There are literally hundreds of articles and books on wedding photography out there so in an attempt to add something completely new I have compiled a list of the 3 most unexpectedly useful things I carry with me to every wedding aside from my camera gear. These three items, although rather obtuse, have proven invaluable time and time again and I hope they will be to you too.
Voile is a thin, hazy material that is typically used for net curtains. It is very cheap and easy to buy (try eBay or your local fabric shop, should be no more than £2 to £3 for a couple of square meters) and comes in a range of colours. I keep 3 cuts in my car, usually ivory or white, cream, and light peach so I always have something that comes close to matching the colour of any dress. What do I use it for? You would be amazed:
- Want to sit a bride on the grass? Use the voile to protect the dress and it blends in beautifully.
- Need something to pad out the dress and give it shape on the hanger? Voile is easily shaped and fills out the bust.
- Want to make an impromptu high key backdrop? Hang the voile over a window and it diffuses the light.
- Can’t find a suitable place to photograph the brides shoes or jewelry? Voile can be very quickly fashioned into a soft box on windowsill and then lit with a speedlight.
- I have even helped a bride fashion a shawl out of voile to cover a wine stain that a guest accidentally caused.
For its price voil is fantastically useful and utterly indispensable.
2. White Padded Coat Hangers
You would be amazed how many times I have gone to photograph a bride’s dress and found it to be hung on a thin plastic hanger that can barely support its weight. This can be problem because the flimsy, warped hanger detracts hugely from the image, after all, many brides spend a small fortune on their dress and the inappropriate hanger cheapens it terribly.
To get around this I always take a padded hanger with me to a wedding. I purchase them in bulk (eBay again! About £6 for 5) and they live in my car. This means I always have one to hand should it be needed and you get a few brownie points from the bride as well!
As word of caution: beware how you approach this conversation with a bride, don’t tell her that her dress looks cheap.
3. A Barometer.
Yeah, I know what you are thinking but I did say these were surprising things! I was going to give a mention to my Swiss Army Knife but it seemed a little too mundane.
In my time photographing weddings I have come to heartily distrust weather forecasts. Even with up to the second updates on my smartphone they seem to be wrong more often than they are right. About a year ago someone recommended purchasing a watch with a built in barometer and using that to predict the weather and it has proven to be much more reliable.
In simple terms if atmospheric pressure is dropping the weather is going to worsen and if it is rising then it is going to get better. So if you see a dramatic shift in pressure you can make an accurate judgement call on what to do and when. For example just recently I was able to delay the family formals until after the wedding breakfast because I could see that the rain was about to stop even though there was no sign of it letting up at the time! It is surprisingly easy to get used to predicting the weather this way.
I opted for a Casio Pro Trek watch that did everything I wanted it to do (plus had a few other gadgets!) but I know there are a lot of alternatives out there.
Just as a foot note I reserve the right to come back and edit this post as I am sure that more things will present themselves in time – if you can think of anything then please let me know in the comment field below.