Every couple wants to have wedding photos that are perfect. You probably spent more time than you can remember, as well as more money than you want to think about, on things like the dress, the suit, the party, and the venue. So, of course, it only makes sense that you’d like to document and preserve your magical moments for the sake of posterity. I’ve personally been doing professional wedding photography for almost a decade. By this point, I’ve got a pretty good idea what works well, and what doesn’t. So, the following are 7 specific pieces of advice I can give you if you want great photos when you get married.
1) What Is It You Like?
Just what should wedding photos wind up looking like? There’s not really a right answer here. Every couple getting married has their own tastes. That’s why you’ll discover has many different styles of shooting photography as there are actual photographers.
Are you wanting something practically cinematic with overly romantic poses under a dramatic sky? If so, then you want a photographer who can do wide-angle shots using highly textured skies above. You might want to use specific search phrases in Google images, searching things “bride leaning on a limo in [your city]” or “5th Avenue Hollywood kiss”, as these searches might help you figure out which photographers apply firm direction their portrait sessions.
Or would prefer to keep your photography more low-key in order to capture the essence of all the raw emotions happening, so they fit into your photos? If that’s the case, your Google image searches out to be more like “tearful wedding toasts”, “photojournalistic wedding photographer”, or even “bride and groom laughter during the ceremony”. These kinds of searches might help you find a photographer that’s great at capturing candid imagery.
You can also use blogs to find particular photography styles that you like. Some websites cater to various types of weddings, and you can use their “Real Wedding” section. Trendy couples might want to start with Junebug. Offbeat Bride is for anyone looking to get away from the conventional, but if you want more traditional for your wedding, then start with The Knot. First, figure out what style of photography you like, and then you can find a professional in that style that will be on the same page as you and your fiance.
You might even recognize a style of wedding photography you like looking through the photos of of another couple you know that got married. Why not ask them who they used as a referral and check into using that same photographer?
Once you get your search narrowed down to just a handful of photographers, the next step is finding out anything you can about pricing. Photographers will typically have an investment section somewhere on their site. If they don’t, check the information page or FAQ section, where there might be clues provided about the price range couples spend on their own photography packages. It also never hurts to fire off an email or make a phone call, both of which only take a minute.
2) Vocalize Your Needs And Desires
If you have a prospective photographer in mind, try to look at as many of their images as you can. Go through their website, the professional Facebook feed, and their Instagram. Many photographers deliver their images using online gallery sites like Press Gallery or PixieSet, so never fear to request full wedding galleries so that you might get a better sense of what your own wedding photos would like.
For example, if you’re not really sure if you should get any pictures while you’re preparing for the big day or later into the reception when there is drunk dancing going on, ask the photographer to show you sets that did cover those parts of the day and sets that didn’t. That’s a very concrete way of visualizing both the options and then choosing the best one from there.
Open dialogue is always a great option. You should let your photographer know in advance if you have any particular individuals or moments that you’d like to get captured. We can typically think pretty fast, but I once almost missed a church exit because the couple started running back up the aisle, and they were quick too. So, if there’s anything unusual or different planned for the day, be it a special dance or a surprise toast, then be sure to let us all know.
3) Get To Know One Another
This might sound obvious, but you need to remember that photographers are people too. We certainly love getting to know our clients, and you should know something about us as well. A little bonding goes a long way in helping everyone be more comfortable with one another before the big day. At the least, Skype your photographer before you make your choice. It’s even better to meet them in person. Once you find out a few details in common, be it funny cat videos or the same streaming service you both binge, small talk is a lot easier, and that makes your wedding day a lot more comfortable, and the photos are better too.
4) Yay Or Nay On The Engagement Photos?
Engagement photos can make for a good way to break the ice between yourselves and a photographer. You even get an opportunity to get comfortable being in front of their camera and equipment. You might even get some nice options for a wedding website or the invitations. The bride might even want to do a trial run of her makeup. Still, engagement photos are rarely necessary, and many couples don’t do them. Still, if you do, don’t wear matching colors. Any difference in shades makes you look bad and it’s a nightmare for us. Also avoid anything too baggy or distracting, like clothes with huge letters or people’s faces on them.
5) Plan The Day Based On Your Picture
Your wedding portrait session shouldn’t be the central moment of interest on your big day. However, you should take the sun’s schedule into account. We photographers love what we call the “Golden Hour” which is an hour prior to sunset. That’s the best time to do outdoor pictures. The sun is low, and the light is warm, and these are great assets for us to use in getting gorgeous images done. So, if you’d like your pictures to happen prior to the ceremony, plan your ceremony to happen around sunset. If you’d rather do the photos after the ceremony, then do the ceremony an hour or more before the Golden Hour. Having said all that, professional photographers can make magic happen at any hour, so don’t sweat details like this if you have a church wedding and you only get to have a 2 p.m. wedding slot. Dusk can make for dramatic shadows and great images, as can a high sun, especially in a city.
6) Letting Go Of Perfection Creates Space For Better Things
Your photographer knows that you’d like your wedding day to just go perfectly. However, when you leave room for surprises, it makes it much easier to stay calm and fully enjoy the day. Wedding photographers have been through it all, so there comes a time you just need to sit back so we can do our jobs. It won’t matter if hail falls from the sky or you have shoe laces break. We’ll still get great images whose beauty you remember.
I personally got stuck in horrific traffic with a wedding couple the very day after gay marriage was legalized across the nation. On our way for wedding pictures at Washington Square Park, we found that every road was closed since people were celebrating. The weather was also raining cats and dogs. We had to ditch the cab and walk around for a while using umbrellas. My shoes didn’t dry until a day later, but the wet and shiny streets and umbrellas made for some great shots that today.
All the planning in the world is great, but allow for some spontaneity too, and you can really have the best of both worlds on your big day.
7) Treat The Photographer With Respect
Remember that you need to treat whatever photographer you use well. Photographer professionals are tougher than they look and can endure most anything. I personally once had major surgery done on one hand and shot a wedding five days later. Still, I, like my industry colleagues, get tired and have feelings. We sometimes walk around for eight or more hours with some heavy gear, and the responsibilities we bear are even heavier sometimes. A little kindness goes a long way.
Be sure that your caterer is going to include a meal for us, and make it happen so that we eat while everyone else eats. That way we don’t have to suck down our food before trotting back in time to catch a speech. Never snap your fingers at us or shout out to get our attention when some distant relative is dancing with the cutest kid there.
Remember, we’re professionals, and odds are good that we got great images of that cute moment before you even knew it was going on in the first place. Keep a good thing rolling.