Timetravel through your mind to 30 years in the future and you are sitting in your beautiful home, surrounded by photographs of your children (maybe even grandchildren) on the walls, and you turn to your wife/husband and sigh…. remember how good our wedding day was… remember how much fun we had when….. and you’ll reach for that beautiful bespoke photo album that you thought you couldn’t afford but just had to have. The investment cost is long forgotten now you have this precious, irreplaceable memory of your love story in your hands.
It captured every little special touch and detail and as you turn the pages you are instantly transported back not only to your amazing wedding day, but to that very moment, and emotion you shared that is evoked from the photograph in your physical album - not stored on some USB lost in a drawer somewhere!
Your wedding photos are something you will treasure forever. They are all that is left of all the planning, detail and expense of the day - the flowers have wilted, the cake got eaten and the dress got stored or sold, but these photographs are you memory keepers - irreplaceable and precious beyond words.
My mentor, Gerri Ghionis once told me that If your house was burning down, one of the few things people grab before rushing to safety is their wedding album. Great wedding photographers know this and take their work incredibly seriously, knowing the honour and privilege they have in being trusted with someones memories. It’s our job to not only make sure me meet your expectations on your wedding day, but to exceed them!
Here are some tried and true tips and tricks for your wedding photography/videography.
1. RULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN - Your wedding is all about you and your love for each other - do it your way!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for traditions and family legacies, just don’t feel constrained by them or allow other people to push your around (eg wedding planner/mother/friends etc).
For example, tradition has the bride and groom standing in front of the celebrant, but this means they are in all the photos and often steeling the show instead of the bride and groom at special moments such as the first kiss. If they were to stand to one side this could all be avoided.
Tradition calls for a bridal party with a best man, maid of honour, Groomsmen, Bridesmaids and perhaps even some flower girls or page boys! Nothing wrong with that at all, just don’t feel obligate to have them if you’d rather not. They are not essential and those Bridal Party photos can really eat into your portrait time, keeping you away from your guests longer, especially if you want to go to several locations and their are “drinks” in the limo along the way. The more people involved the more time things take.
Of course if you want to have a bridal party go for it - just factor in some time away from them with your photographer. Groom especially can be embarrassed when being intimate with their bride and their mates are all looking or teasing them. Your photographer wants to capture the magic and romance of your love and connection with each other, and this is a private matter. Bridesmaids offering advice and suggestions can also distract the bride and take up valuable time from those must have shots your heart wants and you planned for months ahead. Although your bridal party friends and family are important, its your wedding and should be all about you and your partner.
First Looks traditionally between the bride and her parents are now finding popularity with the groom before the wedding, with some distinct advantages.
2. GOOD PHOTOS TAKE TIME - invest in your memories
Couples are not professional photographers, and so can’t be expected to have realistic ideas about how much time it takes to get the kinds of images they want for their wedding. Good photos can’t happen in a short space of time, so you need to work with your photographer on a realistic timeline for the shot list you want, especially if you are going to different locations and travel is involved. Some couples feel they want to rush to get to be with their guests, and there are ways this can happen (such as a reveal or first look before the ceremony) but for most couples their portraits will happen after the ceremony, so try to see it as a time investment in you memories, a break from guests and family and just enjoy the time together being photographed as husband and wife for the first time - exciting!
3. GET READY SOMEWHERE NICE - keep it clean and quiet if possible.
The preparation time before the wedding can be highly stressful, and even more so if you are being crowed out by well meaning people or children. So be kind to yourself and allow yourself the luxury of cutting down the number of people around you or visiting so you can relax and your hairstylist, make-up artist and photographer/videographer can work their magic! An extra tip is to try to keep the room as tidy as possible, you don’t want an amazing shot ruined because something is out of place and it may not be able to be photoshopped out or put back easily. Most photographers will usually include basic editing of images but photoshop editing is generally at an extra cost to you.
