Wedding photography advice for the bride and groom.
I am always intrigued with how many couples have trouble identifying what kind of photos they really want on their wedding day. “I’ve never had a good picture” is what they may say, or “I’m no good at smiling”, that kind of thing. These kind of self-doubts can be paralysing, but you have to remember that as a people photographer I see and hear this all the time – and it’s my speciality to make sure any photos bring out the best in you when it matters most.
In the old world of wedding photography, the photographer just aimed to create the same formal shots at each wedding in a repeatable and safe format. Probably if you look at your parent’s wedding photos, they may look like that. Formal wedding images can look nice enough when done well but they may convey almost nothing about the people in them. Eventually, some photographers realised that the shots they took randomly in-between the formal photos would generate greater interest, both visually and emotionally. As technology in cameras improved alongside this shift, photographers started taking more and more photos during a wedding and became more mobile as they ditched the tripods, assistants and heavy lighting. Attention started to move away from just the married couple and family to all other parts of the wedding day in new creative ways.
Fast forward to today and wedding photography now delivers so much variety in content available, that it’s inevitably more interesting and memorable to see the results that come from being so involved as a photographer. Wedding photography like mine aims to feel like a personal human service, and not a confrontation with a piece of technology.
Arguably, clients may feel confused about how to approach their wedding photography because there is simply so much of it that happens on the day. You may wish to read more about my contemporary wedding photography and documentary wedding photography perspectives to get a better idea of how those styles blend together to cover the whole wedding day.
If you’re not too comfortable with a camera aimed at you, the thought of having photos all day long would sound scary, I get that. What is most important to couples on their wedding day, what I can see they appreciate, is the freedom to just be themselves have fun and enjoy photography that is free flowing and integrated.
When you give permission to let someone take pictures of you through the day you’ll find it easier to relax and forget it’s happening. What you don’t want is a photographer who is just there to take pictures but has little consideration on how they capture those images. In all honesty, the photographer IS the experience. You really need to know who you are dealing with and why you’re handing over that permission and trust.
There really is so much going on during a wedding that you’re unlikely to be aware of being photographed for much of the day. Sometimes I’m given a shoot list from a bride that they’ve come across from a wedding planner. These kind of guides are really of no use to a good photographer. If the photographer is going to spend time following a list of detailed requests, they may well miss all the organic moments that make the wedding day truly special. As the client, you may also find yourself consumed with thoughts of what else you might have forgot to include – fearing that the only shots taken will be the onese on the list.
What I’d like you to remember is that a professional wedding photographer who truly loves their craft and creative freedom will only ever bring better images to your wedding day.
Let me round off here by describing some of the typical wedding day events from my perspective:
Bridal preps are covered for at least 90mins. This is a part of the day the Groom would never see without me. My photography during this time aims to capture the atmosphere, anticipation and transformation into the bride. As this is normaly the point where my wedding photography coverage begins, it’s also a great bonding session and by the time we conclude, you’ll become fairly oblivious to having me hanging around with a camera. If the Groom is getting ready at the same location, I’ll also make the effort to get some photo time with the boys too.
How I cover your ceremony may be limited by your choices. Church ceremonies can often be restrictive about photography so you should discuss this in advance and be realistic where restrictions are given. I’ve had exceptional instances when photography could only take place from the rear of the church for example – obviously not ideal at all. There are rarely restrictions like this during Civil Ceremonies, but it’s always worth checking. Some ceremony rooms can be tight for space up the front which means I’m not able to move around to explore interesting angles. Ideally, space to alternate between the bride and groom’s perspectives are important to capture the emotion of this important section of the wedding.
Always be clear what time your preps, ceremony, food serving, speeches, cake cutting and first dance are taking place. I will request your timed schedule a couple of weeks before the wedding when everything is hopefully locked down and let you know of any potential issues. Between the ceremony and food is most likely to be the time for any family formals and bride and groom portraits – although the later may be post meal in summer months to take advantage of more pleasing evening light. I do generally like to take a few more portraits of the bride and groom in the evening, as they are usually more relaxed and winding down, so it captures a different side of their personalities. The time between ceremony and taking a seat for the wedding breakfast is typically where most of the more formal photos are taken, but you don’t just want to concentrate your thinking into this limited time. Requested group shots and portraits can be slotted in through the day and I will fully advice you based on your schedule, weather, season and location on what would work best.
For speeches, my advice is patience – not to rush in getting it out the way. Speeches always tend to go down better after food is served. Your guests will be hungry and you’ll have no real idea how long the speeches may take in reality, so don’t force your wedding venue to push-back the serving of food on the day. Your guests will be more willing to enjoy the speeches with a full tummy! I strongly suggest avoiding splitting speeches over the course of the reception as you’ll need to keep rounding everyone back up. My photography will cover speeches candidly, and I’ll be looking for dramatic angles to take the shots without getting in-between the interaction of the speakers and audience.
Typically, the wedding cake is cut after the speeches and just before the first dance. In my experience, this works great as a seamless transition from one activity into the other. From a photography perspective, it also means your guests are primed and gathered, permitting more interesting photos. While the guests are taking their photos of you I will be in among them taking the professional shots, which adds to fluid and authentic natural imagery, rather than a posed and invented photo. To help this along, it’s worth checking that the cake hasn’t been positioned somewhere next to a wall, as this is just an awkward position to cut the cake. Ideally, the bride and groom should be behind and to the side of the cake looking out into the audience.
For the first dance, my main advice is to dance out the whole song where possible or at least more than 2 minutes of it. If you’re just going to shuffle around briefly before having the family and guests pile in, it’s unlikely to leave enough time to capture some really cool photos. I’ll be looking for photo opportunities that reflect intimacy, action, energy and the crowd response.
As the day comes to an end from the photography aspect, I’ll conclude with some of the more adventurous dancing from family and guests, before wrapping up and bidding you farewell.
Ultimately, I want clients to concentrate on their marriage and enjoyment of the day – all thoughts of photography can be left to my experience. Here at Lovepear Photography the aim is to make wedding photography a seamless experience to enjoy not endure.