Let’s agree, despite the stereotypes and sarcastic jokes that we keep hearing, photography, and particularly wedding photography, requires a LOT more than just showing up with a camera. It takes tons of time, effort, motivation, energy and financial resources to turn a mere passion into a self sustainable, profitable business. And even when you think that you’ve finally went the whole nine yards, demanding clients, bad weather, broken alarm clock, and many other “fun” occurrences happen.
So, we decided to ask a few of our awesome clients from all around the world, to share some of the DOs and DON’Ts of photography while working with clients in the wedding and couple photography business. See if you agree and resonate with some of these. Also, be sure to check out the themes that these clients use for their websites: Cube, Mimal and Crowd.
These two are Epic! One of the most cheerful, energetic and awesome couple that we know and have had a chance to work with. You will never spot these two in a bad mood, being too serious or unapproachable. The joy, love and passion is purring all over the place, when you interact with Don and Helen. Obviously we wanted to know what rules and guidelines they follow. Here it goes:
DO: “The Mojito / Coffee Moment“
We do this before shoots (engagements, portraits, editorials, etc). This creates a relaxed atmosphere between the photographers and clients. Remember that you are working with people who have feelings… maybe it’s their first time in front of a camera, maybe they are exhausted after being trapped in a traffic jam while trying to arrive on time to the location, or they are just not in the right mood to be photographed… We have to grab this opportunity to relax, find out more about each other, grab a drink or two, tell a joke (laughing and making fun of yourself is always a winner). Use this time to ask them about their expectation from the shooting, etc. This will generate a “friendly” feeling, build confidence, and shows that you as a photographer care a lot about them – your clients.
DON’T DO: “Run, run, run”
We don´t rush into creating that “EPIC IMAGE”. Most of the times the first 100 images are the “WARMING UP” images. We don´t worry that much if things don’t work out as we expected. Our goal during this phase of the shoot is to relax the clients, encourage them through compliments while showing them some of the photos that we have taken.
DO: “Communicate to each other”
We tell our clients about “The Game Plan”. Instead of just throwing cold, lifeless words or commands such us “ok, kiss your husband on the left chick”, “keep straight, look like a pole”, “hug your wife” – we give our couples a simple “SCRIPT” that can also be freestyle. For example, we tell them “Without saying a word, just through kissing, hugging and touching each other, show us the depth of your love to each other…” or we can say “Ok guys let´s run like hell, but while running you (the guy) will shout out loud all the things you like about her…”
DON’T DO: “ Why so serious?”
We are creating something special for our clients, and the image that we take is just a small part of that “something”. Remember we are working with subjects who have feelings… so let´s not forget about the overall experience that we are creating for our clients while clicking that shutter. Instead of being serious and tensed while taking photos, we need to ask ourselves: Are they having fun? Am I making them uncomfortable? Is this the real and best version of them? Most of the times you don´t have to ask these questions, it will obviously reflect on your clients’ faces. You will know whether they are having a good time, and feel comfortable around you.
In ANY situation remember – the key is to have fun! Make as many mistakes as possible, be patient and then be even more patient, communicate with your clients, give them a script not a rigid list of orders..
Liene describes herself as an optimist with an ironic sense of humor. Loves flamingos, cappuccino and soft light blue tones, judging by her elegant refined portfolio. Here’s what Liene recommended to Do and Not to as a photographer:
1. I always meet up with all my wedding clients.
2. I always have a contract.
3. I figure out ways to get to know my clients – ask questions and let them tell me more about themselves, how did they meet, what are their hobbies & interests, etc.
4. I try to educate my clients – tell them about the lighting, show my works and discuss what they do or don’t like, how much time will we need for a photoshoot, for group photos, etc.
5. I help my clients feel comfortable in front of the camera, I give them some posing advice and chit-chat while I shoot.
6. I send sneak peeks – it is like candy, because people want to see the result as soon as possible and nobody likes to wait. A small sneak peek makes this process easier and more exciting for them, while I continue to retouch the rest of the photos.
