From the very first moment you realised that he was the one, you pictured your wedding in your mind. You see the expression on his face as you walk down the aisle in that perfect gown, the look of a person who feels so lucky that you’re about to be his wife. You see the venue, filled with all your personal details, fairy lights, candles, flowers. You imagine the first kiss and the first dance and you know how in love you will feel. You see cake, lots and lots of yummy cake.
It’s the best day of both of your lives and you’ll remember it forever.
Like all engaged couples who plan their wedding, you want to see those memories captured in their best possible light. You’ve seen all the inspiration in bridal magazines and pinterest and you know your wedding is going to rock ten times harder, but how do you make sure your big day is super camera friendly? Here’s a list to help you understand a bit more about wedding photography so you are more informed before the big day comes and you can be well on your way to achieving better wedding pictures.
How to get better wedding pictures.
1. Lighting –
Lighting is almost everything when it comes to photography. Wedding photographers choose their equipment wisely to ensure that they get the most out of the available light, as the less flash used during the better. Ideally your ceremony should be uninterrupted and by using the natural light available this allows your photographer to remain unobtrusive. Prepare to have at least some grain in your images if you have chosen a dimly lit venue as your photographer will need to use certain settings to combat the lack of light getting into the camera.
Personally, I prefer to only use lighting equipment during the dancing where I’m using it only to compliment the lighting that is already provided. When viewing your venues have a look at how much available light there is and consider how your event will be lit. For bridal preparations, try getting ready in a very well lit room, somewhere with a big window works great.
If you are getting married during the winter months when it gets dark around 4pm you will have less hours of natural available light, so keep this in mind when setting a time for your ceremony. Make sure you have a good portion of time for the formal shots and your bride & groom session before it gets dark.
If on the other hand you happen to be getting married in the peak of the summer and you’re lucky enough to have the sunshine blazing all day then keep in mind that harsh sunlight does not read very well on camera. You will get pesky shadows all over peoples faces, squinted eyes and it’s very hard to expose images evenly with contrasting light. Finding a lovely spot with shade will come in very handy on days like these or having time to shoot your portraits later in the day when the sun is lower in the sky.
2. Weather –
Sure, you can’t control the weather, you aren’t Bruce Almighty. What you can do however, is make sure that your venue has a great spot for photographs in case it rains. Having an awesome location indoors to take your bridal portraits will be invaluable if the weather doesn’t turn out for you on your big day.
Have realistic expectations when it comes to the weather during your wedding. Most of us would probably love Californian sun-esque pictures but if you’re in the UK that’s not as likely to happen. Make the most of the weather you do have, embrace moody clouds for a dramatic poster style look, be thankful for the overcast sky so your face and dress is evenly exposed, and if you’re that adventurous you could even enjoy the rain with some umbrella’s ;) Plan for the most realistic of scenario’s and anything better will be a bonus!
3. Make-up –
A good make-up artist understands how cameras read make-up and will make sure you look paparazzi ready, all day long. Don’t forget to have a make-up and hair trial before your wedding to test the look you are going for.
4. Activities –
Love all those fun candid moments? Give your guests something fun and interactive to do during the drinks reception or after the meal, you’ll have plenty of candid moments to look back on. Having some unique games will keep people entertained and their attention away from the camera, resulting in some very natural and hopefully funny moments being captured.
5. Formals –
Things are never going to go according to plan and run 100% on schedule. So always give yourself enough time on the day to take those all important group portraits and bridal pictures. 45 minutes to an hour at least, these will be the images you will most likely frame or put on canvas so they need to be great! If you can allow more time for your bride & groom session then you will have more opportunity to try out all those great ideas you’ve had or seen on pinterest.
Also keep in mind that you will need a certain amount of time per group set up, so think about this when selecting which groups you would like photographed such as Bride and Groom with Parents etc. and try keeping it simple. If you have a super-duper long list including all sorts of crazy set ups like Bride and Groom with Bride’s Sister’s Friend’s Nephews then not only will you take far too much time away from the day but you run the risk of boring and confusing your guests.
6. Location –
Picture how you would like your bride and groom portraits to look in your head, what type of location will they be in and what’s going on in the background? Do you want lovely rustic overgrown field type portraits, or quirky urban city portraits? Make sure your venue has a spot that fits this description and if it doesn’t, check around the area to see if there is a location nearby that you can take your portraits in.
