Hi, my name is Nicholas Brown and I am Canberra wedding photographer. Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a wedding photographer is like? In this blog post I explain it from my point of view, from preparation to collapsing on the couch at the end of the night.
I spend a lot of time planning the photography for every wedding. In the weeks and months before, I scout out photo opportunities at the ceremony location, reception venue and the surrounding areas and share them with couples on Pinterest to find places and types of photos the couples like. Everyone is different and I like to make sure that I know what kind of ‘look and feel’ you want in your wedding photos.
The night before the wedding
Here is my checklist for the night before the wedding:
- Text or email the bride to tell her I am coming tomorrow and check if there is any last-minute change of plans.
- Triple check my equipment. I check to make sure the batteries are charged, lenses are clean and storage cards are ready. I then pack everything so it is stored for fast access so I don’t miss a moment on the wedding day.
- Make sure I review the running order for the wedding day and the address of my first stop (normally where the bride is getting ready).
- Ensure the car is topped up with petrol.
- Get to bed early for a good night sleep (I’ll need it).
To the bride (1-2 hours)
A day in the life of a wedding photographer starts with a coffee, sometimes two; then I am off to the bride’s house to get some preparation shots with her bridesmaids and family. This is a great opportunity to capture the nervous energy and the little details that make every wedding unique. Some of my favourite photos come from this preparation time. It is all about the makeup, the hair, the laughs, the crying father of the bride; this part of the day has it all. In between the people shots, I photograph the bridal grown, bridesmaids dresses, the rings, bracelets, necklaces, shoes and more. Sometimes I also help the brides brother or dad tie a double windsor.
To the groom (45 mins – 1 hr)
Unless I have a second photographer working with me for the day, I drive over to meet the groom and his groomsmen where they are getting ready. Because it only takes guys about 20 mins to get ready (sorry ladies, but it’s true), when I arrive to meet the men, they are sometimes having a BBQ or over in the park kicking the football or throwing a frisbee. This provides some memorable candid photos of the guys relaxed and having a laugh before suiting up and doing their hair.
While the guys are starting to get dressed or finishing off the BBQ, I normally wander around the house and backyard to find a well-lit room, interesting table, nice patch of grass, a shady spot and a creative wall. I then photograph the rings, cufflinks and suits before the guys get dressed. As the guys are getting dressed I try to get a few shots of the groomsmen helping each other with their ties and the groom getting his jacket on.
Back to the bride
A day in the life of a wedding photographer often involves scoffing some food into my face as I make my way from one house to the next. Hopefully after eating the scraps at the grooms BBQ (hint hint fellas), I catch my breath and duck back to the bride. This is the time to get any detail photos I couldn’t get before I left (e.g. shoes and flowers) and photograph the finishing touches to the hair and make-up. When the bride is getting into her gown I recommend you choose the brightest and least cluttered room in the house or hotel. Clutter shows up in photos and it’s good to clear it out beforehand if you can. It is also nice to have your bridesmaids and mum in the room. They don’t have to all pretend to do something (like tying up the back of the dress); in fact, candid photos with them in the background with one or two people helping often look the best.
After the bride is in the dress, there is normally time to get some portraits of the bride, photos with the bridesmaids and your parents before it is time to get in the car (or on the horse :)) and make our way to the wedding ceremony location.
*I have written a blog on some great Canberra wedding venues which you might find useful. It includes information on weather conditions, photo opportunities, parking and contact numbers.
The next trick in a day in the life of a wedding photographer is to get to the ceremony before the bride. I like to get the ceremony location about 5 – 10 mins before the bridal party. This allows me to get a few quick photos of the groom nervously awaiting the arrival of his bride and the bride stepping out of the car.
When the ceremony begins I take photos of the bride and bridesmaids entering, the groom with a tear in his eye, the mother of the bride and your cousin leaning out into the aisle to take an iPhone photo. I then roam around to take close up and wide-angle photos of the ceremony venue, your friends and family, a close up of the couple during their vows and exchange of the rings, the kiss (woo hoo!), the signing of the register and the walk back down the aisle. This last one is my favourite. You always gets such amazing facial expressions (and attempted high fives) from the guests.
