the wedding is to think about
a Police SWAT team. They spend far more hours training for events than
they do at actual emergencies. And when an actual emergency occurs, they
know that they aren’t going to have a chance to “redo” anything – it has
to be handled right the first time or lives could be at stake. The SWAT
team wants the right thing to happen “automatically” and “instinctively”,
and that is why they train so hard.
Obviously, your wedding photography isn’t a matter of life and death. But
those that view the time before shooting their first wedding as a serious
time of training and who actually practice will take much better wedding
photos than those who don’t do much, if anything, to prepare. Sure, you
might be able to “slide” by with your current skill level, but why not
seek to improve as much as possible between now and the wedding?
Christopher Maxwell is a photographer in the Kansas City area. He has a
web site that provides an FAQ for Amateur Photographers Who are Facing
Their First Wedding. He shares practical advice and information that he
has learned while photographing weddings as a professional.

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