When you venture into the world of wedding and event photography, it becomes immediately apparent just how much work is involved, from devising your plan of attack, implementing it, and processing and delivering the images afterward. With so much time and effort involved - and so much on the line to get the shots the client wants - making a shot list in advance of the wedding or event is a critical step to your success. If you skip making a list, you run the risk of not documenting a critical moment of the day, a moment that will be gone forever.
Before you tackle your next wedding or event photography gig, consult this list of the shots you absolutely must have.
Whether it’s a wedding, trade show, school fundraiser, or some other event, your clients will want images of the venue. Someone put a lot of thought, effort, and time into setting things up, so documenting the empty church, exhibition hall, or gymnasium is an essential component of the picture package you offer your clients. Don’t forget about the exterior of the venue as well, particularly if you’re shooting a wedding. The architecture of many churches is outstanding and will be a nice addition to a wedding album.
From wedding rings to table settings, the little details of the event are just as important as the big picture. After you document the venue as a whole, get in for some close-ups. At weddings, get a shot of the bride getting her hair or makeup done. Look for opportunities to photograph the bouquet and table settings. Still life images of shoes, jewelry, and the wedding dress and tuxedo are nice touches as well.
At other events, little details like table settings, signage, and perhaps even food make for nice detail shots. Tickets, wristbands, or other forms of admittance or ID might be appropriate for concerts. If it’s a corporate event, look for details that highlight the identity or the mission of the company, like it’s logo. At fundraisers, close-up shots of auction items, for example, give viewers a more intimate look at the event.
Action shots infuse life and joy into your portfolio of shots from the day’s events. At weddings, the reception is a goldmine of action shots, from the bride throwing the bouquet to cutting the cake to guests hitting the dance floor. Kids in attendance are perfect subjects at the reception because they more than anyone in attendance have reckless abandon when it comes to cutting loose. The couple exiting the venue after the ceremony and driving away in a lavishly decorated car makes for a great sequence of action shots as well.
At other events, the action shots might be more subdued - people mingling and talking, for example. Use a zoom lens to get close-up candid shots of people engaged in conversation, enjoying a drink or an hors d'oeuvres, or having a laugh with other guests. Then again, some events might afford you many opportunities for high action shots - people dancing and enjoying a concert, children playing on bouncy houses at a birthday party, and families playing games at a gathering at a park come to mind. Essentially, your action shot list is going to be determined by the type of event you’re shooting, so preparation beforehand and packing the appropriate gear will be key to your success.
Wide-Angle Shots of the Crowd
Your clients, be that a couple to be married or a corporate event planner, will want to remember who was in attendance at the event. As a result, it’s important not to get locked in on the wedding party or the company’s CEO, but also document family, friends, or employees that are in attendance. At weddings, get wide-angle shots of people as they file into the venue and wait for the ceremony to begin. Walk around outside the venue after the ceremony to get some candid shots as people wait to greet the newly married couple. And, as stated above, work the reception to get shots of the crowd as they enjoy dinner, dancing, and other fun activities.
At other events, the same principle applies. If there are guest speakers, get a wide-angle view of them speaking to the crowd. If there is a red carpet where event-goers arrive, plant yourself there to get shots of small groups. If it’s a concert, get a shot of the stage with fans gathered in front of it. If the event is outdoors, try finding a high vantage point to document the crowd mingling at the venue.
Close-Ups and Candid Portraits
The real must-haves at weddings and other events are the portraits of the people in attendance. There are an abundance of important close-ups and portraits you need to get at weddings, including the couple getting married, their attendants, their family, and their friends. Photos of brides with their fathers and grooms with their mothers are often at the top of the list. The bride walking down the aisle, the groom and his mother dancing at the reception, and close-ups of the flower girl and ringbearer are must-have shots as well.
At events, it can be a little more difficult to know who needs a close-up. If it’s a corporate event, the company’s board members, CEO, and other high-flying figures certainly need to be photographed. So too do regular attendees, from friends and family to the employees of the firm. If the event is a birthday party, get close-up to the birthday boy or girl, snap images of them with their parents, siblings, and friends, and be sure to include other children and parents in the fun as well.
These photos can be taken in any number of ways. You can get physically close to people with a 35mm or 50mm lens for nice close-ups. You can use an 85mm lens for gorgeous portraits that don’t require you to be right up in someone’s face. You can also use a zoom lens to get a nice, tightly cropped portrait of someone that’s across the room.
Another option for getting portraits, especially candid portraits, is to bring along a portable photo booth like the T12 Photo Booth from EZPhotobooths. At just 35 pounds, the T12 Photo Booth is easily transportable and can be set up in just a few minutes by one person. The beauty of the T12 is that it is completely self-sufficient - all you have to do is add your tablet, a DSLR, and a ringflash and patrons at the event can help themselves to taking portraits with friends, family, and other guests.
Not only does this mean you can go about the business of checking off other shots off your shot list, but it also means that you provide a second option for photos without having to pay a second shooter. The novelty of a portable photo booth is also attractive to people at weddings and other events and is sure to energize the crowd. The result is a collection of wonderful portraits in which people are relaxed and having fun. These types of candid portraits can be hard to get when you’re shooting with a regular camera because some people tense up when confronted by a photographer, so the addition of a portable photo booth will ensure you get those fun, silly portraits that add so much to the portfolio of shots from the event.