you've Booked! Now What!?
Many brides (and some grooms) have spent a fair bit of time looking at examples of wedding photography, perhaps looking for inspiration on apps like Pinterest, or following wedding blogs or magazines. As a result, you may have some specific ideas of what style, and perhaps even what specific images or situations you would like us to capture on your day.
As a photographer, my aim is to create images that are beautiful, full of emotion, and most of all individual to you, so I generally won’t try to replicate or copy another photographer’s work. Hopefully, you will have chosen me because my work matches the style you like and you can be confident in my ability to spot photo opportunities that capture the essence of your wedding. That said, if you have seen an image that captures your dreams for your wedding day perfectly, please do show me. Your dreams are my inspiration, so if I know what you love, it will help guide my own artistic eye.
If you have specific moments that you especially want me to catch on camera (e.g. the rings together, the father of the bride’s reaction to first seeing his daughter in her wedding dress, the flower girl trying on the bride’s shoes) then make sure you let me know. Although I can never guarantee any particular picture on the day, due to lighting conditions, space restrictions or even general wedding day hustle and bustle, I will do my very best to plan for and, if necessary, set up the shots you have your heart set on.
How much you get out of your investment in wedding photography to some extent depends on the time you are willing to dedicate to it as part of your day. If you allocate only a quick 10 minutes between ceremony and the champagne reception for a private couple's shoot, this will, of course, limit the number and variety of bridal couple photographs I can create. If, at the other extreme, you’re happy for me to whisk you away for an hour or two at various points during the day, then you will really open up opportunities for relaxed and creative shots in different locations. It is ultimately your wedding day and I am there for you to use as you please, but I would recommend that you consider, when planning your itinerary, when, and how long you allow for the photography session(s).
As you do so, don’t forget that photography is always light dependent and, for winter weddings especially, the window of opportunity for natural light is often very short. The quality of light also changes throughout the day. Often the hour before sunset offers the most beautiful soft golden light (if the weather plays along), but if your wedding breakfast, speeches, or first dance falls during this time, you will not have the chance to take advantage of this, so if you are hoping for a romantic sunset shot, remember to consider this when planning your day. In all cases, it helps me greatly if I have a copy of your itinerary for the day (i.e. the timetable of events) in advance and I send out a questionnaire regarding this when you book. This will help me make sure that I am where I need to be when things are happening. Of course, things will shift around a bit on the day, but a rough idea will really help us.
Many couples want to make sure they get photographs with the important people in their lives on their special day. While I will do my best to capture all your family and guests in my reportage coverage, I cannot always guarantee that everyone will be captured. The easiest way to make certain that everyone is included is taking some time to capture so-called “Family Formal Photographs” or “Formals”, which are, in essence, posed portraits of you with your loved ones. If you look at your parents’ or grandparents’ old wedding photos, you’ll also see that formals used to be the mainstay of wedding photography, so they can be really important to some of the more traditional members of the family.
On the flipside, you don’t want to be spending hours taking pictures with every single one of your guests, as it might cut into your time for celebrating, or for those all-important couple's shoots. Arranging groups of people at a wedding can be a bit like herding cats and making sure everyone is in the shot invariably takes longer than expected. That’s why I do recommend that you spend some time before the wedding thinking about who the essential people are, with whom you do need to have a photograph (and in what combination). I do send out an electronic form for this, too, and strongly recommend you stick to just the bridal party, with about 10-12 images in general, which takes approximately 30-40 minutes.
To give you an idea, below is a recommended list of formals, but of course, this can vary hugely from couple to couple. You may have Stepparents or Grandparents to consider, or you may wish to include more of your close friends. You may also, wish to forego formals altogether!
- Bridal Couple and Parents of the Bride
- Bride alone with her parents
- Bridal Couple and Parents of the Groom
- Groom alone with his parents
- Bridal couple and both sets of Parents
- Bridal Couple with immediate family (parents and siblings)
- Bridal Couple with Groomsmen
- Groom alone with Groomsmen
- Bridal couple with Bridesmaids
- Bride alone with Bridesmaids
- Bridal Couple with groomsmen and Bridesmaids
- All wedding guests
ON THE DAY: BRIDAL PREP
If you have opted to include coverage of bridal preparations, I will be arriving in plenty of time to capture the little details and you putting the finishing touches on your look for the day; slipping into your dress and adjusting your veil. The morning of your wedding will pass in a whirlwind of hairspray, Kirby grips, foundation and mascara, all hopefully mixed with a lot of excitement and perhaps a glass or two of champagne. All this activity can leave many a bridal suite looking rather more like a bombsite than the serene haven of beauty that you probably want reflected on your photographs.
So, as you go along, give a little thought to keeping the room looking presentable. Why not designate an out of the way corner as the area to “dump” stuff like bags and clothes? Ask your bridesmaids to try and keep on top of clearing away any makeup pads and tissues, empty breakfast trays and general rubbish. After all, you never saw Cinderella’s socks and knickers strewn over her bedcovers in the background when she was getting ready for the ball…. This goes for grooms too, if they would like a little coverage of their morning preparations!
As part of prep photographs, I love to capture detail pictures of your accessories, so it's always a great help if you put all of these items (and any other things you'd like me to photograph) in one place - so shoes, flowers, jewellery, perfume, your silver sixpence, bridesmaid accessories, etc. I do also capture Groom details, but mostly do this whilst they are actually on!
The ceremony is the heart of your wedding day. It’s the moment when you pledge yourselves to each other, make the promises that will bind you together for the rest of your lives and become a married couple. And that, after all, is what this whole day is all about. I am sure that what you want to remember from this moment are the words you speak, the look in each other’s eyes, and not my ugly mug getting in the way, or my camera flashing away all the time. So I will do my very best to capture all the important moments during your wedding ceremony for you look back on, but I will do so in a respectful and inconspicuous way to protect the importance and sanctity of the moment.
