Getting the very best from your wedding photography
A Professional’s Advice
Photography will be one of the biggest investments for your wedding day so let me share some of the experience I have gained photographing many weddings over the last 11 years so that you can put your mind at rest and stop stressing about your wedding photography
Use these tips and you’ll be blown away by the quality of images you will receive – images you’ll love and be proud to show off.
Allow extra time
If you fall behind on your wedding day schedule it is likely to have an impact not only on the quality of images you may receive but your wedding day as a whole.
At the least, delays are not fun and they can be stressful.
There will always be something that will pop up to cause delays or rearrange plans.
If you can allow extra time in the schedule for your day, you will be in a much better place when those unforeseen delays crop up.
Hair and makeup can often take up more time than planned and many of the smaller things can potentially take much longer than planned. Then there are late flowers, late bridal party members, someone forgetting something – all can cause breaks in the schedule you have worked so hard to prepare.
My brides and grooms receive a complimentary consultation where we review their schedule drawing on my years of wedding experience to help eliminate any unforeseen delays.
One of the biggest delays, and most common, is due to brides and grooms leaving getting ready until far too late.
The earlier that you are dressed and ready to go, the more relaxing and enjoyable your day will be and the better your images will be. There can be a dramatic difference in the quality of portrait photographs that you’ll receive between couples who prepare early and those who schedule with just a minimum amount of time.
So get an early night, get up early and get on with it. You’ll be more relaxed, remember more and enjoy your special day more.
If you do find you have extra time when you’re ready, sit back for a while with your bridal party and enjoy a glass of champagne.
It’s all about light
Light is a photographer’s best friend or more specifically good light.
To make the most of your bridal portraits, schedule them for when the light is at its best – the golden hour. This is the hour before sunset. The light is usually much softer and more flattering. It’s not always possible, so speak with your photographer about the best time for your wedding portraits.
Scheduling your portraits around 1 or 2 pm is a more difficult time to capture beautiful images. The harsh light creates heavy shadows and with the sun being high in the sky can create heavy eyeshadows which are very unflattering. If that time is the only option, look for lots of shade.
Having a second shooter is getting more and more common in wedding photography. It’s a considerable amount of effort to photograph an entire wedding solo, so when you’re in the market for a photographer you may want to ask your favoured photographer if they can offer a second photographer. The price for an additional photographer at your wedding has a great return on investment as it allows your main photographer to really focus on quality whilst the second shooters concentrate on grabbing candid shots. They’ll also be on hand to help in assisting the primary photographer when needed.
Have trust in your chosen photographer
Wedding days are a once in a lifetime celebration. If you’re a little worried about rain, heat, cold, dirt and other things that won’t harm you, it’s probably in your best interest to relax a bit on those issues.
Going outside may seem like it will damage your dress or ruin your hair and makeup, but done correctly, and with expert guidance from your photographer, this is far from the case.
Take your bridesmaids along with you to assist you with things like holding an umbrella, lifting your dress to keep it from the ground.
Try not to let these little things prevent you from photographs that will be with you forever.
Keep an open mind and trust that your photographer is doing everything in your best interests to provide you with creative and unique images that you will treasure forevermore.
Your photographer may ask you to walk in a field, sit in an odd place, or ask you to stand on a road etc. Talk to him or her if you feel uncomfortable creating these images, but if the reason you’re holding back is because of temporary reasons, relax. Lifting these apprehensions will help greatly in getting the most out of your wedding photography.
Have a pre-wedding shoot.
Apart from receiving a set of great images, a pre-wedding shoot is a great way to build trust and friendship between the couple and the photographer. The couple gets to experience what it’s like to be photographed together and become comfortable being photographed. In turn, the photographer also is able to see the couple’s personality and how they react to the camera.
I really can’t recommend this pre-wedding shoot enough. It will be a fun hour or so and an opportunity for you both to spend some quality time together.
Choosing your venue/location.
When you’re choosing your wedding venue or venues try to keep in mind photography potential. A good photographer should be able to create great photos from anything, but a lovely venue will be the icing on the cake.
