When it comes to capturing the perfect moments on a wedding day, several shots are essential for photographers to get. We all know the typical shots that you’ll find on any “Ultimate Wedding Day Shot List” searchable on Google:
– Exchange of vows, rings, and wedding bands
The heart of the ceremony and captures the love and commitment shared between the couple.
– First kiss as a married couple
Symbolizing the beginning of their journey together. Pro tip: Have them kiss twice and hold for at least three seconds so you don’t miss it. Some couples get nervous and just do a quick peck which makes it hard to catch.
– Walking down the aisle
Whether it’s a traditional hetero-wedding or not, always make sure you’re capturing both partners enter.
– The couple’s grand exit
if your coverage lasts that long, this is an obvious moment.
– First dance
These are crucial to document but remember to also capture on-looking guests.
– Candid wedding & reception shots
Capture the emotional reactions of the couple, their families, and guests throughout the celebration add a touch of authenticity to the wedding album.
By ensuring these essential shots are captured, photographers can ensure that they’ll at least have the bare minimum.
Don’t Settle for the Bare Minimum!
You’re better than that. It’s easy to take these shots the same way every time. However, it’s the attention you pay to the event as a whole that informs how you capture those moments and your overall style outside of the typical wedding shot list.
In my experience, the key to crafting your style lies in empathy. Immerse yourself in the day, experiencing it not just through your lens, but through the eyes of the couple, the parents, the bridesmaids, and so on. What will they find meaningful and how can you document these shared experiences? Tune into those emotional frequencies, and you’ll find that incorporating unique elements isn’t as elusive as it first seems. Form over content here will determine your value as an artist and ultimately your asking price.
“The key to crafting your style lies in empathy.”
Mastering Consistency Outside of a Shot List
Ah, consistency, that transient quality that separates the good from the sublime. It can be a tricky beast to tame. Believe me, it took me years to master, all the way from editing to creating a breathtaking gallery for every client.
It’s a common conundrum. You might have a fantastic output for one project, only for the next to fall somewhat short of your usual brilliance. Maybe it’s a wedding where the weather doesn’t cooperate, or the setting isn’t as picturesque as you’d hoped.
But friends, there’s a secret skill I’ve honed to ensure I’m always hitting the mark, regardless of the circumstances: learning to predict the emotional moments and stories that are intrinsic to every event.
The Power of Predicting Moments
There are always certain moments that I anticipate at every wedding. They may not always occur, but having my camera ready and my eyes peeled ensures I’m prepared when they do. But the real skill lies in detecting the ‘mini-stories’ that unfold throughout the day, predicting your subject’s actions, and positioning yourself in the right place at the right time for the perfect shot. So get the safe frames on your shot list, but be ready for the unexpected.
Practice Predicting Moments With This Shot List
- The First Glimpse: When the bride, groom, or marrying individual sees themselves in their wedding attire for the first time. They’ll find a mirror. Trust me. So, be there to capture that magical moment.
- Post-First Look: Yes, capture the first look, but don’t put your camera down just yet. The moments following the first look are often pure gold, displaying raw, smitten love that can’t be staged.
- Authentic Interactions: Those natural, unguarded moments when they think you’re not shooting. Peek at them from the corner of your eye, and then sneak in a few snaps to capture their genuine interactions.
- Aisle Emotions: The end-of-aisle hugs are gold mines for emotional moments. The weight of the occasion often leads to surprisingly emotional reactions from family members.
- Post-Ceremony Euphoria: The couple’s giddy joy after the ceremony is something not to be missed. Focus on their happiness instead of the retreating wedding party.
- The Power of Toasts: Toasts offer a myriad of emotional moments. Keep your eyes peeled for reactions from the crowd and the couple, these are perfect opportunities to capture hearty laughs and heartfelt tears.
- Meeting Guests: The moments when the couple approaches or leaves a group of guests can be filled with emotion and warmth. This is your chance to capture candid interactions.
If you’ve noticed, this “wedding shot list” is entirely different from the initial list you saw above. Actually, they aren’t shots at all but moments in time. I implore you to pay attention and see not only the “must-have” shots on a wedding day but the human condition that is ever-flowing at a wedding. Wedding photography is a special niche where you’re thrown into an event full of love and spontaneity. Sure, you have your timeline and a general idea of what shots you should get (see above) but it’s up to you to see and capture the rest.