With this in mind, I will also always abide by the requests or rules set out by the officiant. Some registrars , vicars, priests or celebrants are very open to photographers moving around the church or ceremony space during proceedings, while others will want me to stand stationary throughout the ceremony. Where possible, I will have attended a wedding rehearsal and/or had an opportunity to speak with the officiant myself, to make sure I know what their preferences are, but it may also help for you to find out what their attitude to photographers is and to express your wishes if possible.
GUEST PHOTOGRAPHY - UNPLUGGED, OR NOT?
Another important consideration is whether you want your guests to take pictures of their own during your ceremony. We are so used to having our smart phone cameras with us at all times, that it feels natural to many guests to want to snap away during a significant event such as a wedding, perhaps to be able to post and share on social media. However, that at raises a few interesting questions for you:
1. Social Media: Do you want the first pictures of your wedding day appearing on facebook to be a blurred phone camera picture of you walking down the aisle or perhaps in the background of someone’s selfie? I always aim to get a sneak peek of 5-10 images ready and uploaded onto facebook within 2-3 days of the wedding, so if you can get people to hold off just a little, you have some polished and professional shots to share first, before everyone else adds theirs.
2. Interference: Occasionally, it happens that a particularly snap happy guest really gets in the way of my shot. Most guests are more self aware than that, but it does happen. You can imagine the upset when I was unable to get a good shot of the bride coming down the aisle, because one of the guests leaned so far into the aisle ahead of her that he covered half of her in my picture.
3. Photographically: Even if your guests are polite enough to stay in their seats, do you want the technology to show on the pictures of your ceremony? You may not mind, or you may feel that a bunch of people with faces half hidden by phones and cameras wasn’t what you had hoped to see in the background of your ceremony pictures.
4. Connection: Perhaps the most important point about the use of cameras by guests in ceremonies is that you have invited them there to witness one of the most important events in your life. Would you rather they witness it with their eyes and their hearts, connecting fully with the words and the emotion, or that they view things one step removed via a phone camera lens?
The above may seem set out to convince you that other people taking photos is to be avoided at all costs, but actually, I don’t mind either way and feel it is absolutely your decision. Phone cameras and social media are a part of our lives these days and if you were practically married to your iPhone long before you even met your husband to be, then perhaps having that tech represented in your wedding is totally appropriate. If people do take pictures on phones or tablets during ceremonies, I try to incorporate them into my photos and make them a feature, so it is entirely about your taste and preference.
If you would prefer your guests not to take pictures (or at least not to share them) be sure to let them know. You could position signs at the entrance to the ceremony space requesting an “unplugged” wedding and also ask your officiant to mention it before the ceremony begins.
AFTER THE BIG DAY
As mentioned above, I always aim to get out a sneak peek of 5-10 images to you within 1-3days of your wedding day. On rare occasions that may not be possible, but I will never let you wait for your first view of at least some of the pictures for longer than a week. The rest may take a few weeks to follow (usually 4-6 weeks), as I want to make sure that I check, and retouch every single one of the images I send to you. You have invested a lot, both emotionally and financially in my work, so I want to make sure that what you get is perfect. I generally try to keep my editing to a minimum, simply focussing on enhancing the natural beauty of the shot and the moment and keeping “photoshopping” to a minimum, though on occasion I may edit out a crack in the wallpaper, a fire extinguisher, or a random person photobombing in the background.
I generally produce a mixture of monochrome (black and white) and colour images, based on what I consider to be the best way to present any particular image. However, I always shoot in colour, so if you really like a picture in the final set I send you, but you really want it in colour (or B&W) then do let me know.
ALBUMS & PRINTS
If you haven’t already chosen to purchase an album from me as part of your package, have a good think about how you want to display your wedding pictures once you have seen the final set. Photographs are meant to be seen “in the flesh” and the experience really is altogether different to simply viewing them on a computer screen or TV. I give your pictures to you on a USB, with full printing rights, so that you are free to choose your own supplier for prints and even albums. Although the exclusive albums and photobooks I have access to as a professional are a beautiful way to present your pictures, I know that high quality albums can stretch the budget and I will never push you into buying one unless you request one. You may also like the idea of putting together your own album after your wedding.
My only request is, PLEASE, if on your first anniversary you have still not “got round to” putting together the album or ordering prints, please, please get in touch and get a quote from me. Don’t let your wedding pictures languish away on a USB stick in a drawer somewhere. Remember, technology changes all the time (remember floppy disks?) and eventually even USBs will be outdated, but your grandchildren will always have eyes to see beautiful physical photographs.
AND FINALLY ...
I have tried to put together a fairly comprehensive list of tips for you, to make sure you have an idea what to expect from me and what you can do to make the most of my photography. I hope the information is useful for you and, if you have any questions, please get in touch.
All I want to do, when all’s said and done, is capture your happiness and the love that will surround you on that day. Yes, I will get pictures of your shoes. Yes, I will photograph your flowers. And yes, I will capture all the details you have put so much effort into in the run-up to this day. But most of all, I will be there to catch those special moments. Your Nan and Granddad holding hands in the church as they remember their own wedding day so long ago. The pride in your new Husband’s face when your Dad calls him “son” for the first time. Your brother dancing with the girl he’s going to ask to marry him just a few months from now. And the way you look at each other, which will remind you, when you have that blazing row five years from now, what your marriage is really all about.
That is my job.
Your job is to enjoy every second of every minute of one of the most important, most magical days of your life.