Photographing your first wedding – A guide

I’m often asked questions like “How did you get started?” and “I’ve booked my first wedding – help! What do I do now?” If you have a decent camera and can use it, sooner or later you will be asked to photograph a friends wedding.

The rings in this shot were placed on a bit of white paper on a windowsill in direct sunlight. Simple but effective composition with shadows. Remember to ask the best man for the rings early on before you really get busy. ISO 400 f/5.6 at 1/250th

The rings in this shot were placed on a bit of white paper on a windowsill in direct sunlight. Simple but effective composition with shadows. Remember to ask the best man for the rings early on before you really get busy. ISO 400 f/5.6 at 1/250th

You will probably hear the words “Will you take some pictures at my wedding”? Beware of misunderstandings or intentional simplification. Read between the lines and do a bit of research before agreeing to undertake the said duties. A good non-committal response is “Let’s set a date to discuss your wedding further and I’ll think about it.”

For this wonderful shot of the girls getting ready Julie deliberately shot into the sunlit window. An exposure increase of plus 3 stops was dialled in to avoid the obvious silhouette the camera’s meter alone would have delivered. For this kind of shot to work top lenses are needed, as flare can soon become a problem when using extreme exposure increases. ISO 320 f/4 at 1/500th

For this wonderful shot of the girls getting ready Julie deliberately shot into the sunlit window. An exposure increase of plus 3 stops was dialled in to avoid the obvious silhouette the camera’s meter alone would have delivered. For this kind of shot to work top lenses are needed, as flare can soon become a problem when using extreme exposure increases. ISO 320 f/4 at 1/500th

Ask yourself:

  • What does my friend really mean by “some pictures”
  • What will the bride’s mum want?
  • How will I feel watching all my friends knocking back the Champagne and Canapés whilst I sip orange juice and grapple with the groups?
  • Will the happy couple want an album of pictures, loose prints, files on disk or something else entirely?
  • How many pictures are needed?
  • How many hours on the day am I likely to be taking pictures?
  • How many days will the post production of the pictures take me?
  • Do I have all the equipment required to do the job properly?
  • Am I available to do it?
  • Do I want to do it? If not, am I strong enough to say no?

Once you have completed this initial research you are ready to answer the original question. If you have said yes “I’ll do it” or if you are likely to be asked then read on…

I placed my flashgun behind my back for this shot. It illuminated the room via the sidewall behind me. The resulting picture has a great light balance that has kept the back of the groom on the right of the frame at a sensible level. ISO 400 f/2.8 at 1/60th

I placed my flashgun behind my back for this shot. It illuminated the room via the sidewall behind me. The resulting picture has a great light balance that has kept the back of the groom on the right of the frame at a sensible level. ISO 400 f/2.8 at 1/60th

Photographing a wedding can be fun and if done well it may lead on to a lucrative career or a useful income on the side. There are several hoops to jump through first so here is a crash course to get you going…

Julie, my wife and I started photographing weddings back in 1998 and since then we have shot over 350 high end weddings all over Europe. A string of top awards and international recognition has led to our Lovegrove brand being a big name in the industry.

Tip: There are over 15,000 pictures available to view at our wedding site www.lovegroveweddings.com this is a good place to go for inspiration and ideas because you can see every picture we took at about 40 top weddings.

I held my flashgun with a Sto-Fen fitted off camera and used a TTL connecting cord to connect with the camera. This study of grandparents is the kind of picture that has a high value to the family, so keep your eyes open for opportunities like this. I generated a rapport, created the moment and captured it.  ISO 400 f/4 at 1/60th

I held my flashgun with a Sto-Fen fitted off camera and used a TTL connecting cord to connect with the camera. This study of grandparents is the kind of picture that has a high value to the family, so keep your eyes open for opportunities like this. I generated a rapport, created the moment and captured it. ISO 400 f/4 at 1/60th

Planning
Get to grips with the logistics of the wedding day itself. It may be an advantage to rope in a friend to be a driver and bag carrier. Sit down with the couple and go through the timings of the day meticulously. Expand the time plan to include notes about the pictures you are going to shoot. ‘Start with the end in mind.’ This phrase applies to everything you do from planning the wedding day shoot itself to your choice of equipment. If your ‘client’ wants an album of 50 pictures then jot down the number of ‘keepers needed at each stage of the day and aim to not wildly overshoot. It is much better to get 5 great pictures of the guys getting ready at home rather than 50 snaps of the same scene. Julie and I work on a 6 to 1 ratio of pictures taken to pictures chosen by our client. So if your client wants an album of 50 prints try to keep the day’s shoot to about 300 frames. The image quality in each picture really does matter. The quality of expression, framing, composition, exposure, focus and timing are all important. Allow yourself plenty of time in the day’s plan to be creative. Recce your shoot locations and measure the journey times between them. Enter the location data in your sat nav if you have one.  Plan your shooting approach with reference to the time of day and direction of the sun. Have a wet weather plan too. If group pictures need to be taken indoors plan your lighting set up. It is important to know how many people you have in each of your groups at the recce.

