25 wedding photography tips – how to get the best wedding photos
1. Have a pre wedding photo shoot
Have a pre wedding shoot as well as the main photos on your wedding day, this will ensure you are more at ease on the wedding day, safe in the knowledge your photographer is super cool and you already have some great photos in the bag. I can do this either in my studio in Bridgwater, Somerset, or we can find a local location like a park or a nice Somerset location like the Quantock hills
2. Choose a photographer with experience
I have photographed a lot of weddings in varying locations in and around Somerset under differing lighting conditions. A truly skilled photographer will be able to deal with whatever weather or venue is thrown at them and will still come out with beautiful photos. All the weddings I have photographed across Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire have been very different in terms of weather and location.
3. Make enough time in the middle of the day for photos
Consider early how long a gap you want between the end of your ceremony and the start of you meal. This is the best time for group/candid photos. However, if you have a lot of group photos on your list you won’t have as many candid photos at that time of day. Perhaps either hold the ceremony slightly earlier or the meal slightly later. Your wedding is costing you tens of thousands, so why not make the most of the whole day. Start the day earlier so there is more to enjoy.
4. Don’t choose a photographer on only their best work
View full wedding albums before choosing your wedding photographer. Anyone can take a few good photos over a long time, but you want good photos all day long, so make sure your wedding photographer is going to create for you a stunning collection of wedding photos not just a few lucky photos. I have many galleries I could show you so you can see the consistent quality of the weddings I have shot across Somerset and the South West.
5. Tell the photographer what you want
Don’t take things for granted when it comes to photography. Personally I’d prefer not to be given a huge list of photos that are must haves like aisle shot, kiss shot, cutting of the cake etc, but definitely discuss what you do want in detail before the wedding so your photographer can note down anything they wouldn’t normally capture. What you may think is absolute key to your photos may have meant very little at another wedding shot by your photographer. Presenting a three page list to your photographer of photos you want though isn’t helpful either as your wedding photographer won’t have time to refer to it on the day whilst rushing about with a camera.
6. Try to keep group photos to a minimum
Don’t get too carried away with the amount of group photos you request. The more group photos the less candid photos. A professional wedding photographer won’t just take a snap, they will take the time to properly set people in the right place in flattering poses and this all takes time. Get the balance right and stick to only the essential wedding group photos so you can get lots of reportage candid wedding photographs too.
7. Orchestrating group photos
As well as not getting carried away with the amount of group photos, you should consider where they can be taken and how to get them done in the quickest time. That is where we will work together to keep things efficient. For example, if you wish to have a photo of everyone, there needs to be adequate space and preferably a vantage point for me to take the photo from. The photo of everyone obviously takes the longest and is the hardest to do because guests will wander off to the bar or the loo. I usually take the group photos very soon after the ceremony so people don’t have a chance to wander far. Then when the group wedding photos have been taken, everyone can enjoy a drink, congratulate you, and I can get lots of candid photos.
8. Meet your wedding photographer before the wedding day
If you can, meet with your photographer prior to your wedding day. It’s important to build a good rapport with your wedding photographer as this will mean on the day things run much more smoothly. You can visit me at my home in Bridgwater, Somerset or if you live a distance away we can chat on the phone or via Skype/Facetime. Many of my clients book before they have met me and some don’t meet me until the actual day of the wedding!
9. Has your photographer got backup gear?
Check your wedding photographer has a backup camera. It’s not a case of IF a camera or lens will go wrong, it is WHEN! An experienced photographer will always have professional photography equipment including backups to get them through the day without a disaster. I have on separate occasions had both a camera and lens fail on me despite using professional equipment. In both cases it wasn’t an issue as in one case I had my backup camera, and the other case I had more than enough lenses to use instead.
10. Pre ceremony photos
These can really add to the day. It’s your choice at which point I join you, but some photos of you with your bridesmaids or the groom with the groomsmen all helps to tell a story.
If your wedding is not all in one location and you require photos at multiple locations before during and after the ceremony, consider how much time will be eaten up traveling from one place to another. Be realistic with your requirements so your photographer doesn’t spend too much time in the car driving all over Somerset rather than taking photos.
Obvious isn’t it. However, when in the midst of the ceremony, nerves can kick in and your smile may be replaced with a look of anxiousness. Try to remember to smile now and again, after all it is a celebration. I won’t be able to call out to remind you when you are in the midst of the ceremony
13. Walk tall
Wedding dresses are beautiful, but they can trip you up a bit. Before your wedding day, why not practice walking in your wedding dress. The last thing you want are photos of you walking down the aisle with your head looking at your feet! Also, don’t race down the aisle as you leave the church, what’s the rush? Say hello to people, smile, enjoy the moment and let me capture it for you.
14. Wedding Decorations
Weddings can be very costly, but little touches that cost relatively little can add to the photos. How about bunting, fairy lights, candles or paper lanterns.
15. Flash photography in church
It’s usually the case that flash photography isn’t allowed in church. That’s fine for me as it usually doesn’t look great anyway, but some priests declare no photography is allowed during the vows or in some cases none is allowed at all during the ceremony. It’s worth checking this beforehand to avoid a nasty surprise.
16. What time of year will you have your wedding?
The time of year you choose to have your wedding will also affect your photos. Obviously in the summer months you will more likely get sunny weather (although in the UK that doesn’t always hold true!!). However another thing to consider is the length of time there is sunlight. Whereas in the summer, there is the option of extra photos outside in the evening after the meal, in the winter you do not have this luxury and if you have had a long list of group photos in the afternoon you may have missed out on some opportunities for candid photos of people outside.
