The Journey to a Wedding by a Wedding Photographer

The journey to a wedding can be a real nightmare, because a wedding photographer simply cannot be late. If you plan everything carefully, you’ll have nothing to worry about; the important thing is planning well ahead. On the few occasions when the photographer is late, the whole wedding comes to a standstill: nobody wants to start the ceremony without the photographer, otherwise all of the long term memories will be compromised. Imagine this: tens of people are sitting in the church just waiting for you to arrive. What are you going to tell when you arrive there an hour late? How are you going to deal with such an embarrassing situation?

Being always late is a real disability. I know of people that are unable to keep a job, because of their time keeping skills. I myself do not keep assistants that are late. A wedding is a very important thing and being late once is enough for me not to hire an assistant again. What I tell them is this: make sure you arrive on time; if you have time keeping problems, then arrive three hours early. There are no excuses for a wedding photographer to be late. Not to talk about the financial losses you could incur into: you can be sure that you will be charged for some extras the bride and groom will incurred into because of you. The journey to a wedding doesn’t have to be this stressful, actually it can be quite peaceful and pleasant. Planning early and well, will almost guarantee that you will be there on time.

Your Vehicle:

Whatever vehicle you use (car, van, motorcycle, bicycle), make sure it’s well looked after. If you have a vehicle that is more than five years old, I would advise you have it checked out at least a couple of weeks before the event. This is because if there are repairs to be made, you want to be sure you’ll get it back before the wedding.

If your car is not reliable, rent one. Nowadays hiring a car can be very cheap and this can easily be included in the expenses bill. Also the vehicle you arrive with tells a lot about the way you work. Much more than you would think.

Imagine: you call a plumber from the yellow pages and he arrives at your home with an old noisy bitten up pickup truck with a dirty camper shell and you can tell he lives in it. Then your neighbor’s plumber arrives in the latest van, quietly, a professional advert on the side, wearing a nice work uniform. I bet you would wish you had called the other guy. You will automatically assume your plumber will not do the job properly, or at least not as well as the other guy. First impressions really count a lot.

It’s the same with wedding photographers: how you travel tells how you will work. Arrive in style and the bride and groom will already trust you more, even without having touched one of your cameras. They are paying you top dollars and they want to see their money well spent and of course they want to show their family and friends that they have selected a real pro.

Want to know what I do? Just in case that something goes wrong with my car and the journey, I always keep a folding bicycle in the trunk. When such an important thing like a wedding is at stake, you have to think about the unthinkable. What if you get into an accident and your car can no longer be moved? You are still required to attend the event. Remember that accidents do happen and they are not necessarily your fault, but you will be expected to have allowed enough time for them.

This is not a normal 9 to 6 job; you are the person in charge of the only memories the couple will have of their wedding day and it is your duty and main priority do anything in your power to attend AND to be on time (which means early).

Get a membership with the local automobile club, so that you will be prepared for any mishaps and you’ll have less worries as there would be someone to help you. Even if you only got a flat tire, could you change it on your own while wearing a nice suit and a white shirt? How clean (or dirty) will you arrive at the ceremony?

Always respect speed limits. Other than dramatically reducing the chances of having an accident, you’ll also reduce the chances of being pulled over by the police. Even if you get a straightforward fine, you will waste precious time and you will be upset for most of the day. You are going to create art on commission and your mind needs to be clear, relaxed and happy.

The Journey:

Going to a wedding is not like going to work at rush hour on weekdays, where everything is more or less predictable. Weddings usually happen on the weekend, where sometimes (always if you live in London) unusual road works take place, trains are limited and diversions are in place.

Since it is a weekend and most people do not work, the authorities don’t usually give much weight to congestion, which becomes extremely unpredictable and very heavy at times.

If you can, avoid travelling on the day of the wedding. Even if the event takes place at only 50 miles from your home, travel there the day before and stay at a cheap hotel. You will wake up nice and fresh, with plenty of time for everything… maybe even to have a nice walk in the morning before the wedding.

Make sure you know what is going on around you. A good way to do this is to watch the evening news the day before the wedding and to check for the local news website as soon as you get up in the morning. Go to any extent to make the journey go as smoothly as possible.

