Monday, July 25, 2011

Andy + Kristen | Incline Village Wedding {Sneak Peek}

I had the pleasure of second shooting a very elegant and classy wedding at the Cal-Neva in Crystal Bay on Friday with Emily Clark Photography.

Here's a quick sneak peek. I can't wait to share more!

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Wedding photographer mistakes you don't want to make

His and Hers

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a wedding as a guest. I love weddings, and this one was no exception. The decorations, flowers, and bridal party outfits were beautiful. The food was delicious and the toasts were heartfelt. However, I couldn't help but watch the photographers.

It was clear to me that these two photographers were beginners/amateurs. I repeatedly winced as their actions and movements called attention to their lack of experience. (Although, I was likely the only one to notice.) When I first started photographing weddings, I made many of the same mistakes. I still make various mistakes today as well, but some of the major ones have been put to rest. In hopes of helping other beginner or amateur photographers avoid making the same mistakes, here's a list of tips to keep in mind when photographing a wedding.

1) Do not, EVER, wear jeans to a wedding (or sweats... YIKES)
Wearing jeans says, "I don't care." As the photographer you aren't attending the wedding as a guest, you are there to do a job and to do it professionally. Your professionalism starts with your outfit. The bride and groom (B&G)may be friendly or even actual friends, but the rest of their guests don't know that, so act like a pro. Wear slacks or fancy capris. Avoid low cut tops and pants that reveal your booty when you bend over (I'd also avoid dresses and skirts.. think of what would happen if you tripped, then if you tripped in a dress). When in doubt, wear all black. And make sure you wear appropriate but comfortable shoes.

2) Don't chew gum
You weren't allowed to chew it in school, and it is just as disrespectful to be smacking away while the B&G are saying "I do." If your breath smells, brush your teeth ahead of time or bring mints.

3) Don't play with your cell phone
Don't even take it out of your pocket. Unless you are sitting on the toilet. Seriously.
Better yet, leave it in your bag or car. Get a watch if you want to check the time. If you have to keep your phone with you for emergencies, turn it on silent, then double and triple check it.

4) Don't dilly dally
Compose your image, take the picture, and move along. If you sit around recomposing the same shot over and over you might miss an important moment. During bridal or family portraits, take charge and get people where they need to be quickly. You can't wait and expect the B&G to do all the footwork to get everyone in the picture and lined up - that's your job. Be loud and command attention, but be professional while doing so. The quicker you get done, the happier people will be.

5) Know your equipment
This is the most important advice I can offer. If you don't know your equipment, you're going to have a hard time using it. So pre-wedding you should practice, Practice, PRACTICE!!

6) Fake it
Not up there with #5, but still good advice. Act like you know what you are doing, even if you're not 100% sure. Nothing inspires confidence like fumbling around and being completely unsure of yourself (ahem... sarcasm). Don't review an image on the back of your camera and then scowl. That's a dead give away that something is wrong. Its like your hairdresser stopping and saying, "oops." Its something the B&G and their guests don't want to and shouldn't have to see.
The same rule goes for your emotional attitude. People mimic those around them, and if you can convince them you are super happy and having fun, they will mimic you.. and you'll be able to capture those happy faces. Your feet may ache from hours of standing. You may be frustrated with the flower girl who won't stand still for two seconds. You may feel grubby and tired. But don't show it. If you're not good at hiding your real feelings, play some poker in a casino and you should learn to bluff pretty quick.

At the last wedding I photographed, I took the groom and his groomsmens off in the woods to take their individual and group portraits. They were complete goofballs and only gave me sporadic attention. To add to the situation, the lighting kept changing and I had to retake a number of portraits. But I went along with it, laughing and smiling and repeatedly saying "just one more picture." During the reception I had three different groomsmen come up and thank me for being relaxed and fun during their portraits.

7) Be prepared have a backup plan.
Pack your gear the night before, check it in the morning, leave early, and bring a second camera. You may not own two DSLR cameras (hopefully if you're shooting a wedding you at least own one). But what will you do if your primary camera fails? Even bringing a point&shoot is better than bringing nothing as a backup. The photographer makes the image, not the camera, and if needed you should be able to switch to a point&shoot and make it work. I second shot a wedding with a great photographer who discovered, as we we pulled up to the wedding location, that her primary camera wouldn't even turn on. The batteries hadn't properly charged the night before, but she had a second camera, and was able to charge her batteries while we shot the ceremony.

Know the schedule of wedding events and check in with other vendors or the wedding party for updates on the schedule. If things change, be flexible and go with the flow. You aren't the wedding coordinator, you are the photographer, so you capture what happens, regardless of whether it was planned to happen or not.

If you've never shot a wedding before, I would recommend second shooting for an experienced photographer before taking one on by yourself. You'll get experience and be able to watch how a seasoned professional works. I'm always looking for second shooters, so if you're interested, send me an email.

Any tips I missed? Or mistakes you've learned from that you want to share? Share them in the comments below.

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