TIPS & TRICKS
Getting the best out of your wedding photography
A Tall Long Legged Bird
28 March 2017
Although my style and approach to wedding photography is reportage / candid / documentary, there are a few things to think about before the wedding to make sure you get the best photos possible. So, let’s start at the beginning…
Getting Ready – Generally, I find that couples book their wedding venue first and then the wedding photography. But once you have booked the venue, it’s a good idea to think about where you may get ready for your day. Some couples prefer to get ready in a luxury hotel (which does look good in the photos); but personally, if your venue is close to where you or your parents live, I find photos have so much more meaning if you can get ready at home. Whether that’s your home or your parents home, it doesn’t really matter. Both will be full of memories which will tell great stories in years to come. Imagine a picture of your grandmother getting ready at her parents house… and now think of the same photo but this time in a hotel. See where I’m coming from? Everything is interesting in 50 years time, even your old kitchen and your old kettle will evoke a whole world of memories.
Imagine a picture of your grandmother getting ready at her parents house
Okay, so hopefully I’ve talked you into staying at home if your venue is close by. Now you need to think about where the other half will be staying. Ideally they will be getting ready somewhere near, as this way you can avoid the expense of having a second photographer and I can nip between the two of you. This involves some careful planning, but I found that it worked really well last year. Which leads to…
How many photographers? And what about videographers? – Generally, second photographers don’t have as much experience and their camera equipment isn’t the same as mine, so things can look inconsistent visually. Having two photographers at your wedding and possibly a couple of videographers can turn the whole thing into a bit of a circus. Everyone is much more at ease when they forget about the fact they are being photographed (which is pretty difficult when there’s more than one of you on the job).
If you do intend on having videographers, just check how many people will be coming. Some work in groups of three and have loads of equipment and tripods everywhere and others work alone with a small camera on their shoulder. Just because some have big kit it doesn’t mean they’re better. Check their portfolios, and if their work is comparable then opt for the one-man band. (Less mouths to feed as well!)
“I would rather cover both couples myself as I can be 100% sure that I have shot what I’m looking for, and not rely on someone else’s vision. ”
Capturing the boys, the finishing touches.
Getting Ready : The Groom & Groomsmen – Ideally, I go to the boys first. We can arrange a time so that when I arrive they are about to put the finishing touches together. Cuff links, ties, jackets that sort of thing. I usually stay about 20 minutes, which is enough time to get some shots to complete the story. As I don’t get that much time with the boys, I will find the best light and make sure they are getting ready in it. If you would like anything other than documentary photography just tell me, it’s not a problem to take some group shoots once they’re ready. In fact, it’s quite a good idea as it’s one less on the groups list for later. As they are now ready early (hopefully) they can head off to the pub, or get on with the list of jobs they have to do at the venue.
Getting Ready: The Bride & Bridesmaids – Once I arrive at your chosen ‘getting ready’ location, I’ll introduce myself to your wedding party, and then crack on with documenting the scene. Try and keep the room free of ugly plastic bags, car seats and pushchairs. These things are usually horrid colours and upset my visual flow!
Think about asking your bridesmaids to wear something easy on the eye whilst they are getting ready. You could get them some robes, or a simple white vest, or something elegant, just so that you all look coordinated and more visually pleasing in the photographs! I’ll be hiding out behind curtains and squatting in some odd positions, but just ignore me – I’m a fly on the wall!
I’ll capture all your moments and all your little bits without moving things around, so don’t panic when I’ve not taken your dress off to dangle it from an apple tree, I will capture it hanging in the background as part of your story. I will never take your dress outside. Knowing my luck, it would get pooped on by a pigeon and I would put my foot through it! So let’s just leave it hanging on the door. With that in mind, if you can take your dress out of its body bag before I arrive and maybe have it hanging on a pretty hanger, that would be perfect!
“When you’re ready to put your dress on, please don’t hide in the bathroom. I can leave the room so you have some privacy, and just let me know when it’s safe for me to re-enter to capture the finishing touches. “
I’ll always be waiting out for your arrival – it’s a special moment! Exiting the car in a wedding dress is rarely an elegant affair, but I’ll do my best to make you look like a princess on duty.
Arriving at the venue – Once the dress is on (or the trousers!) I will race ahead to the venue. This way, I can introduce myself to whoever is conducting your ceremony and hopefully capture your other half meeting the arriving guests.
