Lessons learnt after shooting my very first wedding.

So on the last weekend of April 2022, I happened to shoot my very first wedding which so happened to be my little cousin sister’s wedding. Seeing her walk down the aisle and capturing those moments, for me was such a great privilege.

I have always loved photography, even as a young boy. I never really owned a proper camera until the dawning of smartphone cameras. This created a unique opportunity to perfect my composition and photo editing skills. I’ve always been that guy who loves sharing bright and colourful pics of events I attended on my on my Whatsapp statuses.

I wish someone had mentally prepared me for the humbling experience I had when I transitioned from smartphone photography to DSLR photography. The thing about shooting pictures with modern smartphone cameras is that they do all the work for you: the exposure, shutter speed and ISO is all worked out for you to give you the best picture possible which is ready to be shared on your Instagram feed. This is because of what is called computational photography or AI (artificial intelligence). My mobile phone’s camera had me believing I am the best photographer in the world because of the ease through which I could get a stunning picture.

DSLR photography on the other hand, if done optimally, requires a more calculative and intricit approach. A lot has to be thought about before taking a picture. The “point and shoot” or “auto-mode” approach doesn’t really do much for you if you want your picture to stand out.

Prior to the wedding weekend, I made sure to do my research and bought what I thought are must haves:

  • A speedlight.
  • Speedlight batteries
  • 24mm Lens.
  • Speedlight softbox
  • Adobe Lightroom premium subscription.

Despite having all these, I wasn’t content with my kit lens (18-55mm) capabilities. In the photography world, there’s this constant need to have better equipment and boy it had me by the throat. At a certain point, I almost made very questionable purchasing decisions but I thank God for keeping me cautious.

My brother in law and lil sis had booked me to shoot the Sunday wedding day as they had already booked a professional photographer for wedding day one but my lil sis insisted that I bring along my camera to the matrimonial as she has always been a huge admirer of my work. This, for me, presented such a huge opportunity to learn on the job without much pressure as I was a 2nd shooter for the day.

I woke up at 5:00 am on the wedding day as I was super nervous. Tell you what though, when the time to start working arrived – all those nerves evaporated and I got into ‘beast-mode’. The guys who were shooting video and photos were super friendly and I was super grateful to even exchange contacts with them. I shot the morning photos so well and I was content at the work I was producing.

The biggest problem began when I had to shoot the reception. I hadn’t yet mastered shooting with a speedlight and wasn’t too sure about what camera settings to use alongside the speedlight. I took a few pics of the bridal party when entering and began panicking as some (read many) were either under-exposed, blurry or over-exposed. What happened next is something I believe was just God at work. One of the photographers there, his name is Mahlatse, came to me and said: “Let me help you out with your settings.” He set up my speedlight and went on to advise me on the best settings to use in different scenarios.

Man… I could have literally cried at that point because that has always been what I wanted: someone to just simplify everything for me. That proved to be the game changer for me and I began shooting what I believe are some of the nicest pictures I ever shot on my DSLR.

I will forever be grateful for that young man who was like a messanger from heaven on that particular day.

I’ve failed in making this blog post a short post but let me leave some lessons I’ve learnt about shooting a wedding day:

  • Always shoot in RAW when the lighting is tricky.
  • It’s better to underexpose than over-expose.
  • Make sure you have an assistant who will help carry your equipment.
  • Get plenty of rest the night before.
  • Value candid/spontaneous portraits over posed/directed portraits.
  • Don’t overshoot as this will be a night mare when editing.

Thank you for reading. If you want to follow my work, please follow IWG photography on Instagram. I’ll leave a few of my favourite shots from the wedding day below.



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