A Crash course in Wedding Photography

My take on Wedding Photography - Kenneth William Caleno

Essential Equipment

Two camera bodies that share the lenses

Two flashes (strobes) plus cables, etc.,

18mm-55mm zoom-for groups

50mm standard lens F1.8 or even better F1.4-for low-light situations

Not essential, but handy for candids and from back of church images- 70mm-300mm zoom lens

large capacity digital storage cards

At least triple batteries as you think you will need

Two white reflectors

Diffusion (soft-focus) filter

85c warming filter for grey days

Tripod for formal photos

Lens hoods to control flare

Planning the wedding shoot

You must have a timetable to work from, or you will fail miserably.

You must always remember:

The Bride is never on time

Cars are sometimes late arriving

Ministers will often talk for longer than expected

Traffic may be chaotic

Something may have been forgotten somewhere

Murphy, being the Patron Saint of Wedding Photographers, will no doubt ensure that if anything can go wrong-it will, and usually at the most inopportune moment. Allow for plenty of time for each section of the shooting script.

Planning Session

Planning is crucial, so make sure that time has been allowed for photography, and travelling to each location.

A: Who is Paying?

Find out who is paying for the photography, because the person footing the bill is the client, and needs to be consulted-If the bride’s parents are paying, and want nice, classic portrait shots of Bride & Groom, and the Bride wants cross-processed, arty, or black & white images-you had better get nice safe photos for Mum and Dad as well!

It is very important to find out and determine EXACTLY what the client wants, and is expecting to get. Quite often people do not know what they want-until you have shot it.

What you don’t want to hear is: “ We didn’t want half of this stuff, we want a refund!!!”

Whoever is paying, make sure you get paid up front. I usually ask for my daily rate photography fee on signing the contract, and the balance seven days before the wedding date. (This saves you wondering if and when you are going to be paid, and saves you chasing clients for payment.) I also only charge for the day’s photography up front-prints are priced separately - I take around 2000 shots per wedding, and shave these down to around 500 and put as proofs on CD’s made to show to my clients-then they can choose what they want for their albums.

B. Working with schedules and timetables

Once you have found out what is wanted and who is paying, start working out your shooting schedule. I usually type these out and give to attendants in the bridal party, to organise everybody for their photo to save time.

I also type my schedule on small cards for my pocket while I am shooting, so I know when the next sequence is due.

Let your clients know that formal photos of the bridal party should take between one to one-and-a-half hours.-Any longer will drag the proceedings, and any less time will limit the number of set-ups wanted.

Subtly point out that the guests should be advised of what is going on.

It is important to let the client know that if they cut your time, you will need to cut the amount of photography to shoot.

Protocol and family Politics

You need to tread very carefully where family politics are concerned, as you set up groups- ex-wives versus new wives, step-children, recently divorced couples. Better to let people sort themselves where they want to be, then just arrange set-ups accordingly.

If everyone, guests included, know exactly what happens, and when, and with whom, it will alleviate, the Bride’s and groom’s stress, your stress, and you will get results that please your clients.

Once PLAN “A” ( Beautiful sunny day, no wind,) is in place, work out alternatives- “B”; “C”; “D”; etc., You need somewhere to photograph if it’s raining, snowing, gale-force winds etc., And a choice of idyllic locations.

A Typical Schedule Plan

a). Groom’s House

Photos at the Groom’s house happen rarely, but if they are wanted, then you must make sure things run on time, in order to get to the Bride’s house on time

b). Bride’s House

Get to the house early, showing you are organised and professional. The Bride may be very nearly ready, and being the early bird may give you a chance to get things in order without rushing. Confidence is the keyword, so compliment the Bride, say she looks nice, and has nothing to worry about (Do not, under any circumstances tell her she is beautiful, because, if she isn’t, she will know, and this could turn her against you.)

If you can help the bride and her family to be calm at the house, the tone of the whole wedding will reflect on this.

Let the family know what you are going to photograph outside the church, or wedding venue.

c). Church or Wedding Venue

Get to church, or wedding venue as soon as you can to get set up for what follows.

Talk to, and photograph the Groom.

Talk to minister/celebrant, checking all is ok, use/non-use of flash, etc.,

Wait outside for cars to arrive

While the ceremony is taking place, look around for photo opportunities-is the Bride’s Mother crying? her Father, crying or smiling?

Once the vows have been made, register signed, etc., Bride and Groom will walk down the aisle, or things will just finish. This can be an awkward moment-one of two things usually happen:

a) The Bride & Groom will be surrounded by guests, and if there are lots of guests the crowd may take a time to clear.

b) (Usually at churches) when Bride & Groom come out there is no-one at first, then all guests file out slowly and stand around the couple looking at them.

Some guests will want to take photographs at this point, so set up the shot and let them fire away, after you. Work with these people throughout the day, and some of these people could be your next client.

Start the family photos, beginning with the Bride’s side, then the Groom’s, then all the friends and hanger’s-on.

d). The Formal Photos

After all the ceremony kerfuffle, the bridal party will want to relax a bit, maybe have a drink and a smoke for 10 minutes or so, while you are getting ready. But when you are ready, you need to get them back on track to get all required images done on time Bride and Groom, at this point, aren’t usually the problem, it’s generally the best man wants another beer, or the maid of honour who wants another smoke, or someone gets loud. You need to gain control of this.

If there are children in the party, use them first, as they have a very short attention span.

No matter what happens here,-stay calm, even when things go wrong, keep calm you won’t get good photos if you are stressed.

When you think you have finished, better check with Bride and Groom that you have all they wanted, or if you were pressed for time, that you have the set-ups they wanted the most.

