Wedding photography has been around for quite a while now but if there’s a new trend that is currently sweeping the niche market, it the documentary wedding photography style. It’s new and a bit unorthodox and it speaks to a lot of the young couples out there who are thinking about tying the knot anytime soon. There are certain skills and certain tricks of the trade that are somewhat more in the specialty of the expert documentary wedding photographer. We decided to write up an article enumerating them.
An expert in this niche is great at managing a crowd and keeping them entertained.
As a documentary wedding photographer, you should learn how to be able to stir up a crowd and still somehow keep them in control at the same time. You should learn how to speak firmly in such a way that they will respect your authority without you coming off sounding rude and impolite. This is a delicate concoction to balance but be rest assured that over time and a whole lot of practice, this will be something that you will be able to master with no difficulty for as long as you focus on it.
You should be able to appreciate walking shots and use them to your advantage.
Walking shots are great for couples and groups alike. Make sure that you are able to adjust your shutter speeds to faster settings to really capture people walking in the moment and come up with less blur in your photos. Blur is a necessary risk for as long as there is motion involved in your photos but it is possible to minimize them with a little backhand knowledge regarding the technicalities of your gear.
You should be able to document people in their most natural and candid states without drawing too much attention to yourself.
Documentary wedding photography is all about being to take photos of people “in the moment”; you sort of let events flow as they normally would without too much intervention from you. This is something that really is way much harder than it would normally sound. You have to be on your feet all the time and learn how to think on your toes and intercept those moments and attempt to immortalize them in the photos before they completely disappear out into oblivion.
You should go out of your way to make people feel comfortable and well at ease before proceeding to actually take their photos.
Uncomfortable people do not make for great photos. If you get an inkling that the person you are photographing is not really feeling it, it’s OK to pause for a bit and talk to them and see if there is anything at all that you can do to help them just a little bit more comfortable. Then proceed to ask if it’s OK if you start taking their photos. Do not be afraid to start up a conversation, maybe crack a few jokes and maybe make them laugh at some point.
Check the wedding photographer’s experience in covering wedding events in the past. Experience is everything in the market of wedding photography. If you are shelling out some serious money for this kind of service, you might as well make sure that you are getting the best value for your money. Do not go with a wedding photographer who has not had that much experience at all. Chances are, your wedding event will be used as a practice session and that would not be fair to you at all. Remember that you are considering giving the responsibilities of covering the most important day in your life here so these is something that should not be taken lightly. When it all comes down to it, experience is a non-negotiable.
Review the wedding photographer’s portfolio posted online. Portfolios are like their resumes and you have every right to really look closely and assess it down to the smallest of details because you’re sort of like the employer here. What’s even great about this is the fact that if you do not like the quality if their work, you can save yourself the embarrassment of having to reject them personally. If you don’t like their work, you can just cross them out of the list and you don’t have to waste time asking to meet them in person as well.
Check out what kind of gear they are using and if it is up to par with the kind of quality that you would like delivered to you. Great photos require high quality gear to be used. It’s something that just comes with the territory. Try to see what kind of cameras they have and in what shape those cameras are in. mind you, there is an emphasis on the plural form of the noun because what you’re looking for is an assortment of cameras. They need to make sure that they have enough backup equipment or gear before you hand over that contract for them to have the right to cover your wedding event.
Ask the wedding photographer if he has a team to back him up. A wedding photographer who has a team is always a great sign of professionalism. Covering a wedding takes an awful lot of time and energy and something that a one-man army just cannot accomplish all on his own. This will also tell you a lot about someone’s work ethics. If he works well with a team, he should be likeable enough and can be depended on to not be rough or rude with the guests at your wedding.
Ask him what kind of style he usually goes with as a wedding photographer. There needs to be a common interest or a silent level of agreement with regards to the kind of style that you would like to go with at some point. You and your wedding photographer of choice should be in sync particularly regarding this issue. Go with someone whose works inspire you and someone whose portfolio you like to begin with and you should be fine.
