The role of a wedding photographer is both a rewarding and challenging profession. To the untrained eye, one wedding looks just like every other wedding, however the seasoned wedding photographer knows better. You just have to look at the number of different religions and cultures in our communities nowadays to begin to appreciate that every wedding cannot be the same. I have personally enjoyed a great many years running my own wedding business alongside other photographic interests.

The wedding photographer will have their work cut out for them on the big day, the demands imposed on them throughout a wedding day and often into the evening can be quite tiring. One aspect of the reward for a wedding photographer is in the knowledge that you have captured one of the most intimate and romantic events in a couple’s life. How you have captured this and your own unique style is a skill set you have applied to the task as an artist and photographer to engage and record the special day.

Many would have you believe that the wedding photographer has an easy job and that weddings are simply routine. Absolutely not! Here is a brief list of some of the genres of photography the accomplished wedding photographer must capture on the big day:

  • Formal portraiture;
  • Fashion;
  • Glamour;
  • Photojournalism;
  • Macro.

This is a short list of a few of the most often used photographic genres. Oh and let’s not forget that each and every situation you find yourself in as a wedding photographer requires a skilful ability to light each situation properly. For me personally, one of the most crucial parts of being a good wedding photographer, is having people skills, since without this attribute you will struggle.

On the wedding day itself, it can be an unforgiving highly pressurised environment for the wedding photographer, he or she will not get a second chance at many of the day’s events and the pressure is ever present to get it right in camera, first time as the day unfolds. Those spontaneous love moments between bride and groom, children doing what children do and simply the reactions of other guests, are all moments you don’t want to leave without recording.

To be able to portray emotion in an image, that in turn evokes emotion in the viewer, is a skill acquired over years and is difficult to get right first time, every time. Mind you, when you do get it right, it feels wonderfully fulfilling for the wedding photographer. Seeing a bride gaze upon her images for the first time and shed tears of joy and laughter at moments she had probably forgotten about, is an extremely rewarding aspect of being a wedding photographer.

Every photographer has their own unique style and this is essential! What would the world be like if we were all the same? Pretty boring for starters! This is crucially important to both the wedding photographer and the client since photography always comes down to individual choice.

Sometimes the couple may feel they don’t want to hire a professional wedding photographer because they have a family member or friend who has a good camera. So what’s the difference between “uncle Bob” or the “weekend warrior” (there you go I’ve touched a nerve with some folks)? Professional wedding photographers have of course a few advantages over the aforementioned:

  • The wedding photographers professional eye;
  • Their instincts are lightning fast; and
  • The attention to detail

will all make a huge difference. With the onslaught of the digital age and the camera phone, everyone at a wedding these days believes they are photographers. This is another part of a wedding day I enjoy; taking the odd moment to amuse myself watching these individuals conduct themselves usually very badly and fuelled with a wee bit too much wedding spirit.

The wedding photographer has yet another role and that’s the business side of things. Running a professional business takes time and effort and dare I say it, but a slightly cheeky ability to encourage your clients to part with money. What business can survive without money? There are many approaches to this, one of which is the hard sell, which I find useless, outdated and offensive. I always opt for the softer approach and a little flexibility which can help clients know they are getting something a little extra for their hard earned cash. Know your costings and margins before the negotiations start and you will have what I describe as ‘wiggle room’ which can be the difference between securing a booking or losing a client. Worth a thought.

In future articles, we will cover the many different aspects of wedding photography and delve into this subject in finer detail. Shortly, we will take a look at the workflow process of using post production software and how it can increase the efficiency of the wedding photographer.