You’ve been through the process of selecting a wedding photographer. All the hard work’s done, right? The photos will now take care of themselves!
If you’ve been to any number of weddings, you’ll know that some have the wow factor, and some kinda don’t. I believe it’s all in the attention to detail – how each part of the wedding comes together in a complimentary and thought-out way. My friend Sarah creates stunning wedding stationery, and she shows it off by demonstrating how a style and theme can be integrated into a beautiful event that exudes personality from the moment you open your invitation to the last look over your shoulder as you leave the reception.
Your wedding photographer is in charge of capturing your wedding day as it happens. You are in charge of making it happen the way you want it to.
Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your wedding photography.
One: Pick the Right Photographer for You
We’ve covered how to do this, but it’s still worth mentioning here.
Two: Plan the Type of Photos You Want
A photo-journalistic approach is very popular these days, and it seems like all the cool couples are asking for it. What does it really mean? A purely photo-journalistic style will mean your photographer is in the background for the entire day, documenting whatever happens. They don’t pose you, they don’t interrupt, you don’t need to spend time away from your guests, and you get a great record of your wedding day. Sounds good? Maybe.
Most of the classic wedding portraits that you see on photographer’s websites are created during a mini session away from your guests. If you want these type of photos, it is important to plan your schedule to allow some time for this to happen. Don’t forget to allow for travel to/from/between the locations that you want these photos taken.
If you never leave your guests, you’re probably not going to get many of those really gorgeous photos of you and your new spouse. You will always have someone in your personal space wanting to hug, kiss and congratulate you. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that (it’s the whole point of inviting everyone to your wedding!), but if you want that stunning couple portrait on your wall, you may want to reconsider a purely photo-journalistic option.
Lots of photographers (myself included) combine a bit of both. You don’t have to regress to the 80′s, stand-up-straight-and-look-at-the-camera-under-a-floral-arch kind of thing. Portraits that are “posed” by your photographer don’t have to look fake or staged.
Three: Make a List of Family Combos
This is what I affectionally refer to as the “herding cats” part of the wedding. Usually sometime between the ceremony and reception, the family group shots are taken. With two sets of extended families (and sometimes more), arranging all the family combinations is often quite a time-consuming part of the day. The last thing you want is to wave goodbye to your photographer, and then realise that you forgot to get a photo of the two of you with Great Aunt Bessie, and she’s not going to be happy.
So sit down with your guest list, and write out every single combination that you want. Super hot tip – write each combo in this format: “Bride, Groom, Bride’s Uncle Joe Smith, Bride’s Aunty Sue Smith”. Got it? Relationship to who, first name and last name. Why? ‘Cause it’s much more effective for the photographer to be calling out “Where’s Joe Smith?” than “Where’s the bride’s uncle?” when you’re pressed for time.
Four: Designate Runners Who Will Do Their Job
Another one about the family combos – pick a runner from each side of the family who can rally the troops for your photographer. Ideally you, your new spouse and your photographer will not move much during the family session, so your runners can gather up the necessary people for you. Pick someone who knows who all the relevant family members are, who has good attention to detail, and who is committed to helping you out. If you stress the importance of their role prior to your wedding day, you’re more likely to get the results you want, ’cause they won’t be distracted elsewhere.
Five: Don’t Overdo the Family Combos
Last one about the family shots, and this can be tricky. You don’t want to leave anyone out, but you don’t want to have a list of 40 combinations that takes over an hour to get through either. Consider what the important combinations are, and perhaps rather than leaving people out, combine a couple of groups into one shot. And try to not have three variations of each shot (i.e. bride & groom + group; bride + group; groom + group).
Six: Scope Out Your Locations
Go to the places where you want your bridal party portraits to be taken, and have a look around for spots that you like. If you’re really keen, go at the same time of day as your photos will be (close to your date) and look at the light. Sound strange? You don’t need to analyse the specifics of the lighting (your photographer will do that), but a lovely shaded area might look fantastic at midday and be dark and shadowy at 4pm.
Your photographer might be happy for you to take quick shots on your mobile and email them through so they have an idea of the specific spots that you like. Wedding shoes can be killer, so try to plot a course that doesn’t have you tripping back and forth all over the place.
Seven: Don’t Worry Too Much About the Camera
Nothing kills the atmosphere of wedding photos like fake, awkward smiles. Remember why you’re there – you’re madly in love and preparing to spend the rest of your life with this person. So look at them like you love them! Your photographer might have different ideas about what they want you to do, but I like couples that have lots of interaction, eye contact, and shared laughs. It makes for natural expressions and a better representation of the emotion of the day.
Eight: Don’t Hide Your Dress
If you’re carrying a bouquet, try to rest the middle of your forearm on your hip bone (I’ll wait while you hop up and try it…) so that the flowers don’t cover the beautiful bodice of your gown. Bouquets can be heavy, so often brides will hold them with their elbow at 90 degrees, which can really detract from the focus of the image – you! Obviously this doesn’t work for all styles of bouquets, but it’s a good one to remember. Share that one with your bridesmaids too.
Nine: Allow Enough Time
It’s entirely up to you how much variety you want in your wedding images. Some people are totally happy with just one location and a few “keepers” to go on the wall, but most aren’t. Finding a location that offers a range of settings is ideal. New Farm Park is a great example – you’ve got beautiful gardens, river views, and a bit of urban with the Powerhouse. Without having to drive anywhere or walk too far, you’ve got a huge range of options for photos. So think about what you’ll be happy with , and then work with your photographer to create a schedule that makes it possible.
If you only remember one thing from this post, remember number 7.
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