Things Wedding Photographers Secretly Wish You’d Tell Them
the relevant discipline today being weddings. While I’m waiting for your call, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you some of the less obvious information that I (and other wedding photographers) are going to want to know before your big day…
The names and phone numbers of our wedding day co-workers.
We’re going to be working closely with your other wedding vendors, especially your DJ and your wedding planner or day-of coordinator. In some cases, it can be immensely helpful to know this information. That way, we can interface with them directly and remove you as a middle-man. (Or woman.) We can begin collaborating before your wedding day, and we can start to create a teamwork mentality. A lot of photographers don’t ask for this information and most will do just fine without it. But when we do have it, we’ll usually take advantage of it. If you volunteer this information to us, we’ll appreciate it and be impressed with your organization.
The names of your whole entire family and every single person in your wedding party.
Photographers with experience know how much better it is to practice learning people’s names before they show up. Photography specifically requests all these names from our wedding clients. But many years ago, we’d try and wing it. Do you know how awkward it can feel to be standing in front of 30 or 40 people who all know your name, but for whom “hey you” is the best you can muster? Hint: very awkward. And it’s exceptionally difficult to be a bold, creative artist when you feel super duper awkward. If you’ve hired a newer photographer, this probably isn’t even on their radar, so just send them the names.
If there is anyone who needs special considerations.
This includes things like hearing, vision, and mobility impairments or less obvious things, like strong aversions to flash lighting, a tendency to overheat or if someone sweats a lot more than average. Having this kind of information in advance lets your photographer make more calculated decisions at more convenient times. Photography we build in some time to scope out a location either in advance or on the day of the wedding. We can make a more considered effort with this time if we know that someone in the family or wedding party needs a wheelchair. If it’s going to be a hot day, we can avoid the open field, so the best man isn’t soaked in sweat at the reception. If one of the bridesmaids has severe allergies, we could skip the garden. Of course, without any of this info, a good photographer should still be able to wing it. But you’ve paid for their time and creativity, why not help them be as efficient as possible?
If there is ANY family drama.
If your mother-in-law really didn’t think you should get a photo booth with lots of silly props, it would probably be best that we don’t hand her one of those props on the dance floor. Or if say your parents are separated and having trouble getting along, knowing this can help us avoid exacerbating the problem on your wedding day. (This is especially important information during the family formals, where family conflicts have a way of showing up.) It could feel a little awkward discussing personal issues with your photographer, but it can make things way less unpleasant later. When there is family drama, big or small, we want to know. A great wedding photographer is out to capture the best of your relationships during your wedding. Even if there is drama of some sort, there will still be smiling faces, and honest, heartfelt exchanges. We’d like to keep it that way.
Wedding Tips From a Photographer Turned Bride
I was chatting with one of my brides recently and she asked me, “What are the keys to having a successful wedding day?”. To which I replied, “Listen up my young Padawan, I have much to teach you…” After an outpouring of a lifetime of solid-gold wedding advice from a matrimonial guru, she, with jaw on the floor, replied that it was only fair that this veritable treasure trove of ceremonial knowledge be bestowed upon the rest of the wedding world. (I’m joking, of course..but I like to pretend it was this dramatic 😉 )
At the same time that I was coming up with this list, ‘I Do Venues‘ asked asked me to write up some tips from my industry experience, paired with what I’m learning, now in my own wedding-planning-process.. so here is what I came up with–hope it’s helpful 😉
Determine What’s Important: There are so many traditions and timelines and faux pas that at some point, the wedding industry decided we all have to accommodate and include when planning our nuptial celebration..From cake cutting to first dances to garters and bouquets to party favors.. lets be real– none of these things are really detrimental to the real purpose of the day (for you and your babe to get married!) but they can certainly add an element of fun, but only if they mean something to you. To make this process more focused and meaningful, I tell my friends and clients to list the three things that are important to them on their wedding day. Dancing? Photography? The perfect venue? The amount of guests attending? The dress? Whatever it may be, don’t feel bad about it! It’s your day and you and your fiancé get to choose what is a priority 🙂 Let those things get the majority of the wedding budget, time and effort, and if there’s room for the other stuff, great! But focus on the stuff you’re excited about first, and then see what else you feel like fitting in 🙂
First Look: If I were to give one piece of advice to a couple it would be to STRONGLY consider doing a First Look.
What’s a First Look? It’s when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, have a few moments alone, and get portraits done before-hand. There are several ways to do this, but a lot of the time, the groom will go away from the craziness and get set up in a certain location and the bride will then come to him and either tap on his shoulder or say his name for him to turn around, or they’ll close their eyes and face each other and do the big reveal together..you get the idea..Why do I recommend this? Because weddings go by SO fast, I feel like it’s the one time the couple can slow down and be alone together (photographers should be very photojournalistic during this time, and let the couple have their moment before insisting on any poses or anything like that). It’s such a special moment—I’ve seen couples pray together, say their vows or affirm each other, exchange gifts.. It’s awesome! Doing a First Look really frees you up and allows you to relax during cocktail hour or mingle with your guests. If you’re having a lot of friends and family coming in from out of state, this is definitely something you’ll want to consider. Most importantly, you want to feel like your married. You don’t want a photographer or a coordinator rushing you along in order to keep you on time. You want your day to be enjoyable and smooth and for that, getting as much done before hand is ALWAYS helpful. Most importantly, this private moment alone really sets the tone for the rest of the day, calms nerves, and gives the couple a chance to connect before the moment they are standing at the altar together. I totally get the tradition of waiting until the bride walks down the aisle..but if you’re prone to stress or anxiety especially, the First Look can be a calming and tone-setting alternative..
