Are you an engaged couple getting married soon and looking to find out how you can help make your wedding photographs even better?
You may be under the impression that a wedding photographer just turns up and takes a few photographs. Well in this blog post, I’ll give you a small insight into the issues a professional photographer has to consider when capturing a wedding.
Tip 1 Getting Ready and Mixed Lighting – Turn the Light’s Off
When I arrive at a room where the bride is getting ready, the very first thing I look for is whether there’s any directional natural light from a window and what artificial lights are on. Without wanting to get too technical, light from an open window on a sunny day can be anything from 5200 kelvin to 6500 kelvin. An artificial light source powered by a tungsten bulb can be 2800 kelvin to 3200 kelvin. Fluorescent lights 3500 kelvin. The natural light is yellow and the bulb is blue. When you mix two or three different light sources you can get very odd colours and skin tones.
There’s a simple solution. Turn the artificial light off. But this can cause complaints from your hair and makeup artists.
The second best solution would be to ensure you get ready ahead of time so that you can be photographed looking your best with your hair and makeup complete. To do that you need to be very self-disciplined. You also need to tell your hair and makeup artists what you need from them.
The third solution would be to convert all your getting ready images that have mixed lighting into black and white. That fixes the different colour tone issues.
Tip 2 Wedding Details – Tell Your Photographer
If there are special items that you want photographed please ensure you know where they are and keep them together. Recently, I’ve noticed brides adding lockets and photographs of grandparents to their wedding bouquets. These types of photographs are best captured during the bridal preparation when there’s more time and the opportunity of placing the item in a great location with the right light. In addition there maybe items of jewellery that have an emotional meaning that you want photographed. Wedding dresses, bridesmaid’s dresses, shoes and wedding bouquets would normally be photographed by default (depending on your photographs style). But anything “special”, make sure to let your photographer know.
Tip 3 Know Your Photographer’s Style – Make Sure You Get What You’re Expecting
I touched upon this in my previous tip. Don’t assume you know what you’re going to get when your photographs are going to be delivered. There are different styles of photography. A truly documentary style wedding photographer will just let the day run and will not get involved in the events at all. They will photograph the day as it happens. True documentary photographers will not take formal group photographs but if you want those, check they’ll do them before the wedding day. Wedding photographers tend to be pretty flexible for their couples but check to make sure.
Tip 4 Getting Married in Church – Make Sure Photography is Allowed
This tip is more about being able to actually have photographs than making them better. If you’re getting married in church and you want to have photographs of the wedding ceremony, you need to confirm this will be allowed. So ask the person who’ll be conducting the ceremony if you can. I’ve met vicar’s, priests etc that have said “you can do what you want” to those that have said I can’t even take a camera out. So make sure you ask before booking your wedding. If they won’t allow photographs during the service and you want them then you need to find another church to get married at. You can’t ask your photographer to photograph you covertly.
Tip 5 Formal Group Wedding Photographs – Make Them Fast and Efficient
These images, to be honest, will be boring for you. The longer they take the more bored and frustrated you’ll become. Add to that the heat of an August summers day, a heavy wedding dress and a morning suit doesn’t spell out fun.
I once had a bride who gave me a list of 38 formal wedding photographs she wanted taken. I explained and warned them about the length of time it would take (assume on average 4 minutes per photograph x 38 would equate to 2 hours and 36 minutes approximately). She insisted it was her wedding and that was what she wanted. On the day of the wedding it was really, really hot. The wedding photographs were at a hotel in a square garden section with the sun reflected off the building on two sides at 1.30 pm. After three images the bride decided she didn’t want to do anymore. This actually happened.
But these photographs are really important images to have. So how can you make them better? First of all, get them done as fast as possible and just ask for the ones you need.
How many times have you been at a wedding and had to wait around for the big group photograph at the end. People get hot, they wonder off to the toilet and all sorts of other things. The simple solution, do the big group photograph of everyone before that starts to happen. Then follow it up with a wedding confetti photograph. That leaves 95% of your guests able to relax and leave the immediate area. The photographer can then deal with smaller groups and smaller means faster. I suggest these three parent shots:
Bride and groom with groom’s parents.
Bride and groom with both sets of parents.
Bride and groom with bride’s parents.
I’ve found from experience that’s the fastest and most efficient way to get those completed.
I can then photograph the bride and groom with the grooms men and bridesmaids.
The brides side of the family and the grooms side of the family are less popular these days but if you want these let your photographer know so he can slot them in.
I can complete the formals in 15 to 20 minutes and you can get back to your wedding day faster.
Tip 6 Making Time – Coordinate Your Day
When you know the date of your wedding please check what time sunset will be on that day. I then suggest you consider making sure you keep yourself free at least an hour before then. Photography is all about light. The best time of day in general for great light is an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. Have you ever been out on a summers evening and all of a sudden you notice this beautiful golden light. That’s the golden hour, this is my favourite time for taking wedding photographs.
Tip 7 Make Sure There’ll Be No Distractions – Check Your Wedding Venue
I think you’ll agree that having no distractions when you’re getting married is important and if you’re distracted then your wedding photographs will be negatively impacted by that.
If you’re getting married in a hotel follow my advice. Go to the venue to the room where you’re getting married, at the time you’re planning the ceremony for and just quietly listen. Some hotels run restaurants and dinners throughout the day and certainly between 12.00 pm and 2.00 pm (a favourite time of day to get married).
I was at a local hotel and all throughout the wedding ceremony all that could be heard was the sound of people talking loudly, cutlery banging over the vows. The couple felt uncomfortable along with the registrars. It was reflected in their images of the ceremony. Take my advice and check.
Last Tip The Most Important Tip Influencing Your Wedding Photographs – Make Time to be Available With Your Photographer
I’ve left the most important tip to last and if you’ve read this far you’re going to groan but it’s the ugly truth. You’re the most influential factor in getting great wedding photographs. You have to want them. You have to make yourself available to the photographer and give them time to capture you looking your best on your wedding day.
You can do that by keeping to your time schedule as close as possible. The bride will look her absolute best once she has her dress on. If that’s five minutes before you’re due to be married the photographer will not have time to photograph you. If you want to have a photograph with a beautiful sunset (the time slot for those is about 5 to 8 minutes) you need to be ready to go when the photographer lets you know the light is right. Setting up a great location with off camera flashes and wireless transmitters can take three shots to get it dialled in exactly right. It all takes a little time. When you are leaving to go outside for photographs, try and avoid people stopping you for a chat. I know it’s hard and you don’t want to be rude but the sun will set and it doesn’t wait.
Make time to be with your photographer on the day. Two sessions of 20 minutes would be great. In 20 years’ time you’ll not remember spending that time doing them but you will have great photographs that will help you remember the day. But, if you’re not there, we can’t take photographs.
I hope you’ve found these tips useful and I’ll be adding to this list on a regular basis. If you’d like to know how to get the best wedding confetti photograph then please click on the link.
Updated: 20 Jul 2018