The planning of a wedding is quite a task, just ask any bride to be. The planning of the wedding photography is just as challenging. The date must be available for the photographer. He/she must make sure any assistants needed are available for the wedding date.
The lighting conditions should be researched for the date prior to the wedding. If the wedding is indoors outside lighting is not a big factor but if it’s an outdoor wedding the light is a factor. If the bride and groom and/or wedding party will meet prior to the ceremony for formals those details must be worked out.
The wedding and reception locations should be visited prior to the wedding, notes taken and a photography shooting plan should be put into place.
There are pros and cons whether the wedding photographer should attend the wedding rehearsal but what better time to learn the route, whether any special rituals are taking place, the exact locations and which way that everyone will be standing so there are no surprises to you occurring, well at least the ones you can control, during the ceremony.
You’ll need to know how many family members will be there to plan your family shots and how many in the bridal party for the same reason.
You must have in mind and pre-plan from where you and your assistant if you have one will be shooting from and the paths that you can take when moving from one place to another while shooting.
The officiate of the ceremony needs to be contacted before the wedding day to determine if, when or where flash may not be used during the ceremony. Also special permission may be needed to be in special locations for that “great shot.” If that location for example is a balcony be sure to arrange access to it, don’t assume anything.
Make notes of the lighting at the wedding and reception locations to determine if any special equipment such as more flash will be needed. Determine which lens will be needed for what shot in what location. You will not be able to carry all your equipment on your person so a plan has to be in place for this.
Every piece of equipment and its backup will need to be inspected and checked to be sure it is in working condition. Storage cards need to be reformatted and ready to go with enough storage capacity to record the whole ceremony and reception unless you are planning on downloading them onto a hard drive during the event. Preplan the timing of this as it takes a little time away from your photographing the event and you do not wish to miss an important happening at the wedding or reception.
There are many styles of wedding photography such as formal, traditional, photojournalistic and on and on depending on what time of the day it is and who you are talking to at the moment. Everyone has a name for everything today, it’s not a bad thing but don’t get tied down with it. In reality you should have a bit of each style incorporated into “your style.” The bottom line is be able to take the photographs the bride and groom want and expect. Deliver the quality of photograph and shots that you use as samples. The bride and groom should never be subjected to seeing great samples that are post processed to be gorgeous and beautiful and then not receive any of them in the same poses/shots that they receive.
Approximate how many photographs you will take and determine how many hours will be devoted to post processing and what special effects you will include.
It is a good idea to check with the venues where the event will be at to determine if they require that you be insured to photograph the event. You may not be aware but if property or individuals get harmed because of your equipment or actions by you, you will be liable for it. Your homeowners insurance may not cover you and most certainly won’t if you are charging for your service, be sure to check. Many establishments require a proof certificate of insurance and may not allow you to work/perform the photography on their premises without a proof of being insured.
Some brides and grooms today also purchase a liability insurance policy for themselves to cover any incident occurring on the venue’s property. This policy covers them, not you. To be certain, obtain your own liability insurance policy for the event, just in case something goes wrong.
Last but not least, have a wedding contract and include items discussed here in the contract so that all parties involved know what to expect.
This is an example/excerpt of photojournalism as applied to just the ceremony of a wedding.
How to Photograph a Wedding Part 4 - The shots