How to Photograph Weddings

Forgive the cliche, but the best answer to the question “How to photograph weddings” is “very VERY carefully”.

There’s the story about a wedding photographer who was sued by his client for failing to do his job at their expensive wedding.  I don’t know if it was for bad pictures, NO pictures because of equipment failure, or just that key shots that were missed because of bad planning.  According to the story, the judge imposed a fine on the photographer that equaled the cost of re-creating the event for a re-shoot. That meant paying to have all of the guests flown back to the location, including housing and feeding them all!  Add to that the cost of tuxedos, the reception hall, the catered food, entertainment, etc.  I don’t know how true this story is, but if you’re wondering how to photograph weddings just now, maybe you should assume that it is true, and read this paragraph again.

I’m not a wedding photographer, but because I had students who wanted instruction on weddings, I agreed to do one for a client’s daughter’s wedding. In the weeks before the event, I bought and read several top books on how to photograph weddings, including David Ziser’s “Captured By the Light”, which is now at the top of my required reading list — not only for weddings, but for off-camera flash techniques as well.

When the day came, I felt ready. I had two assistants: One to shoot and the other to hold a portable umbrella with flash pole (David Ziser’s technique – see the ad below). We had three camera bodies altogether – each of which used the same lenses, memory cards, batteries and speedlight flash units. We had multiple chargers, lots of memory cards (changing them often), a stepladder for large group shots, and both wide angle and telephoto lenses for both shooters. We walked through all the venues the day before the wedding, noting places to position key shots, where the sun would be at various times of day, and reviewing our shot-list, discussing creative ideas, props, and other considerations.

The day went without a hitch, and we even got a kudo for our technique from one photographer/guest. The happy couple was thrilled, we got paid, and I had enough material for a pretty good tutoring session on how to photograph a wedding.  My biggest takeaway from it all though?  I vowed to never EVER shoot another wedding again, and I haven’t.