Filming in JPEG format is a cardinal sin in the faith of wedding photography. Filming in JPEG format is one of the most common and recurring mistakes in wedding photography. JPEG is notorious for auto editing out the images shortly after being shot so there is no way for you to be able to retrieve them. Sure, they take up less memory space than RAW images normally would but they do not hold the same quality and resolution. It is also much harder to correct or touch up JPEG images because they are usually whitewashed and overexposed especially in cases where there is too much light exposure involved.
Being negligent with the camera and bringing only one camera with no backup is considered irresponsible. There is just no way around this and this needs to be stated again and again to new photographers in the wedding photography scene; you need more than just one camera. One camera absolutely won’t do. You need this as a backup and to be your catchall if something screws up with the first one, plain and simple. Again, no arguments need here. We’re moving on.
Booking a wedding event on your own with no previous experience whatsoever is a total no-no. If you’ve never done it before, chances are, you won’t be equipped enough to do it now. Just step back for a bit and reflect that what is at stake here is the most important day in a couple’s life. Instead, work on preparing yourself by offer to assist wedding photographers who have had more experience than you in their own events. You may not be paid for this or may only be paid a very miniscule sum for assisting (depends on your arrangement), but consider this as real world experience that you will be getting relatively for free.
Forgetting to visit the venues ahead of time to take some practice shots is both amateur and disorganized. Scouting out the locations ahead of time is the key to you being able to take in the landscape of the venue. This will make you better aware of the best spots to position people in and what the best angles are.
Shouldering on to film people despite of their obvious discomfort is inconsiderate. Be sensitive enough to notice when people are not at ease with being photographed and try to talk them through it. They will appreciate the fact that you are going through lengths to make them more comfortable and they will come out looking great in the images because they’ll turn up more relaxed and less contrived.
Neglecting to update your online portfolio is unwise. Consider your portfolio as your resume that you would have to update with your best works that represent you the most. This is the first thing your clients take a look at so make sure you are diligent in updating this.
Not learning how to network during the wedding event will make you miss out on business opportunities. Bring a good stash of your business cards to hand out to people during wedding events. You won’t really know what other opportunities might turn up.
Never ever make the mistake of filming in JPEG format
You’re probably thinking that it’s not really that big of a deal but the pictures speak for themselves the moment they come out. You have to keep in mind that your clients are paying you top dollar for high quality photos. Do not scrimp out on the memory space and always shoot in RAW because you will be able to capture the photos with all the information and the details complete. It will also let you repair blurred or out of focus pictures far more easily because almost all of the elements and details are still all there.
Do not forget to gear up with a secondary camera that is good enough to take high resolution photos.
One high quality DSLR just isn’t good enough, period. What are you going to do if, by some cosmic misfortune, something happens t your main camera? You can’t just stop shooting mid-event and tell the bride and groom you’re sorry. Save yourself the trouble and the possible bad karma by preparing a secondary camera that will catch you in case your first one fails. It’s just smart planning.
Do not book a wedding without any kind of previous experience. Just get this over with.
If you have not filmed a wedding before and just have absolutely zero experience in terms of coverage, just say no. You can’t afford that kind of risk against your reputation as a professional photographer and the couple does not deserve that kind of substandard service. Opt to get experience first by assisting a more established wedding photographer just so that you are able to navigate your own wedding event once you book one.
Do not forget to scout the location ahead of time.
Visit the venues about 2 days or so in advance to familiarize yourself with the setup and just so that you will know how to pose your subjects come wedding day.
Do not argue with the bride.
The bride is your most important client. Grooms are usually pushovers to brides because the long and short of it is that the wedding is all about the bride. Try to bring in some gentle suggestions if you would like to compromise.
Do not film awkward or uncomfortable subjects before they’re ready and relaxed.
Uncomfortable subjects do not photograph well, and they will hate you if you just apathetically keep filming without considering how they look. Take the time to make them feel comfortable first by talking to them first and making them feel at ease.
Do not be lazy with your online portfolio.
Your portfolio is your resume posted to the public and you will be objectively judged for it so take the time to only include the best of your works and update it diligently time and time again.
Do not forget to network and prepare good looking business cards.
Wedding events are the perfect opportunity for you to scout out for your next client. Befriend your other colleagues in the wedding industry from the waiters to the wedding planners to the florists. Have a good stash of crisp and clean looking business cards ready and hand them out like crazy. Networking is the key to advancing your wedding photography business.