This moment summed up the day of fun and celebration. The subject movement adds life to the picture. After the vows the officiator proclaims the couple ‘husband and wife’ to which there is often a spontaneous cheer. Be ready to capture the moment. ISO 400 f/4.8 at 1/20th

This moment summed up the day of fun and celebration. The subject movement adds life to the picture. After the vows the officiator proclaims the couple ‘husband and wife’ to which there is often a spontaneous cheer. Be ready to capture the moment. ISO 400 f/4.8 at 1/20th

Group list aside, it is imperative that you get a few core ‘formal’ pictures on the day even if the bride is casual about the photography. Formal doesn’t have to be stiff and boring. You can have fun with these pictures too but don’t mess them up because mums and dads will expect them:

  • Full-length portrait of the groom in his attire with buttonhole (if he has one)
  • Shot of the groom with his best man.
  • Full length portraits of the bride – front and back (showing the back of the dress with an over the shoulder look perhaps)
  • Bride with her bridesmaids
  • Bride and groom full length
  • Bride and groom head and shoulders
  • Full length shot of the bride and groom with attendants
  • Parents and siblings with the bride and groom (one shot for each family)
I asked the groom to hop up on the pillar and I shot this frame into the light. Be dynamic with your posing and great pictures will result. ISO 400 f/4 at 1/500th

I asked the groom to hop up on the pillar and I shot this frame into the light. Be dynamic with your posing and great pictures will result. ISO 400 f/4 at 1/500th

Photographic style
Discuss photographic style with your ‘client’. Take the couple to a local park or location and do a mini photo shoot using the style you want to work with. If the shoot goes well and they like your pictures you have a great base to build on. If there is an air of disappointment when they see the pictures give them an easy way out by suggesting they book a professional. It is far better to find out any incompatibility before the wedding. There are couples that hate having their picture taken and others who look great but don’t like pictures of themselves. These couples are best avoided. If in doubt do yourself a favour, take a step back and suggest they book a professional. You won’t regret the decision and they will respect your advice.

When it’s too dark to shoot outside or the weather is bad I set up the groups inside using a 1200Ws battery flash and an umbrella. I took the decision to keep the aperture closed to f/7 in order to have enough depth of field for the group. I then decided I wanted to use a maximum of ISO 200 to keep the image quality as high as I could get. This left me with an exposure of  1/4 second to record the wall lights. I relied on the short duration of my Broncolor flash to freeze any subject movement and I used a tripod to steady my Hasselblad. ISO 200 f/7.1 at 1/4

When it’s too dark to shoot outside or the weather is bad I set up the groups inside using a 1200Ws battery flash and an umbrella. I took the decision to keep the aperture closed to f/7 in order to have enough depth of field for the group. I then decided I wanted to use a maximum of ISO 200 to keep the image quality as high as I could get. This left me with an exposure of 1/4 second to record the wall lights. I relied on the short duration of my Broncolor flash to freeze any subject movement and I used a tripod to steady my Hasselblad. ISO 200 f/7.1 at 1/4

Equipment
“The photographer sees the picture, the lens makes the image and the camera records it”. This foundation truth must be held in mind when choosing kit. Any current £400+ DSLR is more than capable of recording wedding images. Julie and I used to shoot weddings on 3.2 megapixel Fuji S1′s back in 2001. The camera was fine for the task so my advice is to concentrate your resources on the glass. Consider hiring professional lenses for the wedding day shoot. I suggest coverage from 17mm through to 200mm at f2.8 is ideal. Three lenses should do it. You will also need a good dedicated flashgun, a tripod or a monopod and a spare camera kit. If you have faster lenses then these will be an advantage in a dark church.

I took this shot with my camera on top of my monopod and held high over my head. A different viewpoint often secures an interesing

I took this shot with my camera on top of my monopod and held high over my head. A different viewpoint often secures an interesting picture. ISO 400 f/9 at 1/180th

The wedding day
Assuming the ‘Pre Wedding Shoot’ has gone well here is a guide to what to expect at the wedding ceremony.

