My crazy sample wedding shot list!

Crazy sample wedding shot list/running orderSince soon ’tis the wedding season’, I thought I would publish my crazy sample wedding shot list for any budding wedding photographers out there! We all have to start somewhere and I know I was incredibly grateful for all the information I could find on the web before I did my first one! I trawled the internet to find helpful hints and tips for me to use, so that I had some idea of what I was getting myself into and without it I think I would have probably been a bit lost even though I am naturally quite OCD when it comes to planning! I did however find a sample which I then doctored.

Crazy sample wedding shot listThe attached sample is extremely detailed as it is based on my first big wedding in which I was having to be in multiple places throughout the day and had so many elements to it – I thought it would be best to show you how much of the detail that I plan and how little I leave to chance. I was lucky to have a second shooter with me for this wedding, so that is also included in the sample.

I am in the process of setting up an actual template which is basic and can be filled in with the details. I will publish this as soon as it ready, for you to download.

You will see that I used the venue’s running order as the basis for my shot list – there are numerous references that refer simply to things the venue needed to know, but this worked really well as we were then sure that the timings we had were the same.

sample wedding shot list/running orderPlease note that this shot list incorporates the list of shots I wanted to get, notes to myself about where I wanted them, who they were with, as well as how I was thinking of posing them – whilst remembering things like shoes on wet muddy grass and rain and such like. I plan like this before every wedding I do, leaving very little to chance – though changes always occur. For example, we had prepared for rain and had umpteen umbrellas with us, but we had not prepared for it to be as cold as mid January! This meant that most of the outside shots were done right outside the door, and not by the lovely tree and bench and that all the bride and groom shots were done inside.

my crazy sample wedding shot/list running orderI often sketch the poses before a shoot as I prepare for it, and bring that with me, so that I am sure I get the shots that I want. I don’t think it is necessary to do this all the time, but I like to be prepared and I like to know that I have done everything in my power to ensure that the wedding (photography) goes to plan.

A quick note about the candid shots – these are not mentioned in the shot list, but I still have a list of ‘types’ of shots I want to get. Basically I try and capture every person at the wedding, at least once. I often stick with the bride, but I make sure that I always have one eye on the bride and another on what is going on around me, especially if I don’t have a second shooter. I also make sure that shots like grandparents and grandchild dancing, or children in general, are paid attention to and of course shots of the groom looking lovingly at his bride, without him noticing that I am there. The best advice I can give is to blend in, stay a short distance away, so that people don’t know you are there, and keep a low profile.

I am guest blogging in the next couple of days for Paul, a twitter friend who teaches guitar and ukelele and plays at weddings too, so to read more about my wedding dos and don’ts or to check out his musical offerings visit http://paulclews888.weebly.com/blog.html

OK – here we go… your PDF of my crazy wedding shot list! Enjoy!

Wedding Photography Running Order/Shot List

Enjoy! And Good Luck!!

Lyme Bay Bridal Shoot

French Lieutenant’s woman meets gone with the wind meets…

A few weeks ago I managed to get Abby back in her wedding dress. I say I managed – it was not exactly a hardship and I think she might even bite my hand off to do the same again. Justin Orwin and I decided we wanted to have some fun and shoot some bridal portraits by the sea and luckily Abby was a willing victim. Abby Shoot Portrait BW lores (48 of 48)Justin Orwin is an experienced wedding photographer who I did an introductory workshop with at Clavelshay Barn not long ago. I went on the workshop to find out really how much or how little I already knew, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I decided to challenge myself all day and shot in manual focus as well as On Manual. I learnt a lot and you can read all about that in one of my previous posts! However, I digress (as usual).

So – A wednesday evening, at Lyme Regis, Monmouth Bay, and the weather was very kind to us! The light was utterly stunning and the backdrop was quite magnificent.

