10 Tips For Great Wedding Photos
Most couples I meet with admit that one of their biggest pre-wedding jitters is how they’re going to look in their wedding photographs.
For most couples, your wedding day is the first time you have worked with a professional photographer and to add to that worry – its your wedding day!
Here a a few simple tips to help ensure you get the best results possible!
1. BOOK A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
Obviously this one hits home for me. I have had many brides over the years share stories with me about their “friend with a camera” or their “Uncle Bob, who loves photography”. You can guess how those ended.
Your cake will be eaten, your dress will be placed in a box, your flowers will bloom for only one day, even your memories will blur with time. Your photographs and your new spouse are what remains with you after your wedding day.
Do your research. Wedding blogs are a great place to start. Look through the real weddings on your favorite blogs, check out the photographer’s sites and make a shortlist. Pricing fluctuates massively depending on the photographer’s location, experience and what kind of coverage they offer, but have a realistic budget in mind.
2. THINK ABOUT THE LIGHT
This one is huge! After all, photography is the art of using light to create images. Be aware that the light changes throughout the day and different light will result in very different photographs.
For example, if you’re having a winter wedding it will likely start to get dark around 4:30pm, therefore you really need to have your ceremony early in the day to give your photographer a fighting chance to get some great portraits and your group shots done before the light starts to fade. Even better, they might offer you the chance to do a ‘first look’ (where you see each other before the ceremony and get your photos taken then). If you’re not superstitious about seeing each other beforehand, this is a great option.
When looking at venues think about the light in each room. Is the bedroom you’re getting ready in small and cramped? Are the ceremony room walls covered in dark wood with small windows? If you love those airy, light and bright, natural light wedding photos remember to consider the light your wedding takes place in!
3. BOOK A MAKE UP ARTIST FOR THE BRIDE
You want to look your best on your wedding day and a professional make up artist will help you do that. If you’ve never had your make up done by a pro, you’ll be shocked at what a difference they can make! It’s not about making you look like someone you are not, it is about even skin tones, and shadowing and contouring the face to look its best!
On a similar note, don’t go crazy with the spray on tan and don’t try any new products that could likely cause a reaction or break out. If your wedding is in the summer avoid tan lines! Similarly, if you’re having a pre-wedding pamper session like a facial, do it at least a week before the big day. Post-facial spots are never fun.
Make sure you have powder and lipstick in your bag (or give it to a bridesmaid) for little touch ups throughout the day too. Airbrushing can only do so much (and your photographer will not be happy if you ask them to Photoshop out your shiny forehead or tan lines in every photograph, in fact they will likely add an extra fee on top for the time that it will take).
4. GET CREATIVE
You should collaborate with your photographer! Your photographer is not just there to snap away aimlessly. Wedding photographers are a super creative bunch so be open to their ideas and trust their lead! For your portraits, listen to their ideas and don’t be afraid to walk off that beaten path a little. This often results in the most amazing photographs! Set aside as much time as possible for this part of the day. The more time the photographer has, the better the results will be.
5. TRUST THEM
Most professional wedding photographers cringe when a client hands them a detailed shot by shot list of every single thing they want photographed – the dress hanging in front of the window, the shoes, bride getting into her dress, dad looking proud… you get the idea. Trust your photographer. They’ve been doing this a long time and they will be well aware which shots to get… and if not, refer back to point 1. and book someone else!
Obviously if you have something particularly sentimental or unique that you’d like photographed (maybe a piece of jewelry passed down through your family or a DIY project that you spent days on) then be sure to let them know.
6. THINK ABOUT THE CEREMONY
Your ceremony photographs will undoubtedly be some of the most important shots of the day. It flies by in a nervous blur and you’ll likely not remember a whole lot about it, so these photos are doubly important. However a lot of churches, priests and pastors won’t allow ceremony photography, or will insist that the photographer stands at the back of the room the whole time.
As a photographer this is the last thing you want to hear the morning of the wedding so, if you really value these images, make sure you speak to whoever is officiating your ceremony to find out if there are any limitations beforehand.
Another thing to consider is to politely ask your guests to not take photos during the ceremony (you can do so in the order of service). Guests holding up mobile phones as you walk down the aisle or flashes going off throughout the vows are only going to be distracting for you and other guests (and potentially ruin the professional shots).
8. LEAVE ENOUGH TIME
Time is of the essence and the more time your photographer has the better. They are the experts so ask them how long they think each element should take. Group shots for example are notorious for taking longer than you expect so make sure your photographer has a list of names and if possible delegate the task of helping round people up to a trustworthy usher or bridesmaid.
Getting ready: Having about an hour to an hour and a half with the bride before the ceremony would give enough time to photograph all the details of the dress, shoes, jewelry etc as well as take some informal photos of everyone getting ready. Additionally, about 15-20 mins after the dress is on to do portraits of the bride with bridesmaids and mom is usually good. Sometimes this goes out the window because time goes quicker than people expect or the unexpected happens (someone forgot their shoes!)
Group shots: “Allow 10 minutes per group shot. Taking the shot doesn’t take that long but you would be surprised how time can go by say for instance when, the father of the bride can vanish for ages even if they KNOW they will be needed for photos. Ten minutes each means that they can actually have some time to spend with guests and your photographer has a fighting chance of getting some candid photos of this time too.” In a perfect world the “Formal or Group” shots should not take any longer than 30-40 mins!
Bride and groom romantic portraits: You should allow your photographer between 15-30 minutes to capture “real wedding day” photos of you together. A good tip is that there is usually a bit of down time between dinner and the evening reception too. This is a good time to get a few extra photos and the light is usually in that “sweet spot” as the sun is starting to set.
9. HAVE AN ENGAGEMENT SHOOT
If your photographer offers an engagement shoot as part of the package then take it! They are a great way to not only practice in front of the camera but to get to know your photographer before the wedding day. They’ll also be able to find out how you photograph and you’ll get some cute shots of the two of you to display on your walls or at your wedding.
10. FEED THEM!
We photographers may be superhuman with our camera, but we do need food and water just like non super heros! A hungry (and grumpy) photographer can lead to photos that are lacking….just like their bellies!
Your photographer will usually ask to eat at the same time as the bride and groom. Photos are not typically taken while dinner is happening. No one enjoys photos of themselves eating! The wedding staff are often fed last, but if you ask for them to be fed at the same time as the wedding party they’ll be done and ready to move about the reception with the bride and groom.