I've been doing wedding photography for three years now and it's been quite the adventure. I've had good days and bad days. Mean clients and nice clients. Some really awkward moments when people accuse me of wedding crashing... and some really great days where I felt like I was an actually friend with the people there.
This article will share my advice on the etiquette of being a wedding photographer, not how to get the perfect shot... but please trust me, this is actually more important. After all, at this point you’ve probably already been to photography school or have created your style. Photography is actually more of a customer service job more than it is about the technology and talent of the art. I wish this wasn’t true, but it is.
- Make sure you know where the wedding is and that they have given you the full address, even the postal code. There's nothing worse than showing up to the wrong location.
- Ask for a hotel. Don't let anyone offer you a small amount of money to travel really far. It will happen and they are being cheap. If they really want you to do their wedding, they will pay for you to stay the night at a nearby hotel.
- Know what you're worth. It's true that when you're starting, you will be doing some free work so that you can add it to your portfolio or website. But don't let this go on for too long. Your time is worth money, I promise.
- Make A List! Ask the bride and groom to make a list of must have photos they want. If the wedding goes by and you forgot a shot of the train of the bride’s dress… she will never forgive you and might even say bad things about your business. (I’m not kidding and I’m sorry that this is true.)
- Respect Privacy. I know that some people want pictures of them getting ready, but even if that’s what the bride wants... One of the bride's maids may feel differently. I'm not talking about not taking pictures of people being naked; I know you're not going to do that. I'm talking about avoiding the dressing room completely. It's just better safe than sorry.
- Practice Customer Service. It took me way too long to realize how important customer service is a part of being a photographer. After all, they are the one paying you. There are lots of books about customer service and getting part time job in customer service can give you lots of practice too.
- Don't make assumptions. This one might be hard, but don't stereotype the people at the wedding. Don't think of the bride as a bridezilla. Weddings are stressful and she is a person. Don't think of the uncle as the crazy uncle; there’s lots of alcohol at weddings and people start to think they are cool.
- Ask for food. It's the social norm for the photographer to get a free meal, and I really like wedding cake. So it's a bonus.
- Take pictures of both sides of the family! This is an actual complaint I’ve heard from the mother of the bride. Remember, the parents of the bride are probably the ones paying you.
- Know how to take pictures fast! It’s awkward when people are waiting for your camera to focus, or the flash to work. So please learn how to manual focus and learn how to do it fast.
- Don’t be afraid to suggest poses. Sometimes the bride already knows what she wants, but that is actually really rare. Think of some ideas ahead of time and help them out a bit.
- Last, but definitely not least. Fake it 'til you make it. People are expecting a professional, so even if you're new… just act like you know what you're doing.