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10 things you must have in order to be a wedding photographer

You might be shooting occasionally for friends or coworkers at this point. Maybe you make a small income from photography already. 


But you will have to face this question someday in your career, “Will you shoot my wedding?” 
You might say a resounding “no” or you might be tempted to say “yes!” 


Before you hop right in and shoot you first wedding, consider these 10 things before you accept the job, or you might be in for a really bad experience. 

1. You must know your settings inside and out.

You will most likely be in some pretty crappy lifting situations- like bars, hotel balloons or restaurants when you shoot at least the reception!  Shooting auto will be a major no- no, especially if that horrid pop-up flash comes up all the time.  You must master manual setting before promising to shoot someone’s most important day! 

2. Don’t shoot with the kit lens.

If you want to shoot your first real wedding, get at least a 50mm 1.8 or a 35mm 1.8. If you don’t know what those numbers mean, then you’re not ready yet.  Remember that you will have crappy lighting at some point, whether it be getting ready at someone house, in some bathroom at the hotel or in the back of someone’s car. Having a lens that an handle low-light without flash is key. 

3.Speaking of low-light. Have you ever taking pictures in a Catholic Church?

You won’t be able to use flash at all sometimes. Always make sure that you have a camera that can handle ISO 2000 with little to no noise. Believe me, you’ll think me later. Also, you must know how to use Kelvin white balance at all times. Going from inside to outside to a church all on auto WB will be difficult for your camera to get right .

4. Let’s go back to the church. I did a wedding one that I want allowed to come up past the last row of pees because I wasn’t baptized Lutheran.

 Make sure you rent or borrow a long lens if you know that this is going to be your duration. Get a 70-200 2.8 or something similar.

Forget about the f4 lenses, unless you can push your camera to 3000 ISO with no noise. 

5. Have two memory card slots.

Imagine that you took someone’s weeding photos and the photos are all one ONE memory card slot. What happens to the photos of the memory card gets corrupt mid or post wedding? (This has happened to me twice! But luckily I had a back up card recording a duplicate image)  Yeah, you could get sued for losing their photos. That’s not fun! 

6. Always, always being back up lenses or cameras.

Last week I was at a wedding when my camera decided not to autofocus in the middle of my wedding! Luckily I had a spare in my bag! If you don’t have a spare camera, borrow or rent one! You never want to look unprofessional and leave the wedding to drive back home. You’ll never get called to do a wedding again.

7. Learn simple off-camera flash.

Get some go-dox flashes, a remote and a simple soft box that you take with you for the dance floor. Your photos will look amazing, professional and studio quality compared to uncle joe that has the pop up flash going. 

8. Keep your gear on you.

It might not be fashionable to keep your memory cards with you at all times by using a hip punch or bag, but he last thing you want to tell a bride is “Sorry, I lost your pictures.” Also, having a quadrupole  back up system will save your @$$ when it comes to saving the files digitally. I use amazon drive for long term JPEG storage in the cloud. It’s free for prime users. 

9. You must learn to work under pressure.

You must literally know how to handle an emotional

Bride all while getting some awesome shots in. You’ll have to know

Poses off the top of your head and understand the chaos of juggling 20 cousins and 17 bridesmaids in 10 minutes of picture time. 

10. You must have a friendly personality.

You can’t seemed stressed out for a second and you can’t be a dick. If someone is taking photos with their phone and hops in your way- you must handle it with grace. If the groomsmen are plastered and start puking in the floor, you must handle it with professionalism. If the bride starts having a meltdown you must be the voice of reason and peace. 

So if you think you still have what it takes to be a pro wedding photographer, then I salute you! It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, but the most rewarding! 

Christal Marshall is a mom of three, photographer, videographer, homeschooler and just a straight hustler. 

She started out in 2011 from a camera that she bought off of Amazon for $400 and taught herself photography, graphic design and videography through youtube. Now she shoots 100,000 images a year at over 60 events.

She was voted top 20 wedding photographers in VA in 2016 and 2018. She has been featured over 50 times in various different publications.


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