Tips for the Best Wedding Photos
When it comes to your wedding, there is a lot to plan, and even more to think about. Your own guest list, personal details, and pure excitement aside, there are the vendors to consider. You’ve got nearly a dozen vendors to coordinate, each of which come with their own important details and considerations. This is certainly true of your wedding photographer.
While we can’t give you too much advice on your other vendors (although we can give some), we can provide you with a list of important considerations when it comes to booking, planning for, and working with your photographer. Feel free to print, screenshot, or jot this list down, so you don’t give yourself one more thing to have to remember.
1. Research and Book EARLY
One of the biggest, most common mistakes couples make is waiting too long to look for and/or book their photographer.
Your wedding photos will be one of (if not the only) piece of your wedding day to last the duration of your union. You want them to represent you. You do this by finding a photographer whose style of work fits your personality. Not only that, but you want a photographer whose own personality allows you to enjoy their company and have fun while working with them. This allows you to relax in front of the camera, and show your true self. We’ve all experienced those awkward, rushed family photos, where everyone looks like they are forcing a smile. You don’t want that!
2. Take The Engagement Photo Session
If your photographer offers an engagement session, take it! Even if you’ve already done an engagement session with another photographer.
The engagement photography session is like a test-run for you and your photographer(s). It’s during this photo-shoot that you get familiar with their shooting style and get comfortable being in front of their camera. This way, by the time your big day rolls around it’s “no big thing” having your photos taken by this familiar professional.
That being said, I honestly believe your engagement portraits are some of the most important portraits, particularly for wall art. Think about it: your wedding photos are of you in a tuxedo or wedding dress. How often do you dress like that (unless you’re a secret agent… maybe not in a wedding dress)? Your engagement photos show much more of your personalities, in style and likely in location. They are a much better representation of your love and relationship.
3. Plan for Getting Ready Shots
There’s a good chance you are going to want some photos of yourself getting ready, in your dress or tuxedo. It’s easy to forget that this will require a bit of extra planning.
- Your photographer needs to be booked earlier
- You should do the hard stuff (or unflattering stuff) before the photographer gets there
- Have the photographer capture the final touch-up of makeup and the zipping (or lacing) of the dress
- Be sure that the room is clean, and maybe even pick a nice-looking room just for the photos
4. Confirm With Your Photographer 2 Weeks Out
Whether it’s an in-person meeting, video chat, or simply a phone call, it’s important that you talk to your photographer 1 to 2 weeks prior to your wedding day.
The last thing you want to have happen on your big day is to find out you and your photographer are not on the same page. Things will run far more smoothly if you iron out all of the details prior to your wedding, once your itinerary is nailed down. This will reduce the likelihood of surprises, and help ensure you get all of the photos that you wanted.
5. Give Yourself Extra Time
Things will move fast on your wedding day. If you schedule 30 minutes for something, there’s a good chance you will end up with 15 minutes to complete it. This is especially true for wedding day portraits. Here are some recommended photo time-frames for specific photos, in addition to ceremony and dinner coverage:
- 1 hour: Bride makeup finishing and getting into dress
- 2 hours: Bride/Groom and bridal party portraits (you don’t want to be rushed)
- 30min – 1hr: Family formal portraits (allow 5-10 minutes per grouping, plus setup time)
Plus, consider how long you want your photographer(s) to stay. Do you want them to leave after the first dance, or stay and cover the festivities on the dance floor? We find that our average wedding requires a minimum of 8 hours of coverage.
6. Make a (Reasonable) Shot List
Many photographers will likely have a questionnaire with a recommended shots list and room for you to add additional shot requests. These often include different family groupings, special family members (i.e. 100 yr old aunt Ellen), and wedding details of particular importance to you. If they don’t, it’s important that you thing about this ahead of time and send it over to your photographer.
7. Powder Your Face (Even Men)
So many otherwise perfect photos are taken down a notch by glare off of faces. It’s a fast-paced, stressful day. You WILL sweat. It’s a good idea to wear makeup that helps keep the shine down or at least do a oil removing routine (yes, even for men). Here’s an example:
- Go to any makeup counter or even to a 7-11 and buy packages of those oil absorbing papers that girls use to blot oil on their faces. Go to a good makeup counter and buy a soft brush and some Clinique Transparency 3 powder. Go to a drug store and buy some rubbing alcohol.
- Blot the face with sheets of oil absorbing paper, then brush on a very tiny amount of the powder. Keep brushing until you can’t see any powder on the face. There will still be enough there to kill the shine but it won’t show up in your photographs.
8. Develop Your Posture
Now, this one might take a little bit of commitment, but it will be good for you in the long run. Nothing detracts from a gorgeous wedding gown, or striking tux, like bad posture. The flowing lines of your dress, and the sharp lines of your tuxedo, are of no use when you are slouched over in your photos.
Now, you certainly can’t be expected to remember to do this ALL DAY for your wedding. No, this is where the commitment comes in to play. You need to develop good posture well before your big day. This means practicing in front of a mirror. Help each other remember to stand/sit up tall. Maybe even invest in posture assisting tools, such as chair pads, posture correcting braces, or even those electronic posture trainers.
9. Keep Your Head Up
No, I’m not talking about keeping a positive outlook (that one’s next), I’m literally talking about keeping your head up.
You often hear photographers telling their subject to lift their heads or their chins. It’s a common request, and it has to do with tightening the skin on the neck and beneath the chin and reducing shadows in the face. Just think, your photographer will be photographing you for your entire day, and won’t have the option of reminding you to lift your chin. Now, I’m not talking an unnatural head-tilt. A simple one-inch lift of the chin can do wonders. If it looks good in photos, you’d better believe it will look good in your every day life.
10. Enjoy Yourself
Last, but certainly not least, ENJOY YOURSELF! This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for the two of you, and it will go by fast. The last thing you want is to have missed out on truly enjoying all the festivities. The whole point of planning is so that things are ready to go when the big day comes. Don’t stress out about little details on the day-of, your guests won’t know they’re missing. It can also be very helpful to designate an organized close friend or family member (but preferably not too bossy, or they might drive the bride crazy) to keep things in-line so the couple can sit back and relax.
This is also very beneficial for photos. If you are frustrated, sad, or otherwise stressed, it WILL show in photos. The best thing you can do is enjoy your day. This whole thing is a celebration of the two of you, and your love.
Enjoy, and congratulations!