You likely are well aware that I am primarily a documentary photographer, this means your really don’t need to do anything, I will hover around in the background most of the day capturing all your wonderful moments and only pop up when needed to take portraits and group photos. So why the article? Well wedding photography is expensive, weddings only happen once and wedding photographers don’t have the luxury of asking ‘can you just do that again please’ if they miss the shot so we need to get it right first time. Years of practice and experience render us extremely confident in doing so however there are always a few little touches that can make the difference between good pictures and great. If you feel like you want to be fully prepared and give me all the little extras read on…
Not necessarily at the camera but in general. Weddings are fun but can also be stressful. Your resting expression will show this so remember to focus on enjoying your day and the pictures will reflect this.
Not like your school photo but like you would for a selfie or on Instagram. Again, people look their best when they are happy and relaxed, I know big cameras are intimidating but imagine I’m just a friend with an iPhone and your personality will shine through. So often I see people all serious and stationary whilst I take portrait shots then their friend whips out a camera and they burst into life – send some of that attitude my way! Unless of course you are naturally a shrinking violet in which case please do continue to ignore me and I will capture your personality just fine that way.
3) Step into the light.
OK this one is more my job than yours but worth a quick think before the day. Photographers need light, in fact that’s all photos are; light bouncing off stuff at various angles/intensities. For this reason more is generally better unless it is behind you. Top tables are often positioned in front of long Windows or mirrors which looks lovely in real life but can cause problems photographically. If there are curtains please close them if only for speeches and if you are having a winter wedding consider how early the sun goes down and add a few extra lamps/candles to key areas such as top table, cake table etc. I try to avoid flash at all costs as natural light is so much more flattering.
4) Don’t rush.
Especially during the ceremony. Walking down the aisle leave a gap behind your bridesmaids so I can get a clear shot of you without them in front. Take your time with the kiss, again many people rush through weddings always thinking of what’s next. Slow down, enjoy each part and not only will you enjoy it more but you will get more pictures.
5) Enlist a helper.
Group photos are important to everyone be it an entire wedding party or just close family however can quickly become chaotic without some direction. With all the will in the world I simply won’t have time to memorise who all your guests are so pre-warn a close friend or family member who does know them, who you want where and when then introduce me on the day. Trust me this can save a lot of time and stress. Same goes for confetti/bouquet – at one recent wedding I left the church to find two rows of guests either side of the door, confetti in hand, ready for the bride and groom to exit – the best man had arranged it all and was my new favorite person!
6) Mobile phones
Ok this is a tough one as I am a total iPhone/social media addict myself so totally get the enormous urge people have to capture all the amazing moments weddings bring. Lucky for me it’s now my job! I’m not going to be naive enough to suggest you go totally unplugged (unless that’s what you want of course) but I would like to fill you in on some of the problems it causes and leave you to make your own informed decision:
1. Eyelines. You may not realise it but it is natural instinct to look at any device held up towards you – just as you would if someone said your name. If for example during portraits of you and your parents there are two or three people behind me taking shots as well the photograph I take will almost certainly have a couple of you looking off to the side. With all the best will in the world this is almost impossible to see at the time of shooting so if at all possible ask your guests to shoot before or after me.
2. People looking at phones: the only pictures less exciting than people eating dinner are pictures of people looking at their phones. Again it is instinct to check a photo or post on social media once you’ve taken it but a polite request to keep phones hidden at key times would ensure your guests engage with their surroundings and each other more – resulting in better pictures.
3. Duplicates. Recently a wedding guest had the smart idea of following me around and snapping away on his phone over my shoulder. Needless to say I bumped into him quite a lot and eyelines were all over the place and there were no photos of him even at the wedding but above all he just got the sane shots as me at a lower resolution and with a lower grade lens. The photos I provide are free for private use and/or simply to keep by all your guests. It just makes more sense to let me do the hard work, your guests enjoy themselves and everyone gets to reap the rewards.