Tips Your Wedding Photographer

Getting married soon? Congratulations! As wedding season approaches, us wedding photographers have one eye at all times on the weather – and another on the constantly shifting requirements of our clients. It’s with this in mind that I thought that this week, I’d put together some hints and tips for how to plan your perfect photography on the wedding day.

1. Be realistic about the photography which is achievable at your venue.

To start with a bit of a dampener – take a good hard look at your venue, your surrounding location and your timings. If you’ve been browsing wedding photographer websites, particularly those set in the beautiful South West locations of Somerset and Devon, you’ll no doubt have been beguiled by gorgeous shots of couples drifting through stunning yellow rapeseed fields, looking out to sea over dramatic cliffs, or dappled in sunshine with evening sunbeams drifting through woods. All these shots, and more, are undeniably beautiful. However, let’s face it, unless you’re getting married next to a wood, a cliff or a rapeseed field, you’re not going to have the time on your wedding day to go out and get these shots – or, indeed, wait until the evening sun is just right and abandon your guests halfway through the wedding breakfast to take advantage of ‘golden hour’.

Realistically, the vast majority of these type of shots are not taken on the wedding day, but on post-wedding ‘love the dress’ shoots, where you have all the time in the world to travel to the perfect location, wait for the light to be just right, and relax without worrying about your guests or holding up the wedding breakfast. Most couples on their wedding day have around half an hour for their ‘couples shots’, if not less – so bear this in mind and work with your photographer to find the right backdrops at your venue where you can get gorgeous wedding day shots without putting undue pressure on your timings. If you do want the stormy clifftop scenes or woodland idylls, however, just ask – most wedding photographers will offer post-wedding shoots, and even better, you get to wear your dress all over again!

2. Lineups, lineups – love them or hate them, how to do them.

Nearly all of my wedding photography work is carried out in reportage, or candid style; it suits my client’s needs and wishes and provides a more truthful, honest record of the wedding day, allowing me to work much more unobtrusively. However, nearly every client of mine specifies that they also need some lineup shots – generally for the mums and dads, who want these for the mantelpiece. If not managed properly, lineups can take far too long and keep your guests away from the celebrations – something which neither the photographer nor the guests want! So, here’s a few tips on how to keep your lineups quick, effective and relatively painless.

– Make a list of the lineups you want before the day and talk these through with your photographer. You might find that you actually don’t need as many as you think, and an organised approach will save time on the day.

– Make sure your Master of Ceremonies, best man or other key wedding party member has a copy of the lineups and helps with getting the right people into shot. Many hands make light work! – Look at potential locations for your lineups prior to the wedding day, taking into account the size of the groups and where the light will be at the time you’ll be doing this on the day. Always have a ‘Plan B’ in the eventuality of bad weather.

– Remember that it’s easiest to get these lineups done whilst you’ve got all your guests together – so do the large groups first, allowing people who aren’t required for smaller, immediate family & wedding party shots to return to the party and not be left hanging around.

3. Trends quickly turn into gimmicks – so beware

No doubt you’ll book your wedding photographer based, at least in part, on the style of the photography you’ve seen on their website. As with most things, photography (and in particular, wedding photography) can go through trends – in composition, in style and in processing. As a wedding photographer, I spent a lot of time discussing the look and feel of my client’s photographs prior to the wedding day, with the ultimate aim being to reflect the couple’s own style and personality.

However, one of the things I always advise clients is not to plump for any photographic or processing style which is too quirky. For example, retro styling and processing is great – but let’s do it with a feather touch, not an iron fist. You’ll be looking at your photographs for many years to come, and the last thing you want is to fall out of love with the shots you loved so much at the time, just because the processing style is no longer in vogue.

So, if you have a defined ‘look’ which you’d like for your photography, think carefully about how it might look in five years’ time – and if in doubt, err towards a more classic look, or a photographic or processing style which has been around for a long time. For example, cinematic style processing which replicates the look of some of the great slide and 35mm film brands STILL looks great, many decades after it was first used on the big screen.