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Love and wedding photography during Covid 19

Written by: Amanda B., Wedding Photographer & Customer Support Lead at Zenfolio 
As a wedding photographer for a number of years before coming to work here at Zenfolio, I naively thought that the wedding photography industry could weather any bad economy. Love can’t be stopped just because the economy isn’t at its best, and people still want to come together to celebrate that love with their friends and family. While a photographer may have to adjust their packages and pricing to accommodate difficult financial times, weddings don’t just stop, right? 
Well, clearly I was wrong. Four months ago, the entire industry came to a screaming halt with huge increases in canceled and postponed weddings due to Covid-19, leaving many photographers with gaping holes in their most profitable time of year. Some couples decided to schedule their weddings for the following year, but still, many more wanted to continue with their nuptials in spite of the current global situation. Zoom weddings with an official standing respectfully 6 feet away, or even a virtual officiant, started popping up in multiplying numbers. People are getting creative, and still sharing their special moment with family and friends through their phones, tablets and webcams. But where can a photographer come into this drastic new world of screen wedded bliss? Can we still give our clients at least a tiny piece of what they expected their special day to include? 

The answer, as it turns out, is yes. While this is not an article about pushing a “back to work” agenda during a global pandemic, it is about providing a service to the brides and grooms who you have grown to know and love over the last year or more. You can be included in their special day, you can give them beautiful pictures that they will treasure forever, and finally and most importantly, you can do this safely. Let’s dig into how….

Settings Expectations for your Client:
Needless to say, this is not going to be the typical photographic experience. If your clients already had a session with you such as their engagement session, or you shot their proposal, this is going to look and feel a lot different. As a photographer, I would often touch people to help them pose. I loved my 50mm 1.2L lens and shooting those close, intimate shots was practically part of my brand. In this new, strange world, touching and being near one another is a luxury of the past. And while this seems like all of this would be understood, just communicating this to your clients will help them be more at ease.

Have a Plan:
Even shooting your ordinary wedding day, in an average universe, you as a photographer go into it with a well laid out plan. Timelines, posing, equipment, positioning during the ceremony and reception…like you, I was armed and ready the night before. And now, more than ever, it is important to have a plan, and to impart this plan to your client. Request that your clients provide you with details of their virtual setup so that you are prepared for proper placement ahead of time. Additionally, ask them where the wedding is to be held- inside or outside. If the wedding is inside, getting a chance to view the space beforehand may aid in your preparedness. After getting all of the virtual wedding details from your client, use that information to create an itinerary and design your posing. In this case, maybe you employ the use of posing cards, or even better, send them these posing ideas with a shared Pinterest/idea board, or in an email. Clearly label the images so that you can communicate what pose is coming up next. If your client has not already paid you for your services, there are several online billing websites that allow you to take payments to ensure a touchless transaction. As a virtual wedding does not have all of the same moving parts as a wedding that involves many people and possibly different locations, an agenda will be much more predictable, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one.

Equipment:
During this time when we need to put substantial space between us, thinking about what equipment you are going to employ throughout the ceremony and for posed shots  is very important. Instead of packing my favorite 35mm and 50mm lenses, I would opt for a longer-range zoom lens like the 70-200mm 2.8 which would allow for more versatility and allow me to stand at a greater distance apart from others. If you don’t own a lens like this, there are several companies in which to rent them and they will send them right to your door. If you do not work with this size of a lens typically like me, having it delivered a few days before would be great so that you could spend some time getting comfortable using it and moving with it. 

Stay Safe:
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, stay safe. Very carefully plan how you are going to photograph the Zoom style wedding while still maintaining social distancing. Wear a mask. As your clients will most likely not be wearing a mask during their ceremony, or during the posed shots later, it is very imperative that you take your own health, and the health of your family into consideration and protect yourself. If you have to remove your mask for any reason, to give posing instructions for example, make sure you are doing so from six feet apart or further. Clearly outline the steps you are taking to stay safeguarded to your clients so that they know you are thinking about their health and yours!
We are truly living in unprecedented times (I desperately miss precedented times, don’t you?), and while business as usual may never look quite the same, it certainly does not mean that we as photographers cannot adapt, change, and overcome these new hurdles put before us. Because life and love is still all around and documenting these moments is probably more important now than it ever was before. With a little careful planning, creativity, and a high priority on safety, we can continue telling those stories through our lenses and images.

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