So, you're thinking about jumping into weddings, or maybe you've just dipped your toes in. Well, welcome to wedding photography, friend! You're gonna love it. Or maybe not. So that leads me into tip #1.
Tip #1 Second Shoot
The best advice anyone can give as you explore the world of wedding photography, is second shoot. Second shooting can be a role in which you assist the main photographer and help them get the shots they are too busy for, or otherwise follow them as a shadow for experience. This is the perfect way to see firsthand how wedding days work and what goes into capturing every moment. Minus the pressure of being the one responsible for capturing the whole day. You can find second shooting opportunities by joining second shooter groups on Facebook, posting in your local community page or befriending a few local photographers.
Tip #2 Shoot RAW
If you're even thinking of getting into wedding photography, ditch the JPEG and start shooting RAW. The lighting can vary greatly over the course of a wedding day. If you haven't already experienced the pain of an underexposed or overexposed photo being unusable, you most certainly will experience that pain shooting JPEG at a wedding. Even the best of photographers are faced with poor lighting or a mishap of wrong settings on their camera. When you shoot in RAW you are saving so much more info in that picture than you would with JPEG, which makes it easy as pie to fix. Seriously, just make the switch.
Tip #3 Use Flash
Another tip that goes hand in hand with shooting RAW...use flash. I would not photograph a wedding without a flash ready to go. Even in well lit spaces I sometimes use my flash, just for that extra light. If you're nervous or unsure how to go about using flash, there are plenty of great resources and YouTube videos out there. But nothing beats real experience and just trying it out to learn the ropes. I practiced with my flash around the house for a few days just to really get the feel of it. And you will definitely need a flash for weddings. I think I use my flash throughout the entire reception, to be honest.
Tip #4 Pregame
Not the fun kind of pregame, unfortunately. I'm talking water. They say you are only as hydrated as you were the day before. So that means drinking alllll the water the day before shooting a big wedding. Also staying hydrated the day of....and the day after. I kid you not, the day after photographing a wedding I feel like I'm hungover or was hit by a bus. The more water you can drink, the better. Honestly, I even keep up with taking Bayer Back & Body the day of, just because I know I'm going to be sore. Often times when I stop to get gas on the way home, I'm already feeling the sore muscles just getting out of my car. I typically load up my pantry (and my car) with Liquid IV, coconut water, extra bottles of water and...well, a few energy drinks. Don't judge, you need all the energy to keep up! Also, bring some snacks. Most clients should be offering food, but it's good to have some things on hand just in case. Which brings me to my next tip.
Tip #5 Eat
When someone offers you food, don't be shy, TAKE IT. Almost every bride has offered to let me help myself to their breakfast buffet as they're getting ready. And I do. Almost every bride has offered me lunch when the wedding party is eating. And I do. And every couple has told me to help myself to a plate at dinner. And I do. Wedding days can be long, you need to eat any chance you get. Another tip, eat your dinner when the wedding party eats. Once they get up, more than likely you will have to get up and follow them for photos.
A few more honorable mentions:
If you don't already have a contract, get one immediately.
Some venues require proof of business insurance. You can get a full year or daily insurance.
Study the full client experience. See what other photographers are doing as far as communication, gifts, booking, etc.
If you've read this and still want to get into wedding photography, go you! I love weddings, they really are my bread and butter. They aren't for everyone, so I refer back to tip #1....start second shooting. Now, get out there and start shooting!