Planning a wedding can be frustratingly overwhelming as a bride and groom-to-be. Figuring out your vision for the day as well as making sure you have everything in place to make it happen can be challenging to say the least, but I hope to shed some light on at least one large portion of planning your dream wedding: Photography!
As a recent Bride and a Wedding Photographer, I’ve made a list of 10 things about wedding photography that you should know to hopefully simplify your decision, give you a clear picture about your options, and help your wedding photos to be as perfect as can be!
1. A great photographer will help to make your photos as timeless as possible.
We’ve all seen a funny photo of a very 80’s hairdo and chuckled a little, but it’s not quite as funny when the most important day of your life looks more dated than it should because the photographer was not as qualified as they could have been. Of course you want your photos to be a snapshot of the time of your life in which your wedding happened, you don’t want them to be stale and “dated”. Your wedding photos will most likely last more than a lifetime, and your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren (and probably beyond) will see and cherish these pictures for years to come. Of course there’s only so much you can do to avoid your photos looking overly “dated”, but a professional who uses both high quality gear and good technique will at least help to slow the process and allow your grandkids and friends to enjoy your top-notch wedding photos long down the road. Although choosing how “trendy” you want your photos to be is a personal preference, make sure that whatever trendiness is in your photos is accompanied by high quality. Do as much research as you can on the best techniques, gear, and processes out there so that you know what you’re looking for when it comes to choosing your own wedding photographer!
2. Photography will probably be the longest lasting wedding detail that you plan.
When it comes to wedding details, plenty of time and money can go into things like invites, favors, signs, place cards, desserts, flowers, dresses, shoes, lighting, and even hair and makeup. But among all of these details you can invest in, photography will most likely go on to be the one that lasts the longest and reminds you of all of those other amazing details you spent so much time working on. Of course your memories of all of these things will live on as well, but in the whirlwind that is your wedding day, you may not have the ability or opportunity to take in as many details as you had planned to enjoy on the wedding day itself. This is one reason that investing in good photography is so worth it! It will allow those details that mean the most to you to last much longer and be enjoyed long after the wedding day is over (and all the cupcakes have been eaten).
3. Scour your potential photographer’s portfolio.
This one is very simple and the reason the photographer is even a potential in your book is because you probably already saw one or more of their photos and liked it. It can be easy to jump the gun because you saw a few good photos and the photographer lists a very doable price for you- but hold out long enough to scour the rest of their portfolio to find out if they will be able to capture every portion of your wedding day with the same style and grace of the original photo that they caught your eye with. As much as you can, make a photographer’s portfolio one of the main factors in your decision on who to hire for your wedding day. You would be surprised how often the other factors will work themselves out when you choose your photographer based on their track record of high quality photography.
4. Choose your photographer based on who they are.
Photos are a reflection of personality – on both sides of the camera! When it comes to capturing one of the most important days of your life, you will be doing yourself a big disservice to choose your photographer only based on price, proximity, or even availability. Since photography is one of the longest lasting wedding details you’ll plan, choosing a photographer whose style you love will not only be meaningful to you down the road, but your family and friends will be able to enjoy your wedding photos on a higher level knowing that not only are the photos of you, but that a piece of your personality also went into choosing the perspective they were captured from. So don’t be hasty! Look into your potential photographer’s portfolio, but also ask them about themselves and the options they offer, why they do what they do, or what got them started with photography in the first place! I guarantee that the right photographer for you will be happy to answer any questions you have, and could prove to be a great wedding planning resource too, since they’ve probably been to quite a few weddings and can recommend other dependable vendors, venues, timelines, etc.
5. Make a Wedding Day timeline & share it with your photographer (and the rest of your wedding team, too!)
You can invest a lot into finding and securing a great, professional photographer with whom you get along with wonderfully and have shared your hopes for the photos with, but none of that means much if your photographer is not given the time they need to work their magic and do the job they were hired for! Although the thought of having to stick to a timeline on your wedding day may not sound fun, believe me when I say that it will help EVERYONE to enjoy the day more. I tell my brides to build a little extra wiggle room into each portion of the schedule, if possible, to keep everything on track and to avoid stress if something unexpected comes up (and it usually does). While making your timeline, involve your photographer and ask them how much time they will need to get the shots you’ve told them you want. If you’ve noticed a majority of the shots on your wish list are bride and groom portraits, make sure you have at least two hours planned just for those, since, after all, the day is mainly about you two!
