118 - Help! I have to photograph a wedding!

EOS 118 - I have to photograph a wedding.jpg

Sometimes the MayDay comes with a long explanation. Sometimes it is a message that is short and to the point.

“Help I have to photograph a wedding!”

Have you ever gotten this call?

“Guess what, we’re getting married!”

You. Congratulations! That’s wonderful.

Your friend. Thank you. We’d like you to be a part of it by being our photographer.

You. I’m not a wedding photographer.

Your friend. I know, but we can’t afford a professional photographer. We are trying to keep costs down. If you could do this for us, it would help us out.

I know many photographers who get that call, because often, I get the next Mayday, “Help! I have to photograph a wedding!

In this episode, I’ll give the full response I often wished I had the time to offer. Here is everything a non-wedding photographer should know before attempting a wedding.


Listen to the podcast


Episode Outline

Should you even do it?

Click to download PDF.

Click to download PDF.

  • I recorded a podcast episode, “Should you ever shoot for free” to discuss reasons you should and should not shoot without charging someone.

  • I can use the same rationale deciding when I would and wouldn’t take a wedding photography request

  • Are you depressing the market for working photographers?

  • How do you accept and preserve the value of the craft?


  • Meet with the couple (Understand what they want and let them know what you can provide.)

  • Understand their vision for the wedding

    1. Find out what is important to them in their wedding photos

    2. Get their timeline

    3. Find out their VIP family members

    4. Do some expectation management

    5. Get a Pinterest mood board

    6. Agree on when you will deliver photos

Scout the location

  • Look up lighting for the wedding time (indoor & outdoor weddings)

  • Understand the layout

  • Plot travel times to the wedding and between shoot locations

  • Parking options

Create your coverage plan

  • Make a shot list (Download the PDF)

  • Plan for an assistant or draft some help

  • Make sure you have adequate setup & teardown time

  • Parking restrictions or issues

  • Dress code

  • Set up and test all your gear before packing it (extra batteries, cards, business cards)


  • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III

  • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II

  • Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro

  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III

  • Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT

  • Canon 28mm f/1.8

  • Canon 50mm f/1.4

  • Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS

Wedding Day

  • Work the shot list

  • Shoot the story - not just photos

  • Height of the action. Height of the emotion. Action. Reaction.

  • Shoot for the album. Shoot for the mantle.

  • Pack snacks & water.

  • Have someone staging your portraits

After the wedding

  • Back up your photos

  • Quick edit and share about 10-12 representative images

  • Finish and deliver pictures as promised

  • Book or Canvass as a gift?