Hire Vendors That You Like: If you’ve been in a bridal party, you know that a bride and groom spend a majority of their wedding with their vendors. Like choosing the friends you want by your side on your wedding day, you want to choose vendors whose company you enjoy, who you trust, and who will help your day be more fun and less stressful, rather than the other way around.
Things Only Wedding Photographers Can Truly Appreciate
Wedding photography can be an incredibly fun job, but it’s not without its stressful moments. When you’re neck deep in a shoot, you have to stop and appreciate the little things that only wedding photographers will truly understand. Here’s a short list of those private joys. Feel free to add your own in the comments and let this bit of fun take you away from the current election cycle.
When you meet with a bride and groom and they have actually looked at your work and know your overall style is to their liking.
You book an engagement shoot and it happens on the scheduled date with no weather issues or last-minute rescheduling.
You miss a shot and your second shooter shows you a perfect frame on the back of their camera.
You’re editing and go through two out-of-focus frames, then the last one is perfectly sharp.
You walk into the reception venue and the walls and ceiling are perfect for bouncing flash.
You get paid on time without having to remind the couple—or even mention it to them.
The couple uses the preview photos you sent them as their Facebook profile pictures and not the smartphone shot from Uncle Bob.
There’s a guest at the wedding with a fancy camera and they say, “Don’t worry, I’ll stay out of your shots,” and they actually do.
The vendor meal is awesome and you get to eat it somewhere that’s not a closet.
You send the couple the link to their online gallery and they respond right away with their reaction so you don’t have to fret about whether they’re happy with your work.
The couple says, “We would rather order prints from you than take them to a drug store or something like that.”
You notice the bride is wearing a hairband around her wrist before you start taking the portraits.
You remember to sync all your camera clocks before you start shooting.
You go to take the big family photo and everyone is present without having to send someone from the bridal party to search for them.
You have so many great photos from a wedding that it’s hard to cut down enough for a blog post.
You share a photo or blog post on Facebook and the almighty algorithm allows it to actually get some decent reach.
It rains all day and then the sun comes out for just long enough to shoot some epic portraits.
Sitting in a quiet car having just finished shooting for the night.
The bride or groom says, “We scheduled the outdoor ceremony in the late afternoon when the sun is going down,” instead of, “The ceremony is at noon.”
You go home with no business cards left because so many people asked you for them.
Things Your “Cheap” Wedding Photographer Won’t Tell You
You only need them for a “couple of hours” to give you a “few pictures” to remember your wedding day. So that $150 an hour is a lot of money for those four hours and honestly, you wish you could make that kind of dough. They are only “snapping a few pictures” and you only want a “disc of images”, right?
So you are opting for one of two things for your wedding photographs:
- You’re going to get one of your cousins who owns one of those “expensive” cameras that takes wonderful pictures to photograph your wedding or…
- Your going to find the cheapest person you can because, well, ANYONE can “snap a few pictures” and if they have a good camera, it should be just fine!
If you really want to risk that you’re going to really HATE your wedding photos later, then by all means, you should “take a chance” and see what happens.
hey’re cheap because they have no experience photographing weddings.
I see this all the time. Brides scouring Craigslist or wedding vendor sites looking for the “cheap” photographer. The cheapest they can find. Most “newbie” photographers will offer to do your wedding at rock bottom prices. “Well, they ARE advertized in “The Knot”, so I bet they have been vetted by them!”.
$600 is making a LOT of money for a couple of hours of work.
The actual “taking of your photos” for $600 would be a lot of money- if that was all there was to it.
Newbie (aka Cheap) Photographers usually aren’t “legal”.
A legal business must be properly licensed, insured, and collect and pay sales taxes to the State they work in. There are WAY too many that call themselves “professional photographers” who aren’t. If something should go badly wrong, then you have little or no recourse for what you just paid them. Hiring one of these means you are taking more than a little chance, but you are taking a very big one. Make sure your photographer is fully legal to do business in the State you live.
Things Your Wedding Photographer Wants You To Know
Allow extra time on the day
When making your wedding day itinerary, be sure to plan enough time for your wedding photography. This includes traveling to and from a shoot location – whether it is driving to the beach or walking down rows of vineyards – it all takes time.
Clean up before you get ready
Getting ready photos can look beautiful and are a great way for your photographer to begin documenting the story of your wedding day. However, these photos don’t turn out so well if there is half eaten plates of food, or last night’s laundry in the shots.
Engagement photography is a great idea!
Engagement photography prepares you for your wedding, it’s like a trial run. It makes you comfortable in front of the camera and lets the photographer discover the best way capture you. It is a great opportunity to break the ice with your photographer – you will also end up receiving some great photos of your and your partner.
Uncle Joe and his camera cannot replace a professional photographer
How many times have we heard of a couple not choosing a professional wedding photographer because they know someone with a good camera instead? Too many!
Take time to enjoy the first kiss
Another one of the most important things your wedding photographer want you to know. It may be a small moment but it is so important. It is your first kiss as a marriage couple – it only happens once so enjoy and don’t rush it – make it last!