Abby Shoot Portrait BW lores (21 of 48)Justin had a very definite idea of what he wanted to achieve, whereas although I had an idea, I wanted to just see where it would go and simply let the evening, the dress and Abby guide me. That is something I found quite interesting. I think it is very much my style of photography. I don’t think that at the moment I am a ‘Director’… I have no problem asking someone to sit down or stand up or throw her head back laughing, but these are not things I plan… I actually like to see what the environment gives me before I know where to go with the shots.I didn’t find directing Abby difficult, but I also didn’t do it as much as Justin, preferring the candid shots that I got of her, for that very same reason. It is also the difference between shooting film and digital.Abby Shoot Portrait BW lores (10 of 48)

Justin was shooting film, and I was shooting digital. So, I was much more able to take snap away, whilst he had to be much more concentrated, waiting, to get that perfect shot. I like the idea of shooting film, but I would never want to do a whole wedding on film only. I have the utmost respect for photographers like Justin who only used to do wedding photographs shooting film – I cannot imagine ever having the courage to do that myself. I love the differences between us. I find it fascinating!

Abby Shoot Col lores (128 of 150)Another thing I found quite interesting was that when I got home, I realised that I had spent an awful lot of time  on the full image – which is different to the way I normally shoot. I am normally much more concerned with portraiture and headshots. Yet, the dress for me, trailing along the sand, or the shapes that the dress was making, suddenly became really important to me. I also found that the images I really liked were the full body, colour images – probably because of the light, the blue of the sea and the dark blue of the cliffs, the white of the dress, the bluey white of the sand and the stones and the overall soft pink light that blanketed every shot giving it a warm glow… I really love these images. That is not to say that the portraits aren’t also my favourites, but they were found later in post processing as I cropped in on some of the images. During the evening itself I concentrated much more on full body shots and the dress. I find it fascinating how I notice these little things about myself and about my photography. How changes occur all the time.

Abby Shoot Portrait BW lores (17 of 48)I shot mainly using my Canon 50mm. This was unusual as I would normally like to use my 18-200mm for safety but actually I really loved just using the 50mm. I changed towards the end to my Tamron 90mm which is a superb portrait lens for very little money. I love that lens and I was delighted with the results. The 50mm is a 1.8 and the Tamron is 2.4 (I think) – so both lens let in a lot of light, and creates a beautifully shallow depth of field. I love how the backgrounds are just blurred out, helping to fix on the subject itself.
I am currently scouting for more models – I have a few up my sleeve and just have to get them together and get them out there! I even bought a couple of wedding dresses – cheap ones that were being sold off – so that we have some should they be needed. I cannot wait to see who is going to get in them!

Abby Shoot Col lores (44 of 150)I have grand ideas about doing a wedding fashion shoot with 3+ models on the beach… I also have a vision of something a bit more edgy, a bit supermodel avant garde alternative! I will definitely need to get my Director’s head on for that, but I think I will be OK – putting the vision into action will be a huge challenge, but I can see it before me… surely that is half the battle won already!

I have to say a huge thank you to Abby for being a star and of course a mega thanks to Justin for suggesting we go play on the beach with wedding dresses and models, in the first place! I hope there will be many more play dates in the future! You can see Justin’s photographs and read more about him here… http://www.justinorwin.co.uk/ – and if anyone is reading this and fancies getting into their wedding dress again and having some amazing images created, then please feel free to contact me for a quote.  xx

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Weddings Schmeddings – what I have learnt so far…

Claire&TomWedding-0087

I have had a few people ask me for advice about shooting weddings recently. I am not sure that I am best placed for writing an ‘advice’ post on them, since I have actually only done three weddings in my short career as a photographer…I have however learnt a great deal in a very short space of time and perhaps imparting a little bit of this knowledge will help. It will certainly be cathartic!

I was utterly terrified doing my first wedding even as a second shooter, last June. I don’t know what possessed me, but at the time I thought it would be a bit of fun and good preparation for a wedding I had agreed to do a few months later! I had made no preparations at all, in fact I just turned up at the railway station and started snapping away. I was not prepared, and that was the probably the hardest thing, didn’t really know my camera well enough, had never used an external flash, had no idea how to set the exposure to capture things like detail in a white dress, but, we live and learn and that is the beauty of photography. We never stop learning. As a second shooter I didn’t have to do much prep, but it would have helped had I known my camera a bit better. the best thing? Meeting the people I was photographing and at the end of it coming out with a few shots that I was actually really proud of. I am not sure that I felt particularly happy about ever having to do another wedding, but could hardly go back on my word, having said I would do the next one only a month later.

