The One About Photographing My First Wedding

One of the best investments I’ve made in my blog and well in my life really is my DSLR camera.  I bought it last March as a birthday present to myself primarily with the intent to use it on my trip to Europe.  And boy did I use it!  I think I took well over 2,000 pictures.  
Since then I’ve used it at family reunions, a trip to Disney World, Christmas card photos for some friends, blog pictures, and most recently my very first wedding.  I reconnected with a childhood friend of mine, Brandi, when I moved back to Houston almost 2 years ago.  And it has been so good getting to know her again.  But I have to admit, I was pretty shocked when she asked me to be the photographer at her upcoming wedding.  I was a little hesitant at first and asked her repeatedly if she was sure she wanted me to do it.  She said she remembered me talking about taking pictures at Disney World and she liked my perspective on the subject and so yes she was sure.
In the weeks leading up to the wedding I was pretty nervous but armed with 3 lens and a bunch of Pinterest knowledge I’m happy to say I survived photographing my first wedding.  And y’all….it was HARD!  Fun, but hard.  I can 100% see why the really good photographers charge thousands of dollars for weddings.  Because it takes a ton of work and movement to get all the right shots and angles right.
Overall I had a great time at the wedding.  It was fun (and weird) being considered both a guest and “the photographer”.  By the time the night was over and I was home and could really look at the 632 pictures I had taken (it was a small, intimate, and very sweet ceremony) I realized that my strength as a photographer lies in outdoor photos using natural light, as opposed to indoors using a flash.
So I thought it would be fun to share some dos and don’ts from the perspective of a first time wedding photographer. 
Wedding Photography

DO – Pinterest the crap out of “wedding photography tutorials”  Pinterest became my very best friend.  I found a ton of really great blogs with advice for taking good wedding pictures.  I added them to my Photography Pinterest board which you can find by clicking here.
DON’T- Pretend like you’re an expert when you’re not.  I read a few times that I shouldn’t let anyone know it was my first time photographing a wedding, but I have to say I disagree.  I made sure to let Brandi and her family know that this was my first time photographing a wedding.  I needed help deciding where to place people and I wasn’t ashamed to ask the designated wedding coordinator for her opinion.  I didn’t want to set false expectations.

DO- PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. I did practice quite a bit leading up to the wedding. Thankfully I had already taken couples sessions for two friends at work so I knew that I would be fine when it came to photographing just Brandi and her husband Braxton.  It was ceremony pictures I was the most nervous about taking.
DON’T- Wait until the last minute to practice with a new lens.  A friend from work who has the same type of camera I do, let me borrow his 75-300 mm lens.  Basically it was a super zoom lens, so I could stand at the back of the church and still get a decent shot.  I got the lens about 5 days before the wedding and I really don’t think I practiced with it enough.

DO- Learn your camera inside and out. I’m still learning this.  I feel like I will never stop learning about my camera.  I’m finally getting the hang of shooting in manual mode and I have to say, the pictures are MUCH better than when I use one of the automatic settings.  Best advice to to keep playing with the settings and pretty soon it’ll become like second nature to you!
DON’T – Over edit your pictures. Guilty!  I’ve noticed I make them way to bright.  A little editing is good but don’t go overboard.

DO- Talk to the bride about what she does and doesn’t want.  Talking to Brandi about what she wanted was super important to me.  I wanted to make sure I got all the shots that she wanted the most.
DON’T- Forget to take shots you think your bride will like. To that same token, the bride may not know exactly what she wants so you’ll want to have some shots in mind that you know she will love.  For example, I pretty much told Brandi we needed to find a place outside so we could get some pictures of just her, Braxton, and their son Braylon.

DO- Create a shot list to keep yourself organized.  To help me with that last “don’t” I made sure to make a list of the different shots I knew I wanted to get.  Like shots of just her accessories and her dress, portraits of just her and just Braxton, and of course shots of them as a family.  Having the list made this much easier!
DON’T – Forget to be calm and relax.  It’s your first time.  You’re allowed to make mistakes and not get every little thing right.  What helped me was how easy going Brandi was the whole time.  She was fine when I was a little bossy and also wasn’t afraid to tell me what she wanted.  It was pretty much the perfect combination!

And now here are a few of my personal favorites from the day.  Please notice they are pretty much all outside! 🙂  Told ya I was better at the outdoor stuff!

While I did end up having a great time being “the photographer” at my friends wedding, I honestly am not sure I’m cut out to ever try and do this professionally.  I think I’ll stick with travel photography, mini-portrait sessions, and of course stuff for this little ol blog of mine.  But I am so grateful to Brandi for trusting me with photographing her big day and I hope I didn’t disappoint! 🙂

6 thoughts on “The One About Photographing My First Wedding

  1. I love the you Pinterested the heck out of wedding photography! It really is the best way to research and organize your thoughts! All of your pictures of the wedding turned out so beautiful! I know that you were really stressed, but you did such a great job!


  2. I'm really impressed. Nice work. And lots of great DOs and DONTs. I also have the tendency to make photos too bright. The only wedding I've ever \”shot\” was back in 2010, it was my best friend's wedding, and I noticed after the fact that I over-exposed about half of it. I was so sad – although there were still some good ones. I also 100% agree about the telling people that it's your first time taking photos thing. And about the practicing thing. I did a friend's engagement shoot this year and I made sure to do a faux couples shoot beforehand. Looking forward to hearing more about your photography journey. I'm currently looking for a summer photography project, if you have any suggestions, let me know. Two years ago I did portrait photography and last summer I did event photography. Thanks for sharing!


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