Lessons learned from shooting my first wedding… as a guest

Notice I said “first?” Despite the duality of being the sister of the bride (so exciting!) and also shooting the wedding (so nervous!), I HAD FUN! Many people approached me and said they think I’ve found my calling.  It is such a compliment that my sister asked me to be her photographer and now I feel it even more so.

  • No matter what anyone says, you MUST scope out the venue beforehand.  Then you’ll know where to place yourself, what lighting needs you’ll have, etc.  Sure, nothing goes as planned, but when you’re running late to the venue (because you were helping the bride get ready) and all of a sudden the bride and groom are seeing each other for the first time and your camera isn’t set correctly and you overexpose what would otherwise be great shots, you’ll have a hard time getting over it.
  • Allow plenty of extra time to shoot the details like centerpieces, favors, decor, etc.  See “running late” above!
  • Have an assistant.  Plugging in a drained camera battery to charge really only works if you have an assistant to retrieve the charged one from that outlet in the back room, under the chair, bring it to you, take the other one back to be charged, etc.
  • Wear something with pockets.  Pockets are a must for holding extra batteries, memory cards, remote shutter, and the shot list.
  • Invest in an external flash.  Those two or three seconds it takes for the camera to get off “busy” seem like an eternity.  I like to shoot continuously, a near-impossibility in a low-light situation.  Would anyone out there like to buy me a new pro camera??? Thought not.  Sigh.
  • Have a list of portrait poses.  We got great photos, but it would be great to know where to place feet, hands, etc.  Do more research… look at photography books and magazines.
  • Get in shape.  I did squats, walked on my knees, and hopped up on chairs, all night.  At one point my legs were shaking and I hoped nobody noticed.  Working in such a physical manner for 6-7 hours straight is not to be taken lightly!
  • The shot list is definitely needed.  I had one and it was immensely helpful.  Meeting/talking with the bride beforehand to get the rundown of what will happen when is critical.
  • Definitely not least… DO NOT BRING ALONG YOUR CLINGY CHILD.  Trying to steady the camera with someone pulling on your dress is not ideal.  Neither is being still and looking through the viewfinder only to have a little person surprise attack you from behind… super scary!

I LOVED capturing all those special moments for my sister and her wonderful husband.  I can honestly say that I was PRESENT the entire afternoon and evening.  I felt so in tune with my sister’s thoughts and emotions since I was with her non-stop and looking at her so intently.  It was a marvel to watch her face as anticipation turned into excitement; frustration into surrender; amusement into intense adoration, love, and happiness… in a two-hour time frame!

I did a lot right so I feel good about my first attempt.  It was daunting but we ended up with wonderful family photos.  I am so grateful for the experience.


8 thoughts on “Lessons learned from shooting my first wedding… as a guest

  1. Oh my gosh!! Amazing!! So happy for you that you acknowledge your success because these pics certainly echo that!!! Wedding photography is in your blood – ask Crystal about her dad’s experiences. Love you so much! Thanks for bringing the wedding to life for us!

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