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Wedding Photography: How to Stay Calm Under Pressure

A wedding is often one of the most important days in a couple’s lives, and as the wedding photographer, there’s a lot of pressure on you to capture those memories in the best way possible. Try our course, Wedding Photography for Beginners to learn about everything you’ll need. This lesson is all about staying calm under pressure!

Wedding Photography: Don't Panic

Weddings can be stressful. They’re long days and they’ve got the added pressure of the importance of the day and the main recording of that rests on your shoulders. You really mustn't panic; as long as you've done your preparation, chances are things will go smoothly.

What if they don't though?

don't panic - a woman stands with her arms up and a look of panic on her facedon't panic - a woman stands with her arms up and a look of panic on her facedon't panic - a woman stands with her arms up and a look of panic on her face
Don't panic / Envato Elements

Have Contingency Plans

First thing to remember is not to panic, stay calm even if you're frantic inside. As the photographer, you have a role to play, and everyone needs to know that you're in control of your end of the situation. Do you have a contingency plan if the worst happens? While it doesn't do us any good to get obsessed with the what-ifs, it does make sense to consider the things that are most likely to go wrong and what could be done to address that if it happened.

Think of it as doing a risk assessment on yourself and pose yourself questions: what if I walked backwards into a fountain and ruined the camera and its memory card? Well, from earlier lessons in this course, we know you'd have a backup of each, which is a great start, you can still do your job! What about the pictures you'd lost on the card? You’d explain the situation calmly to the couple and tell them you were going to redo as many of the pictures as you can. and then you'd attempt to recover any data that might be salvageable on the card when you got home.

It's really unlikely that something like this will happen if you're careful, but accidents happen and the better prepared you are then the calmer you'll be if anything should happen.

Assistants

Having an assistant can really help with stress levels as you've got somebody to take some of the pressure off, and also a second camera to catch what you can't. Having those backup pictures would be a life-saver in the pervious example of something that could go wrong.

An assistant can also gather people together for photos and get illustrative b-roll while you focus on the main must-haves.

You must be insured for your assistant even if they're unpaid, as you’d still be liable for anything that might occur that involves them. You can add employer’s liability onto your insurance policy for very little, sometimes even just a few pounds more, and it means everything's covered and you can rest a little easier.

If they're capable it's a good idea to get an assistant to take little films of the day too, even if that's not part of the package. It makes a nice added extra for clients, plus it can be useful for your own social media to show what you do, if it is something your clients are open to.

Your assistant’s also handy for looking after extra kit. As photographers, we can carry a lot of expensive lenses and camera bodies in our bag and you do occasionally need to put that down and go and be elsewhere, and while it’s always sensible to keep an eye on your kit, having somebody else to do that too can only help.

Take Care of Yourself

Weddings are really long, full-on days, sometimes as long as 14 hours. You’re only human, and nobody needs the drama of the wedding photographer fainting from exhaustion or dehydration!

A person holds a bottle of waterA person holds a bottle of waterA person holds a bottle of water
Drink plenty of water / Envato Elements

Take bottled water with you and keep hydrated through the day, pop one in the side pouch of your camera bag if there’s space and then you can take it out to have regular sips.  

Have a snack with you, you can’t run on empty. When everybody sits down to eat a meal, that's usually quite a big gap where nothing's going on and it's a good time to have some food and maybe backup your images to a laptop while you eat. Having images in more than one place is much safer than relying on your camera's memory card alone, so make a backup when you can and remember to do it as soon as you get home - even if you're exhausted.

Summary

It’s easy to keep everything calm and smooth on the big day, even if something goes wrong. Here are the main points to remember.

  • Run through all the likely ‘disaster’ scenarios and have a contingency plan for each one.
  • Take care of yourself, make sure you drink plenty through the day and have something to eat when things are quieter.
  • Make backups when you can.
  • If you have an assistant, brilliant, let them take some of the load too!

More Wedding Photography Resources

About the Authors

Marie Gardiner created the video course that includes this lesson, and wrote the updated text version. Marie is a writer and photographer from England, with a background in media.

This lesson was edited and published by Jackson Couse. Jackson is a photographer and the editor of the Photo & Video section of Envato Tuts+.

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