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Now, how come this wedding portrait-shoot went so right?

Darwin, NT, Australia

Hi there, everyone! In this blog, I share with you my 5 steps to achieving a successful Elopement wedding shoot!

Having spent three months dealing with Covid-19 lock-down regulations, like everyone else, I had the time to spend on honing my passions of writing and photography. I listened to pod-casts while exercising and enjoyed YouTube tutorials; always a mixed bag. However, I found a few gems of advice and tips for writing my Young Adult fiction and improving my photography business - one of them caught my attention on incorporating new poses for my subjects and creative camera angles into my repertoire. Thank you fellow photographers!

  1. Communicating with clients - planned & drafted emails

So, I had a lead and a great request to provide a quote! Now, brides and grooms-to-be are busy people; they have enough to worry about, with booking the Celebrant, the venue, the guest-list and everything else. let alone the dress, the bouquet - you get it. So in my communications with the bride-to-be (let's call her Jemma), I planned each email to the letter.

My emails were going to be succinct and structured in a way that would avoid a flurry of emails going between Jemma and myself and yet elicit all the information I needed from her and hubby-to-be, to allow me to deliver the gallery of images they desired for their special day.

It was clear that emails were my only way of planning the details of the shoot with them, so they had to be concise and well worded. And the planning worked, I knew what they wanted, obtained all the details of event without a phone call, and without a pre-shoot face to face interview! Writing email drafts and coming back to them after a bit of time away before sending, helped me to appraise my email message with the lens of...

Will this guide my clients in providing all they need to share with me?

2. Test photo-shoot at the wedding venue

The ceremony was at 3pm, with post-ceremony portraits to be finished by 5pm. Before scripting the wedding shoot schedule, I fired off many exposures at the actual ceremony venue between 3-4pm. I changed all my lenses, the zooms, and the fixed focal lengths, used the full range of aperture priority f-stops and ISO settings for that place and that time of day. The light was good - strong open-shade natural light. I did learn that my reflector disc was needed for fill-in light for the faces, though.

The building was locked up, but I peered in through the window, saw nothing, so knew that White Balance and flash use would have to be decided on the day.

A walk around the venue revealed excellent settings for creative poses, so now I'm ready for writing up the shooting schedule!

3. Now, what about my reflector disc?

When I'm covering family portraits, there's usually someone in the group who's willing to direct light where I need it using the reflector disc, but this event, being an intimate wedding, I couldn't count on that. I contacted a teacher colleague friend of mine, and found a senior Art student who was happy to get involved, for the artistic knowledge and experience. After meeting, and a run-through, we arranged for a quick practice the next week where she ran through exactly what she'd need to do on the day, and then, we were good to go!

4. Now to write up my shooting schedule...

Here is an example of a shooting schedule which I recommend you use, if you want a seamless photo-shoot experience, both for you and for clients.

The column headings are: pose, focal length, aperture, setting location, backdrop.

These headings keep me on track, assist other helpers and ensure the shoot goes smoothly. This planning means I know what I'm doing, know what I want to shoot, how to instruct the couple into natural poses. The schedule helps the assistant to get my lens choice and changes ready and means we use time more effectively!

I don't always stick to it, especially the use of aperture priority, due to lighting or other changes like the number of people in the frame, but it's there to refer to when - or if - I go blank.

5. The day before the job - things I do

  • I lay out the clothes I'm going to wear. Other than comfort and non-movement inhibiting, living in the tropics, means this physical job leaves us very sweaty! But, being a wedding, I chose an outfit that was smart, a bit dressy, but with shoes I can walk in comfortably and clothes that are cool. I wore a white, lacy blouse; loose, black trousers with black ankle boots! Perfect.

  • I charge camera and all flash batteries

  • clean all lenses and for body, dust out camera mirror etc.

  • make sure car has petrol and I have a water bottle

  • load my camera back pack with everything I could possibly need, e.g. props ( I take a bottle of champagne and glasses sometimes!)

  • load my bum-bag with spare flash batteries, camera battery and spare memory card

  • ensure my camera's memory card is empty

  • select the ISO and white balance settings are ready for the start up shots

I hope this blog helps you with a tip or two, or maybe an idea to assist you in your responding to clients and leads, and getting completely ready and comfortable for your up-coming event shoot! Be fabulous.

I'd love to hear of your tips and ideas too, so please share, respond and let's all learn together.



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