The Routes:

Always plan at least three routes. The first should be the quickest, the send should be the shortest and the third an emergency alternative. If your route includes a highway, plan an alternative route using local roads. Always think of the unthinkable.

Nowadays we use navigators, which are a fantastic aid in these sort of situations, but do not rely 100% on them. Always carry a city mad and a larger area map. The day before plan your route on a real map and match that with the navigator.

Keep in mind that on the weekend some roads might be closed and diversions might be in place. The journey can be severely altered and delayed, especially on a Saturday morning.

17 Great Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

The wedding date is set! Already, the excitement is building for your big day. You want awesome wedding pictures. But the challenge feels daunting. You know your family shutterbug Uncle Ned is not who you had in mind. Chances are you have never hired a photographer before. So where do you start? You know you want to interview the candidates, but what do you ask them? Here are 17 great questions to ask photographers before booking.

1. Are you full-time? When did you start shooting full-time?

The truth is most wedding photography operations are very fly by night. The photographers are doing their photography on a part-time basis with negligible photography experience. Do you believe your once-in-a-lifetime event should be on-the-job training for your photographer? I didn’t think so. A full-time photographer has already made the considerable life-long investment of their energy, time and money to create a valued and trusted service. Your wedding memories deserve your photographer’s 100 percent commitment not a 20 percent commitment.

2. Why do you like to photograph weddings?

This question helps you to gauge who your photographer is as a person and artist. Take stock of the person’s passion and energy. Does he/she seem enthusiastic or kind of flat? People who love what they do have a tendency to be very good at what they do and working with them is always more enjoyable and fun.

Also, knowing a little about what makes the person tick is a good way to feel out what kind of a personality “fit” you may share with the photographer. After all, you will be spending an entire day with your photographer, so do what you can to be sure the person you pick will be genuinely excited to be there and pleasant throughout that day.

3. Will you be the actual photographer to shoot our wedding? If not, who?

It’s not uncommon for photographers and larger studios to have a network of shooters. If you learn the person you are talking to will not be the shooter then insist you talk to the person who will and also insist you see their personal portfolio.

4. What kind of input can we have on the shots? i.e. subject matter, shotlists and ideas from other wedding shots we liked?

A formals/posed groupings worksheet is sometimes necessary when planning when and how to get that part of your wedding completed and done in time. Lots of communication is key here. When working with a good wedding photographer, it is important when capturing the unique qualities and moments of your wedding to keep it open-ended for your photographer. A good photographer cannot produce every photo you can think of, but he/she can produce photos you never dreamed of.

5. (For self-described photojournalists) How much of your candid-looking work is posing and setting-up of shots or do you get shots as they happen without posing or reenactment?

“Wedding photojournalist” has become a buzzword which has lost its specific meaning with its surge in popularity among photographers. Often, the term “photojournalist” means candid-looking when used by photographers and studios to describe their own work. Often these photographers will set up and reenact a few things during your wedding day but rely heavily upon traditional portraiture for a lot of your photos… there is nothing wrong with this approach if you are comfortable with that. However a true wedding photojournalist has the talent and ability to anticipate, observe and “see” moments as they happen without the need to interfere with the natural flow of your wedding day.

6. Are the digital files available on CD/DVD? If so, are they high resolution?

This is a popular request by couples. The discs can vary widely in price. Also ask if there are any discounts applied to the CD/DVD after a certain time has passed from the wedding. For example, the photographer may offer the discs at half-price two years after the wedding.

7. What kind of improvements do you make to the files on the CD/DVD?

It is nice to have your pictures in hand to keep safe and make whatever prints you like. Keep in mind all digital images on the disc should be toned, adjusted and worked a little to make an adequate print. You should have some guarantee of the quality of pictures on the disc.

8. Do you have a list of references with contact info?

This is a rarely asked but very effective question. A real live person who has worked with a photographer will give you valuable, objective information.

