Over the years, I have had the privilege to photograph a lot of weddings and I have been so honoured to be such an intricate part of so many couple’s special day. As much as I love shooting Weddings, it is also one of the hardest things as a photographer to shoot (hence why wedding photography tends to be on the more expensive side). There is no script, no backing up, no room for error. A Wedding day moves quicker than most jobs, it’s as if the emotion of the day picks it up and swoops it along in an even flow leaving everyone breathless. If you ask any Bride and Groom about their wedding day, usually the first thing they say is “it went by so fast” and its true, its goes so fast, too fast… I often feel as if I only have seconds to capture moments, minutes that can’t be wasted because Im not just photographing objects and people, Im photographing memories, a pivotal moment in one’s life. Within that process, I strive to capture every moment I can and Im under no illusion that what I personally might find utterly important to photograph may be the complete opposite for the couple. So this is where I look for the memories in every still of the day, the emotions on peoples faces, the quiet whispers, the way the air feels and looks, the decorations, the ambiance, the pure illumination of Love. I also try to photograph everyone, every single guest, because who am I to know if that one quiet girl in the back of the room is the very same girl that introduced to you to your husband or carried you through a traumatic time in your life. Every detail and every moment is significant.
I am a hopeless romantic, there are very few weddings where my eyes don’t well up during the speeches (even if I hardly know the couple) there is something about the love in the air and the energy of a wedding day that is so extraordinary. I photograph a wedding in the same frame of mind as the bride, the couple, the groom, the parents…. I want the Bride and Groom to look at back at their wedding photographs with tears of joy, I want those images to pull them right back into the day and flood them with cherished memories. This is why I try to photograph weddings in a photojournalistic way, a documentary, to tell your story in an authentic, organic way.
However, even though it is my job as the photographer to capture those images, most couples don’t realise that they too, play a vital role in the outcome of their images. I have compiled a list of subtle things you can do as a couple to get the very best wedding photographs from a Photographers perspective. These tips can make all the difference when it comes to the imagery of your day
Its all about LIGHT!
When you’re having your Bridal Preparation photographs done, make sure you choose a room or a location that has a lot of light! For example, sitting next to a window where the light illuminates your face will soften your skin tone and blur any clutter in the background. This eliminates a photographer to have to use a FLASH, which often takes away from an ethereal look and gives off harsh artificial lighting which is exactly what you don’t want!
Minimalism – Choosing the right spot for your Bridal Preparations
There is nothing worse than having beautiful shots of you putting on your wedding dress or having your wedding dress photographed with piles of laundry and boxes piled up in the background. Before the photographer arrives, if the room you’re getting ready in is cluttered, try moving things out of the way, decluttering or looking for a minimalist spot in the house so that the focus can be all on you and your dress!
Have a list of your Group Shots
Before your wedding day, make a list of all the group shots you would like and then give it to your photographer. This makes the flow of your wedding photography run smoothly, it also eliminates the risk of forgetting important shots that you may have wanted with certain friends or family members. I also always suggest to couples to keep the group shots down to the bare minimum. Getting everyone together over and over takes a lot of time and often takes away from the time you and the groom have personally to get those beautiful shots of yourselves! The photographs that you will look back on with tears of joy are usually the candid moments of you and your husband and these are also the images you will usually frame and put on the wall. The candid banter between you and your family during the day tend to have more of an emotional impact than a traditional group shot.
Take it slow
When you’re walking down the isle and when you and your partner are walking back up the isle, walk SLOW. Take it all in and don’t rush. This gives the photographer plenty of time to get various angles and shots of that very special moment and it also gives you a chance to take it all in and savour the moment.
Allowing your guests to be the “Second Photographer” (notice the “Guest Photographer in the background”)
I can’t tell you how frustrating this can be for a photographer. I completely understand that you may have guests who are photographers or photography is one of their hobbies, but often, they act as the photographer and try to be there to take every image that the “Hired Photographer” is trying to get. It often ruins a beautiful image because the guest photographer ends up being in the image. They are often behind the couple (see image above) or standing in front of the photographer when your photographer is trying to capture all those beautiful moments. It is the same when the cake cutting is taking place, first dance and couple shots, I often have to manoeuvre around all the guests who are holding up their mobile phones and cameras and am unable to get the shot I need because they were “in the way” acting as the second photographer. Its important to tell your guests to try and be considerate to the professional images that you wish to be taken during those special moments and then once they are captured, the guest photographer if you wish can step in.
Assigning a Right Hand Man or Women to your Photographer.
This is especially important when group shots are taking place. If you have someone that knows most of the guests and family members (this is usually a maid of honour or best man) this can be a game changer for the amount of time all of your group shots will take (thus giving you and your partner more time for yourselves!) This person can be in charge of getting all of the family members and friends together and ready, so that the photographer can focus on taking the images rather than running around trying to get everyone together for the group shots. Remember that your photographer has no clue who your aunt and uncle or best friend from high school is.
Have your photographers ride with you when possible. In the car on the way to the ceremony; in the limo on the way to the reception. You will get some of the most intimate moments captured this way, and also some of the wildest.
Before you book your church, please be sure to ask whether photography is allowed and if there are any restrictions. Most photographers are happy to work with anything, but it’s important for your own peace of mind to have realistic expectations in advance. It is also a good idea to reserve a seat alongside your guests (preferably in the front row) for your photographer to sit so that they can capture all of those beautiful moments at the best angle without being too intrusive.
Telling your photographer your Personal Vision
Your wedding day is your MOMENT. Whatever dreams, visions, ideas you have about your Wedding day is so important to your photographer. You can have complete control over how your images will be captured and yet most people never share these ideas with their photographer and at times are disappointed by the end result. If you want your photography to be captured in a certain way or your story to be told in a certain light, talk to your photographer and work closely with them so that can happen. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of couples who rather let the photographer be the guide and let them have compete creative control and that is great too! But for those of you who are more detailed orientated and really know exactly what you want, be sure to tell your photographer your thoughts. Here are some suggestions to communicate with your photographer:
Do you prefer black & white images to colour or a mix of both? Do you want a candid approach or more traditional? Are their special images you really want? For instance the above image was one that a bride requested of 3 generations of hands. Do you want your rings photographed in a special way? Are you surprising your guests with a certain dance? Is there a family feud where certain family members will feel uncomfortable alongside another person for their photo? All of these details can make all the difference.
Making lists of certain shots, sharing pinterest boards, choosing your own locations at the venue for group / couple shots can really make your images personal. Photographers love it when we know exactly what you want rather than us guessing and hoping you love what we did. Be as detailed as possible and this essentially will make the photography of your day the true story of you and your partner!