The Best Training for a Wedding Photographer

 I frequently get asked how to become a wedding photographer. Most aspiring photographers who want to get into weddings think that trailing or (2nd shooting) a wedding is the way to learn. I guess that could be valuable but I never second shot a wedding... I got into shooting weddings by another route, sports! Wedding photography is multi-faceted. In a span of a couple of hours your shooting architectural, macro, candids, large groups, action, you can't have a bad day and you've got to be "up" and ready to perform.           

     I shot sports for many years before taking on my first wedding. Team shots, individual poses, and action, all within a few hours. Along the way, one of my sports clients asked if I could shoot a wedding. A wedding? Why not, after sports a wedding would be easy. I didn't have a clue. To make matters worse, I had only been to two wedding in my life and one of them was my own. I went o the church and shot an establishing shot of the church. (Architecture) I positioned myself at a good vantage point to capture the wedding procession as they came down the aisle (action shot). I photographed the ceremony using a variety of lenses to get wide angle and close-up shots of the bride and groom. I photographed the kiss (action shot) and the procession up the aisle (more action). Everybody in the wedding party came back into the church. I  asked the client what we needed to do now (totally clueless) she told me that we "needed to get some formal shots". Formal shots? What's that? "You know group shots of everyone." Oh, like team shots, I thought to myself, I can do that. I proceeded to get them in groups and photograph them. I then took the bride and groom and proceeded to pose them and let them pose themselves for some romantic shots (individual sports photos). We then went to the reception and I got shots of the rings (macro) and the cake cutting (action) and the dancing shots. (action). Everything from bright light to very dim lighting. I won't say that it was the best wedding I ever shot, but the clients were happy with the pics, I didn't charge them anything except for the film and the processing and a new passion was born. So if your looking to get into weddings, know your camera, get some real experience, take classes, and shoot some sports. Volunteer if you have to. When I say sports, I don't mean just take some candid action, go shoot for a middle school or a private school. I'd go from Baseball team shots to cheerleaders, to softball teams, individuals, swim teams, girls soccer, and action all in the same afternoon/evening. Each of these teams is unique and you learn how to talk to them to get the very best out of them. The way you approach a boys baseball team is a lot different than you approach a group of cheerleaders, not to mention a football team. The way you approach weddings is different too, formal weddings are a lot different from casual weddings, not to mention some of the cultural differences in different styles of weddings. I love them all but you have to be ready for anything.

 Not a sports shot, but done during my sport shooting days. 2nd LAR Battalion at Camp Lejeune. Large group.

Not a sports shot, but done during my sport shooting days. 2nd LAR Battalion at Camp Lejeune. Large group.

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Baseball Action. Shot on film.

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Swimming action. Shot on film.

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Home plate action. Shot on film.

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Team group shot. Shot on film.