Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Blog - Shooting Weddings Part II: Expectations & The Day Of…

Timothy Lusk is back to share some more of his pearls of wisdom on the subject of Wedding Photography. This is the second of five articles he’ll be sharing on this topic, so I hope you enjoy it – Ron

B&H Wedding Photographers Buyers Guide

This is for everyone who has invested in a DSLR over the past few years and has either thought of shooting weddings or has been asked by a friend or family member due to their thought of either saving money or because the bride or groom isn't aware of what goes into shooting a wedding.

For other articles in this series, please follow these links:


Ok, so you’ve booked a meeting with a potential client. What next?

Make sure when you meet with her (and her mom, most likely), you find out what details they might have in mind regarding the day’s event. One thing to note is that the client (unless they are a photographer), might not have the first clue on what it takes to compose a shot, capture that moment, or what kind of time post production can consume when the day is over with. I will go into further details in a post specifically about the contract you should have with your clients.

Commitment of Hours / Depending on the time of the ceremony and reception, you can expect to spend upwards of 12 hours shooting a wedding. If the client is on a budget, make sure to work with them and that they understand what you’re offering. It can end up being that the bride says the event is starting at 2pm and should be done by 10pm. While the latter end might be more true to the timing, expect that you’ll be arriving 2+ hours before hand to take pictures of the place settings and other displays that relate to the event.

Some shots are on "the list", others just happen

Photographs & Desired Captures / Everyone, not just the bride, will have input on what they are wanting to get out of the wedding from a photography perspective. Friends, relatives, certain poses they think are memorable. The one thing you have to be careful of is not making the client feel like you’re a know-it-all. Typically, a wedding has a certain structure. Therefore, it also has a certain “to do” list of what to capture throughout the day. As a photographer you have one of two ways of going about this. Either memorize the “checklist” and have a paper or notes in your phone to help you remember the other custom shots the client has requested, or just add everything to the list. I personally do the latter, not because I can’t retain all of those things to check off, but because it helps me refer back to my list now and then due to the times throughout the day that it might be slow and you can capture some details or casual and candid shots that you might have not remembered to do. Even though it is a list, it won’t be in order.

A list for me will be broken out as follows:


  • Cake
  • Tables / Settings
  • Gift table
  • Rings
  • Brides shoes
  • Brides gown
  • Flowers/bouquets
  • Programs
  • Trellis/Ceremony location


  • Bride getting ready*
  • Bride/mom/maid-of-honor interaction
  • Bridal party getting ready
  • Groom getting ready
  • Groom/dad/best man interaction
  • Groomsmen getting ready
  • Guests arriving/sitting down
  • Family Portraits
  • Wedding Party Portraits
  • Bride/Groom portraits
  • “First look” shots/interaction


  • Bridal party entering
  • Family entering
  • Bride entering (follow down aisle)
  • Pastor
  • Bride/groom holding hands (close up)
  • Emotional shots (bride, groom, parents, guests)
  • Flower girl
  • Ring barer
  • Singers
  • Speakers
  • Groomsmen line
  • Brides maids line


  • Drinks
  • DJ/Music
  • Dancing
  • Food/buffet line
  • Candid guest interaction
  • Father/daughter dance
  • Son/Mother dance
  • First Dance
  • Bouquet toss
  • Garter toss
  • Toasts
  • Cake cutting
  • Entertainment (jugglers, magicians)
  • Send off

*NOTE: Being a male photographer, brides tend to shy away from the request to get pre-wedding photos taken due to the dressing of the gown. I am fortunate to have my wife with me to help take these photos, and the bride feels more comfortable by doing so. So, if you ever have the opportunity to bring on a second shooter and you’re a male photographer, look to find a female to help with the day. You’ll get some fun and memorable photos by doing so.


Ever heard “the early bird gets the worm”? This is very true when it comes to weddings. I have found that when I get to a wedding earlier than expected, I feel more accomplished with what I am assigned to do for the day. I can get shots out of the way early, and in some cases can get extra shots of the bride getting ready or any family involvement with getting the event set up.

Be prepared / The day, from the very minute you get to the site of the wedding, is going to be insane. The bride, while on a schedule, will most likely be confused and scattered, with a drink in hand or trying to figure out where her bridal party is at this very moment. Just go with the flow and know that you’re there to tell a story at the end of the day and from my experience, some of the shots I have taken outside of “the list” are some of my favorites.

Even when you think you've go "the shot", keep looking. It pays off.

There are going to be a lot of guests who will come up to you and ask to go take a photo of someone or something that they think is impressive. My advice: do it. It will appease them and if you prefer not to show the bride and groom later, they probably won’t recall it. It is very important to remain polite throughout the day. You never know who else might be attending the wedding that will be getting married in the next year or a set of parents who like you’re work and know their daughter would love to have you shoot their wedding.

And even though I will cover this in the gear list, make sure you have multiple cards and batteries for your camera. While I have never had to change a battery during the day, I have started out shooting too many photos during the pre-wedding and ceremony where I had to switch to only shooting JPG to allow enough room for portraits, toasts, the reception, and dancing into the night. But this also brings up another approach of “be prepared”. Know your camera and know it well. You don’t want to be shooting a wedding and have the camera start to act up on you to where you don’t think about the ISO or the aperture you’re set at could help the camera perform better.

Uncle Bob Encounter / Today, everyone has a P&S, and it’s gradually getting to the point where a lot of people are choosing to upgrade to a DSLR. This results in, you guessed it… wedding guests bringing their DSLR cameras to the celebration. While they might have a kit lens on the body, some of them will have lenses similar to what you have in your camera bag.

So what do I do in this case? Two things. If they are not a threat, you’ll know right away and don’t need to worry about them interfering with the job you’ve been paid to do. If they start to crowd your space, I was taught a great trick from a fellow photographer, Christopher Becker. He says that while the D3s with a 70-200 f/2.8 might outdo your setup at the moment, to offer some ways to improve their shots. Different angles, settings on their camera they might not know about, or anything that will make them feel more confident about what their trying to shoot. The idea behind this is to allow them to feel comfortable with you and that way you can kindly ask them to move aside while you capture the shots you need.

Wrapping up / Once the ceremony is done, this is where I feel most relaxed. I have covered most of “the list” and the photos from there on are typically candid and you won’t have to worry about key pieces like the first kiss or something that will only occur once during the night. During the reception, you’ll have to focus on toasts, dancing, cake cutting, garter and bouquet toss, and the first dances. These all will be something where you can choose the approach you want to take with it. It is also a great reason to have a second shooter. You can get different angles and make sure that that moment is really secure in the card. I always tend to have a 70-200 f/2.8 on my body, and then my wife has another body with the 24-70mm f/2.8 or an 85mm f/1.4. This way we can get some different angles as well as a different view of the moment--close-ups and as a whole.

Be approachable during the end of the wedding. If you feel you’ve missed something or need to capture some final shots of guests, do it. Talk to the newlyweds and make sure they understand you’re taking some last minute pictures before you call it a night. Committing to this will make the bride feel that you’re really focused on her and making sure that every detail is covered. Only when the bride says thank you or you know that they are finally sent off for the night, you can properly collect your gear and head home for the night. Job done.


Stay tuned for more articles from Timothy Lusk. Visit the links at the top of this article to see other articles in this series.

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1 comment:

plumbing said...

Your flower girls are so adorable. What a great day.