Putting together a beautiful wedding takes lots of work, investment, and coordination, and having a well communicated timeline will help all of the elements you’ve planned to come together smoothly and allow your photographer to document it with precision. With a timeline in place, you can relax, knowing that you’ll get to spend time enjoying every aspect of your wedding day-from the first brush of makeup to the send off and everything in between!
(I’ll share a link at the end of this article of a FREE Wedding Day Timeline Worksheet to help your wedding day run as smoothly as possible – for you, your photographer, and everyone else involved!)
6. Let your photographer know what you want in your photos.
Are there specific family members, dances, details, or poses you especially want great photos of? Maybe you don’t even know about certain expectations you have for your photos. For this reason, it’s helpful to do a little thinking and research beforehand, for both of your sakes. It will help your photographer to know what you want them to be mainly focusing on, and will help you to avoid your vision for the wedding photos not becoming a reality because it was never communicated. The more information you can give your photographer about your vision for the wedding and the wedding pictures, the better your chances are that they will be able to capture the photos you want. Hopefully, the style of who you choose to be your photographer will be a portion of that vision, but don’t expect them to magically read your mind about what you want your wedding pictures to be like! I ask my brides to give me 3 words to describe the vibe they want their pictures to have, send me example photos of shots they want, and list them on the timeline worksheet (as mentioned above, link for that at the end of this article!). This way, I can get a concise idea of their vision. Get on Pinterest, the knot, Google, check out my gallery – do whatever you need to do to give your photographer even just a few pictures that encompass the vision you have for your wedding photographs. You’ll probably pick up a few good ideas for other aspects of your wedding while you’re at it!
7. Find out how your photographer does business.
Each photographer has a specific way of running their business and this is a good thing – as long as you understand it. For instance, some photographers charge a “session fee” and then give you the option to purchase the rights or at least permission to use all or some of the photos afterword. If this is the case, ask them how much they charge for access/rights to individual photos or the whole batch before booking with them, since the extra amount you would be paying for access to the photos after the wedding might surprise you. I’ve had friends whose photographer ran her business this way and ultimately, it was a little frustrating for them because they didn’t research those details in depth ahead of time and the extra fee came as a bit of a surprise.
Other photographers wrap the price of their time shooting and editing as well as access to the finished, edited, photos into one. There can be benefits to both the photographer and the bride and groom either way, but I will say that I prefer both prices rolled into one, and this is the way I’ve chosen to run my business. Speaking as a bride, I was glad that my photographer ran her business this way because I loved being able to post, share, and print my wedding photos as soon as they were ready without having to worry about an extra expense after the wedding. Speaking as a photographer, I like this way of doing business because I want my clients to have what I would (and did) choose for myself! Also, it is a bit simpler on my end to just send my clients their entire gallery of finished, edited photos rather than releasing one by one or waiting for an extra payment. Since I would have spent time shooting and editing them anyway, my clients might as well enjoy the photos! In my opinion, this way of doing business is a bit more beneficial for you as the client, but you may feel differently. Just as long as you are aware of which route your photographer takes and you make an informed decision, I’m happy.
Additionally, photographers can offer either an ‘a-la-carte’ hourly rate, or Wedding Photography Packages. Packages are usually the better value for clients since packages typically include an engagement session (which I highly recommend so that you and your photographer can get used to working with one another), a certain number of coverage hours on the wedding day, full editing, and a couple of finished photo delivery options. Ask your photographer what all they offer and everything that each option includes.
8. Ask all the questions!
Since you’re entrusting them with capturing one of the most important days of your life, don’t be afraid to (in a friendly way, of course) ask any questions you may have of your photographer’s experience, process, and plan for your wedding day photography. If your photographer has not addressed these issues already, here are some examples of a few questions to ask:
1. What time will they be arriving?
It seems simple, but in the rush of all the wedding plans, it can be easy to neglect nailing down this one very important detail. I typically plan to arrive 1-2 hours before my bride plans to start her makeup. This gives me time to capture some detail shots as well as her bridesmaids and the groom and groomsmen getting ready and those finishing touches on the bride’s makeup. However, I don’t want to waste the hours they paid for by showing up too early since most brides want the majority of their “getting ready” pictures taken after their makeup is on. Whenever you decide to have your photographer first arrive, make sure the time is clear to both of you and that it’s early enough to catch any little details you’re counting on having photos of, but not so early that your photographer is waiting around for the next thing to photograph.
