I’ve learned a lot of things photographing weddings over the years. It can be an overwhelming day for lots of couples. It’s always my goal to reduce stress, and make your wedding fun and memorable. I also want your images to be the best they can be.
I’m a photojournalistic photographer by nature. That means my instinct is to capture moments as they happen. I am not a stylist. I can’t take the place of a great wedding planner or a bridesmaid who knows just how you want things. That means I may need help with parts of the day that are less organic (group shots, making sure the dress is laid out perfectly, catching a boutonniere that’s falling to the side, keeping you to the timeline). I will certainly try to keep up with all these things but I have a lot going on. It’s better to allocate these duties to your bridal party and coordinator.
I put a huge emphasis on personalization. The main way I do this is by asking questions. I’m not a photographer who is overly demonstrative. I don’t direct every aspect of the day. I prefer to let things happen, ask questions, and guide you in the right direction. In the end I believe your images will feel more authentic and you won’t feel like I’m bossing you around.
These wedding photo tips should help make things even easier.
It is so important to embrace your wedding day for what it is, not what you imagined it to be. If there is crazy weather, the schedule gets off, or you forget a bracelet, love it for what it is! Things almost never go as expected and that’s ok. It’s still your day and like no other. That’s what makes it so special.
A note on timelines… Timelines are great and critical to ensuring your day goes the way your envisioning. Here are a couple of ways to make sure you stay on time and don’t stress.
It’s easy to get carried away trying to get that perfect glow. In all honesty, your natural skin tone almost always looks better in photos. Do you and your fiancé have a similar skin tone? Tanning can actually make the other look washed out.
Getting ready on your wedding day can be a great experience. But it’s important to decide what kind of morning you want it to be. Do you prefer quiet time with only a few people? Or a big pregame celebration with everyone in the wedding? Having everyone getting ready in the same place as you can be fun but hectic. Sometimes you lose the opportunity for more intimate moments. Think about what is best for you.
You’ll want your bridesmaids and mom to be ready and dressed before time to put on your dress. That means you usually want to be the last one getting makeup done. I also suggest doing hair before makeup. That way you’ll look more put together for final touch up shots. Think about adding at least 30 minutes buffer time to what the MUA thinks they will need.
Take a few moments to visit with everyone in your wedding party. Of course, let them know how happy you are that they are a part of this day. Be sure to also give them your expectations for their role and behavior. It’s very rare, but sometimes there will be someone who uses a wedding as an excuse to go wild and party all day long. They usually have good intentions, but can make it hard for the bride or groom to stay focused on what is important.
Parents also need a little direction in this sense. It’s common that parents are flying blind on the wedding day and are not sure what their role is. If you would like them (or not) to take part in any certain moments, tell them before hand.
The first thing I usually do when I arrive is capture details. It’s a big time saver if everything is together and ready for me to take. This includes anything that has meaning to you and you want photographed on its own. It can help to delegate this to a bridesmaid. Here are a few of the most common items:
It’s easy for the getting ready space to get messy. The more people there, the worse it gets. Think about asking a bridesmaid to help keep things clean and organized during the day. Often times, it helps to find an uglier corner, or even a bathroom, to store odds and ends. Your photos will be much better without all the cups, water bottles, and bags.
Chances are, you’ll be getting your hair and makeup done in a hotel room or bridal suite. That means there are most likely orange tungsten lights and lamps around. We want to avoid these colors making your skin look terrible. Tell your makeup artist to position you close to natural light. A big window, or glass door usually works great. You’ll want the light from the window to be hitting your face (don’t turn your back to it). Most makeup artist know the drill and are more than happy to oblige!
Chewing gum has ruined many a good photos. It’s tough for me to keep track of so it’s better lose it once the camera comes out. This becomes even more important if you have video!
If you want to do a first look, be sure to allow for extra buffer time after. You won’t want to be doing portraits or wedding party shots as guests arrive. I also like you to have at least 20-30 minutes to relax before the ceremony starts.
