A Crash course in Wedding Photography

posted on 27th of may, 2009

My take on Wedding Photography - Kenneth William Caleno

Essential Equipment

Two camera bodies that share the lenses
Two flashes (strobes) plus cables, etc.,
18mm-55mm zoom-for groups
50mm standard lens F1.8 or even better F1.4-for low-light situations
Not essential, but handy for candids and from back of church images- 70mm-300mm zoom lens
large capacity digital storage cards
At least triple batteries as you think you will need
Two white reflectors
Diffusion (soft-focus) filter
85c warming filter for grey days
Tripod for formal photos
Lens hoods to control flare

Planning the wedding shoot

You must have a timetable to work from, or you will fail miserably.

You must always remember:

The Bride is never on time
Cars are sometimes late arriving
Ministers will often talk for longer than expected
Traffic may be chaotic
Something may have been forgotten somewhere

Murphy, being the Patron Saint of Wedding Photographers, will no doubt ensure that if anything can go wrong-it will, and usually at the most inopportune moment. Allow for plenty of time for each section of the shooting script.

Planning Session

Planning is crucial, so make sure that time has been allowed for photography, and travelling to each location.

A: Who is Paying?

Find out who is paying for the photography, because the person footing the bill is the client, and needs to be consulted-If the bride’s parents are paying, and want nice, classic portrait shots of Bride & Groom, and the Bride wants cross-processed, arty, or black & white images-you had better get nice safe photos for Mum and Dad as well!

It is very important to find out and determine EXACTLY what the client wants, and is expecting to get. Quite often people do not know what they want-until you have shot it.
What you don’t want to hear is: “ We didn’t want half of this stuff, we want a refund!!!”

Whoever is paying, make sure you get paid up front. I usually ask for my daily rate photography fee on signing the contract, and the balance seven days before the wedding date. (This saves you wondering if and when you are going to be paid, and saves you chasing clients for payment.) I also only charge for the day’s photography up front-prints are priced separately - I take around 2000 shots per wedding, and shave these down to around 500 and put as proofs on CD’s made to show to my clients-then they can choose what they want for their albums.

B. Working with schedules and timetables

Once you have found out what is wanted and who is paying, start working out your shooting schedule. I usually type these out and give to attendants in the bridal party, to organise everybody for their photo to save time.

I also type my schedule on small cards for my pocket while I am shooting, so I know when the next sequence is due.

Let your clients know that formal photos of the bridal party should take between one to one-and-a-half hours.-Any longer will drag the proceedings, and any less time will limit the number of set-ups wanted.

Subtly point out that the guests should be advised of what is going on.

It is important to let the client know that if they cut your time, you will need to cut the amount of photography to shoot.

Protocol and family Politics

You need to tread very carefully where family politics are concerned, as you set up groups- ex-wives versus new wives, step-children, recently divorced couples. Better to let people sort themselves where they want to be, then just arrange set-ups accordingly.

If everyone, guests included, know exactly what happens, and when, and with whom, it will alleviate, the Bride’s and groom’s stress, your stress, and you will get results that please your clients.

Once PLAN “A” ( Beautiful sunny day, no wind,) is in place, work out alternatives- “B”; “C”; “D”; etc., You need somewhere to photograph if it’s raining, snowing, gale-force winds etc., And a choice of idyllic locations.

A Typical Schedule Plan

a). Groom’s House

Photos at the Groom’s house happen rarely, but if they are wanted, then you must make sure things run on time, in order to get to the Bride’s house on time

b). Bride’s House

Get to the house early, showing you are organised and professional. The Bride may be very nearly ready, and being the early bird may give you a chance to get things in order without rushing. Confidence is the keyword, so compliment the Bride, say she looks nice, and has nothing to worry about (Do not, under any circumstances tell her she is beautiful, because, if she isn’t, she will know, and this could turn her against you.)

