Wedding Photographers will regularly talk about which camera to use, what lens is best, or the ideal flashgun. If you want to survive a wedding season, there are other things you need to think about too. Many wedding venues are in the middle of nowhere, so you need to be self-sufficient and well prepared. Here are some the things you need to think about.
Shoes are something that most photographers will give more thought to the longer they have been shooting. One of the easiest mistakes you can make is to wear a pair of new or not properly broken in shoes. You can guarantee they’ll start to rub after an hour or two. By the end of the day your feet will be in agony. Personally, I don’t think it is acceptable to wear sneakers to a wedding, no matter how comfortable they are.
I tend to go for a smart lace-up leather boot, which I will wear for a week or two at home before wearing them to a wedding to make sure they are comfortable. I prefer boots instead of shoes because the extra support could save you from twisting your ankle on uneven ground. Artificial soles are best as they grip better in on stone church floors, but avoid rubber as this has a tendency to squeak as you move on certain surfaces.
2. Dressing smartly but functionally.
Like a lot of male wedding photographers, I wore a suit when I started shooting weddings. I ran into a few issues. Occasionally, I would find myself dressed very similarly to the groomsmen, which I thought was a real no-no. Generally, I felt that suits were not hard wearing enough. They would lose their shape at the elbow or knee, and wear quickly at the shoulder. Although a suit is the smartest option in theory, in practise you don’t have to shoot that many weddings in a suit before it is ruined. The fabric is also quite light and I have had suits split at the seam on more than one occasion.
Now I wear a sports jacket and trousers, as I can find both in heavier gauge cloth and trousers that are double stitched for strength. I don’t always wear a tie, as they can get in the way, but I do always bring one.
3. Food and Drink.
I usually request to be fed by the caterers at every wedding that I attend. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t bring my own supply of food and drink to a wedding. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it’s always posible that the couple have forgotten to sort out a meal for me. If this happens I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, so having my own food is a good policy. Also, I can’t always pick when I eat so it’s great to have food standing by, so I can just grab something if I need to.
Carrying enough fluids is especially important. I always carry a large flask of tea or coffee and ample bottled water. This guards against dehydration in hot weather and helps with fatigue generally. Plastic bottles are great as you can stow them in a pocket of your camera bag. If you rely on getting drinks from the venue the will often be in a fancy glass so you can’t carry them around while you work.
I always bring printed out lists of group photos, wedding schedule and emergency numbers. Usually two copies of each. Lists are a simple way of keeping organised. It is very easy to forget something if you are working under time pressure, and there a lot of things you can’t go back and repeat. I make two copies of the lists in case I have to share them with anyone else.
5. Sun protection
It is very easy to get badly burned on a hot wedding day. I always put on a sun block before I leave the house as well as carrying spare lotion and a hat. Often it is impossible to shelter from the sun for large parts of the wedding, so you have to be prepared. Remember to cover your ears and the back of your neck as well as your face.
When preparing for a wedding, always think beyond your camera kit. Being tired, thirsty or otherwise distracted is can be as detrimental as a faulty lens or flat battery. Mangaing you personal comfort is just as important as managing your kit, and is just as important if you want to produce great results for your clients.