Civil ceremonies: Unless you are unlucky enough to have the wedding in Wiltshire you will be allowed to take pictures during the ceremony. You will have to be discreet and abide by the rules laid down by the registrar. In London and Scotland we have found the officiators to be the most relaxed about photography during the ceremony allowing you the freedom to move around and use flash. In Wiltshire there is absolutely no photography allowed in civil ceremonies what so ever. You will still be told you can’t photograph the register wherever you are, although we usually manage to get candid shots during the signing using a long lens and picking our moments when the registrar is distracted.

Church weddings: It’s up to the vicar or priest what you can and can’t do. Start at the back of the church to get shots of the bride arriving and the start of the procession (usually the bride and her father). Aim to go to the front of the church on the right hand side (facing the bride) during the first hymn and get ready for the vows. Then during a hymn go to the back to get your wide shots. The signing of the register is often followed by the procession down the isle. There are ceremonies that have a blessing at the high alter between the two events giving you time to prepare. Check the order of service.

Rain happens in the UK. With a positive mental attitude even a wet wedding can be great fun. Don’t panic if you wake up to rain. Just be prepared to get wet. ISO 800 f/4 at 1/470th

Rain happens. With a positive mental attitude even a wet wedding can be great fun. Don’t panic if you wake up to rain. Just be prepared to get wet. ISO 800 f/4 at 1/470th

Post production
Keep the post production time to a minimum by shooting RAW files and use a complete software solution like Adobe Lightroom at the download stage. In very little time you can download, sort and adjust your images whilst still maintaining the integrity of the original captures. Back up your files at the earliest possible opportunity. Process the raw files to TIFFs or JPGs as required.

The end product
You can deliver your pictures in many different ways. Prints are still popular and easy to produce. Online labs like www.photobox.co.uk produce good quality real photographic prints from digital files at a fraction of the cost of home produced ink jet prints. Photographic albums take time to plan and usually cost a lot of money so these elements need to be factored in from the start. You can of course deliver your work on CD or DVD at very little cost. One last option to consider is the instant bound book. Many companies now host online design and ordering software for book making. www.sim2000.com is one of them. The books are usually printed using digital offset machines and stitched into hard covers. You can incorporate text into your designs and duplicates can be ordered with a click.

If like me, you are caught by the bug and want to take wedding photography to the next level, get yourself a copy of my book ‘The Complete Guide to Professional Wedding Photography’ at www.lovegroveconsulting.com

Please feel free to comment on your experiences or my advice.

Damien.

If you found this helpful, you may also like to read How to Fish for Brides ~ Without Advertising and How to pose couples ~ A photo guide by Damien Lovegrove

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

48 thoughts on “Photographing your first wedding – A guide

  1. Unless you are shooting a one-off for a friend you need to consider where you want your business to be before you start to offer your services. If you want to be shooting £3000 weddings, I suggest you don’t start by shooting mates rates weddings for £300. Get yourself trained and put together a quality, service and product proposition that will support a price that is close to where you want to end up. Of course you will get better and can then hopefully charge more but start as you mean to go on. We took £3000 from our first wedding and the show album from that went on to help book another 20 weddings for us.

  2. In an ideal world sure that sounds great but it’s not an ideal one :/. You have to start somewhere and for most it doesn’t start at £3000!!! I feel that example you have provided is an exception rather than the rule! For example I know someone like Brett Harkness charged something like £150 for weddings and look at him now, I guess he didnt start as he meant to go on.

    It’s ok talking about getting trained Martin etc. and I’m sure you are aware how much it all costs but bloody hell you come across a little harsh and clinical, may be that’s just me reading too much into it.

    I’m trying very hard to get where I want to be and with very little money it makes it all the more diffcult :/

    May be I just started off wrong but I lack of confidence in my ability behind the camera to charge large amounts until I feel I am worthy of it.

  3. Stuart: pick and choose the advice you accept and that which you reject but please don’t get upset by it. I was just responding to Damien’s request to share experience.

    FWIW I did have some redundancy money to invest in training but I would rather shoot a few nice weddings for free to build a portfolio than try to work up from £150.

    And when talking about Brett I believe he did Annabel Williams’ CPT “bespoke” course and that costs £10,000 last time I looked. We didn’t spend anything like that.

  4. Hi Stuart,

    I can acknowledge that Martin’s story is both true and achievable if you have the talent and can invest both the time and effort to make it happen. Like an Olympic athlete, If you prepare well you can achieve gold on your first outing, but very few do. The truth of the matter is that Martin exhibits those rare qualities of being a great photographer and a jolly good bloke. It’s a winning combination in the wedding business.