4. REALISE AND ACCEPT IT - Your dress is probably going to end up dirty or damaged by the end of the day.
Your wedding dress and shoes are probably one of the most expensive items you have purchased and the idea of them getting damaged can be upsetting. But the reality it that it is highly likely they will be marked or damaged in some way - If you can resign yourself to this, it will be much easier to come to terms with it when it happens. Your ideal photo location may involve some tricky terrain and those gorgeous images of newlyweds in the fields or along the waters edge at the beach all come at a cost of muddy paddocks, climbing over fences or getting splashed by waves and surrounded by seaweed - you get the picture!
5. UNPLUGGED - Consider banning guests from taking photos on their phones or other recoding devices at the ceremony and portraits.
Ask your guests to hold off from taking their own photos, that’s what you have hired a professional photographer for, and encourage them to just relax and enjoy the ceremony being fully present. I can’t tell you the number of times that at a critical moment some inconsiderate idiot holds up their phone to take a photo, especially if the shot has just been all set up and they think they will quickly jump in, this not only takes extra time, but it often means people in the photograph don’t know who to look at and neither the guest or the photographer get a good photo.
6. HAVE A FAMILY INFO LIST - and let the photographer know ahead of any family sensitivities.
Your photographer is unlikely to know your family dynamics, so it really helps they have a list of peoples names and relationships to work with when taking family portraits. Even better if you enlist a “helper” who does who can wrangle the cats to be in the right place at the right time. Things like knowing about divorces and/or deaths can help avoid some embarrassing or awkward moments. Most photographers will usually ask for this information prior to the day.
7. PICK THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER - who’s work you love and trust them!
The worst thing you can do is hire a cheaper photographer and ask them to shoot like someone else who is more expensive or experienced - it just wont happen. That's not to say that you shouldn't show them what images appeal to you (often from Pinterest), and to give them some examples of the kinds of photos you would like, that's how we create a "Mood Board" to get the "feel" of your wedding. But trying to micro manage a professional with a long list of exact images you want taken wont give them the freedom to be creative and to shoot in the golden moments that appear spontaneously on your wedding day.
Every couple, location and moment in a wedding is unique and different and its the photographer's job to capture them as they happen as well as provide some gentle direction and guidance to ensure you look your best and are in the most flattering light. Whilst essential shot lists are useful to ensure you get those really special photos your heart is set on, its a balancing act not to miss what is happening as your wedding day unfolds.
Choose well, give the photographer creative freedom, and then trust them to work their magic for you.
8. LIGHT IS EVERYTHING - simply put - it can make or break your photos.
It’s really important to try to plan your wedding to be when the best light will be available to your photographer. Late in the day is best for your wedding photos, specifically Golden Hour, before sunset. Try not to plan your photos in the middle of the day, or early afternoon when the light will generally cause harsh, very unflattering shadows, unless it’s overcast. If your ceremony will be outdoors, you also need to consider where the sun will be and the direction and intensity of the light that will be falling on you during the ceremony time. Dappled light is also not very flattering and the high contrast over the face can be impossible to correct. Similar issues can occur when walking down the Aisle from sunlight into shadow. So talk with your photographer and be guided by the light!
9. DANCE WITH ME - plan for some alone time as a couple.
If you decide to have a first dance with your partner, make sure you allow yourself some time alone together on the dance floor to savour and enjoy it. For those few minutes you can soak each other in and your photographer will get some beautiful photos. If your bridal party rush to join you too early this opportunity might be missed and that one magic photo you want to treasure for the rest of your life has someone else’s head or shoulder in the frame.
10. ENJOY THE DAY – your photos will depend on it and your emotions will show.
You have spend months, if not years, planning your Wedding and weddings can be very stressful. No matter how well you plan, things will go wrong on the day, that’s life! So try not to sweat the small stuff - just enjoy the day as it is - absolute perfectly imperfect and just as it was meant to be. Be happy, smile, laugh and be present in the moment and emotion. Enjoy the company of your new husband/wife after all this is the first day the rest of your life together. Your happiness and enjoyment will radiate through into your beautiful wedding photographs.