I was speaking with one of my assistants who helped out on a recent wedding, and he was shocked at how much work the photographer does. I explained to him the many roles we wedding photographers play on the day. It made me realize that many people don't know what's going on in our minds when we shoot. Many think we just have a fancy camera, nice lenses and beautiful subjects and BOOM, the magic just happens. Well I'm going to show you that it's not as easy as we make it look. So let me give you a run down of the things that are going through my mind, and the different roles I must play when I'm shooting a wedding.
First thing I'm thinking about, is the itinerary and timeline. I need to know how much time I have for each portion of the day (ie getting ready, formal pics etc.), I need to know where I have to be at different times during the day, and I have to make sure I do my best to follow the itinerary. I have to ensure that I capture all the images and moments that the couple has requested.
Then I have to assess the lighting in each room and environment, and make sure my camera settings are correct. It's my job not only to capture and document the day, but to do it in a creative and artistic way. So that means now I have to choose which lenses I'm going to use. Each lens does different things and creates different looks. These things I have to know like the back of my hand. I can't afford to be fiddling with my camera settings, as I may miss an important moment. I also have to think of creative angles and point of views. Do I get higher up? Do I get lower down? Do I stand? Or just do all?
Then I got to decide, do I go for natural light or use photographic lighting? I need to determine when to capture and document the scene and mood as is, and when to create and change the mood creatively.
Being a wedding photographer means I have to become many different types of photographers. For example, I become a product photographer when photographing the rings, the jewelry, the cake etc.
I become a portrait and fashion photographer when photographing the bride and groom and bridal party. I become a beauty photographer when photographing the bride's makeup. I'm an architectural photographer when photographing the decor and venue. I'm a Photojournalist when photographing the ceremony. I'm a landscape photographer when photographing the couple outdoor and including the environment. I become an event photographer when I'm photographing the reception. So possessing the knowledge and skills of various genres of photography is vital for being a successful wedding photographer.
One of the main things about my brand is my personality. I've always been an outgoing and social kind of guy. I've been known as the trouble maker, the class clown, the comedian or the guy with the loud voice. I use that to my advantage when I'm shooting weddings. I enjoy creating relationships and forming bonds with my clients and their friends and families. When I'm able to make people feel good, it shows in the photos.
I'm able to get genuine reactions, emotions and expressions. Because the one thing you can't photoshop is a bad expression. So throughout the day, I'm interacting with the bride, the groom, the bridal party, the parents, the grandparents and guests. I'm cracking jokes, mingling and just having fun with everyone. Sometimes things may get hectic or stressful, I try to make sure the bride and groom are calm and relaxed and stress free.
Weddings usually have the couple and their bridal party. This can be anywhere from 4-20 people. It's my job to give directions and instructions. So now I'm playing the role of director. Most of the time, they've never been in front of a professional camera, so the first thing they usually ask is "What do I do?".
Now when I'm shooting the bride and groom or the whole bridal party, I usually have a vision or a look in my head. I have to relay that look and vision to my subjects, so directing is essential in order to get the best images possible. If I don't give direction, then I'm not achieving the look that I had in my head.
Each wedding I shoot is a chance for me to advertise my work, so I'm always thinking of creating amazing stunning shots that will not only impress the couple, but their friends, families and future brides. When I'm creating epic and stunning artwork, I'm thinking how it will look in my portfolio, and how it may attract new business.
Now not every wedding will run smoothly, you'll encounter various obstacles, issues and problems. Sometimes there will be a wedding planner, but the bride and groom will usually ask me the photographer for a solution. So now I'm the problem solver. For example, if it rains or an issue comes up with the photo location, the couple won't ask the wedding planner, they will ask me for a solution. With experience, I've noticed the same issues usually happening, so I'm able to handle them efficiently.
So this is just a behind the scenes look at what's usually going on through going through my mind when I'm shooting a wedding. A lot of hard work and thinking, that sometimes people don't notice or don't really appreciate. Most of this stuff after time and experience came naturally. That's why it's highly important to select your wedding photographer very carefully. One can take amazing images, but how do they interact with your guests? How do they handle issues and problems? Most importantly, how do they make you feel on your big day?
Let me know what you think, if you're a wedding photographer, what is your thought process? If you're married, how was your wedding photographer? Leave your thoughts and comments below.