Make A Shot List And Check It Twice
There is no doubting that being a professional wedding photographer is a very rewarding, if stressful job at times. There is only one day. If something goes wrong and you can’t recover it, the moment is gone. Forever.
Some careful preparation in advance can help ease the pressure. Some people are natural list makers, and whilst we don’t advise you spend all day looking at a piece of paper – chances are you’ll miss something spontaneous – it can be reassuring to have a prompt to ensure you have everything covered.
There will be a number of shots that every couple will want, such as the bride’s arrival, the ring exchange, the kiss and so on, but beyond that, there might be big differences from one couple to the next. The list will never be exhaustive, but having it written down, and confirmed by the couple, you have a set of shots you cannot leave without.
Once you know the list of group shots required, have a think about the wedding venue and where you will shoot the images. There are many beautiful, exciting or unusual venues up and down the country now, and if you have not been to a location before, take the time out to go and investigate prior.
A Sopley Mill photographer, who has been before and knows the lay of the land, where the light is at different times of day and so on, will get much better shots than someone ‘blagging it’ on the day. Using the same example, advertising as a wedding photographer for Sopley Mill, expect some detailed questions from clients.
There are more ideas for your checklist at About Weddings and a very comprehensive list of potential shots at The Knot. Don’t forget, it is a guide only and there is unlikely to be an event where you would be able to shoot every one.
An Information Sheet
Some photographers are so confident with the shots they need to get at a wedding that rather than a shot list, they prefer to get an information sheet from their clients with the names of key people and a timeline of the main events. Consider discussing the most important shots with your client and putting a confirmation contract in place, with the appropriate caveats, that will cover you afterwards if a relative complains about not having their photograph taken.
This sheet also gives the detail about items or locations that are particularly meaningful to the couple that you would not necessarily discover if you stuck to a shot list, so you can be sure you get everything important documented.
It is nice to capture the detail of the day because the couple has made a decision about every element of it, though put your commercial head on and think about what will sell. Ultimately, it is the expressions of the people involved, most likely the bride and groom, that will get you the upgrades for couples to put on their walls.
Any list is not designed to stifle your creativity, but you are providing a service that you are being paid for, so make sure you fulfil your clients’ requirements.