You can never scout enough before the shoot

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 2000, ƒ/2.8, /100

I am in the suburbs of Chicago, IL, this weekend in the town of Homewood to photograph a wedding for my friends.

At the rehearsal, one of the people said you don’t see photographers at rehearsals.

That is very true. If you are familiar with the venues in your town, you might not need to go to a rehearsal.

However, if you are starting, you want to do what my friend and fellow photographer Randy Wilson does for his weddings and as I am doing here.

Randy and I discovered that by going to a rehearsal, everyone gets to know you and feels more comfortable on the wedding day. That is a HUGE!!! bonus for getting better moments.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 4000, ƒ/3.5, 1/250

By seeing everyone practice, I and my assistant Laura Deas Espeut, who also shoots weddings, could see what the sight-lines were for taking photos. We knew we had to be at certain places in the church even to get a picture.

At this rehearsal, we also noticed that the placement of the unity candle and where they planned to wash each other’s feet was not just bad for photos but for everyone to see. So, by being there, we were able not just to help them have better pictures but a better experience for those attending the wedding to see the symbolic moments they had chosen to do.

Why Scouting Helps

  • You get to see the location and take test shots
  • You find the best sight-lines to take photos
  • If there like a wedding rehearsal, you can plan for the timing so you are in the best location at the right time.
  • You get to speak at the event. If you see a problem that could impact the photos as we did, you can call attention to this with the event planners. Here they made changes, which improved the images.
  • You can plan to bring the right gear to get the best possible photos
I cannot stress enough how much preparation for anything you do will always impact your end product. 
We have all heard how 20/20 hindsight is always better than in the moment. While last-second things can change, you can come close to 20/20 with enough foresight. Unfortunately, just showing up and going with the flow means constantly reacting rather than anticipating.

The best photos you can take are the ones you anticipated–not those you reacted.