Wedding photography is a demanding, but ultimately rewarding profession. Being responsible for capturing one of the most significant days in a couple’s life is a great honour and a privilege.
The remit for a professional wedding photographer is very straight forward. You’re expected to capture the most wonderful moments of the couple’s special day so they can be proud when sharing them with their friends and family, and allow them to look back at them fondly in years to come. Modern-day photographers are typically at a wedding for more than 10 hours. Coverage will, depending on the couple’s plans, normally include morning preparations, ceremony, reception and speeches, all the way into the evening for the first dance and party. The expectation is that all of this will be captured consistently and to the best of their ability throughout the day.
Start of the Day
The beginning of a wedding day should be relatively stress-free whereby the previous days leading up to a wedding, a photographer will have all their usual tasks planned and completed in military fashion. This includes, but is not limited to, a final meeting with the couple to understand any changes to their plans, charging, checking and cleaning of equipment, directions (to potentially multiple locations) and where to park. And finally, plenty of snacks and water will need to packed!
Upon arrival, the photographer typically starts with a quick walk around the venue to get familiarised before going to meet the couple to cover their preparations. Having two professional wedding photographers is a distinct advantage as both preparation parties can be photographed simultaneously, avoiding missing out on important moments with close family. Typically still-life photographs of any flowers, suits, dresses, shoes and jewellery will be captured but more importantly for documentary-style photographers, the interaction between the couple and their closest family and friends.
Capturing the Ceremony
Whether a church or civil affair, the photographer will need to speak with the relevant official to understand any restrictions that may be in place. Most experienced photographers will be used to keeping out of the way and utilising longer lenses at the relevant times to capture those intimate moments discreetly without being obtrusive. Again, having two photographers can be an advantage as it means different viewpoints can be captured throughout. In the UK, most ceremonies are held indoors due to the unpredictable nature of the weather which means a wedding photographer will need to quickly study the lighting conditions to adjust their settings and/or their location.
At some point after the ceremony, it’s common for couples to want formal group photographs. While the actual process of taking these photographs can take seconds, arranging 100+ people can take a lot longer. Therefore, it’s common for the couple to ask an assertive family member or friend to assist with the arranging of groups so the photographer can focus on taking the photographs. Again, backdrops and lighting need to be considered to avoid people squinting in the sun or branches appearing out the back of the guests’ heads!
An ideal time for the photographer to spend time with just the couple is immediately after the group photographs. Whilst many customers desire documentary or natural photographs, many still want carefully posed photographs of the two of them. A photographer, having done their research on the venue, would already have some ideas in mind to utilise the grounds and/or the immediate area. All this needs to be done in an efficient manner well before the need arises.
Speeches & Evening Reception
One of the fun elements to photograph are the speeches, not so much the person delivering the speech, but the reaction of the wedding party to them. Joy, surprise, embarrassment, and genuine love are in abundance for the photographer to capture.
As the wedding flows into the evening, the photographer, having grabbed some food for energy, needs to be ready for all the evening’s celebrations. Typically starting with the cutting of the cake and first dance, the photographer will be posed ready for the dance floor action shots which are normally accompanied by challenging and rapidly changing lighting conditions. The photographer needs to be able to work in low light and be skilled in capturing candid moments as there will be a lot going on.
Whilst the photographer can reflect on a hard day’s work, they are far from done. Having taken anywhere up to 1,500 to 2,000 images, a well-tuned process will need to be undertaken over the coming days to review, edit, and process the final images for delivery. Photographers will vary the degrees of post-processing that will be performed but to ensure the photographs accurately reflect the day, typically the exposure and colours will be fine-tuned for consistency. Further steps may typically include a ‘sneak-peak’ for the couple if the’re on holiday, all the way through to the creation and upload of photographs to a web gallery and/or the delivery of prints. Many couples still like a professional wedding photo album for themselves and their parents.
It is only at this point, the photographer can reflect on a job well done and reviews where further improvements can be made.
Being a wedding photographer is not just about taking nice photographs. They need to be a people person, able to constantly be alert whilst also ensuring they have the stamina and discipline to continue working at the top of their game all day.
Months, even years, can pass from meeting with the couple for the first time, all the way through to the receiving of that wonderful phone call from the couple when they have viewed their photographs. The demands on a wedding photographer can’t be underestimated. The process from start to finish results in a collection of special images that tell the story of a couple’s love and commitment to one another. It’s heart-warming to know you have delivered something so meaningful to the happy couple.
Are you looking for a wedding photographer in Cambridgeshire? Meachen & Shorey Photography offer natural and documentary-style wedding photography. Please feel free to get in contact if you would like to learn more about what we offer.