Admit it, screwing up at a wedding photography job is a death sentence. How many times did you keep reminding yourself to eat healthy, stay frosty and keep out of danger way? Got a futsal match or a soccer game to play with your buddies? Nope, can’t risk a knee injury this weekend. While accidents and sickness are not something preventable (though we really tried our best to go full vegan), there are some insider tips to get your wedding job running smoothly.
How about forgotten or not knowing to take a few good shots of Mr. Adam, the distant relative that the groom spends some time during childhood but are just being too good at avoiding the camera? How do you prevent yourself from not being able to do a better job when you thought you have just done an epic shot?
This is the first step, the most important step. The idea here is to know what your customer wants and don’t want. Know who are their family members, pets and any other important subjects that are crucial to being captured. This is how you find out about Mr. Adam or the importance of “nana” to the bride. When you become more experience, you would be able to find out important details that you are able to notice during actual day wedding. This will help you in differentiating yourself from the many cookie-cutters poses wedding shots.
Lastly, the most important reason for this step? It is to build rapport and trust hence you need to answer that call, email or whatsapp as urgently as possible. The small gesture like this gives you brownie points when things screw up!
Get to know the venue manager, the light and PA system tech guy, the wedding planner, the videographer, the makeup artist, and every other vendor you can possibly think of. These group of people should be the top in your network list even after you are done with any particular wedding, especially so when you are on a destination wedding job.
Like they said, a friend in need is a friend indeed!
Shits always happen and when you are known to them, they will be more than willing to lend an extra hand. Imagine things like borrowing an extra battery or memory card from the videographer. If you are experienced enough, you will work with the venue manager or the light tech guy, or the makeup artist to give you a certain look that you think would fit the couple perfect. Bring the A-team out, not just the A-you out!
Note: important extra person to know if you are just shooting for a non-wedding event. Read the last paragraph of this post.
Let’s start with being very paranoid first, it is the root of preventing shits happening and you should be very paranoid first above all else. When you are paranoid, you should be thinking of getting another camera, another pair of your most used lens,
a box 2 boxes full of AA batteries, and double the amount of your current camera battery and memory card.
If you are paranoid enough, you should be focusing on camera that can slot in 2 memory cards and each shot is saved in those 2 cards.
During edits, you should be paranoid enough to have backups and backups of backup. Unsure how? Just follow the 3-2-1 rule of backup – 3 copies of your data, in 2 different media and 1 offsite location.
In our business, there are no such things as too many. Just not enough cash to spend on them!
Photo Credit: Jakob Owens
As you up your game and getting more jobs, you will face the Murphy law eventually. You will get sick, injured or just double-booked (lucky you!). This is when you really need help and by the way, help doesn’t come to you straight and overnight. The relationship takes time to cultivate and nurture, someone that can take over from you on a less than 24 hours notice is either very expensive or very trusted to be with. Hence, when you are just starting out, you need to know and make friends with other photographers. Be their assistant and in anyway get to know and be known.
Have you seen those epic floating veil shots? You need an assistant for it! Don’t sting on your assistant either, you want to have someone that is good and maybe leave you at the end (the virtuous cycle of disciple-master) and definitely not a mediocre assistant that don’t give quality outputs.
Photo Credit: Jose Aguilar
At some point, you need to realise that you are not god despite the glamour. The higher you go, the harder your fall will be. Not just being a wedding photographer but being a person itself, never be a jerk. Being respectful and humble is not just lip service, it shows how you treat your assistant and other people that you think are just Muggle.
Who do you think gets to be forgiven when things go wrong? The photographer god called Jerk or that humble camera-man called John? I mean just being nice is nice itself, so why don’t give it a try?
Extra tip: When you are not doing wedding photography but event photography. The next best person you should definitely get to know is that another person having the camera. He can be a photographer hired by another sponsor of the event, or just your client’s staff wanted to get some extra shots for the department. Whoever it is or whatever that reason, he is not your competitor. If that person is the staff, he knows the insiders and VIPs well better than you, you need his intel ASAP! And when things screw up and you missed a few important shots, you can count on them to pass the photos to you. Hence, be nice!
(Cover image credit: Yoann Boyer)