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So you want to be a photographer: Part 2 - A wedding photographer

Black and White rendition of a color photograph
Black and White rendition of a color photograph
Buddy Ray

(This is the 2nd in a 10 article series on becoming a photographer)

Part 1 - Working photographer

Smooth wedding plans call for a team of dedicated professionals who are knowledgeable, experienced and prepared for most challenges faced on a wedding day.

The wedding coordinator leads the list of service providers, in terms of being the most influential and involved with the bridal couple leading up to the wedding day. The wedding photographer, however, holds the unique position as one who is trusted to capture the couple’s wedding experience for the lasting enjoyment long after the wedding day is over.

A wedding photographer is a special event professional, who is uniquely creative, technically competent, and always prepared to shoot under a wide variety of conditions and restrictions on the wedding day. Weddings may be held indoors, outdoors, daytime, nighttime, in large churches or small churches, halls, small rooms, or some combination of those conditions. The weather could be sunny, rainy or cloudy, hot and humid, or cold and frosty. Regardless of the circumstances, the wedding photographer must be prepared to handle almost any condition.

Wedding photographers know their equipment like the back of their hands, and can analyze a situation, visualize the image desired in their mind’s eye, and actually capture the shot almost instantaneously. Most successful wedding photographers specialize in a particular style of wedding coverage, but are trained and able to blend in elements of other styles when necessary.

Besides the wedding coordinator, there are four major groups that a wedding photographer must understand and deal with for different reasons, including the:

  • wedding couple
  • families of the wedding couple
  • wedding party
  • guests

Each group witnesses a wedding from their unique perspective, and have certain expectations based on their involvement. The successful wedding photographer understands this, and makes sure that contacts with each group are always punctuated by professionalism and concern for their best interests. Successful wedding photographers know that they are always being watched; and in some cases, being auditioned, so to speak, by a few members of the audience and/or wedding party for possible future wedding assignments.

Photography is a visual language, and like many languages, some people find it harder to speak than others. Wedding photographers have found a way to visually speak the language of love between people through creative wedding photography. Successful wedding photographers are most fluent in that language, and always seem to capture the unique mood, expressions, and storyline that every wedding experience contains.

Some might ask, Well, what about video? Photographers who shoot video have many of the same attributes as still photographers, and face a few of the same challenges, but the overall impact on the flow of the day, the contact with the four wedding groups, and stress levels are much heavier for the still photographer.

In any event, wedding photography is a “people” business! If you're technically competent, can shoot at a fast pace, and enjoy working with people from a variety of backgrounds, wedding photography may be for you.

Good luck!

(Portions adapted from an essay written by Buddy Ray, Successful Wedding Photographers and How They Got That Way.)

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