Every photographer has a wish list of items they wished every bride and groom would follow to help make their pictures the best they can be. For some great tips, please read on!
1. Booking Your Times
For some reason, everyone wants fabulous photographs but gives the photographer little time to complete this task. Often, when time runs over wedding starts late, etc the photographers time with the bride and groom is the first to get slashed. When planning the time of your wedding and reception, please allow ample time in between to allow us to spend some time getting important photographs. We need at least a full ½ hour preferably more if possible. Also, if we are leaving the church and going to a separate location for photos, this also needs to be considered. The magic hour for photographers occurs 20 minutes before the sun goes below the horizon and then lasts for about 20 minutes after. The magic hour is the period of the day when natural lighting of the day causes a beautiful warm glow. If we can capture photos for you during this period, you will absolutely LOVE the outcome! If we can sneak outside while your guests are enjoying each others company and grab 10 to 20 minutes worth of photos during this period, guaranteed you wont be disappointed. Early morning has this benefit as well but being ready to shoot around sun-up is usually too difficult.
2. Need Group Photos?
Again, allowing enough time for photographs especially when there are groups to shoot is extremely important. Often, photographers are scrambling during a reception trying to gather everyone together to get the group shots requested by the bride and groom. DESIGNATE a photographers liaison someone close to the family or even a family member who can take the responsibility of gathering different groups together. Have the DJ or representative make an announcement for certain people to gather in a certain area is REALLY helpful. Indoor locations are not the best place to shoot groups without having to bring extra lighting. Lighting issues can be challenging not to mention reflections on eye glasses and red eye (which later needs corrected in the editing process). Try to plan your group photos for an outdoor location with enough shade to cover your largest group. Make a list of who will be in each shot and make sure you tell them in advance your plans for group photographs. Also, please be reasonable with regard to how many groups you want photos of too many group photos will take away from your candids enjoying the reception because the principal photographer is spending an hour or more shooting groups. Certainly we understand that your wedding may be one of the few times everyone is all together at once so planning ahead will make things run much smoother. We love lists and a group shot liaison!
3. Bridal Party Dressing Room
One of the places that often gets overlooked is the brides room where she and her attendants get ready for the wedding. This may actually take place in two different places maybe first at the brides home and then at the church or just the church hotel or whatever. Regardless of where you get ready, decorating the room is a great idea. We will take many pictures in this room! It can be a fun task for your bridesmaids to take charge of decorating this room and it doesnt need to be anything elaborate. Maybe some candles, a full length mirror (if there isnt one) and some light fabrics for the windows or to cover anything ugly such as custodial items, storage items, etc. Easy fabrics are simple drape cloths, gauze or tulle. Rooms with lots of natural light flooding in are also a plus so if you have a choice in the room you will get ready keep that in mind. Getting rid of non-wedding messes like garment bags, shoe boxes, piles of clothing, duffel bags is also helpful — they can even be covered with drape cloths too. The wedding messes are OK (flowers, ribbons, make-up, etc.). Taking the dresses and shoes out of their bags and boxes makes a nice backdrop for photos while everyone is getting ready. Having vases to set the bouquets in looks wonderful rather than having them sit in a box or plastic container. If there are no windows in this room, using candles, white Christmas lights will help create an atmosphere of romance. Finally, some of the most precious moments between a bride, her mom and attendants occur while in the dressing room. In a very discreet manor, I do everything to capture those moments. One of the most beautiful moments of the day occurs as the wedding dress is being placed over the brides head with all her bridesmaids helping. If we ever capture something in a photograph that is inappropriate certainly, it will be deleted. If theres any question with regard to the nature of a photograph, you will be consulted prior to its printing.
Please ask your videographer to keep a discreet distance from you during the ceremony. Sometimes they stand very close and at worse, right in the middle of the isle during the vows, the exchange of rings and the kiss that their backside will end up in every photograph. In a perfect world, the videographer and photographer work well together with the understanding that as soon as the still photographer gets the shot, Ill move out of the way so the videographer can jump in.
5. The Reception and Lighting
Please ask your DJ if he/she uses moving spot lights, disco lights or strobe lighting. Its really difficult to calculate exposure with these types of lights and many photographs will end up having orbs or real bright spots. This essentially ruins the photographs and there is not much we can do to correct those problems. Fixed spot lights are fine and even lighting that throws patterns on the dance floor or wall are fine as long as they are not aimed at the level of dancing guests heads. Keep in mind the videographers spot light will react the same way as DJ lighting so we have to be mindful of where your videographer is positioned as well.
6. Dancing for Photos
Ham it up! At this point in your day everyone is relaxed and ready to have a good time especially you! We wont be stopping people during the reception for posed photographs (unless you request it) so at this point, we are photojournalists. If you see us getting ready to shoot, some of the funniest pictures are of you and your guests being silly for the camera. In addition to your guests laughing it up for the camera, every now and then its nice to get some shots of you with your bridesmaids or the groom with his groomsmen looking towards us as we shoot.
7. Guests Taking Photographs
As your hired photographer, it is my job to obtain photographs of your day to help tell your story. Often, many guests bring their own cameras and have them same intentions. Although your guests will take wonderful pictures this conflict often causes the problem of wandering eyes during a picture and too many flashes simultaneously. If you have a wedding program, its really helpful to put some sort of notation that reads, Photographs being taken by guests are most welcome, however, please understand that we have hired a photographer to shoot our special day. Please allow the photographer to get the shot first and we will gladly pose for you once our photographer is finished. If you have a wedding planner, they can even help in having guests wait to take photographs until we are finished. There is nothing worse for a photographer than battling guests for the bride and grooms attention.
8. Destination Weddings
Obviously some of these tips are hard to apply if we are shooting your wedding abroad. It may be hard to bring or pack items to decorate the brides dressing room and you may be limited with time choices. However, for a destination, paying attention to things like location and local customs, festivals or events during that time will be important. Also, lots of brides like to tan prior to the wedding with destination shoots, be very careful about sunburn! Peeling skin, bright red tan lines and puffy skin due to sunburn are not appealing in photographs and we cant fix it in Photoshop. Knowing the climate predictions for the time of year you will be there is also a must. (You dont want to have a long sleeved wedding gown and black tuxedos when the temperatures will be in the 90s!)
9. Please, We Need to Eat
We will spend 8 to 12 hours with you shooting your special day. Although we will make sure we eat before arriving most likely we will skip a meal depending on the times of your wedding and reception. Rather than being forced to leave your reception in search of food, please include us in your count of guests at the reception. Its also important that we are seated not far from you. Although telephoto lenses are used, we dont want to be placed in an area where our line of sight is blocked by pillars or walls or where we will have to get up and walk to get closer to you. If we can shoot from the table during things like toasts and speeches we are able to be a lot less distracting to you guests. We like to eat at the same time as you because certainly we get up and move around during dinner and dont want to miss anything important! If we end up eating after you, there is a risk that we will miss capturing important activity between you and your guests.
10. Remember, It’s Your Day!
Obviously the most important thing about your wedding is the ceremony itself and the commitment you are making to each other. That should be the most important area of focus. Dont sweat the small stuff! However, at the reception, beach or wherever we shoot additional photographs, it is up to you to set the tone. If you want fabulous photos, make it clear to others that your still photographer will take initial precedence in order to obtain all the photos you have requested and want. Be sure to allow ample time for photographs and make it clear to wedding planners, videographers, DJs and anyone else involved what your wishes are and how you plan for the day to progress. This way you dont run the risk of a wedding planner or someone else staging your day, positioning you for photographs (unsolicited) and pushing you from one station to the next in order to complete the typical wedding events.