Monday, July 11, 2011

Guest Blog - Shooting Weddings Part III: Inspiration

Timothy Lusk is back to share some more of his pearls of wisdom on the subject of Wedding Photography. This is the third 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.

There are plenty of questions that should be running through your head and asking not only the bride or groom, but yourself.

  1. Where is the wedding? Is it in a church? Is it an outdoor wedding? If it’s outside, is the wedded couple under a trellis or something that will produce shade?
  2. What are the expectations of the photographs? Doe the bride and groom “just” want the typical list? Is there a photographer that they love his or her style, but don’t have the budget for them?
  3. What can be expected of the event? Is it a quick ceremony on a beach? Is it a full day from sunrise to sunset and into the night?
  4. What equipment do you have in your bag? Do you need to rent any additional gear?
  5. Are you getting paid for doing this? If so, how much is your time worth to you? Are you thinking of this being a start to your wedding photography business, or is it going to be a one-time only offer?

Asking yourself these questions, can help you decide one of two things. Either you’ll move forward and step up to the plate, or you’ll play it cool and kindly decline.

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


Today, almost every photographer in the wedding business is required to have a website, blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page just to get their names out there and compete against the others.

Mike Colon, Chase Jarvis, Paul Dudley, Laurel McConnell. These are just a few photographers I got to know early on that inspired me to further challenge myself and develop a style that is unique unto myself and what I can offer my clients.

Chase Jarvis |

He is Seattle-based and has been involved with extreme sports and outdoor companies for years. I first stumbled upon him in 2007 with a random interest in finding some creative iTunes podcasts to further my understanding of photography. Since then I have kept him in my sights for inspiration. While he has no wedding references (to my knowledge), I still like referencing his stuff to seek out new ways to compose my clients and the photos themselves. Even when something has no relation to a particular subject, you can still draw inspiration and adapt it accordingly.

Mike Colon |

I refer to as my “Arnold Schwarzenegger” of the wedding photography world (in a positive way). The reason for this? He was the first wedding photographer I really knew of that made me think “this would be fun to do”. Along with his fresh look at shooting weddings and having the high-end clientele, it was easily a way for me to learn from a “great” in the business.

Not only does he shoot Nikon, like me, which helped me understand what kind of gear to invest in for the purpose of shooting a wedding, but his approach to shooting the wedding was exactly how I wanted to do so. That being said, I have had the pleasure of taking a workshop from him and learned a lot–not only about shooting, but how to manage the business at hand and getting the right clients.

2010 WPPI Las Vegas Mike Colon Workshop

Laurel McConnell |

I know Laurel through a school friend of mine who had her photograph her wedding back in 2009. She’s got a great personality and definitely makes the bride and groom feel comfortable for the occasion. While her style of shooting is a great reference to get some ideas on how I should approach a similar shoot, I think knowing her personally has been a better benefit to my business and how I go about a day of shooting.

Paul Dudley |

I consider Paul a great inspiration, friend, and my photography mentor. And for anyone who is looking to get into the business, I recommend finding a mentor to help guide you through the proper steps to start marketing yourself to the right clients. He has actually taught me more about photography in general over the last four years than I could have even thought of grasping if I took a class or attempted to earn another degree.

Slattery Wedding - Second shooting for Paul Dudley, July 2010

So, to take this chapter to the next step I wanted to give you some tips on what I have learned from these photographers.

Chase Jarvis / While it is said that “a picture is worth 1000 words”, make sure they are the right words. What I mean by this is that with Chase’s work I have found that while you might be able to get the story right with a simple portrait, think about all the options of how you can approach the shot before you release the shutter. You’ll be amazed at what can come from an additional minute or two analyzing your surroundings.

Mike Colon / High quality, high end approach. Photography is an art. It is subjective. Everyone has their own opinion about what is good. You have to be ready for criticism. While Mike might shoot weddings for nothing less than $25,000, I still approach the job with the same mindset even though I am making only a fraction of what he charges. If you’re looking to grab a high-end bride as a client, make sure your photography reflects this. How so? While a wedding can appear to cost into the six figures, a lot of times weddings might come in around $10,000-$15,000, and that’s if the bride and groom aren’t paying for it themselves. A bride who comes from a wealthy family is usually well educated in fashion and trends to know whether the photos from the previous weddings you’ve shot are on a budget or have spared nothing for every detail. In short, when you look through the viewfinder, ask yourself “is this the million dollar shot?”

Laurel McConnell / Network. Network. Network. Knowing Laurel over these past few years, I have seen her go from a social butterfly with a shutterbug attitude, to someone who is now networking with the likes of Nikon and Junebug Weddings. Even though someone might see this as a “sellout” when it comes to being a wedding photographer, it is actually a HUGE plus for a photographer to start making connections like this for the latest in gear as well as gaining a name in the industry as one to know.

Paul Dudley / Cater to everyone and feel comfortable with introducing yourself. Another part of being a good wedding photographer is to adapt to the needs of your client. Make sure you’re very comfortable with your gear as well as your approach to the way you want to shoot the event. Adapt and make the most of what you have. Sometimes you’ll expect that the environment will be ideal due to rumors and what you’ve heard about the venue. Other times you’ll be in cramp quarters just to make sure you can get the shot of the bride putting on her dress.


Even though you can search through books, blogs, and numerous other reference guides that are specifically about wedding photography, remember to look to other subjects and themes to draw inspiration. Yes, it’s great to have a site like Flickr where you can uncover the EXIF data of a photo taken by someone else, but in the end it’s all about what your eye sees, not what the camera is setup to do.

If you’re one who would like some tips on magazines and blogs to start referring to, the one I want to stress most is part of the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). Visit and to sign up for their FREE publications. Beyond that, check out magazines that are local to your community, such as Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom or Seattle Bride. From those magazines you can tend to find local photographers whom you can follow from their blog to gain further inspiration and see if there are any tips and tricks that might become useful the next time you book a wedding.

To end, if wedding photography is something you’re serious about and want to make a career out of, make sure to start networking with everyone. Make sure you find a niche that can sell yourself as the photographer every bride desires. Make sure your work speaks for itself and can stand alone. And, above all else, be yourself. While you can look at these photographers’ work above and get some ideas, you should never copy someone’s work with the intent of selling it off as your own.


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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