The ideal time for an outdoor ceremony is 1-3 hours before sunset. The light is less harsh and everything looks it’s best. You’ll want to consider the direction you’re facing in relation to the sun as well. We can discuss that and figure out what is best to avoid harsh light and shadows falling on you. If you’re indoors, you may still need to consider windows and light direction. We want to have 15-20 minutes for group shots afterward. Then you’ll want at least 30 minutes (closer to an hour is best) for some alone time/couple portraits. Be sure to factor that time into when sunset is. You don’t want it getting dark before we’re done. Sometimes this is a moot point if you do a first look. In that case, I suggest starting the ceremony about an hour before sunset (depending on length). In other words, you want to be heading to the reception just after the sun sets.
Your flowers look great but so does your dress. It’s not natural feeling to hold your bouquet lower, especially if it’s heavy. Remember to hold your bouquet closer to stomach level, not chest level. That way you won’t cover your dress or look awkward.
It sounds like such a simple thing, but centering yourselves in front of the altar can really help make your photos look great! It is SO easy to forget where you are and get off center. You’ve put so much time and effort into making your ceremony perfect. This is the final step in that process. Symmetry can make all the difference.
Similarly, it’s easy to look everywhere but at each other once your up there. The most common slip up is looking at the officiant the entire ceremony. Make an effort to stay focused on each other. Sometimes that means you get a bit more emotional. That’s ok! Don’t try to suppress your emotions. Let yourself be open and vulnerable. Holding back tears is a bad look.
Consider doing immediate family only after the ceremony. Make sure they know to stay after the ceremony! If you have bigger groups, think about doing them during the reception. After the cake cutting is a good option. You can have the MC announce it. If you prefer all the group shots be uniform, you want to make sure each person knows to stay after the ceremony. Elect someone familiar with both your families with this task. Otherwise it can take a lot of time running down missing people. It’s also a good idea to have a shot list of combinations you’d like. Have a bridesmaid help with calling out names and rounding people up!
The benefits of having a ceremony free of cell phones is pretty obvious. Ask your officiant to make an announcement right before the processional starts. Signs are great, but many guest miss them and go in for that camera phone shot if they don’t hear the instructions.
Don’t rush things. It’s easy to speed up when you are nervous. Make a conscious effort to walk slow and take everything in. This goes for down the aisle, up the aisle, reception entrance, and the grand exit. The same goes for your wedding party, it’s harder to get good images when your subjects are flying by.
That first kiss photo is always a favorite. There is an easy way to make it even better. Tell your officiant to move to the side before announcing that you are now married and can kiss. Stepping all the way behind your best man or beyond the altar is best. This will give you a much cleaner looking image! I’ve never known an officiant who wasn’t more than happy to defer.
Contrary to many other wedding photographers, I love shooting receptions! I’ll need at least 20 minutes to shoot your reception details after everything is in place and before guest come in. That can be a little tricky to schedule so I’m happy to help! I want you to be able to let loose and have fun. A lot of couples feel pressure to thank every single guest throughout the night. I don’t recommend this for bigger weddings. Take time to sit down and enjoy dinner TOGETHER. Be present for all the nights moments and activities. Your guests will understand. Trust me, when a couple is away greeting guest all evening, the entire vibe of the celebration suffers.
I get it. It can be super awkward to dance for 3 or 4 minutes in front of all your guests. Though it’s tempting, don’t shorten the song. It takes me a little longer to get images of a first dance than other moments. That’s because I’m often having to wait until you’ve turned to the perfect position. It takes a little time to get perfect. Try to take deep breaths, maybe close your eyes, and enjoy it. Don’t chit chat too much on the dance floor either. Of course you can tell each other things, but you’ll hate the open mouth photos if you talk the whole dance. Smiles and laughter are always encouraged though!
Again, be present and take part in the celebration! I’ve experienced many receptions where the couple only gets on the dance floor for a handful of songs. Nothing will kill the energy faster than this. It’s especially true for the bride, but a missing groom also hurts. Everyone is there to have fun WITH YOU! Don’t forget that. Make it clear that you want to see everyone there on the dance floor with you. Ask a member of the wedding party to get your drinks so you don’t have to leave. Don’t be afraid to cut in line for the Photo Booth or dessert table. After all, this day is about you, embrace it!
Everything I do is with you two in mind. This is the case regardless of who is actually paying, who has known you the longest, or who made out your timeline. In other words, if a parent or sibling asks that I do something that doesn’t fit with your wishes, I’ll check with you first. After all, this is YOUR day.