17. The weather
That dreaded subject when it comes to your wedding day. A rainy day can really put a dampener (literally) on your wedding day. Saying that though, I have had only a handful of weddings I have photographed that have been a complete washout. There are usually enough opportunities to dash out and get some photos in between showers. However, you can never predict what the weather will do on your wedding day, so I suggest you have a backup plan. I as your photographer can do my best to work around poor weather, but I can’t control it. Simply a few trees may be all that is needed if it is a light shower, so perhaps when you are looking at venues, see if there is any coverage that could help in damp conditions during a quick shower.
18. Photos of just the two of you
Weddings are extremely busy days and trying to pack everything in is a challenge to everyone, that’s why the day rushes by so fast. It’s always nice to get some photos of just the two of you, but you need to make time for this. The best and most efficient way is to get away from the guests (bless them). This may mean a short drive to a nice location or just moving to the other end of the venue grounds away from people in a nice spot. Having this time alone allows all of us to focus on getting some beautiful photos without distraction from others. This should not take longer than about 30-45 minutes, but it is totally worth it for the results you will get.
19. Will the final wedding photos be edited?
No two photographers are the same, which means the photos you get from one photographer to another will vary greatly. One thing that is worth noting is that some photographers offer a cheap option often called “shoot and burn.” Now this is fine for some people, but if you want beautifully finished images, then this probably isn’t for you. I edit every photo I show so it looks at its best. The before and after of each photo can be quite dramatic depending on what level of creativity I have applied in the editing process. If you choose shoot and burn, no editing has been applied and this can lead to quite average or in some cases poor photography.
As every moment of your wedding day is a potential photograph, consider what could be in the background. Not surprisingly everyone wants a stunning venue so that this sort of thing is taken care of automatically. However you might be in a beautiful venue having your hair and makeup done, but if your background is chock full of bags of clothes, shoes strewn across the floor, packaging and half eaten plates of sandwiches, the photos aren’t exactly going to look their best.
21. Hire a professional
Given that you are reading this, I would hope you have already decided to pay for a professional to capture your wedding. Just in case though, let’s consider the option of getting a friend to capture your wedding. Hiring a professional means it is in their best interest to get the very best shots and be prepared because their very reputation relies on it.
Although a friend will not wish to fall out with you, they are not likely to be paid or at least to the extent they feel they are obliged to “work” hard. They may feel under pressure as they are your friend, but this doesn’t mean they will be as motivated in the same way a professional would. It’s quite likely that they won’t produce the same photos you have admired from them on other occasions, on your wedding day when the pressure is on.
Having a friend who takes beautiful landscapes or beautiful portraits isn’t the same as photographing a wedding. A wedding requires quick thinking and complete understanding of your camera. Photographing a landscape or taking a portrait photo is not similar to photographing a wedding where timing is critical and lighting changing constantly as well as constant distractions.
Added to that, wedding photography is something that takes place throughout the whole day as these days everything needs to be covered, not just the ceremony and group photos. With this in mind, your friend won’t have time to actually enjoy themselves, because they will need to be concentrating on getting good photos if they are to be as good as a professional photographer’s.
22. Consider including your photographer in the main meal
Taking photos all day sounds like an easy task; just pressing a few buttons and twiddling a few dials, but in order to get great photos you have to carry around heavy gear and often run with it too to keep up with the action of the day. There are very few times to stop and take a break and you have to be ready at any moment to catch a photo. A lot of concentration is involved so moments are not missed. The meal might be the first time the photographer gets to stop and take a breath and probably the first time in the day to eat something too. It’s a long day and your photographer will require energy and focus to get the best shots. When I am provided with a meal, I actually prefer it if I am sitting with the guests as it means I can keep an eye on what is going on and also build a good rapport with guests which often helps get more relaxed photos.
23. Be a show off
Any good photographer will do their best to pose people in the most flattering way when it comes to group photos, but an added help would be to practice how you stand for a photo in the mirror prior to the wedding day. Have a look at elegant clothing magazines, take a look at vogue. Don’t be put off by the skinny models, but take a close look at how they position their arms and legs, what angle they stand at and how they hold their head. These will all help to make sure any photos taken of you flatter you.
24. Adopt good posture
In a similar vein to the above, even if you haven’t practiced your poses for the camera, at the very least be aware of your posture. This is especially for tall people or people who are quite self conscious. The human thing to do is to hunch our shoulders to make us appear shorter if we are tall around people shorter than us, or if we feel self conscious. On your wedding day though, you may be the centre of attention, but it is for all the right reasons; because you look fabulous and everyone will constantly comment on how stunning you look. Accept that and reflect that in how you hold yourself. You’ll thank yourself later when you see how you look in photos.
25. Be prepared to invest in good photography
As biased as I am going to sound, the best way to relive your wedding is through how it is recorded visually. The cake will be eaten, the dress put away, the flowers withered and gone and your hairstyle only a vague memory. These days guests all have a camera and these are great additional photos to have, but many will be out of focus, dark or too bright or just flat and not showing vibrant colour. A professional wedding photographer will use the best equipment, be experienced, get everything sharp and capture all your memories in vibrant colour. A wedding is a one day event, but your photographs are what will last so please don’t consider them of lower importance and something you should skimp on. Quality photography that captures your memories is priceless.