Photographing a Friend's Wedding: Part IV

Continued from Photographing a Friend’s Wedding: Part III

Handy Wedding Tips

APPEARANCE: It is an old and mean joke that the way to learn how to dress for a wedding is to observe the videographer, then dress differently. The photographer at a wedding must project professionalism in the manner in which they dress.

For a man, this means a tux or a suit. If it is a tux, that means black with a white shirt and black bow tie. For a suit, which is what I prefer, this means nothing too bright, and definitely no cartoon ties. A white shirt is standard for a suit, but a nice blue or tan shirt will work as well; as long as the shirt does not clash with the suit. Bow ties are only to be worn under two circumstances: with a tux; or when dressed as a clown. If you wear a pinstripe shirt, which is really not appropriate for a wedding, only wear it with a solid suit, as you never cross lines between a shirt and a suit. If you do not have a suit, dress as nicely as possible and get a white shirt and tie at a minimum (uh… wear pants too).

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For a woman, a solid color or stripes works best, although women do have more flexibility in this area (hey, there is only one way to make a man look good, while women can look good in several ways). It is advisable, however, to avoid outfits which are red, white (what do you think the bride is most likely wearing), brown, and any floral or gaudy pattern. Dark colors like black and gray work best and they look really good when offset by white. This can of course vary by season and practicality (black is not a good color in the heat of summer).

EXTRA ITEMS TO CARRY: You can actually find items at your local grocery which are handy to have with you when shooting a wedding, although by no means a necessity.

Stains do happen and can certainly be noticeable in a photograph. The easiest manner in which to deal with a stain on a bridal gown, as silly as it may sound, is to have a bottle of liquid white paper correction fluid with you. This can be applied to the stain, but will come out at the cleaners. Stain remover towellettes, such as you can find at checkout counters, sometimes, can come in handy. Both of these items, however, are not frequently used, but are handy to have for a ëjust in caseí situation.

Shoes are not immune from problems either, as they can become scuffed, or even dirty if you were doing shots outside, or if the kids (and even adults) were playing around. Having some kind of a shoe wipe handy, as well, a bottle of black shoe polish (donít forget a buffer) can be handy.

Keeping things together at a wedding is not helped when the clothes themselves wonít stay together. This is the probably the most common problem you will run into at weddings. This is usually a problem with the bridal train or the bridesmaids outfits. Having items like safety pins and even a small sewing kit on hand can save a moment, let alone, someoneís dignity.

Lint is a fact of life and just cannot be avoided. If in the case of lint or hair sticking to clothes, a lint brush or lint roller can come in handy. An alternative to these is masking tape which can be back folded into a loop, so the sticky side is on the outside. This can then fit around your fingers and be rolled over a surface to remove lint and hair.

Other items which may be carried include hairpins, a cheap comb, super glue (when repairing an earring, please wait until it is dry before putting it on an ear), anti-static spray, lens cleaner for glasses, a small first aid kit, Tylenol (for yourself), and even a broken unisex pair of glasses (for the one person who has glasses that will reflect at any angle, if they must wear glasses in a shot, you can give them a pair with the lenses missing). Do not overload yourself, however, as these are mostly just in case items, except for the safety pins and hairpins.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: It is convenient for a photographer to know the progression of events during the wedding ceremony as not all ceremonies are the same. Often at weddings, they make available a printed program of events that will take place during the ceremony. This program is handy for the photographer to have as a way of being forewarned as to what is going to happen next. Whether or not a program is being provided, it is a good idea to inquire about the order of events with the bride and groom before the wedding. Of course, if you attended a wedding rehearsal, you are ahead of the game.

Additionally make it a point to communicate with the DJ or band at the wedding reception to find out what schedule of events they have. If events are spread too far apart, you can communicate with the bride and groom about possibly doing a few of the reception events closer together, as you do not need to go the full course of a wedding reception to get the shots you need.

CORSAGES: It is most frequently the photographer who ends up putting on the corsages as they do not come with any instructions for something which would seem simple but can be quite devious. The florist will deliver the corsages and flowers and sometimes play a little game called find the flowers. If there is a kitchen, be sure to check there. Once you have found the corsages and the pins which have been left with them, you can proceed to have them put on everyone.

To apply a corsage to a tux jacket, place the stem of the corsage against the spot you want to place it and push the material around the stem up into to folds, one on each side of the stem. Then push the pin through the folds and the stem at an angle making certain that the pin point is on the outside of the jacket when you are done as this will prevent the wearer from being stuck with it.

The same technique can be used to attach the corsage to dress, but, if you are a guy and uncomfortable with the prospect, let a woman do it. Just make certain that the pin point is on the outside of the dress.

Staying in Control

Being a control freak is not the photographerís job, yet the photographer must maintain a balanced control over situations dealing with the photography. This means keeping people where they are supposed to be for doing the posed shots rather than letting them roam off, and they will, which will cost you time and shots as you will have less time to get in all of your shots. The reception is also a place where the photographer must exert a certain degree of control in order to have a good shot of events such as the cake cutting. Rather than just letting the event happen, take control of he event by guiding the participants through the steps necessary for the event and to get a good shot.

Staying in control, though, means being polite and respectful. Remember that this is their day and not yours. You are wanting to help to make their day as smooth as possible and be able to deliver a good set of photographs to them.

The Prints are Back

A convenient way to present the prints to the bride and groom when they are ready is to use a 4×6 print album, preferably white, which holds close to the number of prints you have which are good as you only want to make the good prints available. These albums are often available in 100 print capacity and hold one print to each side of the page.

A nice bonus would be to make an 8×10 or 10×13 of the bride and groom and put it in a frame for them. I have also used a long frame which will hold about 5 4×6 prints and filled it with sequential shots from the ceremony. These items with the print album will make a nice presentation. You may even consider a handful of prints of the bride and groom so they can give out a few to family members.

If you are considering offering a reprinting service, then keep the negatives, but you will want a proof sheet for easy reference if they want to order additional prints. If you do not intend to bother with offering reprints, it would be handy to give the negatives to the bride and groom so they can always have reprints made, should they so desire. Just do not forget to have a set of prints made for yourself so your can put them in the same type of album you gave to the bride and groom as this will give you a sample book for future clients to view.

A Final Word

This article on wedding photography is collected from experience on my own and with other photographers. I do not present this as a course on wedding photography, rather as a guideline and hints for those photographers who may be shooting a wedding for the first time.

Wedding photography can be a rewarding experience as a photographer as well a potential career move. It is handy to have an idea what to expect so you can be better prepared and therefore provide a better service to the bride and groom.