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Tips for Wedding Photographers From a Professional Wedding DJ

weddingdj

Much like how many of you moonlight as wedding photographers, I double as professional wedding DJ. I’ve been in the business for 7 years and have somewhere around 50 weddings under my belt.

I see it as part of my job to set the scene for you take the best shots you possibly can. I create the moments, you capture them. Whether or not you realize it, we’re a team. There’s no reset switch, we only have one chance to get it right. The better we can work together, the better the outcome is for everyone. To help us work better together, here’s some things I think you should know.

  • The best thing I can mention is communication. We need to have good, constant, open communication. When you arrive on location, find me, introduce yourself and lets hash out a game plan. I always have a printed agenda of my plans to give to the photographer.
  • This is also an excellent time to give me a few business cards. Aside from creeping on your portfolio during the reception, I like to know who you are and know how to refer work to you. Trust me, I’d rather work with photographers that do great work and work well with me.

    buscard

  • Give me a list of things you need shots of and I’ll make sure you’re not in the bathroom before doing them. If you need a extra minute to prepare, let me know and I can delay.
  • If it looks like my lighting rig is going to throw you off, let me know before I turn them on. If time permits, I’d be happy to turn them on so you can get some test shots.
  • My schedule is largely determined by what time you’re contracted until. I understand you’ve been shooting since before noon and want to go, but please, let me know how much flexibility you have. As you know, sometimes things happen that are out of our control and cause events to get out of sync. Just knowing that you’re willing to stay an extra 15-30 minutes if necessary is a big help.

    dance

  • I’d really appreciate a 5 minute phone call or an email a week or a few days in prior to a wedding, just to make sure we’re on the same page. If we need to discuss anything in depth, having the conversation an hour before the ceremony or reception starts isn’t going to do either of us any good.
  • I love getting recommendations for things to do during a reception (fun games, activities, etc)–it helps me keep things fresh.
  • If you hear guests complaining about the volume or song selection while you’re out shooting, let me know. If my voice sounds too loud or quiet when making announcements, let me know.
  • I always have a small toolkit and spare batteries, just ask.
  • Yes, it’s okay if you store your gear bag behind my booth.
  • We can use Google Apps for email and document storage. In order to ensure that we stay in sync with the bride/groom/minister/other vendors, we can create and share the Google Doc with everyone involved. This way, there’s only one constantly up-to-date agenda floating around. Everyone is on the same page, all the time.

What about from your side? What can I do to make your job easier? What should I know?


About the author: Corey Blaz is a professional wedding DJ based in Cleveland, Ohio. Visit his website here. This article originally appeared here.


Image credit: Radonich Ranch: Preparing to DJ a wedding by DoNotLick, Photographer Business Card by Michael Kappel, time to dance by danoxster


 
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  • Nick L

    Why is it that neither of you looked at the author’s website? Who said that the author only does weddings? He clearly does other types of events. You seem very caught up in yourselves, which is pretty much why you’ve missed the point of the article — that it’s a team effort and that part of being professional is recognizing that.

  • Markz

    I worked as a wedding DJ/wedding band musician, including time as the resident DJ in a specialised wedding reception venue, from 1987 through to about 2007 (with a nice long break while I lived in Japan) and have worked, as a conservative estimate, at well over 2000 weddings (averaging 4 receptions a weekend during peak season!!)

    and yes I always made it a point to make the photographer/videographer one of the first person I liaised with on location (usually along with the bridal party and the MC (If I was not the MC as well) so that we had the bridal party entry sorted, then keep in contact the whole night.

    some other points –
    let the DJ and/or MC know if you are not staying for the whole reception function so we know to get events like throwing of the bouquet BEFORE you leave.

    If you are being supplied a meal away from the reception room let the DJ/MC know so we don’t think you’ve done a bunk as we try find you while we get the speeches organised.

    If you are scheduling group shots with the bride & groom and/or wedding party please try do this between courses of the meal or at least 30 minutes after the bridal waltz has finished to give us a chance to “get the party started”. If you start grabbing significant numbers of guests off the dance floor in the first few sets of songs after the bridal waltz it is very difficult to get the guests in to dropping their social inhibitions enough to restart the party vibe.

    While on the group shots subject, as the owner of a nice PA system we can greatly assist in making group shots smooth and quick by letting the guest know what is happening and asking us to call up certain groups (or at least help round up the tardy slackers loitering outside grabbing a puff on a cigarette).

    For videographers – ask us – sometimes we can give you a wireless audio feed off the desk for clear vocals during speeches and music during the waltz.

  • markz

    as both a ex DJ and ex wedding photographer … that does come across more than a little snooty elitist.
    you have a job to do, the DJ has a job to do…
    amazingly, and probably ego damagingly, it is the same job:
    to make the bride happy.
    so as a wage slave to the bride it’s usually best to co-operate with all the other wage slaves