Have you wondered what exactly goes on behind the scenes of each and every wedding photographed? What is the photographer’s plan for each key component of the day? Have you ever wanted to be a professional photographer but ain’t too sure what a typical work day looks like?
In our first edition of Behind the Scenes, we are happy to feature Jonathan Griffiths’s story from Lisagill Photography. Let’s zoom in straight to the big day. ;)
What’s the key to a successful shoot?
Jonathan: Preparation is key. The night before the wedding is a very important one for me. All of the equipment I will be using for the wedding must be working properly and correctly. Batteries for the cameras and flashes need to be charged up (don’t forget back ups), memory cards are in the cameras, all gear is packed up and ready by the door so I can just grab the bag and cameras and head out early the next morning.
Do you and the wedding couple decide on what to shoot for the big day?
Jonathan: Most definitely! It is important to have a list of pre-discussed photo moments before the actual day. Having a list of what the couple want is essential. And some couples are very specific to the style of photos they want taken. You don’t want to miss out photographing key family members. Having a list of important timings allows you to predict the moments to capture before they even happen. PS: you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a toilet break when the bride is walking down the altar!
What time should you be at the venue?
Jonathan: Arriving before everybody else is important. I personally like to be at the venue around 40 minutes early. It gives me time to be flexible to any last minute weather changes. Setting up the camera and equipment takes time as well, so we want to ensure we have sufficient time for set up and to get comfortable. You will definitely need to recce the venue in detail before the big day, and arriving early on the day itself helps prevents any unwanted surprises. Gives you time do search around for nice photo opportunities too!
What do you focus on throughout the wedding ceremony?
Jonathan: Faces of candid expression are priceless. Apart from getting all the “must-have” shots, it’s important to keep a close eye on family members and bridal party members! Faces of expression are great shots to have because they bring life to the memories that are going to be kept in the photo albums for years to come. Of course, it isn’t easy to capture these moments without some stalking. Shooting with a longer telephoto lens will allows you to secretly get these photos.
How do you organize the family shoots?
Jonathan: The best time to get family portraits done is right after the ceremony, since everyone is in the same place – or at least should be!Have a family portrait list prepared, and hand a copy to a trusted family member. This helps coordination and also to ensure that all the people on the list are present for the photo taking. Here is an example of my routine:
- Call out the name of the person we are after, which should be on the list.
- Help everybody pose which helps them and the photo look great!
- While taking the photo, the next group should be called out and preparing to for the shot. (This saves a lot of time.)
PS: It’s important to take more than one photo of each group, making sure everybody has their eyes open and the photo looks good.“
What do you do during the lunch/dinner reception?
Jonathan: Once we have made it to the reception, it is usually a big breath of fresh air. After being on the go relentlessly for 5 to 7 hours, the reception is when you finally have a chance to catch your breath. But not for long. There are still tons of photos to capture. Every couple’s reception schedule is different but most often the first big event is the bride and groom will have a “grand entrance” – sometimes after the entrance they will go directly into the first dance or first dances, so it’s important to be ready and confirm your timeline with the DJ’s timeline just to make sure you are all on the same page. The key during reception is always be one step ahead and be ready for the next section, have the right lens & camera settings set and be in communication with the DJ and work together because the reception events will likely move up or back from the original scheduled time. Also, when no events are happening, I don’t just stand off to the side, this is your chance to get candids and dance floor photos but also to walk around the room and ask guests if they’d like their photos taken. Not only is it nice for the guests to have a photo but also nice for the bride and groom to see their guests having fun!
What do you do after the event is finished?
Jonathan: Once the whole event is finished, it is important that we go straight home and upload all of the images onto the computer and an external hardrive. This important as it gives me peace of mind that the images are safe and there is a very small chance of losing all of those special memories.
How long does photo editing take?
Jonathan: Photo editing usually takes around 5 hours to make all of the images look as unique and clear as possible. We offer different packages, so either we have all of the soft copy images on a HD disc, or the digital photographs are printed out and tailor made into an album. That would be one fairy-tale storybook to keep for life.
Wow. Your work sounds amazing. I never knew there was so much work behind the scenes. Thank you so much for sharing!”
Jonathan: No worries, it’s my pleasure! This is how I usually approach a wedding to ensure that every couple is happy with the final result. As you can see there is so much more that goes into photographing a wedding than just showing up on the day of with a camera in hand. Thank you for listening (and reading)!
TWV would like to thank and give credit to LisaGill Photography for the photos used in this article.