Most photographers will check out your venue sometime before your big day but it really helps to do this viewing together to talk about any possible shots you would like to get and go through any concerns or questions.
7. Timeline –
Discuss your timeline with your photographer beforehand as well as raising any surprises you may have planned for your guests or any specific small details you need to mention. Your photographer needs to know where to be at what times and when all the important stuff is happening such as speeches and cake cutting. If you start cutting the cake at some random time that hadn’t been discussed previously there’s a good chance your photographer may miss it because they’re busy taking pictures of something else. Things will run much smoother if you are both on the same page.
8. “Uncle Bob” –
His/her name may not actually be Bob but Uncle Bob’s a famous recurring character in the world of wedding photography. Uncle Bob has a nice camera, he sometimes even has a couple of lenses to go with it and he’s quite the budding hobbyist photographer. Bob wants to take pictures of you at the wedding, perhaps to help out or perhaps for practice but sometimes Bob gets in the way of those all important shots. The last thing you want to happen is just when your official photographer who you have invested wisely in goes to capture you cutting the cake, the back of Bob’s head is in every shot because he’s pushed his way to the front to get the picture.
You also don’t want all the guests in groups shots looking in different directions because Uncle Bob has his camera over the official photographers shoulder and no one knows which camera to look at. Don’t let Uncle Bob get in the way of the important-never-gonna-happen-again shots, it’s great to have other people take pictures at your wedding so you can see it from all different angles but when you are paying good money for an official photographer you don’t want them missing the kiss or the cake cutting because of Bob getting in the way.
Consider an unplugged wedding or asking any Bob’s to let the main photographer take any images they need first before they jump in guns blazing with their cameras.
9. Comparing –
Your wedding is yours, and yours only. It’s great to source inspiration but your big day will never be exactly the same as anyone else’s and that’s a good thing! The wedding isn’t all about the cake, the dress, the details, the venue, it’s about marrying the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and it’s about celebrating you both as a couple.. so stop comparing, right now! Your photographer will not be able to shoot your wedding shot for shot the same as another wedding you have seen somewhere else on another persons blog. Your wedding is different, so relax, go with the flow, enjoy YOUR day and trust the photographer to capture the uniqueness of your wedding in it’s very best light!
10. Photographer –
This is so important. If you want to look at your wedding pictures and see all the atmosphere of the event and remember the magical day you experienced you need to hire a professional. It’s hard to choose a photographer when there are so many of them, but if you know what to look out for, then the job will become a little bit easier. Here’s a few pointers to get you started:
- Set aside a decent budget for your photographs. If you spend thousands on a venue, dress, cake, cars and then just have a friend take the pictures or someone who only charges £200 then you are running far too great of a risk of all those expensive things not being photographed properly. Just because your wedding looks amazing in real life does not mean anybody with a decent camera can record it the way it looks. Look at investing around £1000 upwards (here’s a great post about why wedding photography costs so much), and be wary of photographers who charge cheaply but offer all of the images on disk with all the copyrights, they most likely do not value their time or work. The amount of images you get will vary with each photographer but someone who values their business will take care of selecting and presenting only the very best from your day. Nobody wants pictures of people closing their eyes or mid sneeze!
- Photoshop is not magic – Your photographer might be handing over several hundred pictures to you within a certain time frame so expecting them to remove absolutely everything from the background, or edit a person into the image that wasn’t present at the wedding etc. is very unrealistic. Generally photographers will remove blemishes, lighten, crop, enhance colours of an images, nothing majorly extensive but still very time consuming work. Ask the photographers you meet what kind of retouching they do beforehand if you are concerned and make sure you like their editing style.
- Pick the photographer that suits your personality most. Perhaps you want some fun quirky images that perhaps a traditional photographer may not be suitable for, there is no one right photographer for everyone, every photographer works differently. You deserve a photographer who gets you. Meet with several, ask them what they believe their style is and see if you click. The more suited your photographer is to your own personality, the more of your personality you will see in your photographs.
- Ask to see a couple of recent full weddings from your photographer before booking. Generally you will only see a small selection of the very best images on their website so seeing a couple of full images will show you how consistent their style is throughout the day and how they work during certain parts of the wedding.
- Read through your contract, know exactly what is included, isn’t included and what you can and can’t do with your images when you receive them.