Kirsty and David wedding colour high res (8 of 439)

So what did I do? I trawled the internet for as much advice on shooting a wedding I could find. I searched and searched. I read everything I could, quite literally devouring article after article until I was satisfied that I had everything in hand. So, July came and I felt I had pretty much everything in order… shot lists, sketches, more lists and more sketches. Nothing prepares you for flu though… I can safely say that this was the hardest day ever. Flu, tonsillitis, headache – the lot – and a wedding to shoot… IN THE RAIN! But I did it! It worked and all the preparation in advance was worth it.

So what did I do for my 3rd wedding. Well, I felt so much more prepared for this one and actually the preparations started way back last year in October when I did the couple’s engagement shoot. Doing an engagement shoot is one of the best ways to get to know your clients and to make them feel comfortable in front of the lens and with how you work. Since the engagement shoot I spent the rest of the year really looking forward to this wedding, and I was not disappointed. I loved every minute of it and I simply cannot wait to do more. So, as I have now been blabbing on about nothing in particular and not a single piece of advice has been issued about shooting a wedding, perhaps I should start! Here are my 20 things that might make you think twice about doing a wedding, and if at the end of it you still think you have what it takes, I would heartily recommend going for it. It is the singularly most rewarding thing I have ever done, and such a huge privilege to be let into people’s lives in such an intimate way. It is a great honour to shoot a wedding. I hope I never lose sight of that.

Kirsty and David wedding colour high res (108 of 439)One of the most important things to remember is that the bride and groom have chosen you because they know you can do a good job and that they like your style. Have self belief that you can do it and that you are the right person for the job.

