Choosing a wedding photographer is a big (and often expensive) job that you want to get right first time. Once you have picked your date and booked the venue, the next thing to do is to start thinking about your wedding photographer. Good photographers are often booked years in advance so it is well worth doing your research and sending out a few enquiries early on.
Aside from the rings and the dress, your wedding photos will be your main reminders of the day and can even fill in parts that were a bit of a blur at the time, so it is worth getting it right! I have compiled my top seven tips for getting the best wedding photography, from booking the right photographer to ideas for the day itself. I hope that they help make the minefield of wedding photography a little easier to navigate!
1. Like your photographer
Sounds super obvious, but don’t just book someone because you like their pictures (although this is important!). If your photographer is not someone you are comfortable with, it’s not going to be much fun being around them all day. Whilst other wedding suppliers will come and go throughout the day, your photographer will be nearby the whole time – even when you are getting changed and saying your vows – so you need to like them. I always meet up with couples before they book and I don’t take it personally if I’m not the right person for them (although with all the couples I have met with, to date, have booked – so I must be all right!). If your photographer is the sort of person that you would invite even if they weren’t photographing the day, you are onto a winner!
2. Relax and forget about your photographer:
Now that you’ve found someone that you like having around (yay!), just ignore them. Don’t worry, I won’t think you are being rude, it is just that the best natural photographs are definitely the ones when you have no idea they are being taken. Plus, you have much bigger things to be thinking about on your wedding day!
3. Trust your photographer
So so important: your photographer is a professional and has been to many, many weddings and knows the drill. You chose them for a reason and they don’t need a long and detailed list of shots to take. I love all the touches that make up a wedding and will capture every little detail and moment of your day without being told to. That being said, it is always helpful to know of anything particularly meaningful to you such as a family heirloom broach in your bouquet or a relative who will be leaving early in the day etc..
4. Leave plenty of time
Not just for the group shots (if you are planning on them) but during the rest of the day too. I will usually see a bride 2-3 hours before the service to get some candid getting ready shots as well as the dress, shoes and flowers before they are needed. This may seem like a long time, but the day will go by so fast and before you know it you will be dressed and being whisked down the aisle! So you may want to allow for some time to get photos before having to leave for the service.
I usually recommend keeping group shots to around 7-8 different groups. Even though I work fast each shot can take around 5 minutes to set up and take, especially if someone important has wandered off! Before the day I will go through the list of group shots with the couple and advise on timings etc., so that you are not spending any longer doing group shots than is needed.
Couple shots can also take as long or as little as your would like; some people want to leave more time to party and others are happy to try lots and get lots more photos. I don’t mind either way, but around 30 minutes is perfect for me to try a few different backdrops and give you a lovely range of images. Using the time before the wedding breakfast, when your guests are getting seated works well, as does later in the day when the sun starts to set and the light gets all lovely and romantic.
5. Use lots of natural light
Natural light is so flattering and is always better for beautiful photographs. If you can, get ready in a room with as many windows as possible. If you have a professional make up artist they will most likely position you to face the light. If you want those dreamy, romantic shots then leave a bit of time just before the sun sets to pop outside for some shots.
6. Have an engagement shoot
An engagement shoot is not only a fun way to spend a couple of hours but it is also a great way to get to know your photographer and get used to being in front of the camera. I find that when I do an engagement shoot for a couple, they start their wedding day much more relaxed and happy with me around, which is a big advantage for everyone and one less stress.
I am normally happy to do a free engagement shot for couples who have booked their wedding photography with me for this reason, plus it gets me out and about in the off-season! Another bonus: photos for possible save the date cards…
7. Talk to your officiant about photography
Many couples really cherish the photos taken during the ceremony, partly because it is arguably the most important part of the day, but also because it can be a bit of a blur!
Some churches will not allow photography during the service and some officiants who have had perhaps more ‘pushy’ photographers will naturally be a bit hesitant to allow someone free rein to take photos during the ceremony. It’s important to check beforehand and have realistic expectations for your ceremony.
I will always introduce myself to the officiant beforehand and as a rule I don’t use flash and will move around subtly to get the best shots. Also, you don’t want to be staring down the lens of a camera when you are saying your vows, which is why I use a long focal length to be as far away as possible while capturing these beautiful moments.
So if you are planning your wedding and looking for a photographer, just get in touch and tell me all about your day!