9. Who do you carry liability insurance with?

Businesses that adhere to professional practices will deliver professional service and results to you. Chances are slim you will ever have to worry about insurance coverage. But accidents can and do happen. Would you let a roofing company put a new roof on your home that did not have liability insurance? How about a mechanic working on your car? I hope not.

10. What is the delivery time for the various products you offer?

It really shouldn’t take half a year to receive an album, your proofs or any other products. Try to be timely with any input your photographer requires as far as albums, edits to help this process along.

11. With the albums, how does the design and picture selection process work? Are there any fees for changes we would like prior to the album’s production?

You should have some input into important keepsakes of your wedding like an album. Some photographers charge extra for a certain number of changes to the albums they design for you prior to the printing and binding of any album. Make sure such fees are all clearly stated. Beware of time deadlines too, they are necessary to preventing production bottlenecks.

12. When will the proofs be ready? Is there a time limit for the online proofing galleries?

If working with a digital photographer, online proofing (when you first get to see your photos online) should be completed within a couple of weeks of your event. The time period of online availability for those galleries varies among photographers. Some post them for three months, others post for a full year. Check with your photographer.

13. What happens if the photographer is ill? What about back-up equipment?

Any successful, established professional studio should have a network of shooters available for emergency help. You should have a written assurance the substitute photographer will be a competent professional.

14. Should our event last longer than scheduled? Will the photographer stay, are there extra charges?

Most weddings will not exceed a six to eight hour time commitment from your photographer. If you think you will need more time, find out how your photographer handles extra hours.

15. What associations do you belong to?

Another useful way to gauge a photographer’s qualifications and professional commitment.

16. Why should we hire you?

Again, this question is similar in spirit to Question 3. Your photographer’s answer should communicate some excitement about the privilege to shoot your wedding.

17. May we see your second photographer’s entire shoot from a wedding?

Wedding photography studios often promote themselves as two shooter “teams.” They are often a husband and wife duo. They are usually not the 2-for-1 benefit they advertise. For the most part they are maybe one decent photographer and a person who is nothing more than a camera holder with with very little qualifications or experience. Have you seen an entire take of both photographers? Insist on seeing the second photographers entire shoot.

Wedding Photography Gear: A Check List of Equipment Every Wedding Photographer Needs

Being asked to be a Wedding Photographer is a huge responsibility! Someone has trusted YOU with capturing the memories of what could be the biggest day of their lives!

Have you got the right gear to get the job done?

Gear can be a bit of a sensitive topic and every photographer is different. Some prefer Canon, other prefer Nikon. Some prefer zoom lenses, others prefer prime lenses. And some photographers are just starting out and don’t know what they need. So, I have created this article to give an outline of the gear I take with me to every wedding and that I feel is crucial and could not live without!

Firstly I use Canon gear and ONLY use zoom lenses. A lot of my friends like to use prime lenses and we often have fun battling about the pros and cons of both options, and for me, I’m a zoom lens kind of guy.

The battle of the zoom lens Vs the prime lens

Here are 6 super important reasons why I prefer to use zoom lenses over prime lenses:

1. Firstly, I can shoot 95% of the wedding on just 2 lenses.

2. It saves me from having to shoot using 2 cameras.

3. I feel more prepared with a zoom lens to get ‘the shot’ when it appears in a split second.

4. It gives the look of my images more variety. For example, I can shoot the same subject while quickly zooming in and out, and the two images will look completely different.

5. It’s also just way quicker to use, instead of running in and out, I can simply just zoom in and out (within reason)

6. And my last reason is simply, this is the way I learnt to shoot weddings and just feel way more comfortable using zoom lenses. Again, everyone is different and everyone has their own style, so it’s simply just my preferred way of shooting a wedding

Checklist: 13 MUST-HAVE things for every wedding!

OK, so this bag (LowPro Pro Roller x300 AW) comes with me on every shoot. Check out what’s inside:

1. Canon 5D MK3 (with battery grip)

My trusty workhorse! An absolutely fantastic camera that does everything I need it to do to shoot weddings. There are definitely better camera’s out there, but for what I need it for, and at this price range it is the BEST!