  1. It starts with a conversation…have many of them with the bride and groom to be. Find out what their hopes and dreams are, listen to the preparations they are making, pay attention to the dress, the bouquet, the table decorations – talk to them about bridesmaids and ushers, be a listening ear. For me this was the most important thing. I wanted to be absolutely involved in the whole experience as I knew that knowledge would be power and the more I knew about the day, the more prepared and relaxed I would feel.
  2. Include a free engagement shoot in the price of the wedding shoot. For me, this was really important. Getting the couple together, with or without their children (in both the two weddings for me it was with children), is a sure fire way of everyone getting to know each other. Doing an engagement shoot allows the couple to get used to being photographed so that when it comes to the big day, they will already know what to expect.
  3. Make sure you ask for their honest opinions on the engagement shoot. If there is something they are unhappy with, you want to make sure that you don’t repeat it on the day. Pay special attention to what the couple may be unhappy about in themselves, it could be nose, teeth, eyes, anything. Remember, we never see ourselves the way other people see us.
  4. A few weeks or so before the wedding (or more if you can), sit down with the couple and prepare a list of the people who are going to be in the shots. There will be friends, family, bridesmaids, ushers and all sorts of people that will be expected to be captured on the day, for both formal and informal shots. Talk to the couple about the types of shots they would like of family and friends. If they have samples from websites even better. Some couples are happy to use Pinterest, and if they are, then following their pin boards is a good way to get a better idea of what they would like you to achieve. Make sure the list includes names and descriptions (ie Father, Mother etc), so that when it comes to the day itself, you can approach them by their first names or as Mr/Mrs… if that is more appropriate). The list also needs to include the shot lists of which people are going to be in the shot together. It might look something like this:Claire&TomWedding-0218
  5. Abby and Peter (Dad) – on bench by the tree
    Abby, Peter and Molly – on bench by the tree
    Ben, sandra and bill (parents) – on bench by the tree
    Ben, Lillie and Harvey – sitting on swing
    and so forth… 
    I also ensured that I had asked the family in advance to make sure that there would be 1 person responsible for getting all the people for the formal family shoots together at the right time. An usher, a best man or a bridesmaid is usually good for this, unless of course they also need to have their photos done. A responsible teenager did a great job at the last wedding!Mr and Mrs N Wedding MIX BWCOL HIRES XTRA (34 of 52)
  6. Always visit the venue and church in advance to scout out the best places and to speak to the vicar about what is allowed in the church in terms of photography. Some photographers just expect the couple to speak to the vicar on their behalf, but I prefer not to leave anything to chance. When you visit the church and the venue, take some shots to see what the light will be like. I thought I was very well prepared, but having taking practice shots of the light in the church, I was appalled to see that they had put red hot heaters on which made everyone’s faces bright pink. I was not prepared for that, so there is a certain amount of thinking on your toes that also has to be done! Luckily much of this was rescued in post processing.
  7. Make lots of notes when you visit the venue, think about where you could do the creative couple shots, and if you get the chance, do their engagement shoot in the same place, so you get some practice in.Mr and Mrs N COL hires (176 of 610)
  8. Before the wedding – about a week before – I sat down and made a complete shot list, from morning until night… I didn’t want to miss anything at all and I found it incredibly helpful to walk through each shot in my mind and pop it down on paper, so that I would have something as a form of reference when I needed it.
    My shot list started at 9am and included a concise schedule and looked like this:
    9am – CD arrive at venue. Bride staying in cottage (get directions in advance).
    SHOT LIST: (50mm and 90mm lenses for close ups and portrait)
    Prep shots – make up, hair
    Bride and Bridesmaids
    zipping up the dress
    The dress
    Jewellery
    Shoes
    North window bride
    Bride in Mirror
    (if time would be good to spend 20 minutes with bride and bridesmaids for some posed shots before we go)
    Bride walking down the stairs
    Bride leaving
    Bride and dad getting into the car
    CD leave before bridal party to get to the church in advance
    This list went on for 3 pages of typed A4 – possibly a bit excessive but really helpful. and later I cut each section out and put it on index cards bound together so that I had them to hand and knew exactly what was coming next and at what time. I also had a reminder as to the lenses I wanted to use. Mr and Mrs N COL hires (327 of 610)
  9.  Another list I wrote was the 30-45 minute couple only photoshoot. knowing the venue reasonably well having already photographed the engagement shoot there, I had each shot pretty meticulously planned, knowing exactly where I wanted them to stand/sit, and how I wanted them to pose. All the shots were outside. However, I messed up here as we were not able to be outside at all, not due to rain, but because it was so incredibly cold! The only shots we were able to get outside were the bridesmaids ones, and most of those featured blue-tinted skin tones – those poor girls! I was not however very well prepared for doing the shots inside, so for all my list writing, I still missed something. In the end, we had to do the shots inside, and we chose the bedroom which was magnificent, but for me, it was not enough. Had I been better prepared, I would have had a list of inside shots that I could have used and which would have been better than having to think on my toes.