If you can help the bride and her family to be calm at the house, the tone of the whole wedding will reflect on this.
Let the family know what you are going to photograph outside the church, or wedding venue.

c). Church or Wedding Venue

Get to church, or wedding venue as soon as you can to get set up for what follows.
Talk to, and photograph the Groom.
Talk to minister/celebrant, checking all is ok, use/non-use of flash, etc.,
Wait outside for cars to arrive
While the ceremony is taking place, look around for photo opportunities-is the Bride’s Mother crying? her Father, crying or smiling?
Once the vows have been made, register signed, etc., Bride and Groom will walk down the aisle, or things will just finish. This can be an awkward moment-one of two things usually happen:

a) The Bride & Groom will be surrounded by guests, and if there are lots of guests the crowd may take a time to clear.

b) (Usually at churches) when Bride & Groom come out there is no-one at first, then all guests file out slowly and stand around the couple looking at them.

Some guests will want to take photographs at this point, so set up the shot and let them fire away, after you. Work with these people throughout the day, and some of these people could be your next client.

Start the family photos, beginning with the Bride’s side, then the Groom’s, then all the friends and hanger’s-on.

d). The Formal Photos

After all the ceremony kerfuffle, the bridal party will want to relax a bit, maybe have a drink and a smoke for 10 minutes or so, while you are getting ready. But when you are ready, you need to get them back on track to get all required images done on time Bride and Groom, at this point, aren’t usually the problem, it’s generally the best man wants another beer, or the maid of honour who wants another smoke, or someone gets loud. You need to gain control of this.

If there are children in the party, use them first, as they have a very short attention span.
No matter what happens here,-stay calm, even when things go wrong, keep calm you won’t get good photos if you are stressed.
When you think you have finished, better check with Bride and Groom that you have all they wanted, or if you were pressed for time, that you have the set-ups they wanted the most.

Now you have to get back to the reception before the wedding party do.

e). Mock Cake Cutting

This is done when budgets are tight, and you aren’t required to attend the reception, due to funds being tight.

f ). The Reception

Before the bride and Groom arrive at the reception venue, Be ready to catch them arriving.
Things that usually happen at reception are: (in any order): speeches, toasts, food, then the first dance. While there is potential photography, don’t eat, or drink, just in case you miss something worthwhile.
Before leaving be sure that the Bride, Groom and whoever is paying for the photography, have all the shots they need with nothing missed.

g ). After it all

Get the finished prints to the Bride & Groom as soon as possible, that’s good business, You will want them to see the prints while the day will still be fresh in their memory. Do not get caught in the middle of any disputes-CD’s are always to be delivered to the Married couple, and not to anyone else. (unless arranged otherwise). If someone other than the Bride & Groom is paying for the photography, it should be explained to them beforehand that the Bride & Groom get the CD’s
When sorting out the finished images, take out the blinkers, and the ones that aren’t up to par.

The Photography

A blow by blow account of a typical wedding - Ceremony at 4pm

You have your little schedule cards on a loop of string

You have your flash/strobe set to ¼ Iso (for fill-in, or all outdoor photos if you want to play safe, use at full Iso for indoor shots)
You 18-55 zoom lens on camera

1. At Groom’s house 10:00 am - 11:30am ( All times can only be approximated)

Groom, getting ready,
Groomsmen, playing around
Groom, in mirror
Groom dressed, GQ pose, jacket over shoulder
Groom Full length
Groom with mother Close-up
Groom with Father Close-up
Groom with both parents full length
Groom with both parents close-up
Groom with Grandparents Full length
Groom with Grandparents close-up
With sisters
With brothers
With immediate family
Groom and Best man full length
Groom and Best man Close-up
Groom and best man shaking hands
Groom and all groomsmen

2.At Bride’s house 12:30am - 3:00pm

Bride dressing
Mother helping with veil
Mother/maid of honour adjusting veil
Bride looking in mirror

Bride with mother looking in mirror
Bride putting on garter
Bride putting on garter with bridesmaids looking on
Bride full length
Bride half length
Bride close-up
Bride with Mother close-up
Bride with Mother full length
Corsage being pinned on Mother
Bride with Father full length
Bride with Father close-up
Bride pinning-on Father’s button-hole
Bride with both parents, full length
Bride with both parents, close-up
With Grandparents close-up
With Grandparents full length
With sisters
With brothers with immediate family
Bride and maid of honour full length
Bride and maid of honour. Close-up
Bride with attendants
Bride with flower girl/ring bearer
Bride leaving house with parents and Bridesmaids
Father helping Bride into limo