7. If I have the date booked already, I always recommend my best colleague photographers!
1. I don’t show works/photos that I don’t like
2. I don’t ask yes-no questions
3. I never lie to my clients
4. I don’t gossip or talk bad about other colleagues from the photography industry.
Rareş is a well known and talented photographer from Romania, who has tons of weddings and photo shoots in his portfolio and is always happy to share his knowledge and experience with young aspiring creatives, be that in a workshop or an article for his favorite theme provider. Here is Rareş’ list of DOs and DON’Ts when working with couples:
1. Learn to say “no” when you are getting in touch with clients that don’t fit your style and vision. If they love a classic style of posing or tourist/LOL type of pictures, while you are a photojournalist or a wedding storyteller -you will not be able to meet their expectations. An intimate wedding in the middle of the forest will never resemble something fancy organized in a ballroom.
This will help you define your style, remain motivated on the wedding day, as well as get to work with clients that you want.
If you don’t feel that the person who approached you is a good fit with your style, tell them respectfully that you are already booked, be a sport and recommend an industry colleague who would be a better fit.
2. Hydrate yourself properly and make sure you sleep well 3-4 days before the wedding day. In Romania, a standard wedding goes on for 16 hours, finishing often around 4 am in the morning. You will eat your first course at 9pm. So prepare yourself for a hot day and make sure to drink 2-3 liters of water. Physical preparation is also important. I walk for an hour (5-6km) or bike almost every day in order to face the physical challenge on the wedding day. Snack on bananas and some protein bars, in case your first meal is at dinner time. These sound basic and simple, but not always obvious especially for those who just begin their photography career.
3. Have a survival kit prepared. Medicines for allergy, headaches, stomach ache, mouth wash are more than welcome. A small deodorant, napkins, hair pomade and a comb, a t-shirt or a spare shirt and a rain coat are good to have as well. I also bring duct tape, elastics, velcro, just in case some crazy ideas pop up. Spare batteries is something that I carry with me all the time.
4. Anticipate the quantity and the quality of light, the shadows versus the sunny locations. Do not take pictures just all over the place, you’d be turning the photo session into a funny tourist photo hunt.
A flash, a video lamp, and maybe a collapsable reflector will help you in any situation and light condition. Be prepared, and use the ISO to the max if needed. I do.
5. Have a backup for your gear and some of the above. Just the thought that you are prepared for any situation, will help you relax and focus 100% on the wedding. It was Maslow actually who said that if the basics are covered we are ready to cover the next steps and pursue our dreams, or something like that.
1. Do not discuss with your clients about politics, football, religion or any similar topics, because you may fall into unwanted polemics, that will affect the process. Instead, learn some good jokes to help them loosen up.
2. Do not hesitate to be firm and straightforward if you want a good result on the wedding day or photo session. Machiavelli said: He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command and the ends justify the means. Think about it, adapt it and read again point #1
3. Do not interfere in the wedding plan if you are a storyteller, do not make a list of pictures to be taken. Of course, you can plan the formalities according to the wedding day schedule.
4. Try not to modify the natural light. Let your clients step into the light, against the windows, so they are properly lit in a darker surrounding. Use natural light, often pushing the ISO, and remember that 1.4 is not the winning number all the time.
5. Do not always wear black. I know, it’s professional, it is not reflecting the light, but you look so formal while dressed in black that some guest may as well order wine from you. Wear something that is comfortable and lets you move fast and smooth. If you choose black, tell everybody that you are a Rock fan. That’s what I do.
6. Never show doubt, uncertainty or bad mood to your clients. Even if you are new to a location and didn’t have time to check it out prior to the big day, even if you’ve just had a fight with your spouse , be responsible and professional. Your clients’ wedding is a unique unrepeatable day, it’s about them, not you – so put a big smile on your face and be the best at what you do!
Practices, techniques and work processes differ from photographer to photographer, depending on the location, culture and personality type of your client. Nonetheless, one golden rule that has clearly popped out in this article is that the wedding/photo shoot is not about you, it’s about the people you are shooting! Keep your clients happy, relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera and around yourself! It’s up to you whether you take them out for coffee, an evening beer, a bike ride or dog walk – as long as you focus on building a trustful and positive connection, you’re a winner!