  10.  In between times there were lots of candid shots being taken of the bride and groom, of people  enjoying themselves at the reception, of the table decorations, the well wishes tree and the flowers. Don’t forget to also take shots of the children and grandparents. I love photographing children so I always make sure that I build in time to pay special attention to the children that are there. Mr and Mrs N COL hires (132 of 610)
  11. Make sure that 1 person is responsible for making sure that you are where you are supposed to be at the right time – I almost missed the first dance because no one told me it was happening and it started earlier than expected.
  12. Memory cards… take lots. Change them regularly before they run out. There can be no worse feeling than one of the cards not working and losing all the images because the cards were not changed frequently or not until they were full. Shoot in raw even though it takes up more space – you have much more scope to play around with the image in post processing afterwards.
  13. BACK UP – If you can, bring back up options. I brought my ipad, my notebook, a WD passport hardrive and my laptop… I had an hour whilst they were eating and I backed up 2 of my cards in that time. Obviously don’t delete them off the cards until you get home and you have backed up again, but it is well worth trying to back up whilst you are there. Remember to always format your cards, rather than delete the images off them once you are done. Deleting the images can apparently corrupt the cards.
  14. KEEP cards safe… pockets are not safe! Label the cards with numbers and names.
  15. When shooting indoors remember to keep you ISO high – if you are shooting in AV, increase the ISO to as much as your camera can or pop it on automatic. There will be lots of noise in your shots but this can also look quite effective. However, if you don’t like it you can reduce it in post processing. Keeping the ISO high (Or if in shutter priority mode or manual, keeping the shutter speed fast) will ensure that your pics don’t end up blurry or with yellow or red casts on them! If they do – convert them to black and white and pray that that works afterwards in post processing… If you are really struggling getting the quality you want, set the camera to its automatic setting and let the camera do the work for you, especially if you are moving between inside and outside. Don’t feel bad about this, know when you are beaten and act accordingly, you can always do more research afterwards and figure out where you went wrong and how to change and learn from it for next time. The end results are the most important bit and if you are not yet totally at ease with your camera settings, then just let that go and pop it on automatic so you can concentrate on the composition of your images. I wish I had done this whilst moving between indoors and outdoors at the last wedding. Sometimes things happen so fast that it is difficult to keep track and it is not until afterwards that you really your ISO was not high enough and the images did not come out as sharp as you would have liked them to. Really, the best thing is to know your camera really well. Study, practice, study and practice some more! Mr and Mrs N COL hires (100 of 610)
  16. Using a flash… personally I prefer natural light but it can be very helpful using a flash, especially when indoors. Use a diffuser for the flash and/or if possible bounce the flash so it doesn’t hit the people right in the face. If you are using the on camera flash you can also use a diffuser or a neat trick is to use a piece of card that it reflects off set just under the bulb which gives you a really soft ambient light. Using a flash outside in direct sunlight can also a  stop harsh shadows on people’s faces. I made the mistake of bouncing the flash off the walls too often when I would have been better off remembering that I had a diffuser on it, and that it would have been fine to have been facing forward or upwards most of the time. I was a bit obsessed with not having harsh light. It is unlikely that you can use a flash in the church, so use a tripod or a monopod to insure you don’t get a problem with shakey hands and I recently found out that using a monopod raised high up with a remote control is a really effective way of getting some great shots whilst standing at the back of the church – thank you to Peter Duce Photography for this little tip!
  17. Know your lenses and know when to use them.  ave back-up lenses and a back-up body in case of emergency. I only carried 2 extra lenses on me, plenty of batteries, plenty of memory cards and flash batteries. I left the back-up body and back-up lenses in the car.
  18. Get insurance! Have a contract! Get it signed. This is really important, and, you will feel so much safer knowing that you have personal indemnity insurance, public liability and contents cover. The last thing you want is to lose the images and get sued, or have granny trip over your equipment and hurt herself. Don’t forget to insure your car for business use.
  19. Never stay and have a drink afterwards – one can lead to two..! Get your precious images home as soon as you can, and back up your raw files straight away. Back them up to 2 different places, the last thing you want to do is lose any of them. I tend to not look at the images until the next day, and then I just have a cursory look. I find that removing myself from them physically before making rash decisions about whether they are good or bad, is the best thing for me. I am super critical and sometimes that means that images that are actually not too bad, get popped in the recycle bin too!
  20. Last of all – Well, I have been thinking about this for a while now… I think the only real bit of advice is to enjoy yourself and to know that very often the whole wedding party will be looking at you for answers as they expect you to be in control – so be in control. To get the shots you want you will need to be well prepared and not be worried about being a little bit bossy! You will need to stick to your timekeeping and that often means dragging the bride and groom away from their guests. If you do not take control, you will not get the shots that you or the bride and groom want, even if at the time, they forget how much they want them.Most of all though? Have fun! Weddings are great fun, and capturing them as they happen is fabulous and exciting, and oh so very joyful! Claire&TomWedding-0043 retouch

