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A Day in the Life of a Wedding Photographer

By Pye Jirsa on May 4th 2009


When I was choosing my career path, I always found it useful reading blogs and websites that had articles talking about what a day is like in the life of a “blank.  It was an extremely useful way of trying to figure out exactly what I would enjoy doing all day, everyday.

So, I thought I would write “A Day in the Life of a Wedding Photographer  to give you guys an idea of what a typical day of wedding photography is like. I broke it into a normal weekday (taking care of office and administrative issues) and a weekend (going out for a wedding shoot).

We love our jobs, but wedding photography is a lot of difficult work. Hopefully, this article will serve to help anyone considering a career in this field better understand what it is like being a wedding photography. Enjoy!

Typical Weekday

8:00AM – 9:00AM: Start work by getting online and checking my emails. Respond to sales inquiries, client requests and vendors requests.

9:00AM – 12:00PM: Post produce images from last Friday’s engagement session.

12:00PM – 12:15PM: Grab a quick lunch in the office.

12:15PM – 1:15PM: Call and follow up on prospective clients.

1:15PM – 2:45PM: Complete the blog entry for the engagement session which I just finished post producing. Post the blog entry and send out emails to the client.

2:45PM – 3:00PM: Post social media notices on our Facebook/Twitter pages regarding any updates on the blog so everyone can check out our pictures.

3:00PM – 3:30PM: Handle special request from one of our wedding coordinators. She wants an image DVD showing her last venue that we shot.

3:30PM – 4:30PM: Complete about 1 hour of web work including: SEO checking on our site analytics and advertising to improve website traffic, as well as fixing any issues that our website might be having.

4:30PM – 6:30PM: Work on post production from last Saturday’s wedding (2 hours a day for about one week to complete the post production on an entire wedding).

6:30PM – 7:30PM: Answer sales phone calls and follow up on clients and sales inquiries as they are getting home from work.

7:30PM – 8:00PM: Start uploading any completed wedding and engagement events to our online image hosting and proofing website.

8:00PM – 9:00PM: Work on administrative tasks such as accounting, taxes, payroll, etc.

9:00PM – 12:00PM: Workout (if I still have enough energy), spend some time with the family, and hit the hay.

Typical Weekend (Wedding Shoot)

Prior Night: Charge all necessary equipment

8:00AM – 9:00AM: Prepare equipment by cleaning and packing up all needed lenses, camera bodies, lighting, stands and tri-pods, etc.

9:00AM – 10:00AM: Meet with second shooter and drive out to wedding prep location. If we are not shooting out of state, most of our in state wedding locations take around 60 – 90 minutes to drive to.

10:00AM – 12:00PM: Lead photographer shoots bride and bridesmaid preparation while second shooter will cover the groom and groomsmen.

12:00PM – 12:30PM: Second photographer will lead groom out to a pre-set location for the “first look . Then the lead photographer will bring out the bride and shoot the bride and groom during their “first look  moment.

12:30PM – 1:15PM: Try to grab a quick bite of something on the run. Drive out to bridal party and couples shoot location. However, we hit traffic so we are running behind schedule.

1:15PM – 2:45PM: Arrive on location and quickly begin the bridal party shoot. Since we are running late, we have to reduce our shoot time by 60 minutes and complete both the bridal party and couples shoot in 90 minutes.

2:45PM – 3:15PM: Drive back to ceremony site.

3:15PM – 3:45PM: Quickly shoot the family formals prior to the ceremony (originally we planned for one hour, however, we are still behind schedule so we only have 30 minutes).

3:45PM – 4:00PM: Set up in our positions for the ceremony and shoot candids while we are waiting for the procession to begin.

4:00PM – 5:00PM: Shoot the ceremony from all angles capturing key reaction shots (i.e. crying, smiling, etc) from family members and close friends of the bride and groom.

5:00PM – 5:30PM: Lead photographer shoots the couple as they greet and hug each of their guests while the second shooter will head to the venue to capture venue shots while the room is still empty.

5:30PM – 6:00PM: Lead photographer and second shooter meet back up to shoot candids during cocktail hour, as well as to shoot bride and groom formals with their guests.

6:00PM – 7:00PM: Guests are seated and dinner is served. Photographers will take a 20 minute break to grab a quick bite to eat while the guests are eating (since nobody likes pictures of themselves eating anyway).

7:00PM – 8:00PM: Toasts begin, lead photographer covers the person giving the toast, while the second photographer would cover the reaction shots of the bride and groom as well as the guests.

8:00PM – 9:00PM: Cake cutting and first dances. Again, lead photographer takes main position covering the primary subjects while secondary photographer shoots reaction shots of the bridal party and guests.

9:00PM – 11:00PM: Open dancing. Both photographers on the dance floor covering all the dancing. Lead photographer capturing the bride and groom dancing with their guests while the second shooter covers just guests.

11:00PM – 11:15PM: Setup and shoot one last large group formal with everyone on the dance floor.

11:15 – 11:45PM: Pack up all of our gear (while hoping nothing was lost or stolen).

