what should a wedding photographer wear

I feel like this is one of those topics that everybody should already know the answer to, but I'm constantly astounded by horror stories from friends. Emily, you'll never GUESS what the photographer was wearing!? Sweatpants & a tank top...with cuss words on it! No, sir! Not aloud! I'm also amazed at how many people I work with at my weddings that have never been to a wedding before, so they may not know the etiquette.

So, just in case anybody is starting out with their first wedding, or are simply curious, read on.

shoes

I showed up to my very first wedding wearing high heels. Why did I think that was a good idea?! I guess in my mind, heels suggested professionalism. I never made that mistake again.

I'm on my feet anywhere from 6-10 hours every wedding day, & am only sitting when I'm scarfing food down my face at the reception, making my one trip to the bathroom, or driving between venues. I like to look cute & nice, but I need comfort.

For years, I wore the cutest black ballet flats I could find at DSW. I would wear them out, suffer through some blisters, & wake up the next day afraid to put my full body weight on my feet for fear they'd fall off.

Finally, I saw the light & bought the ugly shoes. I bought...memory foam. My world was changed. Yes, my feet still are little tired the next day, but it's no comparison. It's true that they're not the cutest shoes in the world, but they blend enough with my outfit that people aren't questioning my fashion sense. At least to my face.

Sketchers has a nice line of cute-ish black slip ons that I've found work nicely. (This is what I'm currently wearing.)

Save yourself the footache & buy the ugly shoes.

pants

I've long abandoned the notion of wearing a dress to a wedding when working because I'm constantly squatting or bending over for different angles. I've watched other photogs wear dresses all day, & I honestly have no idea how they do it. 

is white ok?

For the longest time, I thought I had to wear solid black because it was professional. However, after coming very near to passing out from heat strokes at a few weddings, I finally decided it was ok to wear a white shirt to a wedding, especially if it was an outdoor wedding. (Or, white pants & a darker top. Don't wear all white!) Texas summer heat is something to take seriously, & white makes sense. No one wants a passed out photographer. I think it's fine to wear colors as long as they're muted & neutral. I also like to avoid loud patterns or anything that could possibly draw attention.

bag

Because I switch so frequently between lenses, it's handy to keep them within easy reach. I also need to keep the printed out timeline, spare batteries, memory cards, & my phone with me, so a bag makes sense. Years ago, my friend introduced me to the Shoot Sac & I've loved having it by my side. While it technically has 6 pockets, it can only hold up to 3 big things (3 lenses, 3 flashes, etc.) at a time. Smaller/flatter items can be stored in the remaining 3 pockets.

I've only gotten frustrated with it when I was trying to hold 4 big items, but that's rare. I have my 3 go-to lenses, & one is usually on my camera.

Bonus, the cover/flap doubles as a lens wipe.

hair

This is totally up to you, but like I've mentioned before, I live in Texas & summer heat is real. My hair is up, back, & sprayed stiff. One time I tried wearing my bangs down at a wedding & I lasted 30 minutes.

watch

Most people are satisfied with just their phones, but I've found it so much easier to have a watch on. I used to hate watches (I'm not a huge bracelet person to begin with) but on wedding days I can make an exception. Besides, I don't have to worry about getting distracted by text messages or emails from other clients when I need to be focused on the now. It's also one less chance of me dropping it trying to get it out of my pocket.

extras: sunscreen & bug spray

Sunscreen doesn't need any explanation (again, Texas summers!), but wearing bug spray was something I learned the hard way.

A few years ago, I woke up the morning after a wedding with a whopping 97 mosquito bites, mostly concentrated on my ankles. Let me repeat that.

NINETY SEVEN MOSQUITO BITES.

Those little pests were even biting through my clothes. The three days following that wedding were pure agony with itching. At the following wedding, I wore mosquito repellent bracelets, even though I was on the top floor of a downtown sky-rise building. I was taking no chances.

pack an emergency kit

I have a little bag of small necessities that I keep with me during photo shoots & wedding days. It's saved me or my client a few times. In that bag is:

  • hair spray*
  • deodorant*
  • contact solution*
  • an extra pair of contacts
  • makeup (mainly powder)
  • mouth wash

* travel sized!

 

Most of the above is personal preference, so you do you. I knew a photog who was always sure to ask his clients what the dress code of their wedding would be. He would then wear jeans to a cowboy wedding, or a suit to a church wedding. He wanted to blend in.