2. Canon 5D MK2 (backup camera body just in case)

This was my old camera before I upgraded to the Canon 5D mk3. The perfect backup camera, which hopefully I will never need to use!

3. Canon 24mm – 70mm f/2.8 (series 2)

The lens I absolutely could not live without and most used in my whole kit. The series 2 is also a big improvement on the series 1, providing noticeably sharper images.

4. Canon 70mm – 200mm f/2.8 IS (series 2)

The second most used lens in my kit and another that I could not live without! This lens comes in two versions, with image stabiliser and a cheaper version without. If I could give one point of advice, it’s DEFINITELY worth forking out for the IS.

5. Canon 100mm macro f/2.8

I mainly use this lens for all my detail shots as the macro lets me get up close and personal with the item and also gives the images a super nice soft drop off. Just be careful to check your images on the back of the camera to make sure the thing that you want to have in focus, is actually in focus. If you miss by a millimetre, your whole shot will be ruined!

6. Canon 17mm – 40mm f/4

This is a great lens that I use to get a lot of my ‘epic’ shots. The wide angle is amazing and can give you some really dramatic shots. Also great when you’re shooting in a crowd after the ceremony and on the D-floor in the reception. Personally I couldn’t justify the additional $1500 for the 16mm – 35mm f/2.8

7. Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT flash

I just upgraded from the 580ex and basically can’t tell the difference. I’m sure there are more and better features, but I just use it on ETTL and bounce the light around. Works perfectly, as did the 580ex.

8. Spare camera batteries

Always bring spare batteries with you to every wedding! Luckily I have never needed to use them yet as I always charge my batteries the night before, but still for the peace of mind it worth having.

9. Canon battery charger

Also have never needed to use this on a wedding yet as everything is already charged, but it’s nice to have just in case you need to do some emergency charging. Remember with the battery grip you can charge one battery while still being able to shoot with the other in your grip.

10. Spare AA batteries and charger for Speedlite flash

Now these are probably more important than the spare camera batteries. I find I’m way more likely to run out of flash power, especially on some of the longer days, so a spare set of fully charged AA’s is a must!

11. Card folder with 1x 8gig, 2x 16gig and 1x 32gig sandisk memory cards

To be honest I should actually have 1 more card in my kit. I find it is best to have 1 card for every different section of the day, groom coverage, bride coverage, ceremony, locations and reception. That way if worst case scenario you end up with a corrupt card, you have only lost a section of the day, not the WHOLE day!!

12. Little baggie with lens cloth and elinchrom flash trigger inside

I find it just nice to have a little bag to put random little stuff in.

13. Business cards!!

Always thinking about marketing, so give out your business cards!!

Stuff I take to give my images that extra punch!

So apart from everything that is in my camera bag, a few extra bits and pieces make it on the list as well! These things are not crucial but I still like to take them to every wedding so I can use them if I want to.

1. Elinchrom Quadra – An amazing 400 watt portable studio flash unit that’s totally easy to use and transport. It also allows me to take some of the photos you see below. This flash has helped me define my ‘style’ as a wedding photography and I use it at almost every wedding. Remember, I don’t use assistants or second shooters on a wedding, but still easily manage use this flash without any headaches. Here is a link to the Elinchrom Quadra official site if you want to read more about it.

2. Dido Video Light – A super awesome warm light that I use almost at every wedding to create really moody shots. I use the light generally during the morning coverage at the grooms house and brides house, sometimes at receptions to get a bit of flare during the dancing, and if we go to any bars or clubs on locations. Works a treat!! Check out the effect below.

3. My trusty little step ladder! I use this 95% of the time for the group photo of all the guests after the wedding ceremony. A bit of a hassle to carry and travel with as it takes up a decent amount of room in the car, but a must have piece of equipment if you’re doing group photos. Without it you might be stuck standing on a chair, which doesn’t give you the height you need, or looking for a tree to climb.

4. Lastly, not exactly something you need to bring with you, but something worth preparing, always have enough petrol in the car to get you through the day.

Thanks so much for reading!

Thanks so much for reading my post about wedding photography gear, a detailed MUST-HAVE checklist of everything you need to take to every wedding!!