One of the biggest decisions to make for your wedding is who to choose to capture the most important images of your life.
Make sure the photographer has a good portfolio of work and can show work across at least 6 weddings. Anyone just showcasing photos from one wedding has probably only ever shot one wedding for free and took 5,000 photos to get 100 shots that have been photo shopped to death. That’s not professional and that’s not the way you want your photographer to work.
A photographer needs to guide you through the day with their experience and knowledge of the wedding industry, working in with all other vendors on the day.
View client testimonials or ask for contacts of previous brides and talk to them about their experience with their photographer. Word of mouth is huge when it comes to wedding vendors.
If you have a friend who is a hobby photographer who is going to use your wedding day to practice their wedding photography skills for free for you, then you are a very brave bride indeed. Wedding photography is the most complex and technically challenging work that photographers do. Along with the artistic component, dealing with time deadlines and multiple locations to visit on the day as well as family politics, you need experienced professionals! To use a friend with no or little experience is setting yourself up for disaster.
I’ve known brides who have done this to save money and have had nearly all of their photos not turn out, be out of focus, poorly edited or badly composed. They wished afterwards they found the money to do it properly I can assure you of that. So if you do decide to use a non- professional, place no expectation on what you receive so you aren’t disappointed. If you get some good shots it’s just a bonus. You could lose a friend if they totally make a mess of it.
If you have a tight budget, just book the basics, which is edited photos in jpeg files burned to a DVD. Have them edited in colour & black and white. Look at albums later when you are more financially comfortable or don’t worry about an album at all.
If you have no budget restrictions, well lucky you! Go for the best photographer with the finest reputation, but don’t believe everything you read on websites. Talking with their past brides is my best advice.
If you are having photos taken during your preparation at home or at a hotel, keep the space tidy. How can you expect to have beautiful photos if there are clothes and rubbish all over the place? For the best photos you need a neat, clear and uncluttered background, so make the effort. You can’t expect all your rubbish to be photo shopped out of each photo. It’s unrealistic and very expensive for you.
Remember all those stunning photos you admire in bridal magazines have had a full crew and set designers working on the shoot ensuring each photo looks amazing, so help your photographer out because they don’t have a full crew.
Posture will ruin the best photo every time. Pull your shoulders back, don’t slouch and suck your tummy in. Ask your photographer to remind you during the day so that you don’t hate all your photos because of bad posture.
Nearly every guest now has an iPhone or iPad and it’s getting pretty crazy, especially when the bride walks down the aisle. It’s often hard to get a shot of the bride through all the guests’ devices! If this concerns you, put on the invitation for guests to refrain from taking photos during the ceremony or to be mindful to not get in the photographers way. If you don’t mind, just let them do their own thing but they just might ruin a great shot the professional photographer missed because they jumped in front of them with their iPhone.
Once I was up the front of the altar, as the bride was making her grand entrance and a guest with a video camera jumped up and stood in the middle of the aisle in front of her blocking my entire view. I couldn’t believe it and I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I have an obligation to my brides and grooms to get the shots they desire and I didn’t feel it was a good enough excuse to say that silly Uncle Bob blocked the aisle. So I ran up to him and grabbed his shirt from behind (as he was walking backwards while filming) and told him politely to get out of the way! Afterwards I saw him outside the church and explained that I wasn’t being rude but he was ruining some of the most important photos of the day. A good photographer will be committed to their couple at all costs!
A good photographer will also be professional across all business dealings in the lead up to the big day, will submit everything to you via email, provide a contract or booking form, has public liability insurance, is punctual, polite, has a professional image, understands the politics with families at weddings across all cultures, will make you feel at ease and of course takes amazing photos.
Read the fine print carefully as there are still photographers out there that will rip you off and there is no way to sugar-coat it. Ask every question you can think of if you are not sure and trust your intuition or gut feeling and you’ll book the right person.
Weddings can competently be covered by one photographer. If it is a big wedding with 300 guests or more, two photographers will become necessary. Two photographers mean double the price, so be sure it’s what you need so you don’t waste money.
Whether it’s a church, garden, the beach, or at a venue, what happens as soon as the ceremony finishes is that guests come up and give you a hug and kiss and they often jump straight in their car and leave. Then fifteen minutes later, when it’s time to do the full group photo of everybody, half the people have gone and it’s a little bit of a shame, because a big group photo of everybody that attends your wedding day is a really special photo. The way to overcome this is very simple. Put on your family members’ invitations, or personally speak to them all asking them to not leave after the ceremony, as family photos are very important to you both.
If you choose to have table shots at the reception there are things to consider. If you have 10 tables it will take you at least 2 minutes to do each table if your photographer is really efficient and sets it up to move quickly from table to table. 10 tables x 2 minutes is 20 minutes absolute minimum to fit into your reception schedule. You have to do it early in the night either before or after entrée and before mains as after mains people start to move around and you never get a full table for a table shot. Once guests start drinking alcohol you lose a lot of control also.
If you have high or large centre pieces on the table, it’s impossible to take a table shot as they block the guests. They need to be moved off of each table for the shots and then put back which takes more time. Sometimes they can’t be moved, as they are too heavy and bulky. The best way to do table shots is to get the MC to announce that he will call up one table at a time to a designated spot in the reception where the bride and groom are set up to do standing table shots. It works well and is a smooth transition between tables as long as your MC controls the flow.
If you have a very packed room with little space between tables, this is your only option. If you are not having a professional MC, ensure the MC you have is really on the ball and communicates with the photographer about the flow of the evening. I have shot weddings where I have been in the bathroom only to return to find the couple cutting the cake because the MC was a family friend who didn’t think to tell me!
If you decide to leave the family photos until the reception, it’s an absolute disaster! Once your guests get into the reception room and start drinking, they wander off and you can’t find people. When you do find them they are usually being silly and you can’t get a lovely photo like you can straight after the service when everyone looks their best and are completely sober. It’s all very easily resolved with some simple communication on invitations.
Remember to look at the camera. So many times photos are useless because people won’t look at the camera. It won’t bite and it doesn’t hurt a bit to look at it. When we shoot outdoors in bright light it’s very hard to see the image clearly on the back of your camera and we can’t always tell if people are looking at the camera at all. A good photographer will constantly encourage your guests to look at the camera to get great shots.
Remember brides, that you have the face you have and the body you have and putting on a wedding dress and having professional hair and makeup doesn’t transform you into Miss Universe. I see so many brides who are disappointed with how they look, as they are unrealistic about the end result. You will look like you but the best and most beautiful you possible, that’s the truth. It reminds me of my years in hairdressing when a woman would come in with a photo of Elle McPherson thinking that if they had their hair done like her they would look like her. My response with tongue in cheek always was, “Madam this is a comb not a magic wand.”
Thanks again Sue, you really know your stuff, especially about photography. Check out Sue’s website www.suetaylorphotography.com.au