The Challenge and Reward of Wedding Photography

Guest Blogger Bethany Cleg

Most brides will hire a wedding photographer, but many brides don’t understand how hard it is to capture a wedding. That’s ok its not their job to understand that, but understanding what a wedding photographer deals with will not only help you figure out what photographer to pick, but it will aid you in creating a environment where you will get the best pictures possible.

To the photographers coming from experience I will outline some of the most challenging aspects I have personally faced and the ways I have overcome them.

I mean It’s only the most important day in two people’s lives. Months of planning and preparation have gone into creating the event. It’s your job to make sure those photographs are perfect. No pressure, right? Wedding photography is a fast-paced branch of the photography industry, but when it’s done well, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable career path.

Working with other 3rd party vendors

Almost every wedding I have shot, was because I was hired by a wedding planner. That wedding planner usually also hires wedding transportation vendors, catering, floral, stylists, musicians and so forth. You may have to compete for attention with the bride and planner with these other vendors. Wedding days have a ton of moving parts and you must learn to get along, be patient and know your place. Even better if you go out of your way to make friends with other vendors, chances are they work with other wedding planners as well and you may score yourself some new business.

For the brides to be, don’t let all these moving parts stress you out. 3rd party vendors in my experience know how to work with each other and a planner. But it is something you may want to look into when searching for certain vendors to hire is if they have a reputation for playing nice with other vendors.

Christian Yves Ocampo, My Nikon Equipment

Lenses and Gear

I’m not going to get into the techie specifics but you need to know your lenses and gear. If you don’t, this is going to cause a world of hurt.

Brides, don’t hire a photographer that doesn’t know their gear. That is a bad experience waiting to happen.

Troubleshooting the Day

Weddings are high-pressure events. It’s important to think through potential pitfalls and be prepared ahead of time. Know what photos your client is expecting of you, and keep a list handy. If things get busy, you may forget that the bride really wanted a photo with her college roommate or that the necklace she’s wearing was her great-grandmother’s and a photo is a must. A discreet list in your camera bag could save you a lot of trouble.

I personally have a “backup pack” I pack tissues, props, rain gear (if the weather looks bad) rx sunglasses are a must if you wear glasses or contacts, and small lighting gear. You never know when you will be taking pictures with a sunset in the background, or pictures at high noon. Your eyes will get very worn out if you don’t have a pair of shades.

Things spill, people get dirty out side, you’ll want some wipes to clean your camera and your subjects if needed. Sometimes the venue’s indoor and outdoor lighting isn’t fantastic, so bring some basic lighting gear to help curb possible un-optimal conditions.

Seralyn Keen, Bridesmaids

Portraiture and Group Photos

When you’re photographing the couple, be clear with what you are expecting from them. Tell them if they should be looking at each other or looking directly at the camera. Don’t be afraid to give direction, because it will make people more comfortable. If you want the couple to interact genuinely, use a telephoto lens and take a step back to give them privacy to talk, hug, or kiss. During group photos, be kind but assertive. People are often excited and chatty and may ignore you during this critical time. Speak up and let everyone know that you need their attention to complete the portraits in a timely manner. Once everyone is lined up in a manner that allows you to clearly see each face, let them know that you’ll be taking several photos of each pose, and encourage them to keep their eyes on you rather than getting distracted and looking around.

Capturing Details

Oftentimes the couple has painstakingly chosen the decor and small details of their day. Set aside time to photograph bouquets, centerpieces, and more. Do a walkthrough of the entire area to be sure you haven’t missed anything. A wide aperture to blur out background distractions can help the details you’re focusing on to stand out.

Zoe, When all the glitter fell

Rainy Days

Rain doesn’t have to ruin photographs. If the weather is looking questionable, start scouting covered walkways outside or beautiful indoor locations that can keep the couple dry. Be prepared to use flash if it’s cloudy and dark. Reassure the bride that you are prepared and that the photos will still be great.

Choosing a Photographer

If you’re looking for a photographer to hire, you can use the above information to help you make a decision. Here are some more tips if you want to make sure the day goes smooth and stress free.


Bethany Cleg

Author: Bethany Cleg

Bethany Cleg is a founder of Bethany Cleg Photography. She is an avid writer on all things photography. When she’s not writing or taking pictures you’ll find her at the lake with her family.

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Photo credits:
Albert Palmer, Rachael & Chris – Reportage Wedding Photography at Le Manoir
Christian Yves Ocampo, My Nikon Equipment
Seralyn Keen, Bridesmaids
Zoe, When all the glitter fell