Chandra's Collection Photography

How To Tuesdays: 10 Ways to Overcome Nerves While Shooting a Wedding Day

One thing that wedding photographers probably don’t share too often is the stress of our job. Most of the time, all people see from the outside are the final edits of the pretty pictures peppered throughout our Instagram feeds & on our blog posts – but none of the pressure that comes along with being a wedding photographer. Photographing weddings has been one of the biggest joys in my life without a doubt so far! I absolutely love what I do & wouldn’t change it for the world. The connections I’ve made are absolutely priceless & this job is so incredibly rewarding.

However, even after shooting over 150+ weddings, I still get butterflies & feel the pressure at every single wedding I photograph. I will say that it has gotten much easier over time, however, I hope I never lose that feeling! It’s what keeps me striving to do my very best & I don’t get complacent because of it — which I love. Every wedding comes with a new set of obstacles that I have to overcome as a photographer & helps me grow in different ways.

If you’re a fellow photographer, then you probably know that the responsibility of capturing one of the most important days of a couple’s lives is a seriously daunting task! My couples are entrusting me to capture & tell their wedding day just as it happened. Every detail, every moment, every subtle smile or tear. All of it.

Most people don’t realize that as wedding photographers, we are constantly thinking about our next move…how harsh the light is, where we need to be now, next, 10 minutes from now…how dark the rooms are that we are shooting in, our camera settings since we’re shooting in Manual mode all day. Probably a million split second thoughts confined into about 2 second increments.

Wedding days move SO fast. You have to think QUICK & swiftly & come up with the solution(s) to problem(s) within seconds that most people overlook or wouldn’t even notice. Many people probably don’t truly understand what being a wedding photographer entails. And that’s totally okay. I definitely don’t expect you to! It’s my job & just as how a lawyer wouldn’t expect me to know anything about their profession, I don’t expect you to know much about mine either. You see the outside visuals of what we do, but none of the roots that are intertwined below that really make us thrive.

On wedding days, we have many factors that play into the finished outcome of our work. Like I mentioned above, we have to think about keeping our couples happy + comfortable first & foremost, we’re also therapists to our brides when they need it, veil tossers, dress fluffers, problem solvers, boutineer pinners, stylizers, planners, lighting experts, off-camera-flash experts, directors, family mediators…the list goes on & on! I’m sure most people look at a wedding photographer & think “oh, they take pictures all day…must be nice!” But there’s so, so, so much more to it. With all of the factors thrown our way (that are most of the time out of our control) we are (of course) expected to produce beautiful work that our clients will be happy with.  It’s a stout order, but we willingly take on the request & always give our best.

When I leave a wedding day, I am DRAINED. I walk out of that reception on cloud nine & I know that I have given my whole entire heart to my couple & there’s not an ounce left to give. I think if I didn’t have proper structures in place, I might just crumble on some days. However, over the past several years of shooting weddings – I’ve found a few key ways to help keep my nerves in check when I head into a wedding day & wanted to share with you who are thinking that photographing weddings might be for you in the future:

  1. KNOW YOUR CAMERA INSIDE & OUT – This should be  a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people pick up a camera & think they can shoot a wedding after a couple weeks of having a DSLR. Know Manual mode. Inside & out. That’s all there is to it. Know how to work it in many different lighting scenarios & control your camera to work in your favor. If you can’t shoot in Manual mode for any given lighting situation, you shouldn’t be shooting weddings – that’s just my honest opinion!
  2. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE – Shoot as much as you can before you take on a wedding. Second shoot with local photographers if they will let you, get out there and get familiar with different lighting scenarios & etc.
  3. EARN YOUR CLIENTS’ TRUST – Your clients’ trust is a game changer. They will need to trust you & know that you can do the job & do it well. If you tell them, “hey, I think we should move over here because the lighting will be a bit better” – then they should trust you enough to do it without even batting an eyelash. If you feel like you are timid about saying something like that, then you probably don’t have your clients’ complete trust – and it is SO important for your couples to trust you on their wedding day.
  4. HAVE YOUR OWN COPY OF THE TIMELINE – This will ensure that you know where to be & when! You’re never second guessing & you have everything in solid writing. I always confirm the timeline a few days before the wedding just in case anything has changed.
  5. SHOOT WITH BACKUP CARDS – If you have a DSLR, most of them come with 2 card slots. Always have your images copied to both. That way, if you ever have a card error, all of the photos will be safely stored on your backup card. Whew – such a piece of mind for me!
  6. STAY CONSISTENT – If you share your work on your website, blog or social media outlets – it needs to be consistent (in my opinion). Your clients need to know that you can consistently produce the kind of work that they were initially drawn to & hired you to create. They need to know that you will be able to produce the same kind of work for them on their wedding day as well. By staying consistent, you will already know your style going into the wedding day & you won’t be expected to do something totally opposite of what they hired you for. This is such a piece of mind & calms my nerves.
  7. HAVE BACKUP GEAR – Okay, no THIS should be #1! lol Have an extra camera body & lenses just incase a freak accident happens & your gear goes wonky – you can still shoot the wedding day to perfection without worry.
  8. HAVE A SECOND SHOOTER – I don’t shoot wedding days without a second shooter. Whether it’s Daniel or my associate photographers, it’s kind of like insurance that needs to be set in place no matter what for me. What if you have to run to the ladies room & the DJ decides to do the cake cutting then? What if one of your images happened to be out of focus as they were walking down the aisle? That’s where your 2nd shooter comes in super handy. Not only are they an extra set of eyes & hands at the wedding day capturing other things that you may not see, they are a priceless insurance policy & I probably would never shoot a wedding without a 2nd…unless I absolutely had to.
  9. SAFE SHOTS + CREATIVITY – Remember to grab your “safe” shots first & then use any free time to get creative! Well, this is what I do at least & I know a lot of photographers don’t work like this…but I’ve found it works great for me. It keeps me calm knowing that I can get creative after I have gotten all of the must-have shots!
  10. DON’T FORGET THAT THIS IS AN HONOR – Think about all of the amazing memories you are giving to your clients & their families? I was in TEARS last night after one of my sweet brides told me a situation that was going on & how the photos of her & her father were priceless. It reminded me of the deep rooted reasons of why I love this so much. There’s no greater honor, so don’t forget that!Okay, guys! There are my Top 10 Ways to Overcome Nerves While Shooting a Wedding Day for all of my fellow photographers out there who may be interested in becoming a wedding photographer in the future. If you have any questions, you can always comment below or shoot me an email at:

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