2. Are they bringing an assistant or second shooter, at least for the ceremony portion of your wedding?
If your photographer doesn’t have someone extra they can bring on at least for the ceremony, I strongly suggest that you let them know you plan to hire an additional photographer or ask a friend with a camera to join them for the ceremony to ensure there are at least two perspectives being captured. Since the ceremony is one of the only parts of the day that can’t be posed or staged afterword in the unlikely event that something happens to one of the two photographer’s photos, it’s good to be extra cautious. Additionally, it’s nice to have at least two perspectives since the ceremony moments are irreplaceable.
3. What will the charge be if you want them to stay a little longer?
As a photographer, I ask my clients what time or at what point in the reception they want me to stay until. Since the reception timeline can sometimes be a little more flexible than the rest of the day, the couples will usually tell me what point in the reception they want me to stay until (e.i. toasts, cutting the cake, a game or special dance), and then we decide what time I should arrive based on the wedding package they choose. We also discuss my hourly fee for extra coverage if they should go over the amount of time in the photography package they chose.
4. Is there anything they need from you?
I like to ask my clients to provide me with a list of their vendors so that I can credit them and be sure to showcase something from each vendor in my photos. I also like it if my brides can give me an invitation so that I can snap a few photos of it in the detail shots. I also ask my brides for the contact info of someone besides them that I can ask questions of on the wedding day. This is usually a maid of honor or wedding planner, but make sure you give your photographer at least one name and number besides yourself who will know what’s happening on the wedding day.
5. How long after the wedding can you expect your photos to be ready?
Photographers differ in their post production times, but across the board, good post production takes time – especially if they are editing all of the photos in some way or another. So ask your photographer what their typical time frame is so that you know what to expect and can be patient while your photographer works their magic!
*Also, be sure to let your photographer know when or at what point they will be able to eat. If they are spending 8, 10, or more hours on their feet capturing your wedding they are going to need fuel and to know when it’s okay to take a quick break or two.
9. A professional perspective is truly priceless.
As a bride-to-be, you’ve probably been swept off your feet by a photo you saw online or in a magazine and
hoped to be captured in the same way on your wedding day. Taking the photographer’s hat off for a minute and speaking to you as a bride, I cannot tell you how important it is to have a photographer who will capture (and edit) your day in the perspective you’ve always dreamed of. I am so thankful that I had the photographer I did to photograph my wedding and I love the way she shot it! I want you to have the same kind of experience!
So the main and final reason that it’s a wise decision to invest as much as you can into a really great photographer is this: you will have the photographs you’ve always wanted of your wedding for years to come and never regret settling on them.
Each day only happens once, so make sure your wedding day is one that’s captured in a way you will love forever.
10. Enjoy your wedding day!
Although it can be easy to get wrapped up in the overwhelmingly huge job of putting a beautiful wedding together, remember that nothing (not even the pictures) will be as good as actually enjoying
the wedding day itself and nothing will look better in your wedding photos than you and the love of your life genuinely enjoying each other on your wedding day! Plan, craft, rehearse, coordinate, and do as much as you can beforehand to make your dream wedding a reality, but once your special day arrives, try to enjoy it for exactly what it is and leave the rest in the capable hands of the team of people you’ve chosen to make it wonderful. As a photographer and a bride, I assure you that even things that you didn’t plan for on your wedding day usually become the things that you remember and maybe even hold dear sometime down the road as you reminisce on that sweet day. And remember that no matter what happens, the two of you will most likely be married at the end of the day, and that was the whole point anyway!
I hope you found this article helpful as you plan your wedding! Click the thumbnail to the left to be directed to a page where you can view, download, and print this FREE Wedding Day Photography Timeline Worksheet to help everything run as smoothly as possible on your wedding day!
If you want to get together for coffee and chat about booking your wedding or a portrait session, please fill out the form on the connect page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I look forward to hearing from you!