The Way I Work

When people ask me how I got started in photography, I tell them the same thing.  “It just kind-of happened.”  A friend would have a baby, or need family photos for a holiday card, and I would get the phone call asking if I could take the photos since I had a “good camera.” I would say, “Sure!”, set a date, arrive at the agreed-upon location, pull out my Nikon, and improvise.  I’m embarrassed to say it, but it’s true.  I went into each of these situations with no real plan except to simply take photos.  But, when the brother of one of my best friends asked me to be his wedding photographer, it quickly became evident that my plan–having no plan–was not going to work.  I had to have a plan.

Wedding photography, for me at least, is different than other types of photo shoots.  Weddings tend to flow fairly naturally on their own.  There is a timeline for the day, and I have found that mostly, I can just capture the moments as they unfold with no problem at all.  However, during the First Look, or the scheduled time with the bride and groom alone, I like a bit more direction.  The couple is usually eager to move on to the reception if they choose not to see each other before the wedding, and if they do agree to a First Look (which I highly recommend), they would still like to use the time with me wisely.  After all, they have a wedding to get to!  Because I am visual, and I like to draw (six years of art classes has done that to me), it made perfect sense to me that I should sketch out the images as I wanted to capture them through my camera weeks before the wedding.  Don’t get too excited, though…I am not talking advanced artwork.  I am talking stick figures!

The photo below shows an example of what I used during the last wedding I photographed.  I studied it often, prior to the wedding day, making a mental note of what images I wanted to capture and memorizing as much of the posing as possible.  This allowed me to have pre-planned shots yet not have a piece of paper in my hands, and otherwise in the way, during the entire wedding day.  It allowed me to have a visual reminder of what I shots I wanted so that I would not forget anything during the business of the day.  There is nothing worse than walking away from a shoot wishing I had remembered to get this shot or that shot.  Visualizing the images before hand, sketching them, and studying them has helped me to avoid many of those moments of regret.

I have used this process since the first wedding I shot, and I use it when I am shooting engagements as well.  It has been a huge help to me, so I thought I’d share just in case it can help one of you.  I hope that at some point, the posing will become so second nature to me that I won’t need to bring the papers along.  But for the time being, I’ll stick with it.  Better safe than sorry!  Ya know what I mean?!?!

I’d love to hear feedback from all of you about this process and/or other ways that you make sure you get the shots you want, when you want them!  Let me know what you think in the comment section on the blog!

Have a super day, friends, and thanks for stopping by!

-M xoxo

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