How to help your photographer get the best shots at your wedding- The Dos and Don'ts
Updated: Jan 27
Hi! I'm Hayley, a wedding photographer based in the new forest but I photograph weddings all over the country. I've compiled a handy little list of Dos and Don't that I think would be useful to engaged couples embarking on the organising of their wedding.
Do book an engagement shoot
Engagement shoots are a great opportunity for you to feel comfortable with your photographer and for your photographer to get to know you. If you have a best side or aren't fond of certain poses we can establish that all before the big day. Engagement shoot photos can be used on the save the date cards or the guest signing book
Don't stress. Just relax
If you're running a little late and find you are still in prep don't sweat it. The party can't start without you!
It's always worth planning to get in the dress a bit earlier than just before you're due to see the registrar. Most bride's leave this to the last minute as they worry about getting hot and bothered in the dress but modern dresses are designed to be worn comfortably for the duration of a whole wedding day so there's no need to hold off. If the bridal prep is happening at a separate location from the ceremony your photographer will need time to get from one venue to the other, park and prep for your arrival.
Do Linger on the kiss
The first kiss during the ceremony is considered one of the most important wedding photography shots to capture. Your photographer will be poised for this moment, however It can take a few moments to lock focus on a subject and sometimes priests or registrars can step into shot accidentally at the exact moment which means we need to step aside and recompose our shot. If you pull apart really quickly and you only have one shooter there is a risk that the shot could go uncaptured or the shot taken might not be the best it could potentially be. In these situations most registrars on the ball will notice the brevity of the moment and will jokingly encourage another kiss. What is really helpful for the photographer is when the couple take their time. We don't require a full on lengthy pash but a few consecutive pecks will ensure the perfect shot.
Don't cut the first dance short and Do keep lighting simple
I photographed a wedding once where the couple invited the family on to the dance floor 20 seconds into the first dance. There were two photographers and a videographer. We'd all set up on the same side of the room but on different corners of the dance floor so as not to get in each other's shot. The couple's backs were facing us at the beginning of the dance but they were making their way round and we were all poised to get the perfect shot for when they were lined up just right.... and at that very moment the DJ announces for everyone to join them on the dance floor. I now always ask the DJ about whether this is planned before the first dance.
Another thing I always ask the DJ about is first dance lighting. The best kind of lighting for the first dance is simple lighting, uplighters or a simple spot works well. Busy colourful lights can spoil a photo and the only save can sometimes be to turn it black and white. Thankfully most DJs are already aware of these issues and are amenable to changing it up for the first dance. I always have a chat with the DJ beforehand and do a little lighting test.
Do keep the room you're getting ready in neat and tidy
It's difficult with all the wedding paraphernalia, makeup, dresses shoes, hair accessories more makeup, bags etc, to keep a tidy space but it's important for several reasons;
Firstly, for the photographer clutter doesn't look great in the background of shots. Sometimes I'm limited to where I can photograph things like the dress and a tidy space makes it easy for me to identify potential photo spots.
Secondly you know what they say, "tidy space tidy mind", well anything that can relieve those pre-wedding nerves is worth the doing. So bridesmaids help keep the room tidy and get some gorgeous snaps of you toasting champagne in your snazzy robes in a clutter free space.
Don't worry about having everyone in group shots
So... you've got the main big group shot that includes everyone and grandma is happy. There's no need to worry about your guests eeling snubbed because they are not included in the smaller group shots. Odds are that they are more interested in the champagne and canapes. (I know I would be! ;-) )
There is usually a limited amount of time between the ceremony and the sit down meal in which to get the group shots done and you will also want a moment to mingle with guests and enjoy canapes yourself.
I've both attended and photographed weddings where guests and the bride and groom have got frustrated with endless group shots and in most cases I find that the group shots aren't usually the ones selected for wall art or albums. After the big group shot, I recommend the smaller group shots are limited to 10 or thereabouts. Close family members, bridesmaids and groomsman are usually the chosen few.
Having said that, I always try and accommodate my couples and if group shots are most important to you, I will look at the itinerary and see if I can make it happen.
Do let your photographer guide you
We are experts in what we do and after shooting hundreds of weddings we get a good idea of what works and what doesn't. do let your photographer guide you and help make decisions with regard to the itinerary. I might suggest certain shots are taken at certain times because that is when the light is best or I might advise we complete the group shots earlier in the day because I know from experience it's more difficult to locate people later on. Certainly after the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol guests are not easy to direct and far less compliant. I always visit venues beforehand, close to the wedding day so I know where the light hit and at what times.
Don't rush the walk down the isle
It's not a sprint ladies! :)
Some brides nervously Usain bolt it down the isle but I wouldn't advise it. Taking your time will give your husband to be the chance to really appreciate you as you walk down that isle towards him in all your splendour and it will allow me as the photographer plenty of opportunities to get some beautiful images. Leaving enough space between bridesmaids and bride is also important too. There have been occasions where the bride has rushed out behind her bridesmaid and the bridesmaids have obscured the view of the bride.
These are just a few of the things I have learnt whilst photographing weddings and I hope some of the tips are useful to you if you are planning your big day. If you like my work please feel free to check out my portfolio and my Instagram www.instagram.com/hsphotography_newforest