How to help your photographer get great wedding pictures:
While editing a LOT of wedding pictures lately, I've noticed a few trends. There are a few things that should have been a little better, had I informed the couple more about things they could have done to help me. There are also some that were AWESOME because I was able to be prepared for the moment. I'm sure I'll be adding to this list as I learn more. These are in no particular order, and are not targeting anyone -- these are things that have regularly happened with many of my weddings.
- Always tell the photographer beforehand about any "surprise" or other details that you'll be doing, such as dancing down the isle, busting into a hip-hop dance, releasing butterflies, the second line dance, etc. Lighting needs to be planned for capturing those moments.
- Inform "Aunt Susan with the Camera" that THIS is your wedding photographer, and that although you appreciate her enthusiasm of taking pictures, to please stay out of the photographer's way.
- Communicate with the photographer about special details you've done for the day, such as the six-pence that is taped into your shoe, the buttons from your mom's dress around your bouquet, and your grandma's ring you'll be wearing.
- Communicate with the hairdresser/makeup artist that you MUST begin pictures at the appointed time, so they need to be done with hair and makeup 15 minutes before that time.
- Begin your "sunset ceremony" 1 hour before the actual sunset. The light will be perfect for pictures before and after the ceremony. Avoid taking pictures between 10 am and 2 pm if possible.
- Plan to stand for your ceremony in a ground-level, visible place. If all of your bridesmaids and groomsmen are crowded around you during the ceremony, it makes it very difficult to get pictures of YOU.
- Plan to begin pictures at least two hours before the ceremony. If you aren't doing the first look, I like to have at least 45 minutes with each side of the wedding party, plus 30 minutes of set-up time before the ceremony. If you want to do family pictures and getting-ready pictures before the wedding, begin pictures at least 3 hours before the wedding. If you want to do pictures away from the location, make sure to consider travel time (for the photographer also) before the wedding.
- See each other with a "First Look" before the ceremony. This isn't for everyone, but if you want some extra-great pictures of yourself on the wedding day and you don't want to miss your reception, this is the way to do it. If you don't see each other before the wedding, it leaves all pictures of family, the entire wedding party, and the bride and groom alone to be taken after the ceremony, usually in that order for me. (See #13)
- Do a "Trash-the-Dress" or "Day after" session. This is when you get dressed up again and do an entire 1-2 hour portrait session by yourself, in a no-stress manner, on a day after the wedding, or right after the wedding. Many of my super-small weddings end in a portrait session, and those are always the best pictures.
- Stand proportionately at the altar (make sure the two of you and the officiant are centered). It's a simple little thing, but makes a big difference in those pictures of your ceremony. Also, if possible, make that center isle at least 4 feet wide.
- Stand outside gazebos! Gazebos are pretty. But, when you're underneath them, more often than not, your lower body is well-lit by natural or surrounding light, while your head is shaded by the roof of the gazebo. In other words, the photographer can usually get a great picture of you from waist down, but your face will look like mud. Also, when you try to put the whole wedding party under the gazebo, it often crowds the picture and can block pictures of YOU. Additionally, gazebos are generally UP from the level the photographer will be shooting from, which makes it extremely difficult to get pictures without roofs and posts coming out of your head. Did I mention standing OUTSIDE the gazebo?
- Make a simple list (no more than 20 items), using first names, of group family pictures that are essential.
- Be patient!! I try to keep all after-ceremony pictures under 30 minutes so you can enjoy your reception (see #8) but often the bride and/or groom get impatient after taking so many pictures and want to hurry and get to the reception. This makes it very difficult to get the most important pictures of the night- the ones of YOU, minutes after you tied the knot.