Wedding Photography During and Post-Pandemic: How to Prepare
Couples across the country are changing their wedding plans because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smaller weddings are taking place now instead of large-scale ones. The priority is safety, all while making sure all the personal touches, themed decoration, and wedding fashions (even with face masks on) are still there. And of course — it’s still crucial that the story of the day is captured by a photographer.
So how do wedding photographers prepare? We asked professional photographers and industry experts for advice on how to prepare for wedding photography during and after the pandemic — in a new normal we will live in for years to come.
Be a Leader in Safety
Brandon Ballweg, wedding photographer and founder of ComposeClick, says wedding photographers and other wedding vendors will need to be leaders in helping keep all who attend or work at weddings safe.
“That means things like maintaining a distance of six feet (and this may mean using a longer focal length lens), always wearing a mask, and wearing gloves/frequently washing hands and using hand sanitizer.”
Ballweg says, “At the weddings I do, I will personally be keeping masks and hand sanitizer on me and, during client meetings or in downtime during the wedding day, I’ll be seeing if any guests are in need of a mask or hand sanitizer.”
Ballweg notes that although the wedding environment looks different now with guests wearing masks, it’s up to photographers to tell the real story of the day.
“Many photographers will likely opt to try to frame their shots without people wearing masks in them. That can be OK, but I think telling the honest story of a wedding day is what works best — so as far as my technical photography goes, I’ll be shooting relatively the same way.”
Communicate and Make Sure You’re Comfortable
To make sure the day goes as smoothly as possible, you’ll want to communicate as much as possible.
Vishal Joshi, CEO of Joy, says to be upfront with your communication to the couple and only do what you are comfortable doing.
“It is best to align on your health and safety preferences and what you feel comfortable with ahead of time, so there aren’t any surprises or misunderstandings when you arrive on the big day,” Joshi says. “Make sure you are on the same page with your clients regarding social distancing, wearing face masks, and any other precautionary actions you and your team plan to take. If you only feel comfortable photographing a private or micro wedding with limited guests, be sure you confirm the guest count with the couple.”
As another way to make sure you are fully prepared for the entire day, go over the shot list with the couple.
“Clarify the types of shots you will and will not be able to take based on your comfort level,” Joshi says. “Shooting photos of the couple, the wedding party, and family portraits can be accomplished while social distancing, while candid shots of the dance floor, for example, may not be possible while social distancing. Ensure you are aligned with the couple on what your photography set list will entail.”
Finally, as another communication point, Joshi says to update your contracts to reflect health and safety protocols you will be following. This protects your business and ensures couples are aware and have agreed to your policy.
Don’t Let Social Distancing Get in Your Way of Telling the Story — and Communicate
“In the end, we need to be mindful of health concerns, and also remember the privilege we have of connecting with our couples and sharing their stories from their most important day. Don’t let social distancing get in the way of our ability to tell stories and to be present for our couples’ authentic and personal moments.”
That advice is from Bob Kniley, a wedding photographer in Rochester, NY. Kniley also says to communicate with couples before the wedding to show you care, that you’re thinking about them, and being proactive about keeping everyone safe.
“Ask [couples] questions about what their expectations are regarding masks and physical contact, and especially ask if any guests are especially at risk (grandparents, etc.).”
Here’s Kniley’s advice to photographers to prepare for working safely:
- Have hand sanitizer ready in the car and in your camera bag for when you need it.
- Figure out how you can wash your hands before you eat and drink, even on a busy wedding day.
- Make sure to connect with your couples ahead of time to see what their social distancing standards and expectations are.
- Be aware of your equipment when you come home; keep kids and pets away from anything that was potentially exposed to the virus when you were out.
Sanitize Equipment, Stay Distant, and Again, Communicate
Cleanliness of equipment has never been more in style. And communication should be prioritized by every wedding photographer.
That’s the takeaway of the advice of Joshua Gabrielson, owner of Wedding Photographer and Films. He says his team is taking measures to help keep staff and equipment clean for each wedding.
“Our gear is also being sanitized for each wedding with the use of an ultraviolet light system for an hour, he says. “All lenses, camera bodies, flashes, cases, and remaining gear are being treated with an hour of ultraviolet light.”
Gabrielson says in addition to cleaning equipment, his team is wearing masks throughout the day and using hand sanitizer every hour of the day they are on location. His team is also communicating effectively with couples.
“Before each wedding, we are communicating with the couples in an email stating what we are doing, what to expect during the wedding day with our precautions and procedures, so they will know and understand what we are doing in the process,” Gabrielson adds. “Most couples have been pleased to know that we’re going the extra mile to keep them safe as possible with our safety measures.”
If there’s at least one thing we learned from experts, it’s that communicating to your couples is the most essential action you can take when navigating the pandemic and after, when the time comes that our world goes back to some kind of normal. While weddings as we know them are changing, one thing will always remain: the importance of capturing a couple’s most special day in their lives through photography.
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