Be comfortable. Be practical. Be professional.

But also:

  1. respect the bride & groom (like I said, no white dresses, please)
  2. respect the venue (especially if it's a church)
  3. blend in with the guests (for example, wear a tux if it's a black tie wedding)

what does a wedding photographer do all day?

What does a wedding photographer do when it's not a wedding day?

Unfortunately this is not a question I get asked a lot. The usual question is Are you doing a lot of editing? or Is editing keeping you busy?

While this is not a completely off-kilter question, especially considering we're in the middle of the spring wedding season, shooting & editing weddings is not what I do with most of my time. If I'm caught up on editing (which happens maybe once a year), I'm not sitting at home fiddling with my camera waiting for the weekend.

So when it's not a wedding day, what do I actually do, you ask? Besides being the CEO of a small business, I'm basically every other department & so much more.

I'm the Accounting department.

I keep track of any & all expenses so I can properly prepare & file my own taxes. Once a month, I'm recording all expenses & checking them against bank statements. During March & April, I may be a little slow with responding to emails, because I'd rather have you mad at me than the IRS. 

I'm the Social Media Manager.

I used to roll my eyes when I saw job posting for "social media managers." Surely, there is no way that is a full time job. Oh, how I was wrong! These past few months I've really made an effort to post more strategically. On Mondays, I'm planning out my social media blog posts for the week (thank goodness for apps like Buffer). I'm pulling my favorite photos from any & all recent weddings or photo shoots & publishing them on all social media platforms. I'm stalking every single vendor my clients used for their social media pages so I can tag them in any & all appropriate photos & blog posts. I'm writing informational blog posts like this one. 

I'm my own Personal Assistant & the logistics coordinator.

I'm reminding clients to schedule their photo shoots with enough time prior to their wedding. I'm offering suggestions for when & where we should do their photo shoot. I'm following up with those clients to make sure they acquired the appropriate permits for their photo shoot. I'm advising my clients on the most efficient wedding day timeline possible. I'm gathering their family members' names to formulate a shot list that doesn't keep everybody waiting 2 hours. I'm keeping track of products clients from 2 years ago have yet to pick out. (You know who you are.)

I'm the wardrobe expert.

When clients are planning their engagement or anniversary sessions, they're asking what to wear so they look & feel their best. What's the latest trend? What's a trend that should not be a trend? I don't like my arms, so how do I hide them? 

I'm the Marketing team.

Should I take out ads in print magazines & online postings, or keep things word of mouth only? Should I have a booth at a wedding show? Are my sample products up to date? Does my website adequately convey my photography style to potential brides & is the website easy to use?

I'm the Research & Development team.

Whether I'm researching psychology hacks to better phrase my instructions while on location to put my clients at ease, or researching new & better products to offer my clients, I'm constantly looking for ways to better my business. I want my clients to feel at home when they're with me. I want them to have the best products at their disposal, so they can showcase their wedding in the best light possible. When it's time to upgrade my gear, I'm looking for the best equipment at the best price.

I'm the fulfillment department.

When a client picks out their choices for their discs/USBs, their desired large print(s), or their choices for their album, I'm all over it as quickly as possible. For discs/USBs, I'm checking & triple checking that I pulled the correct 50 photos out of 146, then resizing, watermarking, & copying them to said disc/USB. For large prints, I'm pulling, sharpening, uploading, & ordering, making sure I have their current mailing address. For albums, keep reading!

I'm the design team.

I design all of my clients' albums. This entails pulling their desired photos & organizing them in such a way that tells the whole wedding day story coherently, which is no small feat when a client pick out 200 photos for a 10 page album. (The struggle is real, y'all. I had the same problem with my own album.) I make revisions when the client wants to rearrange a few things.

I also create custom cards & other printed products for my clients. Not every photographer offers design services outside of albums, so this is a little bit unique to me. I love helping my clients design their Save the Dates or wedding invitations. Starting in late October, I roll out my pre-designed Christmas card line & start taking orders for custom cards.

I do all of my own branding.

This covers everything from my website, to business cards, to customized disc cases or usb drives, to packaging, to photos published online–I want everything to consistently follow the brand I set up for myself.

I'm a go-to wedding expert with answers to the most random not-necessarily-photography related questions.

