Weddings are giant events with lots of people, many moving parts, and little room for error. When I'm responsible for the ideal wedding photography, I like having a plan and having a checklist to make sure that I’m not forgetting anything so I can be free to be creative for my clients. Much of work I put in for a wedding will be done before I start taking any pictures.
Here are some of the things on my pre-wedding checklist:
1. Get the vision
I want to know what is important to my clients on their wedding day. I want to know the type of event they are having. Is it formal? Is it casual? What is the atmosphere going to be like? Who are the important people? Are there any special or unconventional moments planned? I want to be prepared to capture the wedding the way my clients want to see it.
It’s important to know when everything is happening. I need to know when to show up, where the bride is getting ready, where the groom is getting ready, when they are going to first see each other, and how much time we have before the ceremony. I need to know the order of the ceremony and about how long it’s going to take so I can be positioned to get all the important moments. I need to know how long I have to take family photos, bridal party photos, and bridal portraits. I also want to know where the sun is going to be if we are doing those portraits outside. I need to know the timing for the reception and the general order of events.
3. Contact information
If someone is running late or plans have changed, the best way to know these things is to be in touch with the important players on a wedding day. Having cell phone numbers for the bride, groom, best man, maid of honor and wedding planner is very helpful. And I want these people to have my cell phone number as well. It’s important to have addresses for every place I need to be that day and to make sure my GPS can find them.
4. Shot list
I typically only have a shot list for the family and formal photos at a wedding. I have my clients fill this out in advance with names and relations. I will order the photos in advance of the wedding so that they are done quickly and efficiently. My client will discuss with me if anybody should not be in the photos, like ex-spouses or stepparents. I don’t have shot lists for any other part of the day because I like to have some freedom to be creative and not to just be checking shots off a list.
5. Equipment list
The night before a wedding I will look over my equipment checklist to make sure I have everything I need. I will also make sure my batteries are charged up, my memory cards are formatted, and my cameras are time-synced and set to the right file formats.
6. Other considerations
If I have a second shooter, I follow up to make sure they know when and where they need to be and what the day will look like. If I have never been to the location, I may want to scope it out a few days in advance or get there a little early so I know where I will bring the couple for portraits or what kind of space we have for family portraits. If I will need electricity for anything, I check that out in advance too or bring a battery pack.
Come back to the Craftsy blog on Monday for more wedding photography tips. We'll share some advice for working with a high-strung bride (aka bridezilla).