30+ Wedding Photography MUST-HAVE Shots

We are thick in the middle of wedding season, aren’t we?

That means we’re thick in the middle of wedding photography season. Now I’m someone who doesn’t shoot weddings as my #1 job, but as you know, I tend to put 100% of myself into every job I do. And of the four or so weddings I’ve photographed, each one has been a huge learning experience/inspiration. I don’t know if I’ll ever do them full-time, but the gift of doing them part of the time, and in a highly perfectionistic way, is that I really do know what I’m doing. It’s a lesson in self-confidence, and weather-confidence, and technology-confidence, but since it’s really mostly about that first part, since you can’t control the rest, that’s where I start. There’s a feeling I get either right away, or hopefully not too far into a gig.

And that’s when raw instinct takes over. It’s almost like I’m floating a little outside of myself. It’s what I’m born to do.

With all of the weddings I’ve photographed, I’ve either been given or have asked the bride and groom for a checklist of important shots. Trust me, I find my own big and small moments. That’s what I’m paid to do. That’s what they’re trusting me to do. I don’t know everyone, though. That’s why I rely on these checklists. I don’t always know about the sick uncle, whose dance with the bride might be his last dance of all. I don’t know individual stories – and what people are battling every day. And I can see so much in my photos, but I need those checklists to know what my client thinks is most important.

I get asked a lot of photography questions, and I always have fun compiling them into photography posts, thanks to a great suggestion by my friend AnnMarie. Some questions require whole posts. This is one of those times. People ask me what my MUST-HAVE shots are for photographing a wedding. Whether you’re reading this as a bride or groom, (or two brides/two grooms), or as a family member, friend, or loved one in a wedding, or as a photographer interested in weddings – I’d love to hear your own thoughts of must-haves! Here are the photos I don’t leave a wedding without having taken, OR ELSE!

I have compiled 30+ must-have #wedding #photography shots - whether you're getting married, or photographing a wedding. You can make your own checklist too!

1 – Dress. I like this one billowing out or sleek/stylish on a plain/natural background.

2 – Shoes. I never knew how important these were until brides started to make sure I noticed them.

3 – Bridal details. I’m talking beyond jewelry with painted nails, barrettes, complicated braids, and other closeups.

4 – Jewelry. Rings, of course, and special earrings, meaningful necklaces, bracelets, etc.

5 – All flowers. Decorations, bridal bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, groom and groomsmen boutonnières.

6 – Invitations. Generally there’s a framed shot at the wedding, but if not, I take one before or after the wedding too.

7 – Groom accessories. Cufflinks, jewelry, and other special touches. (With Cassidy, it was his Converse shoes!)

8 – Welcome bags. These are usually found in the hotel and also sometimes at weddings.

9 – Notes. These can be cards, letters, vows, that brides and grooms sometimes write the day of their wedding.

10 – Bridal portrait. There will be many of these, of course, but they are timeless and unique.

11 – The bride and groom’s first look at each other! Of course, this includes bride/bride, groom/groom weddings. LOVE!

12 – Emotions. Honestly this is why I became a photographer in general, and why weddings are in my wheelhouse.

13 – Bridal party relaxed. These are FUN!

14 – Solos of all members of bridal party. These includes children and groomsmen, of course.

15 – The bride in action. That’s too much fun to resist!

16 – Decorations and favors. One of my recent brides is an artist so it was important to her that the wedding decorations were super special. And her favors were just as much fun! I must have photographed them for 30 minutes!

17 – Family shots. You may need an assistant to locate/round up/point out relatives.

18 – The bridal party at the ceremony. The groomsmen too, of course!

19 – Wedding party kids. This is a favorite of mine.

20 – The bride and groom in action. Another favorite! They’ll be busy busy all day.

21 – The walk down the aisle. And that includes EVERYONE walking!

22 – The groom’s face while the bride walks down the aisle. And during the ceremony in general.

23 – Furry friends. Sometimes pets make a big appearance at a wedding!

24 – Traditions. In our family, it was breaking the glass and standing under a Chuppah.

25 – Sweeping ceremony shots. Sweeping reception shots too, of course.

26 – Guests. This starts before the ceremony and continues until the after party, if you can. This is the meat of a wedding!

27 – The kiss. But of course!

28 – Stolen moments and candids. Sometimes, they really do forget you’re there. This is the BEST!

29 – The food. Including and starring, of course, the cake!

30 – Aerial shots. This can be done in different ways – drones, ladders, higher elevations. I have found (safe) ways.

31 – Musicians. Enough said there.

32 – All dance. Formal and planned, plus late night and crazy.

Happy Wedding Season!

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer at http://tamaracamera.com/, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at http://tamaracamerablog.com and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. http://themotherofallmeltdowns.com, as well as Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead/QA Reader with Sway, and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.

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