Research the venues you like with photography in mind before booking. Look to see if there are variations to give you a variety. For example, one venue may have a beautiful and elegant garden, but around a corner could have an old brick wall that will add a huge contrast. These will provide you with a great variety of the images for your album.
Book a good engaging DJ.
A wedding DJ is not just there to play music; they should go beyond that. The DJ is there to keep your guests entertained and keep them dancing and partying into the night. Couples typically spend a large amount of their budget on the reception venue and the reception events and decor. A good DJ will provide you with the best return on your reception investments. Additionally, when more of your guests are staying and having a great time, the photographer will be able to grab more amazing images of your guests having a great time.
Smile and laugh, lots….
I wasn’t going to add this to the list because it will seem obvious. However, it’s too important not to be on the list. Although it may seem that laughing and smiling would be natural, stress and tight schedules can make the day less enjoyable than you imagined.
Keep your wedding day as light-hearted and carefree as possible. Surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you, those who make you laugh, and those who you can be yourself around.
Nothing will make you look more beautiful than a genuine smile, but that’s easier said than done if you’re nervous about being photographed. If you have trouble smiling naturally, giggle: A fake laugh almost always brings out a real smile.
Meet your photographer.
I get told at many consultations by my potential couples that they hated their friend’s photographer because he/she was bossy, got in the way all the time and took aaaages, “we had to do this and this….”.
There would be nothing worse than hiring a photographer based on the images on their website, booking them, then later finding out that you want to throttle them by the end of the day because they’ve been bossing you about like an army sergeant with a little power that’s gone to their head the whole time.
In most cases, you don’t even have to leave your house! Many offer a free consultation where they come to your home at a mutually convenient time (usually a weekday evening when you are both back from work).
It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your wedding day in more detail and talk about what is important to you in terms of photography. The photographer should also bring along albums and any other relevant samples of their work. If you both decide that actually the photographs are not to your style and you think you won’t get on, then you are no worse off!
Formal photographs – they don’t have to be boring.
Granny is still in the toilet and its beginning to rain, but the formal photographs need to be done.
This is usually the most stressful and boring part of the day…but it really doesn’t need to be!
It’s best to have a list ready before the day of who you want in the groups and in what order. I usually suggest 10 to 12 groups that will take approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
Give a copy of the list to ushers or bestman and get them to find the required people. This is something I do so that whilst I am photographing one group, the next is waiting to go.
Here are some tips for during the portrait session.
It’s all about good body language; making your body parts speak the right way. Some part-by-part tips:
- Chin: To avoid a double chin, hold your head up high, and chin forward a little.
- Stomach: Turn your body towards the photographer at a 45-degree angle—it’s an instant waist-shrinker.
- Arms: Going sleeveless? Keep your arms bent and pulled slightly away from your body; holding them flat against your sides adds heft.
- Legs: Painters often sculpt their subjects, with most of their weight on one leg. It gives you a more relaxed, curvaceous look.
- Hands: Remember that 30 Rock episode when Jack had to clutch a mug when he was on TV because he didn’t know what to do with his hands? Same concept: Hold onto a bouquet, veil, your dress, a hip—or your husband’s hand.
Strategically Use Shade for Outdoor Photos
Try standing with the sun behind you. It creates a lovely, luminous effect. Additionally, take pictures in open shade—full sun can create squinty eyes, while dappled shade makes skin look splotchy. Also, note that the best time of day to take outdoor photos is right upto sunset. It’s when the light is the prettiest.
My style and approach
My style is ‘portrait journalism’. It’s a modern approach but includes the more traditional aspects too.
If you like the idea of a mostly free-flowing day with occasional time for photographs and are looking for a few traditional group images along with a set of beautiful bride and groom portraits, then I’d be a good match.
I love to photograph outgoing couples full of personality, who want natural, discrete photography with a few wow shots
Get The Very Best From Your Wedding Photography
Check out my Instagram page for many more images.