Now you have to get back to the reception before the wedding party do.

e). Mock Cake Cutting

This is done when budgets are tight, and you aren’t required to attend the reception, due to funds being tight.

f ). The Reception

Before the bride and Groom arrive at the reception venue, Be ready to catch them arriving.

Things that usually happen at reception are: (in any order): speeches, toasts, food, then the first dance. While there is potential photography, don’t eat, or drink, just in case you miss something worthwhile.

Before leaving be sure that the Bride, Groom and whoever is paying for the photography, have all the shots they need with nothing missed.

g ). After it all

Get the finished prints to the Bride & Groom as soon as possible, that’s good business, You will want them to see the prints while the day will still be fresh in their memory. Do not get caught in the middle of any disputes-CD’s are always to be delivered to the Married couple, and not to anyone else. (unless arranged otherwise). If someone other than the Bride & Groom is paying for the photography, it should be explained to them beforehand that the Bride & Groom get the CD’s

When sorting out the finished images, take out the blinkers, and the ones that aren’t up to par.

The Photography

A blow by blow account of a typical wedding - Ceremony at 4pm

You have your little schedule cards on a loop of string

You have your flash/strobe set to

You 18-55 zoom lens on camera

1. At Groom’s house 10:00 am - 11:30am ( All times can only be approximated)

Groom, getting ready,

Groomsmen, playing around

Groom, in mirror

Groom dressed, GQ pose, jacket over shoulder

Groom Full length

Groom with mother Close-up

Groom with Father Close-up

Groom with both parents full length

Groom with both parents close-up

Groom with Grandparents Full length

Groom with Grandparents close-up

With sisters

With brothers

With immediate family

Groom and Best man full length

Groom and Best man Close-up

Groom and best man shaking hands

Groom and all groomsmen

2.At Bride’s house 12:30am - 3:00pm

Bride dressing

Mother helping with veil

Mother/maid of honour adjusting veil

Bride looking in mirror

Bride with mother looking in mirror

Bride putting on garter

Bride putting on garter with bridesmaids looking on

Bride full length

Bride half length

Bride close-up

Bride with Mother close-up

Bride with Mother full length

Corsage being pinned on Mother

Bride with Father full length

Bride with Father close-up

Bride pinning-on Father’s button-hole

Bride with both parents, full length

Bride with both parents, close-up

With Grandparents close-up

With Grandparents full length

With sisters

With brothers with immediate family

Bride and maid of honour full length

Bride and maid of honour. Close-up

Bride with attendants

Bride with flower girl/ring bearer

Bride leaving house with parents and Bridesmaids

Father helping Bride into limo

3. At the Ceremony 3:30pm - 4:45

Groups of guests and everybody

Flower girl walking down aisle

Ring-bearer walking down aisle

Maid of honour walking down aisle

Bridesmaids walking down aisle

Father walking down aisle with Bride

Father “Giving Bride away”

Bride & groom exchanging vows

Bride and Groom exchanging rings

The Kiss

Bride signing register

Groom signing register

Bride and Groom walking back down aisle

Bride and groom outside church

Bride and Groom getting into limo 3

4. Formal Photos 5:00 - 6:30

Bride alone Full length

Bride alone

Bride alone close-up

Bride alone head shot

Bride alone peeping over flowers

Bride & groom Kissing

Bride & Groom full length

Bride & Groom close-up

Groom full length


Groom close-up

Close-up of rings

Group shot of bride & bridesmaids [18-55mm zoom]

5. At reception

Wedding party announced

Bride and Groom announced

Bride & groom’s first dance

Wedding party dancing

Bride’s dance with Father

Groom’s dance with Mother

Best man toasting Bride & Groom

Bride & groom toasting each other

The cake

Bride& Groom posed at cake

Cutting cake

Bride & Groom feeding each other cake

Throwing bouquet

Bouquet catch

Groom taking off garter

Groom throwing garter

Garter catch

Bride & Groom with catchers

Guests leaving

Posed departure of bride & Groom ( Kissing, waving etc.,)

Bride & Groom leaving reception venue

Bride and Groom leaving in limo

Close up of invitation

Picture of band or DJ

Ken Caleno

Creative People Photography Phone/Fax :

Standard Wedding Photography Contract

Wedding date_____________

Bride’s name____________________________ Phone:______________


Groom’s name___________________________ Phone:_____________


Address After Wedding________________________________________

1. This constitutes an order for wedding photography. All original images remain the intellectual property of Ken Caleno. The client agrees that editorial use of photos and/or advertising use by Ken Caleno is acceptable unless otherwise noted. Ken Caleno may make use of these wedding photos for samples to show future customers.

2. Although all care will be taken with the negatives and digital images taken at the wedding, Ken Caleno limits any loss, damage or failure to deliver pictures for any reason, to return monies paid ( Except for Scheduling fee )

3. Upon signature, Ken Caleno reserves the time and date agreed upon, and will make no other reservations for that time and date. for this reason, Scheduling fee is non-refundable, even if date is changed or wedding cancelled for any reason.

4. A scheduling Fee is due on signing this contract; the remaining balance to be paid 7 days prior to wedding date.

All terms of this agreement are understood and agreed upon.

Agreed price for photography $_________________________

Signature of photographer:_________________________________

Signature of signing party__________________________________



Photo credits: Kenneth Caleno.

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Hi, an American colleague and I are preparing an all in one guide,covering raw processing,studio work,using studio strobes,all with images to explain, It'll be some time in the making, but I am sure we'll get there,Ken


Thank you this is good advice for pro or novice. When are you going to write a book. i think it would be a best seller.


Thank you, it was really useful for an amateur like me! :)

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