Don’t overlook your wedding photography
You only have one shot at your wedding photos and so choosing the best photographer for you is essential. For some couples wedding photography is top of their list but for others, sometimes it is a last minute decision or an after thought. I know I am biased as I am a wedding photographer but I encourage you to really think about your photography, because after the most amazing day of your life, you are really going to want to be able to look back at photos that capture that magical day.
So here goes…
1. Book a flippin brilliant photographer
How do you find a ‘flippin brilliant photographer’ I hear you ask? Do your research. A good place to start is the internet, searching for wedding photographers in your area. Take time to look at ‘whole weddings’ or ‘real weddings,’ in their portfolio to make sure their work is consistent. Check out their testimonials and feedback.
Perhaps your wedding venue has worked with a number of photographers that they recommend. Check out their work, they may have included real wedding photos taken at your chosen venue.
Maybe you know someone who has recently got married, ask them about their photographer and ask to see some of their wedding photos. I’m sure they would love to chat about their wedding day!
There are also wedding directories online such as Norfolk Brides a good start for any wedding planning.
Wedding shows are also a great way to meet suppliers face to face all in one place. Make the most of it, don’t be afraid to stop and chat, that it what it is all about. I’m sure many couples think they are going to be pounced on by every supplier, in some cases this may be true, but others are happy for you to browse and then ask any questions. You can always say ‘no thank you’, no one will be offended.
Try not to base your decision purely on price and try to get the best possible photographer you can afford, you won’t regret it.
Make a short list of wedding photographers you like and contact them to arrange a consultation. It is always a good idea to meet in person to make sure you actually all get along! There needs to be a good rapport, otherwise you may all feel a but uncomfortable on the day.
2. Book an engagement shoot
Why have an engagement shoot if we are going to have loads of photos taken on our wedding day? An engagement shoot is a great way for you and the photographer to get to know each other. Your likes and dislikes, how you interact as a couple, do you like purely natural shots or something a bit quirky? I’m sure a number of couples may have never had a professional photo shoot together and are not really sure how to stand, how to act etc. This is why an engagement shoot is perfect. Treat it as a trial run for the big day. It will help you to feel more relaxed and confident for the actual wedding. I know when my husband and I had our engagement shoot he was a bit robotic (by the way, he hates having his photo taken) but come the wedding day he was a lot more relaxed.
Your photographer may even offer products that can be used to display your engagement photos such as ‘save the date’ cards, wedding invitations, guest signing boards etc.
3.Trust your photographer and let go
It’s your big day, you have been planning for months or even years. You have planned everything to the letter. The big day has arrived…it’s time to let go and have fun.
Once you have booked your photographer and had your engagement shoot it’s time for a final catch up to run through all of the details for the big day. Remember, if your wedding photographer is a professional, they have probably shot 10’s, even 100’s of weddings so this is not their first time. Ask their advice on timings for the day, how many formal photos you should have, how much time you need for your more intimate couple shots etc.
I normally start by going through the running order of the day, making sure there is enough time for travelling to different locations, drinks receptions, formal photos, couple photos, speeches etc. We then talk about the photos themselves, make your photographer aware of any really special guests that you definitely want a photo of or any sentimental items e.g. a family heirloom bracelet. All these details along with a list of names of the bridal party are then typed up and emailed to you and multiple copies are brought on the day.
You don’t need to give your photographer a list of every single photo you would like taken, they have done this many times and know what makes a great image. Let them do their job and be creative. This is why they are there, let go and just have fun.
Lighting is very important to us photographers so thinking about the time of day and time of year for your wedding should come into consideration. For example if you are getting married during the winter months it can start to get dark about 3.30/4.00pm so you really need to consider having your ceremony earlier in the day to allow time for your formal and couple shots if you plan to do these outside (weather permitting!)
Also try and think about the room where you are getting ready, is it light and airy or is it a bit cramped and dark? How about the wedding venue or reception does it provide lots of natural light or is it a bit on the dark side. You photographer should be experienced enough to deal with any lighting situation, but it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to make a dark, small room look large and flooded with natural daylight if it’s just not there. Your photographer should carry speed lights (flash guns) with them to improve the amount of light, but this will create a different style of image.
5. Plan your bridal preparation room
Make sure you leave plenty of time to get ready in the morning and choose a room that is spacious, light, neutral, clean and clutter free (if possible!). This will make for much more pleasing photos and will make you feel a lot more chilled out too. More than likely your photographer will want to photograph your dress (before you get in it), your shoes, flowers, jewellery, perfume etc. Have these ready and accessible to your photographer. Perhaps put one of your bridesmaids in charge of this. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get into your dress ( and make sure you go to the loo before hand otherwise it can be very tricky to manoeuvre!) this will give you time to do any formal shots before your photographer needs to leave for the ceremony (I like to be at the venue at least 30 minutes before the ceremony starts to get shots of the groom/best man/users/guests).
