Wedding season is now upon us. And this is of course an exciting time but also a stressful time for couples as preparations are underway. When it comes to your photography it’s of course extremely important that you get the pictures that you are hoping for and pictures that portray your big day exactly as you remembered it. It’s no secret that Pinterest is a go to website for wedding inspiration, from decorations, to dresses and even photography, it’s a place that is highly referenced when brides talk about the pictures they are wanting. And then there’s the issue of time, how do you get everything you are hoping for photographed in just a matter of half a day or less, and is it even possible? We have photographed weddings for over five years now, and with all those weddings you start to learn a thing or two, especially in terms of photography. How do you maximize your limited time? How do you get the pictures you are hoping for, and are they even possible? I thought I would put a list together that might help ensure your photography turns out great.
1. Choose the right photographer
Sounds like a no brainer, I know. However, you might be surprised how many brides have emailed us after going with a different photographer saying one thing they wish they would have done different was book us. I know I’m not the only one as I have had photographer friends receive similar emails. First and foremost, find a photographer that you mesh with creatively and personally. If you are meeting with a photographer that does minimal edits, don’t expect edits that involve skies being replaced or heavily edited. If your photographer is quiet and doesn’t control a meeting with you two, it’s a good chance that they will not be very forthcoming when it comes to your wedding day. On the other end of the spectrum, if your photographer is talking a lot and controls a meeting with you two, don’t expect that photographer to be a fly on the wall on your wedding day. If you do not book a photographer that you mesh with on a creative and personal level, it’s a safe bet your pictures will not happen or turn out as you expected they would. Book in advance. Don’t wait a few months before the wedding day. This will ensure you book with someone you are going to jive with and love working with. The longer you wait, the higher chance you book someone only because of availability. Don’t let price control who you book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about budgets. I’m a big Dave Ramsey follower, however, some things are worth spending more on, because after it’s all said and done and the only thing remaining are your pictures, how much is it worth to you that those pictures be of the best quality? Now, I’m not saying all expensive photographers are good, because it’s not true, nor am I saying all cheap photographers are bad, because that’s not true either. I’m simply saying, don’t let the price tag control the booking. My personal suggestion would be to find 2-3 photographers within a price range of your liking. Meet with them and if all 2-3 are available, if they are all within your price, from there it’s pretty easy. Who do you like best creatively? Personally? Who has the best print offerings or albums? and so on…
2. Allow plenty of time
This is a big one. A wedding day is an all day event, but the photographer is only there for about 8-10 (or so) of those hours. Giving your photographer adequate time to take pictures is extremely important. Before a wedding we will nail down a timeline with the couple so that 1. there aren’t any surprises the day of and 2. so that we can ensure the timing is going to work for the pictures they want. So what is “adequate” timing? This is of course going to different from photographer to photographer, but my last wedding of the year last year with Hayley and Brennan for example was, in my opinion, the best wedding in terms of timing. The ceremony was an early ceremony around 1:00 and the reception was at 6:00. I know what you are thinking, what are the guests to do from 2:00-6:00? Hayley and Brennan actually had snacks and games happening at the reception hall for the guests to enjoy as they were out an about. From around 2:30-4:00/30 we were taking pictures. Yes this is a lot of time for pictures, but we weren’t snapping pictures every minute of those couple of hours. Because of the time we had we went slow. This allowed for the wedding party to enjoy their time, it relieved any stress from the couple and from us, so over all it was an enjoyable time that allowed everyone to be relaxed and have a great time during pictures. In my opinion, the optimal amount of time for pictures after wedding is 1.5-2 hours. If you only allow your photographer 30 minutes to capture pictures after the wedding, you will be greatly limited on the number you receive and it will be extremely hard to control an entire wedding party and coordinate everything in such a short amount of time.
3. Location Location Location
Just like real estate, it’s all about location, and I’m not just talking about the creative pictures after the wedding. I’m talking prep pictures as well. I’m sure you’ve seen the prep pictures in hotel rooms or grand bedrooms where everything looks absolutely amazing and you go into your wedding day expecting this same thing, only to find out you are to get ready in the church nursery full of colors, toys, signs, and such. Or worse you are to get ready in a closet or basement kitchen (it’s happened). But what choice do you have, right? In my opinion, a $75/night hotel rooms looks better than a church kitchen or nursery. Whatever the room size, I highly suggest a hotel room or a house for prep for both sides of the wedding party. First of all, if we are at a home or hotel, we have the ability to let in natural light which allows your pictures to stand out that much more, rather than a basement with fluorescent lighting and concrete walls. Secondly it pulls you away from any guests that might linger around. So you and your wedding party aren’t interrupted every so often with someone stopping in and saying hi for 10 minutes. I realize this may sound harsh, but I’m coming from a photography perspective. 10 minute interruptions three times adds up to 30 minutes of time that could have been used for pictures. By pulling you and the wedding part away, it also allows for everyone to be more comfortable, which always looks better in pictures, and it allows you to enjoy the day that much more because all you have to think about is getting dressed, that’s it.
Bonus. After the Wedding
Lastly, to ensure your pictures are ones that you are thrilled with, book a photographer with a quick turnaround time. For example, our turnaround time is 7 weeks and less (usually a lot less). There are a lot of photographers that operate on a 6+ month turnaround time and there’s really no reason for it, and it can really be frustrating to the couple that by the time they receive the pictures, it’s more of a relief and annoyance rather than an exciting time to look back on all the memories of the day that you may have either forgotten or didn’t see because the day went by so fast. Granted turnaround time doesn’t help your pictures the day of the wedding, but it does help the overall experience of the photography and how you perceive the photographs years after the wedding.
There could be a list of 100+ but for the sake of keeping it somewhat short and hitting the big ones we’ll leave it to 3 (and a half).