    I started out by doing mates weddings and then worked hard to develop a winning formula. I too trained at CPT but I went on and studied both photography and business to a much higher level. With eight years of success under my belt it was time to pass on my worldly knowledge and experience to the next generation of wedding photographers who were destined for success. This passing on of knowledge ensures that those photographers willing to invest in themselves get a leap up the ladder and in Martin’s case it was straight to the £3k mark. Great things happen when preparation meets opportunity.

    We all have our own way of achieving success and I will do what ever I can to champion the aims and aspirations of you, the next generation of professional wedding photographers. Stay positive and aim to exceed the expectations of all those people you photograph. Things can be tough when you start to get going and that is why I wrote this article.

    Kind regards,

    Damien.

    PS: Read this post too: http://www.prophotonut.com/2008/08/14/how-to-turn-pro/

  5. A further practical tip…… At your pre-wedding consultation/shoot, make sure, if it’s a faith ceremony you’re not familiar with that you understand what will happen when, what is important and when it may be inappropriate to be taking photographs.

    On the biz side of things…. even if you’re shooting for friends or family I’d suggest you MUST arrange insurance, both professional indemnity and public liability. Some venues – especially stately homes and anything owned by the various National Heritage/Trust organisations will probably insist on this, and may require £5m or even £10m of cover.

    And ALWAYS keep on the right side of the tax man too and make sure you declare any income from your work. A qualified accountant will be able to advise how to do this, as you should also be able to offset your expenses too.

  6. Damien, thanks for posting your advice and thoughts. I have your book and the two lighting DVD’s which I bought at Focus on Imaging. This blog adds that extra insight into how you work and the processes behind what you do.

    My experience is that I started out being aksed to shoot the wedding for a friend’s son. I was told that it was very relaxed etc but on meeting the bride to discuss what she wanted, was handed a copy of Vogue Weddings and told this is what she liked. Fortunately, the wedding went okay and they liked the images – but IMHO they certainly weren’t vogue standard.

    To prepare and get an idea of how to shoot a wedding, I contacted a wedding photographer (who I knew a little) and asked if I could shadow him on a couple of weddings. I let him have the images I took. On seeing the images I had taken he later offered me some occasional shoots as the second photographer. He also recommended me to another photographer to shoot the candids for him. Subsequently I did about thirty weddings with him over a couple of years.

    This year, I did two weddings solo, as the phototographer was already booked. Naturally this was done with the clients approval and we met beforehand.

    So now I have had the experience of shooting weddings, both solo and in support. The bit I haven’t been involved with is the buisness end and putting albums etc together. I am two thirds there.

    There appears to be a plethora of photographer in my area, and some of them are experienceing difficulties with the current financial situtaion. I am therefore undecided about taking the full step of commiting to making it a full time business of my own.

    Lastly, as Alan pointed out, to make sure I am covered, I took out insurance to cover myself for the solo weddings, and I registered as a sole trader for tax as soon as I started earning money.

  7. Hi Damien and all you Lovegrove fans.
    After studying photography at Art College over 25 years ago I hung up my professional camera and became a business advisor. Earlier this year a client asked the question “if I was such a good advisor how come I wasn’t in business”. Well I bit the bullet, invested several thousand pounds of my kids inheritance in top class digital kit and set up a wedding photography business but not before booking a fantastic training day with Damien. I have been fortunate enough to SELL my services to twelve couples this summer and I have just delivered the last DVD. My induction into this highly competitive business has been exhilerating to say the least. Although Damien’s advice is top class there is nothing like the adrenaline rush of the real event. I have literally fell exhausted into bed after taking a thousand images but been unable to sleep because I am wondering if the images will be top drawer. I want to be Damien Mark 2 in my first season – NO CHANCE but I am working on perfecting my technique and style. This year has been a fantastic experience with a steep learning curve coupled with some extremely hard work but nevertheless the most fun I’ve had in a long time. The couples who trusted me to capture their wedding day dreams have been superb. I am competitive coming in this year at £650 for a full day wedding with all images supplied on a DVD. I haven’t tried printing or album design yet, that will be phase two for 2009. For next year I am already quoting £1200 and have booked three weddings and a 50th anniversary so starting at a low! price and working up can be achieved with careful marketing. The one major learning experience for me this year has been the need to focus on your customer. Damien has already alluded to this issue in his most recent blog: show the clients your images, tell them the price and talk to them about what they want. If it doesn’t fit with your style of photography DON’T take the job. Trust me I have learned this from bitter experience.
    Just a final word to say this blog is turning into the most useful free resource on the web and already we are seeing lively debate ensue. This can only be a good thing for us wedding photogrophers whether seasoned old pro’s, young upstarts or mature old amateurs just embarking on a new career.
    These business nuggets that Damien (and his team) are throwing our way will become even more valuable in the forthcoming economically challenging times so thanks to all involved.