Since I'm usually one of the first vendors to get booked after a date is set, I am with brides through most of their engagement. I encourage them to come to me with any questions, photography related or not, & I love when they do! What material should the bridesmaids wear? If my venue doesn't allow sparklers, what other options do I have? What should I do with my purse during my engagement photo session? When should I change into my reception dress? Do most weddings have a fancy car send off & where do they find those cars? Do you recommend full face makeup even if I don't normally wear it? Where should we go for bluebonnet photos? How many people traditionally give toasts or speeches at the wedding reception? Can you give me vendor recommendations...for everything?

I'm the post office.

You guys have no idea how many trips to the post office I make a week. Both of my regular FedEx delivery guys knew me at my old apartment (both thought the senders got my address wrong when I moved down the hall–they tried delivering to the old apartment), & all of the workers at my favorite shipping store know me & have extreme patience with me when I bring my giant bag of crinkle cut craft packing material & make a mess. (I always clean it up.)

I'm constantly interviewing for jobs.

I'm answering all leads & inquiries. I'm organizing a time, date, location for initial meetings. I have to make sure my presentation stays up to date, & I can give my sales pitch (I hate calling it that, but let's face it, that's exactly what it is) as quickly & efficiently as possible while answering any & all questions. I'm following up on all meetings to put things in writing & to answer any additional questions. Sometimes I won't have a meeting for a few weeks, sometimes I have two in one day.

I edit all of my photos.

This is the #1 thing people think I'm doing with my time if it's not a wedding day. If I'm not shooting, I must be editing. While this is time consuming, it's far from the only thing I do! 

 

Did I start out doing all of this? No. Did I cover all of my hats? No. Does every wedding photographer do all of this? No. Could I outsource some or all of this? Yes. But, this is me & what I want to do. (Well, I don't want to pay self-employment taxes, but in order to stay out of jail I do.) I make things as difficult or easy as I want them to be.

My number one goal, though is to provide my clients with the best experience & the best photos I can deliver.

a delicate & moody styled wedding shoot

Best. Day. Ever.

The day before this styled shoot, my husband was asking me about it. Why are you doing this? What's the point?

I told him, & he says, Oh, so you're all basically playing dress up for the day? Heck yes. Count me in.

The Cedars Ranch graciously let us invade for the day & play wedding. Sydney at Olive & Belle Events did such a wonderful job of planning, styling, & coordinating everything, & I was over the moon to be included. Our two beautiful models had hair done by Katie Marteney (@mascaraandmarteneys) & makeup by Glam Gone Good. Dresses were provided by Saint Isabel Bridal & Melange Bridal & were finished off with stunning diamond jewelry designed by Kirk Root Design. (Make sure you check out the incredible diamond ring!) Breathtaking moody bouquets with long flowing black ribbons were provided by Libby Cole CreationsIced Cakes & Confections created a deliciously sweet gray & white marble wedding cake complete with red sugar flowers that brought out the red of the stained concrete floor. The candle lit sweetheart table was set for two with china, red glass goblets, & furniture from Feel Good Find. The stationery from Marry Me In Spring featured hand-painted watercolor pictures that add that perfect personal touch. Intelligent Lighting Design decked out the trees with gorgeous chandeliers that caught the sunset oh so perfectly. The Photo Bus & Ears With Beers also made an appearance, bringing two unique options to enhance your wedding that will keep your guests talking for ages about your wedding. 

While the venue is still under construction, we got to play in their garden shed (architecture by HA Architecture), boasting an airy & modern feel. If the garden shed is this beautiful, I cannot wait to see the rest of it.

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Venue // The Cedars Ranch
Planning/Design // Olive & Belle Events
Photography // Dreamy Elk Photography & Design
Videography // Coleman Jennings Films
Flowers // Libby Cole Creations
Cake // Iced Cakes & Confections
Stationery // Marry Me In Spring
Furniture - Feel Good Find
Lighting // Intelligent Lighting Design
Bridal Gown // Saint Isabel Bridal
Bridesmaid Gown // Melange Bridal
Jewelry // Kirk Root Design
Makeup Stylist // Glam Gone Good
Hair Stylist // Katie Marteney @mascaraandmarteneys
Photo Booth // The Photo Bus
Beer Burro // Ears With Beers
Model // Aubrey Moore @aubreyfrances
Model // Bailey Hamer @beeholland