I am sure I will have forgotten one thing or another and will no doubt come back to this list again in the future. I very much hope to be able to shoot some more weddings. Ideally I would like to be second shooter on a few more; getting some more experience and building up my portfolio. For now I am just looking forward to the next wedding I have booked. It really is a tremendous honour to be allowed to photograph someone’s wedding and such an immense pleasure too!

Abby and Ben’s wedding Maunsel House

Morning all! Blustery and windy out there, but in here I am happy and content! I have finally managed to get all (most) of the photos from Abby and Ben’s wedding uploaded to my smugmug page and they are now ready for sale to anyone at the wedding and beyond who wishes to buy them, I am pretty proud of them. There are a lot, but that is exactly what they wanted. A record of the day, as it was. There are many things I could have done better, and I learn so much, every time I do a big shoot like this and I absolutely love it! Can’t wait for the next one! But, all in all, I am delighted with the results. It was a shame it was so cold we couldn’t go outside and do the outside shoots we had planned, but we live and learn and we did get some good indoor ones, just not as many as I had hoped. I hope to drag them both back there in the summer to do a few wedding photos for them then, though Ben said he would grow a beard so there would be no continuity! I think that could be quite fun!
Cx

An emotional wedding shoot

It’s been a while and I have been rather poor at writing, and rather poorly in general. The week before last I shot my very first solo wedding. It was incredibly exciting to be doing that, though I wish I had not had to stuff myself full of sudafed and a variety of other pain killers just to keep going on all day. I had a fever, sinusitus and a sore throat… but the show must go on and off I went at 7.45am to begin to capture the day. I dropped my daughter off for a playdate on the way and armed with prosecco, orange juice, the hairdresser and chocolate croissants I arrived to find the family had overslept and were barely up! I did have to giggle as to me that was almost the best part of the day with some of them running around frantically in their nighties and others seemingly not realising there was a schedule to follow. A real gift when it comes to taking candid ‘of the moment’ shots. The bride was getting ready with her 4 children, all girls in one house, and the groom was next door with the neighbours getting ready. This was great for me, as it meant that I could just pop in next door when I needed to get some shots of the groom.

I had planned my shots and the timings reasonably well… I say reasonably well, because there was of course no accounting for the fact that it had been raining all night and on the 7th July 2012, it decided to rain all day too. Luckily I had prepared and bought 5 see-through umbrellas in case the rain was to be our enemy. I personally love the rain and did try to convince the bride that the girls would all look great in their dresses with wellies on, but by the time it came to go, the rain let up a bit and there was no need for wellies… what a shame!

I got some wonderful shots in the house with the bride getting ready, having her hair done, of the girls in their gorgeous dresses, and of course of all of them together. I really enjoyed doing these shots, the shots of the groom, with this pal, by the car they were driving in (a lovely VW camper), and generally getting all the hustle and bustle feeling of getting ready. I think this must be such a fabulous time for the bride and groom, getting dressed up, feeling nervous, not being able to see each other until the ceremony and I really enjoy capturing these moments.

Saying that, I do also find photography quite difficult at times. I don’t mean pressing the button, but I do find it difficult knowing whether I have the right shot or not, knowing whether any of my shots are any good, or whether I am completely on the wrong track. I know I can see the shots as I take them – I am after all not taking them blind, but I never REALLY know whether a shot is any good until I get home and view them on my laptop. Even then, it does take me about a week before I can look at the shots and think that I have actually managed to get some nice shots that the family or the bride and groom will like. I feel like I am very self critical, and perhaps so self critical that it is to my detriment… It is defnitely something I have to work out how to deal with.

The other problem I seem to have  (though this may be more about having been really poorly on the day) is that I couldn’t stop crying… now I know that people cry at weddings, but seriously! Firstly it was when the bridesmaids walked in, then it was when they read their vows, then it was when a poem was read out, then later on, last but not least, when the speeches were given! I had to hide behind my camera the whole time and yet I really just wanted a good old cry! I really can’t be doing weddings if that is to happen each time! It was very emotional and a bit of a roller coaster, but in the end, I survived… definitely food for thought though.

As an ‘aspiring’ photographer – or a ‘novice’ photographer – I really noticed how difficult weddings are, especially when there is only one photographer. It is not just the photography itself, but there are so many obstacles to getting good shots. For example, registry offices! How small are they? there is absolutely no room in them at all, there is no where to stand really, and rather than being inconspicuous, you end up being almost the centre of attention. As it goes, this registry office did have quite a nice part outside; green grass, hedges etc and a funny but quite nice arch where we could take the photographs of the bride and groom and their family, afterwards. Our only problem was the rain, but the brollies got a soaking and I have even left some of the raindrops on the photos, so that they don’t forget what wet day it was that they got married.

I don’t think I have ever really chosen to do weddings, but actually, I really have enjoyed doing both the weddings that I have done. I didn’t think so at the time, but looking back on them, I really had a good time, met lots of lovely people, and once the panic in my mind was over (which is all about getting the right shots) and I looked back on them, I actually realised they were a lot of fun. Below are a few photos of wedding number 1. I will post wedding number 2 photos in a few days when the bride and groom have had the chance to see them. xx