I see a lot of new wedding photographers making the same mistakes. As a professional Wedding Photographer, these are the 6 biggest mistakes I see new wedding photographers making and what they should do to fix them.
1 They have GAS (Gear acquisition syndrome)
As the husband of a medical professional I'm told this is a pretty serious condition. we lust after the photos pros take with their Nikon D4s's or their Canon 85mm f1.2 lenses with large light setups and it's easy to think you need every piece of gear they have plus backups unless you want to get laughed out of town. But you can't grow until you realize that the best camera is the one you have with you, like chase Jarvis said. There are YouTube videos where pros are given cheap or even toy cameras to prove that It's not the gear that makes the photographer, it's the skill and experience that makes the pro. So forget about megapixels. Seriously. Weddings have been shot on iPhones and look awesome. I don't want to hear that your Canon t3i isn't good enough to get started.
2 They are scared to take control
No matter how well planed out a wedding is, at some point something will go wrong. Maybe someone will be late, or something didn't show up and someone has to go get a replacement or a barrage of other show stoping issues. When you are starting off you most likely won't be working with a wedding planner or coordinators to keep everyone on time. As the photographer you become the one trusted to make sure that every thing runs smoothly. Sometimes you will be running late and a someone will suggest you all go outside and take a few photos. But you know that some of the groomsmen have had a few to many to drink and getting everyone outside would waste a lot of time and just isn't feasible. You have to be the one to say, I think we can get the shot right here and be confident in your abilities.
3 They will miss the shot because it's not technically perfect.
The first wedding I shot I made all of these rookie mistakes but this one I regret the most. I wanted the best image quality so I shot the whole wedding at my cameras lowest ISO, 100. See I thought that the client would appreciate the image quality more than being able to capture a good moment... Like a fist dance. That's right. I shot the entire first dance at a shutter speed of 1/2 of a second. When I gave the photos to the client I couldn't understand why they were upset that everyone of their first dance photos were blurry, couldn't they see how beautiful the grain structure was?? I quickly learned that every single bride would choose a grainy photo over a blurry photo. I stopped worrying about my iso and focused on getting the shot.
4 They stop trying to wow the client.
We spend so much time marketing and trying to attract new couples that when we get a booking it's easy to feel like the hardest part is over and you can be lazy until their wedding. But let me tell you something. If you email them periodically to check in on how the wedding planning is going or just to ask if they have any questions the couple will feel way more comfortable with you and since you will be spending more time with the bride on her wedding day than she will with her new husband, that trust is super important and will shine threw in the photos. Do you remember how good you felt the last time you got a hand written card in the mail? I bent you felt great! Send your couple a thank you card the day after their wedding. It will make them feel special and who knows they might post it on Facebook or Instagram and tag you! And everyone knows a referral is the easiest booking! Sign up for Animoto and make them a slideshow! Its $9 and not only gives your clients one more thing to share, but its fantastic for your SEO too! I wrote a whole article about how I use Animoto that you can read here!
5 They spend too much time editing!
After I delivered my first wedding, I wanted to give up. It took me a month to edit 640 photos. I knew I would get back logged quick if I didn't do something to speed it up. I would adjust exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, sharpening, and of course add a vignette (duh) then I go to the next photo. Adjust exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, sharpening, and add a vignette, then next photo. Over and over again. Stressing over a 1/10 of a stop of exposure or 1 point of contrast. The client will never know or care about the amount of sleep you lost over each individual edit. Honestly I found myself making a lot of the same edit so I created a custom preset in Lightroom to apply on import leaving just basic minor adjustments to be made. I have cut my editing time down by 3/4ths!
6 They are too uptight with the photos.
You are creative. Im creative. As photographers you have to be to stand out. Our photos are our art and it's easy to become protective of it. We write in our contracts that the clients can not manipulate the photos in any way because we are the paid professional. We are not getting paid for a days work. We are getting paid for the experience we have as well, and that includes time editing. Imagine someone buys a Van Gogh painting and says "You know what? I think this should be a sunny afternoon, not a starry night." Then paints over it with a childlike sunset destroying the masterpiece. Its easy to imagine with how easy Instagram and Facebook make it to put a filter over our photo that our clients will do just that. In essence ruining the photos we worked so hard to produce right? Heres the thing... Your'e not Van Gogh. It's not the same thing. In my experience once you get out of the sub $1500 range your clients will take what you do seriously and they stop putting filters over your photos. So don't take it to heart. It's just a stepping stone.
If you can grow out of these mistakes I guarantee you will be on the right path to successful wedding photographer.