It’s not easy to be a photographer these days, especially when it comes to weddings. With so many photographers out there, you have to do your best to stand out from the crowd. This can be tough considering how competitive it is nowadays. One way of doing this is by avoiding making mistakes that are common among wedding photographers.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when photographing weddings. I’m a wedding photographer. I’ve been photographing weddings for over a decade and have seen my fair share of mistakes made by other photographers. I’ve also made many myself and learned from them.
In this blog post, I’ll cover the top 10 mistakes that new photographers make when they photograph weddings. These are mistakes that can be avoided with some preparation and research before the big day!
1. Not communicating with your client
This is probably the number one mistake that photographers make. Not communicating with your client can lead to all sorts of problems. First and foremost, it can lead to misunderstandings about what the client wants. This can result in missed shots or photos that the client is not happy with.
It’s important to communicate with your client from the very beginning. Ask as many questions as you can to find out what they want. The more information you have prior to the wedding, the better your chances of getting those great shots.
2. Not having a plan for taking group photos
For some reason, photography newbies tend not to know how to take good group shots and end up struggling with them at weddings. It’s true that these can look contrived, but the truth is that 90% of couples want them. They want the bridesmaids’ group, the ushers’ group, the parents’ group, and so on.
The first step is to come up with a plan for taking the shots. This plan should include how many people will be in each shot and what order they will be in.
if you want to be creative with the groups, do some research and look for good examples online, run these ideas past your client and build a strong list of shots.
Practice these groups, analyze why they work in the samples online – is it the angles? the lighting? Study and reproduce before the wedding day.
3. Not getting enough time with the bride and groom.
Weddings today are usually full of activity and are planned meticulously. They often don’t allocate enough time for photoshoots so you need to stress to the client what your needs are, you also have to appreciate that you need to work quickly!
You should allocate at least 1 hour for just the bride and groom portraits. This is enough time to feel comfortable that you’ve covered everything without rushing or holding your client up too much. You also need to allocate time for groups and provide your client with your shot list so they can enlist the best man to help you organize the guests for each shot. You won’t know who the guests are but the best man will.
4. Not knowing what you’re trying to achieve
You should have a style and look that you’re confident with and stick with it. That is not to say you can’t experiment but if you don’t know what works, the wedding photos may come out looking poorly edited and messy.
You should experiment before you shoot a wedding – if possible. Try going out and taking photos of friends in similar locations to practice capturing expressions and moments as they happen. You can also create a mood board that will help you identify which type of style you want to go for on your wedding photos.
Your editing should be consistent, chopping and changing processing styles throughout a wedding creates a very disjointed look.
5. Posing every shot instead of capturing people naturally
Some photographers feel the need to pose every shot which can often lead to stiff and uncomfortable-looking photos. Wedding photography is all about capturing moments and expressions as they happen – that’s what makes them special.
If you are going to pose shots, such as small groups, make sure it’s done subtly and with a sense of naturalness. You don’t want your guests to feel like they’re in a studio.
6. Not having enough coverage of the event
A wedding is a long event and it’s easy to be taken off guard by some of the things that can happen. There will be moments where you need to move quickly and cover more ground including the first dance, speeches, and cake cutting so make sure you have covered everything.
At each point in the day, you should have enough coverage of the event that if someone picks up the album, they can see everything that happened without having to flick through pages.
Taking lots of supporting images of the location and guests as they arrive and interact will be worth their weight in gold when it’s time to compile the album. Many times I’ve finished the wedding shoot and realized I haven’t got old uncle Albert in a group shot but got a great shot of him interacting with close family as he arrived.
7. Being too close to the action
Having a good range of images tells a complete story of a wedding. People shots, close-ups, groups, they’re all important, but just as important are the wider shots of any buildings and people in the environment.
These are establishing shots and setting the scene for the wedding story.
8. Waiting until after the ceremony to take photos of family members and friends
This is a common mistake that photographers make – they think that the bride and groom are the only actors in the movies. This isn’t the case, friends and family members want photos with the bride and groom and they often go home disappointed if they don’t get any.
You should be continually capturing each stage of the event. You’re not shooting film, digital images can be culled. When you’re starting off it’s better to take more images than you need. Later on, when you’re more experienced, you’ll take less.
9. Getting stuck with a bad angle at key moments
There will come a point at a wedding that you find yourself in a bad location or angle and you can’t move. Maybe the bride is walking down the aisle towards you, maybe the best man is leaning over to whisper something into the groom’s ear. Whatever it is, having good angles on key moments of the day is just as important as any other shot.
If you find yourself in a bad spot, try to make the most of it and take some creative shots. Learn from the experience and do better next time. Try to organize yourself throughout the day and position yourself appropriately at key moments.
10. Getting caught up with getting “the perfect shot” instead of capturing natural moments
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of getting “the perfect shot”. Composition and lighting can make or break a photo but don’t forget to capture what happens naturally.
A photographer I know once said that he never has any regrets with his photos because he always goes back and deletes anything which he doesn’t like. You need to bear this in mind as you capture the action – it’s ok to delete photos as long as you’ve got enough coverage of what happens naturally throughout the day. Just don’t forget to be always alert and prepared to shoot, as magical moments can be missed if you’re not ready or waiting for that perfect moment.
11. Not being prepared for rain or other weather conditions
I’ve seen a lot of wedding photographers get caught out during the rainy season. Weddings often happen at this time and you need to be prepared for it, especially if your gear isn’t weather sealed.
It’s also worth noting that weddings take place at venues with large hard surfaces – these can become very slippery when wet so be careful.
If shots have to move indoors due to unforeseen weather, you should be prepared with lighting if needed, or at least have scouted the venue to take advantage of indoor areas with good light and suitable surroundings.
You’ll want to avoid these blunders at all costs, as they can be a major turnoff for potential clients and may even result in you losing business. Remember that photography is a service industry- your customers should never feel like their experience with you was anything less than exceptional.
What are errors that you’ve made and learned from? Share your experience and help others here.