7 Useful Tips for Couples and Photographers on the Wedding Day
For a future bride and groom, planning their wedding can be one of the most stressful and time consuming parts of their lives as a couple. In my opinion, a wedding is a beautiful, yet chaotic, unpredictable and untamed day of celebrations. For example, no one is in control of the weather, or traffic accidents on the way to the ceremony, or food allergies from a guest at the reception, and so on. In fact, the only thing we can control on the wedding day is our attitude towards our external environment.
That being said, how can we rest assured that the wedding day will be captured by the photographer in such a way that the couple will forever remember that special, unique day as a happy one, regardless of what may hinder parts of that day, when they look back at their images?
Wedding photography is a dance between light, moments and people.
My answer to this one is quite simple: couples should work intrinsically with their photographer. A wedding photographer is not merely a commodity. That person that was hired by the couple will actually be responsible to author their wedding day using photography. When the wedding cake is no more, and when the reception room is left in a joyous mess, and when the sweets sounds from the DJ stop beating from the speakers, the photographs are what will stay in the couple’s hands for the rest of their lives.
So, how can a couple work intrinsically with their wedding photographer?
In the next few paragraphs, I’ll share the tips that I provide to my clients a few weeks before their wedding. These tips also help me prepare the landscape of where I’ll be working. As you read them, keep in mind that it’s a conversation that you should be having with your clients.
One last thing before we continue: remember that time is always against us on a wedding day. Therefore, the more that we can optimize the opportunities to photograph key moments, the better the overall result will be.
Tip #1: Enjoying the moments
To the couple: This one applies during the entire wedding day. Let your bridal party, family and friends know that they should more or less “ignore” us and our cameras. This will allow us to capture the more raw and pure moments of the occasion. Our style is such that we adapt to every person and situation so that no one else will have to.
To the photographer: if someone didn’t get the memo while you’re shooting this, it’s okay. Take time to explain to them that they don’t have to feel obliged to look at the camera. Smile while doing this to comfort them, because most people grew up with the “Say-Cheese” mentality, so you’re kind of encouraging them permission to act naturally in your presence even if they don’t know you.
Tip #2: Being aware of the environment during the hair and makeup session
To the couple: Try as much as possible to have your hair and makeup done near a big and beautiful source of light, such as a window, instead of the corner wall of a basement for example. From that point, we can let our creative juices flow and make the light whatever shape we need to come up with beautiful imagery for you. One more point about this one concerns time. See with your hair/makeup artist how long she plans the process to take, and simply add an extra half an hour as a buffer.
To the photographer: Read the section following the next tip.
Tip #3: Getting ready in good lighting
To the couple: Ensure that the environment in which you will be getting ready is as clutter-free as possible. Choose a spot (such as a room or closet) to hide away all of the “essential” clutter (e.g., suitcases, hangers, soda cans, plastic bags, etc.) which can remove from the beauty of a photograph. This way, we can guarantee cleaner and more beautiful images. Think of it like this: the tidier the background, the prettier your images will be. Also, don’t forget to bring an extra pair of comfortable shoes for the times in the day that you won’t want to wear the wedding shoes. Being comfortable is the key ingredient to ensure that you look the best on your photos even after so many hours have passed. While on it, don’t forget to bring bottles of water to stay hydrated. A member of your bridal party will be more than happy to help out with these.
To the photographer: The getting ready part of the wedding day is a warm-up period for you. This is an opportunity to start stretching your body for what it’ll endure in the hours ahead. Besides the physical aspect of the day, this is also a good opportunity to get those creative fluids running smoothly in your head. If the bridal party is present, it will be the perfect time to greet them with a smile and get to know their names.
Tip #4: Unplugging technology during the ceremony
To the couple: Let your guests know ahead of time that the photography is taken care of — they can just sit back and enjoy the ceremony. One trend that has become increasingly common in recent years is that of guests using tablets, iPads, cell phones and other devices to take pictures of their own. As Much as we understand their desire to capture the exciting moments of the ceremony, the quality of our photographs may be degraded as a result: bright tablet screens, cell phone displays and/or flashes firing from guests’ cameras will draw attention away from the beautiful moments that we want to capture. This situation can be avoided by asking the celebrant to make an announcement prior to the start of the ceremony and/or by including a memo to this regard with your wedding invitations.
To the photographer: Try to convince your couple, as much as possible, to have an unplugged wedding. Show them horrendous images of guests holding up foot-long tablets with the orange leather cover. Phones and tables, like most technologies, change over time. When the couple looks back, 5 years from now, at their wedding photos, they might ask themselves “what is that black rectangular that so-and-so is holding up the air at us?”.