  8. Damien,

    This post has been particularly useful. I would be very interested if you did a post on the workflow of designing and printing albums and included the following…

    What software is available for designing a modern album, which ones would you recommend. What printing labs are available in the UK? Some recommendations for album suppliers etc.

    This is the area that I am lacking experience in and would really value information on.

    Thanks
    Adrian

  9. Hi Damien

    I would echo what Adrian has said above, it seems that the marketplace has a Passion for printed storybooks and although many companies are offering free software some guidance from the maestro would be greatly appreciated.
    Just for starters I have just received a superb starters pack from Graphi Studio and whilst this looks a great package I would like to hear others thoughts about the ease of use etc.

  10. We’re not fans of the printed ‘story book’ style albums.

    The fact that so many companies are installing HP Indigo Presses and offering printed books from $10 upward to the general public means that it’s very mainstream now.

    Given the number of offers of massive discounts from companies, including Graphi (not Indigo press I know) that we receive every week, it suggests that the market place is flooded.

    Would rather offer a ‘classic’ custom made matted album from the likes of Jorgensen or Queensberry that clients can’t create for themselves at Photobox or My Publisher.

    Any idea of the light-fastness/colour stability of digital prints in photo books? No, me neither, but I know that our silver based prints will be good for over 100 years.

    Even if such long term stability isn’t a concern for you, ever noticed how the corners of a magazine or well thumbed book start to wear and curl? Won’t these books do the same in a matter of weeks, never mind years.

    Great as fun gifts, or party souvenirs, but not a high enough quality product for a wedding album IMHO.

    However, if you want to try for yourself, I’ve heard good things about the products and software from:
    http://www.blurb.com and http://www.everleaf.co.uk

    Any 1st hand experience reports?

    Alan…

  11. We were at the National Wedding Show last weekend and many of the visitors to our stand said it was great to see “proper” albums and photographs. Self selecting sample I know since that was all we were showing but there is certainly still a good demand for high quality matted albums.

  12. all our clients choose matted albums..I haven’t sold one digital format (we use queensberry) Matts win hands down.

    Tell you what I have done though and works really well is use the page layouts created in photojunction album software and uploaded them to photobox. I then use each album page as a full page picture in one of their A4 photobooks. I use these as giveaways to the businesses we work with like the hotels, florists and bridal shops. Its a cost effective way of potential customers seeing your work, and getting the all important consultation to show them the queensberry sample albums and our jorgenson sample albums

  13. Hi Alan,
    I’ve seen the everleafs they are beautiful. I also like the look and feel of Loxleys bellissimo’s.

    My experience also has lead me to avoid using black backgrounds on the photobooks, they very quickly mark with thumbprints and grease spots.

    Martin.
    We are at the National wedding show at the NEC next week and this year we are only taking our matt albums.

  14. Thank you all for your valuable input. I can see there is a need for a blog post on client selection and product development and another on the practical aspects of album design and construction (gluing and sticking). I’ll get onto these asap.

    In the meantime I want to add that quite a few of our wedding clients have been creatives (book designers, artists, photographers etc) and they want pictures on disc. Other clients of ours want the full customer experience and a traditional album. They want it to be timeless and matted. They don’t want pictures taken on angles, they want no spot colour, no sepia and no cross processing etc. They just want an honest collection of beautiful images they and their children will enjoy for many years to come. ‘Of the moment’ digital albums that will soon look dated are a definate no no for our clients. Your clients may well be different and you must give your clients what they want.

    We have used Jorgensen albums from Australia for over 8 years now and I would guess we have sold well over 500 of them to date. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

    I’ll get writing again in the next few days.

    Damien.

  15. Damien, Interesting to hear that you supply some clients with images on disc. I have heard some wedding pros postively discourage this as they are concerned that the images could be printed by cheap inkjet printers, consequuently the end results could be vastly inferior with poor colour etc. In short there is no quality control of the output.

    The concern is that these poor images don’t reflect well on the photographer and may give a negative impression to others who see the images. As you know, a lot of referrals are by word of mouth.