6. The ceremony
Depending of where you get married, the views and rules of photography during the ceremony can be very different. Some churches don’t allow any photography at all, some are happy for your photograoher to stand at the back or in a fixed location (as long as they don’t distract the bride and groom) and some are happy for them to be anywhere and everywhere. In most cases flash is a no-no, which is fair enough as it can be very distracting and off putting. Your photographer should have professional equipment that can deal with low lighting without having to use flash.
If you are having a civil ceremony, again the rules about photography can vary. One rule that both types of ceremony will stipulate is that there can be no photos of the actual register itself as this is a legal document. This is why there is usually a ‘mock up’ of the signing of the register with a blank page.
So always check with the person who is officiating your ceremony what your photographer can and cannot do.
Whenever I attend a wedding I always introduce myself to the vicar or registrar/s and ask them where I can stand and what I can and cannot do. It is also a good idea to let your photographer know if you have booked a videographer as well, so they can work together on the day rather than get in each others way.
7. Time, leave enough of it!
You have probably heard it time and time again, that your wedding day will fly by so quickly. So you want to make the most of it. Leaving enough time for each stage of the day is mega important. And you always need to allow more time than you think. Typically I allow about one and a half hours for bridal preparation. This allows time for finishing touches to hair and make up, the details like the dress, shoes, flowers, bridal portraits and the general atmosphere shots.
Groups photos always take longer than you think, people tend to disappear (headed to the bar usually). As a rule, allow 10 minutes per group shot. This should give you an idea of how much time you need to allow. The actual taking of the photo doesn’t take 10 minutes, but the locating and assembling of the group can. I always grab the best man and ushers for this job and we work through the list that myself and the wedding couple have agreed upon. This also means I don’t need to be one of those loud shouty photographers that gets on everyone’s nerves.
Do write a list of the group photos you definitely want (think about how long it will take though) but remember impromptu group photos can also happen throughout the day. You really don’t want to spend hours doing groups photos, trust me. You will get fed up and so will your guests, so really think about the essential groups and keeping your guests happy.
When it comes to the photos of the two of you, you need to allow at least 30 minutes for your photographer to get creative. Many venues will have a number of photo opportunities so use them. If you have time to meet with your photographer at the venue, perhaps during your final meeting before the big day, then great, you can scout out locations together. This time together is also an opportunity for the two of you to have a catch up on how amazing your day has been so far. I often use a long lens so I can let the couple wander about and chat while I capture the moment from a distance without being a distraction.
8. Getting creative
Perhaps you have decided to have engagement shoot and feel a bit more at ease with the whole professional photo thing. Why not be bold and get creative. This could mean being more creative in your posing or perhaps using some props? I always bring a selection of props to each wedding including various umbrellas/parasols, wooden signs, chalkboard etc. But you can include whatever you like. Props can also help you to be less self conscious about how you are posing, as you have something to do with your hands!
9. Snap happy guests
We live in a world now where most people have access to a camera, whether that be a DSLR, a compact, a mobile phone or i-pad. As a photographer it’s great to see that everyone can capture memories by taking photos but it is not always great if they start to get in the way of the professional photographer when capturing a wedding. This can happen during the ceremony (if it’s permitted) or when the couple is walking down the aisle (they come out of no-where?!) or during groups and couples shots. This can be very distracting for you and the photographer and sometimes it can result in precious moments being missed as Uncle Bob got in the way and took his shot first. So if you have booked a professional photographer, make your guests aware and ask them to be mindful of where and when they take their photos as you have paid a professional to capture your day.
Perhaps put a little note in your wedding invites or on your wedding website (if you have created one) encouraging your guests to enjoy the day and leave the photos to the professional. You will feel more relaxed and so will your photographer.
So now you have all these amazing photos from your perfect wedding day, what are you going to do with them? Many wedding photographers, including myself, offer digital packages (cd or USB of images) as well as album packages. I encourage you to choose a package that includes an album or one that also includes a cd/USB. There is nothing quite like a professionally produced wedding album. These albums are usually hand made and are produced by specialists all over the world. Your photographer will produce a personal and beautiful album just for you which can include poems and readings. They will also let you proof your album and make changes before it is produced (well I do anyway). If you decide to go with the cd/USB option only, unless you are super pro-active and produce your own album then they will probably stay on the cd/USB. A professionally produced album can last a life time if you look after it correctly and can be passed down to future generations to enjoy.
So now you have a few wedding photography tips under your belt, get cracking. Remember some wedding photographers get booked up years in advance, so allow plenty of time so you are not disappointed.
I hope you found this post useful and perhaps it has given you a bit more of an insight into wedding photography. If you are getting married or know of someone who is, then please do get in touch, I would love to hear all about the plans for your big day. You can give me a call or use the contact page. I look forward to hearing from you soon!