Planning your wedding photography
Whilst planning your wedding photography is something I take total ownership and care of, I find it’s often helpful for my couples to have an idea of what to anticipate at certain parts of the wedding day.
When you’re getting ready, as with all photography, light is really the key to everything. I really do prefer to use available light whenever I can as I prefer the look of a naturally lit scene rather than artificially creating light using flash. I also find flash makes people more aware of the fact they are bring photographed which makes the whole idea of photojournalistic or ‘candid’ photography go out the window. For these reasons, I recommend getting ready in a room with good sized windows. If they have blinds and/or curtains so we can alter the light in some way, that is even better.
One point to mention is that, if your make-up artist is using some kind of lamp or artificial lighting, I will go with the flow there in order to respect their work. That being said, if you are sitting right next to window and I think the light it might provide is going to add to the quality of the photography, I might just step in and suggest/politely request we try using that, at least for a few frames.
On most wedding days, I first meet up with my brides as they are getting their hair and make-up done. It’s normally a really fun time to document as all the planning of the last few months is finally coming to fruition. There’s sometimes a hint of nerves and there’s often a lot of laughter. My main advice for brides at this time is to just be aware that I tend to shoot the room as it is to convey the true mood of the day, so if your room looks like backstage at a Motley Crüe gig, that’s what your images will look like. If you’d rather I tidied things up, let me know ahead of time so we can do a quick sweep of the room to get things looking more organised for you. If you’re getting ready or even just getting into your dress at the church, you might want to have a look at the room you’ll be using ahead of time; you might find that they are not the most ornate setting for your images, so you might want to bear that in mind ahead of time too. Some brides prefer to put on their dress elsewhere for pictures, even if it means slipping into something else for the trip the the venue.
To this last point, I do sometimes like to manipulate the light I am working with in order to enhance the images, so don’t be surprised if I draw curtains or block the light in some way. If I do this, it’s purely to complement the mood of the image I am envisioning. I say this more for moms and other people in the room who might think I am a bit crazy. You need to trust me on this one!
While the girls are getting their hair done, I often take some time to photograph some of the details: dress, shoes, ring, jewellery, garter, etc. if these kinds of photos are important to you, you might just want to have these handy for when I arrive. I would also recommend getting a nice coathanger for your dress as some of the ones the bridal shops provide are functional, but not very photogenic. Again, this is not a requirement, but if you do want photos of these details, then I am happy to photograph them for you.
Most of the time, the guys really want very little interaction with the photographer ahead of time, but there is always a lot of great potential for some cool photographs as the guys hang out and get ready. I will chat with you about this ahead of time to see what your preferences are, but even 5 minutes with the guys once they’re in their suits will provide some great photos for the album. Of course, if the guys want to spend more time taking photos, that is great news!
The first look
I’ve written a pretty in-depth blog post about the pro’s and cons of the ‘first look’ over here. If this is something you’re considering, you might want to give it a read.
Family and group formals
This is probably the part of the day when we need to be the most organised. We’ll chat through this when we come to planning the day’s proceedings, but I basically ask my couples to put some thought into who they want in each photo so we can get through them as quickly as possible to get the guests off to the cocktail hour. A little thought can go a long way into making things run smoother and releasing people as quickly as we can so they can head to the bar!
Again, my goal here is to take the pictures for you as quickly and painlessly as possible in order to get you back to the cocktail hour to be with your friends and family. Some couples who want a wider selection of photographs will talk to me about doing a pre-wedding portrait session, but, at the very minimum, we will spend 15-20 minutes taking some photos of the newlywed couple together after the formal photos. We won’t be doing any cheesy shots or poses at this time (unless you want to!), but we will just spend some time together looking for the light and a nice environment for you to interact in, you’ve just got married so there’s plenty to think and talk about together!
OK, so now it’s time to let your hair down and have some fun. I’ll chat with you ahead of time and work with the band or DJ to ensure we’re all on the same page with regard to the timeline for dances, toasts, cake-cutting, bouquet toss, etc. That way, you can just relax and enjoy yourselves.