  16. Hi Dave,

    Our clients who buy pictures on disc understand print quality. We recommend they use Photobox online for pictures for friends and family and Clifton Colour for album prints as the paper base they use is thicker. They can also use SIM 2000 or any of the online retailers they choose for digital albums and the print quality will be fine.

    Print quality issues are not a problem. There will always be photographers who want something to complain about or a reason not to do something. In the early 2000′s there were some photographers who produced terrible pictures at home on dodgy printers, that much is true. Thankfully for the past 5 years it has been far cheaper to have real photographic prints made by a lab and the DIY days are over.

    If you deliver colour managed files with correct colour there will be no problems. Even an office Epson ink jet has a hard time screwing up colour these days, and certainly any high street operation will be fine like Boots or Jessops as they nearly always use either Fuji Frontier or Noritsu closed loop calibrated machines.

    If I was to photograph your wedding would you like to have the pictures on disc? Ask your clients the same question.

    Damien.

  17. Hi Damien,

    Thanks for the follow up posting, and the explanation. It’s great to have your input on these things.

    Dave

  18. Hi Damien

    I have just gone through my pics from my second wedding and not very impressed. I always seem to forget things when in the field, I know what has to be done both tech and creative.

    I was wondering what you do to remember everything on the day.

    I do write lists of the tech, creative and things to shoot but dont seem to find time to keep refering to it during the day.

    Or is this something I suspect that I will just get after more practice

    I have also just watched both you DVDs I ordered brillient will be watching many more time also have your wedding book and trying to follow your great advice.

    Regards
    Nigel

  19. Hello Martin, I have been shooting weddings for over 35 years now and I, myself, started by shooting a friends wedding. This gave me a sample book. I now book over 100 weddings a year. I am completely self taught. I firmly believe that if you have a strong passion in any line of business you can make it work while enjoying it at the same time. You say that you made £3000 from your first wedding. Well done ! This alone is an acheivement considering you didn’t have a show album when you booked the job. Most couples would be reluctant to risk their big day to someone who had never shot a wedding before. Unless, of course they are friends.

  20. Hi all

    Thought I would throw my previous question out to anyone how may have any good ideas or tips on trying to remember everything “tech, composition, etc.. ” in the heat of the moment on a wedding day.

    Any ideas greatly appreciated

  21. Hi Trevor

    The first wedding we booked wasn’t the first wedding we shot but both sets of couples were portrait clients so they had experienced the quality of our product and our service already. We pitched in with a fee we thought was appropriate and held our nerve. The first two weddings we shot we gave away the files to clinch the deal but the clients will never know how little we’d have been prepared to charge to get the jobs. First two weddings were good looking couples at Woburn Abbey which I admit was good fortune in terms of the show albums that resulted.

    The other thing that helped de-risk the decision for the clients was a money-back guarantee on the pre-wedding shoot. Don’t love the picures, get your wedding deposit back.

    Regards
    Martin

  22. I have used Blurb for photo books and must say I have been very impressed. They were originally only printing on a paper weight of 170 but they now offer 210 on a silk finish which feels great.
    Also I was at PhotoVision and next to your stand Damien was a company called PR-Imaging who did do an album which had stand alone prints without matt’s in a bound leather album. But whereas most other suppliers had the prints mounted on a core board which I must say I don’t like at all PR-Imaging had the prints heat sealed back to back which gave them an impressive thickness without being on a core board. Also they print on a fine art paper which is scratch and finger print resistant – the salesperson was happily scratching away at the prints!! Out of all the other options for this type of album at PhotoVision I felt they had the best product. I was very impressed.

  23. Hi Damien,

    I was wondering if you have any standard wedding photography contracts that you have examples of or that you discuss on this website. I bought your book ‘Professional Wedding Photography’ and could not find examples in there (unless I missed them). I would find it useful to see the sort of things you would include in the contract.

    Regards

    Mark

  24. Hi Damien,
    A couple of questions if you don’t mind, I’ve got all your dvds and book and love your work. I have done a few weddings and use a canon 40d and canon 17-85mm is lens and canon 70-30mm is lens.

    I’m getting a lot of noise in my shots when using 800 iso or higher in darkish situations, I know you use that special formular of f4, 800, 60sec and you seem to have no noise in comparsion, so i’m having to use a lower iso and struggle more.

    Would this be because I have a cheaper lens setup, or is it because my canon is a none full frame body?

    Any ideas would be much appreciated, cheers Dave

  25. Hi Damien,
    I was wondering if you have plans to write an article about design and construction workflow of a wedding album.

    Regards,

    Joseph.

