Getting the best from your wedding photographer

Your photographer is one of the larger investments you make when planning your wedding day. I just wanted to write a piece on how to get the best from us and by that I mean how to get a gorgeous set of memorable photos that you will look back on and treasure forever without thinking oh I wish I had thought of...

I like to start off thinking about the 3 T’s

  • Tea
  • Tidy
  • Timing 

Tea: When your photographer arrives it’s always nice to be offered a cup of tea, sound silly or selfish or not important? The reason why I like it when this happens is it gives everyone (including the photographer) a little bit of time to settle in and get used to each other - another person is in the room now, you and your bridesmaids, groomsmen may be in your PJs still and may feel awkward at the beginning. A cup of tea and a general chat just settles everything down and before you know it the photographer will be fitting into the morning seamlessly and discretely capturing wonderful memories of you all getting ready.

Tidy: Getting ready in the morning is a busy time, lots of people around, hair and makeup artists busily working, friends popping in, flowers arriving, bubbly being opened and you’ve only just woken up. I get it, the room can be messy, I know mine would be in the same circumstances. However, to get the best pictures of your dress, suit, shoes and yourself when you are ready it is great if the room can just have a quick tidy before those final shots. You don’t want carrier bags with hairbrushes sticking out in the background of your beautiful bridal portrait. Yes, it is down to the photographer to notice these things and make sure the scene is set for the “Bride ready to go” shot for example, but it is often quite a pressured time with the cars waiting, time ticking on and the guests waiting. So always good to just have the bridesmaids do a very quick tidy round at various times during the morning.

Timing: Just when is the best time for your photographer to arrive? I’ve done weddings where I have been there at 7am just as the hairdressers arrive and the bride has literally just woken up and had a quick shower. This is great if you want your story of your day to include this. However, I would normally recommend to couples that the photographer turns up during the hair and makeup - before the bride and most of the bridesmaids have had their makeup done for sure. That way they can get the detailed shots of makeup being applied and the finished look. Most photographers will be very discreet during this time and will not look for unflattering shots of you prior to makeup but will capture moments as they happen - perhaps light hearted, fun or heart warning interactions between you and your friends, close relations and parents. The bottom line is have your photographer turn up from when YOU want to be photographed.

So that’s the morning covered - albeit briefly. What about other things to consider?

Your relationship with your photographer (and other suppliers) prior to the wedding day. Stay in touch with each other, it’s always good for your photographer to know the running order and timings for the day before they tun up.

You will want group shots - even though the majority of your wedding day will be photographed in a relaxed documentary style. You are bringing two families together and for the history books if nothing else you are going to need some group shots. Have a list of the KEY groups that you want and try to keep that list to a manageable size. I usually recommend around 20 and can get those done in around 40 minutes - provided - and this is a key point - you have someone who knows the family e.g. the ushers, bridesmaids, best man, father of the bride - have them prepped with the photo group list and have them gather the people required for the groups and direct them to where the photographer has chosen for the group shots. Please don’t expect your photographer to gather and then position and then photograph all of them on their own. It is the gathering that takes the time so allow you and your guests to get back to enjoying your day by getting someone to help the photographer gather people for you.

Remember to let the photographer know of any must have shots - these can be informal - and may include close friends, family or friends who have travelled from afar, people you haven’t seen in ages, granny and grandpa. Whoever they may be you don’t want to look back on your photos and think oh where is such and such. In most cases your photographer will pick up on relationships and key people and will strive to capture most if not all of your guests but do help them by letting them know the “must have’s”.

Enjoy your day, you do not want the sort of photographer who is going to direct and monopolise your entire day - at least I’m assuming you don’t. Certainly for the weddings I photograph, it is really important to me that you enjoy your day - every bit of your day. For instance, the majority of the day I’ll be capturing moments discretely in the background. I’ll be ready for all of the key events, I’ll look to work the group shots quickly and efficiently, I’ll have scoped out the best places to do the couple shots at different times of the day and evening. Leaving you to enjoy your wedding day. Let the photographer suggest to you when he needs you for groups and couple portraits, don’t worry about these and enjoy your day. That said if you want a particular shot or someone has just turned up and you want a shot with them right away then just ask - that’s what we are there for.

I couldn’t write this without covering one of my most frequently asked questions. Do we feed you? Now I can’t speak for all photographers but here’s what I say to couples who book me. This is my job, if I were working in an office I wouldn’t expect to be fed, I’d bring my own lunch / dinner and as such I don’t expect you to feed me. I do always have a cool box full of goodies in my car. In many cases the venue or the caterers will look after me very nicely in any case. The main thing for me is that I do not want to see you being charged to feed me. Most venues are very good - certainly the ones I work at regularly - but some will charge you for an extra guest if you say you want to feed the photographer or band or magician. I recommend you check with them carefully before offering to feed your suppliers and honestly I am more than happy to look after myself. 

I’ll finish off, before this blog turns into a novel, on when is the right time for your photographer to leave? You want to make sure you have a true and full story of your wonderful day and you now know when you want your photographer to turn up. When to finish though is again down to personal choice on your day. My full day package has me with you until 10pm. I’ve found this works really well as it captures the first dance and then leaves plenty of time to capture dancing and the evening guests - who may have just turned up when the first dance is about to happen. It is also a good time to leave as for summer weddings I will have been able to get the final couple shots in the dark / dusk all nicely backlit and romantic to end your story. Obviously it is also a good time to leave before things may get a little too messy with some of your guests - happens at every wedding I promise you :) and while you might think you want those action photos of Aunty Joe with her dress round her ears on the dance floor, believe me they will not thank you for it.

I hope that has helped you think through how to get the best from your photographer on your day. Please do get in touch if you have any questions at all about photography at your wedding. I’ll be writing more blogs so if there is anything you’d like to see covered just let me know.

Enjoy your wedding day very much and do take the time to really enjoy your photographs from your day - they are there for you to enjoy and remember for the rest of your lives.

"Some like to believe it's the book that chooses the person."

—Carlos Ruiz Zafón