The Ceremony – Think about asking your guests to refrain from using their phones and cameras during the ceremony. So many good shots are completely ruined by Uncle Bob trying to get a shot of you walking down the aisle. There’s no need for guests to have cameras. I can capture all this, and it will be much nicer if everyone just enjoying the moment rather than trying to get the shot. They can all download the photos I have taken for free, so there’s no need for them to spoil this moment!
Everything is completely documentary until the group photos after the ceremony. I’ll be as discreet as possible during your ceremony, and I’ll only move once when the timing is right to get a different angle if necessary.
“I’ve had people jump out into the aisle and completely block it for me before now, and of course, it looks really ugly! ”
After you’ve taken your vows, you’ll be asked to sign the register. I’m not allowed to photograph this; it’s some weird English law that is completely ridiculous! But after you have signed your register for real, they will set up a shot with you pretending to sign it. This is all very odd, but just play along and smile at me.
Confetti time – You can never have enough confetti. Make sure you bring some, as Aunty Muriel will have only brought a tiny amount, and we want loads! Don’t bother to put it in little bags, just put it in a basket and get the ushers pass it around, guests can just grab a handful.
Side note: A couple of confetti canons for the first dance can really get the party started, just give them to the bridesmaids and pretend you had nothing to do with if your venue has issues with sweeping up. You can get them on eBay. Three big ones should do the trick.
Backgrounds & Light – When it come to the top table and seating guests, just take a look at what’s going to be behind you. Try not to sit in front of a big window; it will ruin the pictures if the sun makes anappearance. Also, look out for fire extinguishers! They are okay if they are away from the top table as I can photoshop them out, but try to avoid having them mingled behind you. Also if you’re having a marquee reception, try not to have the sound system behind the top table, big black poles with speakers on coming out of your head never look good.
Have any really important guests sat facing any natural light, they will photograph the best.
“Put the ugly people in the dark corner! I didn’t really write that did I?”
The Group Shots – I have another post dedicated to this subject which you can find on my blog. But basically, don’t go crazy on the groups or else there will not be much time left for candids of the guests enjoying their canapés and it can chip into your ‘romantic photos’ time. I also need enough time during this part of the day to photograph your dining room set up before it gets trashed. Have a think whats most important to you. Groups / candids / romantic ones / the venue? Of course I can do it all, but not if my groups list is a mile long!
The Romantic Shots – Okay, trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ll find a decent location and you can just walk together. I’ll give you some guidance if you’re a bit awkward. Just look at each other and not at me. This is also a great time for you have have a breather and just enjoy some (nearly alone) time with your other half. The photos are about the two of you, not about you smiling down the lens. But of course, we can do a couple of smiley ones for the parents, (they love the bog standard wedding portrait and we like to please the parents).
“The photos are about the two of you, not about you smiling down the lens.”
The Wedding Breakfast – Once you’re all seated for your wedding breakfast, I’ll be close by but not in the room. I generally don’t like to take photos of people eating, not a pretty pitcure. If you’ve been kind enough to order me a meal i’ll be tucking into that in a side room and if not i’ll be grazing from my tupperware!
If you would like a photo of your wedding rings, just let me know and I’ll take them off whilst you are eating and do something creative with them. I don’t take rings off generally as I would prefer to capture them in context, but please just ask if you would like that shot.
The Speeches – Once the speeches commence, I’ll appear and capture all the laughter and the tears (happy we hope!) I do come quite close during this period, but I’m always as discreet as possible so just ignore me.
First Dance – If you have lights that’s great! But if you have a laser, I’ll ask if it can be switched off until after the first dance, as it leaves horrid coloured spots all over your heads and you can end up looking like the incredible hulk. Most likely, I’ll be sat on the floor, so try not to stand on me!
Round Up – I think that’s about it! If there’s anything I’m missing on the day, or you decide you want something captured that you had forgotten about, just click your fingers (or send a bridesmaid/ usher) and I’ll be there. Oh one last thing (or two)…
If there’s any amazing weather or light on the day, I’ll come and ask if you’re up for some more “romantic photos’ taking advantage of the elements. But just say no if you would rather not!
IMPORTANT … Before the wedding day, please make sure you fill out the online form I send you. It contains all the phone numbers and postcodes for your wedding, and if anything were to happen that was going to prevent me being where I should be, I have all your information at hand. The group photos list is also attached to this form and if I did lose my print out on the day, I know it’s all safe in the cloud. It has happened once when I lost the list during the church ceremony! Had I not had the backup on my phone, I would have been in a complete mess. Very unprofessional!
“Any questions that I haven’t answered here, I’m just a phone call or an email away, so don’t be afraid to get in touch!”