  26. Hi Dave,

    Sorry for the delay in replying. Your question went under my radar. Your noise issue is due to under exposing your pictures. Increase the exposure you are giving each frame and the picture information will be lifted out of the noise.

    If you need to use fast lenses to achieve more exposure for a given ISO and shutter speed combination then that is what you will need. I can’t get by with slower lenses than f/2.8 for really dark situations unless I use ISO 1600 and above. That is why I have a Canon 5D mk2.

    I hope this helps, Damien.

  27. Hi Joseph,

    I do have plans to record videos to show album design. Gary Jorgensen of Jorgensen albums is coming over from Australia to work on this project with Marko and I in the next few months.

    Damien.

  28. General Question to all, spurred by Martin’s post.

    Does anyone offer a money-back guarrantee or cooling off period on their wedding photography? What do people think about this?

    As a photographer who has never had anyone (yet!) respond negatively to any weddings I’ve photographed, might this help remove both risk and the chance of ‘buyer remorse’.

    Steve

  29. Incidentally, I love the way that sepia toning is now refered to as “in the moment” and fashionable!! :-)

    Steve

  30. Hi Steve. We have a 14 day cooling off period in our contract which I think slightly helps de-risk the decision at wedding shows if you are taking deposits there. As I mentioned above we also offer a money back guarantee on the pre-wedding shoot, though really for a time-poor client this isn’t much of a selling point. I’m not sure offering a money back guarantee on the actual wedding photographs helps the B&G very much at all and might even smack of desperation. Regards Martin.

  31. the complete guide to professional wedding photography is a must have for any photographer, amateur or professional, it is full of great advice and helped me a lot with my first few weddings, thanks.

  32. hi damien
    Im deciding which body to purchase
    I have a 30d at the moment and take event motocross pictures and sell on the day.
    I want another body, and use the 30d as a back up.
    I was thinking on a 7d which would be great for the sports side but, I would love to get into wedding photography so would you sugest getting a 5d and going full frame now.
    Your thoughts and oppinions would be greatly recieved

  33. Hi Damien,

    I’ve just watched your fantastic ‘The big day’ DVD which I thought was very inspiring.

    From the slideshow at the end, showing all the images, I see that you flick between aperature priority and Manual throughout the day. How do you make your decision as to which to use in each situation?

    Many thanks

  34. Hi Ross, Thanks for your kind words. I use AP when the light level is all over the place with the sun going in or out etc and I use Manual for everything else.

  35. Hi Damien,

    I’d just like to say thanks for pointing me in the direction of this website, your seminar yesterday in Garderen, the Netherlands, was a absolute inspiration. I’d been flagging a bit as the phone hasn’t exactly been ringing off the hook recently but today I’m back with renewed enthusiasm.

    Always having had a passion for photography and owning some impressive looking Nikon gear resulted in exactly what you described in your article above, namely being asked to do a friend’s wedding last summer. My God what a hard day’s work that was! And the stress of knowing you’ve only got one chance to get it right, that these lovely people are totally relying on you! But what a fabulous feeling in the days after, in post-processing, when you know you’ve got something really special here. And seeing their faces light up when they viewed the slide-show a week later. Priceless.

    I formalized my photography business at the beginning of this year and I have a couple of bookings for weddings this summer as well as doing the odd portrait shoot in my small studio at home. I still have the “Day-Job” but aim to be working part time for the man and the rest for myself within the year.

    Thanks again for the kick up the backside, now I must get back to the total rebuild of my website.

  36. Wow Marty,

    Start with the end in mind with your website. Know your customer journey through your site before they do. Get this book too.

    Kindest regards, Damien.

  37. Hi Damien, I use photobox for prints and photobooks if thats what the clients wants and have found the quality of both to be exeptional, I always upgrade the photobooks to the best quality paper and include the book jacket as well, I have never had any complaints about this service, indeed only compliments, by the way I always remove the photobox logo as I have no desire for my clients to know who my suppliers are.
    I use a Nikon D300 and frequently use iso 800 with wonderful results, as you say Damien exposure is the key.
    thanks for this most wonderful site

  38. Hi Damien

    How do you deal with difficult relatives at weddings? I recently was photographing a bride and groom after the ceremony in what was supposed to be a short, private moment with just the two of them. There were a number of problems. The bride and groom wanted to be photographed in a small, badly lit sitting room and declined to follow the idea that I had planned in advance where they would be posed on a sofa. Meanwhile about 15 relatives piled into the room. One knocked a lens on the floor (£150 damage!) And the mother of the groom decided that she would like to take some pictures herself and became very angry when I asked her to wait. She physically pushed me out of the way, saying, ‘Look, you’ve taken lot’s of pictures, it’s my turn now!’ I didn’t say anything, but I feel that I should have been more assertive. Any thoughts? Other than take a bouncer with me! Although that’s a thought… Would love to know how other people handle what is, after all, a well known problem at weddings and so a key skill to have.

    thanks!

