It’s no small secret that my main passion in photography is weddings. The reason I became a photographer revolved around my own wedding, and before I was a photographer I had been in the wedding industry on the gown side of things for awhile. The point is I LOVE WEDDINGS. I love the idea of celebrating something so special as eternal love with your family and closest friends. I love that it’s the one occasion in a girl’s life that she gets to dress up like secretly most of us would like to more than once…;) (Seriously, whatever happened to the local “ball”? lol)
I don’t only love weddings, but I have a PASSION for creating ART from the weddings I photograph. Everyone has a “target market” I guess, and mine would have to be the bride and groom who are looking to express pure sweet raw emotion in their photos… to have a piece of art that they can look on and taste their day all over again. I believe in the bottom of my heart that for one day, everyone should be able to feel like they were part of a fairytale. I know there will be a plethora of “documentary” type images from a wedding day… but among those, I work hard to capture several that take one from the day to a whole other place… a place of emotion.
I believe it’s important to educate brides on the little things that can make or break their day. I know that they are not photographers so can’t be expected to know what I need to create an ideal environment for a perfect photo, so I try to take it on myself to remind them. This year, I even started handing out a book to my potential customers at our initial meeting that explains my pricing and philosophy and also has several pages dedicated to some of the tips I am giving below. The rest of these tips are things I have learned through trial and error and will be included in my next client book. No matter who you are having do your photos, I hope that these tips might make your day and the documentation of it just a little more smooth and special!
10 Tips for Amazing Wedding Photos
1. Choose the right photographer.
This seems like a no brainer, but believe me, it’s not. It’s the number one mistake non-artists make in getting ready for their day, because they assume all photographers are generally similar, look at a couple of nice photos on a web gallery and think their photos are going to be awesome because they’ve put so much $$ into making their wedding beautiful. WRONG. I heard a great saying once, “A good photographer adds $10,000 to a couple’s wedding budget because of the way that he/she captures the day, a bad photographer takes $10,000 away.” Here is the proper way to research a photographer:
- Remember there are many good photographers in every price range, but if you’re choosing a photographer soley on price, you are making a mistake and wasting your money.
- Look through online blogs. Most up to date photographers blog their work on a regular basis, so you can get an overall feel for their artistry.
- Once you have made your inquiries to the photographers you are interested in, ask to see a full gallery from their most recent wedding so that you can get a feel for how many images they actually edit, and what you’ll be getting. Not every image should be spectacular, but you should be impressed by the overall feel from the wedding.
- Schedule an in person or skype meeting. You’ll want to make sure you two have good chemistry since your photog will be by your side the entire day.
- Book them promptly. My summer calendar for 2012 is almost full right now, and I know many photographers are the same. If you have your heart set on someone, snatch them up!
2. Choose good lighting situations.
My particular passion is natural light photography. I use flashes and video lights at evening receptions, but I LOVE natural light. As a non-photographer it’s hard to know what “good” light and “bad” light are but here’s an over simplified break down of good versus bad in my opinion (disclaimer: all photographers are different, so some may differ on what lighting situations they prefer)
- Getting ready for the day in a room with LOTS of windows.
- Sunrise and 2 hours after for photos
- Sunset and 2 hours before for photos
- Outdoor portraits for family and bridal party
- Diffused window light
- Cloud cover
- Outdoor ceremony before 10 or after 4
- Flourescent light for ANY situation
- Getting ready in a room with no windows
- Getting married in a room with no windows
- Indoor family and bridal portraits
- Outdoor ceremony or photos in between 10 and 4
Believe me when I say photography is ALL light. The word photo even means light. Good light=good photos & Bad light=photos that even photoshop can’t fix!
3. Schedule enough time.
20 minutes for the bride & groom plus the bridal party is not enough! Schedule ample time. Also, schedule time in between important events during the day. Breathing room is nice.
4. Think details.
You can only spend your money once, and a good investment at your wedding is to think about the little things. You don’t have to decorate everything in a grand way, but if you have little personal details all around during the day, I find it easier to capture the essence of the wedding day.
5. Get professional hair & makeup done.
I didn’t know how important this was before I was a photographer but it makes an ENORMOUS difference. Makeup often doesn’t show up on camera as much as it does in “real life” so you’ll need the professional eye as to how much you need. False lashes also make lovely photos and a professional always does a better job with these. It’s a little splurge considering it can make or break your photos!!!!
6. Think location.
I’m sure you’ve already thought about the location for the ceremony and reception, but really THINK location. Every location for your photos should be deliberately thought out. The trick is not to pick the most elaborate and interesting location as much as it is to think of clean spaces. I prefer a field, a plaster wall, an open sky in most cases because then my subjects are the centerpiece of my photos. Make sure the locations you choose are not too cluttered. It even goes for silly things like where you’re getting ready. Make sure everyone cleans up the mess before the photos start!
7. Hire a planner.
If you can’t afford one for the whole wedding, at least hire one for the day. Believe me, it’s the difference between a stressed and calm bride and mother of the bride. You can send me the thank you note later;)
8. Have a “First Look”.
Ok, ok I was skeptical about this at first too. When I heard that more and more brides were doing the “First Look” with their grooms I thought it was awful. I mean, I always dreamed about him seeing me in all my wedding wowness as I walked down the aisle… If you’re like I was, I want to challenge you the rethink this. First of all, the first looks I’ve been a part of were completely more meaningful for the bride and groom. It’s a private time where you can express your tears, joy, and love without everyone watching (I even use my super long lens so I’m out of the way). It’s an amazing thing to see the emotion that I’ve been able to capture during these moments… I LOVE IT. I wish I would have done one. The other thing it creates is a MUCH smoother timeline for the wedding day. After your private first look ceremony, you can get bridal party and family photos all out of the way before the ceremony so that you can be PRESENT at your party afterward. GENIUS.
People tend to get nervous about photos… but the best photos are the ones that show real emotion, so just relax and have a good time!
10. Be realistic.
The reason I titled this 10 Tips for AMAZING Wedding Photos and not 10 Tips for PERFECT Wedding Photos is that there’s no such thing. There should be a good amount of perfect photos in the bunch, but realize that out of 1000 photos, every one is not going to be a masterpiece and that’s OK. The point is to work together… you and your photographer as a team to make your photos as amazing as possible.