5 Things I wish I knew as a wedding photographer before photographing my first wedding
Photographing your first wedding is super intimidating. It's one of the biggest days of people's lives! And it's up to YOU to photograph it and capture the memories. No pressure! But just remember, every wedding photographer was a beginner once! Every wedding photographer out there photographed their first wedding. Every wedding photographer had to start somewhere! YOU have to start somewhere! Yeah, it might be scary, overwhelming, and intimidating. Yeah, it might be really difficult! Yeah, you might make mistakes. But that is all a part of learning (believe me!!!)! I have been there and done that, friends (and am still there and doing that!).
The other day, I came across the folder of RAWs from one of my bestie's wedding (and the second wedding that I ever photographed!). Even though my style and editing have changed drastically since then, the pics themselves really weren't that bad! So I decided to go back and re-edit a few of my favorites from that wedding (I always find it fun to go back and re-edit older photoshoots). So all of the pics in this post are from that wedding! As I was going through the images from my friend Beth's wedding, it made me think about all of the things I wish I knew before I photographed my first few weddings and all of the things I learned just from photographing Beth's wedding alone! So here are 5 things I wish I knew before photographing my first few weddings!
1) Never be the photographer AND a bridesmaid!
As nice as this sounds and as honored as you feel...DON'T DO IT! I agreed to fill both shoes for Beth's weddings, and even though it made me feel included and special, I ended up feeling more stressed than anything. Looking back, I still feel like I did a good job (both as the photographer and a bridesmaid), but I didn't feel like I could do my best because I was spread too thin. So as a wedding photographer, if you truly want to feel like you did the best you could do, stick with only being the wedding photographer! And don't worry, you will still feel super included....even if you aren't a bridesmaid. You will know more details about the wedding than the bridesmaid's will and you will be around the bride on the big day even more than the bridesmaids will! The downfall is that you just won't be in many pics (like the image above).
2) Have an experienced second shooter
This is one thing I never did and wish I had! Asking a more experienced wedding photographer to second shoot for you is intimidating. For me personally, my insecurity caused me to never ask a more experienced wedding photographer to be my second shooter. What if they don't think I'm doing a good job? What if they push me out of the way and take over? What if the bride and groom like them better than me? Those are all the stupid thoughts and questions that would go through my mind anytime I thought about asking another professional, more experienced wedding photographer to help me shoot a wedding. And boy do I regret it! I could have learned so much, so much quicker!
3) Second shoot a wedding first
Not only did I wish I had hired a more experienced wedding photographer as a second shooter, but I also wish I had been a second shooter for a more experienced wedding photographer myself! Most wedding photographers I know second shot multiple weddings before they shot their own wedding....and I think that's the way to do it. Yeah, I did a good job on my first few weddings, but if I had been a second shooter first, I could have done even better! Practice makes perfect! Even now, I learn new things everytime I second shoot a wedding!
4) You don't have to photograph EVERYTHING
When I first started photographing weddings, I had it in my head that I had to photograph every single detail. I also thought that if I didn't have the camera up to my face the entire time, people would think that I was being lazy or not doing my job. Both of those things are not true! I learned that as long as I covered all of the bases and photographed everything that needed to be photographed, I could put the camera down for a little bit and socialize, mingle, or even eat! Plus, for most weddings, the bride and groom usually receive close to 1,000 images. Do you really think they want much more than that? Do you really want to edit much more than that??
5) Be careful when you take bathroom breaks
When I began photographing weddings, I wasn't very familiar with weddings! I had only been to a handful of weddings and had never been a bridesmaid! So I wasn't super familiar with when the best times are during a wedding day to take bathroom breaks. For Beth's wedding, I missed the cake cutting because I went to the bathroom! Now...we have to remember that I was also a bridesmaid! So I was extra busy and probably had less bathroom break windows. But still...if I was more familiar with wedding schedules, that possibly could have not happened! And once again, second shooting a wedding or two before you tackle your own wedding would definitely help in this area!
As you can see, wedding photography is totally about learning from mistakes! But learning from others about how not to make the same mistakes they did is a huge blessing and is something I wish I had done before photographing my first few weddings. So don't be afraid to ask other wedding photographers in your area for help or advice! We are a community, not a competition (something else I have learned over the years). We're all in this together!