One of the questions I often get asked by couples is do I have any tips to make the wedding photographs on the day look as good as possible. It’s a fair question, so, in answer to that, here’s my top 5 tips on how to get the best from your wedding photography:
1. Choose The Right Photographer
Sounds easy enough I know but just take a look at how many photographers there are out there right now. How do you know who’s good and who’s, shall we say, not so good. I could right a whole article on this point alone (and have done in the past although that post is probably due for an update now). For me, there’s two fundamentals here – find the style you like and find the personality you like. The first point should be easy enough and there’s certainly plenty of places to start looking at photographer’s portfolios – bridal mags, blogs, wedding fairs etc etc. Draw up a short list (assuming your short list of photographers are within budget and are available on your day), and then arrange to meet them. As sure as night follows day, there’ll be some you click with and some you don’t…and that should make your decision for you. Oh, and don’t forget to ask them a few questions – some of the one’s on this page might be useful :-). Remember, your photographer will be with you for the majority of the day, so you really do want to hire someone you feel you can get along with.
2. Book a Pre-Wedding Shoot
Nothing gets you used to the wedding day itself better than a dry run, and a pre-wedding shoot is usually just the ticket. Of course, you’ll be a bit apprehensive about this as well, but better to be that on the pre-wedding shoot than on the wedding day itself.
The pre-wedding shoot just has so many plus points – you get used to being photographed professionally; you get a good feel for how your photographer works, your photographer gets a good feel as to how you interact as a couple and what type of pictures you are most comfortable with – it’s a win-win all round. And you can then use this knowledge to your benefit come the wedding day.
Honestly, I’ve never had one single couple ever tell me that a pre-wedding shoot was a waste of time…and it isn’t, trust me.
3. Allow Enough Time
Sounds obvious but I’ve lost count of the number of times where there simply hasn’t been enough time to get all the required shots done. I did write a more comprehensive article on timings before and you can read it here if you wish. But, in a nutshell, the key time for photographs is going to be after the ceremony up to the wedding breakfast and, from experience, I would be looking for anywhere between one and a half to two hours from when the ceremony ends to the call for dinner. On most wedding days, you will get that sort of time and that enables us to take our time so that you can do a spot of meeting and greeting with your guests before we start the group shots and your bride & groom shots. Naturally, if your ceremony is at a different place to the reception, then you do need to factor in the travelling time as well.
The shortest time I’ve ever been given to get all the shots done – 30 mins!!! It’s just not enough unless, of course, photography doesn’t matter to you.
4. Limit Those Group Shots
Now, of course it’s important to get some family group shots done on the day…but how many is right? My advice – somewhere between 10 and 15. The biggest thing that sucks up time on the day, and is destined to leave everyone (including you the bride & groom) totally bored, is working through a huge list of family group shots. The biggest list I’ve ever been given is for 45 group shots!!! Trust me, there were all combinations you could think of and, working on my 3 min per group rule, would have taken over 2 hours to complete. I did manage to persuade the couple to get the list down to 25 groups, and even that took nearly an hour and a half to complete.
I would advise keeping the group shots to parents, siblings and the wedding party. Once you start adding in individual shots with aunts and uncles, the list just snowballs. I’d recommend just one big extended family shot to cover this. Oh, and it really helps if you can get a couple of people (ushers perhaps) to ensure that everyone needed for the group shots is available and ready – nothing holds up the day more than waiting for Uncle Bob to reappear from the bar :-).
5. Enjoy Yourself
So this might sound obvious but, from experience, your photographs always look better if you’re having a right good time! An awful lot of planning goes into a wedding day and, sometimes, it doesn’t all come together the way it’s been planned on the day and, trust me, I’ve seen brides (and grooms) stressed to the eyeballs as a result and, boy, does it show when it comes to the photographs. I can try my best but I can’t change the way you feel inside and, if you feel frustrated, let down, upset, disappointed, it’s not conducive to good photography.
Things do happen on a wedding day but just remember, there’s plenty of people around to sort things out, so don’t let it spoil your day. Enjoy the day, enjoy the photography session and, trust me, it will light up your photographs ten fold.