Photographing a wedding is really hard. It isn’t an easy job. I’m constantly thinking three steps ahead of what I’m doing at any one time. My job can be made a bit easier if we work together. My top 10 wedding photography tips for brides and grooms will help you have a smoother wedding day and go toward getting the photographs you’ll love.
Tip 1 – Decide on what you want photographically and use your time wisely.
What do I mean by that? Recently a bride and groom told me they wanted to go to a scenic location after their wedding ceremony for photographs. They were really excited by the prospect. They described exactly what they were looking for that they had pictured in there minds. Their wedding ceremony was a 2.00 pm and their wedding breakfast was set for serving at 4.30 pm. Every minute of your wedding day is precious. It was going to take at least 35 minutes travelling to the location and then at least another 35 minutes to get to the wedding venue. Including time to take some photographs we would use up at least 1 hour 25 minutes (if all runs exactly to plan). Do you really want to spend that amount of time away from your guests to take a few images at one location. It would left them with very little time upon arrival with family and friends before the wedding breakfast. When I explained, they agreed this would be a bad idea. They were getting married at a great location that has lots of great places for photographs anyway. Photographs are important but your enjoyment on your wedding day should always come before photographs.
Tip 2 – The best wedding confetti photograph ever.
If you’re looking for a photograph of you laughing surrounded by family and friends throwing a huge shower of wedding confetti over you then you’ll need to take charge and make this happen. Make sure you have confetti available for your guests to throw. Most people will forget and sharing two boxes of confetti with 50 people never really works for a photograph. Secondly, make sure any wedding confetti is bio degradable.
Tip 3 – Church wedding photographs.
If your getting married in church and photographs of your wedding ceremony are something you want to have you need to confirm with your vicar, priest or rabbi etc at the earliest opportunity that they’re happy for a photographer to take those. Make sure if your planning your wedding in advanced that they’re the person who will be at the church when your wedding arrives. I’ve experienced all sorts from those who refuse to allow any photographs at all to those who’ve told me to do whatever I want. But remember, it’s their church and their rules so make sure you know what’s allowed before you book.
Tip 4 – Getting married at hotels.
I was photographing a wedding at a local hotel (not Sprowston Manor which is the location for the image above). As I was capturing the wedding ceremony all that could be heard in the background was the sound of people eating their carvery lunch, talking loudly and laughing next door. To ensure this never happens to you stand in the room that you’re planning on being married in at the time your planning your wedding and listen to what is going on around you.
Tip 5 – Make up artists and getting ready.
There can be a number of sources of conflict at weddings between wedding providers and this is one of them. The most important aspect to photography is quality of light. Without getting into the technical details daylight (5200K) has a different kelvin value compared to incandescent (3000K) light. When you mix them in a room you can get some very odd white balance issues going on. Easy to fix. Turn off all the lights. But that is where the problems can occur when a make up artist wants the lights on to see. The problem from a photography stand point can be fixed easily. I can just make the image black and white. If you want colour however and good skin tones then the lights really need to be turned off. It’s your wedding day. You decide on what you want.
Tip 6 – Outdoor wedding ceremonies.
The sun directly overhead in the summer is a problem due to the high contrast it creates. People love it, digital cameras aren’t so happy as they don’t see as the human eye does. It’s the worst time to photograph anything without a flash. Not being able to control the direction you are shooting in can be a huge problem to boot. Flash guns are used in bright sunlight to remove shadows from under your eyes, else you can end up looking like a panda bear. But in the UK there use is frowned upon during the wedding ceremony as it can be distracting. I say frowned upon, I mean banned. If you’re planning on an outside wedding ceremony (they are great}, avoid the midday sun in summer as much as possible. Much later in the afternoon would be better. If you want amazing, try two or three hours before sunset.
Tip 7 – Formal group wedding photographs.
I was once handed a list of formal wedding photographs by a bride that had 32 different groups. Add that to a large wedding venue where people disappear to the toilet, pop to the bar on a hot day (at midday see above see tip 6) is a recipe for disaster. I estimate each group can take between 8 to 10 minutes (some more some less) to setup and photograph properly. For each group I have to set everyone up, create an ordered balanced line and then take a number of shots to get at least one with everyone looking at the camera with their eyes open. So the time required for this would have been about 2 1/2 hours. I explained but the bride insisted it was her wedding and she wanted this list. On the hottest day of the year in the brightest sunshine ever the list lasted for the first 4 shots before the bride abandoned the formal photographs as it was too hot and uncomfortable.
The wedding day for you will be over it what it seems minutes. Spending hours on formal group photographs isn’t a good use of your time. Special shots with friends can be taken later in better light.
For most fomals, all you need is the following:
- Large group shot
- Confetti shot
- Bride and groom with parents (three shots)
- The bride and groom with bridesmaids and best man and ushers.
I do them in that order so people aren’t hanging around waiting to be photographed but can stay and photograph you over my shoulder if they want. Else they can leave and get a drink. I prefer formals to be completed in about 15 to 20 minutes so you’re not hanging around for ages in lots of photographs and you can get back to having a great time instead.
Tip 8 – The time of year and sunset photographs
Dramatic sunset photographs are great. But depending on the time of year will determine obviously what time sunset is. If the sunsets at 5.00 pm and you are due to start your wedding breakfast at 4.00 pm you need to decide if you want to pop outside at the right time for a photograph. Likewise a summer sunset can be after 9.30 pm but if your first dance is at 8.00 pm and the photographer is booked to the first dance do you want them to stay longer? The next thing about sunsets is you can’t predict what will happen. I’ve had the most spectacular evenings turn into a grey fudge. I’ve also had rain turn into golden tones with rainbows as happened this weekend (see above). However, they just can’t be guaranteed.
Tip 9 – The wedding dress
Please make sure you sit down in a chair in your wedding dress before your wedding day. I’ve seen too many brides looking really uncomfortable in their wedding dress sat for the wedding breakfast. When sat down it can push up and brides can look like their hanging into the dress by their armpits.
Tip 10 – A helpful comprehensive 22 page list of photographs that you want.
If you’re tempted to supply your wedding photographer (with the kindest of hearts and intentions) a list of a thousand photographs that you want, described in intricate detail then please, take a breath and throw it away. At this point you’re just one small step away from becoming a bridezilla! Weddings are fast paced events requiring lots of fluidity from your photographer to capture the day. We really don’t have time to go through a long list.
Your wedding photographer should be experienced and able to get what you want, else why are you trusting them to shoot your wedding?
If there are special shots you want, tell your photographer at the pre wedding consultation.
Bonus Top Wedding Photography Tip
The most important thing to remember on your wedding day is this:
Enjoy yourself and let the wedding photographer worry about the photography.
Page Last Updated 31 July 2017