3. At the Ceremony 3:30pm - 4:45

Groups of guests and everybody
Flower girl walking down aisle
Ring-bearer walking down aisle
Maid of honour walking down aisle
Bridesmaids walking down aisle
Father walking down aisle with Bride
Father “Giving Bride away”
Bride & groom exchanging vows
Bride and Groom exchanging rings
The Kiss
Bride signing register
Groom signing register
Bride and Groom walking back down aisle
Bride and groom outside church

Bride and Groom getting into limo 3

4. Formal Photos 5:00 - 6:30

Bride alone Full length

Bride alone ¾
Bride alone close-up
Bride alone head shot
Bride alone peeping over flowers

Bride & groom Kissing
Bride & Groom full length
Bride & Groom close-up
Groom full length
Groom ¾
Groom close-up
Close-up of rings
Group shot of bride & bridesmaids [18-55mm zoom]

5. At reception

Wedding party announced
Bride and Groom announced
Bride & groom’s first dance

Wedding party dancing
Bride’s dance with Father
Groom’s dance with Mother
Best man toasting Bride & Groom
Bride & groom toasting each other
The cake

Bride& Groom posed at cake
Cutting cake
Bride & Groom feeding each other cake
Throwing bouquet
Bouquet catch
Groom taking off garter
Groom throwing garter
Garter catch
Bride & Groom with catchers
Guests leaving
Posed departure of bride & Groom ( Kissing, waving etc.,)
Bride & Groom leaving reception venue
Bride and Groom leaving in limo
Close up of invitation
Picture of band or DJ

Ken Caleno

Creative People Photography Phone/Fax :

Standard Wedding Photography Contract

Wedding date_____________
Bride’s name____________________________ Phone:______________
Groom’s name___________________________ Phone:_____________
Address After Wedding________________________________________
1. This constitutes an order for wedding photography. All original images remain the intellectual property of Ken Caleno. The client agrees that editorial use of photos and/or advertising use by Ken Caleno is acceptable unless otherwise noted. Ken Caleno may make use of these wedding photos for samples to show future customers.

2. Although all care will be taken with the negatives and digital images taken at the wedding, Ken Caleno limits any loss, damage or failure to deliver pictures for any reason, to return monies paid ( Except for Scheduling fee )

3. Upon signature, Ken Caleno reserves the time and date agreed upon, and will make no other reservations for that time and date. for this reason, Scheduling fee is non-refundable, even if date is changed or wedding cancelled for any reason.

4. A scheduling Fee is due on signing this contract; the remaining balance to be paid 7 days prior to wedding date.
All terms of this agreement are understood and agreed upon.

Agreed price for photography $_________________________

Signature of photographer:_________________________________
Signature of signing party__________________________________

Comments (3)

Comment by Kenny123 on May 27, 2009

Hi, an American colleague and I are preparing an all in one guide,covering raw processing,studio work,using studio strobes,all with images to explain, It'll be some time in the making, but I am sure we'll get there,Ken

Comment by Petroruth on May 27, 2009

Thank you this is good advice for pro or novice. When are you going to write a book. i think it would be a best seller.

Comment by Aginger on May 27, 2009

Thank you, it was really useful for an amateur like me! :)

This article has been read 2934 times. 2 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Kenneth Caleno.

About me

"Shoot as if Photoshop doesn't exist!" - Perfect practice makes perfect

Masterton, NZ

May (3)

Stock Photography that BLOGS!

Interact, make friends, share tips and techniques, have fun. Dreamstime wants your ideas and thoughts whether you are a photographer, designer or regular user. Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite images and photographers, post tutorials or simply exchange opinions with your with fellow dreamstimers.

Don't forget words and pictures go great together so make sure you choose some Dreamstime favorite pics to brighten your article. For inspiration, check out the hottest or the most useful blogs on the left.

Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite stock images and photographers

Create your blog

My favorite articles


More favorite articles

Related image searches

weddings photography advice equipment course

Equipment related stock images