A lot of photographers have asked me how I get ready for a full day of wedding photography. Many of those questions involve my gear and how I clean it, synch the cameras, etc. but there’s a lot more to it then just tending to my equipment. So here are the important things that I do to get ready to shooting a wedding.
1. Physical Training – Yes, just like professional sports, I too have to train for the big day. Wedding photography is back breaking work, and if you’re not moderately fit you will definitely be hurting at the end of the day. I focus on exercises that strengthens my back, shoulders, and arms and also exercises that boosts my stamina. Standing all day and lugging around tons of camera equipment for 8-10 hours is extremely tiring, so it’s really important to stay in shape so you don’t pass out during the middle of the day.
2. Vitamins – When a client hires me to shoot their wedding, they are expecting me to show up on their big day. Other than a super crazy event that would stop me from being there, I will do whatever I can to make sure I’m there. Emergen-c is my best friend, and it’s jam packed full of vitamin C and other vitamins and supplements to help me stay healthy. Days before a wedding, I’ll avoid eating out to alleviate any risks of food poisoning and I make sure I get plenty of rest.
3. Homework – Days before the wedding, I scout the locations to find the best spots for pictures so that I can go straight to them on the big day. Issues like lighting, composition etc. will pop up, so it’s good to study the area ahead of time so to be better prepared. I review pictures of what other photographers have done at any given venue, and I try to figure out what I can do better. If I’ve shot there before, I’ll review my own work so that I can do a better job the next time. I also attend the bridal party’s wedding rehearsal and it gives me the opportunity to speak to the church coordinator or the officiant about what I can and can’t do. Another thing I’ll do my homework on is memorizing names of people. I’m extremely bad with names, so I always ask for a list of names of the people in the bridal party, including parents and other important people, to memorize. I hate calling people “you”, so I try my best to learn names.
4. Teamwork – I’m in constant communication with my team prior to the wedding day so that they can be as prepared as I am. Things always go wrong, whether it’s small or big, and it’s extremely helpful to have a team that’s ready and prepared to handle any situation. Itineraries are printed out for everyone on the team and shot lists are reviewed.
5. Vehicle Maintenance – I learned my lesson the hard way when my car broke down on the way to a wedding. What’s worse is that I broke down on the freeway! I have to admit that I had a mini panic attack, but my wife came and saved the day and I made it just in time to the wedding. So now I do a routine check of my car the day before a wedding, and I make sure that it’s up to date on oil changes, transmission maintenance, etc.
6. Dry Cleaning – Gotta look nice for a wedding, right? Just like the old days in elementary school when my mom put out my clothes the night before for me to wear the next day, I do the same thing for a wedding. I also pack an extra set of clothes just in case anything happens.
7. Equipment – I charged all my batteries, clean my lenses and cameras, synch the cameras and organize everything in a concise manner. Also if necessary, I’ll make a trip to IE Photo Rentals and get whatever extra equipment my second photographer or I may need. I make sure I have backup equipment in case anything fails, and I always make sure to bring a laptop so that pictures can be backed up right on the spot.
8. Food – On the morning of the wedding, I make sure to eat a good breakfast. The last thing you want is to pass out from fatigue because you haven’t eaten anything during the day. I also pack extra water because shooting a wedding gets you thirsty!
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