    Fiona

  39. Hi Fiona,

    Gosh. What an uncomfortable experience for you. I must say that in the 350 or more weddings that Julie and I have shot we have never experienced such rude guests. It is probably because we only take on weddings for warm fuzzy people and not cold prickly ones. Nice clients are more fun to work with and are easy to please. Bad clients treat you like staff and have friends like you describe. Every photographer would have had problems at your event. It’s nothing that you are doing wrong other than agreeing to shoot the wedding.

    I hope you have recovered.

    Best regards,

    Damien.

  40. Hi damien
    So glad to have discovered this site its fantastic. I have just shot photographs for a friend of my sister (gratis apart from my travel costs). This was not taken on without a massive amount of consideration with the understanding that I am not a professional , I did invest in equipment however & did research & practice as much as possible.
    I am pleased with the results which I am editing as we speak and found the experience to be fantastic. i loved every minute of the whole day & it has been such a privilege to take this role in such a special day. In other words , I have the bug! I took this on to learn as well as provide the service and certainly learnt a lot about what I need to learn. My next plan of action is to accompany & assist other photographers and continue taking as many pictures as possible until I am happy with the whole process. I am also undertaking some more formal training as well.
    regards
    Fiona

  41. Hi Fiona,
    I love your positivity, energy and enthusiasm. Those qualities combined with artistic vision, technical abilitiy and experience are your ticket to success. I’d love the opportunity to be part of your journey when you are selecting a trainer. Thank you for your kind words about my blog. Well done on shooting your first wedding. Damien.

  42. Hi Everyone,

    Reading some of the posts, I can draw parallel with some of you trying to get going on a budget, my job was made redundant 5 years ago, this wiped me out,I lost everything, car, house, relationship and confidence! No big redundancy cheque for me (if such a thing exists?!).

    For the last 5 years I’ve slowly built things back up, getting there but not quite where I want to be. I have a 2 body D90 outfit (Will need to upgrade as not best for low light) with the best fast lenses I could buy and have used this outfit to shoot 6 ‘Mates Rates’ Weddings for friends and family. I’m now putting my sample albums together, ready to push for the real deal.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that If you are determined, you will find a way!

    With regards to training, I’ve opted to download ‘The lovegrove Way’ and ‘Winter Weddings’ by Damien and Julie, excellent and well worth the money, you can refer back to them, getting something more from them each time you view. Cost effective training I’d say if like me you can’t afford the training course. Download the posing guid too at £2.95 you can’t go wrong.

    If I can…… I’d highly recommend a couple of books I’ve found helpful ‘Wedding Photography a guide to posing’ by David Pearce, ISBN 978-0-9565463-0-2 (Small but perfect for the camera bag!) and ‘Picture Perfect Practice’ by Roberto Valenzuela ISBN 978-0-321-80353-5

    Commenting on Blurb My experience was excellent customer service and a jolly nice bunch of people, however the pages fell out of 2 of my books with some strange colours, so now I make sure the pages are stitched in. Queensbury are fabulous, but we don’t all have the priveledge of shooting £3000+ Weddings (No disrespect to you Guys and Gals who do mind, good on you if I could I would!). For me Loxley and Sim provide a comprehensive product range at a fair price which I feel will sit well in a £1250 – £2000 market place. They even produce matted albums which have a fantastic weight and prescence.

    Closing I feel for you Fioana! Damien does have a point, try to find the ‘Warm Fuzzy People’ and weed out the ‘Cold Prickly ones’ :-) I had a Bride go against the Wedding planners recommendation, as a result the guests split up in a 5 Story hotel, half the guests were in the allocated bar /roof terrace on the 3rd floor and the other half ended up in the basment winebar! Oh and I needed to get 90 people on the grand staircase for the big group shot! (All part of the fun). Only way to learn though! as a friend of mine once said ‘Do nowt, do nowt wrong’ (‘Do nothing, do nothing wrong’ if that’s too Geordie ;-))

  43. Damien, I too started with the Fuji S1 back in 2001. Wow! what passion and a huge drive you must have to have prepared all the material for publication. CONGRATS and thanks for sharing

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