11:45PM – 12:00AM: Say goodbye to our bride and groom (collect final portion of payment if needed) and take our stuff out to our car.

12:00AM – 1:00AM: Drive home. Second shoot begins backing up the images in the car on our laptop.

1:00AM – 2:30AM: Arrive at home, put equipment away, and continue backing up all images to ensure that we have duplicates of every image shot at the event.

2:30AM: Collapse in bed.

Article written by:
Pye Jirsa
Lead Photographer | Partner
Lin and Jirsa Wedding Photography


Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.


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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Glad I am not one!

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  2. Scott Trombley

    I know that this will differ from person to person but I really like the breakdown as a “Into the life” kind of look.

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  3. Edgar Urizar

    damn that is quite the day i counted maybe 30 min of rest lol…great stuff very informative and i loved reading it…hope to one day be able to experience that…

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  4. Deirdre

    Matthew, thank you for your opinion. I am a mother of a 4 year old little girl and married to the best guy in the world. We both made choices too. I am working towards building up my business. I take the time to spend with my family and meet the needs of my child. Its not easy.

    I too would rather work 80+ hours for myself than 40+ hours for someone else. Been there, done that! This article is a great way to show others what many of us do to stay in business. It’s not easy, you need to be dedicated to your craft and most of all be good in sales.

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  5. Diane Reynolds

    Love your work, and thanks for all the great info. My husband and I shoot together, and we absolutely love what we do, but it is also hard work and long hours.

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  6. Matthew Saville

    Your added context helps a lot. Readers should be able to understand your specific goals for building a business…

    And thanks for not making it sound like a walk in the park. There’s way to much of that going around- I constantly see people twittering about how you can achieve wild success as a photographer in just three or five easy steps. It just irks me that so many people think they can simply fall into success if they have a positive attitude and a slick brand. ;-)

    Take care,

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  7. Pye

    Matthew, I think I agree and disagree at the same time. I think it really depends on what you want out of your business, regardless of whether that business is photography, or anything else.

    If your goal from your business is simply to provide a living, then yes, shooting 10-20 weddings a year and working a 9-5 40 hour work week is very doable. But, if your goal is to grow your studio, your name, and whatever else you have into much more than just a single person business (say perhaps into a recognizable brand). Then, I think you need to invest much more time, and for a much longer period of time.

    I know a lot of folks that have been able to start their studio, and make a living working at it full time by their 2-3 year mark. I also know a lot of photographers who are trying to do much more than just make a living and work non-stop over 5-10 years. And lastly, I know a lot of ex-professionals who thought they loved photography until they realized how much work it is to do it as a business. The point is to let people know that regardless of your love for the art, it is going to take a lot of time and commitment to get what you want out of it.

    But, it really depends what your goals are and where you want to be. I.E. Do you want photography to be your hobby, a little cash on the side, your full time living, or is your goal to be an industry recognized leader. If you are opting for the 4th option in that list, I would say it will require much more than 40 hours a week.

    On a personal note, I would rather work 80+ hours a week for myself, than 40+ hours a week for someone else. =)

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  8. Matthew Saville

    So, you work 13 hours a weekday, with 15 mins for lunch, and you do this HOW many days a week? I dunno, that sounds like a bad deal, no matter how fun photography is. My point is, if you have to work 80+ hrs a week for years on end, well, I’d rather have a 9-5 and a LIFE. One of the main reasons I became a freelance photographer instead of working a 9-5, or even shooting for another studio, was so I could set my own hours. If I want to sleep in till 11 AM and then work from noon to 8 PM, I can. Or in a few years when I have kids, if I want to STOP working from 3-5 PM to be a FATHER, I can.

    Of course I’m not attacking you or anything like that, I’m sure you’d agree with this philosophy and I assume that this 13 hour weekday is just ONE long day out of 7. And yes, running a small business might take 50-60+ hours a week at first for a year or two, but if you’re still putting in 60+ hours a week after year 5, something is wrong.

    I just hate to hear about people who have become completely enslaved to their business, and they’re so brainwashed by the perceived glamor of the caree, that they don’t realize they’ve actually sold their soul.

    My opinionated opinion and nothing more,

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  9. Diana Rush

    I’m exhausted after reading that! But it’s true, being a photographer is hard work! I’m just looking forward to the day when photography is my only job!

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  10. Paul

    I’m surprised you don’t spend more time talking people out of getting married!
    I’m pretty sure there are easier ways of making a living guys.

    Thanks for the great insight into the life of a wedding photographer.


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  11. Ricky Cheung

    Great Post, looks like you’re right on the money with the craziness of what happens during a wedding event but we love it. :)

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  12. Jeff LaPlante

    That’s very accurate. Glad I’m not the only crazy one doing this.

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  13. Apollo Photo

    Pretty demanding schedule. Very few people know just actually how long work days are for photographers. Just because they have the title of a photographer doesnt mean all they do is shoot photos. Great post!

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  14. Geoff Wilson

    Sounds so easy! Provided you don’t actually sleep much.

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