Weddings are once in a lifetime. That means a professional photographer has one chance to get amazing pictures that the bride and groom will remember forever. The day goes fast, and the chances are few, so when you go for a big shot, you’d better make it happen, or you’re just going to waste precious time.

After taking wedding pictures for years, my couples have learned to trust me completely. I’m 100% honest with them from the very beginning, and one thing I stress is that, if a photo idea isn’t working, we move on to something else. There are many times I’ve stopped in the middle of the shot and said, “It’s not working. Let’s do something else.”

To be truly creative at wedding photography, you have to “look ahead” of your shots. At this particular instance, I noticed the four-story building (that I knew I had access to) and the ground below was flat and would make a really cool photo illusion of the couple walking. I had seen a vintage photo on Pinterest that a photographer shared, showing a band doing a similar shot but from a completely different angle. I asked the bride if she would be willing to lay down on the ground for me. I told her I would put some plastic under her, and that it would be an amazing shot! No way in the world would I commit to a wedding photo like this if I didn’t think it was going to be awesome! She said yes, and we went for it. The original plan was to have everyone lying down, but there wasn’t time, and the ground was hot, so I told the wedding party to reach for the Bride and Groom. It was around 90 degrees outside, and the ground was hotter, so after directing them on how to lay on the ground, I ran my butt up four flights of stairs! I felt like I was running for my life, hoping not to trip and smash my camera on the way up! I made it up and leaned over the side to look at the shot…. I was amazed at how it turned out! It was even better then I thought it would be! With my camera hanging over the rail and probably dripping sweat on everyone down below, I took 4 or 5 shots. I yelled out a few commands and then told my assistant to get them off the ground. It was a pretty amazing moment.

I earn this trust with my couples during their engagement session. We take our time, and they get to see me try creative things. They quickly realize that I don’t spend time on something that’s not working. There’s no sense in “faking it” as a wedding photographer. If the shot isn’t what you expected, it’s no big deal. Stop shooting it, admit it wasn’t what you thought, and move on. I think couples really respect that. The couples that are going to allow you to be the most creative are the couples that respect you as a photographer. They have no problem paying your price, and they get along with you. They completely believe that you are worth it. As a wedding photographer, that’s the biggest compliment you can get… the trust of your couple.

It’s your job as a photographer to keep pushing the envelope and taking new chances that will grow you in your craft. If you aren’t constantly shooting, you aren’t growing. I don’t care if it’s for free or if you’re getting paid, you have to keep shooting. I love shooting for free for friends because I can take a lot of chances and they can’t be mad at me, because it is free. I hope my story about these wedding photographs gives you the courage to take some big chances. If you’re not taking chances, you’re probably going to get bored. Every creative person needs something different to do. Dream big, take chances, and find the couples that will allow you to flourish.

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