Tip #5: Building the family group shots through the Reduction Method
To the couple: One thing that’s always against us during a wedding is time. That’s why we strongly encourage our clients to take care of photographing the immediate family right after the ceremony (parents, siblings, grandparents, wedding party). For bigger groups, we can do them at the reception after cutting the cake for example. You can simply ask the officiant, DJ or MC to make an announcement and we’ll take care of the rest.
To the photographer: When photographing family portraits, try the Reduction Method (I just made that one up…but it works). Basically, you ask all immediate and extended family members to join in. Then you take that shot. After that, you “reduce” the group by letting the extended family members go. Now you can photograph the bride and groom with the immediate family. Then you can ask the siblings to leave for a minute (again reducing the group), so that you can photograph the bride and groom with the parents. Do you see the pattern here? First of all, the bride and groom ALWAYS remain at the center of the image. They don’t have much to do other than relaxing and smiling. Easy, peasy. And finally, it reduces the occurrence of people going in and out of the group for the portraits.
Tip #6: Photographing the couple’s portraits
To the couple: This is one of the most important chapters of the wedding day because it’ll produce a handful of images of just the two of you. We strongly encourage our clients to plan 30 minutes to an hour for this in the schedule. The more time you give us, the greater the chance that we can produce a higher number of beautiful and distinct images for you. This will require a sweet amount of patience, tenacity and energy from the both of you to produce a successful result. But don’t worry, because come rain or sunshine, we’ll work together as a team to make sure everything happens with a smile from start to finish.
To the photographer: Remember that you’re not selling a wedding photography service. Everyone can sell that. No, you’re selling an experience. And that experience is unique in the entire industry, because it comes solely from yourself. Don’t stress or rush your couple to create creative portraits because even if the photos are beautiful and they remember how much they didn’t enjoy the time working with you in making the portraits, they will surely not like those photos.
Tip #7: Finishing the day still on top of things during the reception
To the couple: If at all possible, arrange for us (the photographers) to sit at a table inside the reception hall. Being in the same room as you for the duration of the reception will maximize the opportunities for us to capture the special and exciting moments of your celebration. Also, if possible, ask for the venue to serve the photographers their meal before or at the same time as the guests. The sooner we regain our strength and energy from the day, the better our bodies will help us to create beautiful imagery for you throughout the evening.
One last thing…have fun! Dance! Smile! It’s a beautiful celebration that’s coming to an end, so let’s finish with a last dose of energy, joy and happiness. Shout, jump, hug, dance, kiss. You deserve it and the images will be witness to it all.
To the photographer: This is typically the last leg of the day…and if you worked hard during the day, you should also be on your last legs. :)
Have fun with this one too. Keep in mind that you still have to shine because there are potentially a few dozen future clients looking at you perform. Be spontaneous with your creativity. Once you get the safe shots of the speeches and dancing, feel free to try things you haven’t done before, such as using creative flash techniques, using different composition to frame the photo, using different lenses, etc.
Bonus Tip: Taking Care of the Details
To the couple: Wedding details such as the wedding bands, rings, shoes and dress deserve their share of time with our cameras. We normally take up to 20 minutes photographing wedding details at the bride’s house (since that’s where we’re going to spend a bit more time in the morning). We encourage our clients to make sure nothing too worthy of being captured happens during this time, because our primary objective is always to capture moments happening no matter what. That being said, a good example of when it would be a good time to photograph the details is when you’re showering, having breakfast or taking a few minutes as quiet time for yourself.
To the photographer: It’s probable that details might not matter much to you as much, but they sure do to your clients. And your clients matter to you. Keep in mind that they took time from their precious lives to choose and purchase things for each other not only for their wedding day, but for the rest of their lives together. Some might even have a few words engraved in their rings. Make sure to know that beforehand and have that macro lens ready to capture that shot. Place the wedding dress in the same good light as you would for a portrait. Compose the bride’s shoes in a pleasing way. Furthermore, if you do this well, you will also have enough material to cover a spread or two in their wedding albums. By doing this, both you and your clients will benefit from your photography.
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it. This is a list of tips that I provide my clients a few weeks before their wedding to start preparing their crew. A week prior to the wedding, I’ll sit down with them and go over each one again just to make sure we have all the lucky balls on our side.
Now it’s your turn.
What other tips do you have for your clients to ensure that their images and overall experience are purely amazing?
I’d love to hear and read them.