The ceremony is a very special time and I make sure I am quiet (and my camera shutter is set to silent). I also make sure that I don’t go places you and the celebrant don’t want me to go (e.g. on the altar). I will be sure to talk to you and the celebrant about this before the ceremony.
This can be a trying time for the happy couple, so I recommend you have a list of photos that you’d like (or need) to get and give that list to two people with commanding voices; one on either side of the family. I’ll find a nice green backdrop with even light and your back to the sun and your trusty commanders on each side of the family can rally the people involved in the next photo. I take about three photos in quick time of each group to make sure I have one where no-one is blinking.
Post wedding photos
Based on my chats over coffee with the bride and groom and sharing photos on Pinterest in the lead up to the wedding I have a good idea about what style and feeling the bride and groom want in their photos. Many photographers take a certain style / type of photo. While I also have my own style, I do my best to tweak my style to suit the couple.
I normally steal the couple away for 60 – 90 mins to take photos with them and the bridal party. This is also a time for the bride and groom to rest and spend some quiet time together. I try to keep this time together low-key and relaxed so the couple can enjoy themselves and take a deep breath. This approach also results in very natural, candid moments which are perfect for photos.
I try to sneak into the reception room before the guests arrive so I can photograph the room set up. This includes wide-angle shots of the decorations, lighting and tables. I then take detail shots of the centrepieces, wall decorations, bonbonerie and lolly-bar. I also use this time before guests come in to scope out a good angle for the arrival of the bride and groom. I like to get a few people in the foreground of the shot for the big entrance. It really adds to the atmosphere of the photos.
At dinner time, I take a short break to have dinner and a chat with some of the guests to learn more about the special people who have been invited to the big event. My favourite people to talk to are the aunties and uncles; they are normally a bit tipsie and have great stories about the bride and groom.
Good photos during of speeches are all about positioning and patience. You could say the same for a lot of photos but it is never more true than for speeches. The last thing you want are photos of the father of the bride with his mouth wide open and a piece of spinach waving at you from his teeth after mains.
I find a good place and wait until your dad cracks a joke and photograph him as he basks in the laughter of the wedding guests. I then move the camera onto some of the guests and await the next joke to capture their laughter. Towards the end of the speech I fix the camera on the bride and groom to catch the tears, laughs, or both when the father of the bride gets to the soppy part of his speech.
Some of the best photos from the wedding happen when the lights go down. The formalities are over: the ceremony, the group photos, the speeches and the cake cutting. Now it is time to cut loose … footloose, kick off your Sunday shoes …
This is the time I pop the flash on the top of the camera and roam around the dance floor to catch the awesome dance moves of your friends and family. It is a wonderful time of the wedding to see friends and family dancing together and enjoying themselves.
After I capture the awesome dance moves of you, your friends and family, I pack up my equipment, say my goodbyes and head on home. However, when I get home the day isn’t over. I have one of the most important jobs left to do – backup your photos. I back up to two different storage devices (normally while watching something on Netflix to stay awake). Only when the back ups are completed am I able to relax and head to bed.
Over the next few weeks I sort through the 1200 – 1500 photos to remove the dodgy photos and duplicates before editing each photo. That is, I look at every photo and crop, adjust the brightness, contrast and colour balance. I also think about which photos would look great in black and white, do a separate edit and provide both a colour and black and white image for you. When the editing is complete I package up your Iconic Photography digital collection and deliver it to you. This all happens within about four weeks.
If you choose to get an album, you have two choices. 1) I can draft the album and send it to you to review and we can have a back and forth over email, or 2) We can work together to design the album. That is, we catch up at your house or a café, have a coffee, and I can guide you through the design process by suggesting the layout that would look good and you can choose which photos you would like to be more prominent. This is a great way to relive your wedding day and personalise your wedding album.
I hope this gave you an insight into a day in the life of a wedding photographer. If you have any questions on this blog or are looking for a wedding photographer, I would love to hear from you.