I know I should be paid to promote A Practical Wedding as much as I do, but the fact is, these ladies know how to do weddings. So I was very excited to find this article written by Maddie of APW last week about wedding photography--Maddie is an amazing wedding photographer in addition to being the Managing Editor at APW, so she knows a thing or two about wedding photography. This article is a must read.
A few other things that have come to my mind recently as we've shot 7 weddings in 4 weeks about photography and things couples should know:
1) Make sure you LIKE your wedding photographer--I know, I know, I've said this 100 times and it seems like either a no-brainer, or not really that important ("Helllo? I'm not marrying my photographer!") and I know that I am very likeable and most people just adore me, but seriously, book someone you enjoy being with throughout the day--they become your right hand man/woman--liking means not only their personality, but also their style. Also, do your research! Style is so important with wedding photography--it's going to be what you love, so make sure, make sure, make sure to check out their website thoroughly, completely and wholly before booking. The last thing you want is to discover you hired a photojournalist when you intended to hire a fine art photographer...cause they ARE different. I've had a few situations where someone has contacted me and I just know, right from the start, that my style is not what they are looking for. Most good wedding photographers will be able to feel this out quickly and should be honest with you--if you two aren't a good fit, the photos won't be either. It's so, so, so important you are comfortable with your photographer's personality and style.
2) Plan for family photos to be stressful--Yes, Maddie says it in that article, but for reallllzzz, family photos are stress-tastic. For you and for your photographer. They are actually, for me, the MOST difficult part of wedding photography, which is usually why I have Ian take the lead on them so I don't end up feeling like a ball of nerves as I direct your mom and aunt into pose after pose. Family photos are hard on everyone...and, if for any reason you don't think you want to do family photos, that's totally FINE. Some of my favorite weddings are ones where the couple only wants 3-4 posed shots and the rest candid--that's the cat's pjs. Go with your gut.
3) Have a photo wrangler for posed shots--I cannot emphasize this enough--put someone in charge of keeping the family organized. We recently shot a wedding in Chicago with lots of family shots, but the bride being massively awesome, had assigned her friend to be in charge or organizing and calling out names for shots--it was so, so, so much easier. Trust me, you don't want to be in charge of this on your day. Plus, your mom, dad, and great Aunt Sally will be a lot less annoyed with a friend calling them back and forth for shots than they will be with a photographer. And they'll smile prettier. I swear. Please. Have a photo wrangler. Please. Please. Please.
4) Allow enough time for fun with your partner--My favorite shots, I think, to take are the couples photos with the couple either before or after the ceremony--there are such wonderful emotions happening from the nervousness to the excitement to the total giddiness that accounts for the day, they are just wonderful. I am always sad when couples want to rush through their couples shots just to get to the party--no, I get it, the party is rock solid important, but please allow us at least 30-50 minutes for couples shots--I promise you won't regret it. The photo above is of Matthew and Pam who made it a point to get ice cream at a shop where they had one of their first dates--this spot was important to them so we built time into their timeline to ensure it was captured and I am so glad they did--they ended up being some of all of our favorite shots of the day.
5) Consider the light--Thinking about the lighting in your wedding photos is something that your photographer is paid to do--right? Right. But considering and taking into account light as you plan your venue and your timeline is also something your photographer can certainly help you out with as well. If you choose to get married in a banquet hall with only one window, you can assume that your photos will reflect that setting. Similarly, if you choose to get married on top of a hill at sunset, your photos will refelct that setting. Planning a wedding with logistics is so tough (I planned a 200 person wedding on a beach at a cottage that was tiny and lovely, but in no way set up for a wedding, so I know that this is HARD), but taking into account how you want your ceremony photos to look and feel is important. If you want them to be epic and beautiful, then, truthfully, you need to find an epic and beautiful backdrop for that. Think about spots like city parks, state parks, warehouse buildings, natural forest land, public beaches, etc--there are lots of pretty cheap (read free) beautiful places to have a ceremony, especially if it's a small one--just tell your family to show up at a certain time, get hitched and move on. Similarly, you will want to take into account lighting at your ceremony, especially if it's outside. Shooting in direct sunlight is very difficult, so if at all possible, consider timing your ceremony and photos for the later afternoon when the sun has dropped in the sky. If you need help with this, ask your photographer--I love when couples take my advice into consideration with their venues and lighting questions---if you're not sure, please ask! The beautiful golden hour will be a reward to you!
5) Let is go--No, not the horrible Disney song, but seriously, let it go--and put your trust in your photographer and your families that it's going to be ok. I promise. Your photographer will capture the moments he/she sees and you will have an awesome day. Don't worry too much if you miss a group shot or a family pose--we'll catch it later, I promise. Your day should be about having fun, enjoying, being married and all things butterfly in your stomach, not stressing about if your step-brother missed the family shot because he was in the bathroom. I know it's hard to let it go, but if you are able to, I promise, it will be so much better.
But really, for real, go read Maddie's notes--they are so important and valuable.