Everyone loves a great wedding photo and we think it’s fair to say that we all appreciate how hard wedding photographers work to capture all the images that make up your wedding day.
We thought it would be an excellent idea to take a look behind the scenes, or literally, behind the lens to get an insider’s viewpoint on what’s actually involved in the whole process from planning your photos, being in the right place, at the right time to capture all the best shots and then editing and curating them before finally presenting them to you.
We asked blog buddy Jenny of JB Moments photography, who we had a super chat to recently and whose work we’ve featured in our Real Weddings section, to step out from behind the camera and tell us more about life as a wedding photographer. Take it away Jenny.
When a couple ask you to be their wedding photographer, what’s the next step? When do you discuss specific photo requests etc?
The next step is to get the date fixed in the diary, get some high level initial information (contact details, venue, wedding party size, etc). The contact details are especially important as, often, couples are booking you more than 12 months in advance and paying a reasonable sum of money as a booking fee so I like to make sure I keep in touch regularly.
About a month before the wedding I like to meet with the couple in person to discuss all the specifics. At that point we discuss any specific photo requests the couple have. I love these meetings as I love hearing all about the wedding plans, colour schemes, special touches, etc that make each wedding unique. I also love to find out how the couple met and all about the proposal. I guess I’m just a romantic at heart!
With a wedding booked and fast approaching, how soon do you begin planning all the details? Do you ever visit the venue in advance for example?
I am a lover of lists and checklists so as the countdown to a wedding approaches I know exactly what needs to happen and when. The planning meeting with the couple I mentioned above helps me sort out my detailed shoot list and if I’ll need any special kit.
If I haven’t shot at the venue before I will absolutely visit it. Firstly to make sure I know where it is to ensure I can get there early on the big day but also to see where the light falls at different times of the day and to scope out locations for group and couple shots.
Even if I have shot at the venue before I will still try to visit it in advance as often places are re-decorated or the wedding is at a different time of year to the last one I shot so the light will be different.
Can you talk us through the 24 hours prior to a wedding. What exactly is involved in checking all your kit?
I told you I’m a list geek, right?! I usually type up my shoot list with timings so it looks a little more professional than my scribbles! I check the weather forecast and plan accordingly (as I’m based in Scotland that often involves packing bridal umbrellas!).
I check the route to the venue and make sure there are no roadworks etc that could delay my journey. In terms of kit I make sure my lenses are dust free, my camera batteries are fully charged, my flash has fresh batteries (and spares), memory cards are formatted and check everything is working correctly (including my back up camera).
I also carry a ‘wedding survival kit’ that includes things like hankies, blister plasters, safety pins, hair grips and all sorts of other things that might be required on the day so I make sure that is all stocked up.
I like to touch base with the couple, usually just a quick text just to let them know it’s all good! Then I try to get an early night to be as fresh as possible for the couples big day.
Can you describe a typical wedding day shoot?
There is no such thing as a typical wedding day! As much as I prepare (and write lists!) you have to be flexible and be prepared to think on your feet as things change and situations unravel! Typically though I get to the venue early and run through timings with the event manager if possible.
If I’m shooting bridal prep then its in with the bridal party where I try to stay in the background and capture mainly candid pictures. Once the bride is getting into her dress I’m off to capture the groom and his squad along with guests starting to arrive and the venue (this obviously varies if it’s two grooms or two brides). I like to get the ‘build up’ before the bride arrives and some of the bride arriving with her parents and bridesmaids.
The ceremony is often dictated by the person officiating. Sometimes I can only shoot from the back of the church, other times I have access all areas. I almost always get a bit teary eyed when a couple take their vows. I like to capture group photos as soon as possible before I start losing people to the free bar!
Finally I like to whisk the couple off for a few romantic shots. I try to do this as quickly as possible so they can get back to their party.
I like to capture all the room details and decor whilst it’s empty if possible and then during the speeches I like to move around the room and capture people’s reactions.
Whilst the meal is being eaten I usually grab a quick break and then start capturing evening guests as they arrive. Finally it’s cake cutting and first dances. A typical wedding day shoot is between 10-15 hours long including travel time and I love every minute of it.
Describe the feeling when your photos are all taken then it’s back to base to take your first good look at everything. This must be quite exciting.
OMG, I usually check all the ones I’ve already taken during my quick break on the back of the camera but it’s nothing compared to when I download them and see them appearing on my 27” monitor. There are always one or two shots that I literally have a mini fist pump moment over!
How long does it take you to photo edit and curate photos taken on a wedding shoot?
I like to get a couple of sneak peeks to the couple the next day if possible. I am a self-confessed ‘over-shooter’ so from a typical wedding I may have a few thousand shots that I curate down to between 500-900 images. The whole editing and curating process usually takes a day.
It’s a special moment when a couple see their photos for the first time. How do they usually react?
My couples usually see their images for the first time via an online gallery so I wish I could be a fly on the wall to see their initial reactions as I imagine that is so cool! Typically within an hour of sending the gallery I get a message from the couple saying they love them which I take as a good sign.
Unlike say making a wedding dress, which takes a lot of work, but is done in advance, most of your work can only be carried out on the day itself. Do you find this stressful, or do things always go according to plan?
It is stressful in as much as you have a big responsibility to capture these moments for people and you only really get one shot at it! I do as much prep in advance as I can but on the day you just have to go with the flow. I thrive on that and try to keep it as light-hearted and fun as possible and hopefully that rubs off on the couple. The last thing they need is a stressed out photographer! Usually the best pictures are the unplanned ‘in the moment’ ones.
And finally, what are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of your work?
Without a doubt the most challenging aspect of the job is the group photos – it can be like herding cats!!! Luckily I love being a bit bossy! The most rewarding bit is when couples tell you totally got them and captured their day perfectly. This job is an honour and a privilege and I never take that lightly.
All images courtesy of JB Moments Photography