They say you never forget your first time, and if you asked any professional wedding photographer, they could probably recount the first wedding they ever shot in some detail.
When you’re lacking in experience, shooting the first wedding is probably the single most daunting thing you will ever do. There is no second chance. Get it wrong, and the career you’ve most probably longed for some time will be in tatters almost before you start.
Do Not Panic
There is no reason to panic though. In fact, avoid panic at all costs. Plan ahead, definitely. If you feel prepared, and as relaxed as possible, results will come. Focus (no pun intended) and remember where your passion comes from.
It is a high pressure environment, which makes it doubly important to have planned ahead. Do not forget the details; clothes, flowers, favours and more. The people are important at a wedding; they are all important to the bride and groom, which gives you as the photographer plenty of scope for some great shots.
Keep to time. Nothing is more likely to stress you out than thinking you are running late, or being told so by someone in the bridal party. Time will be precious, and it’s important to remember how long some group shots will take to set up. This is not the time for you to be trying out something new or practising different techniques. Rather it is a time for you to be on top of your game with the shots you know you are good at. Get them in the bag and move on.
Do not underestimate the number of variables at a wedding, each one potentially big enough to throw you off your stride. Whether it’s in a hotel in Scotland or a Marquee Hire in Kent put together from 2intents you know what you need to do inside out and back to front, you can take a deep breath and get back to where you were before anyone notices.
Look At Others
Keep an eye on what other photographers are doing to keep abreast of trends and to give you inspiration, a wedding photographer understands how important it is to understand the couple’s style so you can stay on track on the day and not be tempted to take shots that just aren’t to the bride and groom’s taste. It’s another pressure you don’t need on the day!
For more tips on photographing your first wedding, see SLR Lounge. Digital Camera World outlines some of the more likely mistakes a newbie will make, but everyone makes them and there are none that are the end of the world. Just learn from them, and move on. Like riding a horse, the best way is to get back on and book your next wedding.
Take a second photographer, or an assistant at least. Even if they do not do much on the day, having someone ‘on your side’ can be very reassuring. Have a shot list, even if it is engrained in your memory, and a schedule of the day’s events.
Look at the day another way though, and rather than panic, it is only a few hours of your life, and you will get through it.